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Home / Articles / Best Of / Best of Utah /  Best of Utah 2002: Culinary
Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2002: Culinary

By City Weekly Staff
Posted // June 11,2007 - Best

Readers’ Choice


BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH


Little America


When you think buffet, don’t just think chain family-style eateries. Sunday at the Little America hotel is an all-you-can-eat fantasy, loaded with stuff for every palate. Fruit fancier? Try the full table of melon, berries and even papaya. Southerner at heart? You’ve got your biscuits ‘n’ gravy and grits. Conventional breakfast lover? There’s made-to-order omelets and delicious orange-glazed French toast. And it’s even a legit “brunch,” with cheese, cold cuts and crackers for those eating a bit later in the day. If you only use one plate, you’re missing something.


2. Market Street Grill


3. Rivers


BEST PLACE TO MEET FOREIGNERS


Salt Lake Coffee Break


Maybe it’s the rumored camel milk, maybe it’s the pita bread filled with eccentric vegetables or the patio for the stereotypical Middle Eastern or European smoker. Whatever the reason is, white is the minority here. You can chill on the couches in the back while you listen to the languages blend and pretend you’re somewhere more exotic than 400 South. You may be in homogenous Utah, but there is refuge. Order some coffee and mingle.


Readers’ Choice


BEST BREAKFAST


Ruth’s Diner


There’s nothing overtly fancy about Ruth’s breakfast menu. It’s everything you’d expect from capable restaurant: fresh-squeezed orange juice, fluffy pancakes, substantive biscuits, savory omelets, and amiable service. Oh yeah, and the patio. The draw here is the endearing nature in which Ruth’s entire breakfast package is assembled, then lovingly executed in all its morning glory. It’s enough to make you wish every day was 100-percent morning. Forget afternoons and evenings. Now if they could only get rid of the waiting list.


2. Over the Counter


3. Blue Plate Diner


BEST RESTAURANT FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS


Third & Main


Whether it be for a lunch break, business meeting or date, Third & Main is conveniently located next to major downtown businesses, entertainment venues and the Gallivan Center TRAX station. A neutral, modern, somewhat trendy New-York-style décor of muted peaches and soothing browns sets the backdrop for a companionable lunch or quiet dinner. High-class without feeling inaccessible, Third & Main has a wide array of eclectic, tasty dishes at sensible prices, such as their new fish-and-chips platter of fresh blackened halibut with homemade tartar sauce, and Panzanelli salad with goat cheese and roasted pepper pear-oil vinaigrette.


BEST RECYCLING COFFEEHOUSE


Greenhouse Effect Coffeeshop & Crepery


A recycling bin for newspaper, plastic and aluminum sits outside at the back of the shop near parking stalls. A full-service coffeehouse and crepery awaits you inside. So gather all your recyclables and make the trip to Greenhouse Effect. Don’t worry about separating your recyclables when you throw them in the bin out back. The people who pick it up will do that for you. Then treat yourself to a Nutella crepe and/or coffee inside the shop. Your good turn deserves a treat, doesn’t it?


BEST SOUL CONGREGATION


Main Street Coffee


Books and coffee; meetings and coffee; souls and coffee; why not church and coffee? Here, you can buy the coffee, and as for the Sunday church service, they leave you free to go or not. Many youth groups use the coffeehouse for a meeting place. They also have a lot of steamers—steamed milk with a variety of flavors from syrup. Let thy body drink. Amen.


BEST LOVE IT OR LOVE IT


Café Med


Our planet has plenty of bitter rivalries to go around: Palestinians and Israelis, Croatians and Serbs, Protestant and Catholic Irish, and on and on. Among the oldest on earth is the—there are no better words—bitter hatred that consumes the Greeks and the Turks, a fight that has been going on since before written history. You’d think that two cultures that share so much gastronomically would get along, wouldn’t you? Well, they do at Café Med, where the menu boasts tasty and affordable Persian, Greek and Turkish fare. Better, the Greek and Turkish flags wave atop this 3300 South restaurant. That’s got to be a first.


