Trying out new restaurants is one of our favorite things to do as a married couple, and there are a TON of restaurants in the Utah Valley area. The only thing that is hard about trying new places is that sometimes it's hard to know what you're getting yourself into. A meal at a restaurant is a very personal thing. There are so many factors that go into a pleasurable dining experience: the ambience of the restaurant, the attention of the staff, the freshness, quality and flavor of the food, how you feel while eating, how you feel after you eat the meal.
We love getting recommendations from friends -- "You have to try this new place!" "You should definitely order the sweet potato fries!" "Stay away from anything with garlic on it!" But sometimes, it's just hard to know who to trust. Some places always get great reviews from friends because they are the "hip" place to eat (i.e. Sammy's Cafe) and there are some places that apparently everyone loves for absolutely no good reason (Diego's). I hate it when I get my hopes up really high for a great dinner out, and then the food tastes like it's out of a can of Chef Boyardee.
And I've decided that not only have I been to a lot of restaurants near BYU, but I actually have pretty good taste. Growing up, my dad was a chef, working at pretty well-known places like Salty's on Alki, Ray's Boathouse, and Beaches Restaurant & Bar, and I was used to good food. Every time we went out to a restaurant as a family, my mom (she was the harshest critic!) would tear apart the menu and find everything wrong with it. And my dad, well, he always said that he pretty much liked anything he didn't have to cook himself! Between the two, I think I developed a fairly well-rounded and accurate taste for what's good and what's not.
As I was thinking about this, I thought to myself, "You know what? I could be that friend who dishes out recommendations to others-- but the kind you could trust to tell you if a restaurant is really worth it or not." I've been to many places, like to take photos of food, and am very opinionated...so why not?
Here goes my first post about a dining experience I've had in the BYU area. I hope it is helpful and that you enjoy!
Where: Mama Chus, , 84097 (right at the mouth of the canyon, near the golf course, by that Subway and Texaco you always drive by)
Who Went: Chelsey (myself) and Sidney (dear chemistry/molecular biology study buddy)
Number of Visits: 1
What We Ordered: Chelsey: Carnitas Michocanas (not sure if the spelling is right on that, but they don't have a menu posted online) & tamarindo Jarritos; Sidney: pork enchilada & horchata
What It Cost: My total bill was $11.32 (Sidney's was a little less, somewhere around $9)
What We Thought:
I always hate to say that something tasted like "authentic Mexican food" because I've never been to Mexico, and I'm not Mexican myself, so what do I know? But I have been around a lot of Mexicans in a restaurant environment (where my dad worked), and I gotta say, this tasted like pretty authentic Mexican to me. When we got there, we were seated immediately (it was a Thursday night, around 6) and brought some chips & salsa. You can always tell if it's going to be good Mexican food based on the chips & salsa. The salsa was quite flavorful, and HOT HOT HOT! But I love spicy food, so I was all for that.
I ordered my dish, along with some Jarritos, because I'm a firm believe that all Mexican food tastes best with Jarritos (though I've heard Squirt is a popular favorite as well). It arrived in a reasonable amount of time and it was served with three flour tortillas on the side (not pictured). I was very glad that it came with rice and beans, because any Mexican served without rice and beans is just pathetic. Overall, I thought that the food was very flavorful and cooked almost just right (maybe a teensy bit dry). I was expecting it to come with a sort of sauce, and was a little disappointed when it didn't, but the guacamole, cream, and jalapeños that accompanied it provided just the right balance (and spice). It was also served over a corn tortilla, which was a little confusing since they gave me three flour tortillas on the side, but it was still good!
I feel a little bad because I think I pressured Sidney into getting the pork enchiladas instead of cheese, but it's just because I'm a huge fan of Mexican shredded pork. She said she would have preferred cheese, but if the pork was anything like the pork in my dish, then it would definitely be my top choice in meats. The sauce was mild and still tasty, and they were made in corn tortillas, just as they should be. Overall, good flavor but not outstanding or anything remarkable. The horchata was just right though -- great creaminess, nice consistency, and perfect overall flavor. If you've never tried horchata before, you must! It's a great accompaniment to spicy dishes. But make sure you get some good horchata or else you may be scarred for life...I recommend this place, or that at The Red Iguana.
What Should You Do: GO! Go if you're in the mood for some down-and-dirty, not-too-expensive Mexican food. It was quick and tasty, but make sure you divide your meal up and take at least half home -- the portion sizes were huge!
**Just as a disclaimer, this post was only super long because I felt like I needed to introduce why I was starting this blog -- most of the other posts will be more short and to the point!