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Home / Articles / Best Of / Best of Utah /  Eat Pt. 4
Best of Utah

Eat Pt. 4

Best of Utah 2007 Food & Drink

Posted // June 11,2007 -

BEST VEGETARIAN BUFFET
tttCafé Shambala
tt
Hip young things crowd this cozy café during lunch for an all-you-can-eat buffet that, while stocked with several tasty meat dishes, specializes in vegetarian and vegan options including spicy potatoes, veggie momos, lentil soup, fried rice and curried tofu for a price that leaves diners with enough cash to make rent'or splurge on new plugs. Thrifty diners are wise to get their orders to go. Take-out portions far surpass the amount of savory goodness you can handle (or feel comfortable putting away in public).382 Fourth Ave., 364-8558

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BEST LATIN AMERICAN
tttCafé La Brioche
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Come 9 a.m. on State Street, you can find a few tables by a large window in the misleadingly named La Brioche where you can sip milky coffee and munch on media lunas (Latin American croissants) and facturas (a range of sweet cakes and biscuits) with lashings of dulce de leche. The media lunas come both sweet and salty, and with cheese and ham cooked inside. Take along Borges or Cortazar’s short stories and, for a moment, imagine yourself transported to a little café on a street corner in Buenos Aires, Lima or Santiago.1370 S. State, 466-3557; 854 N. 100 West, Orem, 801-802-7740

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BEST MEX-MIX
tttRico Mexican Delicatessen & Catering Services
tt
For nine years, Jorge Fierro and Karin Palle have campaigned to expand Salt Lake City’s view of Mexican food. Starting with a few bags of beans at the Farmers’ Market, Rico’s estimated $1.8 million in revenues last year suggests headway. Along with classic Mexican dishes, its catering menu includes such highlights as goat-cheese filled salmon served with a strawberry sauce and shrimp with machego cheese wrapped in bacon. While Rico’s excellent products can now be found in most supermarkets in the state, sadly, there’s no restaurant. That’s about quality control, Karen says. If they can’t micromanage everything, they’re not interested.779 S. 500 East, 533-9923, RicoMarket.com

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BEST RED WINE & TAPAS
tttMartine
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Ah, Tapas. Delicious Spanish appetizers designed to be eaten slowly and savored with a glass of fine red wine. Thankfully, Salt Lake City’s Martine serves a world-class assortment of divine tapas and offers one of the Beehive State’s best wine lists so that we can all enjoy a bit of Spanish culinary brilliance. If you have always dreamed about taking a glamorous trip to Madrid or Barcelona, a reservation for an elegant dinner at Martine is an excellent place to begin.22 E. 100 South, 363-9328

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BEST WINE LIST Readers’ Choice
tttPanache Wine Bar
tt
Passion is the name of the game when it comes to Panache’s wine list. While owner Shauna Engen relies on an international wine judge to help provide a rotating wine list, what’s really at stake here is the exquisite art of pairing. Putting the right wine with the right plate can be the difference between a night of stilted conversation and a night of passion, if Engen is to be believed. So a Bucklin Syrah with a pepper steak brings out perfectly the spiciness of the meat. The collision between wine and meat evokes something greater than the two parts, a chemical change, that, Engen says, can truly enhance the romance of an evening.299 S. Main, 535-4311, Panache.net
t2. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
t3. Caffé Molise

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BEST OLD-FASHIONED TRADE
tttVolker’s Bakery
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Kamas-based baker Volker Ritzinger is a stock-figure of Utah’s farmers’ markets. His quality loaves go for $5 a pop, which might seem expensive, but when you consider all the cheese that goes into his best-selling Asiago cheese loaf, you know it’s worth it. Instead of buying his ingredients wholesale, however, Volker believes the old ways are the best. He’ll trade bread with East Farms for red onions and spinach, do the same with Zion Canyon-based Springdale Fruit Company for rosemary and yet again with George’s Produce for a half-acre of basil each year. There’s something refreshing about folk who make deals where artisanal values determine value rather than filthy lucre.180 N. 200 West, Kamas, VolkersBakery.com

