Best Specialty Appetizers
You can trace the small-plates craze in restaurants to Spain, where tapas were the original small-plates phenomena. Not surprising then, that the Spanish-themed Finca restaurant should offer such a dazzling array of appetizer-size small plates. The appetizers at Finca range from über simple, like marinated olives or Spanish serrano ham, to more complex ones, such as lamb & pork meatballs, grilled local lamb belly, Brussels sprouts with bacon in luscious sherry cream, and grilled cauliflower with salsa verde. Take your pick.
1291 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-487-0699, FincaSLC.com
3. Fratelli Ristorante
To say that the Red Iguana is Salt Lake City’s most beloved Mexican restaurant is like saying that Ted Nugent is fond of firearms: an understatement, at best. And, well, why not? What’s not to love about the Iguana’s kitschy atmosphere, warm hospitality and excellent south-of-the-border fare? Owners Lucy Cardenas and Bill Coker are justifiably proud of their from-scratch moles and other favorites, like Ramon’s famous fish tacos, parrillada and, of course, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and such.
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489; 866 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-214-6050, RedIguana.com
2. La Frontera
3. Blue Iguana
Best Meals With Magic
Two Bit Street Cafe
Ogden’s Two Bit Street Cafe is a lovable oddity. The ambiance is cowboy-saloon-meets-magic shop, and the food is as eclectic as you’re likely to find. And it’s all amazingly good—from the grits and biscuits & gravy for breakfast to the Cuba-via-Tampa-Bay sandwich, big bowls of steamed Little Neck clams, citrus-glazed organic chicken and Creekstone Farms natural steaks. Plus, magic is performed daily by James Dayley.
126 25th St., Ogden, 801-393-1225, TwoBitStreet.com
Best Curry in a Wrapper
Masala Indian Grill
From the owners of the beloved fast-food Curry in a Hurry comes Sugar House’s Masala Indian Grill, where the food and service is also speedy. Here, you’ll find deliciously spiced Indian foods in wrap form. Good things like tandoori fish or chicken, lamb or veggie masala, and lamb kebabs come wrapped up in fresh, warm naan. Wash it down with a tasty mango lassi.
2223 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-487-2994, MasalaIndianGrill.com
Market Street Grill
Market Street restaurants and fish markets are synonymous with seafood in Salt Lake City, and have been since they became the first to fly fresh fish in from the coast, shipped overnight. The array of fish and seafood available at Market Street is dazzling; the menu offers everything from oysters on the half shell, Maine mussels and Manila clams, to fresh Alaskan halibut, king crab legs, Hawaiian ahi tuna and Columbia River king salmon and dozens more fishy items to choose from. For the fish averse, the Prime Angus steaks are awfully good, too.
Multiple locations, GInc.com
3. Bucket O’ Crawfish
BEANS & BREWS // PHOTO BY MIKEY SALTAS
Best Coffee House
Beans & Brews
With 25 locations across Utah, Beans & Brews offers the convenience of a chain without the burned coffee and apathetic baristas that go with it. Each location has its own personality, and the massive Beans & Brews drink menu—teas, espresso, blended drinks, Italian sodas and more—makes it a haven for espresso snobs and caffeine newbies alike. The frozen drinks are a gateway drug into the world of coffee—especially the Mr. B’s, a frozen latte spiked with Irish cream syrup and Ghirardelli white cocoa. Equal parts sugar and caffeine, it’ll keep you going all day—and coming back for more.
Multiple locations, BeansAndBrews.com
2. Coffee Garden
3. Alchemy Coffee
Best Brick-Oven Sandwich
We can’t think of many food-court joints that roast their own garlic & rosemary leg of lamb, make meatballs from scratch, slowly cook fennel-rubbed porchetta overnight, bath their “drunken chicken” in a brine based on Red Rock Brewing’s Hefeweizen, or fire up crispy sandwich bread (similar to pizza dough) in an imported brick oven. But that’s what happens daily at Bocata, making it the best spot for a quick nosh at City Center.
City Center Food Court, 28 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3538, BocataSandwich.com
Local sushi lovers all but worship Takashi Gibo. Takashi approaches everything he does with a combination of love and technical precision. He’s a masterful sushi chef, but also one of the warmest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. The large selection of fresher-than-fresh sushi, sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls at Takashi will make your head spin. So, do what folks in the know do: Just ask Takashi to feed you whatever’s freshest, and he’ll be happy to oblige.
18 W. Market St. (340 South), Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
2. Sapa Sushi Bar & Grill
3. Tsunami Sushi
Per Noi Trattoria
If you died and went to heaven, we’re pretty certain Per Noi’s lasagna would be served there. The foundation of this lofty lasagna is the made-from-scratch pasta. Those sheets of housemade lasagna noodles are layered with a mix of mozzarella and ricotta cheese, along with Per Noi’s robust Bolognese sauce, all topped with Parmigiano and minced parsley. The noodles are cooked to an absolutely perfect al dente, not mushy like in so many lasagnas you’ve encountered. Bliss.
1588 E. Stratford Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-486-3333, PerNoiTrattoria.com
Best Booze Educator
James “Jimmy” Santangelo is Utah’s most entertaining and one of its most knowledgeable educators for wine, spirits and beyond. If it’s about booze, Santangelo has the 411. Known also as the Virtual Sommelier, he provides customized on-site sommelier and wine-consulting services, and teaches certification courses in wine and spirits education for The Wine Academy of Utah. But what we like most about Santangelo is his self-effacing demeanor and humorous barside manner.
Best Utah County Restaurant
Communal isn’t just Provo’s best restaurant; it could vie for that title in many cities and towns. Since it opened, nothing has been able to touch the top-notch cuisine and service that Joseph McRae and Colton Soelberg’s Communal restaurant dishes up. The food—which features locally sourced ingredients whenever possible—is prepared simply but elegantly, allowing the flavors in dishes like braised lamb shank, grilled flat-iron steak and Gruyère mac & cheese to really shine.
102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, CommunalRestaurant.com
3. Pizzeria 712