by Brad Mee
Alamexo Cantina  glows in bright lights above the open patio of the newest addition to Salt Lake’s hip 9th and 9th neighborhood scene. The very cool (and much anticipated) eatery is the latest offering by owner and Executive Chef Matt Lake who is known for his award-winning Alamexo Mexican Kitchen downtown. Not surprisingly, the menu at the Cantina is just as intriguing as the downtown version, but it’s more casual, more come-as-you-are. The food is served up all at once, much like diners would experience in a Mexican market. There are no reservations, but that’s no problem. The space is large, welcoming and relaxed.

Owner and Executive Chef Matt Lake stands beneath the brightly lit sign illuminating the fantastic, large patio.

Lake feels this is an entirely new concept, not just to Utah, but nationally. “No one has done it the way we are doing it. I’ve wanted to create this concept since I was at Rosa Mexicano in New York,” says Lake. “What nailed this concept in my head was a themed Oaxaca regional dinner we held which was probably the most fun dinner I’ve ever hosted. Everyone had a blast. I thought, ‘If I can replicate that feeling – even for 25 percent of the people that come in my restaurant every night — I’m so far ahead of the curve. Where’s not the win?’ I just thought ‘We gotta serve food this way!'”
You have to love Lake’s passion and enthusiasm.

A feature wall of seemingly countless niches filled with flickering candles lines one side of the dining area.

The Cantina’s easy-going, celebrate-the-moment style of dining translates to its simple, yet festive décor . From the brightly colored walls and the bar’s mural of Espolon Blanco greeting diners, to a broad wall of glowing candle niches and a striking photograph of mole ingredients by food photographer, Adam Finkle, this space is contemporary, festive and fun. Of course, the wide walls of glass opening to a large patio overlooking the lively neighborhood and mountain views just adds to the experience.

A mural by local artist Harry Baldwin captures the iconic Espolon Blanco label and backs the tile-topped bar.
Even the silverware’s hammered silver finish helps foster the Cantina’s cool, rustic vibe.
Retractable doors open to create a seamless connection between the spacious patio and the dining area. A trio of large, rustic iron chandeliers illuminate the casual space.

Alamexo Cantina opens in Salt Lake’s iconic 9th and 9th neighborhood Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 at 5 p.m. For the first week or so of opening, all food items will be half price, until Lake is comfortable that everything is completely fine-tuned.
ALAMEXO Cantina, 1059 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-658-5859
OpenTuesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sundays 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.