We’re creatures of habit: going to work at the same time, along the same route. Cooking up meals from the small arsenal of tried-and-true recipes that everyone at the table is willing to consume. Or, heading to one of a handful of restaurants we’ve been to dozens of times before, and ordering the same thing as last time and the time before that.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. This year for our annual Dining Guide, we decided to put together a dining “bucket list”—a food-focused version of those “10 million books you should read before you die” lists. It’s not a new concept, but this one is actually within your reach. We asked local folks to help compile a list of 50 dishes and drinks that Utahns (or visitors) should consume before they shuffle off this mortal coil (or simply shuffle off to a different state). The list ranges from simple fast-food shakes to multicourse meals, and you’ll have plenty to eat your way through for the next year—and beyond.
Food critic Ted Scheffler also provides a list of handy tips that’ll improve your relationship with your kitchen so that you can dive into the unexplored pages of your cookbooks without fear. He also rounds up a few warming cocktails served at restaurants and bars around the state—winter is coming, after all.
And lest you think local chefs spend all their days in the kitchen, we also profiled three food stars and what they get up to when they’re not in their chefs whites. Despite their demanding careers, they’re not in any kind of lifestyle rut.
So, follow their example, and let this guide lead you to new food discoveries.
We've all had them: dining experiences so wonderful that they inspire us—even before the plate is empty—to start thinking of all the people we have to tell about them, lest they miss out on the deliciousness. We asked Utah notables in the arts, publishing and, yes, the restaurant biz to share with our readers the local meals on their dining "bucket list": the food they just can't get enough of, and believe everyone should try before they die. Next time you're scratching your head, wondering where to go for the next meal you won't forget, just use this list.
Known for his deep voice, signature hat and larger-than-life personality, DJ Bad Brad Wheeler guides listeners of KRCL 90.9 FM through the end of the workday with his Drive Time playlist, featuring blues, Americana and rock.
The dish, plucked from Mormon culture, is made from the traditional sliced potatoes (topped with scallions, bacon and cheese), which are then rolled in a cornflake crust and "baptized in hot oil" to create cheesy potato balls. Dip them in ranch dressing and be converted.
1199 Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
- NIKI CHAN
For sushi lovers who like their rolls to bring the heat, this one combines spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber fried with panko (a Japanese-style breadcrumb). The Brad roll, topped with Sriracha and Japanese mayo, is named after Brad Wheeler himself.
210 E. 2500 South, Ogden, 801-622-8662, TonaRestaurant.com
Uinta Brewing Co.
Since 2012, Uinta has celebrated its birthday and successful years of brewing by creating a new, limited-edition Birthday Suit beer to add to its Crooked Line of 22-ounce high-point bottled beers, with labels created by local artists. This year's release, Sour Farmhouse Ale, keeps the sour theme found in the first two Birthday Suit beers, with notes of spice, tartness and citrus, and comes in at 6.3 percent alcohol by volume.
1722 S. Fremont Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-0909, UintaBrewing.com
Shooting Star Saloon
The Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, which Wheeler says is the "oldest bar west of the Mississippi," is known for its epic Star burger. Meat upon meat upon meat, the Star burger consists of two hamburger patties, Polish knockwurst, cheese and onions, and has gotten nothing but rave reviews.
7350 E. 200 South, Huntsville, 801-745-2002, ShootingStarSaloon.co
With Jalapeño Sauce
Each meatball is a third of a pound, covered with Moochie's own marinara sauce and topped with provolone cheese. Mixing a classic meatball sub with jalapeño sauce may seem sacrilegious, but, Wheeler says, the jalapeño sauce at Moochie's is made to be drizzled on everything—including the fries.
232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-1350; 7725 S. State, Midvale, 801-562-1500, MoochiesMeatballs.com
Film critic, columnist and vegetarian Sean Means has been contributing to The Salt Lake Tribune for 21 years, and can also be heard Thursday mornings on X96's Radio From Hell talking about new movie releases.
Means is quick to praise this pasta's sauce. "Tofu gets a bad rap as being bland, but this recipe gives it a kick—and the sauce is so creamy, you might not believe it's vegan." The dish replaces beef with mushrooms and is made with sherry, tofu sour cream, garlic, roasted peppers and caramelized onions.
