Matt Lake, the award-winning chef in the back of the a success Mexican eating place Alamexo in downtown Salt Lake City, has lengthy sought after to open a extra informal, family-friendly supplement to that fine-dining status quo.
He just lately debuted a sister spot, called Alamexo Cantina, in the ninth and ninth district, including regional Mexican taste to a lineup of American, Thai, Italian and Middle Eastern fare discovered on 900 South.
He nailed the vigorous, colourful vibe, with the area’s Mexican-tiled bar and colorful partitions — painted mustard, crimson and deep red, with the fourth made up of dozens of nooks full of lighted candles.
The atmosphere is excellent for a drink from an intensive menu of margarita choices and accompanied via unending house-made chips and very good guacamole.
Many of the major dishes intrigue with shiny and unexpected flavors. And for those who arrive figuring out that the whole lot is comprised of scratch with native fine-dining elements — natural produce, hormone-free meat, sustainably sourced seafood — you could extra readily accept the tab.
But the ones main points are absent from the menu and my servers’ gross sales jobs. For a place this is billed as an informal community joint, the costs appear too upscale for the entrées’ smallish parts and à los angeles carte aspects. A celebration of 4 can simply spend $90 earlier than including alcohol. The price competitors the downtown spot, however there, the rice and beans are integrated.
Upon getting into you’re greeted via a black and white mural copied from the label on a bottle of Espolòn Blanco tequila, depicting a rooster-riding skeleton charging after fleeing and flying skulls and bones.
Tequilas are obviously the star of the bar. The alcohol menu lists about 20 top rate choices organized via kind: blancos, reposados (rested in oak barrels) and añejos (elderly), plus mezcals. They vary in worth from $nine to $18. It’s some other greenback to upload Cointreau, agave nectar, a citrus mix of lime and grapefruit, and house-made syrup infused with damiana herb to make it a margarita.
The menu implies sharing, and it’s the similar for lunch and dinner.
For starters, the guacamole ($11.95) is a will have to. It is available in simply two variations, one conventional, the different crowned with red meat, each made tableside. Beware the conventional risk in filling up on it whilst you look ahead to the meal. If you do need to make an evening of small bites, two or 3 botanas, or appetizers, are sufficiently big to fulfill two other people, so long as guac is concerned.
The highly spiced flautas con papas y chorizo ($7.25) appetizer used to be tasty and filling, with two massive, completely crispy tortillas full of house-made chorizo and potatoes and crowned with prospers of crimson guajillo chile salsa, white crema and slices of inexperienced jalapeños. But I tasted extra of the masa than the promised shredded hen in the molotes ($7.25 for 3 corn-based pastries).
I additionally counsel sharing the reputedly everlasting “seasonal specialties.” I might have most popular smaller parts that would go away me short of extra, for a cheaper price ($16.95 every). The red meat and duck meatballs have been served in a delectable, citrusy mole — fabricated from tomatillos, pumpkin seeds, chiles and a marvel trace of all spice—however 3 massive meatballs are overwhelming as a meal. The 3 candy plantain truffles, balanced via a highly spiced tomato-based sauce, drizzled in crema and crowned with queso fresco ($16.95), have been higher, however once more an excessive amount of for one.
The enchiladas and tacos ($15.95/plate) are served “family style,” which in my thoughts suggests sufficient to feed a relatives. In fact, they’re a unmarried dinner serving, however no doubt shareable.
Enchiladas come 3 in line with plate and tacos arrive fajita taste so you’ll fill your personal heat white corn native tortillas with the meat of your selection, in conjunction with aioli. Both varieties are served on small solid iron skillets on most sensible of picket chargers. Lake tells me they’re slender in design to be simply handed round.
The Oaxaca cheese and wild mushroom enchiladas, with a base of cremini apart an ever-changing solid of to be had funghi, served with ranchera salsa, used to be via some distance a desk favourite, besting the red meat carnita enchiladas in a bland salsa verde. The hen enchiladas, lined in a inexperienced chile and pumpkin seed salsa, additionally caused raves. The quick rib barbacoa tacos have been enjoyable and there used to be masses to take house for leftovers. No topic what you order, make positive you upload a facet of evenly charred Mexican side road corn ($three), sweetened with lime aioli and large enough for 3 to percentage. But skip the flat potato facet ($three).
Alamexo Cantina doesn’t take reservations. On a hectic Saturday night time, we spent a 20-minute wait in the comfy sliver of a bar sipping our margaritas. The waiter used to be attentive and recommended.
Once we moved to our desk, the carrier faltered. Our waiter delivered the complimentary chips and salsa to the desk and arrange bowls of avocado, jalapeño, onion, cilantro and tomato to make guacamole, then left us ready a number of mins earlier than returning to make the scrumptious dip. Other servers tried to give us some other diner’s appetizer and bank card. But on a special, mellow night and a quiet lunch hour, the carrier used to be reliably useful.
Lake recognizes there’s a studying curve to the new position, including that diners are understanding “how to use” the eating place, via, say, splitting guacamole and an entree between two to stay the price down for lunch. And he doesn’t need to be “preachy” about the high quality of the elements. But his servers will have to be at liberty to fill in the gaps. After all, when diners are used to paying for massive parts of inexpensive Mexican meals, the small parts fabricated from high-quality elements would possibly want some explaining.
Similarly, I sought after extra when it got here to dessert. The Cantina serves complimentary fried dough (buñuelos), dusted in cinnamon, that tasted extra like a chip than a deal with. Instead, the eating place would do proper to be offering the similar heat churros served at the downtown spot. We’ve no doubt paid for the privilege.
ALAMEXO CANTINA: 2 1/2 out of four stars
Food • 2
Mood • three
Service • 2
This new addition to the ninth and ninth district is a standout spot for margaritas. The regional Mexican delicacies is mild and intriguing however dear for its informal label.
Location • 1059 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City; 801-658-5859.
Online • alamexocantina.com
Hours • Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to nine p.m.
Children’s menu • No, however delicate meals made on request.
Prices • $$
Liquor • Beer and laborious liquor
Reservations • No
Takeout • No
Wheelchair get admission to • Yes
Outdoor eating • Yes
On-site parking • Street and automobile parking space
Credit playing cards • All main