Best of Utah 2013: Main Street | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2013: Main Street




Best Crumble Pie
Penny Ann's Cafe

The bakers at Penny Ann’s doesn’t just bake pies, they craft them, giving loving attention to flaky crusts and decadent fillings that are even better than those you remember from childhood. The lemon-raspberry cream is a tag team of tangy, sweet awesomeness, while the coconut cream is a decadent cloud of creamy goodness. Penny Ann’s also offers unique crumble pies and classic buttermilk pies. Plan ahead for Thanksgiving time, though—Penny Ann’s small cafe kitchen produces more than 100 pies just for turkey-day special orders.
1810 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-935-4760,

Best City Creek One-Upper
The Chalk Garden Co-Op

City Creek has billed itself as the upscale shopping destination in Utah. Most of the stores are exclusive national chains, but a close neighbor on the Main Street block is The Chalk Garden Co-op, an even exclusive-er local shop featuring one-of-a-kind antique and designer jewelry, art prints, shoes and fashions, plus a hair salon and spa. Formerly a Trolley Square landmark, the reappearance of the Chalk Garden is good news for its longtime fans. It’s a local phenomenon we’re happy to welcome back.
74 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4032,

Best Plaid Emporium
Edinburgh Castle Scottish Imports

Whether you’re a full-blooded Scot looking for authentic clan items and the hard-to-find comforts of home, or an Anglophile looking for a high-quality, unique keepsake to add to your collection, you’ll find sanctuary in Edinburgh Castle. Owners Eric and Audrey Ann Gilzean—natives of Scotland and England, respectively—have run the shop since 1974 and can outfit you with a kilt and all the trappings, plus novelty items, a tartan tie or a simple box of shortbread.
124 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-1406,

Best Bottles of Beer
Beerhive Pub

You won’t find blaring music or distracting flat-screens at the Beerhive—even the pool tables have been relegated downstairs—but you will find a massive beer menu, organized by type, that deserves all of your attention. Settle in at a cozy booth or table for a quiet sipping session, or head to the bar, which has a strip of ice to keep your glass cold, and select your first beer (trust us; it’ll be the first of many). Craft beer is the name of the game here—don’t ask for Bud Light unless you can handle an eyebrow raised to ridiculous heights. From IPAs to porters and stouts, The Beerhive has the bottled brews you can’t get anywhere else in town.
128 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4268

Best Wardrobe Update
Manhattan Finds

That cute guy in accounting—OK, the only cute guy in accounting—finally asked you out for dinner. Tonight. At the fanciest place in town. You don’t have anything new to wear, and there are seven days standing between you and your next paycheck. What to do? Hustle over to Manhattan Finds consignment shop on your lunch break and find a name-brand top, jacket or pair of shoes—Manolo Blahnik, anyone?—to update your look, quickly and cheaply.
149 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-415-9880,

Best Saucy Lunches
Michelangelo's on Main

Downtown dining is thriving thanks to inviting bistros like Michelangelo’s. If pasta is your thing, how can you resist the daily specials that include crowd-pleasers like spaghetti pomodoro, penne Gorgonzola, penne arrabbiata and even macaroni & cheese? Pastas come with a choice of soup or salad, all for only $5.95! Prego, baby.
132 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0500,

Best Trinkets
Twisted Roots

Twisted Roots offers a literal rainbow of choices: colorful rasta clothing and jewelry, T-shirts with every dead rock star you can think of, cute knitted animal hats for kids, Caribbean instruments and handmade souvenirs. Upstairs, you can find a gift for a discerning scholar, like a tasteful boxed set of a fancy red flask and Sherlock Holmes-style pipe, or the perfect dorm-room starter kit: colorful glass pipes, a handy contraption that allows for quicker beer-chugging, and a bevy of Bob Marley and Beatles posters.
156 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-972-1312,