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BEST SALADS Readers’ Choice
tttCaffé Molise
tt
While most diners frequent Caffé Molise for the scenic patio, top-notch service and inventive entrees, those in the know swear by the downtown Italian restaurant’s inventive salads. We’re not talking dinky I’m-on-a-diet side dishes: Molise delivers filling and healthy portions of imported feta, grilled Gulf shrimp, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, goat-cheese crostini and other fresh ingredients served on a bed of mixed-greens. Stop in at lunch for a greater selection of award-winning veggies.55 W. 100 South, 364-8833, CafféMolise.com
nt2. Café Rio
t3. Rumbi Island Grill

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BEST DADDY-DAUGHTER DATE
tttLamb’s Grill & Ballet West’s The Nutcracker
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Sit in a leather booth at the back of Lamb’s Grill while your 6-year-old daughter, dressed to the nines, chews her way through a grilled cheese sandwich, and it’s impossible not to get teary-eyed at the prospect of taking your firstborn to The Nutcracker. Something about Lamb’s genteel atmosphere makes it the best place to dine her. And then you get to spend the next two and a half hours glancing at your daughter’s enraptured features as she drinks down the dancers cavorting on stage as if it were the nectar of the gods.Lamb’s Grill: 169 S. Main, 364-7166; Ballet West: 50 W. 200 South, 323-6900

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BEST DESSERTS Readers’ Choice
tttThe Bakery
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At the end of the evening, there’s just one question on everybody’s minds: Where should we go for dessert? For Salt Lakers, the decision’s not difficult. The Bakery, one of the city’s most charming institutions, has served up its tasty treats for 17 years; long may it prosper. Coffee and a brownie will wrap up that second date nicely and, since it’s open till midnight on the weekends, there’s time to linger. Once you taste its crusty, fresh-baked bread, you’ll never go back to those store-bought airloaves.250 S. 300 East, 328-3330
t2. Market Street Broiler
t3. Red Butte Café

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BEST MEATY SUBS
tttSicilia Pizza
tt
This local pizza-and-sub joint is a true carnivore’s dream. The meat-lover’s sub or Italian sub will weigh your plate down with pepperoni, ham and sausage that’s made right there at the shop. Oven-toasted and sprinkled generously in Parmesan cheese, it’s a meal and a half. Try the meat-lover’s pizza, too, with the white sauce for variety (with the boss’ secret ingredients, it’s above and beyond your average alfredo sauce).145 E. Broadway, 961-7077

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BEST POST-RIVER BURGER
tttRay’s Tavern
tt
One can only stomach so much freeze-dried food, no matter how “gourmet.” Nature’s swell and all, but after even three days of stew, beans, rice and Clif bars, there’s nothing quite like a hot plate of comfort food. That’s where Ray’s Tavern, a beacon of freshly cooked meals, comes in. Well, at least for carnivores. Vegetarians make due with fries and pie, while meat-lovers sink their teeth into fat, juicy burgers. All customers have plenty of eye candy to consume, with river-running pics and other paraphernalia draping the walls. Finish up with some pool and you’re good to go. Hell, you might even be up for another night on the water.25 S. Broadway, Green River, 435-564-3511, Rays-Tavern.com
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BEST AL PASTOR BURRITO
tttEl Taqueria el Rey de Oros
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You might find the best tacos on a street corner, but the west side’s where it’s at for burritos al pastor. Cooked on a vertical spit “shepherd’s style,” this Northern Mexican delight is resplendent with thick juicy slices of sweet barbequed pork (traditional recipes also call for goat and lamb variations) spiced to perfection. Served with beans and onions for a cool $2.50, El Taqueria el Rey de Oro’s version is a satisfying steal.175 S. 900 West, 322-3176

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BEST BURGERS Readers’ Choice
tttCrown Burger
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Part of the experience is just waiting for your order'watching the beef sizzle on the grill, and smelling that char-broiled smell you thought you could only get in your back yard. Then you see the finished product'the pastrami spilling over the sides of the signature Crown Burger, or the bacon overflowing from a bacon cheeseburger. And then you bite in, and remember what a real hamburger is supposed to taste like in all its sloppy glory. And life is good.Multiple locations, different owners
t2. The Cotton Bottom
t3. The Training Table

