Taqueria 27 in Salt Lake City

To celebrate my 27th birthday, it seemed fitting to gather a group of friends for dinner at Taqueria 27, the new(ish) restaurant in Salt Lake City that focuses on gourmet tacos, creative guacamole and an extensive selection of tequila.  The following day I returned with a group of ladies for lunch, so I got to experience the restaurant in both its dinner and lunch atmospheres.

Chalkboard, Taqueria 27 specials

Taqueria 27′s chalkboard wall of specials.

Taqueria 27 and its sister coffee shop next door (simply called Coffee Bar) are located in a strip mall off of Foothill Boulevard.  Walking inside the restaurant reminded me of walking into someone’s basement and the openness of the inside made me think of a cafeteria.  But once I sat down at my table the place felt much warmer and I liked the bustling energy.  One glance at the menu told me that Taqueria 27 is seriously focused on offering an amazing selection of food and tequila.   The range of tequila offered features everything from familiar brands like Don Julio and El Jimador to rare finds like Herradura Seleccion Suprema–for $55/shot.

guacamole, chips and dip

One of the many variations of guacamole available at Taqueria 27.

Agave-inspired spirits aside, the food portion of the menu has five types of guacamole plus a special that changes daily.  Besides the traditional avocado/tomato/lime version, the variations include one with jicama (called the “mango”), a mix of chipolte and sweet peppers (“citrus”), habanero and pumpkin seeds (“tomatillo”), and chiles and garlic (“roasted”).  We doubled up with the roasted and traditional.  There wasn’t a huge difference between the two but both were delicious.  All are available in small or large sizes; two small orders were perfect for our five-person party.

quesadilla, Mexican food

The meat- and veggie-filled quesadillas were a favorite.

Classic dishes like moles, tacos and quesadillas line the menu but not all of them are the typical fare available at every Mexican joint in the city.  Most of the items have been given a Taqueria 27 twist with enhanced flavors and textures that together create something completely unique.  Take the quesadilla, for example.  Packed with huge chunks of chicken, spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, corn, onions and cheese, it was a flavorful and filling upgrade from the normal cheese-and-tortilla blandness.  Easily the best quesadilla I’ve ever had.  So good that when I returned to Taqueria 27 the next day for lunch, I ordered them again.  (Quesadillas, $6.99 plus $2.99 for chicken or beef; $2.49 for house-made chorizo.)

Carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa, red onion and chicharones

Carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa, red onion and chicharones

The tacos have also been knocked on the creative side with fillings like duck, fried or grilled fish, marinated pork, wild mushrooms and more.  At dinner, four of us shared three orders of tacos (they are available in orders of two or four in varying prices).  (The fifth person in our group ordered the mole.)  The grilled fish ($12.99) wasn’t as flavorful as I’d hoped, but the shredded duck confit with roasted vegetables ($12.59) and the carnitas (slow roasted pork) with pickled red onion and tomatillo salsa ($11.59) were delicious.

duck confit tacos, Mexican food

The duck confit tacos with roasted vegetables, leeks and chipotle crema

The tacos came with three seemingly random sauces that were almost confusing.  They created an internal debate before each bite (should I add sauce? Which sauce should I add?).  I ended up giving them up altogether and still enjoying my tacos as they were.  During my lunchtime visit I ordered the house-made turkey chorizo tacos with pickled red onion and chipolte cream.  They were good, but shadowed in comparison to the duck and pork of the previous night.

Fish tacos, Mexican food

Grilled fish taco with slaw, cilantro-lime crema and jalapeno tartar sauce

The restaurant brought out some flan for my birthday after we finished stuffing ourselves with meat-filled tortilla goodness.  Flan isn’t something I normally order but it was surprisingly refreshing after the heavy meal.  We also ordered a round of tequila shots to end the night.  They didn’t exactly pair well with the flan but definitely helped the celebratory birthday factor.

Taqueria 27 just won Best New Discovery in the Salt Lake Magazine dining awards and I can see why.  The food is good, the atmosphere is comfortable (but still lively) and they handle large groups really well (my lunch group had 30 people in it!).  This is definitely being added into my restaurant repetoire.

Go to Taqueria 27 for ::  the delicious food, the approachable menu with something that appeals to everyone (including vegetarians), the casual atmosphere and wide range of tequilas.  Notes :: No reservations, but you can call 15 minutes ahead to put your name on the waiting list (if there is one).  

Taqueria 27 on Urbanspoon

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