Best Little Shop of Diamonds
McKay Diamonds

When Main Street was at its most vacant a few years back, with City Creek still under construction, it was a dismal time for many retailers on Main Street. But one little shop persevered: McKay Diamonds. Founded in 1949 by Robert and Frances Ellen McKay, the 8-foot-wide store was the place for brides- and grooms-to-be looking for a trustworthy jeweler and beautiful diamonds. But in 2010, after more than 50 years, with the walls covered by photos of happy couples they’d sold rings to, the McKays were ready to retire. Taking over the reins are Joe and Sandra Andrade, who plan to continue the mom & pop tradition, and have already begun posting photos of their new happy customers.
157 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0192,

Best Hot Mess
Murphy's Trainwreck Burger

Murphy’s subtly updated its menu in 2012, keeping the old favorites like the spaghetti and fish & chips, but adding a couple of daring new items. Our favorite is the trainwreck, a burger slathered in a sweet three-pepper sauce, jalapeños and cheddar cheese. It’s spicy and drippy but won’t leave you in tears, especially when paired with thick-cut fries and a Cutthroat served in one of Murphy’s extra-large glasses.
160 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-7271,

Best Turquoise Jewelry
TP Gallery

Jam-packed with authentic Native American arts from Utah and the Southwest, TP Gallery has cases of glistening silver and turquoise jewelry, as well as sand paintings, kachinas, pottery, baskets, rugs, beadwork—even Zuni fetishes. The friendly owners and salespeople bring decades of experience to the shop. It’s a must-see for locals and visitors interested in Native American culture, and those wanting to support Native American artists.
252 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-2961

Best in Class
Lamb's Grill

Since 1919, Lamb’s Grill has kept the Main Street light on. With 94 years of continuous operation, its venerable status makes it a focal point for many traditions: a pre-theater dinner, that all-important business lunch date, the chatty best-friends brunch. Even the city’s singles feel right at home here in a cozy booth, waiting for the scrumptious daily lunch special or even that monstrous “Wimpy”—a half-pound burger—to arrive. But as you wait, sipping a cocktail or a glass of wine, you might hear a Frank Sinatra tune wafting through the air. It’s fitting because he’d have liked Lamb’s. It’s a classy place.
169 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7166,

Best Inspired Dining

It’s a bustling place, but they take the time to welcome you, and they mean it. The wait staff knows the daily specials almost by heart and can’t wait to tell you. Then comes a tray of elegant drinks, and potato chips coated with warm blue cheese. Dining at Bambara always feels like a special occasion, even if you just order a simple burger, which comes house-ground with white cheddar, grilled onions and creamy horseradish. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, no uninspired offerings are plated here—dems da rules.
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454,

Best Early-Evening Drinks
Keys on Main

Sure, Keys on Main has a reputation as a boisterous, packed-to-the-gills piano bar, but those in the know make a reservation or come early for drinks and conversation with friends or the bartender. Starting around 9:30 p.m., the place fills up, and the bartenders have to make cocktails in quick succession for the valley’s sing-alongers. Their rapid-fire skills are put to good use for the smaller, early-evening crowd, as they’ll mix you a new drink as quickly as you suck yours down, and can recommend the best new concoctions to try.
242 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-3638,

Best Reborn Book Nook
Eborn Books/Coffee Garden

While it was sad to lose the Main Street mainstay that was Sam Weller’s Books (now relocated in Trolley Square), the loss has been easier to bear with the arrival of Eborn Books and its 500,000 new, used, rare and out-of-print books. Bret Eborn’s massive collection is heavy on LDS and Utah titles, of which many vintage editions are housed in glass cases along with other collectibles. The cases make for a fun book-buying adventure, especially when combined with a refueling stop at the in-house Coffee Garden for a freshly brewed cup of joe and a warm scone.
254 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0460,