234 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
- NIKI CHAN
The Eating Establishment
Sometimes, simplicity is all you need for a fulfilling breakfast. The Miner's Dawn breakfast at The Eating Establishment takes seasoned potatoes and melted cheddar cheese, then tops them with basted eggs and serves it all up in a skillet with toast. "Breakfast doesn't get any heartier," Means says.
317 Main, Park City, 435-649-8284, TheEatingEstablishment.net
Thick, creamy, above-the-rim and topped with crushed Oreos, this shake is a classic dessert. "Not everything has to be fancy," Means says. "It just has to be good."
Multiple locations, ACBurger.com
Angela Brown has been the editor of SLUG Magazine since 2000. In conjunction with running a magazine covering everything "underground" in Salt Lake City, she is also the executive director of Craft Lake City, a local festival that she launched in 2009.
Think of it as chicken salad with a twist: chicken, sesame mayo, cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds, all packed inside a roll of butter lettuce and a rice wrapper. The wrap is served with miso dipping sauce and edamame, and Brown suggests pairing it with espresso and an item from the bakery's French pastry case.
216 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2294, Les-Madeleines.com
- NIKI CHAN
The Tin Angel
"Hands down, the best steak salad on any menu in town," Brown says. The Tin Angel's version is composed of organic greens, fingerling potatoes, blue-cheese chunks, roasted mushrooms with various in-season veggies, and medium-rare steak with housemade asparagus vinaigrette. "Once, I ordered this twice in one day—for lunch and dinner," Brown says.
365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com
Taco of the Day
Luna Blanca Taqueria
Luna Blanca Taqueria has a delicious array of tacos on its menu, including crispy roasted carnitas and braised chicken with avocado crema cilantro, but the chef also always has two Mexi-fusion taco-of-the-day specials, one for meat eaters and one for vegetarians. "They're both amazing," Brown says.
3158 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 801-944-5862, LunaBlancaTaco.com
If done right, even picky eaters will enjoy sauteed Brussels sprouts. "My boyfriend thought he hated Brussels sprouts until he had these," Brown says. "A must-order with every visit!"
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com
Tune in daily to the news on ABC 4 and you'll find Nadia Crow, the station's first and only black reporter. Crow, a news anchor since 2010, has been delivering the news and reporting on breaking events in Utah since 2013.
High West Distillery
It's difficult to pick a favorite cocktail from High West Distillery's extensive drink menu, so Crow recommends several trips. "The history you'll find here at Utah's first distillery is only second to the delicious cocktails mixed with the whiskey and vodka made there," Crow says.
703 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8300, HighWest.com
Crow insists the best barbecue is at Smokin' Bones BBQ in Bountiful, but you shouldn't go in just for the barbecue. "My mouth is watering just thinking about this delicious and devilish sandwich full of heavenly goodness," Crow says. The giant burger features never-frozen seasoned meat, topped with cheese and pork, and is especially excellent when paired with any of Smokin Bones' housemade side dishes.
364 S. 200 West, Bountiful, 801-298-1687, SmokinBonesBBQUt.com
Chorizo Con Huevos
Left Fork Grill
This restaurant is known for its pies, but Crow doesn't want you to forget the most important meal of the day: breakfast. "Don't skip out on the well-seasoned chorizo with perfectly spicy potatoes to begin your day," she says. "This meal suits the spice kings out there, as well as those who just enjoy a little pick-me-up."
68 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-266-4322, LeftForkGrill.ipower.com
The owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books says he likes "food and drink about as much as I like books," and adds that asking him to name just five dishes is "as unfair as asking me to name my five favorite books, or authors. Salt Lake City appears to be at the beginning of a culinary Renaissance, which makes it even harder to choose my favorites."
Carnitas With Chile Verde
A Salt Lake City favorite, Red Iguana has "an expansive menu with no bad choices, but I always end up with the mole sampler with chips, and the carnitas with a side dish of chile verde that I then smother the carnitas with," Sanders says. He also makes sure to order "margaritas or Negra Modelo cerveza to wash it all down."
