Red Iguana Chips and SalsaIt was nearly four years ago when I first acknowledged my love for Salt Lake City’s Red Iguana Restaurant in a post on the blog. Then a few weeks ago I was excited to hear that Red Iguana 2 was opening, literally blocks away from the original location. Now you can go to one Red Iguana and if it’s standing-room-only with people waiting for tables, it’s a 5 minute drive to the other location. I think that plan was a stroke of marketing genius on the part of Lucy Cardenas, the personable and charming owner of the Red Iguanas. I’ve been to the new Red Iguana several times since it opened, and I love the new Red Iguana 2 just as much as the original one. It’s been a while since I shared restaurant photos for Friday Night Photos, but these are some of the dishes that make eating at the Red Iguana always so memorable.

Even though you may be too polite to ask, I know some readers might be wondering, “What would a woman who’s pretty committed to the South Beach Diet eat at a place like the Red Iguana?” Truthfully, there probably isn’t anything on the menu that’s 100% South Beach Diet friendly, but if you use some restraint you can have a great Red Iguana meal without doing too much damage.

Start by skipping the chips and salsa, and ordering your dinner without rice. Feel free to enjoy the Red Iguana’s amazingly creamy refried beans, which don’t contain lard, and order one of the meals that’s mostly protein or vegetables. The two things I order most often here are the Chile Verde Plate (without rice) or the Carnitas (without the tortillas.) Red Iguana chile verde does contain a bit of flour to thicken the sauce, but the simmered spicy chunks of pork with refried beans is still a pretty low-glycemic meal. As for the Red Iguana carnitas, there’s no doubt that they’re a little high in fat for the South Beach Diet guidelines, but they come with refried beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo, all of which are good choices.

I also believe that the best diet is the one you can strictly follow most of the time, but ignore completely for a special occasion, like when family members are in town for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t eat all the food that’s pictured here, but no matter what I order when I visit the Red Iguana, I always enjoy the meal. I’m not 100% sure I remember what’s in each of these photos, taken over a series of visits, but I’m guessing that inquiring minds want to know so I’ll try to label them.

Cheese enchilada and chile rellenos, with the famous Red Iguana refried beans.

Huevos Rancheros, served with Mexican rice and refried beans.

Red Iguana Carnitas, served with refried beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

Seafood enchiladas, served with rice and black beans.

Red Iguana fish tacos, served with Mexican rice, guacamole, and a creamy white sauce for the tacos.

Red Iguana chile verde plate, served with Mexican Rice and refried beans.

Have you ever been to one of the Red Iguana locations in Salt Lake, and if so, what do you like to order there?

Red Iguana 2
866 West South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

Blogger Disclosure:

Although the owners at The Red Iguana know that I’m a food blogger, we paid for this meal and they have no idea I’m writing this post about the restaurant. 

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