Best of Utah 2017 | Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here! | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2017

Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here!

Page 5 of 15


ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best Umami on the go
Onigiri at Japan Sage Market

Listen, I've been to Japan once, so clearly I'm an expert. Along with belly laughs alongside family members and some killer pictures that would make anyone Insta-jealous, indulging in Japanese street food—including most that have inspired their own emoji—are among my most treasured memories. With fillings ranging from salmon to tuna to pickled plum, the simple onigiri, often referred to stateside as "rice balls," are the layman's treat on the go and are sold just about anywhere—from metro stations to ubiquitous 7-Elevens. Feeling the post-travel blues, Sage Market brought me back to Shinjuku with their yummy version. Next on the nostalgia checklist: a local smart-bidet provider. Any leads? (EL)
353 W. 200 South, 801-521-2106, facebook.com/jademarketslc

Best taste bud tease
Bagels and Greens on Main

The coming-soon announcement on the first-floor glass of the U.S. Bank building on 200 South and Main was a cruel, hunger-inducing temptress. This second location to The Bagel Project was under construction for what felt like eons. After it was announced in March, they anticipated a late summer launch. Luckily for downtown dwellers, the shop finally opened its doors in October. One of each, please. (DWH)
bagelsngreens.com

Best proof that America and North Korea can still be friends
Bumblebee's BBQ & Grill

The menu at this Korean/American fusion joint is all you really need to realize that America and North Korea can learn to love each other. You'll find KPOP Fries ($6.99), which takes an American staple and makes it better by adding Korean bulgogi, and kimchi fried rice balls ($3) that introduce traditional Korean spicy cabbage to the American process of adding cheese and throwing food in the deep fryer. If only our political leaders would look to the harmonious fusion that Bumblebee's has achieved, the world would be a much better—and tastier—place. (Alex Springer)
7962 S. State, 801-561-0608, bumblebeesbbq.wixsite.com/bumblebzbbq

Best long-awaited Hot Fried Chicken fix
Pretty Bird by Chef Viet Pham

The heady anticipation has passed from culinary curiosity into intervention-worthy jones-ing territory. For what, you ask? That crispy, crackly, spicy goodness that's enticed even the most vigilant vegan: Nashville-style hot fried chicken. Former Forage chef and TV star Viet Pham is set to bring his take on the trend to recently rebooted Regent Street adjacent the Eccles Theater and we've been trying to peer into the papered windows of his joint, Pretty Bird, all summer. It's not all hype, by a long shot: Those of us lucky enough to gnaw on some of Pham's fabulously spicy fowl at a recent private event are hooked. Now just open already, Viet. We're twitching for our next hot chix fix. (DD)
146 S. Regent St., facebook.com/prettybirdchicken

Best place to impress a first date
Rye

Choosing the right restaurant for a first date is tricky. You need a place that isn't part of a chain or franchise—this conveys that you've actually invested some effort in the evening instead of googling the location of the nearest Applebee's. You also need a place that has a casual atmosphere without coming across as a dive. Oh, and the food has to be really, really good, but also really, really accessible—if your date only likes chicken fingers, you need to be able to guide them to something like a shoyu fried chicken sandwich. Rye has all of these things in spades, and its close proximity to Urban Lounge can either be an excuse to make the evening last a bit longer with a concert, or a quick getaway if you need to ditch your date because they turn out to be some kind of shithead. (AS)
239 S. 500 East, 801-364-4655, ryeslc.com

Best personal Dessert Room
The Chocolate

All by themselves, the cakes, tarts, cookies and other sweet treats at this charming dessert café are sufficient reason to visit. What makes the experience even more delightful is the chance to find a cozy corner in which to enjoy your selection. From a larger main area with couches to smaller back rooms—perhaps, depending on when you visit—one you can have all to yourself—The Chocolate gives you a variety of ways to make your dessert more of an individualized experience than just a way to feed your sweet tooth. (SR)
9120 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, 801-566-5330, facebook.com/thechoco

Best bucket of fried gold
The Homies Bucket at Homies Burgers & Shakes

If Moses came down from Mount Sinai with a few plates of vegan food, the Homies Buckets at Homies Burgers and Shakes would be the equivalent of his followers' idolatrous golden calf. Where most burger joints treat their deep fryer as a supporting cast member, Homies treats theirs like the blasphemous star it was meant to be. They offer three different Homies Buckets ($12-$13) that combine golden brown staples like onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers and battered mushrooms into a literal bucket, and bring it all to your table in full view of God Himself—and any State Street passersby that might be judging you from afar. (AS)
329 S. State, 801-363-1977, homiesrestaurant.com

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best interpretation of the "This establishment is licensed as a bar not a restaurant" sign, because let's face it, it's a ridiculous ordinance that does nothing but underscore the general perception that Utah is a no-fun zone, and we all know that's not true (well, sometimes ... but not all the times). In any case, all it does is legitimize the Matt Barnesses of the world. The one at the dearly departed Lamb's Grill. (EL)

Best Parking Lot Fry Bread
The Blue Bird Stand at the Native American Trading Post

The Native American Trading Post on Redwood Road provides craft supplies and other Native American goods every day of the week, but Saturdays and Sundays are extra special. That's when you can drop by and gorge on fresh fry bread prepared by The Blue Bird Stand set up in the trading post's parking lot. Sink your teeth into some doughy goodness and also be sure to try one of their other specialties, like mutton stew, when they're available. (SA)
3971 S. Redwood Road, 801-952-0184, facebook.com/navajofoodstandnslc

Best Grocery Loaf
Papa's Organic Bread

For more than 30 years, West Jordan-based Papa Pita has been baking up wonderful breads, flatbreads, bagels and more for local consumers. That includes a fantastic line of organic breads, all of which are made with only non-GMO ingredients, zero trans fat and no high-fructose corn syrup. Instead of the texture-less national brand on your grocer's shelf, sample the hearty multigrain with flax seeds, or whole wheat with honey. Your morning toast or lunchtime sandwich just got a heck of a lot healthier. (SR)
papapita.com

RANDY HARWARD
  • RANDY HARWARD

Best place for impromptu Bacchanalia on a Sunday
Lucky Slice

In-state road trips on Sundays amount to so much heartbreak when it comes to finding something to eat in Utah's smaller cities and towns. Even Ogden proved kinda tough in that department—until I happened upon Lucky Slice. The New York-style pizzeria lives up to its "All killer, no filler" slogan with excellent pizza by the slice, high-point locally brewed craft beer, absolutely redonk oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, local art displays and a working Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videogame. (RH)
200 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-2229; 1246 S. Legend Hills Drive, Clearfield, 801-820-6992, theluckyslice.com

Best Coffee House to appreciate Utah's southern landscape
The Rock Stop

Across the street from the Maynard Dixon Museum, just outside the sleepy burg of Orderville, is the most eclectic coffee house down south. The nearly 50-year-old Rock Stop is actually built in the shape of a rock out of chicken wire, paper, plaster and fiberglass. It's owned and run by Mickey and Don Davis, who will happily regale you with their tale of leaving corporate life in Las Vegas for the delights of a quieter existance in southern Utah. While it's main business is selling a vast array of jewelry and local stones—some refined, others just chunks—it's the coffee and location that calls us back. Purchase a latte inside or their specialty, an espresso sundae, and sit in its small, gazebo-like patio, you can take in the marvels of green, rolling hills, red rock and huge skies that inspired Dixon to his great works. What more could you ask? (SD)
385 W. State, Orderville, 435-648-2747, therockstoputah.com

Best Gas Station Eatery
Tandoori Oven

In the borderlands of Northern Utah, where batshit crazy stuff happens on the daily, incredible Indian food can be found in a little restaurant that sits in the same building as a gas station. As strange as it sounds, at Tandoori Oven patrons can buy a pack of Newports, then pass through an archway and sit down for a splendid lunch buffet, all without having traveled more than 10 feet. Now, the restaurant is undergoing renovations, but it appears as if, for now, the gas pumps are staying out front, and that majority of the odd experience that is eating fabulous Indian food—I cannot stress this enough—in a literal gas station will be preserved for future generations to come. (JF)
720 E. 1000 North, Logan, 435-750-6836, tandooriovenlogan.com