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BEST ANYTIME BREAKFAST PLATE
tttBig Ed’s “Gawdawful”
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If you ever had a craving for a good, old-fashioned home-style breakfast but weren’t sure what to get, you can make things simple by ordering up a “gawdawful” at Big Ed’s and pretty much get them all piled onto one plate of greasy, heaven-sent deliciousness. The plate is stacked with hash browns, eggs, chili, cheese, onions and sour cream. Wash it down with one of the cold microbrews on tap, and you’ve got yourself a breakfast of champions.210 S. University, 582-9045

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BEST GYROS Readers’ Choice
tttGreek Souvlaki
tt
Here’s where you’ll find your big, fat Greek gyro. The generous portions of rotisserie lamb, tomato, onions and red (tomato) or white (cucumber yogurt) sauces folded into a fluffy pita are in a league of their own. Nostalgic out-of-towners have been known to have Greek Souvlaki’s gyros shipped to them. Lucky you, you can order yours and wolf it down any ol’ time you like.404 E. 300 South, 322-2062; 1446 S. State, 487-3481; 2192 W. 3500 South, West Valley, 973-4976.
t2. Mad Greek
t3. Yanni’s

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BEST PORRIDGE
tttThe Three Bears Creamery Cottage
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The name itself renders unnecessary the need for “this bowl is just right” gags'but it is. If you’ve ever wanted to fancy yourself part of a fairy tale, start with a breakfast of hearty oatmeal made thick and bubbly with cream'no instant, water-based stuff here. Add a little brown sugar and milk, and you’ll soon find yourself so satisfied you’ll need to lie down for a nap on a bed that’s … oh, you know.210 S. 100 East, Kanab, 435-644-3300, ThreeBearsCreameryCottage.com

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BEST SUSHI-MAKER’S MARKET
tttAquarius Fish Co.
tt
We love the amazing creations of local sushi chefs'but eventually, the dining-out money dries up. When you’re a little short on cash but still jonesin’ for yellowtail, make it yourself with the fresher-than-fresh fish at Aquarius. Posted information shows exactly what came in that very day, from rock shrimp to halibut. Grab a package of nori (roasted seaweed) and some wasabi, and you’ll be on your way to satisfying your craving without taking out a second mortgage.314 W. Broadway, 533-5653, AquariusFish.com

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BEST MAMA’S COOKING
tttGood Thymes Bistro
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Oh, to have Ilese Jaffa cooking in your kitchen! At Good Thymes Bistro in Kimball Junction, Jaffa turns out the kind of comfort food you’d normally have to visit aging relatives to get: stick-to-the-ribs home-style cooking of the first order. The only problem at Good Thymes is narrowing down the choices from an extensive menu of dishes like slow-roasted beef brisket, “Mom’s Really Good Meatloaf,” crispy pan-fried trout, homemade potato chips, Philly cheesesteak, shrimp and grits … you get the idea. So bring the whole family and try a little bit of everything, especially the made-from-scratch chicken pot pie, and be sure to finish up with the old-fashioned banana cream pie or New Orleans bread pudding.6300 N. Sage Wood Dr., Park City, 435-615-7090, GoodThymes.net

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BEST FRENCH FRIES Readers’ Choice
tttCrown Burger
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Could it be that being served up alongside the state’s best burger (see “Best Burgers”) makes Crown Burger’s sliced spuds that much more appealing? Or is it that ideal combination of crispy crunch, buttery interior and a salty touch that’s satisfying without scalding your tongue? Maybe a little bit of both'because, as tasty as these fries are as a side dish, they’re just as satisfying all by their lonesome.Multiple locations.
t2. The Bayou
t3. The Training Table

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BEST GOAT MEAT TACO
tttTaqueria Piedras Negras
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So you’ve sampled rattlesnake sausage at your local Brazilian buffet'but how adventurous are you really? Take a chance on an authentic birria taco at this Salt Lake City stalwart, in addition to more gringo-friendly options. Here’s someplace where they’ll really get your goat.1465 S. State, 484-9921

