This Thursday, many of us will have gorged on Thanksgiving dinner. Some will spend the holiday weekend with family and friends in far-flung places like Salem and Kamas. When we tire of Turkey Day leftovers, where will we eat? Here are dining destinations around Utah and beyond SLC, Ogden and Park City that might not be on your radar.
Let's begin in northern Utah and work our way south. For my money, Logan's most memorable restaurant experience is Le Nonne (129 N. 100 East, Logan, 435-752-9577, LeNonne.com). Located in a small Victorian house, this isn't just Logan's best Italian eatery, but one of a handful of the state's finest. Le Nonne—meaning "the grandmothers" in Italian—is the creation of executive chef/owner PierAntonio Micheli and his wife Stephanie. The menu is modeled on the way Italians eat: many courses at a leisurely pace. So, there's antipasti, insalate, zuppe, le paste, i secondi and, finally, dolce. Chef Micheli's homestyle potato gnocchi is hands-down the best I've ever tasted, bathed in his simple and silky tomato-basil sauce. For a funky, filling Greek diner-style meal that's as raucous as Le Nonne is soothing, head over to Angie's Restaurant (690 N. Main, Logan, 435-752-9252, AngiesRest.com), home of the famous "kitchen sink" dessert.
One way to avoid chain eateries in Brigham City is Corbin's Grill (70 N. Main, 435-226-1475, CorbinsGrille.com). Equipped with an open-view kitchen, Corbin's offers breakfast classics in the morning, lunch items at midday, and an enticing menu of dry-aged steaks, seafood, burgers, pastas and more for dinner. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't also namecheck Maddox Ranch House in Brigham City-adjacent Perry (1900 S. Hwy 89, 435-723-8545, MaddoxFineFood.com). Since 1949, Maddox has been wildly popular with families looking for rib-sticking American fare like chicken-fried bison steak and homemade sarsaparilla to wash it down.
In Oakley, Rhode Island Diner (981 W. Weber Canyon Road, 435-783-3467, RoadIslandDiner.com)—a 1939 deluxe diner manufactured in New Jersey—is one of the more original eateries in Utah. It was moved from Middletown, Rhode Island to Oakley in 2007. Walk through the doors, and you'll step back in time, from the chrome-plated stools and foot plates to the retro uniforms for the servers and cooks. The female servers sport large nametags with monikers like Blanche, Laverne, Ruthie, Roxy, Lola and Delores; the guys wear soda-jerk outfits, complete with bow ties and white hats with a sassy trim stripe. A few miles down the road, local farmers and ranchers in work clothes mingle with Park City tourists at Kamas' Gateway Grille (215 S. Main, 435-783-2867, GatewayGrille.com), where chef/owner Sean Wharton has been pleasing customers since 1997. Democratic in nature, the menu meets diners' needs ranging from shepherd's pie and chicken-fried steak to shrimp scampi and artichoke bruschetta.
Black Sheep Café (19 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-607-2485, BlackSheepCafe.com) offers a creative, from-scratch dining experience, blending Southwestern and Native American cuisines with dishes like hog jowl tacos, Navajo-style flatbread (nanniskadi), braised pork pozole and brunch-time green chile biscuits and gravy. Other excellent Provo/Orem dining options include Four Seasons Hot Pots and Dumplings (236 N. University Ave., 801-375-6888) for Chinese fare; superb Indian cuisine at Bombay House (463 N. University Ave., 801-373-6677, BombayHouse.com); Chilean specialties such as bistec a lo pobre and homemade empanadas from Pantruca's Chilean Restaurant (3161 N. Canyon Road, 801-373-9712, Pantrucas.com); and Communal (102 N. University Ave., 801-373-8000, CommunalRestaurant.com), where kinship is fostered at communal tables, and palates are pleased with creative, contemporary cuisine and, yes, wine and beer—not something to take for granted in Utah County. For exceptional artisan, wood-fired pizza, head to Orem's Pizzeria Seven Twelve (320 S. State, 801-623-6712, Pizzeria712.com).
Don't let the Styrofoam plates deter you from Boudreaux's Bistro in Salem (78 E. SR 198, 801-704-7209). Here you'll find the best Cajun-Creole cooking in Utah, from po'boy sandwiches to etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo and shrimp Creole. The only thing missing is the Dixie beer.
The Little Brick House Cafe located in Cedar City (86 S. Main, 435-586-5344, BrickHouseCafeCedar.com) delivers solid, from-scratch comfort foods like French dip with horseradish mayo, freshly made potato salad and house-cut fries, a killer patty melt and Reuben sandwich, and the mountainously challenging, skyscraper-style Brick Burger. Meanwhile, Centro Woodfired Pizzeria (50 W. Center St., 435-867-8123) has something for every pizza snob, from a classic Margherita with fior di latte to their irresistible dessert: Nutella piegato—pizza dough filled with Nutella, baked and topped with whipped cream.
There is truth in the self-proclamation that The Painted Pony (2 W. St. George Blvd., 435-634-1700, Painted-Pony.com) is "a culinary island" in St. George. Not only will you find interesting menu options like "Truffled Ruffles," parsnip-green pea ravioli and bacon-wrapped duck, but this is a very wine-friendly restaurant. In fact, Mondays at the Painted Pony are BYOB with no corkage fee.
Since I've written extensively about Moab dining in these pages, I'll just remind readers not to miss these wonderful eateries: Milt's Stop 'n' Eat (356 Mill Creek Drive, 435-259-7424, MiltsStopandEat.com); River Grill Restaurant at Sorrel River Ranch (Mile 17, Highway 128, 435-259-4642, SorrelRiver.com); EklectiCafe (352 N. Main, 435-259-6896, Facebook.com/Eklecticafe); and for perfect, East Coast-style pizza, Paradox Pizza (702 S. Main, 435-259-9999, ParadoxPizza.com).
At the eye-popping Amangiri resort in Utah's southeast corner of Canyon Point (1 Kayenta Road, 435-675-3999, Aman.com), chef Jacob Anaya offers composed entrées such as wild boar, duck, rabbit and seasonal vegetables, along with steaks, chicken and seafood dishes with a bevy of preparation choices like chimichurri, orange miso butter, tomato curry jam and "regional" (Utah salt, chile rub, pumpkin seeds, ancho steak sauce). Don't miss the braised lamb tostada with housemade ricotta, shaved radish and nopales from the wood-fired oven.
Finally, for what I consider to be the best dining experience in all of Utah, wrap yourself in the warm embrace of Blake Spalding's and Jen Castle's Hell's Backbone Grill (20 N. Highway 12, Boulder, 435-335-7464, HellsBackboneGrill.com)—literally. Hugs are free and plentiful.