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best place to get day-drunk, overeat, enjoy good company and the micro-D 500
Lucky 13's Sunday Brunch

The word "brunch" just sounds dumb. It's a fey portmanteau, and the soft consonant followed by "-runch" conjures images of stale chips. Juxtaposed with Sunday, aka Monday Eve, it sounded like a drag until someone explained that it involves day-drinking and pigging out at places like Lucky 13. And so it was that a Sunday-morning hangover became a gorgeous hair-of the dog day, working on a sunny-buzz, eating ridiculously good food and laughing with friends—until some neighboring street racers drowned out the conversation, revving their engines in flailing overcompensation. But don't let that sour you on Sunday brunch. Just order some extra eggs and do what thou wilt—like eat 'em. Or something. (RH)
135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418, lucky13slc.com

Best crispy Garbanzo
Spitz

In addition to being able to meet friends or family for a killer game night, Spitz has the best crispy garbanzo beans in town. Savor these delights via various menu items such as the döner basket, salads or just go full garbanzo by ordering a side with olives. The crunch-tastic snack is enough to satisfy even the most die-hard chip lover, minus the guilt of greasy fingers and self loathing. Add on some fried pita strips with hummus, a beer and a shot of tequila and, my friend, you have a meal. Best enjoyed while playing the classic version of Guess Who. (AP)
Multiple locations, spitzslc.com

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best cold brewing
Kolob Coffee

Yes, there's a bit of a poke at LDS theology in the name of Mike Sumsion's company—especially one that traffics in (gasp!) coffee. But Kolob's products for cold-brewed coffee—"brew tube," "cold classic" carafe and reusable "brew disk"—are no joke. From providing a great option for on-the-go coffee when there's no time for traditional brewing, to allowing the creation of unique flavor combinations, these goodies are a blessing to any coffee drinker. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't enjoy your cold-brew hot. (SR)
kolobco.com

Best Spot for contemplative eating
Caffé Molise

Whether you're eating a lunch of gnocchi di patate ($12.95) surrounded by vibrant local art or dining on the decadent Arista ($24.95)—a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with black mission fig compote—while doing some downtown people-watching, Molise is a great place to bring your thoughts on a date. Its prime location next to City Creek Center and the Salt Palace Convention Center make it ideal for simply taking in the beauty of the city while enjoying some expertly crafted Italian dishes. Its wall-to-wall art gallery helps expand the mind as well as the palate. Sure, Caffé Molise lends itself to gatherings and dates, but it's also a singular experience to dine here on your own. (AS)
55 W. 100 South, 801-364-8833, caffemolise.com

Best F-you to a corporate chain by a local business
Beans & Brews Sugar House

Usually, the way things work is a corporation opens a franchise near a local competitor to bully 'em outta business. So wasn't it kinda crazy when Beans & Brews opened a new location just east of the longstanding Starbucks on 700 East and 2100 South? Granted, Starbucks isn't wholly evil, but they've pulled that next-door move on at least one local java joint that I know of (Taylorsville around about 5400 South). And that was just sad to watch. So best of luck to B&B in this Sugar House coffeeshop Thunderdome: Two shops battle, one shop leaves! (RH)
719 E. 2100 South, 385-227-8672, beansandbrews.com

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best Pinterest-worthy Bakery
Tulie Bakery

If Pinterest were a place, it would be called Tulie Bakery—that or bacon-wrapped DIY wedding knits. Tulie Bakery offers pastries, tarts, cookies, cakes and even has a lunch menu of sandwiches and soups. The pastries are a personal favorite, and they always come flaky with extra fat to raise the flavor intensity. The bread pudding ($6.25) and Morning Bun ($4.25) are my two go-tos that are simple and don't involve too much French pronunciation. The place is quite fancy, but during rush hour still prepare to shub your way through what is essentially a den of hipsters to get your order in. (RM)
864 E. 700 South, 801-883-9741; 1510 S. 1500 East, 801-410-4217, tuliebakery.com

Best PokéMen
Laid Back Poke Shack

Like the Pokémon trend from which I shamefully pilfered this pun, Hawaiian poke has been taking the nation by storm. For those who have not yet experienced this tropical phenomenon, poke consists of sushi-grade fish piled high on a rice bowl with a seaweed salad. The cool thing about Laid Back Poke Shack is that they have caught them all—I counted 15 options during my visit—and they let you sample any of their vast array of seafood before you decide on the poke bowl that best defines you as a person. I'm a fan of the Small Bowl ($11.50) with spicy ginger ahi and the spicy salmon. I have yet to try the Magikarp or Gyarados, though. (AS)
6213 S. Highland Drive, 801-635-8190, 808to801.com

JEANIE JENSEN
  • JEANIE JENSEN

Best Rocky Mountain Oyster Breakfast
Tavaputs Ranch

Perched on a spectacular plateau overlooking Desolation Canyon, Jeanie and Butch Jensen and their extended family run Tavaputs Ranch, a seasonal working cattle operation now going on seven generations in Utah. Guests can consider themselves lucky when Jeanie serves up a Tavaputs early-morning breakfast favorite: Rocky Mountain oysters. As cattle ranchers have done for centuries, each spring the Tavaputs crew brands and castrates the herd, setting aside the steers' testicles as a particular delicacy. Jeanie's recipe is one her grandmother and mother taught her at a very young age, and they are the perfect combination of crunch and slight chew. And, of course, everything is better when fried and served alongside a steaming cup of coffee. Years after our first visit, my kids still talk about trying this ranch specialty with equal parts horror and excitement. (DD)
tavaputsranch.com

Best Chicken Tikka Masala for your born-in-Utah, whitebread ass
Bombay House

Thanks to the effects of globalism or imperialism, however you'd like to put it, cuisine in the United States has become awesomely diverse. Utah, of course, is no exception, and of the ethnic food powerhouses people are going wild to try, Indian food is perhaps at the top. If you're like me, who was born in Utah and considers himself whitebread, you might be a bit hesitant to go far from pizza and burgers, but you still want to see what foods like Indian are all about. Look no further than Bombay House, and order their chicken tikka masala right this minute. Other dishes at Bombay House are fabulous and, in my estimation, pretty damn "authentic," but the chicken tikka masala is just the thing to ease yourself into a world of actual flavor and spice. Be careful, though, Indian cuisine is addictive, and it might make you wonder how such incredible food wasn't invented by the people of God's chosen nation. (JF)
Multiple locations, bombayhouse.com

Best secret menu item you have to keep secret from the restaurant
Mantu Burrito at Curry 'n' Kabobs

Although Curry 'n' Kabobs owner A.J. is a cool, kind and generous man, and despite the Afghan/Indian restaurant serving falafel in something very similar to a tortilla (and definitely not naan—theirs is delicious; everything is at C&K), don't mess with the mantu. Although the spicy minced-beef dumplings with minty yogurt sauce would make sublime burrito innards, the boss and his family, like most chefs, have crafted an experience. They want you to enjoy the explosion of flavor and texture in each dumpling. So try it that way first. Then, another time, order a tortilla-thing on the side, then wrap and eat. While excellent and unforgettable alone, mantu is even better swaddled in a chewy, starchy blanket. A.J., I think we have the makings of a great food truck item. (RH)
268 S. Main, 801-363-0300

Best Business Buffet
Himalayan Kitchen

Got a merger or acquisition to propose? A life insurance policy to hawk? Want to discuss a promotion with your boss? The whole conversation will flow much more smoothly after first filling a plate at Himalayan Kitchen's sumptuous Nepalese buffet. From vindaloos, saag paneer and butter chicken to aloo tama bodi, chicken tandoori and lip-smacking charred naan, the buffet appeals to most every taste—no fretting or mulling over a menu necessary. The inviting downtown location is a magnet for government workers, Matheson Courthouse folks and, of course, City Weekly employees. Not only is the buffet a great place to hobnob, it's gentle on your expense account. (JW)
360 S. State, 801-328-2077; 11521 S. 4000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-0800, himalayankitchen.com

