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Restaurant Roundup: Festival Eats

Reflecting on Kilby Block Party's dining accommodations.


  • Alex Springer

It seemed like this year's Kilby Block Party at the Utah State Fairpark was the unofficial flashpoint of Salt Lake's festival season. It was the first weekend that didn't give us weather whiplash as 75-degree temperatures became blinding blizzards overnight, and it helped all of us collectively put the final nail in winter's coffin. In addition to the stellar lineup and on-site festivities, Kilby Block Party was home to several great examples of festival food that I'm sure we'll be seeing at outdoor events for the rest of the season. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Namash Swahili Cuisine (135 E. 1300 South, 801-680-3202,
Though this up-and-comer from Spice Kitchen Incubator ( has a storefront, its mobile operation continues to have its finger on the pulse of downtown's events. It's a common fixture at farmers markets, outdoor festivals and food truck roundups, and that's because their food is awesome. It's been a little bit since I've indulged in Namash's East African-inspired menu for a bit of curry and sambusas, but that's exactly what I did after getting a double-fisted dose of classic alt-rock from Dinosaur Jr. and Belle & Sebastian.

They keep their festival menu nice and sparse, so there's no need to dilly-dally in between acts. I got the curry chicken combo ($20) that came with a small salad, their signature curry chicken, plenty of rice and a beef sambusa. When you're at a festival, you're always looking for a good bang for your buck, and this combo is exactly that. Not only do you get good-sized portions, but you're also getting some restaurant-quality Swahili cooking. The curry chicken is perfectly cooked, and then tossed in Namash's homemade curry sauce, which is heavy on the smoky, black pepper-y flavor. The sambusas are huge, and the seasoned ground beef within packs a nice herbaceous punch. The combo comes with their pili pili sauce, which is great for a sambusa dip or just for dumping all over the combo for some added freshness. If you see Namash out and about while you're enjoying your outdoor festivities this year, it's always worth checking out.

Delicius (353 W. 200 South, Ste. A, 801-502-3243, Arepas are the perfect festival food—you can eat them with your hands, they're packed with great flavor and something about them just screams "party food." Thanks to arepas' street food pedigree, they have a long history of being part of outdoor community events. Though arepas are among my most beloved sandwiches, I have to admit that Delicius was a relatively new addition on my radar.

Their festival menu was straightforward; they had a small selection of their arepa menu, along with some sides like tequeños. After Belle & Sebastian wrapped up their set, I grabbed some Pepeada Queen arepas ($17) for my brother and me for some pre-Death Cab for Cutie tailgating.

The Pepeada Queen stuffs their crispy arepas with a creamy combo of avocado, melty cheese, mayo and shredded chicken. This option was perfect for the event, since it's on the cooler and creamier side of the arepa spectrum, and it was getting a bit toasty at the fairpark. Like all high-quality arepas, the fillings within the Pepeada Queen really push the boundaries of the arepa; you can expect to lick your fingers upon submitting to this queen. If you happen to be at an event where Delicius is whipping up arepas, they're definitely worth checking out.

Vegan Daddy Meats (569 N. 300 West, Ste. K102, 385-315-2177, After reading Amanda Rock's profile of plant-based innovators in this year's Dining Guide, I've been curious to try out Vegan Daddy Meats. I am a complete sucker for any place that is doing plant-based versions of junk food, and Vegan Daddy's menu of plant-based fried chicken and poutine caught my eye while I was reeling from the goth-funk vibes that Yves Tumor threw down during their set.

When visiting Vegan Daddy, the thing you really must try is the Varby's Veef and Cheddar ($11). Though I typically only visit Arby's when I'm feeling a special sort of self-destructive, I can't deny the sweet, savory and dare I say buttery appeal of their classic beef and cheddar. Vegan Daddy has deftly recreated the Arby's flavor combos: Thick swathes of gooey cheddar? Check. Onion bun? Check. A sweet and smoky but mostly sweet barbecue sauce? Check. Thinly sliced roast beef? Check. This sandwich proudly declares, "We don't have the meats" but it's every bit as tasty as the Arby's original—if you're into that sort of thing, which I really am.

They were also offering some pre-wrapped, gigantic pink frosted sugar cookies ($5) from Sweet Hazel & Co. that revived my affection for these nostalgic cookies. This was plant-based comfort food at its finest, and I'll always be on the lookout for Vegan Daddy when I hit up events this year.