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489, RedIguana.com
- NIKI CHAN
Settebello's specialty is truly authentic, certified Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizza, "served piping-hot out of their giant wood-fired oven," says Sanders, who likes the Quattro Formaggi "with different toppings on each slice, especially sausage, mushrooms, pine nuts and pepperoni."
260 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3556, Settebello.net
Any Drink With Bourbon
Tucked below the humble Bodega on Main Street, The Rest is a swanky speakeasy-style restaurant, with an attractive library-style lounge. It's where Sanders likes to order one of The Rest's "handcrafted cocktails, something with bourbon in it, but not too sweet. They also have a variety of appetizers to nosh on and absorb the booze."
331 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4452, Bodega331.com
After retiring from the Utah Jazz in 1993, the 7-foot-4 defensive powerhouse decided that "this is the place to raise my family. I love the outdoors, which makes Utah the perfect place for me." Eaton now works as a motivational speaker and is a partner in Tuscany and Franck's restaurants, and says he tries "to get up to Deer Valley ski resort every morning I can when I'm in town."
Coconut Fried Chicken
Eaton's choice here is a slam-dunk, as he's a partner in the restaurant, but he insists that Franck's fried chicken "might be the best fried chicken I've ever had in my life." The chicken is cooked in peanut oil, for what Eaton calls the "perfect combo of sweetness and tenderness." 6263 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-6264, FrancksFood.com
- JOHN TAYLOR
Spiral Jetty IPA
Epic's attitude is what Eaton says draws him to the brewery, which specializes in high-point beers. "They are known for their innovation, which is probably why they consistently put out great beer," Eaton says. He says the Spiral Jetty is "a great Indian Ale with a Utah twist," and has "a great hoppy flavor with a bit of citrus and pine and a nice malt."
825 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0123, EpicBrewing.com
Sashimi With Truffle Oil
Though he recommends Takashi in general for its "incredible food" and notes that the chefs are "very innovative with their meals," Eaton singles out the sashimi with truffle oil as his "favorite meal. I mean, it's sashimi with truffle oil; what more can you say?"
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
When Eaton's on the run, Red Rock's Kobe burger is his go-to meal. "It's some of the tenderest beef," he says, and has an "incredible sauce that makes it even better. Honestly, it just melts in your mouth."
Multiple locations, RedRockBrewing.com
Viet Pham started Forage restaurant with Bowman Brown in 2009. He's still a co-owner of the award-winning restaurant, though he's no longer co-chef. Instead, he's been featured on several TV shows such as Iron Chef America and Food Network Star, and will soon be opening a second restaurant in Salt Lake City called Ember + Ash.
Naked Fish Bistro
Pham recommends that "adventurous eaters" dine omakase style and put their fates in the hands of Naked Fish's chefs. "A lot of their fish comes from Japan," he says, and they're "the only restaurant in Utah that imports Japanese beef. They get Nueske beef, which is just amazing. It's so juicy that you feel like it's just gushing with flavor."
67 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-595-8888, NakedFishBistro.com
- NIKI CHAN
The Cotton Bottom Inn
"I'm not a big-time burger connoisseur, but I like a good burger done well—like, a burger that will dislocate your jaw with each bite," Pham says. The garlic burger at The Cotton Bottom Inn nails the ratio between meat and bun, he says: "It's just two patties and the perfect amount of garlic, without it being overwhelming."
6200 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-273-9830, CottonBottomInn.com
Pham loves all the craft cocktails at Bar-X, but the sweet, strong Vieux Carre—made with rye whiskey, cognac and sweet vermouth—is "by far my favorite," he says.
155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287, BarXSaltLake.com
Publik Coffee Roasters
For fellow fans of no-frills, high-quality coffee, Pham recommends Publik, which "roasts their own beans overnight for the cold brew." Pham often pairs one of Publik's open-face sandwiches with a cup, but that's it: "I prefer no sugar or cream in good coffee like this, just simple black coffee."
975 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3161; 638 Park Ave., Park City, PublikCoffee.com
Author and South Jordan resident James Dashner wrote the best-selling novel The Maze Runner, which was the basis for this year's hit film of the same name, to be followed next year by the adaptation of its sequel, The Scorch Trials. His other books include The Eye of Minds and the 13th Reality series.