Best Traveling Falafel
Falafel Tree

If you're a newbie or a falafel fanatic, Falafel Tree will satisfy your cravings. These savory fritters are served piping hot, fresh from the deep-fryer à la carte ($5.50) with tasty hummus or tahini sauce or tucked inside a hearty sandwich ($7.95). "The recipes have been passed down in Egypt from generation to generation. Chef Abby's grandmother taught him to cook falafel from the heart," says Janalee Hinkson, who owns the truck with her husband, Tyler, and Chef Abby. Follow Falafel Tree on social media to find your falafel fix. (AR)
385-325-2335, falafeltree.com

Best Ginger Binge
King Buffet

Here is a buffet whose sheer dedication to selection size makes it feel like a transplant from the Vegas Strip. At any given moment during business hours, diners here can sample more than 200 items that range from Chinese to Mongolian to sushi. This is the type of restaurant that challenges diners to try everything, making repeat visits easy to justify. It can get pretty packed during the weekend, Disneyland-worthy lines and all, but for those with a serious craving for the lovely, golden brown, sweet-and-sour Chinese food that calls America home, it's tough to find a place with a heartier selection. It truly is the happiest place in Taylorsville. (AS)
5668 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-969-6666

Best Sushi, Sunset, Cocktail combo
Cliff Dining Lodge

People of the south valley rejoice! One of the sexiest city-view patios in our briny borough has the definitive bonus of Chef Rene Negron bringing a top-notch sushi program to the Cliff's approachable menu. Gold stars go to the gracious west-facing patio with a badass heating system making it a go-to for a romantic sunset sushi date during all but the snowiest months. Even better? A full bar, fabulous wine list and live music on weekends. (DD)
12234 Draper Gate Drive, 801-523-2053, cliffdiningpub.com

Best Refreshing Beer
Uinta Brewing's Lime Pilsner

I admit, I was skeptical when someone first recommended it. "Hmm, sounds kind of like a Bud Light Lime and I hate Bud Light Lime," I recall saying. But then I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised. If you like 801 (or pilsners in general) and are a fan of the occasional wedge of fruit on the rim of your glass, give Uinta Brewing's recently released Lime Pilsner a try. With only a hint of citrus, it's light and refreshing—the perfect summertime beer, though it's actually available year-round. And thankfully, you can get it pretty much anywhere in Utah that sells beer. (AH)
uintabrewing.com

JOSH SCHEUERMAN
  • JOSH SCHEUERMAN

Best Brewery Resurrection
A. Fisher Brewing Co.

It's hard enough to putting a brewery together, imagine how hard it is to bring one back from the dead. That's what four friends managed to do with the A. Fisher Brewing Co. Founded by Albert Fisher in 1884, Fisher Beer was a staple throughout Utah until it was bought out in the early 1960s. Tom Riemondy, Steven Brown, Colby Frazier and Tim Dwyer have not only revived the brand but have made it thrive though cozy innovative beers like beet saisons and oyster stouts. Albert would be proud. (MR)
320 W. 800 South, 801-487-2337, fisherbeer.com

Best place to not make God cry
Sodalicious

I was informed that soda fountains are what the LDS kids did to push envelopes. However, after giving Sodalicious in Provo a try, I can safely say that they're the best thing to happen to tiny buildings since the tiny house movement or China. I personally love Sodalicious because they have mixologists who aren't full of themselves. And having sodas mixed there on the spot for you is great, but seeing the names they have for the drinks is worth the drive itself. Besides the ever popular Just Friends, I prefer something true to my hispanic roots such as the El Doctoro, which is made of Dr. Pepper and horchata. (RM)
Multiple locations, mysodalicious.com

Best Brunch with a Butcher
Saturdays at Beltex Meats

If traditional brunch destinations aren't tough enough for you, then take a trip to Beltex Meats on Saturdays. From 10 a.m. until noon, Philip Grubisa's whole-animal butcher shop serves a rotating menu of meat-centric sandwiches. If you're lucky, you'll even be able to watch as he slices up the shop's fresh, locally sourced ingredients while you wait. Don't be afraid to talk to Grubisa or any of his team about the meat that they're serving—these congenial carnivores are more than happy to chew the fat with their customers. (AS)
511 E. 900 South, 801-532-2641, beltexmeats.com

DEREK CARLISLE
  • DEREK CARLISLE

Best snack that'll break the bank
Proper Brewing Chips and Salsa

The chips and salsa at Proper Brewing will put you back $200—so think long and hard before you agree to part ways with that much cash for corn chips and tomato paste. It's the only food item on the drink menu, which Proper explains it is obligated by law to include. If that's out of your price range, consider staying and having one (or two or three) of the delicious beers on tap, and don't fret if you start to get hungry. Adjacent Proper Burger offers an array of burgers at a great price—the plain jane vegan burger ($4.49) is delicious. And the food joint will bring the grub over to the bar, so you don't have to leave your stool. (DWH)
857 S. Main, 801-953-1707, properbrewingco.com

Best Burger inspired by Point Break
The Johnny Utah at Proper Burger Co.
It's comforting to know that the burger meisters at Proper Burger have a profound respect for Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 magnum opus Point Break. From the moment I glanced over their menu and noticed a burger named after the film's cocksure protagonist, I knew that I was in a safe place. And it's a burger worthy of the name. The Johnny Utah ($8.49) is piled high with turkey pastrami, coleslaw, housemade zucchini pickles and slathered in Russian dressing. It'll take you to the edge—and past. On a menu filled with standouts, the Johnny Utah stays true to one of cinema's finest lawmen. Utah! Gimme two! (AS)
865 S. Main, 801-906-8604, properburgerslc.com

Best Burger Controversy
Apollo's Western Bacon Cheeseburger

Just like McDonalds has the Big Mac and McDowell's has the Big Mick, Carl's Jr. has the Western Bacon Cheeseburger and locals Apollo Burger had the er ... Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Just when you thought Apollo's welcomed expansion into the old Royal Eatery space was going to be the homegrown chain's biggest headline of the year, an all-beef patty collision came into play when Carls' parent company, CKE Restaurants, came a-knockin', grease-stained legal documents in hand. The two settled in February, Apollo re-christened their (superior, imo) quarter-pounder as the Texas Bacon Cheeseburger and all was good in Burgerland once more. Now, pass me a napkin. (EL)
apolloburgers.com

DEREK BELNAP
  • DEREK BELNAP

Best Hipster Whisper
3 Cups Baristas

Love your morning coffee, but could do without the barista screaming your name when your cortado is ready? Just hit up 3 Cups, their baristas have perfected the hipster whisper. In fact, their skill is so subtle if you're not paying attention, your hot beverage might be chilled by the time you realized it's up. From time to time on busy weekend mornings, the bravado of their whisper will rise above coffee shop chatter—though this appears to be an inside joke, I'm not cool enough to understand. On the other hand, with coffee and fancy lad grub that legit, who needs to be cool? (AP)
4670 S. 2300 East, Holladay, 385-237-3091, 3cups.coffee

Best quick and tasty breakfast
Straw Market

Growing in popularity, Straw Market is still the place to grab a quick morning bite at an unbeatable price. Breakfast burritos, which ring up at $3.50 apiece, are packed with egg, cheese and hash, plus your choice of ham, bacon, sausage or veggies—a mix of spinach, green and red peppers, onion and mushroom. Plop down another dollar if your sweet tooth is getting the best of you for a fresh cinnamon roll slathered in white frosting. The small café also offers ham and cheese or veggie quiche ("made when we feel like it," the chalkboard menu reads.) (DWH)
390 Fourth Ave., 801-935-4420, straw-market.com

Best "If we distill it, they will come" crazy like a fox philosophy
Waterpocket Spirits' Notom Amaro