BEST DINNER-AND-INTRO TO HISPANIC POP CULTURE


Dos Serranos Beach Grill


You’ll come to Dos Serranos for the oft-lauded food, but you may stay a little longer for the entertainment. Television screens strategically placed throughout the restaurant play not sporting events like you’ll find in some eateries, but a nonstop parade of music videos by Latin pop artists. It’s an instant education in what the Spanish-speaking youth are listening to these days—plus, it might make you feel a little better about English-language pop music. Award-winning tacos or chile verde, anyone?


Readers’ Choice


BEST CHINESE


Mandarin


We always knew there was some reason for Bountiful’s existence—we kid, we kid. The fact that Mandarin brings in chefs from Hong Kong and San Francisco isn’t the only reason people line up almost every night of the week for a table, but it’s one of the best ones. Ever had bad Chinese in either of those cities? Ever been to either of those cities? Just go to the Mandarin for a taste of what you’re missing.


2. Sampan


3. Jasmine China Bistro


Readers’ Choice


BEST INDIAN


Bombay House


For a little contrast-and-compare, we looked up some readers’ comments on a certain website that used to be based somewhat locally but has since moved operations far away—not going to name names, you can do your own city search. Bombay House could be the only restaurant on the entire site without a single negative review posted. In fact, they’re all positively glowing, a rarity for any kind of website. So, besides succulent, exotic subcontinental dishes, Bombay House is also promoting goodwill on the web, nice.


2. Royal India


3. Star of India


BEST SATIN TIBETAN HANDBAGS


House of Tibet


Choose among such Asian delights as a black satin purse with gold embroidery, a flat blue satin handbag with black braid trim or a red satin handbag with gold patterns in it with a rich scarlet hue reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s dress from her “Little Fish, Big Fish” video. And they’re only $10-$12. You’ll be showered with compliments if you sport one of these bags. Plus, after buying one, you should consider buying dinner: House of Tibet has good food with prices waaaaay below average (all dishes are $6.95 or under).


Readers’ Choice


BEST MIDDLE EASTERN


Mazza


Few restaurants have rolled into town with the kind of irresistible charm sported by this neighborhood joint. A native of Lebanon, Ali Sabbah could probably recite sumptuous, savory recipes in his sleep. His kebobs stand up to any and all competition. His hummus is practically a force of nature. Middle Eastern staples abound here, but Sabbah throws plenty of tasty culinary curveballs even the expert has never tasted. Try the muhammara, a bewitching combination of walnuts and red peppers. Meticulously clean digs and frighteningly helpful staff put even more jewels in the Mazza crown.


2. Cedars of Lebanon


3. Baba Afghan


Readers’ Choice


BEST TAKE-OUT


Sampan


Pizza delivery is strictly for the college crowd. Smart people on the go know that nothing adds glow to your domestic dinner dilemma quite like Sampan’s Bo Bo Platter for Two or shredded duck dinner that’s good enough for an empress. Sampan is a rarity among delivery restaurants, if only because its offerings are even wider than its delivery area. With a new West Jordan location in addition to its Sugar House base and a third on the way, that too is expanding. Don’t have a menu handy? They’ll fax you one.


2. Greek Souvlaki


3. Kenji’s


BEST PLACE FOR STARVING STUDENTS


Big Ed’s


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start with a fix of caffeine, sugar and grease. They serve beer from 10 a.m. and they have cheap and tasty lunches. In the mornings, when it isn’t crowded, students use it as a place to study. The food is hot and so are the waitresses, so tip high.


Readers’ Choice


BEST VEGETARIAN


Sage’s Cafe


What was once a hole-in-the-wall serving outrageously fine food for Salt Lake City’s vegan intelligentsia is now a fully endowed restaurant with a wine list—and its own rest room—still serving fine food for Salt Lake City’s vegan intelligentsia. It doesn’t hurt to have some of the finest salads you’ll find in the valley, either. Sage’s spinach salad with warmed shitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds and balsamic dressing is the stuff of legend. The rest of the menu is equally famed, and Sage’s weekend breakfast offerings are downright celebrated.


