Page 4 of 6
Food & Drink
Best Italian Kisses
Busy and bustling, Valter's Osteria is a spectacular taste of Italy right here in Salt Lake City. Here, you'll experience wait staff tending to your every need, replenishing your bread basket, grinding pepper on your salad, scraping crumbs off the linen tablecloth and bringing you biscotti to nibble on while you pay your bill. These are all the lovely extra touches that accompany Valter Nassi's expressive Italian home-style dinner courses. Here, pastas are fresh and delicious, dabbed in succulent sauces; meat dishes are exquisitely prepared and presented. Desserts are decadent and divine. And then there's that one final touch: that of Valter himself as he brushes patrons' shoulders or hugs and even kisses them. You can't leave without feeling entirely too full yet still smiling about it .
173 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4563, ValtersOsteria.com
Best Atmosphere/Best New Restaurant
Current Fish & Oyster
"Best Transformation" would also be an award deserved by Luna Design Studio and architect Louis Ulrich, who took a deteriorating antique store and turned it into the eye-popping restaurant that is Current Fish & Oyster. The building that houses Current dates back to 1906, when it was a Ford dealership, but now looks like something from Planet Disney. The open kitchen and bustling dining areas just add to the killer atmosphere and superb cuisine.
279 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-326-3474, CurrentFishAndOyster.com
Best Atmosphere: 2. Finca 3. Pallet
Best New Restaurant: 2. Rye 3. Hub & Spoke
Gourmandise the Bakery
It's quite a scene: the lines stretch around the block with folks double-parked on Friday and Saturday nights, when people jockey for position to purchase baked goods for the weekend at Gourmandise. And with a vast selection of pastries, cakes, cookies, tarts, breads and more, if Gourmandise doesn't bake it, you don't need it. The über-chocolaty pailletin is to die for, but that's just one of dozens of decadent possibilities.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, GourmandiseTheBakery.com
2. Eva's Bakery
3. City Cakes
The Sweet Tooth Fairy
The Sweet Tooth Fairy's cakebites are the gateway ganache for complete confectionary addiction, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. In 2012, the gourmet fairy godmother also known as Megan Faulkner Brown won Food Network's Cupcake Wars with her mix of comfort food meets creative flavors, and her candied kingdom quickly spread. If you're craving something sugary, try the cupcakes, cookies, brownies, lollipops, moon pies or schmancy whole cakes for special occasions. The Sweet Tooth Fairy satisfies that delectable jones at nine locations (and growing) statewide.
2. City Cakes
3. Ruby Snap
Blue Plate Diner
"If you're awesome, please apply inside! If you're not, maybe try down the street ..." That "help wanted" sign at Blue Plate Diner sums things up pretty well, because the service, ambience and food here—especially at breakfast—are awesome. It's hard to resist the breakfast chicken tamale with eggs, the chicken-fried steak or the classic corned-beef hash. This terrific neighborhood eatery is also a great place for those with special dietary needs: The menu includes options like the vegan tofu breakfast burrito; spinach, mushroom and avocado omelet; and even vegan pancakes and "burgers."
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Park Cafe
3. Ruth's Diner
Since it opened in 1989, Squatters has been Salt Lake City's go-to brewpub. And, with Squatters green-hued business philosophy and involvement in scads of community-based organizations and charitable causes, lovers of great beer, food and service can enjoy brews and burgers guilt-free. The pub also offers more than burgers and beer: Squatters' eclectic menu ranges from shrimp and ahi ceviche to Thai yellow curry and charbroiled organic tofu. Squatters isn't just the oldest brewpub in town—it's the best.
147 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2739, Squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewery
3. Wasatch Brewery
Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant
Fresh ingredients. That's the secret to Provisions' success and to owner/chef Tyler Stokes' novel approach to modern cuisine. Local, organic seasonal foods are transformed into creations such as chilled corn soup with cherry tomatoes, lime and shiso; taglierini with braised rabbit and speck; and Manjari flourless chocolate cake—just to name a trio of can't-miss items. The restaurant's exuberant décor complements the vibrancy of Stokes' cooking perfectly.
3364 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-410-4046, SLCProvisions.com
2. Fratelli Ristorante
3. Log Haven
Forage restaurant offers the most unique dining experience in Utah—an evening-long, multi-course, $89 tasting menu—among the most unique cuisine in the state. That's quite a coup for owner/chef Bowman Brown, who literally forages for much of the fresh, local food served at Forage. The menu changes frequently, based on what's in season, but don't be surprised to find out-of-the-box dishes like burned eggplant, black-currant leaves with frozen tomato, goat with fava beans, and a decadent duck-egg pierogi. It's dining you won't soon forget.
370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-708-7834, ForageRestaurant.com
Best Cheap Date
Brewvies Cinema Pub
Good food and movies—what's not to like? Brewvies offers showings of the latest blockbusters, independent films and cult classics, which can be enjoyed with your favorite cocktail, cold beer or soda. You can also scarf down orders of nachos, pizza, chicken tenders, or baby-back ribs, while watching your movie. Check Brewvies out for the free Monday film series or organize a party with your closest pals.
677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5500, Brewvies.com
2. Blue Plate Diner
3. Lucky 13
Rye Diner & Drinks
Given that Rye restaurant shares a wall (and owners) with Urban Lounge, it's not too difficult to see how Rye came to cater to a late-night crowd. And thanks to Rye, late-night munchies don't have to be just nachos and pretzels. Get your post-party nosh on with tasty treats like pickled quail eggs, pork-belly lettuce wraps, kimchi quesadilla or truffled mac & cheese. Not a night owl? Don't despair: Rye opens at 8 a.m. for the early crowd.
239 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4655, RyeSLC.com
2. The Pie Hole
3. The Bayou
"Farm-to-table" isn't just a slogan at Aristo's—it's heritage. The family-owned restaurant has its roots in Crete and stays true to that heritage by kneading its own bread, growing its own herbs, butchering its own meat, and importing the finest olive oil from the Grecian isle. Try a flight of gyros (lamb and beef, chicken, or pork) or the kokkinisto (lamb in red wine tomato sauce served with orzo pasta and Myzithra).
224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristoSLC.com
2. Greek Souvlaki
Since 1978, when Gregory and Jeni Skedros opened the Mandarin, the husband-and-wife team has been dishing up Chinese cuisine that passes the scrutiny of the toughest critics. The Skedroses are a Greek-American family, while the kitchen is staffed with loyal, longtime Chinese cooks versed in creating authentic dishes from the various regions of China. It's no wonder that Travel + Leisure called Mandarin one of the Top 25 Chinese restaurants in the United States. City Weekly readers concur.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, MandarinUtah.com
2. Red Maple
Best Japanese/Best Sushi
Takashi isn't just Utah's best Japanese restaurant; it's one of the best in the West. Takashi Gibo's meticulous sushi-making skills are justifiably admired by his sushi chef colleagues and customers alike. And it's not only the sushi and sashimi that makes Takashi the hottest ticket in town: Folks line up for the perfectly executed cooked dishes and desserts, plus one of the area's best wine, cocktail and sake menus. Add impeccable table service to the equation, and it all equals ... Takashi!
18 W. Market St, Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
Best Japanese: Best Sushi: 2. Kyoto 2. Tsunami
3. Tsunami 3. Sushi Groove
Best Food Truck/Cart
It may have placed second in Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race" this season, but the smiling sweets-slingers that make its Belgian-style waffles are No.1 in Utahns' hearts (and stomachs). Yeah, they've got all the fruity options covered, as well as mounds of clotted cream, ice cream, crunchy cookies and international favorite smears like Nutella and Dulce de Leche. There's a sunny storefront in Provo, and for those on the go, track down one of its five festively frescoed trucks and feel the love. Waffle love, that is.
1796 N. 950 West, Provo, 801-923-3588, WaffLuv.com
3. Chow Truck
Best Coffee House
Whether you take java as black as your soul or give your wickedly complicated order in paragraph format, City Weekly readers take their joe seriously and vote Coffee Garden to the foamy top of the coffeehouse heap time after time. Here's where you'll get your daily pastries, sammies and, of course, beverages served just as the benevolent deity of your caffeinated choice intended it. The baristas will always greet you with a smile. Within a visit or two, they'll know you by drink order, and after a third time, probably by name.
878 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, Salt Lake City; 801-364-0768
2. Beans & Brews
3. Publik Coffee Roasters
The Paris Bistro
With super-talented Parisian chef Emmanuel Levarek in the kitchen, dining at The Paris Bistro is much like dining in Paris. French classics like confit de canard aux lentilles du Puy, moules marinière and salade d'onglet grille delight the traditionalist; while filet mignon with squash blossoms and zucchini gratin, or lemongrass creme brulee tempt the more contemporary palate. An outstanding wine list perfectly complements the exquisite French cuisine.
1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
2. La Caille
Best Wine Selection
BTG Wine Bar
At BTG you can have it your way, as the saying goes. With more than 75 wines to choose from—offered by the 2-ounce taste, 5-ounce glass, by the bottle, or as wine flights—BTG (By The Glass) Wine Bar has something to please the most discriminating wine aficionado. Sommelier Louis Koppel is a treasure trove of wine knowledge and always eager to chat about his favorite discovery or to hear about yours. Whether you're a White Burgundy connoisseur, a fan of high-octane Zinfandel, a lover of sweet Tokaj, or in the mood for a bodacious bottle of bubbly, BTG has the wine bases covered.
63 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2814, BTGWineBar.com
Since 1993, Bombay House owner and co-founder Daniel Shanthakumar has been delivering the goods to Utahns in the hunt for authentic Indian cuisine. Using traditional cooking methods and tools—including its charcoal-fired tandoori oven—Bombay House offers wholesome, delectable fare from an extensive menu. Flavors range from fresh-made naan and roti to house specialties such as Chettinad lamb, Tezpur pineapple shrimp and vegetable-coconut kurma.
2731 Parleys Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222, BombayHouse.com
3. Himalayan Kitchen
Best Ogden Restaurant
Tony Chen and Tina Yu's Ogden restaurant is one of the town's hottest eating establishments. Loyal customers return frequently for Chen's excellent sushi and its commitment to the use of sustainable fish and local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. But don't overlook the terrific tapas! Sharable small plates such as shrimp yakitori; yellowtail collar with ponzu soy; seared tuna with pineapple and chili-garlic sauce, grilled mackerel with basil and sweet vinegar-soy and the "Bacon Bubble Gum": Tokyo mochi rice cake with pork belly, grapefruit and sweet soy are perfect for starters.
210 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662, TonaRestaurant.com
2. Roosters Brewing Co.
3. Slackwater Pizza
Holy Mole! We're not surprised that Red Iguana wins Reader's Choice again (and again and again). It's for damned good reasons. Whether you're at the Cardenas family's classic North Temple location, outpost Numero Dos just around the corner, or at the take-out counter at Taste of Red Iguana in City Creek Center, count on this: You'll have bountiful and beautiful plates served with the same character and care that the Red Iguana has been justifiably famous for since 1985. Red Iguana's "Killer Mexican Food" never fails to satisfy.
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489; 866 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-214-6050; RedIguana.com
2. Blue Iguana
3. Frida Bistro
The nearly century-old log mansion in Millcreek Canyon that is home to Log Haven is known for its beautiful locale and fine dining, and as one of Utah's premier destinations for weddings and other special events. While the romantic spirit is always in the air at Log Haven, there may be a few ectoplasmic manifestations hovering there as well. Could be that the staff simply needed some sleep, but a gaggle of Log Haven employees swear they have encountered spirits in their midst, albeit ghosts of a friendly sort. Indeed, owner Margo Provost would like to believe that the apparitions with which she shares her restaurant are there to help protect the place she so lovingly restored. So, next time you see a phantom there, blow it a kiss.
6451 Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
2. La Caille
There's more than barbeque offered at this Korean restaurant—dumpling soup, bibimbap (spicy rice and meat dish topped with egg), stir-fried vermicelli noodles, and cucumber kimchi. The atmosphere is relaxed and open with plenty of room for a dinner date or a quick lunch break. At the end of your meal, make sure to order a shaved-ice red-bean sundae to satisfy your sweet tooth.