Distillery owners Julia and Alan Scott are bringing some definite diversity to the growing potables profile of our salty city, most notably with their mind blowing Notom amaro released earlier this year. The Scotts' passion for artisan spirits has segued nicely with their love for researching long-lost liqueur and herbal spirits recipes, to immediate acclaim from booze geeks far and wide. Their tag line, "Open Wild," reflects both the breadth and intensity of flavors they're producing, which are unlike anything else currently made in the state. They're original spirits are named for mythological characters and Utah landmarks. You can sample their Oread botanical liqueur, Notom amaro, house-distilled rum and other products during a distillery tour and tasting. (DD)
2084 W. 2200 South, 385-202-5725, waterpocket.co

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best place to get your tires rotated and smothered tamales
Victor's Tires

It's just convenient. If you've ever been stuck waiting for your car to be worked on while hunger claws at your belly, Victor's is definitely the place for you. Grab a combo plate, horchata and flan and chow down while Victor's staff takes care of your ride. Just take into account you might have to adjust your seat to accommodate your full belly when you get back in the car. (SA)
1406 S. 700 West, 801-326-6182, victorstires.net

Best other perversion of the burrito
Sweeto Burrito

Lucha Libre-themed Sweeto Burrito franchises are popping up everywhere. The chain was founded in North Dakota by a guy with, the website says, "a crazy obsession for putting random stuff in tortillas." That led to combinations of a bacon cheeseburger, fries and fry sauce (The All-American); over-medium eggs, tater tots, bacon, cilantro ranch and Neato sauce (Break Neck); smoked chicken, bacon, onion rings, cheddar and c-ranch (The Smokehouse). There are more traditional ones, like the White Chick (chicken, rice, beans, pepper jack, lime juice, sour cream, salsa and cilantro ranch), but even that gets weird when you have to choose a size. Sweeto offers two: middleweight and heavyweight. So you might find yourself uttering the words, "Gimme a heavyweight White Chick" in public. But it's totally worth it. (RH)
Multiple locations, sweetoburrito.com

Best healthy "chicken" nuggets
Roasted Cauliflower at Laziz Kitchen

At this point in the lifespan of the chicken nugget, it's safe to say that the dish is more nugget than it is chicken. Despite my efforts to get nuggets recognized as an official food group, I would suggest that those who are looking for a healthier finger food that captures the nostalgia of chicken nuggets should check out the Roasted Cauliflower ($7) at Laziz Kitchen, mainly because cauliflower is one of the most underrated vegetables when it comes to roasting. The cooking process brings out the cruciferous veggie's nutty flavor, but the real treat is how the experts in Middle Eastern cuisine season these little beauties. A few bites of this and you'll forget about all those little chicken bits that you used to be so fond of as a child. (AS)
912 S. Jefferson St., 801-441-1228, lazizkitchen.com

Best Horchata after dark
Mezquite Mexican Grill

I can confidently say that the horchata from Mezquite Mexican Grill, specifically between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., can satisfy your desperate thirst and starvation. I recommend ordering the largest size (32 ounces) for the low price of $2.69. This horchata is not like the "horchata" from Cafe Rio. This horchata is authentic and cold with a strong, unforgettable almond influence. (JV)
Multiple locations

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best recommendation from a City Weekly staffer to a City Weekly staffer
Tacos Mi Caramelo

Out of the blue one day, dining critic Ted Scheffler emailed to share that he'd discovered the best tacos in town—Tacos Mi Caramelo. It's the kind of place you might never hit up without a recommendation. It's maybe a block from my house and I'd never noticed it. So Scheff saved me from never knowing that carne asada street tacos can come with guacamole, or that quesadillas can have less cheese than meat, and that most of that cheese is burnt, but it's not a problem. Or that pig face (buche) is surprisingly good, and that there's a whole host of weird-ass Mexi-meat I've yet to try. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (RH)
1808 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-883-9245, tacosmicaramelo.com

Best Tacos for a cause
Tacofest

On the one hand, it's not as though you need an excuse to spend a day eating tacos from some of the state's best purveyors of the tortilla-pocket treats. A taco is its own justification for being. Marcelo Bayon, however, saw such a gathering as an opportunity to do some good, and thus did August's inaugural Tacofest—which included awards for Best Veggie Taco and Taco of the Year, among others—become a benefit for Meals on Wheels. More than 3,000 visitors came for the event, and in the process helped raise $7,000 to help the meal-delivery charity. (SR)
bit.ly/slctacofest

JOSH SCHEUERMAN
  • JOSH SCHEUERMAN

Best Meatiest Vegan Burger
Kein Fleisch Burger from Ice Haus

Unhinge your jaw and sink your teeth into the most satisfying veggie burger in Utah. This cow-less burger (kein fleisch is German for "no meat") is a vegan masterpiece that comes with fries and will only set you back $10. It's topped with the finest dairy-free vegan cheese (it actually melts!), caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, a healthy dollop of sauerkraut, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and German mustard. Here's the kicker there's a second layer of meaty goodness with the addition of a sliced vegan brat. Ice Haus owner Dave Morris says, "This burger packs a healthy punch but still has that beefy, meaty taste. Just because one chose the vegan path, doesn't mean they must give up meaty flavors." (AR)
7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127, icehausbar.com

Best Dalai Lama-approved Lunch Buffet
Café Shambala

Salt Lake City lacks a strong presence of Tibetan food—at least so you thought. Café Shambala, embedded in the Avenues, offers a stellar lunch buffet. It costs $8.50 for unlimited access to chow mein, lentil soup, momos, spicy tofu, mixed vegetables and other healthy but delicious options. The spicy tofu alone will leave you feeling light, satisfied and longing to return. It will singlehandedly convert avid tofu haters to tofu lovers. Also, the owners and workers at Café Shambala happen to be the friendliest people in Salt Lake City, constantly smiling and happy to share their special food with you. (JV)
382 E. Fourth Ave., 801-364-8558

Best Vegan Jerky
Frisch Vegan Foods

Frisch Compassionate Eatery is one of Salt Lake's most popular vegan restaurants. This year, they launched Frisch Vegan Foods, making and selling delicious vegan jerky for $6 a bag. Teriyaki Sriracha (my fave!), peppered jerky and Zesty Original will knock your socks off with tantalizing flavor and an impressive chew-factor. "After five years of running our butts off with Frisch Eatery, we sat down for a quick snack," says Leigh Kade, who owns the enterprise with his wife, Rachel. "We wanted jerky, and since we didn't have any, we made some. It was really tasty, so we made some more and our friends ate it all ... so we made even more, and pretty soon we'll be the gods of vegan jerky." Find their jerky at Watchtower Café, Jade Market and Frisch Eatery. (AR)
145 E. 1300 South, Ste. 201, 801-906-8277, frischeats.com

Best fast food secret menu item requiring visits to multiple fast-food restaurants
The Del Taco Cookie Frosty

Two guys, one car, two different ideas for dinner. Wendy's is, like, right there. Del Taco isn't that far away. Compromise leads to quite the feast, including two desserts. A thought: These two could be one. In a fit of whimsy, you grab a Del Taco chocolate chip cookie, mash that bad boy into a chunky pile, and shove it deep into that creamy Frosty. Birds sing. The sun shines a little brighter. Your triglycerides skyrocket. You die. You go to the light at the end of the tunnel where Jebus, slowly pulling and upside-down spoon from his mouth, says through a mouthful, "Pretty good, huh?" (RH)

Best world tour for the lazy diner
The Strip Mall on 1300 South and State Street

If you're the type of diner who wants to sample cuisine from all over the world but you don't want to travel more than a block, look no further than this quaint little strip mall. You've got Shanghai Café for Chinese and Vietnamese, whose barbecue pork and egg roll noodle salad ($8.50) is the stuff of legend; there's Korea House, one of Salt Lake's only traditional Korean destinations; House of Tibet, whose lunch buffet ($8.99) is one of the best values in town; Mariscos Mi Lindo Nayarit, home of authentic Mexican seafood; and Frisch Compassionate Eatery, whose vegan nachos ($8) have stolen my meat-loving heart on more than one occasion. (AS)
1300 South and State Street

