What is the difference between a Southwestern restaurant and a Mexican restaurant?
Price. I’m kidding. Sort of.
There are differences between Mexican and Southwestern restaurants, but there are also strong parallels. There are all kinds of different flavors of Mexican restaurants because Mexico itself is very diverse.
Northern Mexico shares ingredients with our American Southwest: Corn, beans, squashes, chiles. These ingredients are also Native American ingredients. No wonder “defining” cuisines gets confusing.
Chimayo, located on Main Street in Park City, is a Southwestern restaurant that draws heavily on Mexican and Native American ingredients — with some American West mountain ingredients tossed in — prepared and presented with haute French techniques.
That’s why you’ll find elk and berry reduction sauces right along side enchiladas and guacamole. Or a spinach salad ($16) with watermelon and chards of carnitas (twice-cooked marinated pork).
Spice-rubbed chicken breast (served supreme style — a French presentation with the first joint of a wing attached) is stuffed with goat cheese and served with a pressed rice pilaf painted sunny yellow from turmeric and studded with green beans ($28). The menu description says “Nacho Grande style” with nary a tortilla chip in sight.
Enchiladas ($27) get haute treatment, too. Roasted vegetables (red pepper, onions, carrots, corn) are rolled in hand-made corn tortillas and served atop highly seasoned black beans and a duo of sauces (tomatillo and roasted tomato).
You might be shocked at the prices ($27 for enchiladas?) I’m not.
First, this is Park City, a ritzy mountain town on par with Vail, Aspen and Jackson Hole. Second, the quality of ingredients and the amount of labor that goes into each dish is extraordinary.
You wouldn’t blink at a fancy French restaurant serving bouef bourguignon — an inexpensive cut of beef — for $30, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a haute Southwestern restaurant charges $28 for a chicken dish — an elaborate chicken dish.
At the end of August and through October, most of the high-end restaurants in Park City print 2 for 1 entree coupons in the local paper, taking a bite out of the sticker shock.
368 Main Street
Park City, UT