If Koko Kitchen simply turned the FM radio off in favor of Muzak and dimmed the lights a bit, the best little Japanese restaurant in town could justify raising its prices. But with the food so good, the prices so reasonable and the atmosphere so comfortable already, we’re glad they’ve kept it just as it is for so many years. Koko serves “safe” comfort foods like a teriyaki bowl, but also adventurous items like an ume (sour plum) sushi roll. It’s the best place to go if you want some sushi without any pretense.
702 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4888
Surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, a large pond, a trickling stream and a national forest, Log Haven’s rustic log-mansion ambiance is one of the West’s most appealing. But the spectacular natural surroundings are just part of the story. Log Haven owner Margo Provost and her staff strive mightily to provide a dining ambiance in which not only the body is nourished, but also the spirit. She wants her restaurant to be a respite of sorts, a place where customers are treated like family and where the soul can soar. City Weekly readers obviously find both Log Haven’s food and spirit to be filled with soul. Maybe that’s partly attributable to the spirits who are said to roam the restaurant at night.
6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
Best Fresh Mushrooms
First Oriental Market
One of the few Asian stores now owned by a Westerner (and his Korean wife), this place lives up to its name when it comes to fresh produce, Asian-food staples … and mushrooms. You can’t get fresher eggplants unless you pick them yourself. A 25-pound bag of rice is $10. They even have sushi makings, including salmon, shrimp, tuna, eel, octopus, squid, seaweed and pickled ginger. But the big deal here is the selection of fresh mushrooms … and their low prices. They’ve got all the mushrooms you could need—packages of button-size bunapi, skinny enoki, shitake, big bags of trumpet mushrooms, button, oyster, king oyster, elephant ear and more.
4616 S. 4000 West, West Valley City, 801-963-5949
Recently re-dedicated to the celebration of French bistro and brasserie fare, The Paris Bistro and Zinc Bar is once again the spot this side of the Left Bank for Francophiles. The belle époque ode to the City of Light teems with the foods of France, from moules marinire, ris de veau, escargots and bouillabaisse to confit de canard, steak au poivre and, of course, pommes frites. There’s also a terrific selection of French cheeses and one of the best wine lists in the state, which includes a staggering number of Bordeaux and Burgundy. At The Paris, it’s vive la France seven days a week.
1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
3. La Caille
Best Breakfast Croissant
As owner of one of the friendliest coffee shops in Salt Lake City, Alchemy’s Jason Briggs is always happy to give you a welcoming smile and your dog a treat. This neighborhood haunt not only has great coffee but also a lovely selection of pastries and treats (including vegan varieties). It’s really worth the walk from almost anywhere to taste the breakfast croissant. Because this spot is so popular, there can be a wait, so place your order and spend your time patiently dreaming of the fluffy French pastry coming your way, filled with your choice of cheese and an assortment of seasonal vegetables.
390 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0735, AlchemyCoffee.com
Best Utah County Culinary Flair
Best Restaurant GM
Ali Raafati, Garden Cafe at Grand America
Like many fine, world-class restaurant general managers, Ali Raafati of Grand America’s Garden Cafe learned the art of professional hospitality in Switzerland. His attention to detail is every bit as exacting as his friendly smile is infectious. Whether patrolling the endless food stations at Grand America’s luxurious Sunday brunch buffet or helping patrons to select a good vintage to accompany dinner at the Garden Cafe, Raafati is the sort of restaurant professional you could build an entire business around.
555 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-258-6708, GrandAmerica.com
Best Chocolate Splurge
Amano Artisan Chocolate
Some of the world’s finest artisan chocolates are made in Orem. Art Pollard’s obsession with perfection has put Amano Artisan Chocolate on the map. His modus operandi is to craft single-origin chocolate, using house-modified machinery to capture subtleties otherwise missed. Chocolate’s true flavors can be masked with sugar and milk, but even a layman can catch blackberry and green banana notes in the smooth, rich finish of the Guyas bar. These delectable goodies can be purchased at high-end markets and grocers and are well worth the hefty price tag ($6.95-$8.95 per bar).
496 S. 1325 West, Orem, 801-655-1996, AmanoChocolate.com
The baking artisans of Gourmandise know that providing delicious pastries, desserts, cookies and other baked goods all day long means coming in to the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning to make everything from scratch. That commitment is what brings customers in by the baker’s dozens from morning to night to grab fresh-baked loaves of cinnamon bread, sweet cream-cheese streusel pockets, Napoleon cakes, raspberry chocolate ganaches, chocolate-dipped sugar cookies, strawberry-kiwi tarts and more. There’s a treat to match every sweet tooth of early risers and late-night gnoshers alike.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, GourmandiseTheBakery.com
2. Kneaders Bakery & Cafe
3. Tulie Bakery
Best Combo Meals
Here’s another locally owned Greek chain beloved for its trifecta of great burgers, onion rings and fresh shakes (though the chicken sandwich ain’t bad, either). It’s hard not to be impressed by the dozen or so combo meals that include fries or onion rings and drink, most of them delicious, artery-clogging burgers and gyros. However, for the virtuous few souls who can withstand temptation, a chef salad combo sans fries is offered for a mere $6.95. Apollo now boasts 11 locations from Davis to Utah counties.
Multiple locations, ApolloBurgers.com
Let me guess: You know that Kung Pao Chicken isn’t authentic Chinese food, and yet you have no idea what really is authentic. Rectify that at Little World, a slice of China squeezed into a no-pretense, focus-on-the-food spot you might not imagine would gather mass appeal. Though it’s been on top before, it’s been a few years since Little World was No. 1 in this competitive category.
1356 S. State, 801-467-5213
3. Asian Star
Best Wine Selection
Pago is testament to the notion that bigger is not always better. The restaurant itself is pint-size, but brimming with full, robust flavors. And, the wine list is nowhere near the city’s most expansive. In fact, it’s downright scrawny compared to more bombastic selections around town. But what Pago’s wine list does so well is to take much of the guesswork and gamble out of food-and-wine pairings. The slimmed-down wine selections are pointed with laser-like accuracy at the dishes served at Pago—each wine is carefully chosen by the owner with specific menu items in mind. So, the key word here is “select.” That, plus a unique Cruvinet system for keeping wines-by-the-glass fresh, adds up to a great wine program.
878 S. 900 East, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com
2. Fratelli Ristorante
3. Wild Grape
Taste of India
You know that Layton’s Taste of India must be special, since it regularly wins awards but, unlike most other Indian eateries, doesn’t even do a lunch buffet. Ah, but that’s partly why it wins awards. The owners don’t feel that the traditional lunch buffet does justice to Taste of India’s made-to-order cuisine. That’s just one of the differences here. Another is utilizing iPads to take customer orders. All of the curries and other sauces are made from scratch, using the freshest ingredients and spices. And so, dishes like lamb bunna, chicken vindaloo, shrimp tikka masala and malai kofta (veggie dumplings) simply sing with vibrant flavors. And now, due to popular demand, there’s a second Taste of India, in West Jordan.
1664 Woodland Park Drive, Layton, 801-614-0107; 9200 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, 801-618-2200, TasteofIndiaLayton.com
2. Bombay House
3. Himalayan Kitchen
Best Sugar & Caffeine Combo
Beans & Brews
When a mid-afternoon boost is necessary, some choose caffeine, others sugar. With the Mr. B’s from Beans & Brews, there’s no need to make a choice. You can get as much as 32 ounces of this frozen latte, a slushy concoction infused with coffee, white cocoa and Irish cream syrup.
Multiple locations, BeansAndBrews.com
Best Veggie Burger
Bear Dance Café
Sadly, ordering the vegetarian burger at many restaurants can be a crapshoot for vegans and vegetarians. You never know when you might be just getting a warmed up Costco veggie patty—that is, unless you order the Veggie Burger at Midway’s charming Bear Dance Café. The burger here is not a sawdust and soybean mashup. Rather, diners are treated to a handmade patty of black bean and quinoa—a tasty and rather uncommon nutty, grain-like crop—on a freshly baked bun with tomato, lettuce, onion and your choice of fries or salad. Add a buck, and you top that tasty treat with kicking flavor fixins like jalapeños, zucchini, grilled onion or, for the non-vegan, cheesy offerings like bleu, mozzarella, Swiss, Chevre, cheddar and jack.
79 E. Main, Midway, 435-654-3699, BearDanceCafe.com
Best Late Night
Bayleaf Bar & Grub
There are plenty of excuses to visit the Bayleaf, including the awesome barbecued shrimp and grits, Hoppin’ John, chicken & waffles and the killer adobo chicken. Another great reason to drop in was the all-night service on weekends, as Bayleaf's open from 11 a.m. Friday to 9 p.m. Sunday. The catfish and shrimp po’boy sandwiches taste fantastic any time, but seem especially yummy in the wee hours with a cold beer or Southern-style sweet tea alongside. But now Bayleaf has become a bar—so it's possible to drink your fill and then order a late-night breakfast of blackened catfish and eggs.
159 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8490, BayleafBarAndGrub.com
3. Molca Salsa
Best Bacon Infusion
Beyond Glaze’s Maple & Bacon Donut
In the race to integrate bacon into as many aspects of the American life as possible, the donut artisans of Beyond Glaze Doughnuts have turned a new page in bacon-infused culinary progress. Behold: the maple-and-bacon donut. This tasty treat locks the yin/yang, salty/sweet dynamic into a tasty circle of donut deliciousness. One bite, and you’ll think you just stuck a forkful of bacon and syrup-soaked pancake into your mouth. Mmm, bacon … and donut.
177 W. 12300 South, Draper, 801-571-2309, BeyondGlaze.com
Blue Plate Diner
Whether you’re looking for a lumberjack portion of eggs and bacon to start your busy day off right or just a slathering of a.m. comfort food to soothe your liquor-ravaged stomach from the night before, the Blue Plate Diner has a heaping of delicious, affordable breakfast grub just for you. Chow down on combinations like the Classic Blue Breakfast of three eggs any style with home fries and toast. Or, for something a little more decadent, try the Benedict omelet, which is stuffed with honey-peppered bacon, cheese and hollandaise sauce; or, the massive and massively delicious chicken verde burrito. With delicious breakfasts served hot and fresh all day, it’s always a good morning at the Blue Plate Diner.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Ruth’s Diner
3. Eggs in the City
Best Vegan Crepes
Best Bookish Breakfast
Blue Boar Inn
At Midway’s Blue Boar Inn, chef Eric May takes breakfast seriously. Case in point: Breakfast selections include homemade granola, Irish steel-cut oatmeal, grilled Norwegian salmon, feta quiche, cinnamon-swirl brioche French toast, a Mediterranean omelet and Swedish pancakes with berry marmalade. And, while enjoying a hearty Blue Boar breakfast, diners are surrounded by literary giants. Rooms and suites at the Inn are named for Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Butler Yeats, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, William Shakespeare and others. We’re looking forward to the day a Charles Bukowski room is christened.
1235 Warm Springs Road, Midway, 435-654-1400, TheBlueBoarInn.com
Best Street Vendor
A moveable feast—that’s the Chow Truck, the creation of “Boss Lady” SuAn Chow and “Chef” Rosanne Ruiz. This is meals on wheels at its best. The Chow Truck—which bounces from parking lot to parking lot around town—offers delicious Asian cuisine like pineapple-ginger pork sliders, a salad of panko-fried tofu glazed with sambal and cilantro-chile pesto, calamari dusted with Asian spices, and even coconut lemon-grass chicken tacos. Like the food, the Chow Truck itself is vibrant and hard to miss: screaming yellow with a bold dragon logo that signals the explosive flavors served curbside.
