Salt Lake City’s modern Mexican restaurant, Frida Bistro, is off the beaten path in a lot of ways. Located on 545 West 700 South, it’s in an area of downtown that most people probably never venture and even when you’re looking for it, the restaurant is easy to miss among the old, beat up industrial buildings nearby. But once inside the small restaurant the brightly colored walls, flamboyant Mexican decor, swanky music, and laid-back vibe reminds you yet again that this is not your regular restaurant. And one glance at the menu is enough to tell you that your meal will be like nothing you can find anywhere else in Salt Lake.
I have been to Frida Bistro many times and each time I manage to fall in love with the place again. From the food to the decor to the outstanding service (every. single. time.), it’s a meal that is easily memorable. The food is dubbed “sophisticated Mexican gastronomy” on their website and the chef once told me it’s his version of a home-made, special occasion meal in Mexico. Dishes include exquisite concoctions like slow-roasted pork with chipotle mashed potatoes (Carnitas de Puerco, $18), braised pork shank confit with salsa mancha mantel (Chamorro de Puerco, $26), and shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce (Camerones Diego, $25). Drool over their entire menu here.
|The amuse-bouche is a gordita-like bite with sweet roasted pumpkin seeds.|
On a recent visit to Frida Bistro I brought a new comer with me that had never been before. I love introducing people to Frida Bistro because it usually becomes a favorite afterward. We started with their signature margaritas, which are a good indication of the food to come. The drinks are fusions of unexpected flavors that I would never think to combine, especially in margarita form. I’m talking mango, habanero and red bell pepper (The Marzella, $9); prickly pear and fresh mint (The Stephanie, $8); and jicama, pomegranate and black currant (The Mia, $9). See the complete margarita list here. I chose The Pineapple Cilantro, a refreshingly perfect mix.
|Frida Bistro’s delicious Pineapple Cilantro Margarita.|
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to order a margarita to be satisfied. I am confident that the bloody mary (or Bloody Maria) is hands-down the best I’ve had. Ever. The ingredients tend to vary depending on the bartender. So if you happen to see the manager Stephanie running around the restaurant, ordering the Bloody Maria is a must because she makes it the best. It’s spicy, tangy, and refreshing all at once, with a slight hint of citrus. If you’re in the tequila mood instead, they also have an extensive list of tequilas available, many of which I had never heard of.
|Frida Bistro’s version of the bloody mary, The Bloody Maria.|
For the main dish, I ordered the Pato Sucio, $24, pan-seared duck breast topped with a mole poblano sauce and a side of chive mashed potatoes. The rich duck contrasted with the spicy tanginess of the mole to produce a mix of flavors I’d never had. It was familiar, yet novel at once.
|Patio Sucio: duck breast with a mole poblano sauce.|
My dining buddy chose Chuletitas a la Sangre Naranja, $24, grilled lamb chops with blood orange reduction with a display of fava beans, peas and romanesco, and chive mashed potatoes. I am a sucker for lamb chops and these did not disappoint. For the most part they were your typical lamb chops, but the blood orange reduction give it the hint of flavor to make it interesting.
|Chuletitas a la Sangre Naranja: grilled lamb chops.|
The experience at Frida Bistro is a must for everyone. It is yet another great example of how the food scene in Utah is really taking off. The restaurant may be off the beaten path, but it’s definitely worth venturing to. Your taste buds–and your soul–will thank you.