When we moved to Utah from Texas, we were disappointed with the Mexican food that we found here. We missed Casa Garcias and Los Jalecienses (which only had a menu in Spanish). We also missed the fresh and more yuppie Tex-Mex of Gueros and Curras (home of one of Texas Magazine's 11 Tacos You Need to Eat Before You Die). The lack of flavor I found in Utah food was one of the reasons I started this review blog.
The style of Utah food is vastly different than that of Tex-Mex. It is a slooshy sloshy mix of enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese that has been melted under the heat lamp. That slooshy sloshy mix of sauce and cheese covers all your food so that you don't know exactly what it is you are eating. Is that an enchilada or a burrito? And how long has that plate been under the heat lamp? It is burning a hole through the table.
That is not to say that we haven't found a few good places. The Red Iguana makes a variety of delicious mole sauces. There is a little gas station remodeled into tiny restaurant called Chunga's that has the best Tacos al Pastor. These tacos should be in a Utah magazine for "The Tacos You Should Eat Before You Die!"
Once when we were discussing the difference between Utah Mexican food from Texas Mexican with our friend Kim Simpson, a former Utahn, he said that sometimes he had a craving for Utah Mexican. He wanted a big combination plate with sauce and lots of melted, gloopy cheese. It was like comfort food.
That was exactly how it was for my family tonight. We went to La Frontera, and "Ute-Mex" was exactly what we got. All of our meals were just as described especially my husband's large combination plate. It was good. It was different. Not quite the flavors of Texas. It wasn't yuppie Austin Tex-Mex, but why did it have to be? It was comfort food. It was what we ate when we went to Mexican when I was a kid. So to coin an overused phrase, "it is what it is." I won't turn up my nose to the local Mexican food. After all, I'm a local.