Just down the street from the Provo Tabernacle, almost hidden behind an old motel, there stood a restaurant that brings warm memories to my heart. It’s not a 5-star restaurant. Most people don’t even know that it existed. But Los 3 Amigos was one of my favorite reasons to go to Provo.
I grew up living near the foothills in Provo. My early years included me, my brother, my mother and my grandfather. We never had a lot of money, so going out to eat was always a treat. Our favorite place was Los 3 Amigos (Just Los Amigos to my family). Even though it’s a Mexican restaurant, my brother and I would always order the cheeseburger with fries. I can still remember how great those perfectly seasoned burgers and fries were. All the way up to the last time I ate there, I only ever ordered the cheeseburger and fries, much to the confusion of the guests I would bring.
“Why would you go to a Mexican restaurant to get a cheeseburger?” Just wait, I tell them. Just wait.
In all the years it stood, the décor rarely changed. The walls were lined with sombreros and bright Mexican colors. It was the kind of cheesy stereotypical look that some places fail with, but Los Amigos was able to pull it off well.
My grandpa’s favorite thing to do was to give my brother and me some quarters and let us go play on the jukebox. He’d pick the songs of course, a long line of sad cowboy ballads played by bands and singers I had never heard of and were probably dead before I was born. My grandpa always knew the words and always sang or hummed along. For as long as Los Amigos had the jukebox after my grandpa passed away several years ago, we would play his cowboy songs whenever we went.
Los Amigos was where we went for any occasion we could think of. A trip cleaning out the storage unit required a trip to Los. Breakfast after an all-nighter at the hospital with Grandpa was of course at Los. Birthdays, a funeral, even the last meal before I left to serve an LDS mission were all held at Los Amigos.
After a while it stopped being about the food, though that has always remained excellent. It was like the memories there accumulated, one by one, until going there felt like returning to a constant party that never ended. A younger version of me was there. My grandpa was there. All the friends and family who had ever celebrated with us were there. It was magic.
Last month the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it had bought the property Los Amigos sat on, as well as the hotel next to it. The owners of the restaurant announced that they will be re-locating somewhere in Provo.
I’m glad that Los Amigos will still be somewhere, but it won’t be the same. There are places that are special to each of us, not just because of what they are, but of what took place there. For me Los 3 Amigos is one of those places.