Greetings! Welcome to the inaugural installment of this new feature which delves into the dining options here in south Utah County.
Food reviews are a dime a dozen these days. You don’t have to look far to find one. However, what the vast majority of these dining reviews offer are typically based on walk-in, sit-down dining experiences. What this column will feature is reviews of drive-thru dining experiences. After all, the drive-thru dining experience can be quite different from what you get inside the restaurant, and is, more often than not, the one that most people have.
Our ranking system will be unscientific and purely subjective, and based on five categories: Drive-thru maneuverability/design, menu board clarity/orderliness, service, packaging, and food accuracy/quality/portions. A total score will convey the dining experience as a whole.
Without further ado, let’s d(r)ive into our first review of a community-favorite Mexican food establishment.
Livin’ la Vida loca
When it comes to fast food, timing is everything. You’re more apt to get a generous, accurately made-to-order meal shortly after the restaurant opens for the day or during the mid-afternoon, non-rush hours. Lunch and dinner rush hours are the times you’re most likely to get dishes that are often put together in a hurry and are neither generous-sized nor accurately prepared.
That said, I chose to visit Spanish Fork Costa Vida on a Monday night at about 6 p.m., which, according to my timing theory, was more likely to result in an inferior dining experience. Did my theory hold true in this instance? Let’s find out.
I’ve never been a fan of this restaurant’s drive-thru design, so timing doesn’t appear to be a factor.
Upon approaching its entrance and menu board, there’s a stop sign with a companion sign that instructs patrons to leave a gap for the exiting traffic from nearby Kneader’s. The companion sign is no longer readable due to the lettering being weathered and worn. Even when it was legible, most patrons I observed either ignored the instructions or thought they didn’t apply to them.
Because this Costa Vida shares a strip mall design with other establishments, its drive-thru maneuverability suffers.
Category grade: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Menu board clarity/orderliness
This part of the dining experience was topnotch. Once I overcame sticker shock from the prices listed, the menu board was easy to read, nicely organized, and understandable.
Category grade: 5 out of 5
The drive-thru window staff at Spanish Fork Costa Vida has consistently been good over the years. Staff members have been friendly, helpful, and accommodating. Such was the case on this visit. The young man who took my order had a voice that was worthy of radio.
Upon repeating my order back to me, there was no need for correction.
Category grade: 5 out of 5
Anyone who’s ordered at a drive-thru understands the importance of secure packaging for their food orders. Well-packaged orders are key to getting the meal home without spilling and moving all over the place.
On this visit, Spanish Fork Costa Vida, though guilty of poor packaging in the past, did a good job of securing my nacho topping serving cups in place so they didn’t slide all over the bag with their tops popping off.
A slight deduction for not including a fork/knife/napkin packet.
Category grade: 4.5 out of 5
This category is usually the one with which fast-food restaurants—particularly for drive-thru customers—struggle. Even when the window staff gets the order right, it’s not uncommon for someone along the preparation line to get it wrong. Be it asking for nacho toppings to be put on the side or the omission of pico de gallo, inaccurate fulfillment of orders happens more often than we like.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen on this visit. Not only was the food made to order accurately, it was done in the form of a generous serving. Given the rising costs of dining out, this should be the rule and not the exception, which it often tends to be.
The only knock on the food on this visit was that the chicken in my nachos was a bit overcooked and overly chewy.
Category grade: 4 out of 5
Overall drive-thru grade:
21 out of 25.
(On an old-school grade scale, that’s a solid B grade.)
It’s no secret that Spanish Fork Costa Vida is a good source for Mexican food. Just look at how crowded the establishment is most of the time. Whether you’re dining in or hitting the drive-thru, you’re in for a dining treat—most of the time.
Here’s hoping your drive-thru dining experience here is as favorable as mine was on this visit.
Stay tuned next month for another anonymous review of a local restaurant.