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Frody Volgger, Caputo's Deli
Pop in to the Old-World Butcher Shop at Caputo’s Market & Deli, and you’ll likely find Austria-born Frody Volgger doing what he does best: hand-cutting meat. And not just any meat, but local, sustainably raised lamb, pork and beef, from which he makes his justifiably famous speck, weisswurst, brats, chorizo, guanciale and more.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
Ho Mei BBQ
While most of Utah’s Chinese restaurants tend to lean toward Sichuan and Hunan cooking, Ho Mei BBQ specializes in authentic Cantonese cuisine. You won’t find the fiery flavors you may be accustomed to; the food at Ho Mei is subtle. You will find traditional Cantonese barbecue favorites like Peking duck, barbecued pork, spiced cuttlefish and soy-sauce chicken, as well as lesser-known (to Americans) items like luscious, delicate rice rolls, Fujian fried rice, chicken feet Baiyun, pork belly with black-bean sauce, stir-fried squid with Chinese melon and many more delicious Cantonese dishes. Exotic eating, for sure.
3370 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-486-8800, HoMeiBBQ.com
With towering, grease-dripping, bacon-topped burgers with names like The Fungus Amongus, The Pigpen and The Breath Enhancer, Lucky 13 has cemented its reputation as the finest local purveyor of the ground-beef sandwich. The heaping burgers come with flavorful french fries for no extra cost, and to get the full experience, first-timers should make sure to order one of the burgers that comes with the establishment’s delectable house-smoked bacon. This place is for adults only, so be sure to top that half-pound of ground beef in your belly with a few shots of whiskey.
135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com
2. The Cotton Bottom
3. Rich’s Burgers & Grub
Best Montreal Bagel
Not only is the pizza here sensational, but so are the bagels and breakfast bagel sandwiches. Technically, Cafe Galleria makes what is called a Montreal bagel. It’s first boiled in sweetened water, then baked in the cafe’s wood-fired pizza oven. The result is a bodacious bagel that is a bit denser and a tad sweeter than standard bagels. If Einstein’s comes to mind when you think of bagels, it’s time to broaden your horizons.
6055 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-266-2225, CafeGalleriaPizza.com
Roosters Brewing Co.
It’s been 20 years since Pete and Kym Buttschardt opened Roosters on 25th Street in Ogden, and the good people of Weber and Davis counties continue to be grateful. A comfortable gathering spot for casual diners and those looking for something a little fancier, Roosters offers a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare like fish & chips and sandwiches to specialty pastas and fresh salmon—and you can find a perfect pairing for every meal in their wide selection of fresh-brewed beers. The additional Layton location—where you can purchase bottled Roosters beers—makes it even easier to get to all that good stuff.
253 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171; 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9330, RoostersBrewingCo.com
2. Slackwater Pizza & Pub
3. Tona Sushi
Market Street Grill
We take fresh sushi, sashimi and seafood for granted, even here in land-locked Utah. But there was a time—before Market Street Grill opened in 1980—when the only fish served in Utah restaurants was frozen. Well, whether it’s Market Street Grill’s fresh oysters on the half shell, seasonal halibut, cod and crab, Gulf Coast shrimp, Atlantic salmon, Manila clams, rainbow trout, mahi mahi, sea bass or ahi tuna, you can rest assured that at Market Street, it’s as fresh as you’ll find in the West. As Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says, “No need for the menu—I eat there so often I have it memorized.”
Multiple locations, MarketStreetGrill.com
3. De Mar al Lago
It didn’t take long for Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell’s restaurant to become one of the valley’s best-loved Italian eateries. That’s probably because it provides a wonderful mix of familiar comfort foods like lasagna and spaghetti & meatballs—featuring sauces made from family recipes—and more elegant, classic Italian fare like eggplant parmigiana and fettuccine Alfredo, all in a gorgeous setting. Visitors also find it hard to resist the dessert creation of pistachios, lemon mousse, fresh raspberries and marzipan, simply dubbed “The Cake.”
9236 Village Shop Drive, Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
3. Caffe Molise
Once upon a time, mobile food trucks were a convenience that sacrificed the fine-dining quality of brick & mortar restaurants. But veteran restaurateur SuAn Chow’s California/Asian fare raised the bar on what you could expect from a food truck, ushering in a new era of food-truck cuisine rather than just food. Chow Truck has stayed on top of the mobile-food game by introducing rotating specials from local chefs, but don’t miss favorites like the pineapple-ginger pork taco, the flash-fried calamari slider and the uniquely spiced root-vegetable chips.