Salt Lake City, ChowTruck.com
2. City Dogs
3. Taco Carts at Sears
Salt Lake City’s longest-lasting Indian restaurant, Bombay House, has been pleasing customers since 1993. And one of the main attractions, along with a flurry of curry, is the exceptional briyani (also called biryani)—a rice-based dish that originated in Persia before finding its way to South Asia via Iranian merchants. It’s rice cooked with savory spices and other delicious ingredients. All of the Bombay briyanis begin with imported basmati rice, cooked to fluffy perfection, with the addition of minced onions, garlic, ginger, cashews and a choice of chicken, lamb or vegetables. This, friend, is bodacious briyani.
2731 E. Parley’s Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222; 463 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-6677, BombayHouse.com
Best Quick Brazil Escape
At Braza Express, they’ve taken the idea of a Brazilian churrascaria and lit a fire under it. Service is rapid. The food here is served cafeteria style, so there’s no waiting for popular items such as grilled tenderloin and top sirloin, chicken, and sides of fried yucca, fried banana, mixed veggies, smoky black beans, rice or an assortment of salads. With many combo plates priced at a mere $7, you’ll feel like you’re actually in Brazil spending American dollars! Bonus: There’s free delivery available in downtown Salt Lake City.
147 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8009, BrazaExpress.com
Best (Grilled) Cheeseburger
Britton’s Restaurant “Hog Burger”
The concept of American comfort food doesn’t generally get comfort-ier than the cheeseburger. But there are cheeseburgers, and then there’s the epic construction you get at this Sandy eatery. The “Hog Burger” drops its burger—not a thin, neatly pressed patty, but a real chunk of ground beef—between two grilled cheese sandwiches, for an experience of truly decadent juiciness that has left regulars and newbies alike raving at the improbable absence of greasiness.
694 Union Square, Sandy, 801-572-5148, BrittonsRestaurant.com
Best Downtown Restaurant
This eatery was named for owner/chef Charlie Perry’s grandmother, who inspired him to be a chef. We’re pretty certain that Grandma would be proud of her namesake restaurant. Somehow, Eva combines creative, contemporary cuisine with a relaxed, casual, check-your-attitude-at-the-door ambiance. Service is friendly and helpful, prices are affordable and the food—well, it’s sensational. Small plates and individually sized wood-fired pizzas make Eva a seductive spot for grazing, and the newly remodeled bar will entice customers with a glass from the well-conceived wine list or, perhaps, one of the restaurant’s specialty cocktails.
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com
2. The Copper Onion
3. Naked Fish Japanese Bistro
Best Reason to Eat Your Vegetables
This little neighborhood niche has many culinary things going for it—amazing artisan English muffins, red quinoa salad and locally procured meats—but the shaved Brussels sprouts are by far its best asset. It’s also worth stopping by and having a round of small plates or going big with the largess that is the lamb sirloin, possibly ending your meal with a succulent dessert such as the grapefruit brulee. But back to those sprouts: Simply shaved, bathed in butter and sautéed until caramelized, chefs/owners Ethan Lappé and Adrian Alvarado prove the old adage that with enough butter, anything can be delicious.
779 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-433-3380, CaffeNiche.com
Best Natural Foods
Looking for fresh, wholesome, organic foods but don’t want to spend your money at overpriced gourmet-food boutiques? Cali’s Natural Foods is an organic-food emporium with warehouse-type pricing, brought to you by Ian Brandt, owner of Sage’s and Vertical Diner. Cali’s stocks everything from natural, local Redmond Salt to wheatgrass soaps, organic leeks, lemons, Wyomato English cucumbers and basmati rice. Produce, herbs and such come, in part, from local farmers like Sunbridge Growers, Bug Farms, Chad’s Produce and Chef Brandt’s Garden. Why, you can even pick up a six pack of Howie’s Premium Root Beer, bottled in Orem.
389 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-483-2254, CalisNaturalFoods.com
Best Fried Clams
Back east, kids grow up eating fried clams like they do fries with fry sauce here. In Zion, however, a fried clam is damned hard to find. So, kudos to Cena restaurant at The Chateaux in Deer Valley for not only putting fried clams on the menu but also for making them spectacular. The large clams are battered and deep-fried to a gorgeous golden color, with a crisp, crunchy crust. And, like the real deal, these are served wrapped in newspaper, but with a classy added touch: a spicy yellow tomato sauce for dipping. You simply won’t find better fried clams—on either coast.
7815 Royal Street East, Park City, 435-658-9500, The-Chateaux.com/dining
Best New SLC Restaurant
For many, the Red Iguana and North Temple, the street where the restaurant grew its following, are practically synonymous. North Temple TRAX construction work, however, has made driving to the Red Iguana a steeple chase. Faced with such obstacles, you’d think that the Red Iguana, legendary for its mind-blowing moles and seafood dishes, would shrivel up and blow away. And you’d be wrong. It’s hardly missed a beat, and not just because it preemptively opened up two more accessible restaurants downtown (866 W. South Temple, 801-214-6050 and 28 S. State, City Creek Center Food Court, 801-214-6350). Red Iguana is proof that a family-owned “dive” known for killer Mexican food can squeeze a juicy lemon over all manner of ripped-up asphalt and make a tasty guacamole out of it.
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489, RedIguana.com
2. La Puente
3. Blue Iguana
Best Better Butters
Butter: The mere word already conjures up the height of decadently rich cooking. This Utah-based company kicks things up additional notches with a variety of flavored butters, sold at many local grocers, that can give your recipes an easy extra dose of deliciousness. Spread a schmear of garlic butter on your Italian bread, or honey butter on your corn muffin. Or prepare fish, chicken and other dishes with a sauté in lemon dill or garlic herb butter. Then finish off with sliced apples in Cinnamon Brown Sugar Butter. It’s like buttah.
Best Park City Restaurant
High West Distillery & Saloon
Having garnered numerous awards for its whiskeys, Utah’s first distillery since 1870 now adds to its trophy collection a prestigious Best Park City Restaurant award. That’s no small feat in a town teeming with nearly 150 eateries, some of them world-class. But the cuisine of James Dumas combined with the sprawling, multilevel fun zone that is High West Distillery & Saloon add up to a very special destination restaurant in a very special resort town. Best bet: Dumas’ 21-day dry-aged bone-in New York bison paired with High West Distillery Double Rye.
703 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8300, HighWest.com
3. 350 Main
Best Pocket Change Sandwich
We’ll be the first to admit that Cher’s is not about atmosphere or décor. The sparsely furnished sandwich shop strives to maintain low overhead. But, that’s A-OK for sandwich lovers on a budget, because at Cher’s, you’ll find an array of sammiches priced so low that you can buy ‘em with the change you found under the sofa cushions. A “regular” sandwich—liverwurst with Swiss on rye, for example—sells for a mere $2.19. Bigger “Hero” sandwiches are only $3.59. Use your leftover cash for items like macaroni salad, fried rice or California rolls. No checks or credit cards, however, so really, do bring your pocket change.
219 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8121
Best Meat & Metal
Gunslinger’s Outlaw Barbecue, Club Vegas
Club Vegas is a well-established part of the Salt Lake City club scene, an avid supporter of local talent via its weekly Bandwagon Live sessions and Local Band Appreciation Nights. And the place has always had a surprisingly tasty kitchen going on during its nonstop assault of rock & roll. But this year, they introduced Salt Lakers to Kansas City-style barbecue via the opening of Gunslinger’s Outlaw Barbecue on the premises. For some of us barbecue fiends, it doesn’t get any better than the thick, sauce-slathered beef and pork that KC ‘cue is known for. A chance to bang your head while attacking a rack of ribs is just a bonus.
445 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-8347, ClubVegasSLC.com
Best Coffee Community
If you’re looking for a social network powered by caffeine and Wi-Fi, look no further than South Salt Lake’s Coffee Connection. The spacious and chic coffee house has earned a “Best Of” nod previously for its inviting study area, but now, owner Jeremiah Kephart is charting new territory by using the coffee house's Wi-Fi to build an online social network. New users build a quick profile to access the Internet and then, if they so choose, “friend” fellow customers, post discussion threads and send private messages to fellow patrons. The community is new and still sinking down its roots, but if ever there were a hyperlocal version of Facebook in the works—a Coffeebook, if you will—the foundation has been laid at the Coffee Connection. Now you just need to get connected.
1588 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4937, SaltLakeCoffeeConnection.com
Best Utah County Restaurant
If Communal were located in downtown Salt Lake City, it’d be packed nightly—it’s that good. So, lucky you if you live in Utah County. For the rest of us, it’s worth the drive to enjoy Communal’s take on wholesome, contemporary American cuisine, with a focus on sustainability and local-product sourcing. Pork chops come from Christiansen Farms, Tomme cheese is from Rockhill Creamery, eggs are from Clifford Farms and, well, you get the idea. The owners/chefs—who also operate Orem’s Pizzeria 712—are dedicated to using fresh, local products whenever possible, which adds up to the best food you can find in Utah County.
100 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, CommunalRestaurant.com
2. Pizzeria 712
3. Bombay House
Aristo’s is to a Greek meal what a martini is to a jigger of vodka: the culmination of you chilling while hearty Cretan specialties are shaken or stirred, and yes, there will be olives. With its pivotal U of U location, Aristo’s is the perfect lunch or dinner spot before or after a performance or game. Start with small-plate mezedakia such as dolmathes and dakos and enjoy salads and entrees such as garides kabobs, boureki and mousaka while indulging in refreshing beverages from a full bar. Even a simple staple like a gyro becomes extraordinary while seated at a linen-covered table, sipping a cocktail.
244 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristosRestaurant.com
2. The Other Place
3. Greek Souvlaki
They’re disconcertedly fruity. Take, for instance, the blueberry salad, with blueberries, apples, cinnamon almonds, blue cheese, romaine lettuce and Vermont maple vinaigrette dressing. The spinach salad is packed with pears, grapes, blue cheese, pistachios and dressed with raspberry vinaigrette. Here, you order your salad at the counter, and youthful assemblers are only too happy to explain what you’re getting while mixing yours up fresh. But, caution: Consuming your daily greens loaded nuts, cheese and fresh fruit can be habit-forming. With a slice of bread and a chocolate-dipped strawberry, they may not be calorie-wise, but who cares? They’re scary good.
Multiple locations, CafeZupas.com
2. Red Butte Café
Dojo Asian Inspired Cuisine & Lounge
There is a lot to like about Dojo, Salt Lake City’s newest entry into the sushi sweepstakes. The food, service and ambiance here are equally fabulous. But for a genuine, rock-your-world treat, you’ve gotta try the bodacious pork-belly ramen. It’s a big bowl filled with a generous mound of perfectly cooked ramen noodles, topped with tantalizingly tender strips of pork belly, slivered scallions, hard-boiled egg and thin slices of pink kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) in an extraordinary housemade broth. For rookies, there’s also pork shoulder ramen, and it’s darned good, too. But the belly, well, it’s another ballgame entirely. Just do it.
423 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3333, DojoSLC.com
For many years now, El Chubasco has provided Park City residents and visitors with authentic and inexpensive Mexican fare in a vibrant, but friendly, informal setting. Traditional street-style tacos are the mainstay here, with offerings that run the gamut from chicken and fish tacos to carnitas, birria and carne asada. But we love the classic Mexican soups and stews here, like steaming bowls of menudo, albondigas (meatball) soup, birria (goat) soup and, most of all, pozole. It’s a generous bowl of tender, stewed pork in a hearty broth, with hominy and red chiles and classic garnishes alongside: shredded cabbage, minced onion, fresh cilantro and a vast array of homemade salsas to choose from. Olé!
