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Taqueria is a tasty surprise

Affordable Mexican restaurant's fast food leaves others behind

Cheap and easy. I get mail all the time from readers wanting good, quick food that is affordable. And when they say affordable, they mean it — the kind of food you can buy for a family of six and not ruin your whole week's food budget in one meal. I get a lot of this.

The truth is, the solutions to this question in Utah are numerous. You just have to do some asking around. Word of mouth is usually the most reliable.

Oh, there's plenty of cheap food that's easy to get, but we Utahns are sticklers for value, and we want something that tastes so good that we're sure we got the better end of the deal.

There's no shame in this.

Well, here's the word from this mouth: Make a trip to the Fort Union area for some simple, fast Mexican that is so honestly good, you'll wish you had one on your block.

The place is Lone Star Taqueria, and the inexpensive menu is quality. It offers fresh-cooked meats with vegetables; homemade sauces, salsas and tortillas; tamales — all in generous servings made to order on the spot.

It's fast food that leaves fast food in the dust.

I assembled a take-out order for my family the other night, a sort of potpourri of tastes, and we feasted for cheap, let me tell you.

We had a homemade chicken tamale, a fish taco, a steak taco, a chile-verde taco, a chicken burrito, a steak burrito, guacamole and various salsas.

These fine items start with a quality wrapper — freshly made corn and flour tortillas. There's nothing like the real thing.

The steak items were great, because the grilling of the beef rendered it crackly, yet tender and meaty. The pork in the spicy chile verde was butter-tender. Lightly spiced halibut in the fish taco was not dry, as you often find elsewhere.

I appreciate the authenticity of the menu. I love the floppy tortillas, the grilling, the shredded fresh greens, the cilantro and the generous use of lime. I love the variety in the salsas — from deep, robust and hearty to light, mild and chunky.

Lone Star's fresh guacamole is spicy, with fresh jalapeo, so be prepared. I usually like mine mild, but Lone Star's is a good recipe.

It's hard to say which of the things we tried were my favorites, although the tamale and the chicken burrito were right up there. It was a meal where everyone was busy eating intently without more than grunts and mumbles in the affirmative. That's a good sign, I think.

Though there's plenty of meat on the Lone Star menu, it is easy to go vegetarian. In addition to adding on individual side orders to go with you meal, you can order pint or quart takeout cartons of meat, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa and chips to cater your own party or picnic. Lone Star also offers catering, but their version can include piatas and mariachi!

There should be a Lone Star Taqueria on every block. It's the kind of food you crave and can afford to indulge in without guilt. It's healthy, it's homemade and it's doggone good.

Price for tacos is $2.39, fish taco special $2.69, combos $5.59, burritos $.4.10-$6.89, tamales, $2.69, side dishes 30 cents-$2.69.

Lone Star Taqueria

*** 1/2 (out of five)

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Location: 2265 E. Fort Union Blvd.

Phone: 944-2300

Payment: major credit cards, checks, no debit cards

Reservations: none needed

Other services: catering, takeout