Right before the mouth of Provo Canyon sits a gem of a Mexican restaurant.

There’s a reason parking usually overflows from the lot well up the street and the nearby gas station has to put up “current customers only” signs in their lot: Mama Chus serves up delicious dishes at surprisingly inexpensive prices.

Despite its usual crowdedness, there’s almost never a long wait for a table or food at Mama Chus. We were sat right away on our dinner visit despite having to park quite a ways away from the front doors.

In my opinion, a Mexican restaurant can’t truly be great unless its starter chips and salsa are great. Mama Chus fulfills this aspect of the Mexican dining experience spectacularly. I kept telling myself to stop eating the chips and salsa to save room for the rest of the food we ordered, but I just couldn’t. Yes, this is partially because of my overall lack of willpower, but also because the chips were so dang delicious: hot, crispy, not too thin and not too thick, with the perfect amount of salt. The salsa tasted fresh and had some kick, but not enough to deter either of us from dunking chip after chip.

My husband and I decided to go wild and order three entrees to share between the two of us, to try as much of the menu at Mama Chus as possible. We ordered a plate of chicken enchiladas and a chicken taco, a Carne Asada Plate, and the Chicken Fajitas. We both agreed the fajitas was our favorite of the three, but the other two didn’t disappoint, either.

Emerging from the kitchen sizzling and smoking, the fajitas were well-cooked, well-seasoned, and well-balanced between the strips of chicken, bell pepper, tomatoes and caramelized onion. Plus, the dish came in an ample portion size, making for great leftovers the next day.

The Carne Asada Plate came with a side salad with a yummy, zesty dressing. The meat itself was well-seasoned and cooked to the perfect doneness, and the caramelized onions were a great accompaniment.

Though the chicken enchiladas weren’t quite what we were expecting, they were still delicious. Rather than a more traditional red or green sauce, they came in a creamy white sauce with ample cheese — and how could that combination not be a home run?

Though it took a while to be served, the wait was beyond worth it. I am not exaggerating when I say that Mama Chus Mexican Hot Chocolate is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping. Rich and creamy with ample spices, neither of us could get enough of it. Lucky for us, it came in a larger mug than most restaurant hot chocolate orders, so there was plenty to split between the two of us.

On to the not-so-impressive aspects of our meal: Our horchata was a bit of a disappointment. It was evident at first sip that the drink was just water mixed with a horchata flavoring powder, and we turned down the server’s offer for a refill. Also, though my chicken taco came in a beautifully thick, deep-fried shell, the overall taste, especially the meat, was bland and dry. Dunking it in some salsa helped, but that chicken really suffered from a lack of any noticeable seasonings.

Our verdict on the guacamole appetizer was split: I didn’t like all the chunks of raw onion and tomato or the added sour cream, as I felt the chef was “watering down” the avocado, so to say; my husband, on the other hand, loved the chunks and the creaminess.

To top the whole meal off, we ordered a Fried Ice Cream dessert, and somehow found the room in our stomachs to down the delicious scoop immediately. With plenty of cornflake and coconut shell in proportion to vanilla ice cream, a few dollops of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate and caramel, the dish didn’t try to be overly fancy, as some fried ice cream dishes attempt. It was a simple, yet very well-done version of the dish that we would most definitely order again.

Our bill consisted of three entrees, two drinks, an appetizer and dessert, and it came out to just over $40. Needless to say, we were impressed. We were also impressed with the service — though there was a huge group of diners in the room next to us receiving their plethora of orders just after we had placed our orders, our food still came out pretty quickly.

If you have the pleasure of paying Mama Chus a visit, don’t forget to pick up a signature sucker at the host’s table on your way out!