Best Fresh Spring Rolls
Cindy Lee Cafe

There are few treats on Main Street better than the fresh spring rolls at Cindy Lee Cafe. Made to order, the soft rice wrappers are tightly packed with vermicelli rice noodles, lettuce, basil, cilantro, mint, cucumber and, of course, a couple of plump shrimp. When you dip your roll into the accompanying sweet and creamy peanut-hoisin sauce, your mouth will do a little OMG! dance. Thankfully, there are two rolls per order—one wouldn’t be enough. And they’re good for you, besides.
264 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4544


Best Small-Town Charm
The Spot

This lively bar feels like it could be a downtown bar in an Idaho or Wyoming town—where everyone knows one another, the bartenders crack friendly jokes at your expense, and the pool rivalries go back decades. A dog even quietly patrols the place. But The Spot has big-city clout, thanks to its big fridge, which holds a surprising selection of bottled craft beers, including Lagunitas and Omission.
870 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-7768

Best Main Street Mirth
Off Broadway Theatre/Laughing Stock Improv

Located in what used to be known as the Rialto, the Off Broadway Theatre retains a vintage Victorian feel with its velvet lounger and crystal chandelier. Without a doubt, this is the place for yukking it up, family-style (not a lot of F-bombs to duck). A number of favorite comedies and musicals are staged here as well as gut-splitting parodies such as the upcoming Peter Pun & the Pirates. The city’s longest-running improv comedy team, Laughing Stock, brings the chortles on weekends.
272 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-4628,

Best Burrito Bowls
Barbacoa Mexican Grill

If you are craving a dose of healthy Tex-Mex-style food, locally owned Barbacoa is the place where you can capture the ingredients of a giant burrito in a bowl—even the flour tortilla on the side, if you want. The beauty of Barbacoa is that you get to choose: Friendly burrito engineers build your meal with your choice of grilled meats, veggies, cheese, lettuce and salsa, all to your exact specifications. The Main Street location, in particular, efficiently handles the hungry lunch crowds in record time.
280 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3798; more locations,

Best Cheap Drinks
Willie's Lounge
The drinkin’ is not only inexpensive at Willie’s Lounge, it’s practically endless. There are 16 variations on the Mind Eraser alone, from the Dirty Sanchez (tequila, triple sec, Tabasco and soda) to the Statutory Grape (grape vodka, grape schnapps and soda), and even a full menu of mixed beers (the Doggy Style is Squatters’ Provo Girl plus Chasing Tail—sensing a pattern here?). Willie’s daily priced-to-move brews and liquor help fuel legendary karaoke nights, foosball tourneys and roller derby afterparties. Get out of downtown and save a few bucks, possibly at the expense of a few brain cells.
1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 866-612-2920,
2. Bongo Lounge
3. Lucky 13

Best Veggies on Bread
Robin's Nest

Ever since Robin’s Nest made its home on Main Street, it has managed to hold its own. How? The Robin’s Nest sandwiches are utterly distinctive and delicious. Take, for example, its premier vegetarian offering, “The Natural,” which features portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, red onion, spinach, melted Provolone and roasted garlic on ciabatta—obviously not your grandma’s veggie sandwich! Add a serving of orzo pasta and an iced tea, and your body will praise you for your good care and feeding of it.
311 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378,

Best Small Plates

Charlie Perry’s Eva restaurant is one of the warmest, friendliest and most comfortable spots to dine in Salt Lake City. The food isn’t pretentious; it’s just great. And it’s a blast to try an assortment of different small-plate selections—noshing on a little of this and a little of that. The sauteed Brussels sprouts are otherworldly, but we also love the slow-roasted tri-tip bruschetta, shrimp & grits, flash-fried calamari, sauteed snap peas and, well, everything else on the lengthy small-plates menu.
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447,
2. Finca
3. Meditrina

Best Raw Fish at Midnight

It’s challenging enough finding late-night eateries in Salt Lake City. But finding one that serves sushi and offers a party atmosphere, to boot? Shogun’s got you covered with its Late Night Izakaya, serving up small plates on Tuesday and Wednesday nights (10 p.m. to midnight) and Late Night Happy Hour on Thursday (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and Friday & Saturday (11 p.m. to 2 a.m.). While the restaurant also has a lunch and dinner crowd, its late-night offerings are winning over the bar crowd.
321 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7142,

