Review by Dan Purdon
If you find yourself on 800 North in Orem close to the freeway, no doubt you’ll notice a spunky new southwestern-style building there proclaiming itself to be “the best Mexican food around”. That place is Milagros – “miracle” in Spanish. Of course, “best Mexican” is a pretty lofty claim to be bandying around in a county with so many different Mexican food options. (And no, I’m not talking about Taco Bell). I made a note to come in and put them to my own taste test.
I found my chance as my wife and I were in the North Orem area for lunch one Saturday afternoon. We came in to find a busy scene of full tables and happy chatter. I looked up to see amazingly high ceilings that gave a vast sense of openness to the dining area, and equally tall windows that illuminated the entire place with natural light. Brightly-colored wooden carvings of saints adorned the walls, and beautiful hand-worked glass lamps descended from the tall ceilings to hover over the tables. It was an impressive scene.
The hostess seated us next to a window, and provided us with two kinds of fresh salsa and a bowl of warm tortilla chips to munch on. I particularly enjoyed the salsa verde – it tasted lightly sweet at first, and finished with a pleasant spicy kick that kept me coming back for more.
For my entree, I was enticed by the Milagros “Mata Hambre” (“appetite killer” in Spanish). It came with a protein-trio of steak, chicken, and pulled pork, plus hearty portions of grilled vegetables, rice, beans, salsa fresca, one of their signature grilled onion balls, and fresh tortillas. Basically, everything you need to make some killer fajita wraps.
I tried everything separately first, as is my habit. The grilled meats were wonderful: soft and savory marinated chicken and tender, smoky steak strips. The beans were savory and just a little smoky, which was a pleasant surprise. And their signature grilled onion was interesting indeed. Apparently, they marinate and bake the sweet yellow onion first to make it soft and flavorful, then grill the entire thing to a honey-sweet finish.
But the real magic happened when I grabbed a warm tortilla and started mixing things up. When I combined the tender meats with salsa, rice, beans, veggies, and pieces of the grilled onion on a flour tortilla, it turned into a smoky-sweet n’ savory tube of love. Delicious.
As a small disclaimer, I don’t consider myself an expert on authentic Mexican food by any means. I’ve had plenty of Mexican food in my day (yes, some of which was actually in Mexico), but I’m still a gringo by all means. But with that said, this gringo left Milagros very satisfied that day. Try them out for some tasty food and a strikingly beautiful (and yet fun) atmosphere.
Pricing: Moderate – $10-15 per person average.
Milagros – 970 W 800 N in Orem
Posted: August 7th, 2011 under Observations.