3353 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, 801-953-0478, Facebook.com/MyunggaUt
2. It's Tofu
3. Korea House
Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
The Copper Onion
We've long been impressed by Colleen and Ryan Lowder's Copper Onion restaurant. It seems as if it's been packed since the day the doors opened. Were the Copper Onion's signature ricotta dumplings or black-pepper mussels ever to leave the menu, there would likely be rioting; the pasta carbonara with flawless house-made fettuccine is the best in town. A casual and hip vibe, open kitchen, terrific wine list and superior service mean the Copper Onion will remain City Weekly readers' favorite for years to come.
111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com
Frisch Compassionate Eatery
Whether you've been doing a full-Morrissey on the vegan lifestyle for decades or are trying the occasional meatless Monday, you'll find a whole menu to love at Frisch Compassionate Eatery. Frisch has won this Reader's Choice category for three years running. Owners Rachel and Leigh Kade are committed not only to serving delicious 100 percent vegan cuisine, but also to running a completely plant-based business stocked with locally sourced products whenever possible, and all at a friendly price point. Good for the planet, good for your body and good for your (hemp) wallet. Best of all, it tastes good. Really good.
145 E. 1300 South, No. 201, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8277, FrischEats.com
2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
3. Sage's Café
In less than a decade, this family-run Avenues eatery, named after its chef/owner, has garnered "Best Of" awards by the bucketful, in a field packed with top-notch contenders. Sawadee's ever-popular Pad Thai is done so well, once you try it, you may never be tempted to consider any other item on the menu. But Sawadee offers all the Thai must-haves: savory curries, a slew of noodle dishes and finger-licking barbecue—not to mention satays, skewers, soups and more. It's that winning spicy-sour-salty-sweet combination that keeps us coming back to Thai food, and it's superlative Thai food that keeps us coming back to Sawadee. Oh, and the wine list? Solid.
754 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-8424, Sawadee1.com
2. Channon Thai
3. Thai Siam
Savory. Spicy. Salty. Sweet. Sour. These bright, fresh, well-balanced flavors are what Vietnamese food is all about, and Oh Mai's two tidy locations nail it daily. Whether you're in the mood for classic pho with fragrant broth, a bahn mi sandwich made with crusty French bread (order it topped with a sunny side up egg) or any one of its generous vermicelli noodle or rice bowls, you'll leave happy, full and feeling pretty smug. Why? You'll have had that fabulous, fresh and healthy meal for less than $10, including a drink. My, Oh Mai, indeed.
3425 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6882; 6093 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-277-9888; OhMaiSandwich.com
2. Pho Tay Ho
Best Utah Winery
Castle Creek Winery
Given the obstacles to producing wine in Utah, kudos to Moab's Castle Creek Winery for being one of our state's winemaking pioneers. Will Fryer—head winemaker at Castle Creek—produces boutique-style wines at decidedly non-boutique wine prices (most sell for around $12). From Castle Creek's snappy Outlaw Red to the off-dry, aperitif-style Lily Rose White, the little winery that could keeps chuggin' along in Southern Utah.
Highway 128, Moab, 435-259-3332, CastleCreekWinery.com
2. Kiler Grove Winery
3. The Hive Winery
It's a consistent favorite for a reason—The Pie never fails to please. With multiple choices for crust (original, thin, gluten-free and sprouted wheat with ancient grains), there's something for everyone at The Pie. With toppings piled inches high, diners could enjoy the graffiti'd-and-tea-lighted ambience of The Pie's original basement location for hours. Want The Pie's deliciousness in the comfort of your own home? Grab some to-go at the takeout location.
Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Este Pizza
3. The Pie Hole
Best Utah County Restaurant
The foodies have spoken: the best Utah County restaurant is Communal, an eatery that serves farm-fresh, in-season cuisine, using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Offering dishes like pork with grilled peaches, sweet corn linguine and cornbread with jalapeño honey-butter on the side, Communal has something for the most discerning diner. Best to go as a group—as dishes are served family-style, it's tempting to try a little bit of everything Communal has on the menu.
102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, CommunalRestaurant.com
2. Black Sheep Café
3. Cubby's Chicago Beef
Fans of R&R Barbecue will be thrilled to hear that the boys, Rod and Roger Livingston, are planning a second R&R location in the south valley. R&R is the busiest barbecue joint in town, thanks to a little smoke, some fire and a lot of patience. The slow-smoked brisket is second to none, and the smoked sausage, pulled pork, barbecue ribs and chicken are equally award-worthy. And don't overlook sensational sides like Aunt Libby's hush puppies, sweet-potato fries and fried okra.
307 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0443, RandRBBQ.net
2. Pat's Barbecue
3. SugarHouse Barbeque
Best Beer Selection
With around 300 different beers typically available, it would take nearly a year (with Sundays off) to sample all of The Bayou's brews at the rate of one per day. And even then, you won't have reached the finish line, since owner Mark Alston is always fiddling with the selection and introducing new brews. Fortunately, Alston has created the Wheel of Beers, an app that will get you out of your beer rut and ready to try something new. But the Bayou isn't just about beer. There's also a great selection of Louisiana-style fare: The po'boy sandwiches and gumbo will make you think you're on the real bayou.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
2. Beer Bar
3. Beehive Pub
Cannella's Restaurant & Lounge
If there were an award for Best Italians, the Cannella family would probably win that, too. Since Joe and Missy Cannella first opened their restaurant in 1978, the Cannella's and their staff have been treating everyone who's stepped through the doors like family. Joe is no longer with us, but Cannella's continues to offer beloved classics like their spaghetti with homemade meatballs, chicken parmesan, braciole, fettuccini Alfredo, and other crowd pleasers, always served with a friendly smile and warm hospitality. Now that's Italian!
204 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-8518, CannellasRestaurant.com
2. Fratellis Ristorante
3. Cucina Toscana
Since it introduced Utahns to the tasty "Greek hamburger" more than 40 years ago, Greek Souvlaki has won our collective hearts. If you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse of someone slicing thin strips of lamb and beef off the rotisserie in back. Perfectly broiled meat is tucked inside warm pita bread, topped with onions, tomatoes and dressed with creamy, cool tzatziki, or rich red sauce. With locations throughout the valley, Greek Souvlaki has conquered our tastebuds.
Multiple locations, GreekSouvlaki.com
3. Mad Greek
Lone Star Taqueria
This colorful, funky taqueria in Cottonwood Heights has served authentic Mexican fare since 1995. The tiny restaurant is usually packed—and for good reason: The burritos there are the ultimate bang for your buck. They're huge, and at $8, a more satisfying meal for would be hard to find. Using homemade tortillas and salsas, the burritos are stuffed with your choice of fillings. For a few bucks extra, have your burrito smothered in chile verde.
2265 E. Fort Union Blvd., 801-944-2300, LoneStarTaqueria.com
2. Red Iguana
3. Blue Iguana
Best Small Plates/ Best Appetizers
Great things sometimes come in small packages, and Eva restaurant excels in producing small plates and appetizers that have gargantuan impact. For example, grilled, Frenched spring lamb chops are lovingly kissed with fragrant lavender sea salt and herbes de provence, while roasted cauliflower is given a Moroccan makeover with Kalamata olives, preserved lemon and cilantro. Even the wood-fired flatbread is elevated with the addition of truffled white beans, arugula pesto, spicy feta cheese and olive tapenade. Sometimes, less is more.
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com
Best Small Plates:
2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
3. The Copper Onion
Ask anyone what's the best place in Salt Lake City to get a good burger, and it's a safe bet the answer will be, "Lucky 13." This hip and funky establishment is renowned for its signature burgers—made from quality local meat, cooked to order. Lucky 13 bakes its buns fresh every morning. The burger selection ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. There's even a "Lucky 13 Challenge" requiring contestants to polish off two huge burgers within an hour. Some try, few succeed. Instead, try a healthier option: The Nut Butter Burger and Fungus Amongus Burger are unusual and delicious.
135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com
3. Cotton Bottom Inn
Best Vegan Dishes
Zest Kitchen & Bar
With a refreshing menu of healthy options and a chill atmosphere, Zest Kitchen & Bar is the perfect place for vegans and vegetarians wanting a night out on the town. Omnivores thinking they can't feel satisfied after a vegan dinner? Try the Thai sunrise—a coconut curry with black rice and sesame stir fried vegetables—that never fails to please. And why not add to the incredible cuisine with one of Zest's equally incredible craft cocktails, made with fresh squeezed organic juices and even kombucha.
275 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-433-0589, ZestSLC.com
2. Frisch Compassionate Eatery
3. Vertical Diner
Even Stevens Sandwiches
Delicious sandwiches and a social conscience—what's not to love? Even Stevens uses meat with no preservatives or artificial flavors, fresh produce and local ingredients when possible. With imagination and verve, it offers a new twist on classics like the pot-roast dip, made with turkey, Swiss cheese, jalapeño jelly and a side of au jus; and the sloppy tina, a vegan sloppy joe—it's a savory, filling option, with mushrooms and chickpeas standing in for the meat. The best part? Each time you buy a sandwich, Even Stevens donates another sandwich to one of its nonprofit partners dedicated to ending hunger in Utah—a delectable win-win.
Multiple locations, EvenStevens.com
2. Moochie's Meatballs & More
3. Caputo's Market & Deli
Best French Fries
Bruges Waffles & Frites
The secret to Bruges famous frites is that they are fried not once, but twice. Their first dip in the fryer insures moist, fluffy insides, while the second gives the exterior a crispy crunch. Each bite is a delight to dip; Bruges' in-house sauces come in a variety of unique and lively flavors: lemon-pepper dill is zesty and refreshing; other tasteful options include curry or basil. Bruges even has its own take on Utah fry sauce. With new locations in Sugar House, Draper and Provo, the love for Bruges Waffles & Frites is spreading.
Multiple locations, BrugesWaffles.com
3. Crown Burger
Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
Ali Sabbah's award-winning Middle Eastern eateries have long been a treasured part of our community. We've become accustomed to enjoying Mazza's delectable dishes such as shawarma, kibbeh, fattoosh, sfiha, mutabbak, musakhan and more—almost as though we, like Ali, grew up in Beirut. Aren't we lucky to be able to travel to the Middle East without leaving home!
1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572, MazzaCafe.com
2. Cedars of Lebanon
Best Utah Brewery
Epic Brewing Co.
In case you've been sleeping under a case of Coors Light and missed the memo, Utah-based Epic Brewing crafts seasonal and amusingly named beers, packaged in 22-ounce bottles and a handful of 12-ounce cans. You won't find these big bruisers at Smith's or Harmons. And, with more than 40 different beers in every style imaginable—from Double Skull Doppelbock Lager and Utah Sage Saison, to Hop Syndrome Pils and Spiral Jetty IPA—plus more beer awards than you could fit into a fermentation tank, Epic has justifiably earned its spot with City Weekly readers as Utah's top brewer.
825 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0123, EpicBrewing.com
2. Uinta Brewing
3. Squatters Craft Beers
Yellowtail Japanese Bistro
For decades, the Shogun restaurant stood as a Main Street original—many Utahns got their first taste of sushi or sashimi there. At one time, it boasted a Benihana-style chef cooking at stovetop tables. Diners could choose to dine on the floor, sitting on pillows in small private rooms. Time came and went for the former Shogun until the major facelift completed this past year. Gone are the private rooms, and expanded is the giant sushi-bar counter. Diners can still get their fill of sushi and tempura dishes plus their favorite soups like miso, noodle udon or rice donburi, but in a much brighter and welcoming environment. Main Street is bustling again, and Yellowtail is an excellent new face.
321 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7142, YellowTailSLC.com
Best Utah Distillery
High West Distillery
With the recent opening of a big, shiny and new High West Distillery at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, the Park City-based distillery has increased its production capacity by about 24 times what it was. Yep, there's that much demand for Utah's own High West whiskeys and vodkas—both here and abroad—that the sky is the limit for founder David Perkins' award-winning ways. Can we get a booyah for Bourye?