3. Lewis Bros. Food Truck
Gourmandise the Bakery
If you stop by Gourmandise on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re likely to see cars lining the block. No, it’s not valet parking for a Hollywood movie premiere; it’s folks queued up to get their fix of Gourmandise’s spectacular baked yummies. For decades, Salt Lakers have looked to Gourmandise for top-notch cakes, tarts, bread pudding, baklava, Napoleons, marzipan, puff pastry, croissants, scones, Danishes, turnovers, tiramisu, macaroons, lady fingers, cannolis, éclairs ... and that’s just a partial list of available goodies. It’s a sweet-tooth’s mecca.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, GourmandiseTheBakery.com
2. Eva’s Bakery
3. Tulie Bakery
Best Communal Entrees
Del Mar al Lago
The portions are generous at Peruvian restaurant Del Mar al Lago, and sharing is preferable to boxing. Dishes like the lomo saltado (strips of beef marinated in soy sauce, vinegar and spices, stir-fried with onions and tomatoes, served with steamed rice and french fries), chaufa de mariscos (Chinese-style fried rice and seafood covered in scrambled eggs), brocheta mixta (chicken, beef and shrimp kebabs with steamed veggies) and chaufa de mariscos (shrimp, scallops, octopus and squid over fried rice) seem designed to be passed around, as does Del Mar’s incomparable ceviche, which comes in several varieties. Don’t keep that plate to yourself.
310 Bugatti Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2890, DelMarAlLago.com
Best Café in Shakespeare Land
Coffeehouse Coffee and bookstores are always a perfect match. No more so than the Cedar City-based Grind Coffeehouse and its neighbor, Braun’s Books. After you’ve perused Braun’s Books’ many shelves, The Grind Coffeehouse—which connects to the bookstore—offers a roomy venue to study, hang out, talk or admire the artwork on display. On the chalkboard, there’s a range of colorful eats and drinks, such as the violet white mocha and the Mexi-Moca. Whether you relax and listen to a customer and a waitress chatting about the meaning of life, or simply gaze at the rich, artsy décor, you’ll soon realize that Grind is the beating social heart of Cedar City.
19 N. Main, Cedar City, 435-867-5333
Best Downtown Escape
Cedars of Lebanon
Right in the midst of the downtown hustle & bustle, Cedars of Lebanon offers a journey to a beautiful (and delicious) Mediterranean land. The decades-old restaurant recently received a facelift in the form of a spiffy new front patio, which is an excellent place to nibble on moujadra while the world turns, but those looking for a more soothing experience can head inside to sip Arabic coffee or a glass of Lebanese Rosé on a plush couch in the mural-adorned front room. The Cedars menu is a vast melting pot of cuisine—Moroccan, Armenian, Greek and Lebanese—so you can travel to a new land every time you visit.
152 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4096, CedarsOfLebanonRestaurant.com
A juggernaut in this category, we suspect Sage’s would have won even if the restaurant hadn’t moved to bigger digs in late 2013. The new Sage’s features more parking, which is always a plus, but the most exciting addition is the Jade Room, a mid-century-style lounge where patrons can enjoy small plates and cocktails. Sage’s top-quality vegan and veggie offerings remain intact, pleasing both the truly healthy vegetarians and junk-food lovers with savory enchiladas, hand-cut french fries served with garlic aioli, and more.
234 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
2. Frisch Compassionate Eatery
3. Vertical Diner
Pho Tay Ho
As pho lovers know, the secret to making the delicious Vietnamese beef noodle soup lies in the broth. That’s why pho aficionados flock to Pho Tay Ho for their fix. The broth is made from beef bones that simmer overnight, along with ginger, onions, star anise, clove and Saigon cinnamon. Order the paper-thin sliced eye-round steak pho, and you’ll witness the beef cooking right in your bowl. The perfect noodles just add to the pho pleasure.
1766 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-3650, Facebook.com/PhoTayHo
Best No-Shame Doughnut Breakfast
The Wild Grape
New West Bistro When you of think doughnuts for breakfast, you almost can’t help picturing a cartoon cop grabbing a chocolate-covered doughnut with rainbow sprinkles from the local convenience store. Well, cast that image from your mind. The Wild Grape’s doughnut holes are perfectly hot, crispy balls of gourmet goodness, and when you eat them with a knife and fork and dip them into the accompanying vanilla custard and strawberry sauce, you’ll forget you’re having, well, a fried pastry. To balance your breakfast, pair them with one of Wild Grape’s many fruity mimosas.
481 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-746-5565, WildGrapeBistro.com