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Dining out: Su Casa

Published: Friday, June 15 2007 12:04 a.m. MDT

There's something oddly restful about lunching at Su Casa in downtown Salt Lake City.

I say "oddly" because, despite the fact that this charming little eatery is on a busy street next to a thriving Maverik station, eating at one of the place's outdoor tables is completely relaxing.

I think it must be, partly, the location on a particularly fine section of 300 South, away from the big stony buildings at the heart of downtown and in the middle of a neighborhood of houses, little pubs and small shops. The majestic trees casting dappled, shifting shade over the tables helps, too.

But there's also the service, which is great for a restaurant at this price point, and the loads of yummy food we consumed.

Su Casa's food is ... aw, heck. There's no need for lots of flowery adjectives here. Su Casa's food is the straightforward, cheese-smothered Tex-Mex stuff I've been eating all my life, with fresh ingredients and good-sized portions giving it flair.

This being lunch, we stuck with the crunchy chips and flavorful picante-like salsa as our only appetizer. The kids' menu, however, features several items (cheese crisp and quesadilla, for example) that also appear on the appetizer menu, so my instincts for journalistic thoroughness were covered.

The kids had the aforementioned cheese crisp, a crackly and deep-fried flour tortilla smothered in cheddar, as well as a soft-shell taco with meat, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese; and a beef, bean and cheese burrito. The $3.69 price tag for a kid's meal is remarkably cheap when you consider the size of the dishes and the fact that, like the adults' meals, they came with beans (refried or black) and "Mexican" rice; that is, mellow, tender rice cooked in tomato sauce and flecked with green chiles.

My husband had the chicken chimichanga, a chubby mound of crisp goodness filled with lean chunks of seasoned chicken and smothered in cheese and a dollop of sour cream, with rice and refried beans on the side.

I had the chili verde burrito, a tender flour tortilla folded around one of the more unique chili verdes I've tried. More golden than "verde," it tasted smoky, savory, dark and rich, a great foil for chunks of sweet and juicy pork. Is it the best chili verde I've ever had? No. But it's definitely the best chili verde I've ever had for under eight bucks.

We didn't see a dessert menu, as such. But to finish our meal, we ordered from the appetizer list and promptly devoured a plate of six wonderful sopaipillas, freshly deep-fried, round and warm, with a couple of pots of honey butter.

Appetizers $2.79-$4.79, lunch special $4.29, dinner special $7.29, entrees $5.79-$8.99, combinations $4.69-$9.19, sides $1.79-$6.99, kids' meals $3.69.

Rating: ***

Where: 516 E. 300 South

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 363-7771

Wheelchair access: Easy if you choose outdoor seating; cramped but accessible inside


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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