Best Road Trip Burger Stop
Circle D

You've been on the road for hours taking in Utah's stunning Route 12 and all that dazzling scenery is making you mighty peckish. But where to stop among tiny hamlets dispersed along miles and miles of empty desert? Escalante is your stop, my friend, and Circle D will sustain you for the long road ahead. Their burgers are juicy and fresh—the cow on your plate was raised just around the corner at the Flying V Bar Ranch. With 1/3-pound patties, you'll be set until home, but if you decide on barbecue instead of burgers, you won't be disappointed. Vegetarian road trippers, fear not. A black bean-burger is available, and there are a number of meat-free pastas and salads on the Circle D menu. (SA)
475 W. Main, Escalante, 435-826-4125, escalantecircledeatery.com

JOSH SCHEUERMAN
  • JOSH SCHEUERMAN

Best Red Rock Shake Shop
Milt's Stop and Eat

Blame Southern Utah's unforgiving sun that fries one's brains into making unchecked claims, but a milkshake is man's greatest invention. And Milt's Stop and Eat is a godsend after a day of adventuring on the otherworldly red rock cliffs surrounding Moab. The place serves burgers, fries and other manna, but don't skip out on a shake. Offering about 15 flavors—strawberry, coffee, Oreo, etc.—the eatery allows you to combine any two for an extra 25 cents. Not only that, but Milt's claims to be the town's oldest restaurant, established in 1954. So: history. (DWH)
356 S. Mill Creek Drive, Moab; 435-259-7424, miltsstopandeat.com

Best tenacious adherence to Utah liquor laws
Cotton Bottom Inn

They don't cotton to minors at the Cotton Bottom Inn. No bars do, if they wanna stay in business. The menus, signage and website at this Holladay tavern preemptively state the obvious: They won't serve anyone under 21. They don't even want those little anklebiters in the parking lot waiting in the car for a take-out garlic cheeseburger. You gotta admire them for protecting themselves, but also wonder how their fluffy tail got burned somewhere in the past. They also don't serve fries, which earns 'em a bonus prize: best rejection of traditional burger side dish by a place known for burgers. (RH)
6200 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-273-9830, cottonbottominn.com

Best Bacon-on-the-go
GoBacon Jerky

It seems like a no-brainer combination: the dried meat convenience of jerky with the irresistible smoky flavor of bacon. This Utah County-based operation had the brains to put them together for a small-batch product of uncured bacon made without nitrates or nitrites. And they're spiked with extra flavor in maple and Sriracha versions, making for a snack you can grab any time, delivered right to your door. Subscribe to weekly delivery for special discounts. (SR)
gobaconjerky.com

Best Truck Stop all-you-can-eat Chinese
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant

As a child, my mother once took me to Golden Corral, where, after finishing four delicious plates of spaghetti, I felt sick and started throwing up. As tears ran down my cheeks, I remember promising myself then and there how I'd never eat that much again. Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant, otherwise known as "Kong, Breaker of Oaths," is a lovely little overlooked all-you-can-eat buffet in Fillmore. Although it resembles a makeshift food court and primarily serves Chinese tour buses, it's hard not to feel right at home, especially among all the owners' children running around. The reviews are honestly hit and miss for this place, but I'll always have fond memories for it. (RM)
920 state Route 99, Fillmore, 435-743-6668

NIKI CHAN
  • NIKI CHAN

Best Soup-and-Sandwich Lunch
Eva's Bakery

New to the menu, the grilled cheese sandwich and creamy tomato basil soup ($10) is a must try at this Main Street eatery. A delectable meal, the soup and sandwich are simple yet satisfying. Aged white cheddar, Gruyère and a pinch of Parmesan, the cheeses are melted panini-style on house bread that is a close, light cousin to sourdough. The tomato soup is a blend of roasted tomato, garlic, onions, basil and a splash of cream. The café is modeled on boulangeries (bakeries) that are ubiquitous in Paris. (DWH)
155S. Main, 801-355-3942, evasbakeryslc.com

Best creamy westside adventure
Shirokuma

What happens when you throw together three graphic/web designers and an affinity for frozen treats? Basically the best damn thing to hit the west side, period. Co-owners Joachim Guanzon, Colman Aliaga and Chris Bambrough have created West Valley's first and only fully customizable Taiwanese shaved ice experience, Shirokuma. Imagine ribbons of shaved iced cream delicately flaked into generously portioned bowls ($3.50-$6.50), with flavors ranging from matcha to honey dew melon to chocolate, and specially curated monthly flavors like watermelon (July), horchata (August) and peach crumble (September), along with a hoard of toppings. And I can't forget to mention my personal favorite menu item, the fun and flavorful bubble waffle ($3.00-$3.75). I'll plan on meeting you there. (ZS)
2843 S. 5600 West, Ste. 120, West Valley City, 801-251-0134, shirokumaslc.com

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best Northern Root Beer
The Beehive Grill

As much as beer-brewing has proliferated in Utah, it's still sometimes hard to wrap your head around Utah as a place for such activity. Root beer brewing? Now that sounds about right. Logan's Beehive Grill is a great dining location for burgers, steaks and sandwiches, but it's also home to daily on-site creation of craft root beer, made the old-fashioned way with cane sugar (no corn syrup) and water before the addition of the flavoring extract. The result is a refreshingly distinctive flavor, representing an all-ages-appropriate brand of craft brewing. (SR)
255 S. Main, Logan, 435-753-2600, thebeehivegrill.com

Best Carb-Conscious Snacks
Nush Foods

Ready-to-eat snack foods aren't easy to find if you're trying to avoid tons of carbs and refined sugars. Entrepreneur Muffy Mead-Ferro started with the simple goal of creating tasty recipes that were healthier than what she could find in stores. Protein- and fiber-rich offerings come in four flavors—carrot spice, lemon poppy seed, banana nut and cocoa—in handy bars that make a perfect energizing start to the day as a breakfast bar, or as a smarter solution for a mid-day snack or dessert. (SR)
nushfoods.com

Best place to get Boba Fat
Gossip Tapioca

By the time I finally got wise to the boba trend, it seemed that the only places I knew about were only offering half-assed attempts to snag some extra business to their already thriving smoothie or tea shops. It wasn't until a friend recommended Gossip Tapioca that I realized boba's true potential. Most places use some kind of shitty powdered drink mix that results in a beverage that drinks like a watery mess filled with congealed boogers—not so with Gossip. They make their smoothies with real fruit, letting the boba function as a supporting textural addition rather than the star of the drink. For best results, try the PMS ($4.25)—peach, mango and strawberry, you perverts—or Da Bomb ($4.25). (AS)
1629 W. 3500 South, 801-886-2868, gossiptapioca.weebly.com

Best shake you can drink through a straw
The Pumpkin Biscoff shake at Chom Burger

I feel like I'm in the minority when I say that I prefer a milkshake that I can drink through a straw. There's nothing wrong with a nice, thick, spoon-required milkshake, but Utah has shake places like these in spades. When I'm either in too much of a hurry or feeling too lazy (mostly the latter), I'm in need of a milkshake that requires minimal effort for enjoyment. It's a sentiment that the folks at Chom Burger—founded by Colton Soelberg of Communal and Pizzeria 712 fame—seem to share. Their shakes are thick, flavorful and served with a big ol' fat straw with which to slurp. I recommend getting the pumpkin Biscoff shake ($4) while it's still on their seasonal menu. It's pumpkin-y enough to get your craving for the autumnal gourd out of your system, and the biscoff adds a nice texture to each glug. (AS)
45 W. 300 North, Provo, 385-241-7499, chomburger.com

Best Backwoods Biscuits for your buck
Woodland Biscuit Co.