2. Oasis Café


3. Long Life Vegi House


BEST NEW ITALIAN


Roma Ristorante


With so many great Italian restaurants in the valley, why do so many folks insist on frequenting the Olive Garden? And then insist on voting for the corporate chain in our Best Italian category? Could be the price thing, but that’s no excuse with a low-cost family-run restaurant like Roma conveniently located on 3300 South—dinner entrées range from $11.50 to $16.50, and they’re classic Italian fare, heavy on the pasta dishes. The homemade desserts are gorgeous, best eaten under the funky green dome left over from a florist shop once housed there. Yes, you could probably ask for bread sticks.


Readers’ Choice


BEST ITALIAN


Tucci’s


Learn Italian while you wait to be seated. Do a little coloring on the tablecloth while you wait for your meal. Do anything you can to pass the time waiting for the pasta. Because if you sit there just thinking about how good it is, it’ll drive you nuts. A popular place for prom night promenades and young starlit lovers, Tucci’s comes through with good food. When it finally comes to your table, you won’t even remember the wait.


2. Al Forno’s


3. Fresco


Reader’s Choice


BEST PASTA


Tucci’s


Every day, the chefs and kitchen staffs at Tucci’s cook up their pastas fresh and from scratch—17 different kinds, in fact. The lasagna comes to form in individual crocks. There’s angel hair, penne and ravioli. But pasta is judged also by what comes on top of or inside it. Tucci’s has figured that part of it out perfectly.


2. Michaelangelo’s


3. Al Forno’s


BEST FETTUCCINI PICCANTE


Al Forno’s


The flat fettuccini pasta strands come doused with a sauce of garlic, cajun spice, crme and asiago cheese. In between are delicious sautéed chicken strips. Al Forno’s is a comfortable place—romantic in its simplicity and perfect for a conversation. Get it with a spicy red wine and it’s like having sex, except you’re not hungry afterward.


Readers’ Choice


BEST ATMOSPHERE


Tuscany


At Mark Eaton’s restaurant, the presentation begins in the parking lot. Tucked among the cottonwoods at 6200 South and Holladay Boulevard, it beckons with a quaint European flavor and readies you for a superb dining experience. The ambiance at Tuscany can be described as warm and wonderful, although other superlatives could suffice. But it’s all just an eye-appetizer for the menu, which is one of the best in town, including a wine selection that is second to none.


2. Metropolitan


3. Fresco


Readers’ Choice


BEST FOR CHEAPSKATES


Blue Plate Diner


From the moment you walk past the patio with its multi-colored chairs, you know you’re in for a no-frills dining experience. That doesn’t mean the Blue Plate Diner skimps on the quality—or the quantity. Heaping plates of classic diner fare like meat loaf or pork chops are part of a menu where no item tops $10—and if you take advantage of weekday specials, you can make it an all-you-can-eat experience. Blue Plate even takes the “greasy” out of “greasy spoon” with a generous selection of vegetarian burgers and burritos. A $20-dinner for two has rarely tasted so yummy.


2. Alberto’s


3. Guru’s


BEST BREAKFAST WAIT


Carl’s Café


The place ain’t big, but the killer omelets are, and definitely worth waiting in line for—which you will be, because the place ain’t big, remember? Carl’s Café near the Cottonwood Canyons is an understated joint open only for breakfast and lunch, but, as many a skier will attest, once you get in and load up for cheap, you probably won’t be needing dinner. No, Carl’s not in.