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BEST SANDWICH OF THE STARS
tttLeger’s Sandwiches
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This homegrown Park City sandwich shop has become the unofficial fast food of the Sundance Film Festival. During the festival, you can find Leger’s sandwiches all over the city'if, that is, you have the correct credentials to get into the beautiful-people tents. The rest of us can enjoy Leger’s humongous sandwiches throughout the year at two Park City locations.1612 Ute Blvd., Park City, 435-940-0229; 1400 Snow Creek Dr., Park City, 435-649-5678

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BEST JEWISH CHEESECAKE
tttSchmidt’s Pastry Cottage
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There are those, but not many, who say they can’t tell the difference between regular cheesecake and Jewish cheesecake. But these are people content to chew on graham crackers. For the rest, there’s Schmidt’s Pastry Cottage’s delectable version that’s such an affair by itself that they require a pan deposit. At $69 dollars, plus a little extra if you like toppings, it ain’t cheap. But it will satisfy even the most demanding dessert cravings of 80 people, all of whom will be able to tell the difference between this and the Gentile version well before they’ve cleaned their plates.5664 S. Redwood Road, 967-9766; 2050 E. 6200 South, 274-7150; 609 E. 2100 South, 487-3500

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BEST OGDEN SUDS & SANDWICH
tttRooster’s Brewing Co. & Restaurant
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A Bee’s Knees Honey Wheat is great on its own, as is a Heavenly Cream Ale, a Diamond Ale or a Two-Bit Amber'throw in a Rooster’s club, blackened chicken or Tuscan steak sandwich and you’ve got one of the tastiest lunches on Historic 25th Street. The artful décor and cool lines also make Rooster’s a pleasure to look at, but it’s really all about the brews and the bites.253 25th Street, Ogden, 801-627-6171; 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9337; RoostersBrewingCo.com

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BEST SANDWICHES Readers’ Choice
tttTony Caputo’s Market & Deli
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With outside seating and a large bright interior, this Italian deli across the street from Pioneer Park is a boisterous place to have lunch any day of the week. To get a sandwich, just line up along the counter and give them your order. The staff will recommend the Caputo or the messier meatball sandwich. The Caputo, named after the deli’s owner, is a combination of meats and cheeses: prosciutto, mortadella and salami with a slice of provolone. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with lettuce and tomatoes, it’s southern Italy on a roll.314 W. 300 South, 531-TONY, CaputosDeli.com
t2. Moochie’s Meatballs & More
t3. Gandolfo’s

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BEST CURRY Readers’ Choice
tttCurry in a Hurry
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Some people like the standard burger or pizza during lunch break. Some people are standard dullards all through life, too. There’s nothing at all dull about this establishment’s tandoori wrap, chicken curry or fresh curried vegetable sides. It’s all eminently affordable, thoroughly delicious and refreshingly no-fuss. And if that isn’t enough to interest you out of your habitual lunch break, you might be interested to know that the turmeric in curry also helps keep the mind sharp. The bonuses just keep coming.210 S. Main, 323-7030; 2020 S. State, 467-4137
t2. Bombay House
t3. Taste of Punjab

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BEST WTF? SANDWICH
tttCopper Creek Pub & Grub’s “Full Monte Cristo”
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Located at the bottom of the Town Lift (which lets skiers too tired to continue “downloading” directly to Park City’s Main Street), Copper Creek offers several sandwiches that allow the weary to immediately replace any calories they expended on the hill. The Full Monte Cristo is the most outrageous, created with turkey, ham and cheese, battered and fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam. Slightly less overwhelming but still implausible is the “Chubby Melt” burger, which uses grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns. A jalapeño-infused version also is available.825 Main Street, Park City, 435-615-9900; 3451 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 417-0051; CopperCreekPubAndGrub.com