Simply thinking about Woodland Biscuit Co.'s sumptuous, handcrafted biscuit-and-gravy variations has me leaving Dear John letters for everyone I know—XOXO, find me in Woodland. Laurel Bartmess, owner and biscuit artisan, began Woodland Biscuit Co. to pursue her growing passion for cooking. "You have to love what you do," Bartmess says. As a self-proclaimed foodie, Bartmess believes that food should bring people together—she hopes that her creations do just that. If you're asking me, I'd suggest The Fat Lefty ($10.50), a big biscuit dish—lovingly named after Bartmess' cat—topped with grilled kielbasa, an over-medium egg, a veggie mixture, house tomato jam and other condiments. Tucked in lush hometown surroundings, Woodland Biscuit Co. is eatery heaven. (ZS)
2734 E. state Route 35, Woodland, 435-783-4202, woodlandbiscuitcompany.com

Best place to find a FunGuy
The Junction Pizzeria & Grill

This "munch-adelic" eatery caters to the dude (or dudette) in our soul who, on occasion, demands a generous serving of gut-busting burgers, brown-gravy-drenched fries and topping-laden pizza to be washed down by pints of locally brewed beer. The Junction's FunGuy is a tribute to all inner dudes. Grilled to juicy perfection, this burger is stacked high with sautéed mushrooms (you know, fungi?), Swiss cheese, gravy and fried onions. It's fun on the bun—the best 'shroom burger in town. (JW)
740 Blue Vista Lane, Midvale, 385-246-8444; 6546 N. Landmark Drive, Park City, 435-655-3222, thejunctionpizza.net

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best One-Stop Diner
Johnny Slice

According to my gastronomic bible—or Gastronomicon, if you will—the holy trinity of diners consists of burger joints, pizza parlors and places that serve breakfast all day. Johnny Slice embodies two pillars of this trio, and, as Meat Loaf's classic ballad indicates, two out of three ain't bad. Slices of freshly made, New York-inspired pizza ($3) are clearly the restaurant's specialty, but if you're hankering for a breakfast sandwich such as the BLT and egg ($5.75) as a pizza chaser, then, by damn, you can make that happen. It's also important to note that they take their breakfast just as seriously as they do their pizza—each sandwich is packed with enough fresh ingredients to trick one into thinking Johnny Slice is a breakfast place that serves pizza instead of a pizza place that serves breakfast. (AS)
12 W. 300 South, 385-415-2924, johnnyslice.com

Best Gallerestaurant
Tin Angel Café

Many local restaurants create food that's like a work of art on your plate. But Tin Angel matches that aesthetic sensibility by turning the entire restaurant into an art gallery. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2017, Jerry Liedtke Jr.'s eatery has shown a dedication to local roots, continuing a business name launched by his father 50 years ago. That also includes providing a place for local artists to hang their work, adding to a dining experience that's already a feast for the senses. (SR)
365 W. 400 South, 801-328-4155, thetinangel.com

Best Hospital Food
Siam Noodle Bar

The exciting cuisine at Siam Noodle Bar is not what comes to mind when someone says "hospital food," even though this restaurant is located at Intermountain Health Care hospital in Murray. Choose from an array of noodles, curries, salads and rice bowls loaded with vibrant flavors. There's also plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. "I wanted to offer fresh, healthy, delicious and affordable food to both hospital employees and visitors," explains Anny Sooksri, who also owns Chabaar Beyond Thai, Tea Rose Diner and Fav Bistro. (AR)
5171 Cottonwood St. Murray, 801-262-1888, annystakeonthai.com/siamnoodlebar

MERYL VANDERMERWE
  • MERYL VANDERMERWE

Best Student Fuel
Jafflz Gourmet Toasted Pockets

While most of us recognize the sandwich presses and grills made famous by Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach, they wouldn't be around if it wasn't for an Aussie invention known as the Jaffle, which was used to heat sandwiches over open flames. Park City-based Jafflz has taken this international recipe and made a wide variety of microwaveable toasted sandwiches that can be found at most Salt Lake Harmons locations. As college students are often hard pressed for time, fundage and cooking supplies, stocking up on Jafflz frozen sandwiches is a good way to keep the fridge full while supporting local business. With Jaffles that range from Thai chicken and red curry ($4.25) to s'mores ($4.25), they have enough recipes to keep even the most adventurous college foodie satisfied. (AS)
7182 Silver Creek Road, Park City, 435-333-5322, jafflz.com

Best Hot Sauce Haven
The Grove

It's best known for its massive deli sandwiches, but The Grove's tiny convenient store also houses a number of handy foodstuffs for your lunch—including a whole section dedicated to hot sauce. From staple concoctions like Melinda's and Dave's Gourmet to imports from all over the world, hot sauce connoisseurs have plenty of selections to choose from. Work your way through the impressive inventory and your spice tolerance might even be able to handle the special sauces on the high shelf behind the cash register (with a whopping 800,000 scoville units, Blair's Ultra Death Sauce with Jersey Fury comes in a coffin-shaped box). (SA)
1906 S. Main, 801-467-8860, grovemarketdeli.com

Best reason to splatter yourself in pasta sauce
Nonna's Fried Pasta Sandwich

While Magna awaits the impact that having a prison nearby, Main Street grits its teeth and makes the most of what foot traffic it can get. It's a place of characters and feisty spirit and none more so than the family-run pizzeria and Italian restaurant Nonna's. When you walk in, what first catches your eye is the red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, giving it that instant East Coast style. With a bountiful menu, its fried pasta sandwich is a true gem. Frying the spag-bog gives it a delightful, crunchy texture and served steaming in a fresh roll makes it one of those meals where, knowing you're going to end up with pasta sauce somewhere, you just dive in anyway. (SD)
8979 W. Magna Main St., Magna, 385-275-7350

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best boozed-up Milkshakes
Hub & Spoke Diner

If Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace had ventured to Hub & Spoke, they could have had that shake with bourbon. Given inflation since 1994, the $5 shake turned into a $9 shake. But did I mention it has bourbon in it? As well as caramel and sea salt, to be specific. If you're not into bourbon, no worries. There are four other shakes to choose from. There's the hazelnut for tequila lovers, an Irish coffee for whiskey fans, dirty chai for rum drinkers or the grasshopper shake for the crème de menthe/chocolate liqueur crowd. If you prefer your shake non-boozy, Hub & Spoke can do that, too—for the '94 price of around $5. (AP)
1291 S. 1100 East, 801-487-0698, hubandspokediner.com

DEREK CARLISLE
  • DEREK CARLISLE

Best non-college Ramen
Yoko

If you ever find yourself at a bar hankering for a post-drinking snack, pray that you're at Dick N' Dixie's where the small window up the western stairs is a portal to some of the best bar food in town. Sharing a common wall, new-spot-on-the-block Yoko Ramen keeps its kitchen open until midnight most nights. And unlike the generic college dorm staple, Yoko's ramen is delicious. The veggie option ($9) loads cabbage, green onions and mushrooms into a bowl with noodles—add a poached egg if you're not vegan—that swim in a miso-based broth. Chicken and pork ramen dishes are also popular, as is the Japanese Cubano sandwich. (DWH)
473 E. 300 South, 801-876-5267, yokoramenslc.com

Best cure for the late-night munchies
Chocolate chip cookies from Chip Cookies

I was a little pissed to learn that I could have been having warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies delivered to my house after I moved out of Salt Lake. Since I missed this opportunity, I feel it's my gastronomic duty to let the denizens of downtown Salt Lake and Provo know that, yes, Virginia, you can get gigantic cookies (and milk!) delivered to your home. It's all thanks to Chip Cookies, which has expanded its operation from Provo to Salt Lake. If having homemade slabs of chocolate wonderment ($10) delivered to your home isn't gangster enough for you, the kind souls at Chip deliver their baked goods until 2 a.m. on most nights. Please, for the sake of those who now live outside their delivery boundaries, order some damn cookies and milk already. (AS)
2180 S. 300 West, 801-889-2412; 159 W. 500 North, Provo, 385-225-9888, chipcookies.co

Best incredible edible spun sugar sculpture
Lollipuff Cotton Candy Co.