Readers’ Choice


BEST DESSERTS


Red Butte Café


If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’d better hold onto your tongue. The desserts at Red Butte Café on Foothill Boulevard are just this side of legal. Check out their chocolate Aztec tarte, a truffle-like delicacy dusted with cocoa and cinnamon with a graham cracker/walnut crust. Mmmm baby. But that ain’t all. Try a taste of their orange chocolate mousse cake—a layered affair that will have you tingling all over. But the hits just keep coming at Red Butte with rarities like white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, pineapple coconut tarts, blueberry lemon tarts and on and on. Sure, you can pop in for lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday and feast on their Southwestern specialty dishes, wild salads, unique quiche and pasta plates. But for heaven’s sakes, leave room for the Bourbon pecan pie.


2. Market Street Grill


3. Brumby’s


BEST SUSHI CHEF/SPORTS SPECIALIST


Drew Lang


It’s official: The sushi chef is the new bartender, that special restaurant personality you should never fear when wearing your heart on your sleeve. That said, some topics are better than others. Of course, you could talk about your latest divorce with sushi chef Drew Lang. But he’d rather talk sports while cutting sashimi for your rainbow roll. Basically, it’s all about New Jersey. Lang can share stats and season records with the best of ’em when the subject veers toward the Nets or the Devils. He’ll also hold court over anything to do with his beloved New York Yankees or Minnesota Vikings. Bring up the Green Bay Packers or Boston Red Sox at your own peril. Catch Drew at Ginza, Happy Sumo in Gateway or Tsunami.


Readers’ Choice


BEST ROMANTIC


Log Haven


What could be more romantic than a warm spring evening in Millcreek Canyon gazing across the linen into the eyes of your significant other? (Or at least, that sexy being that you’d like to get a lot closer to.) Log Haven has that rustic but upscale ambience that has been bringing couples here for decades. We’re happy to report that the place is just as good, if not better, than ever. Under the management of Chef Dave Jones, Log Haven is rated one of the top restaurants in the West—and even the country. It’s true. The eclectic menu might distract you from your sweetie, but it will be well worth the effort to scroll through the varieties of Southwestern cuisine, Pacific Rim-influenced specialties and more traditional fare, like T-bone steak, roasted duck breast or grilled quail. Oh, and better order some bubbly for your baby while you’re at it.


2. Tuscany


3. La Caille


BEST INTIMATE RESTAURANT


Brumby’s


It’s a one-stop for fine pastries and cakes. It’s also the best in gourmet food for up-and-coming U grad students on a budget. But it’s also the best dining room in town for people who put as much emphasis on quality time with companions as they do fine food. Brumby’s vertical stretch of seating in back may or may not be feng shui, but it’s so conducive to conversation it might as well be a talk-show stage. Save it for the sixth or seventh date or, better yet, that moment you want to pop the question.


BEST NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY


Lugano


Millcreek residents are indeed fortunate to have tucked within their suburban midst the warm and rustic Mediterranean café that is Lugano. Here, you’ll find an atmosphere that lends itself to both casual and formal dining. You might drop in for pizza or come dressed for a serious romantic dinner. Lugano features about a dozen entrées along with several daily specials. Among the classic dishes is the spaghetti with Napa cabbage, smoked bacon, toasted garlic, cauliflower and ricotta salata. The more traditional linguine with Manila clams in a light garlic sauce is also a favorite, as is the homemade ravioli. And Lugano provides a wonderfully eclectic wine list to pair with each of their flavorful and reasonably priced dishes. The truth is, you don’t have to live in East Millcreek to dine there, so, no excuse!


Readers’ Choice


BEST SPEEDY LUNCH


Kenji’s


It’s fast, it’s inexpensive and it’s healthy. What, healthy fast-food? Count on it. And the bonus: It’s delicious. Check out the menu: teriyaki chicken, curry beef, ginger salmon—all served with rice. Kenji’s also features a whole list of wraps and delicious salads that you just won’t find at any other fast-food place. You can sit down inside or fly through the drive-through. A hamburger on the fly is fine. But give yourself the break you need and deserve. Fast-food doesn’t have to be fat food. You can satisfy that beast, keep your cholesterol down and have a delicious meal—all at Kenji’s.


