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Lone Star Taqueria: an authentic taste of Mexico in the Salt Lake Valley.

Cottonwood Heights -- In a world dominated by corporate taco chains, Susan Harris and Manuel Valdez, owner and manager of LONE STAR TAQUERIA, decided to put their heads together and bring real Mexican-style tacos to the Salt Lake Valley. Valdez says the idea originally came from Harris. "She came up with the idea in 1994 when she was looking to open something like a taco shop," he says. "We talked about the idea and the menu, and a few years later, we got it open."

The Taqueria is housed in a hard-to-miss 1950s style diner, the exterior painted mint green with the classic, diner black tile and white grout, but the atmosphere inside tells a different story.

Ravenous customers sit around tables in brightly colored chairs, laughing and talking over the sizzle and shout of Valdez's kitchen. Eye-catching sculptures, streamers and banners hang from the walls and ceilings, adding to the authentic Mexican feel. The patio is no less electric, featuring additional seating, a wooden, cowboy-booted fence and a shark-finned jalopy covered in travel stickers. According to Valdez, the idea was to bring something new to the town.

"If we are talking about decor, the environment, [and] the way we set it up with customer service, I think it makes a lot of difference. You feel that welcome when you come. And that makes a lot of difference between [us and] other restaurants," he says.

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But the thing that keeps people coming back time after time is the food. "We have a fish taco, a pork taco, and a steak taco, the chicken taco--those are the most popular tacos," says Valdez. "We have vegetable tacos and shrimp tacos and a Chile Verde taco."

In 2007, their tacos caught the notice of the Food Network and were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. "The recipes were between my brother, Oscar, and myself. We came up with the recipes together to get something different in the town. The recipes are from Mexico, where we are from."

The taco experience at Lone Star Taqueria is one that isn't replicated anywhere else. "Something that we would like people to know is that we cook with fresh produce every day. We don' have anything in a can or frozen. We have fresh fish, fresh beans, fresh rice. That is something we have been working on all these years," says Valdez.

The Lone Star Taqueria is located at 2265 Fort Union Blvd and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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Title Annotation:READERS' CHOICE
Comment:Lone Star Taqueria: an authentic taste of Mexico in the Salt Lake Valley.(READERS' CHOICE)
Author:Oliphant, Aisley
Publication:Utah Business
Date:May 1, 2016
Words:422
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