1890 Bonanza Drive, Park City, 435-645-9114, ElChubascoPC.info
Best Local Beer
The first beers were poured at Squatters in Salt Lake City in 1989, and it seems it's been winning awards for its handcrafted microbrews ever since. The awards Squatters has won at international beer competitions would take pages to list, but Squatters doesn’t brew with judges in mind. Owners Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis—with their creatively talented brew team—make beers for the people. That, and Squatters’ spirit of community involvement, its environmentally friendly business practices, and support of local nonprofit organizations are essential components that go into making the Best Local Beer.
147 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2739; 1900 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-9868, Squatters.com
2. Epic Brewing
3. Wasatch Beers
Best Mexican Heart Attack
El Matador Restaurant & Cantina
El Matador has been in Ogden since 1963, so the atmosphere is organic and homey, and the meal options are from the days before people thought salads counted as Mexican food—don’t look for black beans or leafy greens here. Try the nachos, which are served on a hot-from-the-oven plate and are simply tortilla chips baked under a rich coating of cheese. Grease is good.
2564 Ogden Ave., Ogden, 801-393-3151, ElMatadorOgden.com
Though new sushi restaurants seem to open every year, Japanese food is about more than raw fish and seaweed. Takashi proves this better than the rest, serving beef, fine mushrooms and cooked fish, as well. Try the azekura appetizer, a tower of tempura vegetables, seared beef and portobello mushrooms. If you like cooked fish better than raw, try the saikyo-miso sable fish, which promises to melt in your mouth.
18 Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
3. Naked Fish Japanese Bistro
Best Scone Zone
Elizabeth’s Bakery & Tea Shop
Elizabeth’s almost won this award last year, but then went through an ownership change. Thankfully, when it reopened, the recipes for its killer scones and sausage rolls were unchanged. And don’t confuse Elizabeth’s scones with the big fry-bread type scones some restaurants serve. These are more like biscuits: You open them up, butter them and let small bites of the scone dissolve in your mouth while drinking hot tea. Heaven! Some of Elizabeth’s scones are plain, some have raisins, some are cheesy. It’s hard to choose, because they all are jolly good.
575 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1170, ElizabethsTeaShop.com
Best Cold Cases
Epic Brewing Company
Don’t be overwhelmed when face to face with the cold cases upon entering Epic Brewery’s retail outlet. Everyone on staff is knowledgeable and willing to help demystify their full-strength craft beer. If new to the scene, Epic’s Classic series is your best bet—the Spiral Jetty IPA is a standard done with a twist. For the more adventurous, the Elevated series is the way to go, with the 825 Stout or the Brainless Belgian as the perfect companion to a winter snowshoe expedition. If you really want to impress friends as a beer sophisticate, go with an Exponential, like the Sour Apple Saison.
825 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0123, EpicBrewing.com
Let’s face it: If you remove the hordes of sushi bars from the equation, there aren’t really many dedicated seafood restaurants in Utah. Perhaps that’s because Market Street has stomped the competition. Fresh halibut, oysters on the half shell, shellfish, chowder, crab … these are just a few of the seafood specialties that have put Market Street restaurants (Market Street Grill, Market Street Broiler, Market Street Oyster Bar) on the map. And, it really is fresh; Market Street receives daily air shipments of fresh seafood from the coasts. Why, these folks have even given us a reason to love Mondays. Every Monday, Market Street’s three oyster-bar locations host Oyster Monday, with oysters on the half shell half-price all day long, along with half-price appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. The Oyster Bars always have a terrific selection of fresh oysters from both coasts, shucked and ready for dipping into their marvelous mignonette. So, order a glass or bottle of bivalve-friendly vino and get to work on those half-price oysters. Of course, Market Street has dozens and dozens of other fishy temptations if you’re not partial to oysters.
Multiple locations, GInc.com
2. Naked Fish
Everest Nuage Tibetan Restaurant
What’s a momo? Well, it’s pure heaven, when done right. Momos are sort of a Nepali take on Chinese potstickers: puffy dumplings stuffed with meat or veggies. And, while these aren’t the only momos in town, we think they’re the best. The beef momos at Everest are plump, thick pasta pillows stuffed with very lightly spiced ground beef—nothing too complicated to distract from the basic flavor of the momos, just a spicy chili sauce for dipping on the side. Good news for vegetarians: There’s also a vegetable version offered at Everest.
123 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-0242
|Best Taste of Old Puerto Rico
This restaurant has nailed down good taste. The family-run eatery is yet another golden thread in Utah’s ethnic tapestry (and it’s in Sandy, no less) serving Caribbean specialties like mofongo (fried green plantains pulverized with salt), alcapurrias (meat-filled fritters) and traditional Spanish rice and beans. Don’t fret if you feel lost in a new world of cuisine, as Adobos’ waitstaff caters to rookies and describes these authentic menu items, so you know exactly what is going to tickle your tummy.
9460 S. Union Square Plaza (650 East), Sandy, 801-523-3672, AdobosGrill.com
Blue Plate Diner
The Blue Plate Diner has portions and prices to match a hefty hunger and thin wallet. Enjoy classic breakfasts with eggs, bacon and home fries that will cost you only about $6. Tasty burgers ranging from 1/3-pound beef patty to vegan sausage burgers run about $7. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with damned-near-football-size chicken and pork burritos for about $10, or down-home cooking like roast turkey with cranberry sauce or homemade meatloaf for about $12 each. Come hungry, clean your plate and don’t leave broke—that’s a hard offer to beat, especially in these hard-luck times.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Moochie’s Meatballs & More
3. The Park Cafe
Best Sports Dork Buffet
Whether you’re a weekly visitor to watch your favorite NFL team battle through the fall or a once-every-four-years World Cup fanatic, the Fiddler’s Elbow remains the most popular breakfast deal in town for the sports-jerseyed and baseball-capped crowd. Besides the usual suspects like eggs Benedict, breakfast potatoes and bacon, Fiddler’s has rarer treats like tasty lox, a full fruit spread, made-to-order omelets and a carving station with big slabs of prime rib and ham. At about $10, they’re providing much more than standard sports-bar fare.
1063 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-463-9393, FiddlersElbowSLC.com
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
Despite many an interloper deli arriving on the scene, City Weekly readers remain loyal to Caputo’s. And that loyalty is well earned: Since 1997, Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli has become an unrivaled specialty-food outlet, offering more than 200 fresh farmstead cheeses, 14 or more types of prosciutto and dozens of salami (including those hand-crafted by artisan salame maker, Cristiano Creminelli) and 300-plus bars of the world’s top-tier chocolate including those handmade by world-class Chocolatier Blue. Those coming for lunch can’t resist a made-to-order ginormous sandwich like the award-winning “Caputo,” an Italian-style salad or a heaping plate of pasta. Foodies know the place to shop on Saturday is Caputo’s “Locovore’s Market” featuring local growers and producers of fresh artisan food. And now with a new 15th & 15th location, Caputo’s specialty offerings are more accessible than ever.
314 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669; 1516 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6615, CaputosDeli.com
2. Grove Market
Best Pickled Daikon
Competition for top honors among sushi restaurants is always stiff in Utah, but Ginza distinguishes itself by featuring more vegetarian rolls than most others. The pickled daikon (Japanese radish) roll shows that their nonfish options are more than just seaweed and cucumbers. If you have a dining guest who thinks raw fish sounds iffy but you’re needing a fix, head to Ginza, where there are plenty of delicious nonfish options to try.
209 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-2224; 715 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-495-9400
Best Mojito of a Different Color
Frida Bistro’s Watermelon Mojito
In 2010, we managed to insult Frida Bistro with our Best of Utah award for Best High-End Burrito. We were put on notice that Frida Bistro, while Mexican in essence and outlook, does not serve the ubiquitous Mexican dishes most associate with Mexican cuisine. This is not an easy concept for Utah diners, but perhaps Frida’s 2010 summer drink illustrates what is unique about this gorgeously appointed, breathtaking restaurant. The refreshingly pink watermelon mojito, served in a flute, was a promising beginning to a beguilingly complex meal such as camarones Diego or blue-corn huitlacoche quesadilla. Frida, forgive our burrito blasphemy. We know you have way more class.
545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com
Best Return From the Ashes
Gabor Brothers Main Street Grill
A fire put Layton’s Gabor Brothers on the sidelines for over a year. But now, they’re back, baby! The newly refurbished interior retains the comfy, family-style feel of the old, pre-fire Gabor Brothers. And the food? Well, it’s every bit as appealing as ever. The pizzas and calzones taste like they are made in heaven, and the justifiably famous shrimp scampi is also sensational. Or, just belly up to the beer bar for a tasty burger or sub sandwich. If you’re feeding the family, the $30 family special is the way to go. Just be prepared to duel over the delicious home-baked bread sticks.
197 N. Main, Layton, 801-544-4344, GaborBrothers.com
Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
When someone with a magical-sounding name like Ali Sabbah offers you lamb & rice dolaa, baked kafta, or a signature dish like chicken & potatoes mutabbak, you should pay attention—it might be a case of having your wishes granted. Here, exotic spices, addictive hummus, fresh-baked pita and heavenly basmati rice culminate to create waves of undulating joy in one’s mouth. Both of Sabbah’s restaurants offer an international selection of wines, including some rare Lebanese vintages.
1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572, MazzaCafe.com
2. Café Med
3. Cedars of Lebanon
In landlocked Utah, one might not expect there to be nearly 100 eateries serving sushi, many of them focusing exclusively on the Japanese food phenomenon. It’s no easy task to best all those rivals, but it’s no surprise that Takashi has done it. With stylish décor, great Market Street location and a selection of maki rolls both familiar and adventurous (strawberry and escolar, anyone?), Takashi is a reliable place for any occasion, formal or casual.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
2. Naked Fish
Best Eastern Valley Restaurant
Best Locally Owned Supermarket
Salt Lake City has an embarrassment of riches going for it in the high-quality food department. Between farmers markets and boutique grocers and natural-food stores, it’s getting better all the time. But sometimes, shoppers just need a supermarket where they can find quality butchered meats, local and/or organic produce, sumptuous baked goods, light bulbs, dog food, paper towels and friendly, knowledgeable people behind the counter. And that’s when you go to Harmons, a local, family-operated grocery chain of 13 stores from Ogden to St. George. Three new stores are planned, including one scheduled to open in 2012 in downtown’s City Creek Center, giving downtowners their first taste of the “cut-above” shopping experience known as Harmons.
Multiple locations, HarmonsGrocery.com
Best Use of Cheese
Great Harvest Bread Company, Layton
Most anyone can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but those limp squares that come off your stovetop won’t seem the same after you try the panini-grilled cheese from Great Harvest’s Layton location. The fresh bread can’t be beat, but the real secret’s in the garlic spread that’s melted along with the Swiss and cheddar cheeses to create an oozy, gooey delicious mess of a sandwich.
96 N. Main, Layton, 801-543-0304, GreatHarvestLayton.com
SugarHouse Barbeque Company
The SugarHouse Barbeque Company has offered meat lovers a sanctuary of savory beef brisket, Memphis-style ribs, Carolina-style pulled pork and other meat-riffic samplings since 1996. This barbecue institution has got your bases covered with all the grilled staples like ribs and pork, but why not open your mind to other finger-licking-good treats like the special-smoked chicken wings, or the tender and tangy buffalo chicken? For the well-rounded barbecue aficionado, SugarHouse Barbeque has it all.
