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Dining out: Blue Iguana has some real treats

Published: Thursday, July 29 2010 3:13 p.m. MDT

PARK CITY — I don't really know why I've never tried Blue Iguana before now.

One of the longtime Utah restaurant's two locations is in downtown Salt Lake City, where I often have lunch with my husband or friends.

My husband, in fact, has eaten there several times. And I really like Mexican food.

I'm wondering if maybe that's why. I've written before in this space that I'm leery of "new" Mexican places, fearing disappointment. And, thanks to years of visiting relatives in Houston and dining on the superlative Mexican and Tex-Mex they have down there, I've gotten a little picky.

But after spending an enjoyable hour or so at the Park City Blue Iguana, I'm glad to report I have another eatery to add to my list of "Mexican restaurants at which I'd spend my own cash."

We took a big group of 10 people to Blue Iguana, walking up Main Street and passing the Kimball Art Center to get to this attractive, unassuming little building with a nice courtyard for outdoor dining and a funky (but not over-the-top) aesthetic inside.

We started simply, with chips, salsa and bowls of guacamole and queso.

The chips were that nice thin, super-crisp kind and stood up well both to swirling around in salsa and to scooping up big mouthfuls of super-fresh guacamole studded with tomatoes and onions.

There was a bit of disagreement at our table about that guacamole.

Everybody liked it, but the Texas contingent, purists all, insisted it should have less lime. As for me, I wouldn't have minded a squirt more. We did agree, though, that the queso, though not bad, was nothing to write home about.

For dinner, my husband surprised me by departing from his usual chicken chimichanga route to order a carne asada burrito. He wasn't sorry, either, as he enjoyed a soft flour tortilla filled with loads of chewy, juicy seared beef.

The rest of us toured the menu fairly comprehensively, from crisp-crusted flautas filled with savory strands of beef to the seafood chimichanga, a delightful blend of tiny sweet scallops, shrimp and tuna folded in a tortilla, crisped and ladled with creamy white sauce.

My dad had the shrimp tacos, full of delicious little shrimp and fun to eat despite falling apart when he tried to pick them up (he used the knife-and-fork method), while my mom enjoyed veggie tacos, nicely filled with beans and grilled veggies and double-wrapped, first in one teensy soft tortilla and then in a second tortilla that had been seared to crunchiness on one side — a nice touch.

The little kids had simple, tasty bean-and-cheese burritos and chicken nuggets, all served with thin, tasty French fries, while I had mole. I wanted the "original Blue Iguana" mole de almendras, an almond mole that sounded delicious, but it wasn't on offer the night we visited.

Frankly, I've been ruined for all other mole poblano by the absolutely perfect version at Red Iguana, so I went for the mole negro, with chocolate and peanuts over pork loin. It was delicious, super-rich and so earthy I could barely stand it — in a good way. I liked it wrapped in tortillas with a little bit of bean, but I liked it straight up, too.

Appetizers $6-$11; salads $6-$12; tacos, enchiladas, burritos and the like $10-$17, entrées $16-$21, combinations, $16-$19, sides $1-$7, kids' meals $7, dessert $5-$6.

Blue Iguana

Rating: 3

Where: 629 Park Ave., Park City (also in downtown Salt Lake City)

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, 4-9 p.m.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted; no checks

Phone: 435-658-9830

Wheelchair access: Crowded but accessible

Web: www.blueiguanarestaurant.net

Also: Lunch menu

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

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