An afternoon appointment last week took me past downtown where, on 900 W., I found a signproclaiming: “Chunga’s,” with the slogan below, “Never Underestimate the Power of the Taco.”
Some wouldn’t notice, others may see it and drive right on by, but a true food addict like myself will decide that commitments can wait—I immediately put everything else aside.
What I found inside felt like a party to which I had to invite myself. It was mid-afternoon on a Friday, and there were happy patrons, loud music, a full and busy procession of food preparation, and enticing aromas. This festive feeling and welcoming atmosphere left me hoping that the food was as good as the party.
The menu at Chunga’s is not large, and part of it just may require you to use Google. Things like Huarache, Gorditas, Sopes, Pambazo, Alambre, and Tortas were not part of my regular dining experience. More recognizable dishes were Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, and Quesadillas. Since they are asking us to “never underestimate the power of the taco,” I needed to try those. The Tacos come with Al pastor, steak, chicken, cactus, Mexican sausage, spicy chicken, or spicy pork. How could you go wrong with any of these choices?
Since Al Pastor tacos sounded intriguing, I went with that. It is roasted pork marinated with guajillo chiles and achitoe, served on corn tortillas. The pork has a subtle flavor with some mild background heat. That was complimented nicely with a sweet citrus infusion of pineapple, onions, and cilantro. The Tacos Combination includes two tacos with a side of rice and beans.
Also desiring to try one of those dishes that were new to me, I threw a mental dart and picked
Sopes—a round of fried masa with refried black beans, crumbled Mexican cheese, lettuce, and your choice of meat. It’s like your personal meat cake, and could be a meal in and of itself; it’s heavy, rustic, and authentic. Feeling daring, I went with the spicy pork. While Al pastor is a little bit of a wallflower at the party, spicy pork is definitely the looking-for- a-fight Bouncer.
The atmosphere—festive; the food—incredible; the prices—more than affordable; the party—not only inside Chunga’s but in each dish.
Chunga’s has been around for over a decade and is definitely not going anywhere soon; it’s a neighborhood institution. Find yourself at the party soon.
180 South 900 West, Salt Lake City (801) 953-1840