703 Park Ave, Park City, 801-649-8300; 27649 Old Lincoln Hwy, Wanship; HighWest.com
2. Sugar House Distillery
3. Ogden's Own Distillery
Best Park City Restaurant
At Park City's Handle restaurant, chef Briar Handly and his rock-star crew are equipped to bowl you over with their excellent food that runs the gamut from appetizers to dessert. But if you'd just prefer to belly up to the bar for a rattlesnake cocktail or cold brew, Handle's got you covered. Forget pretzels and nachos—these eclectic bar bites include corn on the cob with spicy mayo and prosciutto, homemade tater tots with ranch crème fraîche, fresh oysters with grilled lemon and our fave: beef-cheek sliders on brioche with pimento cheese.
136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-602-1155, HandleParkCity.com
2. High West Distillery
3. Riverhorse on Main
Maddox Ranch House
Got a hankering for a good steak? Look no farther than Utah's original steakhouse, Maddox Ranch House. The Maddox family has been offering up family-friendly steak dinners in Perry since 1949. The bison chicken-fried steak is made with hormone- and antibiotic-free, pasture-raised bison; while the 32-ounce porterhouse makes for a memorable meal. Steaks are aged in-house for flavor, and each dish comes with a slew of sides—including Maddox's signature house-baked bread with raspberry butter.
1900 S. Highway 89, Perry, 435-723-8545, MaddoxFineFood.com
2. Ruby River Steakhouse
3. Spencer's For Steaks & Chops
Made with freshly chopped veggies, house-made dressings and quality ingredients, Cafe Zupas' salads are popular alternative to fast food. There are 12 different salads to choose from or you can get crafty with your own creation. Options range from the über-healthy vegetarian kale & quinoa salad, to the hearty and meaty California protein Cobb. With 19 locations, you're never far from a quick lunch sure to put some zip in your step.
Multiple locations, CafeZupas.com
3. The Dodo
When sweater weather hits Salt Lake City, thoughts turn to the Soup Kitchen. Since 1979, the Soup Kitchen has served cozy soups with generous helpings of house-made breadsticks. What's it's secret? Everything is made from scratch. Soups such as the classic cream of tomato—made from ripe tomatoes, cream and cheese—have earned cult followings. If you're craving something new, try a combination: the cream of tomato with the cheddar cheese & broccoli is surprisingly delicious! Where else can you can get lunch for less than $5?
Multiple locations, SLCsoup.com
2. Café Zupas
3. Porcupine Pub & Grill
Market Street Grill
Back before most Utahns had ever heard of sushi, Market Street Grill & Market was offering fresh fish and seafood to customers, with fishermens' fresh-catches being flown in daily. And Market Street is still the place to indulge in all things watery, from fresh Blue Point, Kumamoto and Kusshi oysters on the half-shell, to Alaskan halibut, Hawaiian ahi, Maryland crab, Utah rainbow trout and much, much more, including their famous clam chowder. Got fish? Market Street does.
Multiple locations, MarketStreetGrill.com\
2. Current Oyster & Fish
Best Contemporary Mexican
There are oodles of Mexican eateries where you can find the common combo plate loaded with melted cheddar cheese and canned refried beans. But to enjoy upscale, innovative and fresh contemporary Mexican cuisine, you'll want to turn to Jorge Fierro's Frida Bistro. It's in this vibrant Frida Kahlo-inspired setting that you'll find delectable dishes like calamari azul (blue corn-dusted calamari with lemon-roasted jalapeño aioli) and the Bistro's stunning chile en nogada, which is a roasted poblano chile pepper, stuffed with delicious picadillo and topped with walnut-cream sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds. Don't come looking for chimichangas.
545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com
Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
The Bagel Project
The morning after Robb and Kim Abrams arrived in Salt Lake City in 2010, they went off in search of bagels, the sort that they were accustomed to having in New Jersey. They spent months figuring out how to replicate a genuine East Coast-style bagel. They cracked the code—an old-world preferment—and soon, the they were selling bagels at the Downtown Farmers Market. The bagels grew so popular, the Abramses opened a brick-and-mortar store a few blocks from Liberty Park. Today, The Bagel Project also features the bagel's sister pastry, the bialy (it's baked unboiled and, instead of a hole in the center, it features a little thumbprint or impression). It's bagel science!
The Bagel Project, 779 S. 500 East, 801-906-0698, BagelProject.com
Best Weekend Gourmet
Having recently moved from South Ogden to 25th Street, Zucca restaurant makes weekend meals especially enticing with an array of diverse weekend offerings. Chef Geraldine Sepulveda creates a limited gourmet menu that changes each week and features farm-to-table dishes such as sous vide lamb T-bones, ocean-to-plate items like fresh Hawaiian ono with Marcona-almond vinaigrette, house-made pastas and desserts, plus unique appetizer plates. Look on Zucca's Facebook page each Thursday to preview what the weekend has in store.
225 25th Street, Ogden, 801-475-7077, MyZucca.com
Best Vegan Pho
It's hard to believe this pho is vegan. Without the use of animal bones and meat, the broth is still loaded with savory flavor. Served with tofu, soy meats, vermicelli noodles and the traditional pho accoutrements—sprouts, sprigs of basil, jalapeños and a wedge of lime—this pho is filling and comforting. Check out the banh mi—you'll be glad you did.
1264 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4789
Best Mobile Street Naan
For fans of Indian street food, The Curryer is a dream come true. Its selection includes saag, pumpkin curry and a very tasty tikka masala. But perhaps the most surprising thing is the way its servers prepare genuine naan bread—not that packaged pita flatbread. Of course, it would be impossible to fire up a tandoor oven on the street in time for lunch, but the ingenious hosts toss a ball of dough against a hot, metal chimney-like extrusion, where it bakes to perfection.
The Curryer, on the sidewalk near 300 S. Main, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 801-413-3983, TheCurryerSaltLakeCity.com
Best Park City Icon
Riverhorse on Main
Since 1987, before fine dining became de rigueur in Park City, Riverhorse on Main was a pioneering dining destination—and it still is. While classic dishes like the beloved macadamia-crusted halibut still appear on the Riverhorse menu, chef/owner Seth Adams has brought a contemporary flair to Old Town with offerings like oxtail ravioli and crisp duck breast with creamy foie-gras emulsion, and house-made mushroom pierogis with shallot-bacon jam. Everything old is new again at this classic Park City eatery.
540 Main, Park City, 435-649-3536, RiverhorseParkCity.com
Meditrina Small Plates & Wine Bar
At Jen Gilroy's Meditrina Small Plates and Wine Bar, the tapas are simply terrific. Along with a selection of classic Spanish-style tapas such as albondigas, grilled octopus, patatas bravas and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, you'll also find creative contemporary temptations. We're thinking here of "Southern" falafel with kale and Frank's Red Hot tzadziki; or perhaps ricotta made in-house, with apricot-cherry compote, arugula and Maldon salt. Just match 'em up with Meditrina's excellent selection of wines, beers and sangria and you're in for a hoppin' evening of tapas.
1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com
Best in the Bag
Bucket O' Crawfish
Some of us know what it's like to be left holding the bag; at Bucket o' Crawfish, they know how to cook in the bag. Plastic bags of crawfish, crab, shrimp, clams and mussels are sold by the pound, then steamed and finally served in plastic bags. The moment the bag is opened, your senses are overcome with shellfish cooked in sauces ranging from mild Cajun or garlic butter to spicy lemon-pepper or incendiary "crazy hot" Sriracha. Dump the morsels unceremoniously onto your table and prepare to get messy!
1980 W. 3500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-419-0900, BucketOCrawfish.com
Best Contemporary Greek
At Manoli's restaurant, owner/chef Manoli Katsanevas takes traditional Greek dishes and ushers them into the New Millennium with creative, contemporary twists. To wit, a mezze of seared sea scallops (htenia) is elevated from common to killer with micro greens and citrus-ouzo vinaigrette. In the place of souvlaki and gryos, Manoli's offers pork belly sliders with smoked feta spread and Greek coffee barbecue sauce. Even desserts such as the goat cheesecake with black pepper-honey are distinctive. It's Greek fare, disrupted.
402 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-3760, ManolisOn9th.com
Best BrewPub Brunch
Since 2001, Bohemian Brewery in Midvale has been serving up what it terms "Old School food," all the more perfect to match with its locally brewed, Old School Czech Republic-inspired beers. From pierogi to bratwurst, goulash and schnitzel, by now, many are familiar with Bohemian's unique lunch and dinner fare. Those dishes complement its Eastern-European style and selection of small-batch lagers like Cherny Bock Schwarzbier, Bavarian Weisbier and Dortmunder Export Lager. On weekends, Bohemian opens at 10 a.m. for brunch, serving (alongside its regular menu items) a number of hearty meals that include Bohemian eggs Florentine, gypsy hash and breakfast schnitzel. We especially like the grand portions, the delicious peppered bacon, and Bohemian bratwurst gravy, perfect for biscuits and atop eggs and potatoes. When it comes to breakfast at Bohemian, it's all Old School—hearty, filling and flavorful.
94 E. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5474, BohemianBrewery.com
Best Welcome to the Family
When Gabrielle McAfee came to Utah, she brought centuries of Spanish tradition with her. We're not talking about the paella (Spain's national dish), nor the tapas, nor the bota bag of "wine" gleefully squeezed into the wide-open mouth of a birthday celebrant (fruit juice, in this case, due to Utah liquor laws). Everyone knows Café Madrid does a tremendous job with its food—from arty display to subtle flavor— that's a given. What Café Madrid truly excels at is the embodiment of the Spanish way of life. The moment you walk in the door, you feel you've left Utah for the Iberian Peninsula. When you're greeted, you become Gabrielle's guest, not just a customer. So take her lead and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of her native Spain.
5244 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-273-0837, CafeMadrid.net
Best Vegan Omelet
Chabaar Beyond Thai
Chabaar's vegan Thai omelet is one of the most unique vegan dishes in the city. Made from rice flour, this eggless creation is light and fluffy. Filled with sautéed, fried tofu and dressed with fresh sprouts, shredded carrots and chopped peanuts, it has a delightful texture and imparts a complex combination of sweet and savory flavors.
87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100, AnnysTakeOnThai.com
Best All-You-Can-Eat Vegan Pizza
Tuesday evening is the perfect time to stuff your face with vegan pizza. That makes Sage's Cafe popular for its "Pizza Night Rodizio"—seasonal selections of pizza and salad for $12.75. The menu is always changing, but whatever the time of year, you can always count on the cafe's innovative combination of animal-free toppings and award-winning sauces.
234 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
Best Unexpected Pesto Encounter
Forget the chain stores—if you want a sandwich, head directly to Toasters Deli in locations throughout the downtown Salt Lake City area. Sandwich combinations are creative, and ingredients are fresh. Once you bite into that ham & cheese, you're greeted with basil-y deliciousness of pesto aioli. This changes lunch forever. Besides, there's a location across the street from the Salt Palace, making it a primo spot to people-watch during various conventions—especially Comic Con.
Toasters Deli, various locations, ToastersDeli.com
Best Homebrew Contest
Hosting a homebrew competition can be a major feat. First off, you have to deal with hundreds and hundreds of bottles of beer that must be savored and judged, not chugged. Second of all, you have to deal with brewers and other beer "experts" to judge those beers, all while keeping people sober enough to fill out the comment cards. Then you have to handle the awards and award ceremonies. Well, thankfully, Jamie Burnham—manager at The Beernut, purveyors of beer-making supplies—takes care of all of these details and then some, to pull off what some believe is the best-run home brew contest in the world.
Festival is in August, BeerNut.com
Best Greasy-Fingers Lunch
The Pie Hole
The Pie Hole's fine assortment of thin-crust creations is a downtown lunchtime staple. With a wide array of specialty pies—including (somehow) vegan options, that vary each day—any day is a good day to dine at the Pie Hole. But if you must pick, then the Monday special—two slices and a fountain drink for $5—is worth the trip. For late lunches, two slices can be had for $3.50 between 3 and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Along with the piles of pizza, the Pie Hole also offers a selection of brews, including $1 cans of PBR—a deal good enough to send the most stodgy banker back to work tipsy.
