Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Lifestyles
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Go For the Food: In Salt Lake City, a place to get a Mexico City treat known as al pastor

In this July 29, 2014, photo, waitress Maribel Albanez holds a strawberry shake at Chunga’s Mexican Grill, in Salt Lake City. The hunt for a taste of Mexico City brings diners near a highway overpass in a neighborhood known for tire shops and tacos. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Enlarge Image

In this July 29, 2014, photo, waitress Maribel Albanez holds a strawberry shake at Chunga’s Mexican Grill, in Salt Lake City. The hunt for a taste of Mexico City brings diners near a highway overpass in a neighborhood known for tire shops and tacos. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY - In a west side Salt Lake City neighbourhood known for tire shops and taco joints, a pineapple turns on a spit over layers of smoky, marinated pork. The dish is called al pastor, and the place is called Chunga's.

Cooks shave the meat seasoned with chipotle and guajillo peppers, pile it into warm corn tortillas and top with onion, cilantro and matchstick slices of fresh fruit.

Few spots offered the specialty in Salt Lake City until owner Roberto Contreras opened the restaurant about seven years ago. But customers "know al pastor now and they know it's good. It's something special," he said of the signature street snack of Mexico City, where he's from.

Contreras mans the register as cooks zip between salsas and tortillas on the grill. In the evening, families gather outside under umbrellas; on weekdays, the place draws office workers. On sunny days, the line stretches into the parking lot, where a cartoonish sign of a hulking pig in sunglasses with a pineapple in his grip warns: "Do not underestimate the power of the taco."

A waitress weaves around the line with plastic trays of those tacos with rice, black beans and queso fresco, along with other items: chili-smothered burritos, crunchy corn quesadillas and tortas layered with Oaxacan cheese_reminiscent of a smoky-sweet meatball sub. Other options include gorditas and enchiladas. Most of the offerings range from $5 to $8.

And it's not all about the pork: Chunga's also offers chicken, steak and chorizo. And there a few (rotating) vegetarian choices, sometimes including zucchini flowers, cactus and mushrooms.

The restaurant doesn't serve alcohol, but you can cool the heat from spicy salsas with frozen mango, strawberry or pineapple shakes.

The location also offers a view of northern Utah's signature mountain range, the Wasatch, that's particularly nice on summer evenings.

A few blocks away, there's a better-known Mexican restaurant, Red Iguana, where locals often bring visitors fresh off the plane for a half-dozen moles over stuffed enchiladas. Chunga's, a bit farther from downtown and its towering Mormon temple, is among a few lower-profile favourites. Others include bakeshop Panaderia Flores, which offers sweet breads, pineapple or pumpkin empanadas and tamales.

___

If You Go...

CHUNGA'S: 180 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City, http://www.chungasmexican.com/ or 801-953-1840.

PANADERIA FLORES: 1625 W. 700 North, Salt Lake City, http://panaderiafloresutah.com/ or 801-533-0211.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100

Social Media