Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Red Iguana - A Mexican Tradition in Salt Lake City, Utah

So I'm in the midst of a road trip. I started in Rhode Island, flew to Colorado, made multiple trips along the way to San Francisco and now I'm eating my way back east across the country with my best friend. Life. Is. Awesome. 

So after driving 12 hours from the foggy city by the bay, finally finding gas under $4 a gallon, and having an impromptu photo shoot at sunset complete with mountains, desert and salt flats, needless to say we were ready to fill our bellies with something besides peanut butter and jelly road sandwiches.  Where to go?  We were in a strange city with strange preconceived notions of strange religious-heavy undertones.  Would we be feasting on manna or would there be something more?  An app would come to our rescue.  Mytvmaps saves the day.  The Red Iguana was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  If its good enough for Guy Fieri it's good enough for me.

Opened in 1985 by the Cardenas family, and owned and operated by the family ever since, this place is famous for its homemade mole sauce and boy, there are plenty to choose from.  In our starving and road-weary state it is next to impossible to decide.  Thank god for our knowledgeable waiter who brings us a sampler plate of all the moles so we can try them with our tortilla chips he had brought out earlier with accompanying homemade salsa. 

They range from sweet, fruity with fiery-heat to smoky, rich and chocolaty.  Some have distinct nutty notes and others a pleasant pumpkin seed flavor.  We decide on the mole negra and mole amarillo both served over chicken.  We also get three tacos filled with carne asada and homemade pork chourizo (tacos con ramon).

Let's talk about these corn tacos.  Nice and crispy yet still soft, just enough meat filling, and savory with the right amount of smoky.  Plus they have a nice hint of just-right salty cheese, wonderful fresh salsa and this lime-ish sauce that rounds out the flavors.  The mole-covered chicken is served with fresh corn or flour tortillas and rice and beans.

Everything is spot on.  The flavors are bright, flavorful, smooth, savory and sweet.  Everything is distinct.  Everything is well made.  Everything is hitting the spot.  Thank god.  I've had dinner and two lovely drinks.

This one is fantastic.  It even has a sugared flower in it and is one of their specialty margaritas.  I'm ready for dessert and I see that they serve fried ice cream.

This was the only thing I wasn't particularly impressed with.  They took about a 2-scoop size of vanilla ice cream and rolled it in loose coconut.  They then placed it in a flour tortilla, deep-fried it and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar.  I could have done without with loose coconut.  In fact, I could have done without the flour tortilla too.  Definitely not my favorite fried ice cream.  At least the fruit on the side, strawberries and blueberries, were super fresh.

All in all, I would absolutely come back to this joint anytime I revisited Salt Lake City.  The waitstaff is friendly, accommodating, and you can tell that this place takes pride in what they serve.  I felt like I was treated as well as any family member.  Although they may not remember me, I won't be forgetting this place anytime soon.

Red Iguana on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Hi Grace! I enjoy your blog. I wanted to invite you to be a guest on our dining podcast. You can check out past episodes at Let me know if you'd be interested!

    -Seth Resler
    Host, Find Dining Podcast