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Salt Lake City spices it up

Published: 10/19/2013

By Stephen Jermanok, The Boston Globe -- SALT LAKE CITY - Home to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this city is often thought of as lacking diversity. Yet an ethnic population of around 35 percent has led to an explosion of indigenous fare over the past decade, from Nepalese to Ethiopian offerings. Try these for starters:

RED IGUANA An authentic Mexican restaurant so beloved by locals, there’s guaranteed to be a line out the door, even at 11:30 a.m. on a weekday. Head to this original locale and watch the dishes come flying out the kitchen door. The mole sauce is heavenly, served with chicken or thick chunks of turkey. Chimichangas, smothered burritos, and tacos are also on the menu. The tasty refried beans are paired with all meals. Wash it down with a margarita. From $7.80. 736West North Temple, 801-322-1489,

NAKED FISH JAPANESE BISTRO If you think you need to be on a coast to sample fresh sushi, one meal here will obliterate that belief. The chef gets his tuna, salmon, yellowfish, and oysters shipped daily from San Francisco. Grab a seat at the counter or at one of the sunken tables, and start the night off right by ordering the Kumamoto oyster topped with a smidgen of hot sauce. Then try the signature Playboy Roll, sliced tuna and avocado with a dollop of spicy aioli. The restaurant (no relation to Boston’s Naked Fish) emphasizes sustainability, offering many intriguing vegetarian possibilities like a delightful black forest mushroom tempura. Dinner for one $25-$50. 67 West 100 South, 801-595-8888,

MAZZA Located in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, known for its independently owned stores and farm-to-table restaurants, Mazza serves Middle Eastern food in a spacious setting that fills up at lunch and dinner. Start with the ful, a blend of fava and garbanzo beans spiced with the right amount of garlic, mint, lemon juice, and tahini, and served with warm pita. The roasted tomato and red lentil soup is chock-full of roasted onions and tomatoes. For the main course, the lamb kebab, served over rice, salad, or inside a pita, is all locally sourced. Chicken shawarma is marinated, then grilled, to keep the juices flowing. End with a finger of baklava, stuffed with sweet cashews and drizzled with orange blossom syrup. Lunch from $6.50. 912 East 900 South, 801-521-4572,

Stephen Jermanok can be reached at