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Dining out: La Costa serves up great Mexican food

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Though our meal at La Costa started out a little strangely, things improved rapidly from there.

Shortly after my husband and I, along with our friends Bob and Susan, were seated in La Costa's busy dining room, an employee appeared to set up our table, including putting down a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa.

When Bob asked him to bring one more portion of chips and salsa, the man ignored him. When he asked again, louder, the man ignored him. When he asked again, in a friendly fashion and in Spanish, the man ignored him and walked away. It was very weird.

But then our actual server arrived, and our troubles were over. She not only brought more chips and salsa right away, but also did a great job keeping our glasses filled and delivering our tasty meals on time.

After tasting it, I understood why Bob wanted more salsa right off the bat: This was some excellent house-made salsa, nicely textured between big chunks and fine-chopped picante, subtly seasoned but with a decent kick that fades to a nice, almost fruity finish. The crispy chips were a nice foil. Thinking back, I know we polished off at least three bowls of salsa, and I, for one, could have had more.

For dinner, we looked over La Costa's large menu of traditional Mex and Tex-Mex before settling on some classics.

Susan had the chile verde enchiladas, tender tortillas folded over shredded meat, with a piquant sauce smothering everything. It was a superior chile verde, robustly seasoned.

Bob had the burrito Guadalajara, a flour tortilla stuffed with lean, if a bit chewy, steak and sliced avocado, topped with sour cream. Bob initially asked for both chicken and steak in his burrito, only to be told they don't do that at La Costa — a surprise to Bob, a longtime customer who said he remembered having it that way before.

My husband had one of Bob's other favorites, the burrito La Costa. I almost take it as a challenge when a restaurant names a dish after itself — if they're doing that, it had better be good! This one came nicely up to scratch, a huge tortilla filled with tender pork, rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream.

I usually find myself on the enchilada or camarones (shrimp) sections of the menu, but this time, I unexpectedly felt like having fajitas. I have had fajitas more in home kitchens than at restaurants, and I am often disappointed with restaurant versions.

But despite that no-mixing-meats policy, I enjoyed my steak fajitas cooked with sweet browned onions and bell peppers, with loads of sour cream, pico de gallo, beans and excellently simple guacamole on the side.

For dessert, we had the sopaipillas, which Bob and Susan had never before tried. Boy, were they great: light as air, just crisped outside and amazingly tender and melting inside, drizzled with honey and topped with a squirt of cream. I may have had better sopaipillas than these, but I can't remember where.

Appetizers $5-$10, fajitas and other specialty entrées $12-$17, other entrées $5-$15, sides $1-$6.

La Costa

Rating: ★★★

Where: 889 E. 9400 South, Sandy

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Phone: 801-553-1505

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. Email: skratz@desnews.com