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BEST BURRITO Readers’ Choice
tttCafé Rio
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Get one of this Utah chain’s massive grilled steaks or the sweet pork burritos stuffed with beans, rice and all the fixings and wash it down with a soda, if you like. For the cheaper among you, a pure bean-and-rice, no-nonsense urban food pellet is the least-expensive burrito. Ask for your burrito enchilada-style and the cooks will bake it topped with the salsa of your choice beneath melted cheese. Multiple locations, CaféRio.com
t2. Beto’s Mexican Food
t3. Barbacoa

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BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
tttEpic Casual Dining
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It’s risky opening a restaurant with the word “epic” in the name, but at Epic Casual Dining in Midvale, the food and drink is particularly epic in relation to the price you pay for it. If Epic was located downtown or in Park City, we’re pretty certain that entrees like the scrumptious sautéed pork medallions with silky sherry-sage demiglace or seared salmon with a sweet ginger-soy sauce would require taking out a loan on your mortgage. But, in Midvale, most of Epic’s entrees are priced well under $20. That leaves you enough leftover dough to splurge on some juice from the surprisingly lengthy wine list.707 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale 748-1300

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BEST OGDEN COFFEE
tttGrounds for Coffee
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Long before Starbucks started sprouting up like weeds, Grounds for Coffee had been laying the groundwork for its thriving northern Utah coffee empire ever since 1991. If a Grounds cup of joe tastes just a bit more robust and complex than other coffee merchants’, it’s only because the people here take so much care behind the scenes, knowing the distinctions between grades of espresso and coffee. Grounds’ “Mocha Chiller” defined the summer coffee drink years before other coffee outlets jumped on the bandwagon. Unusual specials keep loyal customers on their toes.Multiple locations, GroundsForCoffee.com

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BEST IRISH EATS
tttMacCool’s Public House
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It doesn’t have to be St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Then again, virtually every day is St. Patrick’s Day at the ?ber-Irish MacCool’s Public House. In between games of darts or shuffleboard and pints of Guinness, you’ll be wearin’ the green with Irish-inspired fare like bangers & mash, potato leek soup, Irish soda bread, classic shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, Guinness stew and, of course, corned beef & cabbage. MacCool’s motto sums up the friendly Irish vibe there: “There are no strangers here'only friends who haven’t met.”1400 S. Foothill Dr., 582-3111; 855 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-728-9111

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BEST OSSO BUCCO
tttGrappa
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We know a fellow who drives straight from the airport to Bill White’s Grappa restaurant in Park City on his annual visits from Washington, D.C. And he always orders the same thing: Grappa’s extraordinary Osso Bucco. This is traditional home-style Italian cooking at its most scrumptious: Braised until falling-off-the-bone tender veal shank bathed in a rich veal stock fortified with herbs and red wine, served up on a bed of heavenly herb and spinach spaetzle and a mélange of wild mushrooms. Finished with roasted garlic gremolata, of course. Grandma never made it better.151 Main, Park City, 435-645-0636, GrappaRestaurant.com

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BEST CHILE VERDE
tttLorena’s
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Here’s the plan: First, take the Woods Cross exit from I-15 to Lorena’s Mexican Restaurant, right next to Denny’s and the Hampton Inn. Find a seat in the sprawling, laid-back eatery and chow down on a bowl or two of free chips and salsa, the best salsa in town, by the way. Next, order a cerveza and anything on the menu that includes a heaping helping of Lorena’s championship chile verde: the chile verde burrito, chile verde platter, etc. Repeat frequently, as you won’t find a better plate of chile verde in the state. Oh yeah, it’s also cheap and did we mention the free chips and salsa?800 W. 2477 South, Woods Cross, 295-2441

BEST ICE CREAM CONCEPT
tttScoopology
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Considering the number of ice cream stores in the south valley, it seems unlikely for anything new to surface and survive. But cream rises to the top. Scoopology lives by adding uncommon mix-ins like cereal, Pop-Tarts and fresh cookie dough in multiple flavors. But if you’re opposed to ice cream, try a bowl of cereal or peanut-butter sandwich instead. Another option is the cookie dough, which is sold for baking. You can add the store’s mix-ins before you take it home. 7710 S. Union Park Ave., Midvale, 562-8937, ScoopologySweetScience.com

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