| BEST ITALIAN
On a nightly basis, the great Italian restaurateur/maestro Valter Nassi orchestrates a symphony of fresh flavors and a ballet of superb serviceall hitting the operatic high-notes that we know as Cucina Toscana: City Weekly readers' pick for best Italian restaurant. From the ethereal homemade gnocchi and handcrafted risotto to the sublime house specialty piccata di pollo al limone, we're not even sure you could find better Italian fare in Italy. One thing is certain, you'll never find a more welcoming host than Nassi.
307 W. Pierpont Ave, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3463, Cucina-Toscana.com
3. Fratelli's Ristorante
| BEST BUDGET LUNCH
Moochie's Meatballs & More
The house that Moochie's built was laid with a foundation of meatballs and grilled Philly steak. And while these two sub options are still Moochie's bedrock, any true gourmand on a budget can you tell that Moochie's wallet friendly lunch menu extends beyond these two divine sandwiches. Even taking on just half a meatball or Philly cheese sandwich will provide an ample amount of messy lunchtime gorging and only set you back between $5 to $6. But that's not counting other great $6 lunch options like the gi-normous Reuben or the tuna grinder loaded with a full can of tuna. For the truly frugal who want to try a twist on the classic Moochies' meatball, how about the macaroni or potato salad with a hearty scoop 'o meatball on top ($4)? That's some mighty fine lunch on a budget.
232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0232, MoochiesMeatballs.com
2. Blue Plate Diner
3. Himalayan Kitchen
The ambience and atmosphere at Caffe Molise change with the seasons. During winter, it's a cozy, warm spot to enjoy chef/owner Fred Moesinger's bistecca with grilled mushrooms and a glass of hearty Italian Barolo. When the weather turns warm, the Caff Molise action moves outside to the garden patio which surrounds a flowing fountain, where lighter dishes like pomodori e mozzarella are in order. Every Friday nightregardless of the seasonthe Caff Molise atmosphere is charged with jazz, courtesy of the Jon Flanders Trio.
55 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-8833, CaffeMolise.com
2. Log Haven
3. Fratelli's Ristorante
BEST BAKERY (BREAD)
With more than 20 bakeries in 43 states, Great Harvest must be doing something right. Of the 10 Utah branches, if a recent lunchtime visit to the Draper location is to judge by, local operations are continuing the franchise's national success story of selling honey whole wheat bread and other delicious loaves to American bread lovers. Without additives or preservatives, the breads are baked on premises and range in flavor from cheddar garlic to cranberry walnut. They also offer dipping oils and upscale jams, along with scones, biscottis and chocolate-chip cookies. With Harvest box lunches and even bread gift options, any bread lover's needs are more than fulfilled.
Multiple locations, GreatHarvestUtah.com
2. Crumb Bros.
3. Java Cow
Stepping into the quaint little Mini's bakery with its pink candy-striped lobby and Audrey Hepburn themed dcor, one might imagine somehow they've been shrunk and transported inside a 1950's Barbie dollhouse. And while the funky retro feel is very inviting, it's the decadent gourmet cupcakes that really draw the crowds. Mini's makes a mean cupcake, and even at $1.75 to $2 for a mini cupcake, you're getting a lot for your taste buds. The bakery does a lot of wedding business and can custom build the perfect cupcakes for your special day. If the femme fabulous ambience of the place doesn't jive with all you macho dudes, why not stop by for one of the tougher daily specials like the Monday Lemon Drop cupcake, soaked in Citron Vodka and frosted in lemon creme cheese frosting. For the more daring, try the Tuesday Margaritaville speciala fresh lime cupcake soaked in tequila.
14 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-0608, Mini-Cupcakes.com
BEST HIGH-ALTITUDE SUSHI
The Aerie Sushi Bar
The Jimmy Walker roll is Dyn-O-Mite! But then, so is everything else at the Aerie Sushi Bar, perched atop Snowbird's Cliff Lodge. Magnificent mountain views match the marvelous sushi and sashimi, artfully constructed by chef Otto Blum and his top-notch team of sushi artists. Put yourself in their hands and order "omakase" style, which means to "protect" or "entrust." You entrust yourself to the sushi chef by basically telling him, "Feed me!" Maybe you'll be treated to thin-sliced sashimi from a live Diver scallop or the Aerie's bodacious three-way Wagyu beef dish.