2. Curry In a Hurry


3. Big City Soup


BEST MEXICAN-STYLE SHRIMP


Mariscos Las Islitas


“Con cáscara” or “sin cáscara.” It may seem like an afterthought: Do you want your succulent shrimp with or without their shells? But it’s kind of misleading, too. If you choose “con cáscara,” the shrimp come with more than just a mildly annoying covering. They show up complete with their beady eyes, antennae and rather stubborn swimmerets all perfectly intact. After the first three or four, you start to develop a system for quickly removing those less-than-tasty anatomical features. And when you first bite into the naked little shrimp body hidden inside, you don’t need any additional motivation at all to rip the head off the next.


Readers’ Choice


BEST TACOS


Lone Star Taqueria


The fish taco is the overwhelming favorite. Grilled and marinated, not deep fried, people flock to the Lone Star just to try it. The place has kind of a retro-glow and a great patio—even in the heart of strip-mall land. Take the kids, and if you don’t like fish, they offer pork, beef, chicken and vegetable, all topped with fresh onions, tomatoes, lettuce and cilantro. Qué bueno!


2. Dos Serranos


3. Café Rio


Readers’ Choice


BEST MEXICAN


Red Iguana


It’s the first place you point someone from out of town. “Where should we eat?” There’s really no question. The Mole Verde, the Mole Poblano, the Chile Verde—you can’t have a bad meal at the Red Iguana. The directions are easy—“head west on North Temple until you see it”—the prices are good and the food is delicious. It’s a favorite for a reason.


2. Dos Serranos


3. Blue Iguana


BEST LIFE WELL LIVED


Maria Cardenas


She founded Red Iguana, and her recent passing has touched us all. So few are those that bring so much beauty to so many people. Thank you.


Readers’ Choice BEST OUT-OF-DOWNTOWN DINING


Rivers


Once again, we ask the question: What the heck does “effortless dining” mean, anyway? This swank restaurant in the Cottonwood area uses it as a catch phrase, but there must be some effort involved, right? Maybe it’s less about the food, more about the elegant-but-not-too-fancy charm that’s so inviting to Jim Briefcase and Joe Sixpack alike. OK, and it’s about the food, too.


2. Porcupine Pub & Grill


3. Log Haven


BEST RESTAURANT IN A TOUGH LOCATION


Rib Alley


If the restaurant dictum “location, location, location,” means anything at all, Rib Alley has its work cut out for it. Although tucked away between warehouses at 533 South and 500 West, this new barbecue joint is making noise. Once inside this beautiful restaurant, customers are quickly transported into another world. And if the décor isn’t enough to make you come back, the beef brisket, barbecued ribs, hush puppies and fried catfish will be. Bonus: In this part of town, parking ain’t a problem.


Readers’ Choice


BEST BUSINESS LUNCH


Lamb’s Grill Cafe


Don’t let Lamb’s tiny street-facing exterior fool you: There’s a lot of restaurant in there, and we’re not just talking square footage. Established in Logan in 1919, Lamb’s was relocated to Salt Lake in 1939. Lamb’s still sports most of the late-’20s décor it used in Logan, from the long black marble counter running the entire length of the front of the restaurant to the intricate wainscot woodcarving on the wall to the imported Viennese chairs. Their daily lunch specials are the main draw to businesspeople working in downtown Salt Lake, including their fresh filet of Alaskan salmon and of course, anything with lamb, like their barbequed lamb shanks and New Zealand lamb chops. Don’t forget to load up on the rice pudding, or check out their live, soothing jazz and classical music performances at night.


