A much-needed long weekend to Midway was in order a couple of weeks ago. Just the 40 minute drive up there was relaxing as life had been hectic. I was looking forward to rest, relaxation, time with family, and definitely food.
We use to visit here regularly but it has been a couple years. Each time we visited, we noticed that some new restaurants are open, and others closed. On this trip we drove down Main Street to find that the former Mountain Line Restaurant, is now a funeral home. The food there was pretty good but I wouldn’t try it now. I was also excited about Fanny’s restaurant at the Homestead Resort where we were staying.
But one thing that excited me most what the chance to find new restaurants. Last year I wrote of meeting the founder of Firehouse Subs when he came to Salt Lake City. He gave each of us five $10 gift cards to promote the store. When I put that on the site, I asked for new restaurant recommendations. One of those was Tarahumara in Midway. Because of our previous challenge of knowing that many restaurants don’t last long, I wondered if it would be there.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and played in the pool. Venturing out for dinner, we decided to drive past Tarahumara. There were a few groups outside waiting, and it was a dogfight to park. So we left and decided to come back another day. Monday was our last full day there so it was time.
At 2:00pm, we walked up to the building and there were 3 signs for Tarahumara, all a little different but all having the name. The first door was the bar. Something about “You must be 21 to Enter” and holding a 9 month old doesn’t work well to eat there. So to the next door we went. This was a small grocery store/bakery. Those pastries looked delicious but where do patrons sit down and eat this delicious food I had heard about? The third door had to be it right? Well we entered that and it was even confusing. There was a counter there and someone found us, grabbed some menus and walked us down a hall. There was the restaurant; it looked and smelled wonderful.
On the way to our table we walked around the salsa bar. It is the same equipment as a salad bar but loaded with about 30 salsas. You help yourself with little plastic cups. Since they bring you nachos, it’s fun to try many of them, which we did. It’s like a PhD level class lab-every concoction you can think of; and some that you can’t.
Being a Mexican Restaurant, the drink menu is larger than the food options; but the food looked good and a plenty. There was a dry erase board with 5 or 6 specials and it being 2:00pm, I wished I could try them all. A neighboring table had a large margarita glass full of ceviche. Mouth watering to the sight but they may have beat me for trying to take a photo.
My mind was focused on 3 things: Tacos Carnitas, Tacos Barbacoa or one of the specials–Snapper Veracruz. When I asked about the special, he wasn’t sure that they had any left but went back to check. This being America, I immediately craved what I didn’t think I could have so I desperately wanted the Snapper Veracruz. There was one left, I snapped (no pun intended) it up. Well played Mr. Waiter, well played indeed.
At this point I realized something that my wife has known for years-that I ordered it based on the name and didn’t know what was in it. Time to figure out what “Veracruz” meant in the culinary landscape. Veracruz sauce is a spicy and tangy sauce that melds the flavors of old Mexico with flavors imported from Spain: including onions, beans, chilis, peppers, olives and capers. All of this piled onto crispy red snapper. This is the epitome of healthy, exotic and fresh. The flavors were a wild explosion and a see-saw competition with each other. A competition that ended with everyone happy.
Now I realize here that I am reviewing a dish that was a special and not available everyday. But this is indicative of the flavors you will find at Tarahumara. Once, while in Roatan, Honduras, I ate a meal in a bamboo hut right on the beach. It was the fresh catch of the day mixed with local veggies and herbs. I didn’t have a care in the world then and eating here gave me the same relaxed feeling.
Good thing that we did not try to go here twice during our three-day vacation. It is popular, it is busy, but it is worth it. The dessert list was long and looked wonderful. I had no room however.
As your favorite sports team knows, it’s not getting to the top that is the hard part, it’s staying there! In the restaurant world it also seems that you can go to hero to zero in no time at all. Just a hunch however that Tarahumara is here to stay and to thrive for a while. Check it out.