2207 S. 700 East, 801-463-4800, SugarHouseBBQ.com
2. Pat’s Barbecue
3. Holy Smoke BBQ & Grill
Best Monkey Mush
Happy Monkey Hummus
The homosapien artisans of Happy Monkey Hummus have gone bananas for tasty hummus. The original is a mainstay, but you’d be a fool to not try the other creative offerings, like the Suesabi hummus, infused with fresh ginger wasabi. Or the Margarita: a zesty hummus mélange of cilantro, lime, Anaheim peppers and tequila. Using only natural, locally produced ingredients, they’ve crafted a line of hummus that stands head, shoulders and tail above the competition.
Since 1989, Squatters has poured a tall, refreshing glass of urban class into Salt Lake City’s glass of culture, proving that Salt Lakers can brew a pint and sling tasty pub fare to match. But while being a modern brewpub like you’d find in any metropolis in the country, Squatters still knows how to keep the love local. Award-winning beers like Provo Girl Pilsner and the Squatters IPA match perfectly with creative and quintessentially local Utah dishes like the Niman Ranch lamb shank, glazed with jalapeño mint jelly. Or how about the jambalaya, which includes chicken, shrimp, peppers and Tooele Valley andouille sausage? Local brews and grub never looked so chic and not-Utah as when served up right at Utah’s own Squatters Pub.
Various locations, Squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Desert Edge Brewery
Moochie’s Meatballs & More
“Moochie’s is money” declared Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, when he visited Salt Lake City’s finest eateries. This declaration echoed what most Utahns already know: Moochie’s sandwiches are pure inspiration. Giant, messy meatball subs are gooey feasts that get stuck under your fingernails (to be enjoyed well after the sandwich is gone), while the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are of such a culinary craft to even make the City of Brotherly Love jealous. City Weekly readers know that any of the deli’s sandwich offerings are an affair to remember, messy as they are—readers love to get smoochie with Moochies.
232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-1350, MoochiesMeatballs.com
2. Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
3. The Robin’s Nest
Best Lunch Buffet
At lunchtime, Himalayan Kitchen is typically mobbed with happy customers seeking excellent food at a bargain price—that’s the Himalayan Kitchen’s popular lunch buffet. The dishes change from day to day, but you’ll always find tempting Indian and Nepalese dishes such as tandoor-baked naan, basmati rice, chicken chowchow, chicken kurma and buttered chicken, tandoori chicken, malai kofta, aloo gobi, mattar mushroom, quanty masala, and accompaniments like raita, mango chutney and achar. The uber-friendly service and the bright bistro setting with an eye on State Street are just pluses.
360 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2077, HimalayanKitchen.com
Best Melt-in-Your-Mouth Seafood Dish
Ho Ho Gourmet’s Rockfish
Who’s ever seen a rockfish? Truth be told, they look a little bit like Ernest Borgnine, or he like them. But OMG, if you dare to order rockfish off the Chinese menu at Ho Ho Gourmet, it will rock your world: bite-size chunks of white fish smothered in a savory sauce that literally melt in your mouth after exploding with delicate flavors. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make at Ho Ho is sticking with typical Chinese fare. These are Chinese cooks cooking for Chinese people, so go for the gusto: Order something here that sorta scares you.
1504 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7709
Best Desserts & Sweets
Best Old-School Italian
Murray’s Italian Village restaurant is a throwback to a time of checkered tablecloths, straw-wrapped Chianti bottles and a nonna (an Italian grandmother) in the kitchen. This is the place for heartwarming Italian family specialties like veal parmesan, chicken cacciatore, manicotti, fettuccine Alfredo and house-baked lasagna, not to mention good ol’ spaghetti & meatballs and, of course, garlic bread on the side. Finish things off with another Italian classic: spumoni ice cream. Mangia!
5370 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-266-4182, ItalianVillageSLC.com
Best Sushi for Commuters
Some love sushi, some are haters. Here’s a place where we can all just get along. It’s new, clean and a departure from many Asian buffets. You can gorge yourself in three ways: a classic Chinese food buffet, a sushi buffet and/or made-to-order sushi brought to your table. For $17.99 (the dinner price), you can have it all. The buffet will please most lovers of Asian fare, offering soups, salads and standards such as chow mein, orange chicken, honey-glazed shrimp, Korean ribs, salt shrimp, snow crab, tempura vegetables, potstickers and egg rolls. But diners sometimes forget they can still order fresh sushi off the menu while enjoying the buffet. And they’re open late (until at least 10 p.m. most nights), open Sundays and serve booze. Located a stone’s throw from Interstate 15 and TRAX, this feeding frenzy can be your last call before heading home.
220 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-352-0888
With its smokin’ hot appetizers, The Bayou seems to be saying: “Live a little.” Sure, you can’t go wrong with the chicken quesadilla or Buffalo wings that zing alongside The Bayou’s delicious beer. And, of course, the sweet-potato fries and hot, creamy artichoke cheese dip never let you down. But why not go for the gusto and sample the succulent paprika shrimp, alligator sausage “cheesecake,” Cajun seafood balls and popcorn crawfish? These one-of-a-kind “appys” make a body happy.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
It took several years for this Liberty Park joint to climb to the top of Salt Lake City’s Thai restaurants, but readers have chosen Chanon Thai as the best for two years in a row. There’s a charm about Chanon that would be hard to re-create—it just sorta happens, maybe, when knick-knacks from the homeland are strewn about everywhere and the food comes fresh and fiery hot. Don’t let the strip-mall location fool you: Chanon Thai is the real deal, and worth the wait—even on a busy night.
278 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1177
2. Thai Siam
Best Celebrity Chef Restaurant
Well, OK … J&G Grill at the St. Regis in Deer Valley might just be Utah’s only celebrity chef restaurant. The grill carries the imprimatur of world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who loves to ski and shows up occasionally at Deer Valley to whip his staff into shape. But even though Jean-Georges isn’t in the kitchen much, the cuisine here is worthy of his name. At lunch, a big cast-iron pot of steamed Maine mussels mariniere is satisfying to the soul. And, at dinner time, entrees like Tai snapper with a nut and seed crust, poached Niman Ranch poulet rouge, and tangy glazed short ribs with crunchy cheddar grits all are worthy of the Vongerichten name. Add to that some 4,600 bottles of wine to choose from and you’ve got a true celebrity chef dining experience.
2300 Deer Valley Drive East, Park City, 435-940-5760, JGGrillDeerCrest.com
Best Hot Rods & Burgers
Jerry Seiner GM Cafe
If you suffer a hunger pang while stranded in that no man’s land of car dealerships lining the frontage road west of Interstate 15, fear not: There’s a lone Iceberg Drive Inn located inside Seiner Motor City. But how many Icebergs have you been in that are also home to a veritable automobile museum? There are thousands of automobile collectibles, including old dealership signs, hood ornaments, murals, radiator caps and eye-popping Olympic mementos. The crown jewel is the 2002 Corvette Z06 that followed the 2002 Olympic Torch across the United States—it’s parked right in the dining room.
1530 S. 500 West, Salt Lake City, 801-952-5818, JerrySeinerSLC.com, IcebergDriveInn.com
Best Chicken Philly, Again
Here, no matter what your lunchtime appetite might require—whether it’s made-from-scratch sandwiches, soups, garlic burgers, sloppy joes, salads, baked beans or more—you’ll eat like a king for around $7, including fries and drink. The Philly steak sandwiches are a big draw, and the chicken Philly sandwich is simply unbeatable. Its natural juicy flavor will bring out your inner caveman. Topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers and your choice of cheese on firm, tasty bread, your lunch will become a memorable occasion, especially after Joni greets you with her trademark smile. Ask any fireman—this place is hot!
52 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6662
Best Beer & Art Combo
Best Cookie Charm
After a great bistro-style meal at Judge Café, whether a hot or cold sandwich, soup, salad, or one of the weekly specials such as the grilled salmon with orange-rosemary sauce, you’ve really must save room for one of Judge’s famous cookies, made on the premises. The one-of-a-kind cookie masterpieces include basic chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter, but there’s also one studded with Heath toffee chunks, and another blended with chocolate chips and nuts called “Hope’s Royale.” Bringing a few of these “fortune” cookies back to the office will make you the most popular employee, like, ever.
8 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-531-0917, JudgeCafe.com
What began as Bimbo’s in the Cellar in 1965 became The Pie in 1980, a little pizza hideaway for AWOL college students in the basement of the University Pharmacy on 200 South. The Pie’s great prices and monstrous cheese-and-sauce-laden slices built a following in Utah, allowing The Pie to expand to five locations, from Ogden to South Jordan. Here you can build your own pie with a choice of more than 30 toppings. Or, take a step on the wild side and try specialty pies like barbecue chicken cilantro, Thai or chipotle cheesesteak pizzas—a far cry from The Pie you gobbled up in college to soak up the suds.
Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Este Pizzeria
Best Asian Store For Take Out
Kim Long Market
Every Friday, the addictive aroma of roasting whole piglet fills this store. Buy it by the pound ($7.50), crackling skin and all. Or, try a freshly barbecued duck ($16), fresh-cooked daily and hanging whole (with head) in the window of the cooked-meat section. It comes with sauce, and they’ll chop (not cut) the duck into delectable chunks, on request. Piles of Asian treats like steamed buns and various flavors of rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves surround the checkout counter. Navigate the grocery section to find inexpensive, fresh sesame oil, shelves of various crackers and amazing condiments that could make even cardboard taste awesome.
3450 S. Redwood, West Valley City, 801-972-8440
Best Chicken-Fried Steak
Kitty Pappas’ Steak House
The simple elegance of cube steak—pounded, breaded and fried, and served with sliced fried potatoes—is hard to beat. Kitty’s son George Pappas serves it up wearing a Hawaiian shirt. You may be surprised by the absence of the pallid sauce that traditionally accompanies this delicacy, but don’t even ask: According to George, “My mama’s steak is too good for gravy.” And he’s absolutely right.
2300 S. Main, Woods Cross, 801-295-9981, Facebook.com/KittyPappasSteakHouse
Best Northern Italian
Yes, we’re talking about Northern Italian cuisine here, but we’re also talking about Northern Italian, as in: great Italian food in Northern Utah. Logan’s Le Nonne may just be the best Italian restaurant in the state. It’s situated in a cozy little house and features the superb cooking of chef/owner PierAntonio Micheli, who hails from Tuscany in Northern Italy. His homemade gnocchi is sinful, and the crab-meat ravioli will change your life. The frequent live jazz offerings just add to the fun at this delectable Logan gem.
129 N. 100 East, Logan, 435-752-9577, LeNonne.com
Best Chicken-Salad Sandwich
La Sage Bistro
Lunches here are Big, Bigger and Godzilla. The giant chicken-salad croissant sandwich requires you to unhinge your jaw to take a bite. And the turkey club, BLT, pulled pork and grilled chicken aren’t for the faint of heart, either, with enormous slices of bread book-ending heaping portions of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Distinctive soup specials take the chill off any rainy day. Full you may be, but no way should you pass on the jumbo-size bakery items, all made in house: cakes, cookies, lemon bars and brownies. Family-owned and operated, it’s homestyle lunch food for monstrous appetites, Monday through Friday.
