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Dining out: Las Cazuelas

Las Cazuelas is the place for a quiet dinner of good food.

There's something restful about this eatery, which goes about its culinary business behind an Army-Navy store and a neighborhood market (if you go, look for the rocket on Redwood Road to know you're in the right spot).

The dining room is clean and simply furnished, the food presented in an uncluttered, straightforward manner, the service quiet, quick and deferential. Most noticeable are the two rows of sparkly vinyl booths, and even those are in an understated khaki brown.

On the recent weekend night that we went in for dinner, the strongest impressions came from plate after plate of tasty, generally high-quality food, which is, of course, as it should be.

We let the requisite basket of chips with salsa be our appetizer. The chips were warm and crispy, and the salsa was fresh but with well-blended flavors and a spicy-sour finish. We munched them down while chatting and watching occasional climactic moments from the Spanish-language telenovela on the TV near the front of the restaurant.

My husband ordered a combination meal, the smothered burrito, enchilada and hard-shell taco. The enchilada was the cheese variety, with lots of soft white Mexican cheese enclosed in a tortilla and topped with the standard red sauce, while the taco was a pleasant step up from fast food with its tender beef filling. The undisputed star of the plate, however, was the smothered burrito, which was not only filled with tender meat but covered with pork chili verde and cheese to provide mouthful after mouthful of incredibly savory, and slightly sweet, Mexican goodness.

I had a hard time choosing, so in addition to the mole poblano, I got a tamale and a chili relleno on the side. Sure, it was too much food just for me, but my husband helped, especially with the tamale, which tasted fresh out of its cornhusk wrapper. The chili relleno was one of the best I've had with its tender, just-spicy pepper filled with tons of Mexican cheese, the use of which lends delicious authenticity to many of Las Cazuelas' dishes.

My entree itself was very good, with lean pulled chicken looking white as snow in the dark, earthy mole sauce. Las Cazuelas' sauce is excellent, with a stimulating blend of dark, bittersweet flavor. It was delicious scooped into one of the accompanying flour tortillas and smeared with refried beans.

There really wasn't a wrong note in the entire meal, but as I've remarked at other Mexican restaurants, side dishes like the rice, while decent, weren't quite up to the standards of the entrees.

Las Cazuelas is a competently run little neighborhood eatery that reflects the diversity of its neighborhood, with the latest specials printed on a two-sided, bilingual flier. It's the kind of place that deserves to enjoy a long, if quiet, life.

And speaking of the lives of restaurants: I'm still looking for input on bygone Utah restaurants that you miss, as well as whether you've found decent substitutes for your favorite places. If that strikes a chord, send me an e-mail.

Lunch specials $4.25, appetizers $2.99-$4.99, quesadillas, tortas, tacos and burritos $1.50-$4.99, Mexican specialties $4.50-$6.50, dinner plates $4.99-$10.99, combinations $6.25-$7.50, sides 50 cents-$10, kids' meals $2.99.

Rating: ***

Where: 5000 S. Redwood Rd., Taylorsville

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Payment: Checks, credit cards accepted

Phone: 967-4084

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: