Mexican food staple Tarahumara comes to Park City | ParkRecord.com

Mexican food staple Tarahumara comes to Park City

As Stanton Jones tells it, he would have eaten at Tarahumara, an iconic Mexican restaurant in Midway, seven days a week if he could have. The only obstacle was having to make the trek to Wasatch County from Park City.

That’s no longer a problem. Jones and his business partner Kreg Van Stralen bought the Midway Tarahumara in April and in late October opened a new location in Park City, next door to another restaurant Van Stralen owns, Wasatch Bagel & Grill.

"I’ve been going there for nine years as a customer," Jones said. "I loved the food and drove all the way there to get great Mexican food. When we had the opportunity to purchase it, it was exciting because I was a big fan as a customer. And now we get the chance to own the product and bring it to people in Park City."

Van Stralen was also a fan of Tarahumara and said the authenticity of the food is what lured him into buying the restaurant. The ingredients are fresh and the food is all natural, and he said Parkites are hungry for that kind of dining experience.

"I think there’s a niche here for more unprocessed food," he said. "People want more quality, authentic food. It’s going back to real food and not just inexpensive, fast-food options. I didn’t have a chance all summer to work out at all. All I did was eat at Tarahumara because I was working. My cholesterol went from 215 to 173. All I can attribute it to is eating natural food. That just blew me away and was a sign that going to unprocessed food is healthier."

The menu at the new location is nearly identical to that of the Midway restaurant — including the expansive complimentary salsa bar and unique specials such as shark tacos and avocado enchiladas — but the set-up is geared more toward casual diners. Jones and Van Stralen expect each location to thrive, as diners will be drawn to both, depending on what type of atmosphere they’re looking for.

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"The Tarahumara Midway location is a destination," Jones said. "People will drive up from Salt Lake City, from Provo, from all over Summit County to go there. And it’s a better place to go to have a nice evening with your family or friends and have a great meal with additional people. This one is a little bit more of a ‘stop in and have a great meal’ type of location. We think there’s a niche for both of them."

The new location is missing one thing, though: the thirst-quenching margaritas Tarahumara is known for. The restaurant currently has a beer and wine license, however, and Jones and Van Stralen are hopeful they may one day acquire full liquor license so the libations can match the Mexican authenticity of the food.

"People absolutely love the margaritas," Van Stralen said.

If Van Stralen and Jones sound hopeful about the new location, they insist that’s simply because they have reason to be. The Midway restaurant has become a staple of the Utah Mexican food scene, and it’s clear the Park City location is already receiving quite a boost from Tarahumara’s reputation.

"I’ve had literally handfuls of people coming up to me every day and asking me when it was going to open," Van Stralen said. "So it’s been overwhelming. And just the first couple days, the number of people that have come in has been far greater than I even expected. Fortunately, I think we’ve done a good job with those customers."

But along with the excitement about the new spot came skepticism at the Midway restaurant. Longtime patrons were uncertain about the motives of the new owners. But Van Stralen and Jones have assured them that they bought the restaurant because of what it had already established, and they have no intention of ruining a good thing.

"They’ve found that it’s just the same," Van Stralen said. "There would be no purpose to me buying it if I was going to change it. It would be foolish."

Tarahumara

1300 Snow Creek Drive

Tarahumararestaurant.com