Level 10, Cliff Lodge, Snowbird Resort, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-933-2160, Snowbird.com
BEST BAKERY (SWEETS)
Gourmandise The Bakery
It's hard to imagine a greater pleasure on a warm summer afternoon than a visit to the downtown European-style Gourmandise The Bakery for a coffee and something to soothe that sweet-tooth craving. Gourmandise's shelves all but groan under the weight of delicious cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, scones and tarts. The problem, as ever, is making a choice. As you perambulate up and down the front counter, gazing at the saliva-enducing flaky croissants and the classic Chocalate Decadence and Strawberry Chantilly torte, not to mention robust muffins, it's almost painful to choose. Once you've made your pick and ordered coffee, all that awaits is a chair outside on the hedged-off patio and the opportunity to pamper yourself with dreams of getaways to Paris or Barcelona as you dig into your just dessert.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, Gourmandies.com
3. So Cupcake
BEST CENTRAL UTAH CAFE
Most peopleespecially those zipping to Lake Powellonly see Price through the rear-view mirror. They really should stop and at least visit the nice dinosaur museum. Or hit Main Street and drop into Farlaino's for a tremendous breakfast or lunch. Home to thriving Greek and Italian communities, the Price area still holds some traditions true, and Farlaino's is one of them. Enjoy heaping servings of your American favorites with a smattering of European flair like its homemade Italian sausage, courtesy of owner Sam Farlaino's secret family recipe. Ah, the good old days.
87 W. Main, Price, 435-637-9217
Blue Plate Diner
If you can never get enough of breakfastif you love omelets, Benedicts, griddle cakes, biscuits, huevos rancheros and breakfast burritosjust remember, Blue Plate serves it all day here, seven days a week. They champion all breakfast causes: From those who insist breakfast is lapping up crunchy bacon and greasy sausage to those who favor eggs and home fries to those who swear by tofu and veggies, all will find something to delight and awaken the taste buds. And, yep, the patio on a cool summer morn does make the breakfast world go 'round.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, MySpace.com/BluePlateDiner
2. Ruth's Diner
3. Eggs in the City
Blue Plate Diner
Back in 1930s, the blue-plate special was a low-price meal served on a blue plate with dividers. Substitutions were not allowed, but it was a "square for two bits." So, let's clear things up. You won't find divided blue plates at Salt Lake's Blue Plate Diner, but you will find delicious daily specials. The friendly wait staff will allow substitutions with your order, and you'll likely pay more than two bits for your meal. But you won't need a federal subsidy to enjoy a packed menu of omelets, sandwiches, salads, burgers, chicken-fried steak, homemade meatloaf and fish & chips. Blue Plate is the diner to get us through these vexing economic times, which, for many, seem like the '30s all over again.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, MySpace.com/BluePlateDiner
2. Citrus Grill
3. Caf Rio
BEST SURPRISING APPETIZER
"Baked cream cheese, marinated in soy sauce, breaded with toasted sesame seeds. Served with apple and Asian pear slices and crackers." Maybe it's just us, but this Dodo Restaurant starter sounds well, yucky. But nay! In fact, it's a fantastic blend of salty and sweet, creamy and crunchy, warm and cold. It's a generous serving that easily kicks off a dinner for four, keeping you occupied while the chef prepares signature Dodo entrees like honey-baked salmon, Cajun chicken Alfredo, and decadent beef Stroganoff.
152 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-456-2473; 1355 E. 2100 South, Sugar House, 801-486-2473; TheDodo.net
BEST COWBOY CHIC
Holy Smoke BBQ & Grill
Stroll into Layton's Holy Smoke BBQ & Grill and you'll think you've been transported onto a Wild West movie set. The joint is decorated to the nines with Western paraphernalia: saddles, cowboy boots, Rifleman-style rifles, branding irons and a nice collection of arrowheads. But somehow, the dcor comes across not as kitschy, but as honoring cowboys, ranch hands, American Indians and the like. And whether you're into Old West cowboy chic or not, you'll fall in love with the scrumptious St. Louis pork spare ribs, Carolina-style pulled pork, Texas beef brisket and Memphis-style barbecued chicken. It's all finger-licking great.
