Epic Casual Dining
At Epic, you'll discover contemporary American cuisine at fast-food prices. This is Ken Rose (owner/chef of the more upscale Tiburon) and partner Andrea Dulle's family-friendly restaurant. Start out with the Kobe skirt-steak flatbread from the brick oven before settling on an appetizer—perhaps the Dungeness crab cake. From there, choose, perhaps, the mushroom-Marsala grilled chicken breast, seared beef tenderloin with black pepper crust and Brandy-cream sauce, or maybe the rare ahi tuna with sweet and spicy peanut sauce. With Epic's inexpensive pricing, you'll be tempted to splurge on a special selection from the very well-constructed wine list.
707 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-748-1300, EpicCasualDining.com
If you're looking for authentic New York-style pizza—the kind you can buy in The Big Apple by-the-slice—look no further than Este. Owned and operated by Dave Heiblim, a diehard New York Yankees fan, Dave keeps a season-long Red Sox vs. Yankees tally behind the counter. But pay attention: There are strict house rules at Este: No Red Sox apparel allowed, no ranch sauce for dipping and no pineapple on your pizza. If the superb pizza isn't enough, Este also offers up killer calzones, spectacular Stromboli and bodacious Buffalo wings. You can wash it all down with beer and wine, or green tea, if that's your preference.
2021 Windsor Street (840 E.), Salt Lake City, 801-485-3699, EstePizzaCo.com
The name Finn has been a mainstay of the Utah dining scene since the original Finn's opened in 1952 at the top of Parley's Way. Today, Finn and Heidi Gurholt carry on the Finn's family tradition at Finn's Café, where Scandinavian specialties such as Norwegian waffles with lingonberries and sour cream, Jule Kake French toast, poached fish, pittipanna and the Norsk omelet with bay shrimp, Havarti and capers provide an interesting alternative to the more-common array of standard breakfast choices. Nice modern Euro-vibe here, too. Breakfast—Scandinavian or otherwise—served all day! If it's non-breakfast grub you're after, at lunchtime, the fried chicken and wienerschnitzel are terrific. Ditto for the Reuben sandwich with shoestring fries.
1624 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4000, FinnsCafe.net
We're fortunate that chef Franck Peissel is an avid skier. Otherwise, he might have never settled down in Utah. He's known for his wicked sense of humor, charming personality and, of course, for being a masterful chef. You can see for yourself via the big flat-screen monitor and "chef cam" at Franck's. For an appetizer, his wild mushroom tart is splendid as is the classic escargot Provencal. There's a nod to his homeland of France on the menu with Franck's coq au vin, as well as New World specialties such as Southern-fried organic chicken, pan-seared diver scallops and a ground Kobe beef burger. Franck's Franco-American take on meatloaf is slowly braised pulled pork, veal and chicken in a blueberry lavender sauce. Oh, my! And under no circumstances should you miss out on Franck's not-so-traditional take on steak frites: Wagyu coulotte steak served with pommes frites (cooked in duck fat) and red wine and soy sauce.
6263 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-6264, FrancksFood.com
In Italian, "Fratelli" means "brothers." Hence, the name of Fratelli for brothers Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell's popular Sandy restaurant. It's an upscale but friendly Italian eatery, where customers are treated like members of their own extended family. Steamed clams and mussels in garlic-lemon broth is a good place to start, perhaps with a glass of Orvieto from Fratelli's excellent wine list. The Sicilian citrus arugula and the panzanella are both excellent salads, and the homemade pizzas are equally tempting. House-made gnocchi with Gorgonzola at Fratelli is killer, and ditto the bucatini Carbonara. Meat lovers will be pleased with the New York strip Tuscan steak. And definitely save room for Pete and Dave's outstanding home-style pistachio gelato. It's sublimely decadent.
9236 S. Village Shop Drive (1000 East), Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
Fresco Italian Café
Mikel Trapp's Fresco Italian Café is one of the most appealing dining spots in the city, both in warm weather (in the courtyard patio) and cold (in the cozy restaurant). But, Fresco's lovely ambiance would be nothing without its spectacular cuisine. Kick off a Fresco evening with chef Billy Sotelo and company's delicious eggplant tartlet or the arugula salad with fresh beets before perhaps moving on to a pasta or risotto course such as the delicious garganelli alla Bolognese. If you're lucky, perhaps Chef Sotelo will be serving his sensational diver scallop and corn risotto, with freshly shaved black truffles. The extensive wine list holds many surprises, and kudos also to Fresco for offering wine flights to its customers—always an enjoyable option for wine enthusiasts.
