My husband and I bought a new van recently. During that interminable period while the paperwork is being processed, I found myself (as I often do) talking food and restaurants, this time with a car salesman from Texas who claimed he'd lost 100 pounds since moving to Utah.
This was due in part to his inability to find Mexican restaurants like the places he loved back home (and, having been there, I can say that Texas does, indeed, have wonderful Mexican food).
He had discovered Red Iguana, loved it and now confines himself to those reliably delicious environs, too afraid of being burned to try something new.
I may have found a little variety for him in the form of Frida Bistro, an invigorating eatery that gives Salt Lake's Mexican food scene an upscale shot in the arm.
Frida is located in an up-and-coming part of western Salt Lake City, an area of warehouses and light industrial buildings and boutique-like businesses. Look for the fuzzy orange ornaments in the tree out front, and you're there (failing that, the huge picture of artist Frida Kahlo is pretty easy to spot).
Fittingly for a restaurant named for an artist, the interior of Frida is chock-full of art. The place isn't really for kids, but my son loved looking at — and talking about — the many colorful creations hung from floor to ceiling.
We started with the queso fundido with chorizo, an inspiringly simple and delicious presentation of oozing, melted Mexican cheese with a scoop of crumbly, smoky chorizo sausage in the middle, and blue-corn tortilla chips for excavating it from the hot dish in which it was served.
For lunch, my husband had excellent chicken enchiladas, lightly seasoned chicken in corn tortillas so tender they were practically crepes, topped with roasted red peppers and creamy, sharp cheese sauce. On the side he enjoyed Frida's herby, pepper-topped "tres verdes" rice.
I had a bowl of red chile and pork posole and the "tres ceviches" small plate, and it was a real exercise in contrasts. The posole, rich and meaty with huge chunks of pork and nutty hominy, was classic comfort food, with Mexican oregano, shallots and lime for topping.
As good as that was, the inspired ceviche eclipsed it. Served on a long plate, it was three small square bowls piled with three different variants on ceviche: a traditional and tangy preparation of shrimp, lime, tomatoes and onions; a dark ruby-red preparation of beets and albacore; and scallops with melon and apple.
Every one was fabulous, but I could have eaten about a gallon of the scallops, whose clean, mellow freshness, scooped up on blue-corn tortilla chips, was pure ceviche heaven.
The heavenliness (is that a word?) continued at dessert with the arrival of The Frida, a chile-chocolate cookie with delicately crisped exterior and tender, almost lava-like interior, served with spicy chocolate sauce, a sprinkling of nutty pepitas and dulce de leche ice cream.
This cookie, produced at the nearby Dough Girl bakery, was so fabulous it was hard to restrain myself from rushing over there and making a cookie-scarfing spectacle of myself.
Lunch: Small plates $7-$12, soup and salad $5-$8, entrées $8-$14, desserts $6-8. Dinner: Small plates $6-$12, entrées $17-$27. Desserts $6-$8.
Where: 545 W. 700 South
Hours: Monday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m.; Saturday 5-10:30 p.m.; closed Sunday
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Wheelchair access: Easy
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. E-mail: email@example.com