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Go For the Food: Mexican food in Salt Lake City

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 7:38 am •  Published: August 5, 2014
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In a west side Salt Lake City neighborhood 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.

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