Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not live to eat, eat to live.” However, it is hard to stick to this rule after a very hard week when enjoying our weekend encompasses great food and delicious drinks. We decided to try a new place this time, Alamexo, that opened last November. Alamexo rose from the former Zy’s in only four days. “We kept our same local sourcing of ingredients and same excellent staff. We just decided our concept needed to change” , commented the co-owner and chef Matthew Lake.
You have to respect someone willing to double-down after a disappointment. Matthew Lake has a long-track record for success in the culinary world. Entrepreneur/Chef Lake resides in Utah by way of New York. Lake helped to launch Rosa Mexicano: a Mexican restaurant at the Lincoln Center. “It never received anything but “Excellent” reviews by the New York Times.” It was a hit.. But Zy’s “food, wine and cheese” didn’t quite work with the SLC crowd. “Too many people perceived it as expensive.” It was miscategorized: Salt Lakers don’t like hoity-toity places.
Alamexo might seem a bit pretentious before one enters: fine table cloths, high ceilings in a very modern-feeling space. But the prices and food, we found, were well worth the value and the service was excellent. The complimentary table side salsa is different every day. We sampled one made with roasted chipotle moritto jaillo pablano peppers. Its smoky, but not too spicy, earthy and delicious. We decided to order ceviche as an appetizer. The combination of fresh shrimp and crab marinated in lime and cilantro served with corn and plantain chips was an intriguing and delicious overture to our main entries.
The waiter recommended we try their enchiladas. The corn tortillas that they are served on taste homemade. Chef Lake said that he sampled about 30 tortillas that were locally made and settled on La Flor. They contain no preservatives and are brought daily in since they have no shelf life. They almost taste like a corn ravioli, but are crispy on the outside, with pulled pork and exceptional mole. I must say, it was even better than the last mole I ate at Red Iguana.
To eat in a Mexican restaurant and not order a Margarita would be almost a crime.. Fortunately, we were not guilty of that and would rate it as one of the best margaritas we tasted. Alamexo uses only 100% blue agave nectar and only top shelf tequilas
Plan on spending around $30 per person for drinks appetizers and entrees. Alexemo is a special occasion place for us. I sampled the dessert just so I could see with my own eyes what a chocolate tamale looked like. I actually believed I would find it awful, but it was something like a spicy chocolate mousse, served with creme fraiche and chocolate sauce and candied pumpkin seeds. I was bursting at this point, but I still ate nearly all of it with their excellent fresh-pressed coffee.
Chef Lake has made a smart double-down. He is very much aware that Salt Laker’s have kind of an odd relationship with downtown. Coming from Sugar House to downtown almost seems like a chore—especially if you need search for parking. But we found plenty of street parking on this Sunday night. On Saturday’s the Broadway Tower has parking for just $4, or after eight street parking is free.