Kalyn's Kitchen

The Red Iguana: A Utah Tradition

The Red Iguana

Every big city has a few well-established restaurants where the locals love to eat. These are places that aren’t fancy or trendy, but which have outstanding food that people come back for time and again. In Salt Lake City the restaurant I’ve loved the most for the longest would have to be the Red Iguana. Known as “the home of killer Mexican food” and open since 1985, the Red Iguana is a Utah tradition.

I went there recently with Vanessa from She Craves, another Salt Lake City food blogger. It was during the Sundance Film Festival, but that wasn’t the reason people were lined up on the sidewalk to get into the place. The Red Iguana is always crowded for three reasons, great food, large servings, and cheap prices. Sounds like a recipe for restaurant success.


The R. I. is probably most known for mole, but Vanessa and I already knew what we wanted. We both had a delicious dinner and each had enough left over for another meal, and for only about $20.00 total for the two dinners. I’m still a bit shy about taking photos in restaurants, and we were seated in a crowded area, so these photos may not do it justice, but this was a delicious meal.


Vanessa chose Chilaquiles, which the menu describes as “deep fried corn tortilla strips simmered in red chile sauce, scrambled with chorizo and egg, then topped with cotija cheese, served with refried beans.”I ordered Chile Verde, described as “tender select cubed pork cooked in our green chile and tomatillo sauce.” I passed on the rice and ordered mine with beans only. When it came I said to Vanessa, “How am I going to get a good photo of this?” but it was delicious

The Red Iguana
736 West North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
(801) 322-1489
Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm;
Sat 10am-11pm; Sun 10am-9pm

Blogger Disclosure:

I know the owners at The Red Iguana and they do know that I’m a food blogger, but we paid for the meal and they have no idea I’m writing this post about the restaurant. 
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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    13 Comments on “The Red Iguana: A Utah Tradition”

  1. Hi Greg,
    Now you have me thinking about how long I’ve been eating there myself. I know I went to the original location which was just south of the Delta Center (and I think it later burned down if I’m remembering it right.) Not sure when that was, but a LONG time ago, I know that. And I’ve been a faithful customer at the North Temple location ever since they moved there. Their chile verde is the standard by which I judge all others!

  2. The Red Iguana is great! I’ve been eating there for 19 years.

  3. Kalyn and Vanessa,
    I will be thrilled to join you at the Red Iguana if ever I find my way out west again.

  4. I’m embarrassed to admit that I never ate at the Red Iguana the whole time I lived in Salt Lake City. But I am bound and determined to go there sometime!

  5. I second the invitation from Kalyn—it would fantastic to host some fellow bloggers out here!

    and yes, it’s that good!

  6. How totally cool that the Chocolate Lady has not only been to Utah, but been to the Red Iguana!

  7. Wow! I went to Red Iguana on my only (so far) visit to SLC and it was wonderful. I had some beautifully seasoned chiles rellenos and bought a shirt with an iguana on a map of Utah.I also like the urban cosiness of the place–it reminds me of some of my favorite Ukrainian diners in New York.

    Why shouldn’t Utah have great Mexican food? It’s right near Mexico, isn’t it? (Some folks are claiming to have heard me say that New Jersey is pretty close to Mexico as well)

  8. I’m totally up for a trip to visit you and Vanessa and have some of this alleged great Mexican food! 😉

  9. Rorie, I think you and Lisa must come to Utah and have Mexican food with Vanessa and I. In fact, I’m going to your blog right now and plant the suggestion. Anyone else want to come?

  10. Wow, there’s good Mexican food in Utah? I learn something new everytime I read your posts, Kalyn!

  11. Let’s try that again. I hate it when my fingers don’t cooperate when I’m typing. Ilva, it would be great if you mentioned Blogher. I’m really loving their site. Plus I’m learning about blogs I never would have known about.

    CC- it was so fun “holding hands” with you via e-mail while Blogger went beserk on us. Thank goodness we are back to normal. And thanks for the suggestions for how to create posts offline. I know I have to start doing it. I’ve just been procrastinating.

  12. As sloggy as all that food looks, it really looks delish. (Hey, Vanessa!!)
    So sad you weren’t elected queen of the recipes, but your fame is actually snowballing, wouldn’t you say? Way to go. Feel proud.
    And, I publicly proclaim: Thanks to Kalyn for some much-needed hand-holding on a personal level today while my blog was kinda hinky.
    I think all’s well now.

  13. I wish you had won but you were a good runner up! And you’re an editor on BlogHer, that’s prestige for you! I’ll have to write about BlogHer as well to push for female bloggers!