Chile Tepin utilizes dishes from mom’s kitchen to win over Mexican-cuisine lovers

Chile Tepin

Salt Lake, UT – Mexican – $$ – Casual
Sifter Critique

Nicole O. - Pro SifterMay 4, 2018

Overall 3.8 / 5.0

4.1

Food

3.9

Service

3.4

Ambience

3.7

Value

Overview

Chile-Tepin has been open since 2016 and is named after the only native pepper to the US. They incorporate the pepper in many of their dishes but because it’s relatively hot, we didn’t try any (gringo mouth). Salt Lake has been grasping at straws for a while trying to get a good Mexican restaurant in its vicinity. Chile-Tepin is an attempt at that and delivers what would be expected.

Value

I grew up in a small town with a large Latino influence. There is a small Mexican market two blocks from my childhood home and many authentic restaurants within twenty minutes so I feel I have a good idea of authentic Mexican fare. The dishes around my hometown are cheaper, probably less fresh, and lower quality. I expect Mexican food to be cheaper due to the ingredients used unless everything is made from scratch (salsas, tortillas, etc.). Chile-Tepin was pricier than what I’m used too and sacrificed on quality with a few of their ingredients, so I don’t feel like the value is there. However, their plating was much better than most competitors.

3 most popular dishes

Molcajete, Parillada, along with the usual (tacos, enchiladas, burritos)

What I ordered

Molcajete and guacamole.

Food quality

Molcajete: This dish is named after the rock bowl it’s served in and is deemed as one of the most unique, popular and traditional dishes on their menu. It features a cactus chile-tomatillo verde salsa that elevates the meat from decent to superb. The rice was as expected and the refried beans would have been preferred over the charro bean soup. The tortillas would have been best homemade as the ones given were dry and barely warm. The dish was fun because of the brightness from the cactus salsa but other than that there wasn’t anything amazing about the dish.

Guacamole: It must have been made fresh but there were chunks of at least a quarter avocado not mashed. The flavors weren’t melded when we got it and was missing some acidic notes usual to guacamole.

Our friends tried the taco salad and the veggie fajitas. We didn’t try their dishes but they both agreed that they were good but nothing to write home about.

Ambiance

Not much can be expected for ambiance as far as Mexican restaurants go but it seemed decently clean. It was busy but we could talk amongst ourselves without raising our voices. The decor is random and they use cheap plastic cups and dish-ware, but that usually means the dishes are getting the attention.

What I liked most

The cactus salsa was unique and delicious. The meat had a nice smoky flavor and the rice was good.

What I disliked most

The lack of moisture in the store-bought tortillas, the charro bean soup, and the chunks in the guacamole. The soup is native to northern Mexico and tastes like the Hispanic version of pork and beans. Just not really my preference but others may like it. I believe homemade tortillas would have upped the value for me too.

The verdict

I have mixed opinions about Salt Lake’s Mexican food scene and there’s yet to be a restaurant that blows us away, but Chile-Tepin’s Molcajete is a great dish considering. However, we would likely return to Alamexo, Red Iguana, or Lone Star Taqueria before going back to Chile-Tepin.

Overall 3.8 / 5.0

4.1

Food

3.9

Service

3.4

Ambience

3.7

Value

Overview

Chile-Tepin has been open since 2016 and is named after the only native pepper to the US. They incorporate the pepper in many of their dishes but because it’s relatively hot, we didn’t try any (gringo mouth). Salt Lake has been grasping at straws for a while trying to get a good Mexican restaurant in its vicinity. Chile-Tepin is an attempt at that and delivers what would be expected.

Value

I grew up in a small town with a large Latino influence. There is a small Mexican market two blocks from my childhood home and many authentic restaurants within twenty minutes so I feel I have a good idea of authentic Mexican fare. The dishes around my hometown are cheaper, probably less fresh, and lower quality. I expect Mexican food to be cheaper due to the ingredients used unless everything is made from scratch (salsas, tortillas, etc.). Chile-Tepin was pricier than what I’m used too and sacrificed on quality with a few of their ingredients, so I don’t feel like the value is there. However, their plating was much better than most competitors.

3 most popular dishes

Molcajete, Parillada, along with the usual (tacos, enchiladas, burritos)

What I ordered

Molcajete and guacamole.

Food quality

Molcajete: This dish is named after the rock bowl it’s served in and is deemed as one of the most unique, popular and traditional dishes on their menu. It features a cactus chile-tomatillo verde salsa that elevates the meat from decent to superb. The rice was as expected and the refried beans would have been preferred over the charro bean soup. The tortillas would have been best homemade as the ones given were dry and barely warm. The dish was fun because of the brightness from the cactus salsa but other than that there wasn’t anything amazing about the dish.

Guacamole: It must have been made fresh but there were chunks of at least a quarter avocado not mashed. The flavors weren’t melded when we got it and was missing some acidic notes usual to guacamole.

Our friends tried the taco salad and the veggie fajitas. We didn’t try their dishes but they both agreed that they were good but nothing to write home about.

Ambiance

Not much can be expected for ambiance as far as Mexican restaurants go but it seemed decently clean. It was busy but we could talk amongst ourselves without raising our voices. The decor is random and they use cheap plastic cups and dish-ware, but that usually means the dishes are getting the attention.

What I liked most

The cactus salsa was unique and delicious. The meat had a nice smoky flavor and the rice was good.

What I disliked most

The lack of moisture in the store-bought tortillas, the charro bean soup, and the chunks in the guacamole. The soup is native to northern Mexico and tastes like the Hispanic version of pork and beans. Just not really my preference but others may like it. I believe homemade tortillas would have upped the value for me too.

The verdict

I have mixed opinions about Salt Lake’s Mexican food scene and there’s yet to be a restaurant that blows us away, but Chile-Tepin’s Molcajete is a great dish considering. However, we would likely return to Alamexo, Red Iguana, or Lone Star Taqueria before going back to Chile-Tepin.

Know of a hidden gem?

Suggest a restaurant

One Comment

Leave a Reply