I heaved a sigh of relief when I read the news that Taqueria Los Lee was staying put; for a moment I was worried the well regarded mom and pop would go the way of so many others that once called this spot home. In recent memory the South Salt Lake location has been home to a deli or two, a pizza parlor and also a Pakistani eatery. Los Lee is maybe the fifth or so business to try their luck here in the past decade.
I am embarrassed to say it took this potential loss to finally check them out – doubly sheepish considering its practically on my front door step. Taqueria Los Lee sports a concise menu which is essentially built around a mix of tacos and gorditas. Burritos, quesadillas and flautas loiter at the bottom of the list too.
Whatever you choose, you’ll pick from a straightforward list of proteins: ground beef and potato, steak, chicken, pork (rojo or verde), sweet potato, beans or cheese. The elementary selections are in stark contrast to the array of modern and fusion taco spots that have pitched up in 2021.
Tacos at Los Lee are similarly simple and to the point. They come in corn tortilla, replete with the blistering flavor of a quick sear, charred, bubbled and burnished with a little oil. The tacos are served in uncomplicated fashion with merely diced onion and cilantro as garnish on the side. It’s refreshing and fundamental; a reminder that tacos or burgers or sandwiches needn’t be improbable jenga like creations.
Despite the Taqueria moniker over the door, I found the star of the show the handsome gorditas – golden brown fried discs of masa, stuffed with whatever you like. The ground beef and potato gordita was a particular revelation, a further reminder that less is more. Beef, potatoes, dough, hot oil. Now shut up and eat. Just got dumped? Just got fired? Just watched your cellphone slow motion explode on the floor? Eat this. Your day just got better in that richly warming way only softened potatoes know how to fix. The seasoning is light enough to be entirely forgotten. A crunchy exterior, a yielding-pillowy soft innard.
Somewhat inexplicably and contrary to the fact I grew up more than 5,000 miles from Mexico, this was a slingshot of flavor-memory back to my own youth and family cooking in the UK; the same essential, modest ingredients and care, something my own mom would have made – albeit in the UK the elements would more than likely find themselves reconstituted into pie or pudding.
Taqueria Los Lee’s menu ends with a succinct list of daily specials: mole, pozole and tamales. Just enough lingering intrigue and promise to keep in the back of your mind for next time. Because you know there’s gonna be a time coming up where you need a little love and lift from a home cooked meal. And the family Lee will be waiting right there for you.
2646 S 700 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with multiple local publications from Visit Salt Lake to Salt Lake Magazine, not least helped to consult on national TV shows.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for the better part of fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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