344 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4653, PieHoleUtah.com
Best Jumbo Fish
Glade's Drive Inn
At the southern tip of Spanish Fork's Main Street, a block away from the city's storied baseball fields and about the same distance from its rodeo arena, is Glade's Drive Inn. This little burger shop pumps out a mean double cheeseburger, crinkled french fries and a fish dish—called the jumbo fish—that is worth having a few times a year. The shakes are killer, as is the house dipping sauce, which one would assume is fry sauce, but at Glade's, it's a thinned-down version of mayonnaise. Sounds nasty, but it's so good!
296 S. Main, Spanish Fork, 801-798-6761
Best FREEDOM FROM Liquor Stores
Sugar house Distillery
Utah's liquor stores can be crowded and lacking in charm. Avoid the whole scene and go straight to the source: Sugar House Distillery is a joy to visit. Pick up locally handcrafted rum, whiskey or vodka. And speaking of vodka, it uses fresh mountain water from the nearby Wasatch Range, for a cool local kick. Ever wonder how the booze gods make that delicious nectar that is so salutary to the soul? Take a tour of the whole setup while you're there and find out.
2212 W. Temple, No. 14, Salt Lake City, 801-726-0403, SugarHouseDistillery.net
Best Vegan Croissant
Passion Flour Patisserie
Jessica Davies is a classically trained pastry chef gone vegan. After spending three years perfecting her vegan croissants, she's come up with perfect flaky, buttery recipe. Passion Flour Patisserie has quickly become a local favorite serving vegan versions of croissants (both plain and filled), macaroons and other tasty treats. Worldwide acclaim is on the horizon for this talented pastry chef.
165 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-242-7040, PassionFlourSLC.com
Best Pioneer Coffee Roaster
Salt Lake Roasting Company
Decades before coffee roasting became the coolest hobby for a dude with a beard in Portland, John Bolton was busy roasting beans at The Salt Lake Roasting Company. And, to the joy of coffee drinkers in Utah, Bolton is still going strong. His shop, perched near the corner of 300 East and 400 South, has stood as a caffeinated light in the darkness since 1981. Rather than rely on an importer's word and a nice-looking stamp that says "organic," Bolton travels the world to visit with the farmers that he directly sources from, ensuring that each bean he roasts is good on the taste buds—and good for the world.
320 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7572, Roasting.com
Best Indian Food With Morning Joe
Karma Coffee House
This recently built cafe is small, but not without personality. Like any other coffee house, Karma offers coffee in all its myriad forms, along with pastries and fruit smoothies. But how many other coffee houses can you think of that offer coconut-curry chicken? Owner Venkat Subrameni and wife Miriam serve Indian dishes, both vegetarian and otherwise, and the menu changes every day. If you're meeting up for with friends on the weekend, Karma Coffee House's brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and makes for a lovely change of pace.
1751 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 385-214-4323
Best Tequila & Taco Combo
There are those in this world who believe math is never used outside of school. They are fools. Math is everywhere. Here's an example: Tequila + Tacos = A winning duo. Or try this bit of algebra: What is left from four different tacos (say, Citrus Pork Carnita, Flame Grilled Chile Marinated Angus Beef, Roasted Mushroom and a Taco of the Day) divided by a table of three diners? Well there's only two ways to solve that problem equitably, of course, and that's by adding more tacos and more tequila. Taqueria 27's tequila menu, artistically displayed in chalk at each location, features over 40 Silvers, Reposados, Anejos and Ultra Premium tequilas—trust us, you will find your match, and if you don't, just try again. That's how addition works, remember? Just keep adding. Finally, a multiplication equation: One great concept X three locations = No matter where you are, you can quickly find that special taco & tequila combo.
Multiple Locations, Taqueria27.com
Best Feast for the Eyes & Belly
With oil paintings adorning the walls in the dining room—including one of Brigham Young's own personal "avenging angel," Orrin Porter Rockwell—the dining room at Pallet is almost as good as the food. Pallet offers a cozy respite that, despite the usual hipster motifs (fancy-dancy light bulbs and wooden tables that look like they were once the floor of a 400-year-old barn), doesn't seem forced or pretentious. The space—located inside an early 20th century creamery—is just damned nice. Even the bathrooms offer a touch of class unseen in any Utah restaurant: a stainless-steel soap dispenser that proffers powdered Borax. On the way back to your table, pound out a note on the vintage typewriter. Once seated, all attention is on items such as the Morgan Valley lamb with lemon-parsley gremolata.
237 S. 400 West, 801-935-4431, EatPallet.com
Best MEAT-EATING MARATHON
Meat. Some people gotta have it, and if that's you, Rodizio Grill is your kind of place. This Brazilian steakhouse is ideal for special occasions or just a change a pace, as servers laden with skewers of freshly grilled meats and pineapple stop by your table and slice off desired portions right on your plate. Choose from among offerings such as picanha (top sirloin), bife com alho (garlic steak), linguiça (Brazilian sausage), lombo com queijo (tender pork) and frango com bacon (chicken breast wrapped in bacon). But the vegetarians in your party won't be left with an empty plate. Rodizio's salad bar is overflowing with salads and pastas sure to suit their fancy. Or just make a meal of the succulent pineapple slices.
Trolley Square, 600 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-220-0500; The Meadows, 749 W. 100 North, American Fork, 801-763-4946; RodizioGrill.com
Best Two-Bite Snacks
In Spain, people don't sit down for dinner until 9 p.m. or later. How do they fend off "the hangry" until the main event? Pintxos (pn-CH): Hearty two-bite snacks perfect as an appetizer or light meal. Slip into Finca's elegant lounge, order a swanky cocktail, and choose from a selection of $2 pintxos served tableside. The menu changes daily, with classics like Boquerones (crisps with chevre, roasted peppers and white anchovy), pressed mini house-cured ham sandwiches, dates stuffed with Spanish blue cabrales cheese and wrapped in house-smoked bacon, and vegetarian options like pea purée with mint on toast points.
327 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-0699, FincaSLC.com
Best Chinese Noodle Soup
Blue Bay Chinese Cuisine
A lot of deep-fried, Americanized Chinese food is spiked with MSG and drenched in sugary sauces. And truth be told, it's still damned tasty—though probably not healthy. One Chinese dish, however, is about as healthy as they come: Blue Bay's Chinese Noodle Soup. The clear, savory broth is chock full of snap peas, carrots and tender cabbage along with your choice of tender meat or shrimp. Even if you do splurge and order that deep-fried and/or candy-coated entrée you like, at least you can take comfort knowing you first treated yourself, body and soul, to a bowl of Blue Bay's nourishing soup.
1883 Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-4412, BlueBaySaltLakeCity.com
Best Holy Guacamole
For some, locating the Blue Iguana is a bit of an adventure, tucked away as it is off 200 South in a basement in one of the original Arrow Press Square buildings. You enter by walking down a stairway that bisects a colorfully flag-decorated outdoor patio, sort of like climbing down a steep hole. While basement eateries were once quite numerous, there are fewer and fewer left in Salt Lake City. The Blue Iguana is one of them, and it is worth every step down and back up again. From the mood-setting flags that greet you upon entry, to the warm décor of the interior, Blue Iguana (once in a business relationship with the famous Red Iguana) welcomes diners with an array of downtown Salt Lake City's most authentic, yet simple, Mexican food. From openers like the incredible salsa and nachos, through traditional Mexican no-frills specials like chimichangas and enchiladas, the Blue Iguana is priced fairly for either lunch or dinner. Their margaritas alone are worth the side-alley and down-the-stairs experience.
165 S. West Temple, No. 2 (in the alley behind the Capitol Theatre), Salt Lake City, 801-533-8900, BlueIguanaRestaurant.net
Best Coffee Traffic Jam
Java Jo's, Avenues
E Street is a main thoroughfare in the Avenues. It has a double yellow line painted up its mid-section and has several key points of interest along its route—LDS Hospital, Smith's and a school. But the most popular spot, as measured by sheer traffic congestion, is Java Jo's. This little drive-through coffee joint serves up fine beverages—in fact, maybe a little too fine. Before 11 a.m., it is no exaggeration to say that one out of two cars stops here, leaving many vehicles and their Java Jo-addicted drivers in the street with their blinkers on, trying to ignore the horns blaring from the stream of cars backed up behind them.
JavaJos.com, 401 First Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-532-2899
Best Classy Wings
You don't have to stay at the Grand America Hotel to enjoy it, you know. And the enjoyment begins with your first step inside, past the gigantic display of fresh flowers, past the lobby lounge, peering out to the exquisite grounds and down a couple of perfectly carpeted hallways to the entrance of the Gibson Lounge—clearly the best-kept secret in the local craft cocktail community. Every step leading to the lounge and every chair inside screams out that no expense was spared on the Grand America. Each scream reminds the visitor that no one in the United States builds such appointed hotels these days. And in Salt Lake City, no one serves a plate of chicken wings that matches those served at the Gibson Lounge. These are not your girlfriend's wings. Thick and meaty with a perfectly hot, hot sauce, in just one bite, you know you've not had better. They're pricey, though, at $13 a plate, and yeah, and so worth it. The lounge itself is worth it, too—a historic throwback to a more luxurious time, replete with comfortable period furniture. Conversation is foremost, and the Gibson Lounge is as relaxing as they come in Utah. Here's something to talk about: What cocktail pairs best with wings such as these?
Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-258-6000, GrandAmerica.com
Best Korean Fry Toppings
Bumblebee BBQ & Grill
This odd little Korean/American-fusion burger shop on State Street has been all the rage lately. Why? People want to try the signature "KPOP" french fries, topped with either bul-gogi or spicy pork/chicken, along with shredded cheese, green onion, jalapeño mayo, and Sriracha sauce. Even with a drizzle of rooster sauce, it's more zesty than unbearably hot. Plunge your fries into that pink fry sauce Utah is known for, and this might be your first taste of Utah fusion cuisine.
7962 S. State, Midvale, 801-561-0608, BumblebeesBBQ.wix.com/bumblebzbbq
Best Nostalgic Ice Cream
Even though this creamery is in Utah County, it's worth it to travel there from Salt Lake City—or from nearly anywhere else in the state, really—if only for a journey back in time to the malt shops of yesteryear. The flavors don't change often here, so try the Graham Canyon, Bishop's Bash, LaVell's Vanilla and Woosh Cecil (yes, you're really on the BYU campus). But it's sweet nostalgia. The ice cream is frozen here—and so is time.
Brigham Young University, 1209 N. 900 East, Provo, 801-422-2663, BYU.edu/creamery
Del Mar al Lago
Since opening in 2012, this eatery has become not just one of Utah's best South American-style restaurants—it's a great Utah restaurant, period. With Del Mar al Lago's arrival came our eye-opening introduction to the tart, refreshing pisco sour cocktail, the anticuchos ("beef heart") appetizer, and some of the most colorful soups and main-course dishes Utah has ever seen. Center stage on the Del Mar al Lago menu is ceviche—seafood drenched in an acid bath of lime juice and spices that at once tells your tongue you've been eating fish the wrong way your whole life. Just about every type of seafood imaginable—including shrimp, scallops, halibut, squid and grouper—finds its way into the restaurant's delicious ceviche dishes.
310 W. 2270 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2890, DelMarAlLago.co
Best Mom & Pop Drive-Ins
Ab's Drive In
It's good to know that, in an era of booming fast food and national chain restaurants, a couple of locally owned drive-ins still serve their communities well. If you're from West Jordan or West Valley City, you know Ab's, and their sister drive-in, Riley's. Both have been serving up traditional, signature hand-cut fries, juicy burgers and hearty sandwiches for decades. Ab's is known for its award-winning Fat Boy Burger while Riley's is noted for its great shakes and malts. Next time you go out for a bite, keep this local, family-owned operation in mind.