This ain't your typical pre-packaged toothache inducing ball o' gluey glucose only available in faux flavored "pink" or "blue." In the hands of talented sweets superhero Allison Andersen of Lollipuff Cotton Candy Co., fresh, mostly organic ingredients are whipped up with delightful subtle options like lavender, mango with chile and lime, passionfruit, hazelnut or pina colada—to name just a few of the over 40 flavors on rotation. The Provo-based company sells their superlative sweets online, but for the full fluffy Lollipuff experience check their events calendar to find where they're spinning up sweet treats near you. With seriously scrumptious edible sculptures like pineapples, flamingos, octopi and even the "sorting hat" from Harry Potter fame, they're almost too adorable to eat, but we'll do it anyway. (DD)
435-720-2103, lollipuffcottoncandy.com

Best Dentist-Approved Candy
Prime Toffee

It might seem unusual for a retired dentist to get into the candy-making business, but Dr. Ross Cheesman insists that there's no conflict between moderate consumption of sweets and a healthy mouth. And if you're going to indulge (moderately), you might as well enjoy Cheesman's nearly 100-year-old almond toffee recipe of fresh ingredients, offered in chocolate-covered, chunk-style and bite-size varieties. Melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure—just remember to brush and floss afterward. (SR)
primetoffee.com

Best place to indulge your inner cacao snob
Utah Chocolate Society meetings at Caputo's Downtown Market

Full disclosure: The folks in this group don't just "like" chocolate. They live it, breathe it, and take the nuances of origin, terroir, roasting and processing techniques to the Nth degree. Since 2010, group founder Brian Ruggles preaches the Gospel of the Good Bean Cacao regularly at Caputo's downtown market (which he calls "the chocolate mothership" in homage to chocolate expert Matt Caputo) with hours-long blind tastings to fine tune the group's precocious palates leading up to an annual blind tasting competition. Membership is limited to those who've already attended "Chocolate 101" and "Advanced Chocolate" courses or their equivalent. Although they take their cacao supertaster status seriously, they're a pretty laid back and jovial group. Unless you bring up corporate candy giants like a brand that starts with "H" and rhymes loosely with "mercies." Then the gloves come off. (DD)
facebook.com/utahchocolatesociety

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best Nonalcoholic bender
Pizza Benders at The Italian Village

The closest that I've ever come to an actual bender involved buying a bunch of fast-food corn dogs and pouring yellow curry sauce all over them moments before consumption. That being said, bingeing on Pizza Benders ($5.99) at The Italian Village is a great way for those of us who self-medicate with food to abuse ourselves. They're inexpensive, you can get them stuffed with any three pizza toppings you want and it's easy to hold one in each hand. If you're interested in sampling some of the restaurant's pastas, you can also consume all the carbs by getting your bender in an Italian combo meal—not a bad alternative to a booze-fueled bender. Not to mention, the hangovers are much more manageable. (AS)
5370 S. 900 East, 801-266-4182, italianvillageslc.com

Best Secret Dressing
Centro

When it comes to wood-fired pizza, Centro is surely in the top three in the state. As great as its pizzas are—try the roasted red pepper with rosemary or the fennel sausage—its simple, summer-flavored salads are their equal. The dressing is creamy without being heavy, tangy without being sour. It's a perfect complement to crisp lettuce and veg and whether it's the house salad or the gorgonzola, you can't help but ask the wait staff what the dressing is made of. The answer is always the same: "We're not allowed to tell." Some secrets are worth keeping. (SD)
50 W. Center St., Cedar City, 435-867-8123, centropizzeria.com

Best Cosmic Snack
Galactic Fries at Stellar Wings

Buffalo wings have always been a bit of a problem for me. I love Buffalo sauce—the spicy, vinegary flavor is one of my favorite ways to see how much pain my mouth can endure—but I really don't like chicken wings. Several places dish up boneless wings or Buffalo chicken salads, but something gets lost in translation when wing sauce isn't served. Lucky for me, South Salt Lake's Stellar Wings has bridged this gap with a creation known as Galactic Chicken Fries ($7.55). They take a basket of fries, top it with chopped chicken and douse it in one of their broad spectrum of Buffalo sauces. Add a side of blue cheese dressing, and you've got a bit of Buffalo wing innovation worthy of interstellar travel. (AS)
2704 S. State, 801-702-6346

Best flavor blends
Solstice Spices

There's no need to be intimidated by spices; if you don't know what flavors work perfectly together, trust pre-made combinations that can give your cooking a burst of taste. Made with ingredients mostly grown on the owners' own urban farm, the small-batch products are hand created in mixes that can accentuate any dish. Give meat a zing with the spicy Mountain Man blend featuring habanero pepper, onion and garlic, or give your poultry a rubdown with For the Birds' combo of salt, rosemary, sage, dried Utah chiles and more. It's all there to make even the most inexperienced chef feel like a pro. (SR)
solsticespices.com

JOHN TAYLOR
  • JOHN TAYLOR

Best Butternut Squash Soup
Blue Lemon

Blue Lemon's butternut squash soup can play with your mind. Like most of Blue Lemon's health-conscious offerings, the soup—with its fiber, vitamins and carotenoids—is nourishing. But Blue Lemon's preparation of this lovely orange gourd takes soup-slurping to a new level. It's basically a dreamy, creamy version of pumpkin pie in a bowl. Dunk a bite of buttered bread into the velvety concoction, and you've got the start of a guilty pleasure. (JW)
Multiple locations, bluelemon.com

Best cheesy melty goodness for under $10
Raclette Machine pop-ups

Partners in life and business, Raclette Machine's Abbi Pfunder and Zara Ahmed have had a long-lasting love affair with all things cheese-related. They met while working at famed Cowgirl Creamery, and even had a cheese-themed wedding reception. So it's no surprise that their combined delight of dairy also translated into a cheese-based pop-up business. Raclette—the French word for "scraped"—features an entire half-wheel of cheese, the surface of which is toasted until perfectly gooey, then scraped to-order over grilled bread and traditional European accompaniments like cornichons, prosciutto, bitter salad greens and warm potatoes. Pretty much the perfect comfort food pop-up alongside a tall beer at Fisher Brewing, steaming latte at Amour Café or at farmers markets all over the valley. Check out their social media streams to see where they'll be next or book them for your next cheesy (in the best possible way) event. (DD)
facebook.com/raclettemachine

JENNY NELSON
  • JENNY NELSON

Best evolved Fruit Roll-Up
Rolled Ice Cream at Roll With It Creamery

Ice cream is one of those rare foods that can have its flavor altered based on the shape it takes. Rolled ice cream, for example, starts with a dollop of custard or sorbet that is poured into a sub-zero bowl, splattered with sweet mix-ins and then shaved upward so it makes tasty rolls of frozen goodness. The options are plentiful—I went with a vanilla custard base and added raspberries, cheesecake and hot fudge ($5.50). The mix-ins have no choice but to become one with the custard, resulting in a dessert that is familiar and new at the same time. (AS)
63 E. Center St., Provo, 801-669-5300, rollwithitcreamery.com

Best Sweets for your Hike
Trail Truffles

Active Utahns know that you need to consider the practicality of the snacks you choose to take on the trail—and candy would seem to be a no-no, what with the melty-ness and high sugar content and so forth. Draper's Trail Truffles, scheduled to launch in October, offers scrumptious delicacies that combine the satisfying sense of a dessert on the go with recipes that pack antioxidants and no-sugar-crash energy into a rugged dairy- and wheat-free package that doesn't get crumbly or sticky in a sunny-day-warmed backpack. Try peanut butter cup, mint crème, coconut macadamia or chocolate hazelnut flavors, and enjoy a taste of decadence wherever your wanderings take you. (SR)
trailtruffles.com

Best Café Patio
Ditta Caffé

Whether you're trying to be productive, people watch, meet a date, chill with friends or literally just get coffee and leave, Ditta is the spot. Their locally sourced coffee and food is superb, but the best thing about this place has got to be the insanely huge patio out back. There's shade galore, and about a dozen picnic tables. Plus, the vibe is zen AF. The garden wrapping around the perimeter of the space would make even my mom drool. (AH)
1560 E. 3300 South, 801-410-4696, dittacaffe.com

