I was visiting a friend in Salt Lake City. Knowing that I write this blog, he wanted to take me to some place special. At the top of his list was Red Iguana, which he says is “the go to Mexican place.” In a city full of Mexican restaurants, that is saying something. While Red Iguana has a full slate of Mexican dishes, its speciality is Mole.
A fixture of Salt Lake City since 1985, Red Iguana has several locations. We went to the original location on North Temple street. Not too far from the airport, it was a convenient spot to have lunch right before my flight. Their second location, Red Iguana 2, opened in December 2009 and is two blocks away. Their final location, Taste of Iguana, is located near the city center. A related restaurant, Blue Iguana, was sold by the family in 1998.
While they have other kinds of Mexican, I wanted to try the speciality of the house. As this was my first time there, I was given a sample plate in order to taste all their Mole sauces. There have 6 on the menu ; the tasting plate had that , plus a couple of more. In clockwise order, the are: Mole Negro (black), Mole Amarillo (yellow), Mole Poblano, Mole Verde (green), Mole Colardito, Red Pipian, and two extra whose names I do not remember. They differ in taste from strong to mild, depending on what pepper(s) are used, the spices, and what nuts are ground into the sauce. Every variety is good. I went with Mole Poblano, which is one of the stronger tasting ones. I later found out that Mole Poblano is the National Dish of Mexico.
The sauce is served over your choice of meat. I picked chicken. When it came out, I got a heaping mound of chicken smothered with the Mole sauce. The chicken was moist, but unseasoned. All the flavor of the dish came from the Mole sauce. Oozing with flavor, the sauce could have been served with anything and it would be delicious. My friend had one of the specials of the day: an enchilada and tamale combo, with the latter covered with Mole sauce. He loves tamales and was super excited to mix it with mole sauce. My friend doesn’t remember which sauce he ordered, as he changes them up every visit (and has never been disappointed). Describing the meal as flavorful, he found it perfect after a morning of walking around town.
The Red Iguana has a relaxed but festive ambience. Mexican music is played, adding to the atmosphere. The place was packed, but they were able to quickly seat us. The food came out just as quick. With great food at reasonable prices, I an see why it is my friend’s favorite.