855 Heritage Park Blvd, Layton, 801-614-5011, HolySmokeBBQ-Grill.com
| BEST LATE-NIGHT
The Belgian Waffle
Midnight isn't for hoity-toity fare; it's the time to dive into the stuff that only an old-school diner can offer. Open 24 hours a day, this Midvale stalwart serves up a menu with something for every late-night appetite. Dig into a juicy burger or classic sandwich or share a banana split with a friend. Or if an after-hours breakfast is just what the doctor ordered, take the restaurant's name at face value and enjoy a plate of waffles or a massive Denver omelet. Any time is the right time; the lights are always on.
7331 S. 900 East, Midvale, 801-566-5731
2. Molca Salsa
BEST BREW PUB
They're green and organic, they're saving the planet, their beers are slammin'just a little free-range freestyle; Squatters would approve. Squatters Pub & Brewery is too classic to ever go out of style, as evidenced by countless Best of Utah wins with our readers over the years. The urban energy crackles here even during the slower hours, and food is on par with the impressive array of internationally awarded brews. You're nobody until you've been seen hoisting one at Squatters. Also, slammin' the good times in Park City.
147 W. 300 South, Salt LakeCity, 801-363-2739; 1900 Park Ave., 435-649-9868; Squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Desert Edge
BEST ASSEMBLY-LINE PERFORMANCE
Big City Soup
It's a sight to behold on a cold, rainy day when the lunch customer line snakes the entire length of the restaurant, and Big City Soup servers work their stations in-tune like the sections of a symphony orchestra. Six to eight workers assemble an orderfrom ladling delicious homemade soups to doling out tasty bread to ringing up at the cash register. Thanks to precision hospitality, the line moves quicker than most fast-food joints in town. 235 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-333-7687, BigCitySoup.com BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Beehive Cheese Co. Even lactose-intolerant foodies have a hard time passing up a chunk of the local cheesemakers' Barely Buzzed. From Bite 1, we've been hooked on the ingenious, melt-in-your mouth combination of lavender, espresso and first-class-grade whole milk from Ogden's Wadeland Dairy. Really, it's the perfect replacement for your typical run-of-the-mill dairy/caffeine fix. Best of all, it won't spill all over your suit on the way to work.
2440 E. 6600 South, Uintah, 801-476-0900, BeehiveCheese.com
BEST HOLE IN THE WALL
Musumeci's Italian Deli
There's a saying that restaurant success is all about three things: location, location, location. Well, a crappy locationsandwiched in a corridor of a State Street office buildinghasn't kept ravenous customers from finding Musumeci's Italian Deli, an out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall eatery with big flavor. Sicilian by way of Brooklyn, Musumeci dishes out hearty New York-style deli fare like veal parmigiana, hot pastrami sandwiches, manicotti, meatball sandwiches alla pizzaiola, sausage and peppers, custom-made subs and moreall with an attitude and style that's hard to come by outside the Big Apple. Put it this way: Don't even think of asking for mustard on your mortadella sandwich.
251 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-596-2562
BEST BUSINESS LUNCH
For all those hardworking corporate-types cooped up in office parks and business hotels of Cottonwood Heights, lunch at Caf Trio is somewhat akin to finding a desert oasis for the parched and sun-stroked. For starters, the food at Triofrom wood-fired oven-baked rosemary flatbread and the panzanella salad to the pizzas, pastas and paninisis all scrumptious. And at its downtown location, the Italian restaurant is famous for keeping things cool on its inviting patio by way of its misters and refreshing cocktails. Top it off with a plate of gourmet flatbread and you've got yourself one decadent night out. And the servers? Let's just say we know where GQ keeps its male models off-hours.
680 S. 900 East, 801-533-8746; 6405 S. 3000 East, 801-944-8746, Salt Lake City, TrioDining.com
3. Market Street
BEST CORNED BEEF
MacCool's Public House
MacCool's steams its corned beef brisket as opposed to braising or boiling it. Co-owner Scott Schlisman says that the steaming process allows him to best control the cooking temperature of the meat, treating it with tender, loving care. If you just throw your brisket into a pot of boiling water, the meat tightens up and gets really tough. MacCool's also cooks its corned beef for about 8 hours, resulting in ridiculously delicate, tasty meat that's damned near erotic.