6831 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-943-7243
Best Comfort Cuisine
Left Fork Grill
The pies made by owner/chef Jeff Masten at Left Fork Grill are justifiably heralded. However, Masten gets tired of only hearing about his pies. That’s because there’s a lot more going on at Left Fork than just pies. At breakfast, there are tasty choices like the smoked-salmon scramble, raspberry pancakes and eggs in a hole, while lunchtime brings a great Reuben sandwich, pulled pork sandwich and a delicious albacore tuna-salad sammy. Then, at dinner, which now runs Wednesday through Saturday, Masten like to mix things up, offering a range of delights from chicken schnitzel to classic liver & onions and soul-comforting meatloaf. Got comfort food? Left Fork Grill does.
68 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-266-4322, LeftForkGrill.ipower.com
Best Healthy Grains
Lehi Roller Mills’ Heart Healthy Baking Mix Line
The Lehi Roller Mills may be most famous outside of Utah for one epically angry dance scene from Footloose, but locals know it better for providing top-quality flour. Now, it has produced the Heart Healthy baking mix line, with boxed mixes for hotcakes, multigrain muffins and oatmeal cookies. The mixes come with special whole-grain wheat flour packed with omega-3 nutrients that make for a happy tummy and a healthy heart.
833 E. Main Street, Lehi, 801-768-4401, LehiRollerMill.com
Best Take-Away Packaging
Les Madeleines Cafe
Most take-away containers are merely functional—brown-paper or plastic bags at grocery stores, Styrofoam clamshells at restaurants. Not so at Les Madeleines Cafe. There, elegant pastry requires an elegant package. To-go orders are tucked into a simple white container; the clever design delivers curves instead of angles. If you saw one carried on the streets of New York City, you would expect it to hide an exotic songbird or a bauble from Tiffany’s.
216 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2294, Les-Madeleines.com
Best MultiGrain Cookie Mix
White-flour cookies are so five minutes ago. Delicious cookies do come in multigrain packages, thanks to this Sandy-based outfit, which was invited to provide snacks for a 2011 Sundance Film Festival Lounge. Sample Apple-Pecan Spice, Dark Chocolate Cherry, Milk Chocolate Walnut or even a basic base that you can improvise with—all coming in six-grain or even gluten-free versions, and all of which only require adding butter and eggs to let the yumminess commence.
Best Southern Food Up North
Best Kreative Kernels
Lisa’s Passion for Popcorn
Butter and salt may be the way most of us partake of puffy popped kernels, but this Kaysville proprietor appears determined to create the Jelly Belly of popcorn experiences. More than 70 different flavor and texture combinations are available, from sweetened treats like Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake and Caramel Apple to savory sensations like Cheddar & Chive or Taco Cheese. Fancy things up with nut-partnered combos, or buy someone a gift box with your own custom-designed combination of flavors.
37 N. Main St., Kaysville, 801-544-4255, PassionForPopcorn.com
Yes, people, it is still legal to smoke in Utah … especially when it comes to meat. At this unassuming warehouse on a dead-end street near Interstate 15 and 2100 South, Pat Barber concocted a secret dry-rub recipe for his pork ribs that went on to find fame on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. His business took off, but he’s managed to keep it real with prompt service, ice-cold beer and red-hot live music. Add a few sides, pulled pork, beef brisket and barbecue chicken, and you’ll know the true meaning of Southern comfort. Ribs this juicy and tender make you pinch yourself to see if you’re still in Utah.
155 W. Commonwealth Ave. (2125 South), Salt Lake City, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
2. SugarHouse Barbeque Co.
Best Pot Pie
MacCool’s Public House
MacCool’s Public House is a no-brainer when you’re looking for hearty Irish-inspired fare such as corned beef & cabbage, Guinness stew, classic shepherd’s pie and the like. But the real sleeper on the MacCool’s menu is the chicken pot pie. It’s a big bowl of juicy chicken tenders in a thick, creamy gravy loaded with wholesome veggies, all topped with a ginormous, flaky puff-pastry lid. Grandma never did it any better.
1400 S. Foothill Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-582-3111; 855 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-728-9111, MacCools-Utah.com
Best Maddeningly Moist Gyro
Yes, it’s a fast-food joint, but they’ve got the gyro down: generous portions of sliced lamb served on warm, fluffy pita with onions and sauce. Or, swap the lamb for chicken, pork souvlaki, chicken parmesan, vegetables only, shrimp sauté with feta, pepper steak, pork sirloin with grilled onions and mushrooms, or chicken breast with Swiss cheese and mushroom sauté. There are almost too many choices, and we’re only talking gyros, not the dozens of other hearty [we do mean large] portions of Greek platters at fast-food prices. Just take one bite of that gyro and you’ll see it’s somehow more flavorful, chewy and moist than others you’ve tried. It’s maddening!
Multiple Salt Lake City locations
Best Indoor Farmers Market
Market on State
Where do food vendors from various summer markets, including Pioneer Park, go to sell their offerings during cold months? Well, the one and only option: Market on State. The scrappy little market located in the old EcoMoto building is ever increasing in size. Vendors include Morgan Valley Lamb, Canyon Meadows Ranch, Volker’s Bakery, Fowers Farms (fruit and produce), East India Pantry and more. And in the summer, shoppers can avoid the farmers-market crowds that are thicker than unmaintained garden weeds, and head straight for the great indoors.
1050 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-580-2254
Best Euro Vibe
Situated in a cozy downtown brownstone, Martine is a bistro-style eatery with a distinctly European ambiance—the sort of place where diners are tempted to linger over outstanding food and interesting wines late into the evening. Longtime chef-partner Tom Grant has carved a unique culinary niche here with his eclectic menu featuring cuisine ranging from North Africa and the Mediterranean to Southern Europe and New World contemporary American. Dishes such as balsamic-marinated pheasant and seared sea scallops with Clementine-coriander jus assure that diners at Martine will never be faced with the same old, same old. It feels like Europe, but Martine is most definitely our treasure.
22 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-9328, MartineCafe.com
Best Eclectic Wine Bar
This quaint, friendly, small-plates and tapas eatery might not boast the biggest wine list around, but it’s certainly one of the best and most interesting. To accompany dishes like scallops piccata, braised Ballard Farm pork cheeks and curried cauliflower, you need an eclectic wine selection to match. And Meditrina certainly has that, with wines spanning the globe from South Africa, Sonoma and Spain to Mendocino, Mendoza and McLaren Vale. And aside from glasses and bottles, wine lovers can also experiment with wine flights at Meditrina—a terrific spot to hoist a glass.
1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com
Best Pig Out
Pork might be “the other white meat,” but it’s also staged an impressive comeback in the past year or so. It’s a challenge these days to find a trendy restaurant that doesn’t have pork belly or housemade charcuterie somewhere on the menu. Well, at Metropolitan restaurant, the kitchen team takes pork to an entire new level with the outrageous “Three Little Pigs” plate. It’s a pork trio consisting of a house-made, rustic country pate wedge (ground pork, rendered pork fat, allspice, brandy and toasted hazelnuts), a thick slab of maple-braised applewood-smoked bacon, and house-made pork rinds, which serve sort of as toast points. The dish is finished with grilled radicchio and mustard made with Epic beer. Yes, it’s time to pig out.
173 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3472, TheMetropolitan.com
Best Broken Rice
Mí Phong Phu
Every neighborhood needs an affordable ethnic eatery that feels homey. Mí Phong Phu on State is that unassuming place in Midvale. The name translates from Vietnamese to “rich noodle,” and mí (noodles) are undeniably a specialty of the Chinese family-operated restaurant. There’s a variety of pho and bun bo hue soups as well as tasty noodle entrees. But don’t overlook the “broken rice” offerings. Broken rice is a lower-grade rice favored by the common people. However, it gained popularity for its texture and nutty flavor and is now served with traditional foods such as grilled meats and pickled and fresh vegetables. For immigrants, it is a little taste of nostalgia. But for locals, it’s a whole new expression of rice.
7640 S. State, Midvale, 801-562-5888
Best Buck Margarita
Mi Ranchito Grill
Last year, we gave this award to the couple of Mi Ranchito restaurants in the Valley that didn't offer the dollar margarita, and left off the one in South Salt Lake that does! Our bad. It doesn't hurt to nail this one down. After all, you need something to wash down Mi Ranchito Grill's bodacious burritos, terrific tamales, essential enchiladas and sensational salsas, right? That’s where Mi Ranchito Grill’s $1 margaritas come in. Yes, we said $1. That’s the price for their actual, authentic margaritas. And yes, they contain tequila, although probably not your favorite premium anejo. Hey, at most places you can’t even get a soda for a buck. So, salut!
3600 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-263-7707, MiRanchitoGrill2.com
Best Frosting Fix
Mrs. Backer’s Pastry Shop
Good news for people who eat the middles out of Oreo cookies or take hits of Hershey’s chocolate syrup straight from the bottle: Mrs. Backer sells her famous butter-cream frosting by the pound. You can even buy a four-pound bucket for under $30. Think of all the calories avoided by not eating cake. All you need is a spoon for a butter and sugar fix, the breakfast of champions.
434 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2022, MrsBackers.com
Best Small Town Girl Victory
My Dough Girl/Ruby Snap
In 2010, General Mills/Pillsbury launched a copyright battle with local cookie shop My Dough Girl over its name (too close to the giggling Doughboy for comfort). Eventually, owner Tami Cromar decided to simply change its name; she felt her time and resources were better spent in the kitchen, crafting more of her spectacular dough. Now known as Ruby Snap, Cromar’s shop still offers cookies named after pin-up girls. Monthly specials are offered, but the tried-and-true Ruby Snap cookies are not to be ignored; they will change how you look at cookies forever. And Cromar ended up the ultimate winner, as her cookies were featured at Sundance events, were given to members of an anti-trust committee in Washington, D.C., and are now carried by Whole Foods in Trolley Square.
770 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-834-6111, RubySnap.com
Best Place for Living Food
All it takes is one combination plate from Omar’s Rawtopia and the skeptical may be converted. Owner/chef Omar Abou-Ismail’s dishes handily overcome two stereotypes of raw food: that it must be tasteless and unsatisfying. But raw pasta, falafel bowls, salads and even pizza from Omar’s are both delicious and fill your tummy.
2148 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-486-0332, OmarsRawtopia.com
Best Fusion in Small Bites
Pipa Asian Tapas & Sake Bar
Tapas might have originated in Spain, but at Pipa, small-plate dining takes on a distinctly Asian-fusion slant. The filet of Siamese shark is a large, boneless filet steamed in a ginger-soy broth and topped with a colorful arrangement of cilantro leaves, cucumber sticks, scallions and sliced bright-red bell pepper. Fabulous. Eating quail with chopsticks ain’t easy, but worth the effort at Pipa, where the crispy-crusted birds are served with a zippy chile-lime sauce. And, you can wash down your tapas with a signature cocktail like the Speed Racer, Supa Fly or Electric Lemonade.
118 N. 900 West, Salt Lake City, 801-326-3639
Best Brunch Hangover Cure
Poplar Street Pub
When the first words out of your mouth upon cracking your eyelids are, “I’m never drinking again,” when you’re dizzy, dehydrated, prickly and staggering around on jelly legs, you know you need a hangover cure, and this is it: Poplar Street Pub’s all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where you can scarf up made-to-order omelets, French toast, sausage, bacon, biscuits & gravy and fresh fruit and granola. Oh, and if you believe in the hair-of-the-dog remedy, Poplar can pour a tall glass of beer with your name on it.