1513 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-1300, FrescoItalianCafe.com
If you're looking for the most extravagantly decadent brunch in town, head to the Garden Café on Sunday. Debonair general manager Ali Rafaati's hands-on managerial approach insures top-notch service in Grand America's fine dining restaurant. And executive chef Phillip Yates and his 43-member kitchen staff create memorable dining experiences daily. Located in the spectacular Grand America Hotel, the Garden Café caters to kids-at-heart with the popular three-cheese macaroni and cheese, along with more adult-sounding dishes such as Utah honey- and maple-glazed cedar plank salmon or slow-roasted bone-in prime rib of pork. In warm weather, few downtown locales are prettier than the Garden Café patio, where the Summer Saturdays dining series is very popular. Oh, and save room for a fabulous dessert or three from one of Utah's very best pastry chefs, Kurtis Baguley. Also, make time for an apres-dinner drink and live jazz at the cozy Gibson Lounge or sip tea or cocktails at the Grand America Lobby Lounge.
555 S. Main (Grand America), Salt Lake City, 801-258-6708, GrandAmerica.com
Ghidotti's Italian Restaurant
The newest of Park City restaurateur Bill White's restaurants is, in some ways, his most impressive. It's certainly the largest, with soaring ceilings, gigantic chandeliers and a lively ambiance. Named for his Italian grandmother, Ghidotti's was originally conceived as a simple, checkered-tablecloth kind of place. Well, not so much. It's gorgeous. And so is the food. Kick things off with clams Casino or Tuscan "bistecca" rosemary skewers, then launch into White's signature shrimp scampi Florentine, and my personal favorite, the melt-in-the-mouth braised beef braciola in thick, rich, tomato sauce and served in the copper pan it was cooked in. The pork osso buco with winter squash is a favorite cold-weather entrée and, for down-home comfort food, try Mamma Ghidotti's traditional spaghetti with meatballs. Wine manager Mike Brown's well-selected list simply adds to the superb dining experience at Ghidotti's.
6030 N. Market Street, Redstone Village, Park City, 435-658-0669, Ghidottis.com
Deer Valley's Mobile Five Star-rated Stein Eriksen Lodge is all about luxury, and dining at The Glitretind restaurant is no exception. From the bustling, award-winning, no-holds-barred brunch to intimate dinners in the dining room or on the deck, Glitretind meals are memorable, thanks to the efforts of talented executive chef Zane Holmquist. In combination with sommelier Kara Schwindt, pastry wunder-chef Raymond Lammers and a top-notch staff of seasoned servers, Holmquist orchestrates a symphony of flavors daily. His seared breast of quail with foie gras and plum compote is stunning, and the farm-raised striped bass with wasabi-yuzu "bubbles" is a fish lover's dream. For the kids and kids-at-heart, there's the yummy Utah dog, smothered with mac & cheese. And, with Stein's 10,000-bottle wine cellar, you're certain to find the perfect match to sip with your perfect meal.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, 435-645-6455, SteinLodge.com
Since Frank Granato launched his Frank Granato Importing Co. in 1948, Granato's has provided Italian and Greek immigrants in Utah—along with the rest of us— high-quality meats, cheeses, imported foods, breads and first-class customer service. Today, Frank's son, Sam, carries on the tradition as one of Utah's leading and most dependable food purveyors. The daily panini special at Granato's is always a smart choice, and I'm crazy about the muffaletta and fresh mozzarella sandwiches, too. But, the big daddy of 'em all is the Il Grande: mortadella, ham, pepperoni, Genoa salami, banana peppers, artichoke, onion, tomato, lettuce, provolone, oil and vinegar. Oh, and be sure to stop in on Wednesdays for the best chicken parmesan in town.
1391 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5643, Granatos.com
Grappa Italian Cafe
This is the restaurant that began Bill White's Park City restaurant empire. And, for many loyal customers, it's still his best. Situated in a house at the top of Main Street in Old Town, diners compete for tables in the cozy, busy dining rooms and outside on the sprawling patios in summer. Calamari fritti is always a great place to start a meal, and the duck confit "Carbonara" can't be beat. For veggie lovers, the tasty grilled eggplant and house-made smoked mozzarella "cannelloni" is terrific, while meat lovers might opt for northern Italian-style pan-seared venison with truffled Barolo herb jus. A superb Italian wine-studded list rounds out the wonderful Grappa experience. And, not surprisingly, Grappa also offers an extensive selection of grappa liqueurs.