1400 S. Foothill Drive, No. 166, Salt Lake City, 801-582-3111
BEST CHILI CON CARNE
There are plenty of reasons to love the Boston Deli, starting with the scrumptious Albacore tuna sandwich and chicken club. And then there's all the funky musical paraphernalia scattered about the place, toolike the drum set hanging from the ceiling. But who'd have thought you'd also find the best chili in town at Boston Deli? This ain't Texas-style chili con carne; this version has yummy, tender beans mingling with tasty beef and a secret concoction of spices that's ever so appealing. Plus, you get crackers and bread on the side to sop up every last luscious drop.
9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2146, BostonDeli.com
How does a restaurant owned by a Greek family in Bountiful wind up winning the award for best Chinese restaurant? Well, it helps to stack the deck (or the woks) with Chinese chefs from Hong Kong and San Francisco who prepare authentic regional Chinese cuisine of the type you'd normally need a Chinatown to find. Along with traditional dishes like Peking duck and Kung Pao shrimp, you'll also find at Mandarin more modern flavors such as Velvet chicken with gooseberries and pine nuts or lamb with an Asian-Mediterranean fusion sauce. And unlike most Chinese restaurants, Mandarin has a winning wine list.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, MandarinUtah.com
2. Little World
3. Hong Kong Tea House
BEST ECLECTIC THAI
The secret is out: Chanon Thai tops the list of local foodies' favorite authentic eateries. Since opening its modest doors three years ago, the little-cafe-that-could has achieved a loyal following among diners who prefer their Thai authentic, spicy and, well, a little offbeat. From the mismatched tableware to menus complete with detailed nutritional facts and homeopathic trivia (lemongrass is a diuretic; kaffir lime leaf's benefit is ... as an appetizer), to small staff of affable servers who chuckle good-naturedly when you confess you can't quite handle the higher end of their 1-5 spice scale, Chanon charms and satisfies every time. Even being oddly closed on Saturdays, other evenings are incredibly busy, proof that this place is well worth the wait.
278 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1177
This local eatery offers a full menu of authentic El Salvadoran dishes for lunch and dinner but they're famous for their pupusasthick tortillas cooked up with special stuffings like beans, eggs, pork and cheese. These delectable treats also make for an affordable lunch. Try the pupusa with loroca (a tasty vine flower bud from Central America) for $1.50 or the chicharron, stuffed with savory shredded pork for only $1.75. Top it off with a tasty El Salvadoran Super Cola Shampan (it's the champagne of Latin American orange sodas!) and you've got a delicious light lunch for about $5.
471 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-595-7021
BEST COFFEE HOUSE
Vast amounts of the City Weekly staff's total caffeine intake is supplied by the Coffee Garden's Main Street location, so we can fully get behind this readers' pick. But we don't overlook the original 9th & 9th store's unique charms; each location has a distinct personalityMain Street's is literary and incisive; 9th & 9th is cinematic and expansive. Whatever their Myers-Briggs scores, however, each has earned places near and dear to the hearts of Salt Lake City's caffeine junkies, long may we jitter.
878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, 801-364-0768, Salt Lake City
2. Beans & Brews
3. Alchemy Coffee
BEST SEASONAL SETTING
BEST PLACE TO PROPOSE OVER A BOWL OF CHILI
Located in the Canyons' Grand Summit Hotel lobby, The Cabin's fine dining features eclectic Western dishes including venison, elk and bisonall served in cabin coziness. It's so sweet and intimate at the Cabin, as flames flicker in the fireplace and candlelight illuminates your table, it would seem the perfect place to "pop the question" even if you're just sucking up a spicy bowl of bison chili after a day of skiing or hiking in the mountains. It's romantic in the old West style. It also provides an eye-popping wine list as well as fine whiskeys and scotchesshould liquid courage be required.
4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City, 435-615-8060, TheCanyons.com
BEST EAST MILLCREEK COMFORT FOOD
Something is happening in the 'burbs we like to call bistro-ization. A number of hip little eateries are sprouting up and many, like Stella, are proving you can be hip and sleek and modern and survive outside of downtown. Stop at Stella any weeknight and catch a large group of Red Hat Society ladies kibitzing over soup and sandwiches, parents with their kids downing enchiladas and fettuccine, date-night couples savoring Morgan Valley lamb and mashed potatoes and even a few singletons with a good book, a juicy burger and a beer. It's a warm and inviting little joint that may just prove that the time for little bistros in the 'burbs has come at last.