2. Rivers


3. Third & Main


BEST ITALIAN LUNCH ON A BUDGET


Mr. Z’s Cucina


For a relaxing and tasty lunch downtown that won’t set back your retirement, slide into Mr. Z’s for an experience that’s worth repeating and repeating. You’ll probably be welcomed to this cozy, warm place by Mr. Z himself, who’ll fix whatever’s wrong with your day. Dig into the caprese salad of fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, ripe tomatoes and olive oil. Another favorite appetizer is the vongole alla marinara, steamed clams in a heady broth of white wine, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and hot pepper flakes. But leave room for Mr. Z’s pasta entrées, including house specialties like spaghetti and meatballs or the rigatoni in meat sauce. This is the authentic article, so tuck the napkin under your chin.


BEST HIP BISTRO


Urban Bistro


At the Urban Bistro, you don’t have to be hip, you just have to like good food and good service. This downtown stopover near the city library offers an array of wonderful foods that draw on Southwestern, Mediterranean and Indian flavors. But the friendly staff will also put you in touch with such things as the Urban Burger—a juicy sandwich topped with Monterrey Jack, caramelized onions and mild Anaheim chiles. They also have a wonderful vegetarian sandwich with roasted red peppers and eggplant, sprouts, tomatoes and provolone cheese. Urban Bistro features homemade sausages, seafood crepes and homemade burritos and other delicacies. You can eat them on the spot or take them home. Try it, even if you don’t think you’re hip. You may be more with it than you thought.


BEST-LOOKING RESTAURATEURS


Kimi and Staffan Eklund


They’re Swedes, so of course they’re supposed to be hot. But Dijon and Absolute! co-owners Kimi and Staffan Eklund make most restaurateurs look like frumpy Mennonites. As hands-on restaurant owners who spend most days meeting and greeting customers, you’d expect the Eklunds to look sharp. Even so, we can’t think of any other eatery owners who can pull off the “his and hers” leather-pants look.


Readers’ Choice


BEST GREEK


Greek Souvlaki


A simple, comfortable, fast-food setting filled with the aroma of roasting gyros, pungent spices and fresh pita is a welcome relief from the stale odor of chains like McDonald’s. For the same speed and price as traditional fast-food, you can indulge yourself in Greek Souvlaki’s tangy dolmathes—rice mixed with ground beef wrapped in grape leaves—stuffed-to-the-brim gyros or tender shish kebobs marinated in what tastes like 50 different sauces. The Greek salad with feta cheese and tart Spanish olives goes great with clear Greek vinaigrette. Top it all off with a slab of honeyed baklava and you’ve got yerself a little piece of Greece right here in Salt Lake City.


2. Yanni’s Greek Express


3. The Other Place


Readers’ Choice


BEST THAI


Bangkok Thai


If you want real Thai food and genuine Thai curry, this is the place. Bangkok Thai loses nothing in atmosphere, with their gold Buddhas, lush plants, soothing colors and pleasant wait staff. But the secret of Bangkok Thai’s success lies in their food. They make their red, green, yellow, masaman and panap curry from scratch daily, their appetizers are divine (recommended: the corn balls and delicate curry puffs) and their coconut soup, made with kaffir, lime juice, coconut milk and more, is great to bathe your taste buds in. In the Asian tradition, pains are taken to make dishes that not only taste good, but look artistically beautiful. Bangkok Thai: It’s a dining experience for all your senses.


2. Mekong Café


3. Thai Chili Garden


Readers’ Choice


BEST VIETNAMESE


Café Trang


Ho-hum—another year, another award for Café Trang. A perennial winner in this category, they’ve also won kudos for their Chinese food—doesn’t seem quite fair, somehow. Their moderately-priced menu offers so many marvelous options you could eat there every day for six months and never have the same thing twice. Choose your preferred location ambiance—downtown for that classy business lunch, or Holladay for a quiet dinner—settle down with a few dozen glasses of water to put out the fire of those mega-spicy items and enjoy.


