Salt Lake City's new Alamexo Cantina celebrates family-style dining


An order of three chicken enchiladas with a green chile and pumpkin seed salsa at Alamexo Cantina.

With Alamexo Cantina, Utah chef/owner Matt Lake hopes to replicate the casual, family-style dining experience one might find in a market in Mexico.

In a newly constructed building in Salt Lake City’s hip Ninth and Ninth neighborhood, the menu features gourmet enchiladas, tacos and other Mexican specialties — such as pork and duck meatballs in a yellow mole sauce — on plates served family style. Prices range from $7-$17.

Margaritas are the focus at the bar, and all the variations contain an herbal-based liqueur made from the damiana herb, which is said to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Diners will enjoy the vivid interior colors including a mural, candle wall and food photography. There also is a patio with a view of the 9th and 9th neighborhood

Lake, who also owns Alamexo in downtown Salt Lake, said he has wanted to create this dining concept since working as a chef at Rosa Mexicano in New York City more than a decade ago. After opening Alamexo, he hosted a family-style dinner featuring regional foods from Oaxaca that guests raved about. “I thought, ‘If I can replicate that feeling — even for 25 percent of the people that come in my restaurant every night — I’m so far ahead of the curve.’”

Alamexo Cantina • 1059 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City; 801-658-5859 or www.AlamexoCantina.com. Currently open Tuesday-Sunday at 5 p.m. Opening soon for lunch.