Eventually we worked our way through the whole museum. It was dinnertime. And we were hungry. Uncharacteristically, I had done no research on Salt Lake City restaurants. Fortunately, Karina came to the rescue with some awesome Google-Fu. How about this place called The Red Iguana? She showed me the menu on her phone, and I almost drooled all over it. The menu looked amazing, especially the full page of mole dishes. They had at least eight different kinds of mole, more than I had ever heard of, much less had the chance to try. It was settled. We would go there.
So what if there were 15 of us. The place was near downtown, in Salt Lake City – surely it would be used to large groups, right?
Not so much.
I mean, no one in this group is an idiot. We did call ahead, and though they didn’t take reservations, they said they’d let the hostess know we were coming. They estimated a half hour or so wait if we got there right away. Arne and I, unencumbered by children or other passengers, volunteered to run ahead of the main group and secure us a place in line. It would be fine.
We were dismayed when we arrived to find the valet lot packed and, more to the point, an enormous crowd of people standing around on the sidewalk. There were probably two dozen people ahead of us. And the restaurant was by no means huge. The host (it turned out to be a man) seemed a little dismayed when we asked for a table for 15 – but not as dismayed as the couple who arrived a half-second later than us and gallantly allowed us to go ahead of them. I felt a little guilty about that, but in the end they were seated long before we were.
The rest of our group arrived shortly thereafter, and though no one seemed happy about the idea of a 45-minute wait, no one seriously suggested we go elsewhere. Heck, the process of choosing another restaurant would probably take 20 minutes, and then we’d have to get there and wait for a table there, and… whatever. It’s not like we don’t like hanging out together, doing nothing in particular.
In the end, it took almost an hour to be seated. The good news is, they managed to clear out the whole front room for us, so we had a private space – a mercy for the rest of the patrons as well as for us, I’m sure.
Starving, we ordered plates of chips and guacamole along with our drinks. Arne and I had “apple beer,” which was basically apple soda. It was really good, tart and strongly apple-y. The guacamole and chips and salsa were all excellent too, and we fell on them like starving hounds.
But we were there for the mole. I ordered the mango enchiladas, irresistibly described in the menu as “Succulent pork carnitas wrapped in two corn tortillas, topped with our spicy, savory, and sweet mango mole, made with golden raisins, spices, yellow chiles, and mango.”
We finally ground to a halt, stuffed to the gills, but not too stuffed to order a quart of mole negro and a pint of mole poblano to go. As we dragged ourselves from the still-bustling restaurant, we found that even after 9:00 pm, as the July sky was getting dark, there was more than a scattering of people standing outside waiting for a table. No surprise, really.
The next day, we had a breakfast fit for a king: eggs scrambled with mole negro, crowned with avocado, scooped up with corn tortillas. Wow.
Epically worth the wait.