242 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2715, PoplarStreetPub.com
Moab might be Utah’s outdoor mecca, but—thank God—there’s more to eat here than granola and Clif Bars. Reward yourself after a day exploring the red rock with some carb-laden Italian food at Pasta Jay’s. The tortellone Alfredo—housemade pasta pillows stuffed with cheese and baked in Alfredo sauce—is particularly calorie- and cheese-intensive, and therefore especially delicious.
4 S. Main, Moab, 435-259-2900, PastaJays.com
Best Man vs. Food Challenge
People go to extremes like climbing Everest or bungee-jumping for a variety of reasons. In the case of the Lucky 13 Challenge, a culinary test for carnivores at one of Salt Lake City’s best little bars, it’s for something as simple as the love of big burgers—big free burgers if you can down both the Big Benny (a foot-tall double-meat, double-cheese monstrosity) and the Lucky 13 Burger (another 12-inch specialty burger using two grilled-cheese sandwiches as the “bun”) in one sitting. You get a T-shirt and maybe some glory at the bar if you pull it off—which no one has yet. But imagine if you do—you can use that extra cash on some beers and cocktails on the killer Lucky 13 patio.
135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Facebook.com/Lucky13SLC
2. The Wing Coop
3. Kobe Sushi
Best Squealing Meal
Q4U’s Barbecue Sundae
Don’t think ice cream. Think natural hickory smoke and sweet, spicy sauce. In this clear 16-ounce cup, you’ll find layered pulled pork, baked beans and a frothy vinegary coleslaw seasoned with celery seeds. It’s designed for the kids to eat, a veritable meal in a cup. But because it’s fun to eat, and the Q4U flavors mix together in unexpected ways, don’t be surprised if the grownups commandeer the sundaes.
3951 W. 5400 South, Kearns, 801-955-8858, Q4U.com
Best Deal That Sounds Fishy
Red Ginger Bistro
This place is hopping and stays that way till closing time. Why? With the economy on Prozac, Red Ginger is offering sushi at half price through summer 2011. That’s like happy-hour sushi prices, but offered all day. The sushi might be budget-priced, but the atmosphere and sushi quality are date-night material. Most rave about the Executive roll—shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy mayo topped with tuna, lime, tobiko, scallions and spicy-eel sauce. But the Sweet Heart and Kiss rolls might win you points, as well. And with all the money you’ve saved, you can cross the street and take in a romantic flick at Century 16.
3333 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6697, RedGingerBistroSLC.com
Best New Downtown Coffee Shop
Best Italian Restaurant
It didn’t take long for this Sandy restaurant—family-owned by brothers Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell—to establish itself well enough to become a repeat winner in this category. The experience starts with a simple, elegant ambiance, and continues through an expansive menu of pizzas, pastas and hearty entrees. The gorgonzola gnocchi are a subtle treat, and the impressive wine list (including plentiful by-the-glass options) will provide something to pair with any choice. And be sure to save room for “The Cake,” a legendary concoction of pistachio cake, lemon mousse, raspberries, butter cream and marzipan.
9236 Village Shop Drive, Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
3. Cucina Toscana
Best Veggie Sandwich
Finally, a veggie sandwich that stands up to meatier options: The Natural starts out with ciabatta bread topped with garlic spread and melted cheese, then piled high with artichoke hearts, onions, spinach, roasted garlic, peppers and mushrooms. Add avocado, and you’ll hardly be able to hang onto this veggie behemoth.
311 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378, RobinsNestSLC.com
Best High-Altitude Dining
Chef Kurtis Krause and manager/sommelier Peri Ermidis are quietly staging a revolution up at Alta, where their Shallow Shaft restaurant combines the beauty of a dining experience in Little Cottonwood Canyon with extraordinary food and wine. The wine list is one of the most inventive and interesting in the West. And tempting dishes such as crab & corn hushpuppies, miso-sake marinated black cod, seared bison tenderloin with blueberry-sage butter, and wild salmon with yuzu beurre blanc ensure that no one is leaving Alta hungry. Plus, it all happens at a lofty 9,000-plus feet.
10199 E. Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Alta, 801-742-2177, ShallowShaft.com
Best Mid-Valley Restaurant
Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta
Looking for somewhere to watch the game and grab a bite? Look no farther than Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta in Sugar House. While its namesake is the specialty, SLP&P is well versed in other delicious meals, too, like the steak and portobello sandwich and the spicy black-bean burger. With more than 30 beers on tap—many of them local—and a couple of tasty vegan options, Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta is a great choice if you’re looking for a quieter, cozier option when tip-off comes.
1063 E. 2100 South, Sugar House, 801-484-1804, SaltLakePizzaAndPasta.com
2. Bohemian Brewery
There is no shortage of reasons to line up at Siegfried’s lunch counter, the heavenly spaetzle & bratwurst, weisswurst and bierwurst, among them. But another great temptation is Siegfried’s first-rate Reuben sandwich—the best around. It’s a classic Reuben made with high-quality pastrami and homemade sauerkraut, topped with (optional) Swiss cheese on hearty, wholesome rye bread, all grilled to perfection in minutes over an open flame. Oh, and there’s cold beer on tap, too.
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891, SiegfriedsDelicatessen.biz
Best Classic Utah Scone
Here in the Beehive State, we know a scone to be a heart-stopping slab of deep-fried dough and deliciousness. Around these parts, they’re served hot and dripping with honey-butter. Sill’s Café is one of the few places left still proudly slinging this gustatory cultural artifact. Deal with it.
335 E. Gentile St., Layton, 801-544-7438
Best Southern Valley Restaurant
The competition gets stronger in the South Valley, but year after year, Tiburon is strong enough to fend off all contenders. And maybe that’s because owners/proprietors Ken and Valerie Rose don’t mess too much with their success; some of the establishment’s finest dishes, including the trademark elk tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes, have remained consistent—and consistently delicious—for many years. Add the traditionally terrific salads and the option of beautiful patio dining during warm-weather months, and you’ve got a recipe for continued success.
8256 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-255-1200, TiburonFineDining.com
2. Epic Casual Dining
3. Royal India
Rooftop lounges and bars are all the rage in places like Los Angeles and Manhattan. Well, not to be outdone, this year, Park City’s ritzy Sky Lodge hotel opened SkyBlue, featuring a rooftop lounge complete with a hot tub, deck and floor-heating system, four toasty fire pits and a full selection of small plates, wine, beer, cocktails and a cigar menu. Beautiful views of Main Street and the surrounding mountains are a free bonus. And, even during winter months, SkyBlue patrons can still enjoy the outdoor nightlife enshrouded in hooded, “monk-style” robes and furry wraps. We suggest getting a spot early during SkyBlue’s aprs ski.
201 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-658-2500, TheSkyLodge.com
Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops
When it comes to beef, at Spencer’s in the downtown Hilton, they don’t screw around. The cooks here treat a great steak with the respect and tender care it deserves. That’s why you’ll only find USDA Prime beef on the plates at Spencer’s, each steak cooked precisely as ordered under their 1,600-degree broiler. There are plenty of tasty choices for beef lovers, from the New York steak and filet mignon to the Kansas City strip and prime porterhouse for two. But the pinnacle for marbled meat is the 14-ounce Spencer’s Steak—a boneless rib-eye that can bring tears to your eyes. And sommelier Louis Koppel will ably assist you in finding the perfect wine pairing to match.
255 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-238-4748, SpencersForSteaksAndChops.com
Best Western Valley Restaurant
Copper Creek Pub & Grub
From the outside, it’s an unassuming spot in a West Valley City strip mall; inside, it looks like your standard sports bar, with TVs and team paraphernalia. But how many sports bars boast the kind of full, intriguing menu that you’ll find here? With your brew and favorite game, you can enjoy steak and mushroom risotto, or lime-chipotle tilapia; if you’re in the mood for something lighter, perhaps a blackened chicken Caesar salad will do the trick. And even the more traditional burgers and pub sandwiches come with zippy, crispy Cajun-garlic fries. The “grub” in the name proves to be something of an understatement.
3451 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-417-0051
3. Pho Green Papaya
Best Room with a View
Located atop the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird Resort, The Aerie restaurant offers mindblowing views of the spectacular scenery that Snowbird is renowned for. Thankfully, the food and wine at The Aerie are on a par with that stellar scenery. Chef Fernando Soberanis’ menu is filled with delectable temptations such as pan-seared foie gras with vanilla beurre blanc, Loch Duart salmon ravioli, two-way lamb, Snake River Farms Wagyu beef with red wine-shallot sauce and striped bass with lobster risotto. The 850-plus wine selection hits high notes, as well, as one of the very few around bestowed with Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence winner. At The Aerie, breathtaking heights are reached nightly and you can have a ringside view.
Cliff Lodge, Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Snowbird Resort, 801-933-2160, Snowbird.com
The standard-bearer for this Utah original is the one that gives the place its name: a juicy quarter-pound patty piled high with toppings, including a generous helping of pastrami, for a thoroughly meat-tastic experience. But try one of the less daunting options—a simple cheeseburger, perhaps—and you’ll understand that it’s not pastrami that’s the star here. Every made-to-order burger is a succulent treat, whether you like it with mushrooms and Swiss or all by its lonesome. After more than 30 years, it’s still the place to get your beef on.
Multiple locations, Crown-Burgers.com
2. Lucky 13
3. Cotton Bottom Inn
Best Cafe for Lunch With Your Folks
A Logan staple since 1914, dining at The Bluebird is a genuinely quaint experience. An old-fashioned soda counter and cases of candy take up the front of the restaurant, but back rooms and an upstairs provide a more refined dining experience. The menu is simple but high-quality—hamburgers and sandwiches make up the lunch menu; nightly dinner specials include prime rib, roast and chicken entrees, and desserts are basic but divine. No alcohol is served, but you won’t miss it when you try the Ironport—a spicy-sweet soft drink available in only a handful of restaurants in the West.
19 N. Main, Logan, 435-752-3155
Best Downtown $5 Lunch
The Green Pig Pub
This welcome 400 South addition has fast become a mainstay neighborhood bar, sports bar and business lunch oasis. Pig aficionados will recognize the menu at the bar as being a wallet’s best friend for taste and value. Here, one Lincoln can get you tasty lunches like a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and basil soup, or a ham and Swiss with choice of sides. Honest Abe can also introduce you to a tasty pile of garlic pesto pasta or the taco salad—a heaping of housemade tortilla chips, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes and ground beef. Don’t let an economic downturn kill your business lunches, when the Green Pig will let you pig out and save green at the same time.
31 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-7441, TheGreenPigPub.com
Best Hangover Hash
The Park Cafe’s “Michigan Hash”
There are a lot of breakfast joints with some form of the hangover breakfast: The “Roundhouse” at The Roundhouse Café, the “Godawful” at Big Ed’s, The “Pile” at The Other Place. But none quite do the trick like the Park Cafe’s version, known as “Michigan Hash.” Instead of standard-issue hash browns, you get taters, fried-up skins and all, mixed with green peppers, onions and sausage, then topped off with cheddar cheese and a couple of eggs. With servers who know the importance of keeping a coffee cup filled, the Park Cafe knows how to treat its bleary-eyed, head-pounding regulars and newbies clearly in need.