Best Goulash
The Atlantic Cafe

You can almost imagine Édith Piaf in this cafe singing “La Vie en Rose.” The Atlantic oozes Old World charm and intimacy while serving some of the best Balkan and Mediterranean food in town. In addition to pastas, sandwiches, salads, kebabs and cevapi, you simply must keep an eye out for the weekly goulash special, packed with tender meat and potatoes and served with bread. It can fuel you for a marathon as well as warm you on a rainy day. It’s flat-out delicious.
325 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-524-9900,

Best Daily Specials
Roula's Cafe

With recipes from Roula’s native homeland of Crete, Greece, the daily specials offered at this quaint downtown corner Greek cafe tend to sell out quickly. It is easy to see why “daily specials to match you” is Roula’s motto. Customer favorites like the roast-turkey dinner and the Greek meatball over rice simply melt in your mouth. If you arrive too late to enjoy the lunch special, the souvlaki sticks cooked to order are some of the best in Salt Lake City.
405 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-924-0330,

Best Bygone Amusements
Utah Book & Magazine

If you like old comics, children’s books, science fiction, adult magazines, Life magazines, board games, roller skates, VHS tapes, relics, collectibles and items that defy categorization, this may be your quirky shop. Operated by Peter Marshall, Utah Book & Magazine is packed with more items than likely could be inventoried. However, Marshall’s brain has cataloged every item in the shop, including a few friendly ghosts. This shop is best experienced when you have a minimum of two hours to really soak it in.
327 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4391

Best Slice of Life
Maxwell's East Coast Eatery

By day, it’s a restaurant for young professionals to meet for lunch in downtown’s historic Boston Building. By evening, it’s a sports bar, and by late night, it’s a jam-packed dance club. But whatever crowd you’re in, you can always count on some of the best New York-style pizza the state has to offer. Maxwell’s traditional, floppy “fat kid” pizza is available by the slice or the huge 20-inch full pie, customizable with a slew of fresh toppings.
357 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304,

Best Downtown Comfort Lunch
Boston Deli

For over a decade, the eclectic Boston Deli in Exchange Place has been serving made-from-scratch sandwiches, pastas, soups, quiches and salads. The tantalizing lunchtime specials will cure any hunger pang. For example, the turkey platter, at less than $8, serves up fresh oven-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a roll and a drink. That’ll bring some comfort to your stomach, and your wallet.
Boston Building, 9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2146,

Best Worker-Bee Food
Royal Eatery

You want to eat like a king but not pay a king’s ransom? For the past 30 years, the Royal Eatery has been a palace of grilled Greek American favorites, ranging from breakfast omelets to lunchtime pastrami burgers, souvlaki and grilled sandwiches—all at reasonable prices. Breakfast items are made to order—the perfect jump-start for many a downtown worker’s day. Just decide what you want to eat and then, like a king, enjoy the prompt friendly service and hold court while people and trains go by.
379 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4301


Best Baguette
Eva's Bakery
Eva’s Bakery is about as close to a French boulangerie as you’re likely to find in Salt Lake City. And owner/chef Charlie Perry (pictured with manager Ruby Johnson) and his crew take pains to create the most authentic French-style baked goods around. To wit, the baguettes at Eva’s Bakery are made from organic flour and taste like they were bought on a Parisian boulevard. They’re light and airy inside, and perfectly crisp outside. Ooh la la!
155 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3942,

Best Place to Conspire
Cheers to You

There’s such an intimate feel to this downtown dive bar. You could meet your secret loves here or draw up a top-secret business plan. Lawmakers could plot new liquor laws, and nobody would be the wiser. This is a bar where you can privately sit in a booth and enjoy sipping cheap drinks and—really—nobody needs to know your name. Except when there’s karaoke—on such popular nights as those, after you sing, you’ll be seriously famous.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400

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