Ab's Drive In: 4591 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-968-2130, AbsDriveIn.com; Riley's: 7903 Airport Road, West Jordan, 801-566-1190, RileysSandwiches.com
Best Asian Buffet
Look, we're not out counting the individual items at every buffet line in town, but with more than 200 items to choose from—not even considering all the options in the Mongolian barbecue centerpiece—King Buffet in Taylorsville takes the crown. At 12,000 square feet, the place is huge—and also hugely popular. No one goes away hungry. Buffets can be hit-or-miss. But King Buffet—with offerings from seafood to sushi, plus some American choices, as well as salads and desserts—meets the challenge that faces all buffets: to keep items fresh at all times. We recommend an early start to get a jump on freshness, and also to beat the crowds.
5668 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville,
Best Secret Cafeteria on Main
JC Penney Cafe
If you work downtown, sometimes, the urge for a hot breakfast can get the better of you. But, where can you get an order of freshly grilled eggs & bacon to-go and take it back to your desk? That's when you'll be glad you learned about the JC Penney Café. It is a delightful old-school cafeteria that serves made-to-order breakfast & lunch items, including omelets, pancakes, waffles, chili verde burritos, fish & chips baskets, soup and sandwiches. It's an oasis of comfort food at reasonable prices, all with a fourth-floor view of downtown. Consider it our little secret. Open Monday through Friday.
310 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-350-2262, JCPenneyCafeSLC.catertrax.com
Best Morning Sugar Rush
This four-decades-young downtown eatery—residing in the JVDGE Building, one of Salt Lake City's legendary old buildings—has a long history of pleasing the lunch crowd. From Day 1, its opening heralded what Salt Lake City could be—a city that takes pride in its old spaces and in which innovative businesses can make a go of it. In that regard, the Judge Café is a true pioneer, building up a clientele that remained loyal through ever-changing fortunes of downtown Salt Lake City. One reason for that loyalty is the assortment of fine baked goods and desserts —crafted in-house, daily—that set the Judge apart. And simplest among those are the Judge Café cookies—the best around. Frosted sugar, white macadamia and chocolate chip; whatever your urge, you will simply enjoy a Judge Cafe cookie. The Judge is open for breakfast, too, so cookies are perfect for dunking or for sugar-rushing before that early office meeting.
8 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-0917, JudgeCafe.com
Best Crepes, FroYo & Boba
Lunaberry's success is based on its healthy variety of food offerings. If it served only crepes or only frozen yogurt or only boba tea, it might have been a different story. But all three (and more) make for an unbeatable combination. The crepe shells are made fresh daily and are then filled with either savory (i.e., salmon, chicken pesto or turkey cranberry) or sweet ingredients (berries, fruit and/or Nutella). Add a bodacious frozen yogurt or a boba tea beverage, and honestly, you'll become a Lunaberry lunatic.
358 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0427, Lunaberry.com
Best Eggplant-Parmigiana Sandwich
Moochie's Meatballs & More
Well, who would think of eggplant when first encountering the meaty menu at a place named Moochie's Meatballs? Actually, everyone should. Sure, you've likely had Moochie's award-winning Philly or meatball sandwiches, but do yourself a favor and slip over to the veggie aisle for your next Moochie's mouthful. No less an expert than Guy Fieri (of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives fame) proclaimed of his visit to Moochie's: "If you think you don't like eggplant, this will change your mind." It should be no surprise, really, since most items at Moochie's have a decidedly Italian flair. Have yours as a sandwich or served over pasta. Either way wins. By the way, Fieri also endorsed the Moochie's meatball sandwich—as have most sandwich-eating Salt Lakers.
Multiple locations, MoochiesMeatballs.com
Best Morning Bun
The Tulie morning bun is an unpretentious pastry even though it is made with croissant dough. Its pleasure lies in understatement—a whisper of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar, a deft touch of orange—expressed in a coil of buttery pastry. For lovers of grocery-store cinnamon rolls (or even Leslie's toothsome Danish pastries), the morning bun represents a less-is-more departure. It may be the best pastry in town. Lots of people think so. But beware, night owls: There's a reason the luscious treats are called "morning buns"—they fly off the shelf and are gone before noon.
863 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-883-9741, TulieBakery.com
Best South-of-the-Border Shrimp
El Paisa Grill
El Paisa's seafood menu touts more than two dozen shrimp dishes—that's not even counting the several plates accented with Camarones. El Paisa provides more variety revolving around a single item than many restaurants prepare in total. For those snobby city dwellers who don't like to venture too far to the west side for some solid Mexican fare, El Paisa Grill is just a few blocks north of Highway 201 at 3200 West. (Its sister restaurant, El Paisa Taqueria, is at 919 W. 2100 South). El Paisa has also been awarded Best Molcajete in past years by our readers and staff—so get your shrimp on.
2126 S. 3200 West, West Valley City, 801-973-6680, ElPaisaGrill.com
Best Downtown Slurping
Fans of the Soup Kitchen, here's your new downtown soupery. One of the founders of the Soup Kitchen chain has opened a cousin of the local franchise right off Main Street on 300 South. Here you'll find a rotating menu of wholesome home-style soups, grilled sandwiches, salads and breakfast offerings. Don't forget about the complimentary tasty bread sticks—perfect to dunk in your soups. The soup & sandwich combo is so tasty, you'll be back within days for more soup upliftment.
14 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 385-242-7640
Best Original Philly
Aboard the Wayback Machine, Grinders 13 on State was once a beacon for anyone with a yen for exotic food—and East Coast-style sandwiches were once considered exotic around here. Depending on where you're eating it, a grinder is like a hoagie, sub or po'boy—but not exactly. At its core, however, it is a nice, long piece of bread, halved, then filled with tasty hot or cold fillings like meatballs, turkey, salami, pastrami and roast beef. Get yours here the old-fashioned and inexpensive way.
1618 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3676, Grinders13.com;
2125 S. 3200 West, West Valley City, 801-973-6489, Grinders13Subs.com
Hearth on 25th
Exotic eats are a mainstay of Hearth on 25th's eclectic menu. Where else could you find dishes ranging from yak tartare, espresso elk & waffles, curry-masala lamb chops, and quail with blue-cheese dumplings; to pizzas, calamari, French dip sandwiches and shrimp scampi? The rich, dark and decadent roasted beef marrow bones are a particular favorite. Sometimes called "poor man's foie gras," this marvelous marrow comes with thick slices of toasted sourdough bread, heirloom-pepper relish, apricot mostardo and caramelized onions.
195 25th Street, No. 6, Ogden, 801-399-0088, Hearth25.com
Best Lamb Ribs
MacCool's Public House
What usually comes to mind when talking about Irish food is a proper Irish stew or shepherd's pie. Both are often served with beef, not lamb. Yet, Ireland has been known for its lamb, and it's about time diners got some genuine lamb love. At MacCool's, you will surely fall hard for lamb ribs worthy of an Irish proverb such as this one: "The skin of the old sheep is on the rafter no sooner than the skin of the young sheep." Whatever that means. But here's what it means at MacCools: Char-grilled lamb, herb-roasted, marinated in a house-made barbecue sauce, then topped with a buttermilk blue cheese, with each rib then stacked like the chimney of an old Irish cottage. These lamb ribs make for a bone-picking, delicious meal.
Best Asian Eye Candy
There are a lot of sushi places in town. There are a lot of Asian restaurants as well. However, it takes a special eye to infuse the food you serve with all the artistic nature of Asian culture. In this Snapchat and Instagram era, pictures of food are everywhere on the Internet—but how many of them, really, do you want to see? Rice Basil's dishes, however, are actually worthy of that constant snapping. They are works of art: You could easily take a photo of Rice Basil's oyster poppers, lollipop veggie rolls or udon soup to the next level by framing it. Yes, they're that pretty. Just remember to enjoy your meal when you put that camera-phone back in your pocket.
2335 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 801-278-8682, RiceBasil.com
Best Foodies Coffee Shop
THE Rose Establishment
Located in an almost 100-year-old restored building, The Rose Establishment is a pristine, light-filled coffee shop perfect for a first date or working on your novel. A wifi-free zone, The Rose Establishment is the place to go for a rotating selection of coffee, organic loose-leaf teas and an eclectic menu filled with exotic tartines, fruity porridges and lunch items such as tangerine parsnip salad, paneer on toasted-walnut bread or organic tofu on a baguette. Committed to excellence, The Rose rocks.
235 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-990-6270, TheRoseEstb.com
Best Mainline Mexican Food
Rio Grande Cafe
Its own logo, easily recognized by all Salt Lakers, beckons patronage to the Rio Grand Café with the phrase, "Mainline to Mexico," beneath a streamlined railroad locomotive passing a grand cactus. Over 30 years now, the Rio Grande Café—situated in the north wing of the historic Rio Grande Railway Station has been serving plate after plate of traditional Mexican fare: tacos, flautas, burritos, a trio of fine steaks and their famously large enchiladas. Remember their notable ads with the buxomy waitress boasting the "Best Enchiladas in Town"? We do, and yes, the Rio's famous enchilada remains one sexy plate of beef, chicken, pork, rice or shrimp wrapped in a 10-inch tortilla and topped with green or red chile. In many ways, the Rio Grande Café is a pioneer, locating as it did on Salt Lake City's near west side decades before others dared. On your next visit, be sure to fully engage in the history of the cafe and environs. And do it as you should, with a Rio Margarita in hand.
270 S. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City, 801-364-3302, RioGrandeSLC.myshopify.com
Best Taco Night
Tacos are great. Jam-packed with your protein of choice, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, salsa and any number of variations, tacos offer reasonable portion control for any level of hunger you may experience. Want one? Two? Ten? That's on you, buddy. As versatile as they are, why do tacos receive, via various marketing schemes, only one day of recognition per week is a mystery. (Why not "Tacos Any Day?") However, if it is a Tuesday and you have the hankering, Taco Tuesday at Salsa Leedos offers all-you-can-eat carne asada tacos for $10.89. But, do keep in mind: They serve them all week!
3956 W. 13400 South, Riverton, 801-565-8818, SalsaLeedos.net
Best SMOTHERED WAFFLES
Saturday's Waffle sells build-your-own waffles with more than a dozen possible toppings, including jalapeño-infused maple syrup, coconut whipped cream and vanilla-bean salted-caramel sauce, alongside traditional items like raspberries, strawberries and bananas. There are also special waffles like the Urban Lumberjack (waffle smothered in a sausage gravy with rosemary and thyme) and The Benny (waffle with a soft-cooked egg covered in fresh hollandaise and bacon). Breakfast never had it so good.
Multiple locations, SaturdaysWaffle.com
Best Traditional Mexican Food
One can debate all day what it means to serve "traditional" fare of any stripe—and in Utah, with so many Mexican food offerings, it's hard to say what really is traditional and what is not. In this case, the definition of traditional is this: That style of Mexican food which has been longest served in Utah. It's the Mexican food our parents grew up loving. You can't go wrong at La Puente, noted for platter-style servings of enchiladas, fajitas, tacos and burritos, each served with the customary rice and refried beans, and often ordered smothered in chile verde, with or without cheese and onion. It's good, home-style food, and lots of it. La Puente is also noted for menudo, reputed to be the hangover cure to beat all hangover cures. Gracias, Viola.
Multiple locations include 3540 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-281-3272, LaPuenteMexicanRestaurant.com
Best House-Made Ice Cream
Hatch Family Chocolates
A staple in the community long before the 2009 TV show Little Chocolatiers, Hatch Family Chocolates took on a new location and new look in 2013, but still offer familiar treats along with a smattering of delicious new ones. But its best new adventure has to be house-made small-batch ice creams that incorporate the shop's favorite chocolates. There's Salted Caramel, with its thick and creamy vanilla base and buttery salty goodness, and Apricot Cream, which are bits of chocolate and apricot mixed with a thick cream base. There is also the subtle and heavenly Almond Honey Blossom as well as Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Maple Pecan and Peppermint Joe-Joe. They're made by hand—some only rarely or seasonally—so sample them all when you come in and take home a quart for the family (or hide it and keep it to yourself).