ANDREA HARVEY
  • ANDREA HARVEY

Best Fruity Cocktail
Life's a Peach at Copper Common

I'll try pretty much anything, but when it comes to cocktails I often stay in my comfort zone. I hate to admit it because I'm usually adventurous, but I am a total wimp with liquor. When I recently explored several of downtown's best craft cocktail bars with a bartender friend who urged me to expand my horizons, I tried a few drinks that made my cautious tastebuds wince, and some I loved but probably wouldn't order again. That wasn't the case, though, with this aptly named concoction by bartender Giancarlo Farina at Copper Common. With bourbon, rum, herbal liqueur, white peach, pineapple and egg white, Life's a Peach ($10) balances a perfect mix of fresh flavors—you can taste every ingredient but not in an overwhelming way. It's a subtly sweet break from reality without trying to be. (AH)
111 E. 300 South, 801-355-0543, coppercommon.com

Best Dinner To-Go
Urban Pioneer Foods

Picking up food from Urban Pioneer Foods is the next best thing to homemade. Actually, it's way better. Working closely with local farmers and food purveyors, Urban Pioneers makes it a cinch be a localvore. "Our food is sustainable, whole, organic and local whenever possible," explains Brooke Woffinden, who owns the catering and specialty food retail company. The storefront is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2-6:30 p.m. You can find everything from housemade soups to prepackaged fully cooked meals—all you have to do is warm them up and enjoy. The menu changes weekly, so be sure to follow on Instagram and Facebook. (AR)
389 W. 1700 South, Ste. A, 801-598-7702, facebook.com/urbanpioneerfoodsslc

Best Diner that doesn't feel like a Diner
The Eating Establishment

I often wonder why more restaurants don't just accept the fact that no one is ever going to top diner food as far as comfort and flavor goes, and update their menus accordingly. The Eating Establishment in Park City seems to have accepted this universal truth, and has dedicated themselves to elevating classic diner fare to new levels. The pork hash ($14) is a great breakfast skillet that includes fresh veggies—it's one of the only ways I'll eat kale—and slow-roasted pork shoulder. It's also got a solid craft-cocktail menu for those who crave some expert mixology with their high-end diner food. (AS)
317 Main, Park City, 435-649-8284, theeatingestablishment.net

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • ENRIQUE LIMÓN

Best Unexpected Entertainment
The eclectic programming at Feldman's Deli

As if the mile-high sandwiches—corned beef, pastrami, Reuben et al.—at Feldman's wasn't attraction enough, the New York-style delicatessen has recently beefed up their entertainment lineup to provide a fuzz-free and truly unique dining experience. How's about a sloppy Joe with a side of Jim Fish's mountain country, or a bagel with lox at the knee-slapping "Old Jews Telling Jokes Night"? "This sandwich has changed people's lives," co-owner Mike Feldman says as I'm about to dislodge my jaw to bite into a hulking, gravy-laden roast beef on rye. The accompanying garlic potato salad made my tastebuds dance. The smooth sounds of Full Circle Jazz Ensemble made them groove. A more authentic East Coast eatery along the Wasatch Front? Fuhgeddaboudit. (EL)
2005 E. 2700 South, 801-906-0369, feldmansdeli.com

Best start for Foodie Initiates
Curry Fried Chicken

There are many people who don't really care what they put in their mouths. I don't understand them at all, but I accept the fact that they exist. I also understand that, every so often, one of these poor bastards decides that they want to start being a little bit more adventurous with their eating habits. When this happens, it's your responsibility to be the Morpheus to their Neo—you need to help them take the red pill. For such an occasion, consider Curry Fried Chicken. Even the most dispassionate food consumer can get behind a plate of fried chicken, but the added spice that the curry adds to this common dish could just be the spark that brings one more food lover into the fold. (AS)
Curry Fried Chicken, 6660 S. State, 801-924-9188, facebook.com/cfcslc

Best most delightful Fast-Food worker
Christine Parkinson at Subway

Most fast-food workers are overworked and underpaid—and therefore surly and inattentive. That's why they ask, "Anything else?" after every item you order at the drive thru, shove your food at you with a GTFO smile and often screw up your order. If you're as sick of this dance, waltz into the Subway at 3197 S. Redwood Road during the day shift. You'll meet petite Christine, who makes you believe from the get-go that she's not only genuinely happy to see you, but also wants to make the best sandwich you've ever had. Once you experience this sweetie-pie, you'll pass up more proximal Subway locations just to add her particular sunshine to your day. (RH)
3197 S. Redwood Road, 801-975-7338, subway.com

Best Spice Cabinet stock-up to support social justice
Penzey's Spices

We're all about putting local producers first on this list of the Beehive's best, but there are some national chains that deserve a hearty "huzzah!" Case in point: Penzey's Spices. The top-quality single origin extracts, herbs, spices and popular blends (Sunny Spain lemon-pepper and Arizona Dreaming chile are fam favorites at our casa) are low- or no-salt and packed with flavor. With an established cult following among serious cooks, the company drew national attention and conservative boycotts after the last election when company owner Bill Penzey publicly and proudly started a "campaign for good," supporting the Women's March, social-justice initiatives protecting immigrants and refugees, marriage equality and calling out the racist foundations of alt-right nationalism. Boycott-schmoycot. Guess where we're getting our next packet o' pink peppercorns? (DD)
280 E. 12300 South, Draper 801-666-7557, penzeys.com

Best Cocktail Bar in a (ground-floor) Basement
The Ruin

In the newly renovated (or gentrified) part of Sugar House, several eateries, specialty shops and watering holes have sprouted up like sweet fruit from barren earth, but none more worthy of praise than Rheda Fouad and Amy Leininger's The Ruin—you might recognize Fouad and Leininger from the Downtown Artist Collective. Under the looming Wilmington Avenue apartment complex is situated The Ruin, a down-to-earth cocktail bar, furnished with sleek wood, stone and leather décor. At once intimate and community-oriented, The Ruin makes it a point to have several local breweries on tap, like Uinta and Proper, and also to substitute name-brand liquors for hometown counterparts, like Beehive and Dented Brick, whenever possible. With a welcoming staff, The Ruin can make a night out quite rightly a night in. (ZS)
1215 Wilmington Ave., Ste. 120, 801-869-3730, ruinslc.com

Best $6 off-menu Daiquiri
Wray & Nephew high-proof classic at Water Witch

"A classic Wray-Daq is probably my favorite drink of all time," award-winning Utah bartender Scott Gardner says. "It's the best drink. Ever." And there's a lot to love about this absolutely clean, minimalist take on the classic daiquiri, made with Wray & Nephew overproof white rum, fresh lime juice and just a titch of simple syrup. But word to the wise: You probably won't find the Wray-Daq listed on the ever-changing menu board at Water Witch. Each visit is the absolute best kind of bartender roulette. Just put yourself in the Witch's staff's talented hands, and they'll treat you to whatever boozy genius they've got in mind that day. Case in point is the Wray-Daq, a cocktail Gardner has brought with him to each of the many top bars he's worked at in Utah. He says, "It's a promise I've made people: Scott Gardner will always have a daiquiri," no matter where he's shaking or stirring things up. So far, inflation hasn't crept up on him, either. I got mine for six buckaroos plus tax. (DD)
163 W. 900 South, 801-462-0967, waterwitchbar.com

Best BuzzFeed-approved soft serve
The Dole Whip Vanilla Twist at Auntie Rae's Dessert Island

In July, BuzzFeed conducted a Yelp survey to determine the best place for soft serve ice cream in every state. It's a tough call to make—we Utahns love our soft serve—but the internet aggregates declared Auntie Rae's Dole Whip Vanilla Twist ($1) the finest soft serve in the Beehive State. Dole Whip soft serve is catnip to anyone who has visited the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, and to get it locally for a buck? It practically sells itself. Auntie Rae's also offers several dessert delivery systems—I recommend the cookie sundae ($5)—for your Dole Whip, which gives the eccentric little Holladay shop tremendous repeat value. (AS)
4704 S. Holladay Blvd., 801-679-3925, auntieraesdessertisland.com



Add a comment