Bratwurst, Sauerkraut & Fried Potatoes
Dashner gravitates toward the traditional sausage and sour cabbage at this downtown German deli/lunch spot, and makes sure to get fried potatoes on the side. "I'm not an expert on German food," Dashner says, "but this has to be my favorite getaway meal in the city. I relish each and every bite."
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891
- NIKI CHAN
Early in 2014, Faustina revamped its menu, adding a bevy of small-plate offerings, ranging from mixed olives to a chicken pillow pastry (stuffed with chicken, cranberry, sage and pine nuts, and served on soft polenta with a balsamic drizzle) and filet au poivre. Dashner says that there are "too many good ones to mention, but take a group and share away," and recommends dining on the outdoor patio if it's warm enough. "I love this place!"
454 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-4441, FaustinaSLC.com
Big Tony Burger
Tony Burger is "easily my favorite hamburger of all the local chains," Dashner says. The Big Tony is a third of a pound of beef—a top-secret "tri-beef" blend of different cuts of beef that makes for a particularly juicy burger. Dashner customizes his with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, jalapeños ("the jalapeños are a must," he says) and Tony Sauce. "And their fries are fantastic, too."
Multiple locations, TonyBurgers.com
Chicken Curry &
Launched in Provo in 1993 as one of the first Indian restaurants in the state, Bombay House has since expanded to three locations and continually updates its menu to satisfy the cravings of its devotees. "Sometimes I get a major hankering for Indian food, and no one beats the Bombay House," says Dashner, who can't resist the traditional chicken curry—boneless chicken cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and curry spices—and bubbly oven-baked flatbread with a touch of garlic.
Multiple locations, BombayHouse.com
Chicken Shawarma Platter
Dashner goes big with the shawarma platter: thinly sliced marinated chicken breast, seasoned with garlic spread, tahini, fresh greens and Armenian pickles, all served over hummus with two pitas and a side of Lebanese salad. The author prefers Mazza's 15th & 15th location, which is "located right next to one of the best bookstores in the country, The King's English, so you can imagine I go here a lot," he says. "I get the exact same thing every time because I love it so much. When he's lucky enough to visit me, my agent loves it, too!"
912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572; 1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259, MazzaCafe.com
A longtime award-winning Utah journalist, Heather May is the managing editor of City Weekly's sister magazine, Devour Utah, a new quarterly magazine from Copperfield Publishing that focuses on local food and drink. May's picks are in her own words, and she notes that they're "in no particular order."
Biscuits & Gravy
You can feel good about indulging in this stick-to-the-ribs favorite: the free-range eggs that come alongside are local, as is the sausage in the gravy, which is slathered over a zippy cheddar-jalapeño biscuit. And because it's only available on the weekend brunch menu, you can't go overboard.
779 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-433-3380, CaffeNiche.com
- JOHN TAYLOR
Salted Caramel Panna Cotta
Seafood Buffet, Deer Valley Resort
The milk-chocolate cremoso (a pudding-like dish) with caramel-corn cream tastes like Cracker Jack, but it's served in a cocktail glass with whiskey-smoked sugar coating the rim, making it much more sophisticated.
2250 Deer Valley Drive South, Park City, 435-645-6632, DeerValley.com
The nature-based menu at this pricey Salt Lake City restaurant is ever changing with the season and what Chef Bowman Brown can find on his foraging trips, so I can't recommend one specific item. But you are sure to be wowed if you can muster the $89 tasting menu, which will earn you at least a dozen delicious and inventive dishes. This guy can transform papery-thin Siberian elm seedpods into ice cream. You should experience for yourself the reasons that this restaurant helped put Utah on the national foodie map, so start saving.
370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-708-7834, ForageRestaurant.com
Panko-fried Tofu Slider
The Chow Truck
Utah's pioneer in mobile food, SuAn Chow also dishes up calamari, beef, pork and chicken on either a bun, corn tortilla or a bed of romaine and Asian slaw. But I, and my vegetarian husband, prefer the large wedge of crunchy tofu glazed with sambal hot sauce topped with more spice from the cilantro-chile pesto.
