GRANTSVILLE — When my mom was growing up in Grantsville, local folks gathered at the Skyline restaurant for Sunday steak and shrimp, or at Baired's Teddy Bear drive-in for burgers and fries.

These days, there's a new dining destination in town, one that is fast becoming the gathering place that those old restaurants used to be.

Casa del Rey, on Main Street in the old Jimbo's Drive Inn building, has an open, basic floor plan with a few Mexican touches. But aside from the fact that the place is clean and bright, the decor isn't important. It's the fresh, good quality food, not the ambience, that's packing them in.

A friend and I hit Casa del Rey for a late lunch on a recent weekday. Even in the usually slow afternoon hours, there were several other patrons scattered around the dining room.

Our waitress, who literally served everything with a smile, was at our table in no time with warm, crispy chips and a fine-chopped, earthy salsa.

We also started with a huge plate of nachos, Casa del Rey's interpretation being the basic-but-good chips smothered with melted cheddar, and the chicken flautas. These would make a nice lunch on their own — two tortillas stuffed with moist, lean chicken, then rolled and fried, and served with dollops of fresh, chunky guacamole and sour cream.

Along with the usual favorites, Casa del Rey has a few items you won't find on most Mexican menus. I was tempted by the Alambres, strips of sirloin and sauteed veggies with bacon, ham and Jack cheese, and by the Cochinita Pibil, roasted pork in achiote sauce, wrapped in banana leaves and served with onion habanero sauce.

But in the end, I went with one of my favorites, the chili verde burrito, as part of a combination platter that also included a cheese enchilada and a beef taco. I'm picky about my chili verde, and this was a superior rendition, with rich, dark flavor and fork-tender pork in a burrito with refried beans. There were just enough beans to enhance the flavor without overpowering it.

My friend had the El Cocodrilo platter, a fat, flavorful chimichanga topped with chili verde sauce, sour cream and guacamole. Both of our lunches were served with decent versions of the standard refried beans and Mexican rice.

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I meant to order some horchata to drink with dessert, but I forgot; I'll save that for next time. We had plenty to eat as it was, ordering the fried ice cream and the flan. The fried ice cream was a generous-size ball of vanilla ice cream coated thickly with a warm crunchy coating and topped with cream. The flan was served at room temperature and was sweet, eggy and firm.

It's nice to have a few local places as dining destinations, even in small towns. Grantsville has that again, and by all accounts, Casa del Rey is earning that status. If you find yourself out that way, find out for yourself.

Appetizers $2.95-$5.95, dinner specialties $5.25-$7.95, combination platters $3.95-$7.95, salads $2.99-$5.95, kids' meals $2.45-$3.45, a la carte items and sides 50 cents-$4.50.

Rating: ***

Where: 533 E. Main, Grantsville

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Payment: Checks, credit cards

Reservations: None needed

Phone: 1-435-884-3663

Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: