Luna Blanca Taqueria
3158 E. 6200 S. Holladay
Monday-Thursday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Closed Sundays (opening Sundays & for brunch in the fall)
From the moment we pulled up to the soft open preview event at this new venture by a member of the Trio team and others, I was charmed. I worked as a designer for many years, and I think a good design aesthetic can go a long way toward establishing a restaurant—and these folks get it. With its quaint, simple stars-and-moon motif repeated in signage throughout the restaurant, and even cut into the artfully rusted fence that surrounds the patio seating, Luna Blanca immediately establishes its identity: playful, upbeat and mindful cuisine appropriate for families yet sophisticated enough for discerning diners.
It can be tricky to transform a strip mall location into the kind of refuge a restaurant should be, but the interior design succeeds at that as well. The whole place is decked out in a cheery pale yellow and dark blue, with walls studded with “star” lights and a sun-yellow menu. The partially open kitchen is tiled in cobalt blue and outfitted with gorgeous brushed aluminum fixtures. Everything about the place is welcoming and encouraging.
The ingredients and menu follow suit. Based on the increasingly popular farm-to-plate model, the food here is largely locally sourced (in Utah, that means within about 500 miles so we can take advantage of farms in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado). Almost everything is made in-house, from the chips (fried from locally-made tortillas, one of the few things they don’t make in-house) and salsa ($3) to the delicious, tart, handcrafted fruit puree sodas in pink guava, blood orange and mango flavors ($1.95).
The staff is another perfect ingredient at Luna Blanca. Attractive, hip, personable and humorous, every member of the staff and management that we talked to seemed to be having a great time. Soft opens can be very stressful on the staff, but the evening went without a hitch while we were there.
The food menu covers the usual Mexican fare—food-cart tacos, burritos, quesadillas and such—but with a fresh, healthful emphasis and unique options. In addition to the chips and salsa, other starters include a huge portion of cheesy pinto beans ($7) and my favorite appetizer, the charred corn ($3) served on the cob and drizzled with chipotle butter and cheese.
I was especially excited by the mushroom quesadilla ($6), which was stuffed with melted jack cheese and quinoa, a surprising and welcome addition. The generous portion of fresh, delicious guacamole and sour cream perfectly set off the mild dish. My guest ordered five tacos (he’s a big guy!), including the smoky, sweet and sour daily special tinga chicken ($3.75), carnitas ($3), al pastor ($3.75), moist fish ($3.75, lightly fried or grilled), and our favorite, the grilled shrimp ($3.75).
Vegetarians won’t be disappointed, either. Luna Blanca offers vegetarian black beans, a vegetarian burrito, the aforementioned mushroom quesadilla, and a mushroom taco, as well as salads. The owners made keeping the restaurant open and inviting to families a priority, so there’s plenty here for kids, with several smaller dishes for the under-10 set.
On the other end of the spectrum, adults who partake will definitely enjoy the carefully thought-out liquor list which features excellent and affordable spirits, including Kraken rum (my favorite!) and options from local distiller High West. Don’t miss the sophisticated cocktails, including The House ($6), a spectacular margarita, and the Cucumber ($6), which perfectly matches Hendricks gin and citrus. On a hot afternoon, try a delicately spiced Ginger/Maryann Mojito ($6) or the smooth, refreshing Sunset From the Porch ($6)—their take on a shandy, with the addition of vodka.
Classy, accessible and affordable, Luna Blanca is worth the trip to Holladay. Its location is excellent, just off I-215 near the mouths of the canyons and many businesses, whose employees will no doubt make this a go-to lunch stop. Make sure to head to Luna Blanca after a day up in the Cottonwood canyons during the summer, or after a day playing in the snow this winter.