604 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-1670
Lone Star Taqueria
If been a while since you've kicked back on a Mexican beach with fresh seafood and a Corona, one bite of a Lone Star shrimp burrito and it’ll be like you're there. Hold the pre-cooked chewy prawns, please; Lone Star’s award-winning burrito comes stuffed with expertly prepared shrimp, beans, lettuce and rice. Sautéed onions and peppers round out the package, comfortably wrapped in a soft-but-chewy tortilla. Add a cool squeeze of lime and something from the deliciously minimalistic salsa bar, and you might actually hear the waves calling to you. Or it may just be the Corona.
2265 E. Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-944-2300, LoneStarTaqueria.com
3. Red Iguana
Best Eclectic Eatery
Tin Angel Café
It’s been called “the little restaurant that could,” and Tin Angel Café definitely can. We love the eclecticism of this neighborhood gem, from the owners, who certainly march to their own drummer, to the dishes served—this is anything but a staid, cookie-cutter restaurant. Culturally, Tin Angel showcases local musicians and graphic artists and painters, whose works decorate the restaurant’s walls. Then there’s the eclectic menu, with dishes ranging from gypsy pork, Moroccan meatballs and wild boar ribs to gnocchi with Gorgonzola, shrimp-stuffed mushrooms and a quinoa timbale. Expect the unexpected.
365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com
Best Barbecue Brisket Sandwich
Best In-Town Escape
Just minutes from downtown, Tuscany restaurant offers an in-town escape to a world that seems far, far away from the bustling city—an atmosphere that might cause you to believe you’ve actually landed in Tuscany. Stone paths wind their way through the gorgeous outdoor dining areas—one of the most beautiful places for al fresco dining in warm weather. And, inside, the dining rooms and bar emit a warmth that is all too rare in today’s hip and trendy dining scene. Oh, and the cuisine and excellent wine selection are up to snuff with the fantastic setting and ambiance. It’s a terrific option for a quickie getaway.
2832 E. 6200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-277-9919, TuscanySLC.com
After nearly 40 years, the first is still the best. Before it was a national burger chain’s catchphrase, “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face” was clearly a philosophy at Greek Souvlaki, which has always served up pitas packed to bursting with tender, delicious lamb and white or red sauce; one gyro is a meal. And now the joy has been spread farther south with the new South Jordan location.
Multiple locations, GreekSouvlaki.com
2. Crown Burgers
3. Mad Greek
Best “Downtown Rising” Survivor
You have to take your hat off to owner/chef Frody Volgger, who endured years of Downtown Rising and construction that threatened to close his beloved Vienna Bistro. It’s a testament to the excellent food, drink and service here that customers kept coming, through all the dust, demolition and debris that surrounded this downtown gem. And, why not? After all, Frody and his crew dish up the best schnitzel and strudel in town, along with tantalizing libations and top-notch service. Hats off to all the Downtown Rising survivors.
132 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0334, ViennaBistro.com
Wild West Jerky
Chances are, you’ve seen plenty of jerky signs dotting Utah’s scenic byways. If you’ve happened to frequent one of the purveyors of Nephi’s Wild West Jerky on a roadtrip to southern Utah, you know then that sometimes it’s the jerky stops that make the trip, more so than the destination. Wild West Jerky offers premium, tried-and-true flavor recipes like sweet-pepper pork, jalapeño buffalo, mesquite elk or even barbecue deer. Wild West Jerky has a cured game soaked with flavor to match every palate.
Multiple locations, 801-638-6880, WildWestJerky.com
Best Heart-Smart Wings
The Buffalo wing has joined the pantheon of American kick-back-with-a-brew-and-watch-the-game comfort food—and like many such snacks, its typical deep-fried incarnation isn’t exactly easy on the arteries. But at Wing Nutz, the method for creating a delectable wing involves steaming and baking, creating a wing-wing situation for you and your circulatory system. Add one (or more) of the 18 different sauce varieties, at your preferred level of spicyness from “mild” to “Purgatory,” and let the guilt-free munching ensue.
Multiple locations, BakedWingsAreBetter.com
The Soup Kitchen
An institution in Salt Lake City long before the word “foodie” entered the lexicon, The Soup Kitchen specializes in sandwiches and soups with names you’ve heard of made with fresh, high-quality ingredients that you can pronounce. Drop in for a bowl of cream of tomato soup, New England clam chowder or another from their menu of classics any day. There are daily specials like Tuesday’s potato leek with bacon, as well. And don’t forget the fresh-baked breadsticks for sopping up the last bit from the bottom of the bowl. You won’t want any to go to waste.
Multiple locations, SLCSoup.com
2. Café Zupas
3. Porcupine Pub & Grill
Best Veggie Pizza
Not just for vegetarians, Z Pizzeria’s veggie offering is slathered with garlic white sauce and actually tasty vegetables, making the pie vastly superior to the run-of-the-mill “ew, veggie?” pizzas at most establishments. The aforementioned white sauce, fresh toppings—artichoke hearts, red onions, diced tomatoes and mushrooms—and handmade, thick whole-wheat crust all combine to make a delectable, practically healthy pizza experience.
1588 E. Stratford Ave. (2580 South), Salt Lake City, 801-484-9792, ZPizzeria.com
Best Breathing Space for Breakfast & Lunch
Located on the corner where the University TRAX train makes its big turn from 400 South to Main Street, the Royal Eatery has quietly satisfied hungry appetites for years with a vast menu of breakfast and lunch items. Business workers and federal courthouse employees keep this place on the down low because they can’t help but feel it’s their own personal Greek diner. Here, you can sit at a table, read the paper, sip on your drink and take a breather from your day while munching on Greek burgers, gyros or a grilled tuna melt. The fries and fry sauce give any meal a satisfying crescendo. The breakfast menu also has a dedicated following.
379 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4301
Best French Fries
Bruges Waffles & Frites
Belgium’s native son Pierre van Damme has been offering Salt Lake City a taste of his hometown since 2008. In addition to authentic Belgian waffles—a three-generation guarded family recipe—the Belgian fry, or “frite,” is, as Beck would say, “where it’s at.” These babies are fried twice extra nice, locking in hot freshness on the inside and golden crispiness on the outside. No wonder the iconic Belgian “pissing child” statue is on display; these frites are pee-your-pants good. And the toppings make Utah’s fry sauce more like weak sauce. Nearly a dozen gourmet sauces complete the truly Belgian experience.
336 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-363-4444. BrugesWaffles.com
2. Crown Burgers
3. The Training Table
In Italy, there’s an outfit called Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), which sets guidelines for what constitutes an authentic, traditional Napoletana pizza. At Zucca Trattoria in South Ogden, chef Elio Scanu doesn’t have to make his Margherita pizzas in accordance with VPN—he just does. So the pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning oven and incorporate only 00 flour, San Marzano plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. The pizzas are cooked quickly at very high heat, come to the table still steaming and will make you think you’re eating at an Italian piazza.
1479 E. 5600 South, South Ogden, 801-475-7077, MyZucca.com
Best New Neighborhood Thai
Best Coffee House
Not many local coffee shops can say they’ve driven Starbucks out of business, but that’s exactly what the 9th and 9th Coffee Garden did in 2010. It makes sense, because Coffee Garden baristas know and care about coffee, tea and, most importantly, their clientele—they won’t make java virgins feel dumb for asking about coffee styles, and work with more experienced caffeine addicts on crafting unique beverages. The 9th and 9th location is the place to see and be seen if you’re meeting someone for a date or for business, and the Main Street location—inside Sam Weller’s Bookstore—is the perfect spot to begin an afternoon of downtown browsing.
878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, 801-364-0768, Salt Lake City
2. Red Eye Express Coffee
3. Beans & Brews
Best Yoga Cafe
Borrowed Earth Emporium
Perhaps your preferred method of relaxing and letting go is a yoga class, or a wonderful healing massage. Or, perhaps you just like to kick back with a cup of coffee in a peaceful environment. There aren’t many places where you can do both, but Ogden’s Borrowed Earth Emporium has a broad vision for low-carbon-footprint, thoughtful living. Upstairs, you’ll find a yoga studio and massage-therapist offices; downstairs is a cafe featuring organic roasts from Snake River Roasting Company and Tea Grotto teas. The mission extends to sharing space with environmentally conscious design company Green Roof Utah.
2242 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-627-8117, BorrowedEarthEmporium.com
Best Lunch Date
Carlucci’s Bakery & Cafe
Carlucci’s Bakery & Café by Pioneer Park is simultaneously professional and comfortable, cosmopolitan and homey, frenetic yet quiet enough for an intimate conversation. All that makes it the perfect place for a get-to-know-you downtown lunch date with someone you’d like to impress but not intimidate with pretentious prices on the menu. Both the soups and baked goods get a lot of praise, so try some of each.
314 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-366-4484, CarluccisBakery.com
Best Latino Bakery
Pampas Bakery offers the kinds of Argentine breads, croissants and sweet pastries that you’d find in the street cafes of Buenos Aires. Supplemented with flavorful empanadas—meat, cheese and tuna fillings—this basement-located jewel in Sugar House is the perfect place for a milanesa sandwich—thin slices of breaded meat with tomatoes and lettuce—followed by an alfajor, a chocolate-coated biscuit with dulce de leche filling. The bakery has even been known to hold an evening guitarriada or pena, when South Americans gather to sing folk songs from their countries and reminisce, dreamy-eyed, of younger days at home.
2156 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-738-8058
Best Ogden Restaurant
Rooster’s Brewing Co.
This 25th Street restaurant has won Best Ogden Restaurant since the category was added to our contest in 2009, and for good reason—the restaurant/brewpub has universal appeal. Diners can enjoy their meals inside or out—under a heated glass-covered patio in winter, and in the open air in summer. The menu offers everything from burgers and pizzas to fancy fish and pasta options, and the “naughty fries” appetizer is impossible to resist—beer-battered fries with three dipping sauces: pepper Jack, Gorgonzola and Louisiana hot sauce. Roosters also offers four delicious beers, plus house-brewed root beer, to make every meal complete.
253 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171, RoostersBrewingCo.com
3. Soul & Bones Real Bar-B-Q
Best Asian Flavors
South China House
Behind its opaque windows, the South China House restaurant, with its kitschy Chinese décor, has long provided some of the most reasonable $6 lunch menus of Chinese and Vietnamese fare in town. Along with authentic-tasting pho, it maintains a series of staples that make it one of the best and most underrated Asian kitchens in downtown Salt Lake City. Take its summer rolls, for example—one of the glories of the menu. Tightly packed with bean sprouts and shrimp, they have an unexpected special touch in the form of mint leaves that make them exquisitely flavorful experiences.
428 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-9918
Best Hidden Cafe in a Government Building
Washington Square Cafe
After winning a competition of sorts to occupy the unique space in the historic downtown City & County building, Tom Catrow Catering opened the lunch-counter-styled eatery known as the Washington Square Cafe. Fresh food is this small cafe’s focus—handmade veggie burgers, vegan options and cafe classics like Reubens, Monte Cristos and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches—and the atmosphere is made to match. Located where it is, it’s also a great place to grab a newspaper from the counter, order some coffee, bacon and eggs and acquaint yourself with the daily happenings before going about your day.
451 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-535-6102, TomCatrowCatering.com
Cafe Trang is a have-it-all sort of place: Vietnamese, Chinese, even sushi and delicious Malaysian rice noodles are on the menu here. The quality, however, doesn’t suffer for the variety. Likewise, the restaurant’s five locations are fast enough to be perfect for business lunch, but sleek enough for a nice dinner. It’s that well-rounded, versatile restaurant experience that has put Cafe Trang in the Best of Utah hall of fame, having received as many awards from readers as just about any business can.
