- Alex Spinger
Central Ninth has always been a neighborhood with character, and its restaurants tend follow suit in delicious ways. Even before Local First Utah and the Salt Lake Department of Economic Development partnered with local architects and business owners to create a neighborhood-friendly commercial hub in the area, it has been one of my favorite places to get food.
Central Ninth is home to awesome El Salvadorean comfort food at Juanita Restaurant (271 W. 900 South), some excellent Texas barbecue at Kaiser's (962 S. 300 West) and Vertical Diner (234 W. 900 South), the only place in the world where you can get plant-based dude cakes. After the recent development push, we've seen Laziz Kitchen (912 S. Jefferson Street) move its mobile Mediterranean food operation to a brick-and-mortar store, and Nohm (165 W. 900 South) has brought Japanese-style tapas to the area's nightlife. Speaking of which, Central Ninth is no slouch when it comes to after hours hospitality. The combo of craft cocktail-focused Water Witch (163 W. 900 South) and LGBTQ+ hangout Try Angles (251 E. 900 South) offers a wide variety of ways to get your drink on.
As this area is a place I like to keep my eye on, I couldn't help but notice the arrival of three new places within the past year. I these Central Ninth newcomers a whirl over the past week and they are definitely on the level.
Golden Gyros (259 W. 900 South, 801-214-0099, golden-gyros-utah.business.site). My first stop was Golden Gyros, a family-owned burger and gyro joint that moved into the space previously occupied by Off Trax Café. Golden Gyros is all about the Greek/American burger hybrid that is a common sight around town, but it's definitely worth a visit.
Having been to several similar restaurants, I stuck with my litmus-test order of a classic lamb gyro ($7.35) and a pastrami burger ($6.49). The pastrami burger gets the job done—it's big, sloppy and exactly what you'd expect. My one gripe was that the burger is a bit sparse on pastrami, but not a huge deal. The gyro, on the other hand, was fantastic. It had that divine balance of spiced lamb, creamy tzatziki sauce and sharp red onions. All of it was served in a soft pita that managed to maintain structural integrity for the duration—something not all pita can do, mind you.
I was also surprised with the gyro variety on display here. In addition to the classic, you can get falafel, chicken, pork, veggies and shrimp—all at the same price! Anyone after a quick lunch will be happy here, but Golden Gyro's selection of platters ($13.25) will do the trick if you're in need of a heap of souvlaki.
Golden Gyros touts itself as having the best gyros in town, which is a bold claim; the mighty gyro is difficult to perfect. That said, the gyros here are quality stuff. It's up to you, dear reader, to determine whether or not they are truly the best.
Morty's Café (877 S. 200 West, 801-906-0863, mortyscafe.com). Though Morty's has existed for some time on the fringes of metropolitan Utah—they've got a location in Logan and one in St. George—they're quite new to the Downtown Salt Lake area. With its new digs, Morty's has done an admirable job of merging their neighborhood burger joint vibe with a level of downtown hipness. It's got enough fast-casual veneer to fit in with some of its neighborhood counterparts, but the small burger stop roots are still very much on display—which is a very good thing.
Morty's is a burger place through and through, and the archduke of this court is the Philly cheesesteak burger ($8.50). Yes friends, this is a burger that also happens to be a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. In addition to a burger patty with some American cheese, you get a scoop of sliced ribeye with melty provolone and a mix of grilled onions and peppers. It's a messy celebration of meat and cheese which makes for an utterly memorable experience.
Central 9th Market (161 W. 900 South, @central9thmarket). Taking over the space that was occupied by Jade Market and then The Store, Central 9th Market is taking the neighborhood market concept up a notch by bringing a wood-burning pizza oven to the party. Said pizza oven is the centerpiece to what feels like an Italian deli—they also serve up mortadella and salami sandwiches ($10). Those looking to indulge their sweet tooth can also find a lovely assortment of baked goods near the cash register, and other tasty snacks are plentiful throughout the store. Any place that offers up a hot, wood-fired pizza is doing the Lord's work, and their sandwich menu offers up some more low-key options for a quick lunch.
This one's fun to watch, since their menu of pizza, sandwiches and baked goods changes regularly—best follow them on Instagram to stay on track.