376 E. Eighth Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-532-4912, HatchFamilyChocolates.com
Best Ogden Greek Food
Andy's has a comfortable neighborhood vibe and some of the best—and biggest—souvlaki in the state. Its gyros come on soft, warm pita bread, its lemon rice will melt in your mouth and its salads are crisp and enormous. Seriously—don't overdo it: Plates at Andy's Lounge are not messing around. They are just gigantic, so pace yourself. While you're working your way through your Greek food and cold beer, play a game of pool.
501 N. Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-782-9972
Best Alternative-Caffeinated Beverage
Looking for a little nutrition with your caffeine jolt? Try Kindred's yerba mate. Mate is jam-packed with nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants and more caffeine than green tea. Kindred, a locally owned and operated company that sources its mate from farmers in Argentina, offers mate in original, cacao, lemon and mint flavors. But more importantly, Kindred offers Utahns a chance to enjoy an authentic South American experience—yes, drinking mate is indeed a social ritual. So gather your friends, grab a gourd and feel good about getting your caffeine fix.
248 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-971-2115, KindredLeaf.com
Best Biscuits & Gravy to Go
Dottie's Biscuit Barn
Comfort food: The phrase suggests those things that make us want to cuddle up with memories of childhood meals and special places. If only making some of those things wasn't so time-consuming. But there's always Dottie's, a food booth that sets up shop at local farmers markets to provide fried chicken, fruit pies and, yes, flaky, freshly made biscuits, smothered in specialty gravies (like heirloom tomato) or perhaps adorned with seasonal jams. You'll wish this mobile barn were your home-style home away from home.
Best TEA HOUSE
Tea Zaanti tea house is the perfect place to head on a rainy day. Enjoy freshly baked scones and a warm cup of tea while you read. Not sure what to order? Check out the TeaZer Wall, a collection of color-coded sample tins of tea on a magnetic framework. Tea Zaanti also has a beautiful "CommuniTea" room for small groups of people and charities, and donates a portion of profits to local and international charities.
1324 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8132, TeaZaanti.com
Best Sugar Fix
When you've got a sugar craving that just won't quit, check out The Fix, a specialty soda shop that sells the best cookies in the valley. "Fixed" drinks include soda, coffee, hot chocolate, steamers, or milk to which other ingredients will be added, creating such beverages as the Twix soda (cola, caramel, chocolate and vanilla) and the Detox (Sierra Mist, coconut, kiwi and fresh lime). But whatever you do, don't leave without a cookie—original sugar, cinnamon roll, coconut crème or chocolate chip. Be careful—it just takes one bite before you'll be regularly craving a fix.
1302 E. Draper Parkway, Draper, 801-553-0912, FixHitsTheSpot.com
Best Food Bender
Celebrating its 40th year in business, Italian Village has pretty much exceeded the standard shelf life for restaurants. One could find 40 reasons why Italian Village has outlasted most of the rest, but they've never strayed from this winning concept: Good food and great prices, served by a friendly staff. One menu item that has been a key component to the success of Italian Village is its ever-popular Pizza Bender—basically a calzone, but without needing a definition of what's inside. Stuffed with a variety of meats and cheeses (you can also build your own) and coming in under $6, families (especially families!) can go on a nice bender without busting their wallet. Happy anniversary, Italian Village, here's to another 40!
5370 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-266-4182, ItalianVillageSLC.com
Best Random Acts of Piano
At the bottom of steps just off of Main Street at the entrance to Exchange Place, Boston Deli has long been known as a solid, reliable lunch venue for sandwiches, salads and wraps. In one corner sits an old piano, looking rather forlorn when no one pays it attention. But if you're lucky, as we have been on several occasions, a deli employee with a talent for banging out a little classical music will fill the eatery with tasty notes that will bring you Bach again and again.
9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2146, BostonDeli.com
Best Local Feta
Feta may be most closely associated with Greece, but that doesn't mean the deliciously salty cheese can't be found—and created—right in our own backyard. Vaughn Oborn's Shepherds Dairy uses its own goats and traditional recipes to create its distinctive brine-cured products. Try a variety of flavors, including sun-dried tomato with basil, cracked peppercorn and roasted garlic, either on your favorite bread or to top your salad.
Best Motorhead Meal
Park City restaurateur Bill White—whose establishments include Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Ghidotti's, Windy Ridge Cafe and Sushi Blue—hails originally from the Detroit area, so he's a bit of a motorhead. If you are, too—or if you're simply hankering for a great meal—Billy Blanco's Motor City Mexican Burger & Taco Garage is the place to park for a while. Only a gearhead like White would purchase Ducati racing bikes, tricked-out Harley-Davidsons, a brand-new Shelby GT and vintage cars like a mint Dodge Charger for "décor." The bar stools are fashioned from sports car seats, and the entire base and coolers of the centerpiece bar are constructed from heavy-duty, high-end, chrome-plated tool boxes. Vroom!
8208 Gorgoza Pines Road, Park City, 435-575-0846, BillyBlancos.com
Herbs and spices don't have to be exotic flavors that come from faraway places; you can give your food a boost of amazing taste that's locally sourced. One Utah family decided to take some of its own urban-farm products—combined with some grown by other local farmers—and create unique recipes after the products are air-dried and ground in-house. Sample the hot, bold Mountain Man blend with habanero chilies, garlic, onion and herbs. Or try the complex smoked sweet pepper paprika.
Best Flavor Rainbow
It can be initially overwhelming the first time you step into Taffy Town's retail store and glimpse the flavor options for the locally made salt-water taffy. The bins on the wall hold every imaginable taste: tropical fruits, cinnamon, licorice and classic combinations like root beer float and mint chocolate. More than 70 flavors fill wall-mounted containers of sweet, chewy goodness, with new ones appearing on a regular basis. Bet you never imagined "chicken and waffles" as a taffy flavor?
55 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City,
Best Pie Bargain
There really isn't a bad day of the week for a meal at The Dodo, considering the menu of delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. But if you're looking to get a little extra sweet bang for your buck, consider a mid-week visit. Every Tuesday, desserts are two for the price of one (dine-in only, with purchase of meal). And you never know exactly what you might be able to get, considering the made-fresh-daily menu of treats like their amazing pies.
1355 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-2473, TheDodoRestaurant.com
Best Mormon Muffins
The Greenery Restaurant
Utah's peculiar cultural delicacies—from Jell-O with carrots to funeral potatoes—are the stuff of gentle local self-mockery. Yet there are some local food traditions that can stand tall. For nearly 40 years, The Greenery Restaurant in Ogden has been serving up hearty bran-based baked goods, both to sit-down customers and those who can't resist taking a box to-go. What the recipe may lack in pioneer authenticity—it does include Kellogg's All-Bran Cereal—it more than makes up for in comfort-food pleasure.
1875 Valley Drive, Ogden, 801-392-1777, RainbowGardens.com/Greenery.html
Best Geek Sweets
The Truffle Cottage
When you want your sweet tooth to connect with pop culture, look for these specialty treats created by Pleasant Grove chocolatier The Truffle Cottage. Deliver a milk-chocolate wand to the Harry Potter fan on your gift list, or gather truffles in shapes like Iron Man's mask or Doctor Who's Daleks. And if you're going to snap into a thin mint, why not have it look like Han Solo trapped in carbonite? Order online, or find products at specialty retail stores like Hastur Games & Hobbies or Game Haven.
Best Emigration Excursion
Even though it's just a short jaunt up Emigration Canyon, Ruth's Diner has an otherworldly vibe. Dining on the sprawling patio in warm weather, you might imagine you're in Sonoma. Indoors, remnants of the nearly 90-year-old original diner remain. But one thing that never changes is friendly service and can't-miss dishes such as Ruth's famous mile-high biscuits & country gravy for breakfast and Erik's raspberry chicken at dinnertime.
4160 Emigration Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-582-5807, RuthsDiner.com
Best Customized Ice Cream
Tropical Dreams Hawaiian Creamery
Everyone has a favorite ice cream flavor. Or maybe the favorite ice cream flavor you would have hasn't been created yet, because it's inside your head. Tropical Dreams features a delicious regular line up of ice creams, gelatos and sorbets in flavors from sources both local and shipped in from Hawaii. But you can be part of the creativity with "Custom Customer Creations," whenever Tropical Dreams invites its patrons to provide suggestions via social media, with a quart of the newly invented recipe as a prize.\
928 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0986, TropicalDreamsUtah.com
Best NEED FOR SEEDS
Some snacks become as much an activity as a treat, like popping sunflower seeds into your mouth one after the other. It'll be awfully hard to stop that activity if the seeds in question are more than just a delivery system for salt. Zotes' products—including corn nuts in addition to sunflower seeds—pack huge taste into their adorable tiny bottles, with flavors including blue cheese, hot wings, Jamaican jerk, roasted garlic, jalapeño and dill pickle. You'll buy 'em, shell 'em and be ready to buy 'em again as soon as possible.
Best Do-Wop Soundtrack
Coachman's DINNER & PANCAKE HOUSE
One of the oldest anchors of the Salt Lake City dining scene, Coachman's Dinner & Pancake House is a colorful, character-driven experience. Its menu hasn't changed much for decades—still the same classic eggs and pancake selection—but the unheralded pleasure of Coachman's is its soundtrack, an eternal loop of 1950s pop-song classics. Such a generational throwback adds to the gentle disconnect of dining in a place that seems to have forgotten what decade it's in. And, just like the olden days, it's cash or check only.
1301 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-486-3579
Best Gastro Pub Fish & Chips
A gastro pub is a British term for public houses that also serve slightly more ambitious food than a packet of crisps (potato chips to you Americans). Molly's, an Irish pub nestled in one corner of Kimball Junction, claims just such a title and, to our mind, rightly so. It boasts an ample beer list and a food menu with an emphasis on classic dishes from the Emerald Isle. The menu's top star, though, is the more British fare, fish & chips. The beer batter is crunchy and flavorful, and the cod firm and delicious. With a sprinkle of malt vinegar, you could be in a fish & chip shop in old Blighty.
1680 Ute Boulevard, Park City,
Best Coffee for Car Lovers
Fill'er Up Coffee Station
Set in the glories of the Heber Valley, one of this coffee house's greatest assets is the beautiful way it's turned an old garage into a great place to enjoy coffee, cakes and a breakfast burrito. Wall-to-wall car memorabilia keeps you entertained while you line up to order from friendly staff. There's an inventiveness to the eclectic selection of old vehicle ads, pictures and gas signs that gives the cafe a genial energy all its own.
201 Main St., Midway, 435-657-2700
Laid Back Poke Shack
If you think Hawaiian-style poke is always made with raw tuna, think again. At the Laid Back Poke Shack, you'll discover a dozen or so different poke options. Choices vary from day to day, but often include shoyu, ginger, spicy, oyster and California spicy ahi; shoyu salmon; sesame calamari; kimchi tako; sweet-chili shrimp; kimchi mussels; taegu (Korean seasoned cod); and spicy snow crab. Whew! Thankfully, the servers are super-helpful, and there's a tasting station where diners may sample as many styles of poke as they like.
6213 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-635-8190
Best SPICE IN A CUP
The Cupbop food truck menu is simple—choose from beef, spicy pork, chicken, noodles, tofu and kimchi, or a combination. Let the crew know how spicy you want your sauces, and enjoy. Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong—and the enthusiastic servers in the truck are happy to offer their recommendations. But make sure you come early to wherever the Cupbop truck sets up; lines will soon be wrapping around the truck, or the block.
As much as we love Salt Lake City's taco stands, sometimes it seems like there's little difference between the many carts that festoon our street corners. What makes Tacos Real stand out is not just the quality and freshness of its ingredients, but an authentic quality that's hard to find elsewhere. Take its torta, for instance. Essentially a sandwich, stuffed with carnitas, carne asada or lengua (tongue). It is then layered by the customer with salsas from the bar. Real Tacos fare tastes as good as if you eating at a tortas restaurant in Chihuahua. The staff are friendly and the prices, reasonable. Here's hoping they'll stick around through the winter as it's becoming a go-to for downtowners craving a burrito or torta for lunch.