Multiple locations, CafeTrangRestaurant.com
2. Mi La Cai
Best New Bar-Time Eats
While other pizza joints abound, not until 2011, when Pie Hole opened, did Salt Lakers have a New York-style pizza restaurant serving slices even after the bars close. Bar-time eaters always had fast-food Mexican or diner food to choose from, but the absence of pizza-by-the-slice always seemed like a weakness in Salt Lake City’s claim to urbanity and nightlife. Now, with thin slices that fold down the middle—just like in Manhattan—Salt Lake City’s bar-food scene has finally arrived.
344 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4653, PieHoleUtah.com
Best Tandoor Cooking
Best Urban Burger
Rich’s Mighty Fine Burgers & Grub
With downtown Salt Lake City awash in sandwich joints, it’s good to have Rich’s Mighty Fine Burgers available for that lunchtime ground-beef fix. The standard 1/3-pound burgers are patty perfection, but the more unusual menu entries are where Rich’s really does get mighty fine: The maui barbecue burger (with pineapple rings, bacon and barbecue sauce), the roasted red pepper burger (with the titular peppers, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, and lemon-cider mayonnaise), the macaroni & cheese burger (self-explanatory) and the blue banana burger (with bleu cheese, banana peppers and ranch dill sauce) top the gotta-try-that list.
30 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-0667, RichsMightyFine.com
Best Cold Shots
Underground Herbal Spirits
The easiest/laziest comparison point for Ogden’s Own Distillery’s Underground liqueur is that old cheerleader-shots standby, Jagermeister: brown, sweet, best served cold, etc. But Underground is less syrupy, mixes more widely, is 10 percent higher in alcohol content and infused with ginseng, guarana and a host of other herbs—it even comes in an old-timey medicine bottle. Underground is now available in 30 other states, and took home a Double Gold in San Francisco’s World Spirits Competition last year—but, most importantly, it’s just a damned tasty shot.
Best Tooele Dining
Tooele isn’t the epicenter of fine-dining buzz, to be sure—which makes Main Street’s Sostanza all the more impressive for its elegant atmosphere and attention to culinary detail. The menu ranges from spicy Italian dishes to seafood entrees (yes, seafood—technically, Tooele is closer to the Pacific than Salt Lake City) to a handful of Americanized items (Chef Steve Berzansky refers to the whole mix as “New American Cuisine”), as well as some tasty desserts and even tastier specialty cocktails.
29 N. Main, Tooele, 435-882-4922, SostanzaDining.com
Best Greek McMuffin
Best Power Lunch
Lucky are we to have Bambara executive chef Nathan Powers in our town. And especially lucky are those of us who toil downtown, as it provides the occasional opportunity to indulge in Bambara’s “Power(s) Lunch,” where you get soup of the day or organic greens, a choice of hamburger, turkey wrap or daily entree special and a warm turtle cookie or dessert for a mere $13. Of course, you might be tempted away from the Power(s) Lunch by terrific regular menu items, such as the chef’s signature sliders, an awesome aged Gouda cheese sandwich, the flat-iron steak Cobb salad or Colorado bison Philly cheesesteak. One thing is certain: At Bambara, you won’t leave lunch hungry. So, power up!
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
Named for owners Ian and Kelsey Brandt’s son Sage, Sage’s Cafe became an almost-instant institution in Utah upon its opening in 2000, and has been chosen by readers as the best vegetarian restaurant every year since 2002. The restaurant excels because it doesn’t settle for being just a vegetarian cafe, but clearly strives to use organic and many local ingredients and also has one of the brightest, most comfortable restaurant spaces in town. The Brandts’ food empire has been on the rise lately: They also own Vertical Diner and Cali’s Natural Foods, a bulk grocery store supplied with the same products used in the restaurants.
473 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
2. Vertical Diner
3. Bombay House
Best Logan Sushi
Salt Lakers are used to being inundated with sushi joints—but Loganites, not so much. The tiny Happy Sushi, just off Logan’s Main Street, would impress even jaded SLC sushi lovers with its expansive array of rolls that look as good as they taste (food presentation is obviously a premium at Happy Sushi). And even after a few Japanese beers to wash it down, you still get something that’s a rarity among urban Salt Lake City’s upper-scale sushi restaurants: a bill that doesn’t break the ATM. Now, that’s some Happy Sushi.
20 W. 400 North, Logan, 435-752-1467
Ruby River Steakhouse
If you’re serious about your red meat (and you should be) Ruby River steaks are the only slabs to have. New York-cut, top sirloin, T-bone, rib-eye, steak Oscar—all cut fresh daily, then seasoned and seared at 1,600 degrees to lock the flavor and juice. Pair a steak with a smooth craft beer (or root beer, if that’s your speed) from the Ruby River Brewery, and you’ve got a killer dinner that no national “steakhouse” chain can match.
Multiple locations, RubyRiver.com
2. Spencer’s For Steaks & Chops
3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
Best Sushi Bomb
Best Vegan Dishes
This is the place to ease into a vegan lifestyle or try your first vegan dish. The vegan diet is often smeared with the idea that it’s all sacrifice: no meat, no cheese, no butter, no, no, no. But delicious diner food at Vertical Diner is the antidote to skeptical omnivores, showing that familiar favorites like burgers and brownie sundaes don’t need bits of animal in them to be delicious. Diners devour buffalo fries, “chicken tenders” and the portobello quesadilla, sometimes oblivious to their vegetarian composition. A sister to Sage’s Café—of the same Brandt-family ownership—Vertical Diner has come into its own for the first time since it opened in 2007 and received a top prize from readers.
2280 S. West Temple, Salt Lak e City, 801-484-8378, VerticalDiner.com
Best Not-So-New Restaurant
The Copper Onion
The good news is that The Copper Onion garnered so many reader votes this year that it would have won in the Best New SLC Restaurant category. The bad news is that The Copper Onion won for Best New Restaurant in last year’s Best of Utah, in 2010. So, the restaurant has been around too long to be eligible for a newbie award, but it still seems as new and fresh as the day it opened. That’s because chef Ryan Lowder and his team never rest. There’s always something new and tempting on the menu—like the pork-belly salad or housemade soft-serve ice cream, for instance—to complement tried-and-true standbys such as The Copper Onion’s heavenly ricotta dumplings, the best pasta carbonara in town, and mussels spiked with black pepper. Not new, perhaps, but dining at The Copper Onion never gets old.
111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com
Best Escape to Italy
For many years now, Caffé Molise has offered downtown diners an Italian escape of sorts. Dining al fresco in the courtyard, seated by the fountain, you’ll feel like you’re visiting the Molise region of Italy. And inside, the warm service and excellent Italian fare can also make you feel like you’re on vacation. Dishes such as polenta con salsiccia, involtini di pollo, ravioli con melanzana, classic lasagna and incredible gnocchi di patate all shout one thing: mangia! And, at Caffe Molise’s Sunday brunch, you’d be insane not to give the Florentine-style eggs Benedict a try, although the ricotta pancakes with fresh berries are mighty tempting, too.
55 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-8833, CaffeMolise.com
Best Trip to Bountiful
Bountiful might not be at the top of many lists for Asian cuisine. Unless, that is, you’ve been to Mandarin restaurant. For years and years, folks have begun lining up for tables (reservations are available only for parties of eight or more) to ensure getting a coveted spot at this massively popular Davis County restaurant. The cooks are from China; the owners are Greek. So, Mandarin offers both classic Chinese fare—dishes such as cashew chicken, mu shu pork, and Szechwan shrimp—along with some menu items you might not expect—Mediterranean lamb or chicken, for instance. An excellent selection of beer, sake and wine just adds to the enjoyment of a trip to Bountiful.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, MandarinUtah.com
Best Unwrapped Gyro
Located at the International Center west of the airport, and open only during daytime hours, this lunch eatery is barely known to downtown diners. It’s well known at the IC, though, and for good reason—or why else would numerous regular visitors to Salt Lake City make the International Pantry their first stop on each visit? Start with the gyros, which look similar to those served all over town, but are built from the ground up with the freshest and best grades of pita bread and gyro meat, topped with the secret tzatziki recipe of the Mylonakis family. Freshly cut potatoes—another rarity in many fast food emporiums—add value and keep customers coming back for more. Under wraps no longer, International Pantry makes any drive west well worth it.
5500 Amelia Earhart Drive, No. 301, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8297
Best Heavenly Pecan Log
A Piece of Heaven Candy Co.
Perhaps heaven is not so far from us here on Earth—and, yes, perhaps a piece of it is an exquisite, log-shaped core, drenched in homemade caramel and sprinkled with pecans. This divine treat comes from a family recipe more than four decades old, crafted by a woman who passed the recipe on to her children and grandchildren. Now, this sumptuous combo of sweet, creamy fondant, caramel and salty pecans is shared with one and all, prepared in small batches to ensure quality. And if you think this is a guilty pleasure, you don’t need to repent, as 10 percent of the purchase proceeds go to a foundation that helps local single parents have the resources to keep their families afloat.
3945 Westland Drive, West Jordan, 801-556-0215, stores.homestead.com/APieceOfHeavenCandyCo
Best Burgers That Keep It Simple
Guzzi’s Vintage Burgers & Fries
This tiny 800 South joint topped with two Moto Guzzi motorcycles has a menu that’s less fancy than some street carts—but when the burgers are this good (and inexpensive) it hardly matters. The six-burger menu keeps it dead simple and classic—the most exotic offering being the flavor-bursting Flyin’ Hawaiian Burger, a teriyaki-marinated patty topped with Swiss cheese, pineapple and sweet & sour sauce. Guzzi’s doesn’t overthink it, and neither should you.
180 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4541
It’s often said that, with the right person, anyplace can be a venue for romance. But, do you really want to gamble on romance with someone special? If not, you can increase your odds significantly by making a simple dinner reservation at Log Haven, where they’ve got all the bases covered. Great food: check. Appealing wine list: check. A lovely canyon drive to the restaurant: check. And, once you’re there, nothing in the romance department is left to chance. The intimate, comfortable surroundings, subdued lighting, personalized service, soft music and overall nurturing vibe of the restaurant makes it a no-brainer for marriage proposals, anniversaries and hot dates. It’s no surprise that so many Log Haven customers eventually also wind up getting hitched there.
6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
3. The New Yorker
Best Main Street Surprise
The Atlantic Cafe & Deli
It’s easy to walk by The Atlantic and make a mental note to check it out someday. But once you actually walk inside and take a seat at this cozy bistro, you’ll see what you’ve been missing: grilled cevap (sausage) sandwiches, hummus & pita, soup, salad, kebabs, European and Greek specialties, beer and wine. A surprising taste of the Old World on Main Street USA.
325 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-524-9900
Best Entrees for Special Occasions
Epic Casual Dining
When you find a restaurant that does things right, and that it delivers the goods each and every time you eat there, you take notice. You remember it as great place to go for anniversaries, birthday parties, date night, after a stressful week, even dining solo. With its succulent beef tenderloin steak, sautéed pork medallions, savory chicken Marsala, and seared ahi tuna, Epic is the place you go to “mark the occasion.” And such occasions should begin with an order of dynamite brick-oven flatbread, a fresh salad loaded with nuts and fruit, and a glass of chilled Chardonnay. Naturally, a meal like that should end with a mouthwatering slice of New York cheesecake or a dish of Meyer lemon white chocolate mousse, which the friendly servers at Epic will bring to you with an after-dinner port wine and a cup of coffee.
707 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-748-1300, EpicCasualDining.com