The word “hidden” holds real significance here. Blue Iguana is tucked in between two buildings directly west of the Capitol Theatre. As you come through the alley and walk down the stairs, you are immediately transported into a festive atmosphere with an inviting aroma.
Kris Cappaert has been the proprietor here since shortly after Blue Iguana’s inception 19 years ago. A lifelong Utahn with a passion for food, a mind for business, and boundless energy, Kris has established a place that she long dreamed of.
She is but part of the equation here as Manuel Castillo has been her executive chef for nearly all that time. Any restaurant that has had the same owner, same chef, and nearly half the original staff for so long must be doing something right.
Both Kris & Manuel enthusiastically introduced me to Mole—a sauce made from spices, chilies, nuts, and chocolate. Blue Iguana has seven different types; the most popular being Mole Poblano: red chiles & peanuts with a dash of cinnamon and chocolate. Another, the Mole Negro, has 18 ingredients created through an intricate, step-by-step process.
Each mole is unique with a smooth, rich flavor. Moles go great as a sauce for any of the meats, or even as a dip for chips. Mix and match a specific Mole with a dish to find your perfect combination; or better yet, get a recommendation.
Before you do anything, dig into some chips and salsa. Homemade each day, the salsa is a fine-chopped blend of veggies and herbs, has an incredibly “fresh” flavor, is slightly spicy, and just may be addictive.
The menu is an encyclopedia of Mexican cuisine. I asked them to surprise me with an entree—something unique and spicy. They brought out the Puntas De Filete: grilled sirloin tips and bacon sautéed with onion & serrano chilies, served with an almond mole and topped with avocado. The ingredients combine to make the dish like a beautiful orchestra—each piece enhancing the others. The serrano peppers gave it a “slow burn of satisfaction.”
While dining at Blue Iguana, I got to meet an enthusiastic owner & chef, taste delicious food, and watch loyal customers who were familiar with the experienced staff. It is not simply a restaurant, but an experience. My last question for Chef Manuel was, “What is your secret?” He replied that there are no secrets with his food. “Everything is made from passion and love.”
Locations: 165 S. West Temple in Downtown Salt Lake and 255 Main Street in Park City.