115 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Best Retro Ice Cream Parlor
Scoops From the Past
Compared to many other small towns in central and southern Utah, Panguitch appears to be booming, at least judging by the open stores, restaurants and fresh licks of paint on the walls of its motels. One of the centerpieces of its continued good health is the restored Historic Gem Theatre and Scoops From the Past ice cream parlor, which, with its colorful, playful décor, all but shouts the 1950s. Rather than rush through Panguitch en route to Zion or Bryce, pull over, grab a sandwich and order an old-fashioned sundae at Scoops. Go ahead, savor Panguitch's charm.
105 N. Main, Panguitch, 435-676-8885, ScoopsFromThePast.com
Best Bar Bites
Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House
Avenues Proper serves up truly small-batch, craft beers, all brewed on premises. But, man can't live on beer alone so there's also an eclectic selection of bar bites. Enjoy an order of its "obligatory" bar snack: salted popcorn for $1. But we recommend spending another $2 for the Spicy Prop-corn with locally made chili oil and lime salt. House pickles and pommes frites (very good ones) are an option, as is healthy hummus or kale Caesar salad. To go whole-hog, order the rarebit: house beer & cheese béchamel, bacon, cherry tomato, diced red onion and frites. Now that's bar food!
376 Eighth Ave., Salt Lake City, 385-227-8628, AvenuesProper.com
Doubling as both a market and a restaurant, the greatest pleasure of Shadrazad is the freshness of its food and the vibrancy of its flavor. The baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves ready your palate for the pleasures to come. The falafel and beef shawarma are wrapped in bread made on site that heightens the delicious crispness and eruption of flavors the sandwiches offer. The service is warm and friendly and there's free coffee and cardomon tea to pick you up afterward while you browse the shelves of Middle Eastern goodness.
2100 S. 1615 West, Salt Lake City, Shahrazad1001.com
Best BOLLYWOOD Breakfast
Stepping into this Indo/Persian restaurant feels a little like bathing in warm Indian winds, with its tasteful décor and aromatic scents. Long a staple for the lunch and dinner crowd, Good Karma broke into the breakfast and brunch market recently, and its offerings are simply divine. While the breakfast menu sides substantially with American tastes, brunch features such intriguing fare as the Bollywood burrito, a spinach tortilla with eggs and cheese with a vindaloo sauce, and Punjabi eggs masala, featuring green chili, ginger, garlic and onions with scrambled eggs and lentils. While the standards of its dinner fare remains as high as ever, it's a pleasure to know you can turn to Good Karma for brunch and embark on a whole new gastronomical adventure.
1782 Prospector Ave., Park City, 435-658-0958, GoodKarmaRestaurants.com
Best Not Portland Cafe
Avenues Bistro on Third
The welcoming, über-friendly vibe that emanates from Avenues Bistro on Third (and from owner Kathie Chadbourne) might cause you to think you've been teleported to Portlandia. But, no, you are still in Utah. As at so many cafes in Portland, Ore., Avenues Bistro seems to be designed for table hopping (it is cozy)—and customers, more often than not, all seem to know one another. It's got that neighborhood feel and friendliness that just can't be faked. With great food, great service and a great ambience, we're happy to say that Avenues Bistro on Third is all Salt Lake, through and through.
564 E. Third Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-831-5409, AvenuesBistroOnThird.com
Best Sandwich Bonanza
The Robin's Nest
There's a reason busy downtowners strapped for time are still willing to take an extra few minutes for lunch and squeeze themselves into the midday mob that always forms on Main Street. Well, actually, there are two reasons: 1. Quality: The Robin's Nest makes some of the tastiest fare on a block overflowing with sandwich shops; and, 2. Sheer quantity: The Robin'sNest features more than 25 signature sandwiches. The only problem? How to choose among meaty offerings like The Roobin, The Cowboy and The Aloha Oink; or vegan-friendly wonders such as The Flower Child and the Yummy Hummy, when each one is better than the last? It's not easy. But it's worth arriving late back to the office.
311 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378, RobinsNestSLC.com
Best Shopping Diversion
Nordstrom CafÉ Bistro
I'll bet you didn't know there's a department store in Utah that sells beer and wine—even on Sunday. Yep, it's Nordstrom Cafe Bistro in Fashion Place Mall, and it's one of this town's best-kept secrets. After you've shopped and are ready to drop, tuck into some of the fine fare at Nordstrom. Chef Jeremy Matthews' menu includes enticing items like cilantro-lime shrimp salad, a killer prime rib French dip, brick-oven pizzas and flatbread, risotto with roasted salmon and herbed mushrooms, crab bisque and plenty of options for the kids.
6191 S. State, Fashion Place, Salt Lake City, 801-261-4402
Best French Sammich
The French know a thing or two about food, so kudos to Bambara executive chef Nathan Powers for taking a French classic and kicking it up a notch. At brunch, Bambara offers its decadent take on an already decidedly decadent breakfast sandwich: the croquet madame. It's split-and-toasted muffin-style bread with grilled ham, melted Gruyere cheese, a silky béchamel sauce, stoneground mustard and—here's the kicker—a sunny-side-up egg perched on top. Bonus: the croquet madame also comes with a side of Powers' fantastic herb-spiked frites.
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
Best Worth the Wait
Gabor Bros. Main Street Grill & Pizzeria
The small dining room and even smaller bar area at Layton's popular Gabor Brothers Main Street Grill & Pizzeria is almost always mobbed. But, if there's an eatery in Layton that's more worth the wait for a table, we haven't found it. The service is so friendly, you'd think you were part of the Gabor family: The food is delicious, and the portions are huge. The garlicky homemade breadsticks are legendary, as are the pizzas, calzones and pasta dishes. But don't overlook the equally awesome Royale with cheese or the killer Italian subs.
197 N. Main, Layton, 801-544-4344
As any craft cocktail aficionado knows, bitters—an infusion of herbs, spices, fruits, barks, roots and botanicals preserved in grain alcohol—are an essential component to many delectable drinks. So, if you're looking to elevate your libations, try boosting them with bitters from Bitters Lab. Flavors include aromatic, charred cedar, currant and even habanero-lime.
Best Ethnic-Supermarket cafe
Ocean City opened in late 2014 and offers an admirable range of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai products. There's also a wide range of frozen fish from Southeast Asian waters, but what makes the market particularly intriguing is a tiny Thai restaurant at the back of the market. There are only seven tables, and they quickly fill up. Once you taste the fish-cake appetizers, the papaya salad or one of its excellent curries, you'll see why this inexpensive, simple and delicious Thai food is so popular.
872 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-953-1916
Best Bar Bargain
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
You might rationally think of Fleming's as an expensive steakhouse, which it is. But it's a steakhouse with a secret: the "5-6-7" option in Fleming's lounge. From opening until 7 p.m., the lounge offers a special menu of five dishes, each priced at $6. These are no paltry "bar bites," either. For example, you can make a hearty meal out of the 1/2-pound prime-beef burger. Made with peppered bacon, it comes with blue, Swiss or cheddar cheese on a fluffy, glistening challah bun—and fries, to boot. Other offerings include salt & pepper shrimp, pan-crisped pork belly and other enticements.
20 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3704, FlemingsSteakhouse.com
La Bonne Vie
Walking into La Bonne Vie, a pastry shop in the opulent Grand America hotel, is a transformative experience—as though you've turned into a decorative character on a very elaborate wedding cake. This eye-popping, Willy Wonka-esque shop is filled with world-class pastries, cookies, cakes, macaroons and baguettes, prepared by the hotel's superb executive pastry chef Xavier Baudinet. The chocolate, whether in cupcake form, on dipped strawberries, or in tarts or truffles, is irresistible—as is this sweet, sweet place!
555 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-258-6554, GrandAmerica.com
Best Chinese Wine List
When we say that Hot Dynasty restaurant has the best Chinese wine list in town, we aren't talking about Chinese wine. No, this excellent eatery has the best wine list of any Chinese restaurant. Frankly, we don't normally expect to find Dom Perignon Champagne or Stag's Leap Chardonnay at a Chinese restaurant. But this terrific list offers those plus La Marca Prosecco, Sauvion Sancerre, Whispering Angel Rosé, M. Chapoutier Ciboise Rouge, Moët Imperial Champagne, and more. There's nothing quite like vintage bubbly with your Kung Pao!
3390 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-809-3229, HotDynasty.com
Best Old School Sub/Hero/Grinder
We praise the name of the Earl of Sandwich himself for the sandwiches that have graced our city with Grove Market. Its well-made, reasonably priced options are a big draw: A "half" Big John sandwich is only $6.99—and we defy you to eat it in one sitting. The Big John features seven deli meats—salami, ham, corned beef, pastrami, bologna, turkey and roast beef—piled 3- to 4-inches high, then topped with Swiss and American cheese, plus mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle and pepperoncinis on rye, French, sourdough or wheat bread, or a thick, airy ambassador roll. It takes a village ... to eat one.
1906 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8860, GroveMarketDeli.com
Best Combo Plates
This family-owned Mexican eatery is well-known for authentic South-of-the-Border flavors and dishes such as pollo asado, beefsteak ranchero, chiles poblanos and the like. But if you like to mix and match, this really is the place. Most combo dinners at La Hacienda run a mere $8-$10 and typically include three items, in every possible permutation: Create your own Mexican meal from a combo list that includes burritos, tacos, rice & beans, enchiladas, chalupas, tamales, tostadas and chile rellenos.
1248 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-973-0738,
Best Old School Burger
Milts Stop n' Eat
Milt's Stop n' Eat is Moab's oldest restaurant. It opened in 1954, and it's said to look much the same today as it did then. The vinyl-topped stools and Formica counters are all original. And, hey—remember when burgers used to taste like meat? Well, at Milt's, food is prepared fresh to order; and the awesome burgers are made from locally raised, hormone-free, grass-fed beef. The french fries (also awesome) are cut by hand from russet potatoes and fried in peanut oil. There is only one way to improve on a Milt's hamburger: wash it down with a fresh-fruit shake.
356 Millcreek Drive, Moab, 435-259-7424, MiltsStopandEast.com
Best Draper Meal
Oak Wood Fired Kitchen
The pizzas that emerge from the wood-fired oven at Oak Wood Fired Kitchen in Draper are excellent. But pizza isn't the only food done well here. The spaghetti and meatballs is fantastic. Even something as seemingly simple as a seared-salmon Caesar salad is sensational in the hands of the Oak Wood Fired Kitchen crew. Add terrific service, a vibrant ambience and a nice selection of beer, wine and cocktails, and you've got the recipe for Draper's best dining.
715 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-996-8155, OakWoodFireKitchen.com
Best House-made Meats
Salt & Smoke
Is there a meat lover in town who doesn't know Frody Volgger? We doubt it. For decades now, the Austrian transplant has been satisfying our need for bratwurst, weisswurst, speck, bacon, salami, pastrami, andouille sausage, ham, bündnerfleish, pancetta, copa and dozens of other meaty marvels. The magic Volgger creates in his Salt & Smoke meat shop using organic Berkshire pork from Christiansen Family Farm in Vernon, makes him Salt Lake City's hands-down best butcher.
155 W. Malvern Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-680-8529, SaltandSmokeMeats.com
Best DRINKS WITH FREE NUTS
O'Shucks Bar & Grill
A throwback to the days of the Wild West saloon, the folks at O'Shucks Bar & Grill don't care if you make a mess. O'Shucks provides free peanuts, salted in the shell—and, if you choose to drop the shells onto the floor, you won't be collared for littering. "Free" and "No Clean Up Required" are enough of an enticement, but don't overlook the 32-ounce beer schooners, excellent cocktails, burgers, meatloaf and—at the Salt Lake City and Pinebrook locations—even sushi.
Multiple locations, OShucksUT.com
Best on a Baguette
Pierre's Country Bakery
Pierre's Country Bakery, established in 1897, has been part of our landscape for so long, it might be all too easy to overlook. That is, until you become familiar with its crusty baguettes and other bodacious baked goods. The authentic, open-face croque monsieur sandwich is one of Pierre's most enticing items: a mountain of bubbly, browned Gruyere cheese on toasted baguette slices with high-quality Black Forest ham. Pierre's brilliant baguettes also provide the foundation for some terrific vegetarian sandwiches.
