A is for artichoke, which the nice folks at the Tin Angel Cafe (365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com) put to use in their yummy artichoke risotto cake, seared and topped with colorful pea-shoot pesto.
B is for the undeniably delectable black-bottom banana-cream pie at Snake Creek Grill (650 W. 100 South, Heber, 435-654-2133, SnakeCreekGrill.com), made with layers of whipped cream, bananas, pastry cream and chocolate ganache on a chocolate-cookie-crumb crust.
C is for the “kick-ass” chili con carne at The New Yorker (60 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-363-0166, GInc.com/NewYorker). Superb chili at a fancy place like this—who knew?
D is for The Paris ’ (1500 E. 1500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net) duck confit, served bistro-style with puy lentils. It just doesn’t get any better, unless you add a glass of Burgundy to the mix.
E is for eel, the key component—along with cucumber, avocado and tobiko—in Ichiban Sushi’s (336 S. 400 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-7522, IchibanUtah.com) colorful Caterpillar Roll, topped with eel sauce, of course.
F is for Mazza ’s (912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572; 1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259, MazzaCafe.com) ful mudammas, a delicious blend of fava and garbanzo beans, cooked and mixed with garlic, lemon juice, mint, tahini and spices and drizzled with olive oil.
G is for the gravad lax at Kimi's Mountainside Bistro (Solitude Mountain Resort, 801-536-5787, KimisMountainsideBistro.me), Swedish-style cured salmon with fresh dill, mustard creme, chopped onion and Swedish knacklebrod.
H is for the best hamburger in town, which you’ll find at Spencer's for Steaks & Chops (255 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-238-4748, SpencersForSteaksAndChops.com/SaltLakeCity), made with high-grade all-natural beef and cooked to juicy perfection.
I is for the spongy Ethiopian flatbread called injera (also known as budenaa), used at African Restaurant & Mini Mart (1878 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-978-9673) for soaking up the delicious African stews served there. Go for the goat!
J is for the world-class, all-natural jerky from Samak Smoke House (1937 Mirror Lake Highway, Kamas, 435-783-4880, SamakSmokeHouse.com), made “the old-fashioned way” for more than 25 years.
K is for kifteh, which, at O'Falafel, Etc. (790 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7747, OFalafelEtc.com), is killer. Kifteh is minced, lean beef mixed with onion and parsley and spiked with Mediterranean spices, then grilled and served with house sauces and garnishes.
L is for lamb. The lamb ribs at MacCool's Public House
(multiple locations, MacCoolsRestaurant.com) are charred and then bathed in a spicy barbecue blue-cheese sauce with a bit of sweetness. Think you don’t care for lamb? Then you haven’t tried these rockin’ ribs.
M is for Margherita. And the best Margherita pizza in the state is at Settebello (260 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3556, Settebello.net), where the wood-fired pies are made in accordance with Vera Pizza Napoletana, an international organization that certifies authentic, traditional, Napoli-style pizza.
N is for nuts. And you’d be nuts not to love Sage's (473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com) nut burger, made with a blend of almond, cashew and macadamia nuts, along with garbanzo beans and tahini sauce. It’s good enough to turn me into a vegetarian.
O is for oyster. By far, the biggest and freshest selection of oysters in the state is to be found at Market Street Grill (multiple locations, MarketStreetGrill.com). And, on Mondays, Market Street oysters are half-price, all day.
P is for the best pastrami on the Wasatch Front, which you’ll encounter at 9th South Delicatessen (931 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-517-3663, www.9thSouthDeli.com). The juicy, tender, tasty pastrami is procured from R-C Provisions in Los Angeles, which also serves the renowned Langer’s Delicatessen; it’s perfect pastrami.
Q is for the quesadilla at Frida Bistro (545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com). It’s made with Chihuahua cheese, roasted corn, jalapeño, tomato—and here’s what makes it really unique—the sweet-corn “smut” called huitlacoche. What can I say? I love smut!
R is for ravioli—but not just any old ravioli. At Log Haven (6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com), chef David Jones makes polenta ravioli with housemade pancetta, Parmesan cream, truffled popcorn, green garlic oil and sofrito and topped with an over-easy organic farm egg.
S is for the spaetzle at Siegfried's Delicatessen (20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891, SiegfriedsDelicatessen.biz). If you’ve never had them, spaetzle are small, German-style egg-and-flour dumplings, served at Siegfried’s as a side dish with glistening brown gravy. It’s the perfect partner for the delicious schnitzel.
T is for tapas. And the tapas selection at Meditrina (1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com) offers something for every palate, from curry-lime prawns and stuffed piquillo peppers to albondigas (meatballs) and classic patatas bravas. And the wine bar has vino to match each and every one of the many tapa choices.
U is for the udon at Osaka Sushi (918 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-776-0888; 996 N. Main, Tooele, 435-833-9123, OsakaSushi.blogspot.com). Tempura udon is a big bowl brimming with thick udon noodles floating in a mild dashi broth, sprinkled with kombu and served with tempura-fried shrimp and veggies on the side.
V is for vindaloo, the Indian curry originating in Goa. At Taste of India (9200 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, 801-618-2200; 1664 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton, 801-614-0107, TasteOfIndiaLayton.com), the vindaloo is made from scratch—not from a paste or powder—with a hint of vinegar, in the traditional Southwest Indian style. Order it as hot as you can stand it.
W is for watermelon. At the stunning Wahso (577 Main, Park City, 435-615-0300, Wahso.com) Asian grill, the décor of which re-creates Shanghai in the 1930s, the watermelon salad is light and lovely. Ripe, red watermelon, heirloom tomato, cucumber, jicama, baby arugula and goat cheese are all sprinkled with a lively lime vinaigrette.
X is for xia, the ancient Chinese dynasty, but also the Chinese word for shrimp. Classic salt-and-pepper shrimp are a mainstay of the Red Maple (3361 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-747-2888, RedMapleChinese.com) menu. They’re served deep-fried, with heads on, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper (as you might have surmised), allowing the true flavor of the xia to shine through.
Y is for yakizakana, which, in Japanese, simply means grilled fish. At Suehiro Japanese Restaurant (6933 S. 1300 East, Midvale, 801-255-1089, SuehiroUtah.com), you’ll find crispy saba and sanma (mackerel and saury) cooked yakizakana-style. And, while we’re on the letter Y, there’s also good yakitori, yosenabe and yakisoba to be had at Suehiro.
Z is for zucchini. I don’t know who first had the idea to put zucchini into bread and muffins, but I’m glad they did. At Carlucci's Bakery & Cafe (314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-366-4484, CarluccisBakery.com), they make a zucchini-chocolate-chip muffin that will have even the kids lovin’ their veggies.