4291 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-288-0051
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
Some of us remember a time pre-Caputo's. It was not the worst of times, but it was not the best of times, either. Today, it's hard to imagine downtown Salt Lake City without Tony Caputo's ode to all things edible: his magnificent market and delicatessen across from Pioneer Park. From high-end Venezuelan chocolates and fresh Italian truffles to hearty Italian subs, heroes and hoagies, Tony Caputo's Market & Deli delivers a flavor-filled urban punch to our palates. And, not one to rest on his laurels, Tony recently installed Utah's best cheese cave. Like a fine Timex timepiece, he just keeps on tickin.'
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
3. Grove Market & Deli
| BEST SALADS
The Oasis Caf has long been a hub for people who care about what they eat. Salads here are sophisticated greenery to say the least. There's the traditional spinach salad made wonderful with gorgonzola cheese and candied pine nuts. The Mediterranean grilled salad combines Yukon gold potatoes, onions, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and hummus with various fish or meat. The Imperial features crab cakes and a sticky rice roll with your greens. But to really impress yourself or others, order the roasted beet tower topped with arugula and goat cheese. It's "salad elevated."
151 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0404, OasisCafeSLC.com
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.
BEST SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES
Spencer's Smokin' Grill, Park City
"Everything tastes better when you're high..." goes the motto at Spencer's Smokin' Grill. But don't call the narcsthey're talking about the Park City altitude, of course. The secret to this terrific BBQ joint is smoke, which you can begin to smell blocks from the restaurant. The pork at Spencer's is smoked for 16 freakin' hours before Mark and Susan Spencer deem it ready for your plate. And the secretthough not a secret for much longerto the bodacious smoked pork, sausage and salmon is the wood they use: oak. Once you taste the cookin' at Spencer's, you'll never utter the words mesquite, applewood or cherrywood again! Oak is where it's at.
1890 Bonanza Drive, Park City, 435-645-8483, SpencersSmokinGrill.com
Paris Bistro & Zinc Bar
In Paris, corner bistros are as ubiquitous as French poodles. Here in Utah, they're more rare than finding cassoulet on a restaurant menu. Merci! then, to chef/owner Eric DeBonis for bringing a slice of the City of Lights to Salt Lake City, with his Paris Bistro & Zinc Bar. Menu items like escargot, duck confit with Puy lentils and watercress, and steak tartare with pommes frites help give Francophiles a reason to go on living. And The Paris' exquisitely selected wine list holds many, many treasures from France and elsewhere to round out a French-themed evening.
1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
2. La Caille
Thanks to John, the namesake owner of Johnniebeef's in Midvale, you don't have to fight the crowds at a ball game to get your lips around a world-class hot dog. Fenway Franks notwithstanding, you might never taste a better tubesteak than Johnniebeefs' classic Chicago Dog. You can have it your way, of course, but the traditional Windy City wonder comes with mustard, onions, green relish, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pickles and celery salt on a steamed poppy seed bun. Order a pair because you're going to want seconds.
7194 S. Union Park Ave., Midvale, 801-352-0372, JohnnieBeefs.com
BEST CHILE VERDE
Named for the native Tarahumara people of Chihuahua, Mexico, this terrific little Midway eatery dishes up some of the best Mexican fare you'll find in the state. There's a salsa bar with more than 20 different homemade salsas to complement dishes like pollo asado, barbacoa, mole poblano, and seared scallops in passion fruit & tomatillo sauce, But the real bell-ringer at Tarahumara is the slow-braised pork chile verdepork so tender you can eat it with a spoon. Redolent of Anaheim chiles, this is truly championship chile verde.
380 E. Main, Midway, 435-654-3465, Tarahumara.biz
At Park City's high-energy Shabu restaurant, owners/brothers Kevin and Robert Valaika characterize what they do as "Freestyle Asian Cuisine." It's a creative fusion of traditional Asian ingredients and flavors such as Mongolian shabu shabu with contemporary culinary techniques in a new wave ambiance. So at Shabu, it's not frowned upon to order fresh escolar nigiri, dip it in truffle-ponzu sauce, and wash it down with a Shabu signature Japanese Julip cocktail. Or, for the ultimate seafood fusion fare, try the Freestyle Sea Bass, which is steamed and infused with ginger and chives, then brushed with black bean and garlic paste, creating its own natural broth.