2. East-West Connection


3. Shanghai Café


BEST RESTAURANT FOR TEETOTALERS


Passages


Passages at The Inn on Temple Square is a remarkably attractive, contemporary restaurant with much better-than-average food and ambiance and reasonable prices. So why isn’t it mobbed every night? No booze. The cuisine at Passages cries out for wine pairings but, being an LDS operation, you’ll need to decide whether you’d prefer Coke, Sprite, or Dr. Pepper with your braised lamb shank or cedar planked salmon. On the other hand, if you’re incensed by being exposed to evil alcohol, Passages is the perfect dining spot for teetotalers.


BEST BOAR


Blue Boar Inn (Midway)


Out at the Blue Boar Inn, Executive Chef Jesse Layman’s cuisine is never boring, although it could be called boaring. Wild boar can never relax in the vicinity of the Blue Boar Inn, where the layman specializes in boaring his customers. For an appetizer, you might try the delicious crispy boar ravioli and then follow that up with the rack of wild boar with rapini, caramelized onions and polenta. It ain’t called the Blue Boar Inn for nothing.


BEST PEPPERS


Pasillas Restaurant (Kamas)


Naming a restaurant after a chile pepper is a really good start. But using nature’s chiles in the way God intended—to spice up our lives—is what Pasillas Restaurant in Kamas does best. Turn up the heat right at the outset with Pasillas’ fried jalapeño masa sticks. Follow that up with a bowl of fresh chile verde and the chipotle burrito or chili relleno with grilled shrimp, and you’ll be in chile heaven faster than you can say chili con carne!


BEST WAITER


Hutch at Rooster’s (Ogden)


Still, after all these years, the best dining experience in Ogden belongs to Rooster’s. Here, more than anyplace else in Ogden, you can hang out and feel like you’re not really in Ogden. It starts with their fantastically yummy microbrew beer brewed right on the premises. It continues on with genuine ambience and great variety on the menu. And, Rooster’s is home to Hutch, one of the planet’s best waiters.


BEST ITALIAN


La Ferrovia (Ogden)


Real Italian food served by real Italians—not those ersatz teens at Olive Garden. In the kitchen, there’s probably even a real, authentic, sweaty Italian chef. And most importantly, the food doesn’t taste like it’s been sitting in a big vat all day. One small catch—you can’t order liquor here.


BEST CHINESE


The Chinese Buffet (Ogden)


You want to eat at a fancy-dancy Chinese restaurant, with all sorts of Buddhas, dragons, fans and oriental woodcarvings? Go somewhere else. You want to stuff your face with Chinese food until you get woozy and end up stumbling out into the parking lot and fainting? The Chinese Buffet is your best bet with pretty good food (especially if you are prone to equate quantity with quality) and a charming (if not pensive) wait staff.


BEST NEW LOCALS’ RESTAURANT


Windy Ridge (Park City)


In a surprising deviation from the high-end norm, Park City restaurateur Bill White (Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso) has created a homey hangout for locals with Windy Ridge. With most menu items priced at $6.95 or less, White has Park City locals flocking to Windy Ridge for breakfast and lunch staples like apple pancakes, biscuits & gravy, Sloppy Joe sandwiches, meatball subs and baked ziti. But even at Windy Ridge’s low prices, fresh-cut flowers on every table remind that this is indeed a Bill White restaurant.


BEST PHONE-FREE DINING


Chenez (Park City)


At the intimate new Chenez in Park City, diners are politely requested to abstain from cell-phone usage. Owner Joe Jafarian wants his classy restaurant to be a place where the food speaks louder than phone calls. And that seems apropos, since with its classic French fare, Chenez is a throwback to the elegant dining rooms of the ’40s and ’50s—a peaceful time before cell phones. So before you order champagne and escargot at Chenez, make sure your cellular is set on “stun.”


BEST MEXICAN


Javier’s (Ogden)


Not only is the food at Javier’s some of the best Mexican food you can get in the state, but Javier himself is one of the most charming people in Utah. There may be no more formidable and affable pillar of the Hispanic community in northern Utah than Javier. And besides, the food is not only delicious, it’s also ridiculously cheap and fast.


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