Location varies, ChowTruck.com
Dough girl Tami Steggell never stops creating. The addictive gourmet cookies she crafts at RubySnap range from classic-but-incomparable chocolate chip to decadent monthly specials with seasonal accents like butternut squash, pumpkin and fresh raspberries. Steggell is picky about food—each and every ingredient is hand-selected, from free-range eggs to top-quality chocolate imported from France—but Utah has plenty of dining options that meet her exacting standards.
Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill
It's the combo of sweet, spicy, cool and crunchy that makes this dish irresistible to Steggell. The chewy rice noodles—bathed in a spicy-sweet yellow curry and topped with crisp bean sprouts, lettuce, cucumbers and peanuts—is available with chicken, shrimp or tender tofu (Steggell opts for the latter). "Life really is complete on a day that you eat here," she says.
722 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7272, SapaSushiBarAsianGrill.com
- JOHN TAYLOR
Yes, you can have your favorite Italian dessert and eat it in cake form, too. The pastry masterminds at Gourmandise soak white cake, chocolate cake and ladyfingers in espresso, then layer them with mascarpone cream and whipped cream. That's all surrounded by ladyfingers, then dusted with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings for the ultimate decadent, caffeinated confection—approved by the cookie queen herself. "What can I say? They do tiramisu well," Steggell says. "In fact, they do everything really well."
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330 GourmandiseTheBakery.com
This cozy second-story restaurant facing the Salt Lake City Main Library features local art on the walls and Italian favorites—including the rave-worthy Marsala chicken, which Steggell describes simply as "the way Marsala should be." The tender, pan-fried chicken breast is coated with a portobello Marsala sauce and served on a bed of linguine with seasonal vegetables.
249 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-1368, StonegroundSLC.com
Dan's Parking Lot, Saturdays
Waffles are a weekend tradition in Olympus Cove, where a tiny Shasta trailer can be found every Saturday in the Dan's parking lot, serving up dense, crispy Liege-style waffles. Steggell and others come to chat with neighbors and chow down on the infinite possibilities at Saturday's Waffle, which offers a variety of sweet and savory toppings for a classic breakfast (e.g., strawberries, whipped cream), savory brunch (eggs, bacon, Hollandaise sauce) or even a morning dessert (peanut butter sauce, candied pecans). They "warm your heart and soul from the inside out," Steggell says.
3981 S. Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, SaturdaysWaffle.com
Hollywood Roll &
A flavor-packed expansion of the classic California roll (cucumber, crab, avocado), Akasaka's Hollywood roll adds fresh salmon, thinly sliced lemons and orange tobiko (fish eggs); Steggell says it's "the most refreshing sushi in Utah." She also recommends Akasaka's agadashi tofu: golden-brown cubes of tofu served in hot tentsuyu broth made of dashi, mirin and shoyu (a Japanese soy sauce), all topped with finely chopped negi spring onion and grated katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) that "dance at you in the heat of the broth," Steggell says.
3011 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-5257, NewAkasakaRestaurant.com
Cristiano Creminelli has been curing meats since he was a teenager in Italy, and brought his Italian-style meats and sausages to America in 2006. Creminelli Fine Meats is headquartered in Salt Lake City, but its Italian roots date back to the 1600s, according to family legend.
Pasta Carbonara &
The Copper Onion
The carbonara and stroganoff pastas at The Copper Onion are Creminelli's favorites—he is Italian, after all. The creamy carbonara is made with fettuccine, smoked bacon, and egg yolk, while the beef stroganoff—Wagyu beef, pappardelle, creme fraiche, chives and mushrooms—is a flavorful indulgence.
111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com
- BILLY YANG
Pizza & Gelato
Creminelli recommends the pizzas at this modern-yet-casual Italian restaurant. The wood-fired pizzas include options like the Florentine (with spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic),
patate (sliced potato, fontina and goat cheese, with white truffle oil) or the classic Margherita. Take Creminelli's advice and end your meal with all-natural housemade gelato.
418 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-539-9999; 900 Main, Park City, 435-615-9990, Vinto.com
Wisconsin native Tom Kelly, chief spokesman for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association, moved to Utah in 1988 for the mountains, but fell in love with the desert. When he's not traveling the world with the U.S. Ski Team, he enjoys cooking, photographing Utah's landscapes and putting the Jeep into four-wheel drive to cruise up the slickrock face of Moab's Hell's Revenge trail.