333 Main, Park City, 435-645-SAKE, ShabuPC.com
Since opening in 2003, Aristo's has elevated the Greek dining experience in Salt Lake City. For too long, souvlaki and dolmathes have been presented as fast food, comfort food and coffee shop fare. Where was a Greek restaurant that offered an upscale setting for going out to dinner, i.e., table service; beer, wine and liquor; weekly live music and fabulous, authentic Greek specialties such as keftethes, octopus and marides? Now, we have the answer in Aristo's; life is no longer a Greek tragedy.
224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristosGreekRestaurant.com
2. The Other Place
3. Greek Souvlaki
BEST COFFEE STALWART
Salt Lake Roasting Company
In a town where you'd think coffee shops have no future, it turns out they have quite a past. At least 20 years of a past at the Salt Lake Roasting Company, the venture that basically kicked off the city's modern-day coffee house movement. Its exceptional roasts make SLRC the brand to give as gifts and to buy for personal consumption. But best of all is simply joining friends for a fresh cup of coffee and a tasty bakery treat at either of its two locations. It was the hip place to gather back in the day, and remains so today, even with a burlap bagful of new competitors.
320 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7572; Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0450; Roasting.com
BEST FORKED TONGUE
Inadequately cooked cow's tongue is an unattractive, decidedly chewy morsel. But boiled for several hours, then sliced wafer-thin and served with a garlic and parsley vinaigrette, it's a culinary jewel. Clearfield's Argentine Corner is one of the few proponents of this particular art. Served with crusty white bread while you wait for the chef to fire up his barbecue, it's the perfect starter, melting like butter on your taste buds.
442 N. Main, Clearfield, 801-773-9909, ArgentineCorner.com
As the pioneer of Indian food in Utah, 16-year-old Bombay House has a special place in Salt Lake City's heart. It's tandoori oven-prepared lamb and chicken dishes, along with their naan breads, have long been a key staple of their menu. But the Bombay is nothing if not adventurous when it comes to broadening the palate of curry-loving Utahns. One recent addition to the menu, the delightfully named Bollywood Chicken, includes an intriguing concoction of pineapples, ginger and coconut milk. Along with its classic fare such as lamb saag and Rag's chicken, batter-fried and sauteed with mangos and onions, Bollywood chicken reflects the kind of ambition that helps keep Bombay top of mind when pining for a curry.
2731 E. Parley's Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222; 463 N. University Ave., 801-373-6677, Provo; BombayHouse.com
2. Himalayan Kitchen
BEST DOWNTOWN EGG-SALAD SANDWICH
The Robin's Nest
This popular downtown eatery is packed every day around noonbut even the frenetic lunchtime crowd can't obscure The Robin's Nest's warm, inclusive atmosphere. Sandwiches are prepared to order, and each one comes with a portion of the Nest's specialty orzo salad (it's got basil, pine nuts, olive oiland something else ... a secret ingredient management refuses to divulge). But if you're ever walking by and see a placard announcing egg salad day, don't. Don't walk by, that iswalk right in and order. You'll be glad you did. The fact that you can't get that egg salad just any day of the week only adds to its elusive allure.
311 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378
BEST HUNGER FOR SURVIVAL
One World Everybody Eats
This downtown cafe's business model might have made yesterday's greedy MBA execs laughfeed customers a good, wholesome meal, and ask them to pay what they think the meal is worth. Since then, the world's economy has tanked, and restaurants everywhere at bracing for a rough year. Even One World had to face growing pains and take stock after much of its staff left. Yet, One World, with its idealistic vision, compassion and down-to-Earth practicality, is still here. And it may represent just what the world needs to get back on track.
41 S. 300 East, OneWorldEverybodyEats.com
| BEST WESTERN VALLEY RESTAURANT
Copper Creek Pub & Grub
It's a simple place with a simple plan: Good, inexpensive American chow served up with a big-ass stein of beer (also pretty cheap). Copper Creek recently opened a Park City location, but it was West Valley where City Weekly first fell in love with the "Full Monte" Cristo sandwich, turkey, ham and Swiss battered and deep-fried, powdered lightly with sugar and served with a side of raspberry jamthat item alone brought us back to WVC more than once; there are dozens of others just as delectable.
