Located on across the street from Olive Garden on west State Street in American Fork, El Mexiquense’s glass façade is plain and unintimidating, adorned with only it’s name and a neon “open” sign. Inside there are two counters (the first for placing your order, the second for picking it up), a flock of small square tables, and an enormous wall-mounted menu. The small single room is filled with the sound of the Spanish music channel and the expected clatters and chatter spilling out from the kitchen. El Mexiquense offers all of the traditional fare one would expect at a Mexican restaurant: burritos, tortas, tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, quesadillas. They also offer less popular (at least in Americanized Mexican restaurants) dishes like sopes, huaraches, and meat choices like lengua (beef tongue) and cabeza (head). Their specialty however, is their tacos al pastor.
I ordered two of these tacos ($1.75 ea.), a carnitas taco ($1.69), and a carne asada chimichange plate ($8.50). The cashier was friendly and casual, shouting our order over his shoulder in Spanish to the cook. He quickly grabbed a basket of fresh tortilla chips for us as we completed our order. This bonus is something that I really like about El Mexiquense Grill. It’s a small thing, but it’s generous and their chips are fantastic: Thin, warm, appropriately salty, and fresh. In an alcove against the back wall they offer a small salsa bar of limes, mixed vegetables, and four types of salsa.
Let me preface my review of this salsa by assuring you that I have a pretty high tolerance for spice. In elementary school I developed a strange habit of drinking the tiny Tabasco sauces from MREs. I like hot things. But this salsa is really hot, too hot in my opinion. If it was slightly less scorching, their “spicy jalapeño with cucumber” salsa would have a great refreshing flavor. Fortunately 1 of the 4 options is a more traditional tomato based salsa that is quite spicy, but tame enough to eat comfortably with chips or on their other dishes.
Our food arrived in the pick-up window within 10 minutes and we were left to eat without interference from any employees (an aspect of the service that I enjoyed, but others may find negligent).
The tacos al pastor were, as expected, excellent. The al pastor was served in small strips on two fresh tortillas with diced onions, chives, cilantro and in a surprise twist, a slice of pineapple. I’ve only eaten one meal in Mexico, but these tacos were absolutely reminiscent of that sunny lunch. The slightly dry (in a good way) al pastor contrasted beautifully with the sweet pineapple. The combination of ingredients was simple, but the overall taste was complex. I would definitely recommend the tacos to anyone who enjoys Mexican food to any degree. Unfortunately, the shredded carnitas taco was bland and dry after the al pastor. It wasn’t terrible, but it’s nothing that bares recognition, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
The chimichanga plate, which came out a few minutes after the tacos, was enormous. The brick-sized chimichanga was served with beans, rice, lettuce, and modest dollops of sour cream and guacamole. The carne asada was delicious. The little steak strips were dense and warming, and tasted like to a good pot roast. The flavor of the carne asada can easily get lost when combined with its crispy tortilla, bean and rice surroundings, but I didn’t mind too much. The overall effect was still tasty and filling. I added the gentlest salsa, and enjoyed its contrast with the mild flavor of the rest of the plate. I was hungry, and I still only finished 2/3rds of the chimichanga. I plan to eat this dish many times in the future and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a substantial, traditional, delicious, affordable Mexican combo plate.
Overall I really enjoyed El Mexiquense Grill and I plan to return often. Their food is affordable, delicious and their servings are generous. If you like Mexican food and you’re ever in northern Utah County, as I know many UVU students often are, I would highly recommend giving El Mexiquense Grill a try.
74 North West State Road, American Fork
Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 9:30 pm