Pastel de Mole Negro
Chocolate fans must indulge in this decadent dessert that combines chocolate mole cake, dark-chocolate ganache and honey-chocolate mousse. The dish is given an extra kick by toppings of tequila-pickled cherries and black-pepper ice cream, made in-house.
545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com
- JOHN TAYLOR
Black tea is a great coffee alternative, and the Himalayan Sunrise blend from Tea Zaanti is a flavorful way to wake up in the morning. The tea is a mix of darjeeling and Assam leaf tea, two teas that are quite different from each other but bring out each other's flavors. "Sitting on the front porch of Salt Lake's new Tea Zaanti with a Himalayan Sunrise is a wonderfully relaxing experience," Kelly says.
1324 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8132, TeaZaanti.com
Kelly says you have to travel to Park City's El Chubasco for these "big-as-your-head" burritos. "What makes it really special is the salsa bar with more than a dozen specialties, including my favorite—the spicy, creamy chipotle."
1890 Bonanza Drive, Suite 115, Park City, 435-645-9114, ElChubascoMexicanGrill.com
Garlic Blue Burger
Hidden along Interstate 84 in Morgan, Taggart's restaurant has a burger that puts a twist on the classic garlic burger. "It's a housemade bun, sink-your-teeth-in-it chewy, and sturdy enough to hold a man-sized burger," Kelly says. The third-pound garlic-seasoned patty is topped with Jack cheese, sprouts, onions and tomatoes, and a blue-cheese dressing adds a flavorful kick.
1105 N. Taggart Lane, Morgan, 801-829-3837
"Deer Valley aficionados don't just look forward to the first powder run of the season," Kelly says, "they also count the days to the opening of Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge." Kelly suggests the Swiss raclette with pickled onions, gherkins and potatoes.
9200 Marsac Ave., Park City, 435-645-6632, DeerValley.com
Editor and writer Rachel Piper grew up an extremely picky eater, and subsisted on dry cereal, microwave burritos and Chef Boyardee during her youth. She eventually grew out of her distaste for most foods and says one of her favorite parts of working at City Weekly is discovering new local restaurants and ethnic dishes.
"Whenever I see ginger ale or ginger beer listed as an ingredient in a cocktail, I can't resist," Piper says. "I'd never had Pimm's—a fruity, spicy, gin-based spirit—before seeing it on Whiskey Street's menu, but it's been a hugely popular summer staple in England for years." The Pimm's Cup is a refreshing mix of Pimm's No. 1, ginger beer, a cucumber slice and a citrus garnish. Piper says a can't-miss Utah experience is an afternoon or evening exploring Whiskey Street's list of well-made classic and contemporary cocktails while noshing on Whiskey Street's truffle fries.
323 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1371, WhiskeyStreet.com
Blackened Tilapia Salad
"I rarely order salads in restaurants, because part of me always thinks, 'Well, I could make that at home,' though of course I never do," Piper says. "But this salad is an exception—a filling, tangy-yet-refreshing dish that I crave on a weekly basis." Cilantro-lime dressing and wasabi aioli give a kick to the tender tilapia, which rests atop layers of queso fresco, pico de gallo, quinoa, avocado and fresh spinach. Piper says she usually orders a pint of whatever seasonal or limited offering is on tap, but always goes back to Full Suspension pale ale. "When I began exploring 'real' beer instead of PBR, Full Suspension was the first beer that made me realize that beer is good," Piper says. "I owe my affinity for pale ales and IPAs to Full Suspension."
Multiple locations, Squatters.com
The only way to make good fries better is to pair them with outstanding sauces for dipping. Piper praises the Naughty Fries at Roosters' Ogden and Layton brewpubs: a pile of thick & crispy beer-battered fries that comes with dishes of gorgonzola cheese sauce, pepper-jack cheese sauce and Louisiana hot sauce. "Any conversation fades to silence when the fries arrive at the table," Piper says. "We all become absorbed in finding the best dipping combos, or dueling with our fries over the last of the gorgonzola."
253 E. 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171; 748 Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9330, RoostersBrewingCo.com