151 Main, Park City, 435-645-0636, GrappaRestaurant.com
Holy Smoke BBQ and Grill
Holy Smoke's "Kinda-famous Dan" and "Not-so-famous Jeff" spend their time slow-smoking pork, chicken and beef to satisfy Layton's barbecue needs. As with most great barbecue joints, this one's a walk-up-and-order kind of place. There's a distinct Western cowboy theme to Holy Smoke, which is decked out with Western paraphernalia like rifles, pistols, branding irons, saddles and such. The menu at Holy Smoke represents a range of American barbecue: Carolina-style pulled pork, St. Louis pork spareribs, Texan beef brisket and barbecued chicken that might have come from Memphis. It's all great, especially with Holy Smoke's house-made barbecue sauces. Definitely give the mango-mango sauce a spin. Oh, yeah, the boys have a sense of humor: Each order comes with a side of green Jell-O.
855 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-614-5011, HolySmokeBBQGrill.com
Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant
For fans of dim sum, Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant is nirvana, where each and every dim sum dish is a surefire winner. Fried tofu topped with shrimp balls and five-spice foil-wrapped chicken are each delicious, as is the sticky rice in lotus leaves. Like most great Chinese restaurants, this one serves whole deep-fried fish with garlic. Kids will love the steamed barbecue pork buns while adults munch on steamed chicken feet and the best Peking duck in the state. The Szechwan ma-po tofu is fiery and delicious, and you'd be nuts not to order the deceptively simple and sensational deep-fried flounder with garlic. While you're there, sample a few of the teas from Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant's Chinese tea selection.
565 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7010
I Love Sushi
If you love sushi, you'll love I Love Sushi. Sushi chef "Catfish" and his team dish up some of the freshest sushi in town, at prices more reasonable than most. Sit at the small sushi bar and kick things off with an oyster or uni shooter, followed, maybe, by one of I Love Sushi's specialty maki rolls like the Sexy Roll. Better still, have Catfish slice and dice an entire Spanish mackerel for fresher-than-fresh sashimi, complete with the deep-fried carcass to nibble on. There are also traditional Japanese bento boxes and noodles such as udon, yakisoba and ramen. Look for lunchtime specials at this friendly neighborhood Mom & Pop sushi spot.
368 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0203, ILoveSushiUtah.com
J. Wong's Asian Bistro
Jean Louis Montecot's eclectic cooking combines Asian, American, Mediterranean, North African and Latin flavors with impeccable French technique. Easily Utah's most entertaining chef, Normandy-born Jean Louis Montecot worked in some of the world's best restaurants, including New York City's La Cote Basque, before landing in Utah. Belly up to the bar at Jean Louis for the assorted charcuterie, steak tartare or classic escargots and a good glass of wine. In the dining room, manager Regis Perret runs a tight ship, and the service is outstanding. The roasted rack of lamb is always a strong entree choice, as is Jean Louis' trout almandine, the herb-roasted chicken and his Asian-style halibut, with miso and ginger broth and Asian noodles. The best thing, though, about restaurant Jean Louis is that Jean Louis himself is always there, ensuring an evening of enjoyable entertainment from Utah's wackiest chef.
136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-200-0260, JeanLouisRestaurant.com
Kimi's Mountainside Bistro
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
If you're looking for cutting-edge Asian cuisine, you might want to drive past Kyoto, located across from Liberty Heights Fresh. But, if traditional Japanese fare and astonishingly friendly service is your thing, then Kyoto has all the right stuff. Kick off your meal with fresher-than-fresh saba—delicious mackerel served sashimi-style—before moving on to, perhaps, Kyoto's justifiably renowned tempura. Ebi (shrimp) tempura comes massively piled onto a plate, and although it looks impossible to finish, you're going to savor every single bite. Steer the kids towards the breaded-and-fried pork tonkatsu; they'll love it. Osamu Tada's lovely restaurant oozes serenity and calm, from the manicured gardens and outside patio to the lengthy granite sushi bar and private rice paper and wood-trimmed booths. Kimono-clad servers seem to float on air through the dining rooms, always at your table exactly when you need them. Kyoto is quite popular, and deservedly so: It's smart to make advance reservations.
1080 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 84105, 801-487-3525