Over the years, Mexican food has established its place as the cuisine of choice regardless of your locale. From border towns such as Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana dotted along the U.S. – Mexico border to ritzy New York City and eclectic Minneapolis, Mexican cuisine ranges from authentic to an amalgamation of cultural delights.
Salt Lake City, Utah boasts one of the largest and fastest growing Mexican American populations in the United States with its numbers increasing each day. Originally drawn to the State because of its mining, agriculture and educational opportunities, migrs are now flocking to the State in droves owing in large part to the foundation of Mexican culture that was established by its early Mexican settlers. With the majestic Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop and the wide Wasatch Valley as a playground, Mexican Americans have easily adapted to the laid back atmosphere in Utah.
Ramon and Maria Cardenas established their roots in Utah after emigrating from Mexico and eventually established the quaint, homey Red Iguana restaurant, just two miles west of downtown Salt Lake City. A casual glance by anyone unfamiliar to the area may leave them wondering what draws large crowds to the ramshackle brick and mortar building with the funny name on its marquee. But one step through the rustic, creaky door and visitors are immediately transported to an authentic albeit kitschy Mexican establishment complete with pungent mouth watering spices that are memorable and leave you wanting when you’ve eaten your last morsel of chile verde.
The Killer Nachos are a favorite and often ends up being the main course for those with a small appetite. The Mole Negro is reminiscent of the fusion of Aztec and Mexican cooking that has made the Red Iguana famous. Black beans tempered in pumpkin and various spices served with your choice of chicken or turkey is a veritable savory experience. Signature dishes, soups, salads and combination plates allow everyone at your table the opportunity to enjoy the victuals tour of Mexico.
Though Ramon and Maria have since passed on, the family tradition is alive and well through their progeny. If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, visit the Red Iguana 736 W. North Temple Street. Check out their website www.rediguana.com to view (and salivate over) their menu.