The Story of Utah's Most Authentic Mexican Resturant
“The Lantern” is the english translation of the name El Farol. If you’ve ever seen this restaurant sitting right off the Midvale exit you may have passed by not realizing the gem that it is- hidden in plain sight.
Let’s be honest, there are hundreds of restaurants that will claim authenticity and with it comes a 50/50 chance it will be true. Hardly any of these mexican restaurants can say that they serve the same family recipe mexican cuisine that came directly from a small ranch near Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. This is where the founder, Rafael Torres migrated from in the early 1900’s at the age of 17.
After some time working he met Dolores “Lola” Rivera who recently migrated from Chimal, Mexico and they were married. Lola was very friendly and an excellent cook which made it easy for them to make friends even despite her broken english. It’s said that friends and family would come by weekly to get a taste of her traditional mexican food.
About 1945 Rafael learned about a restaurant for sale and with more determination than money opened El Charro- his first endeavor. With family recipes and hard work, he began to see the fruits of his labors- people came flocking. Rafael ran El Charro for 20 years before passing it to his son. They eventually closed El Charro about the time of the loss of beloved Lola in 1961.
Maybe it was to preserve the beauty of Lola’s light in this world or to continue his dream of bringing authentic mexican food to the many patrons who they had shared time with over the years, but whatever the reason Rafael opened El Farol in 1967. It’s all speculation now, but there is something special can that still be felt in the restaurant today.
El Farol Mexican Restaurant is currently owned by Dolores “Lolita” Medina the granddaughter of founder Rafael Torres and namesake of Dolores Torres. With the help of her husband Roberto, she maintains the tradition of an atmosphere that makes you feel like family and the authentic mexican taste that El Farol has always offered.
One might wonder why Rafael chose El Farol, or "The Lantern", to be the name of his final restaurant. With it's history added to the equation, one might think it was to remind patrons who visit there of the light of hope for weary travelers who found a new home, the light of love and family, or the light that would shine out of the windows of their home while friends gathered around to taste the food. In truth it could be all of those things, but I like to think that it was a tribute to the cook who created the dream in the first place, the light of Rafael's life, Dolores.
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