3239 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-0900, PierreCountryBakery.com
Since 1971, Salt Lakers have relied on Siegfried's Delicatessen for all things Bavarian. Whether it's a German soccer shirt, a flag or foodstuffs imported from Deutschland, this is the place. The mind reels at the sheer variety of wursts on offer—with all the accompanying mustards, pickles, sauerkraut, cured meats, cheeses, breads, desserts and much more. While you shop, enjoy the best German food in town from the cafeteria-style deli. The schnitzel is sehr fantastisch!
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 385-355-1912, SeigfriedsDelicatessen.com
Best Pigging Out
Pig & A Jelly Jar
Amy Britt's aptly named Pig & a Jelly Jar is pork lovers' heaven. Offering plenty of opportunities to pig out, the menu tempts diners with offerings like Creole pork-belly Benedict, Heritage ham hash, bacon & blue-cheese scramble, pulled-pork sandwiches, pork-belly BLT, pork & beans and artisan breakfast sausage. Even the three-bean salad is served with bacon vinaigrette.
401 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-202-7366, PigAndAJellyJar.com
Best Crusty Bakery
Red Bicycle Breadworks
If you've ever met Brent Whitford, you know he's a salt-of-the-earth guy, with not a bit of cantankerous crust about him. However, the affable chef/baker Whitford's primary goal is to "Keep Park City Crusty"—and that's the motivation behind his starting Red Bicycle Breadworks with friend and business partner Brad Hart. Whitford's infamous "stick" bread sells out almost as quickly as it reaches shelves at The Market in Park City, where the bakery makes its home. The power bread, peasant bread and sprouted quinoa honey-wheat are snapped up quickly, too—as are the take-and-bake artisan pizzas. Now that's some crust!
1500 Snow Creek Drive, Park City, 435-602-9026, Facebook.com/RedBicycleBread
Alamexo Mexican Kitchen
For Alamexo Mexican Kitchen executive chef Matthew Lake, fresh ingredients and classic Mexican cooking techniques are essential. That's the reason that his tamales de elote, like everything else on the Alamexo menu, are so satisfying. These corn tamales are made with fresh corn kernels, freshly minced white onion and jalapeño, roasted plum tomatoes and garlic, freshly seared shrimp, queso fresco and a fresh-made heavy-cream-and-chipotle adobo. You get the idea: This is one fresh-tasting tamale.
268 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-779-4747, Alamexo.com
Best Diner with Diversity
Tea Rose Diner
There are diners, and then there are diners. Tea Rose Diner is unlike any other we've ever encountered. Picture a mom & pop joint with an American diner look and feel, with menu items such as pancakes, hash browns, garlic burgers, Reuben sandwiches, macaroni & cheese, PB&J and tuna melt. Then add killer Thai food, plus 70 varieties of tea. That's Tea Rose Diner, where for breakfast your mate can enjoy banana pancakes while you dig into a Thai omelet. It's an eclectic diner with a difference.
65 E. Fifth Ave. (4880 South), Murray, 801-685-6111, TeaRoseDiner.net
Best Park City Patio
One of the best spots in Park City to dine and drink al fresco is the patio deck at Terrace Café, St. Regis in Deer Valley. In winter, it's the perfect place for après-ski cocktails. In summer, gourmet soups, salads, sandwiches, signature cocktails, brews, and a terrific wine list accompany breathtaking mountain views. Year round, don't miss the dramatic Garden of Fire, or the saber-shearing demonstration—you'll wonder why you ever bothered opening a Champagne bottle any other way. Weekends, enjoy the magical voice of Joy Tlou as the duo Joy & Eric perform in the afternoons.
2300 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, 435-940-5700, StRegisDeerValley.com/terrace-cafe
Best Local Food Service
Nicholas & Co.
When Nicholas Mouskondis founded what would become Nicholas & Co.—selling produce and canned goods from the back of a truck—he couldn't possibly have envisioned how what he planted in 1939 would bear fruit in 2015. Today, the Salt Lake City-based food distribution company has grown to the point that it is opening a second distribution center in Las Vegas. But what keeps local chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and others returning to Nicholas & Co. decade after decade is the love and care with which the Mouskondises operate their business. If you only knew how many local eateries might have perished were it not for the generosity of the Nicholas & Co.! It is a Utah treasure.
Best Eclectic Apps
Caught in an appetizer rut? The place to go is Ogden's Two-Bit Street restaurant—it's got appetizers with attitude. Take, for example, Bill's Scotch eggs, named for owner Penny Allred's notorious brother Bill, of X96's Radio From Hell fame: hard-boiled eggs fried in a sausage-breadcrumb casing, served with a variety of mustards. And who wouldn't love the ploughman's lunch, a nifty cheese selection served with crackers and breads, chutney, fruit and a Branston pickle. Hummus, smoked salmon crostini, steamed clams, wild lump-crab cakes and souvlaki are just a few of the unusual apps at Two-Bit Street.
126 25th Street, Ogden, 801-393-1225, TwoBitStreet.com
Best Oven Cookery
The Brass Tag
At Deer Valley's Brass Tag, virtually everything is cooked in the restaurant's big brick oven, at temperatures on average ranging from 500 degrees to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. From that oven come dishes as varied as oven-roasted whole quail rubbed with Indian-style tandoori spices; cast-iron shrimp skillets with tail-on shrimp and a choice of sauces; steamed clams served in a Portuguese cataplana; and a warm, chewy, chocolate-chip cookie, which arrives in its own iron skillet with a side of ice cream. Now that's making good use of an oven!
2900 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, 435-615-2410, DeerValley.com
Best Chocoholic Spree
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli has long been known as a purveyor of fine imported and local artisan cheeses and meats with a spectacular selection of olive oils and vinegars, pastas, fresh deli meals and much more. Caputo's also offers one of the largest selections of premium chocolate in the country. Ranging from locally produced Amano, Solstice and Ritual chocolates to world-renowned makers such as Blanxart, Michel Cluizel, Domori, Amedei, Francois Pralus and Chocolatier Blue, Caputo's selection makes it a must-stop shop for every chocoholic.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
Best Whiskey Ginger Beer
It's not exactly a secret, but it's not an official drink on the menu. No matter—it's made with Fever Tree ginger beer and one of Piper's more than 45 types of whiskey. Served in a copper mug like the traditional Moscow Mule, this refreshing and tantalizing drink packs the sharp punch of ginger. For extra credit, go on Wednesday or Sunday for karaoke or Geeks Who Drink, an unholy evening of pub trivia. Other events include Texas Hold'em Poker on Monday and Breaking Bingo on Thursday.
1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com
Best Local Disney Treat
Dole Whip at Megaplex Jordan Commons
Disneyland regulars crave their favorite park snacks, from churros to smoked turkey legs. And then there's Dole Whip soft-serve. Guests line up at the park's Enchanted Tiki Room just for a taste of pineapple goodness, but you don't have to book a flight to Anaheim to enjoy them. The snack bar at the Megaplex Jordan Commons movie theaters in Sandy proffers the treat, making the time between vacations a little more bearable—and making Sandy perhaps the second happiest place on earth.
9400 S. State, Sandy, MegaplexTheatres.com
Best Dim Sum
Red Maple Chinese Restaurant
It is said that, when it comes to dim sum—that small-bites style of Chinese dining—"You win some; you lose some." But there's no losing at Red Maple, which has an eye-popping array of dim sum delights on weekends, and an "anytime" menu of popular dim sum items that are available throughout the week. Authentic items like beef tripe and chicken feet are available, but those who are not so adventurous can play it safe with delectable tidbits such as beef chow fun, steamed barbecue pork buns, shrimp dumplings, siu mai and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. And, even if you're not in a dim sum frame of mind, there's always General Tso's chicken.
2882 W. 4700 South, Taylorsville, 801-747-2888, RedMapleChinese.com
Kimi's Chop & Oyster House
At the gorgeous Kimi's Chop & Oyster House in Sugar House, one of the main attractions—in addition to excellent food and drink—is Kimi herself. Owner Kimi Eklund treats every customer like a VIP and roams her restaurant spreading hospitality and warmth throughout it. Whether you've just dropped in for a lingonberry poached-pear salad or you're celebrating by going whole hog at dinner, you can count on Kimi to make sure your visit is memorable.
2155 S. Highland Dr., Salt Lake City, 801-946-2079, KimisHouse.com
Best ON-THE-GO Party BBQ
Pat Barber is one of the more highly regarded pit masters in Utah—and maybe the nation, considering that Pat's Barbecue appeared on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Most everyone by now has opted for a meal of Pat's brisket, pork ribs or chicken. And nearly as many have eaten that meal while listening to some great porch music offered by a bevy of local, eclectic bands and musicians, especially of the old-timey country kind. But, if you can't make it to Pat's or if you simply want to impress everyone at the next tailgate party, go for Pat's Barbecue in a Box. Just fill out an order form selecting from the full array of Pat's offerings (remember to allow at least 48 hours advance time), and you can satisfy any size party, side dishes and cutlery included. No fuss, no Muss—except at Ute games.
155 W. Commonwealth Ave. (2125 South), Salt Lake City, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
Best Scratch Bakery
By now, everybody knows about the incredible pizzas, burgers, and desserts like the wood-fired bread pudding at From Scratch. And, we know that virtually everything here is made from scratch, including the burger buns, ketchup and pizza dough. The flour is even milled right in-house. But did you know From Scratch also has a new Bake Shop? Yep. Now we can enjoy old-fashioned donuts, sandwich cookies, scones, mini-pies and decadent brioche cinnamon rolls with brown butter frosting ... all made from scratch!
62 E. Gallivan Ave. Salt Lake City, 801-961-9000, FromScratchSLC.com
Best Tri Tips
Bandits' American Grill
Not everyone prepares tri-tip steak to perfection. Indeed, most places just crank out some chewy protein resembling shoe leather, and call it a day. Not so at Bandits American Grill in Cottonwood Heights where the staff takes particular pride in its tri tip, among many excellent menu options. While locals are already keen to the grill's seriously good tri-tip sandwich and tri-tip salad, locals also know that winter is coming. That means Bandits' will soon be headquarters for serious chili eaters. The tri-tip steak at Bandits' (served seasonally) is second to none, but the chili is, perhaps, the best served anywhere.
3176 E. 6200 South, Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-0505, BanditsBBQ.com
Sichuan cooking is a delicate balance between salty, fiery, garlicky and slightly sweet flavors, and nobody in town does that balancing act better than Red House Chinese. Offsetting the heat of the chilies in Red House' crispy, spicy wok-fried pork ribs are fragrant ginger and Sichuan peppercorns—the latter imparting a subtle, lavender-like flavor. And, if you're searching for hard-to-find Sichuan dishes like Chongqing chicken with green onion, you've come to the right place.
1465 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-821-3622, RedHouseSLC.com
Best Of The Baltic Sea
Long ago, the original Finn's sat along Parley's way, high up 2100 South. The better access to skiing, you know, the favorite pastime of founder Finn Gurholt. Gurholt gave Utahns their first taste of Scandanavian fare. Today, Finn's (now relocated in the Sugar House core and operated by Finn, Jr), remains true to to the original in every way as Nordic touches dot his eclectic menu. A favorite for those wanting something a bit special for breakfast, try some of Finn's fine baked items after a plate of pittipanna hash--unique to Finn's.. From poached fish to fried chicken and back again, Finn's has been a Utah mainstay for decades and will be for decades more. 1624 S. 1100 East, 801-467-4000, FinnsCafe.net
Best Downtown Lunch Specials
The Green Pig Pub
A good, cheap lunch is hard to come by in downtown Salt Lake City—but the Green Pig Pub serves up tasty options every day of the week. Ranging from light $5 fare (BLTs, hot dogs, grilled-cheese sandwich & tomato soup combos, etc.) to heartier $10 items like the Sancho Burger (a substantial patty with pepper-jack cheese, chipotle aioli, bacon and grilled lime on the side), you'd be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck in the metro Salt Lake City area. The weekend breakfast buffet ($10-$12) is a huge draw as well.
31 E. 40 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-7441, TheGreenPigPub.com