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Dining out: Salsa Leedos

Published: Friday, June 6 2008 12:03 a.m. MDT

Salsa Leedos takes me back, but I'm not sure it's to a place I want to visit.

This is the kind of Mexican food I ate at many of the Mexican restaurants of my childhood and teenage years — '80s Mexican, if you'll indulge me. Think back to when "Mexican" didn't mean the giant-burrito, super-fresh, super-premium ingredients trend that's swept the nation, and you might see what I mean.

I can't say our meal at Salsa Leedos was exactly bad, but it wasn't great, either. Despite the highlights, the overall feeling was ... ho-hum.

Things didn't start off well. We were seated promptly, but when I asked our server a few questions about the menu (one example: "Do you make your own tamales?"), her answers mainly ranged among, "What?" and "I don't know."

We waited a good long time between courses, so it was lucky we had two servings of Salsa Leedos' chips. They make you pay for them, so I guess that's one up-to-date touch. The thin, super-crisp chips were accompanied by medium-heat, picante-like salsa and seasoned refried beans.

I ordered the chicken enchilada, tamale and chili relleno from the build-your-own-platter option, and it arrived smothered in sauce and cheese, to the point that it was difficult to tell where the three separate items were, let alone what they were.

Once I sorted that out, I enjoyed the rich chili verde sauce covering everything. It livened up the dull, stiff chili relleno and moistened the tasty but too-dry tamale. The chicken enchilada was juicy and flavorful.

My husband had a nice entree, a nightly special in which diners choose three of several options including steak (cooked spicy or just plain broiled), chicken, shrimp and several Mexican favorites. He picked the steak, grilled medium-well as usual, plus a chicken breast with chipotle barbecue sauce and a cheese enchilada.

It was a nice plate, though the chicken had an odd, spongy texture. The steak was juicy and tender, and the enchilada subtle, simple and well-made. We both had the de rigueur beans and Mexican rice on the side; both were palatable, though neither was anything special.

The kids ordered from the extensive children's menu, choosing south-of-the-border items such as burritos and mac and cheese from the American side. I like the choice Salsa Leedos gives kids of rice and beans or fruit; most of my kids took the fruit.

For dessert, we had sopaipillas, satisfyingly chewy and yeasty but not at all crisp, like I like them best. They came with pre-prepared pouches of honey butter, the size of ketchup packets, that made me wish for the fresh kind, mixed on site.

We also tried the house-special cheesecake chimichanga, cheesecake rolled in a tortilla, then deep-fried and slathered with chocolate and caramel sauces and cream. It tasted pretty good, even for a non-cheesecake person like me, but it was hard to eat. Every time we tried to separate a piece from the whole, melted cheesecake squished out everywhere. In the end, we cut the shell into pieces and used them to mop up the cheesecake and sauce.

Appetizers $4.99-$14.99, soup and salad $1.99-$8.25, dinner platters $7.99-$24.95, sandwiches $5.99-$11.50, entrees $6.25-$14.99, kids' meals $3.95-$8.95, desserts $1.99-$6.99.


Salsa Leedos

Rating: **

Where: 9155 S. Redwood Road

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

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 565-8818

Wheelchair access: Easy; however, a portion of dining area is in a sunken bar area and is inaccessible

Also: Catering available


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

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