Last week’s Summit County wildfire, which threatened structures in Summit Park and Pinebrook, had me worried. I used to live in Pinebrook and have many friends in both Summit Park and my old neighborhood and I feared for them. I also feared damage to some of the businesses in the area, not the least of which is one of my favorite Park City eateries: Billy Blanco’s Motor City Mexican.
I have loved Billy Blanco’s Motor City Mexican Burger & Taco Garage ever since restaurateur Bill White opened the eye-popping eatery in the summer of 2013. One reason for loving this unique roadside bar and grill is that, like Bill White, I am an unrepentant gearhead. I love motorsports and all things fast and furious. It’s not surprising that White is a lover of cars, bikes and just about anything else with a motor as well, since he hails originally from the heart of the American automotive industry, Detroit – AKA Motor City.
Well, Billy Blanco’s is an homage to fast cars, fast motorcycles and all the other things that gearheads love … like toolboxes, which are an important part of the decor at Billy Blanco’s. I remember White walking me through Billy Blanco’s while it was still under construction. In addition to being a world-class chef and restaurateur, I also learned that White has some pretty practical skills, like welding.
Part of creating the motor-driven ambiance at Billy Blanco’s included White’s purchase of an old mill in Kamas, from which he “harvested” heavy equipment like the tractor gears and chain pulleys which he creatively turned into “decor.” For the bar at Billy Blanco’s, White fabricated bar seats that look like seats in sports cars.
Stroll around Billy Blanco’s and you find vintage automobiles like Dodge Chargers and Chevy SuperSports as well as a Shelby GT, customized Harleys, Ducati racing cycles and much more. Chrome-plated toolboxes and gas pump handles add to the automotive ambiance. It’s all absolutely stunning.
But then, all of Bill White’s Park City restaurants are uniquely beautiful in their own way. So much so that it’s easy to forget that the food at White’s restaurants hits the same high notes as does the cuisine, whether we’re talking about Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Windy Ridge, Ghidotti’s or Sushi Blue. Simply put, I’ve never had a meal at a Bill White restaurant that wasn’t excellent.
Tempting starters at Billy Blanco’s include barbecue ribs, which are dry-rubbed and smoked with hardwood and served with housemade Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. The jumbo size chicken wings are also terrific and come with ranch dressing, carrots, celery, and a choice of sauces: chile-lime, spicy Nashville hot shake, Kansas BBQ, or Tapatio buffalo sauce in mild, medium or hot.
The Mexican portion of the menu sports a host of different taco types, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas and burritos. The Taco Sampler ($19) is a good choice for exploring a range of Billy Blanco tacos such as carne asada, chicken al pastor, Baja fish tacos, Tejano smoked short rib, pork adobada and portobello mushroom. The tacos are excellent and each variety comes with its own garnishes and sauces, ranging from cilantro crema, pico de gallo, and jalapeño-avocado sauce to red chile crema, spicy escabeche, chile de árbol salsa, and cojita cheese.
On the side of the menu labelled “Gringo” are sandwiches, ribs, chicken, burgers and such – all uniquely Billy Blanco’s. The 454 Fried Chicken ($18) is buttermilk marinated thigh and breast, fried until crisp and served with a side of chipotle honey. Guests who like their chicken spicy should ask for “Stan’s hot chicken.” There are three burgers on the menu, of which the Grande Burger ($20) is a crowd favorite. It begins with a ⅓ pound of Bill White Ranches chuck and shaved short rib, topped a mile high with lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo, crispy onion rings, house Kansas City BBQ sauce, and American, cheddar or blue cheese on a grilled bun. A tasty Smoked Short Rib Sandwich ($16), Four Barrel BBQ Ribs ($24) and Hot Chicken Sandwich round out the Gringo portion of the menu.
Like most of Bill White’s restaurants, Billy Blanco’s offers patio seating. But if you dine outside, be sure to take time to tour the interior of the restaurant. As mentioned, there’s a lot to look at.
For those who’d prefer to dine at home, Billy Blanco’s offers online ordering, as well as a selection of “large” to-go items intended to feed parties of 10 people or more. These orders must be placed 72 hours in advance and include options like 50 wings with a pint or ranch or blue cheese; fajitas for 20; 5 rack portions of smoked St. Louis pork ribs; 30 shredded chicken enchiladas; guacamole to feed 20; side dishes like Mexican black beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, mixed green salad, and much more.
Offering up a delightful combo of delicious dishes and beverages, outstanding service, and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere, Billy Blanco’s Motor City Mexican isn’t just one of Utah’s most interesting and appealing restaurants, but one of the Nation’s.
Culinary quote of the week:
“Just because you can serve food on a hubcap doesn’t mean you should.” — Bill White
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.