3451 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-417-0051; 825 Main, Park City, 435-615-9900, CopperCreekPubAndGrub.com
3. India Fusion
BEST SLICE O' PIE
Left Fork Grill
At Left Fork Grill, owner/chef Jeff Masten's homemade pies are often sold out by noon or shortly thereafter. So we advise getting there early, like Masten does. Jeff Masten begins making his pies and home-style soups from scratch early in the morning, before the 7 a.m. breakfast service begins. Each and every last pie that Masten bakes is a reason to go on living, but the strawberry, banana-cream, and blackberry pies are truly to die for.
68 W. 3900 South, Murray, 801-266-4322
BEST TRULY FRENCH FRIES
Most foodies are already hip to Les Madeleines' out-of-this-world pastries, namely the recent Food Network-approved Kouing-aman, a rich, buttery pastry whose devoted fans snatch up without pausing to peruse the cafe's lunch menu. Might we suggest leaving some room in your stomach for an order of absolutely superb pommes frites? Golden and dusted just so with a combination of addictive but hardly overpowering spices, the fries are crispy on the outside, dense on the inside revealing authentic potato with every bite. Imagine that. Fries that taste like potatoes and not a vat of grease. And, in keeping with Les Madeleine's attention to detail, each order comes with a side of dipping sauce: half-ketchup, half-mayonaisse giving diners the option of eating fries as the French intended, or as Utahns prefer.
216 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2294, Les-Madeleines.com
BEST MURRAY SUSHI
You don't need to head downtown or up the canyon for fresh, innovative Japanese fare. Many Murray residents can practically walk to Yamasaki for sushi and cooked dishes on par with more high-profile Utah restaurants of its kind. Service is friendly and efficient, with menu items like the Nemo roll and sushi arriving at the table in perfect waves.
6055 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-293-7115
Just mention the name Takashi to Utah foodies and the reaction is usually somewhere between fawning and drooling. This downtown restaurant offers a tantalizing blend of old and new, with updates on traditional Japanese fare that often leads to fierce cravings satisfied only with an order of clams in red curry-coconut broth or a comforting bowl of agedashi tofu. Even sushi slaves who like it raw make room for a little of the hot stuff. In Takashi's hands, any temperature is the right one.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
3. Naked Fish
The only downside to eating sushi at Takashi is realizing that while in theory it makes sense to order every item on the menu, neither your stomach nor your wallet would appreciate the all-in approach. A more ideal method of sampling each of the restaurant's insanely fresh, delicious and inventive rolls, nigiri and sashimi is to simply return again and again for bites of buttery soft aji, basil-filled Easy Rider and jalapeno-flecked Ramon's Roll. Your waistline will thank you.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 84101, 801-519-9595
3. Happy Sumo
BEST BLUE-COLLAR GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
Lamb's Grill Caf
Yeah, yeah, go ahead and spend $12 on some uptown fad version of a grilled cheese sandwichsomething with six kinds of cheese (brie, goat and god knows what else) on rosemary-infused French bread. But the real thing, the pinnacle of comfort in a sandwich, resides at Main Street's mainstay dining spot, Lamb's Grill Cafe. You can order cheddar or Swiss on whole wheat, white or rye bread. The sandwich comes expertly fried, buttery and crisp. (And hooraycut diagonally!) The cheese (choose cheddar) oozes from the crusts and melts in your mouth. It comes with potato chips, but if you're serious about your love affair with fat, order Lamb's fries instead. Ask for them crispy and eat them while they're good and hot.
169 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7166, LambsGrill.com
BEST CANYON CAFE
Springville Golf Club Caf
As greasy spoons go, this caf serves a mean cheeseburger. What sets it apart is its locationand the view that affords. Smack at the mouth of Grindstone Canyon, it also stands just before the entrance to the wonders of Hobble Creek itself. Beyond the delights of the Springville Golf Club, which it faithfully serves throughout the year, lies the glory of the rising canyon. Locals proclaim autumn is the best time of the year to truly revel in the views from the caf of the pine and brush blessed mountains. But whether it's the darting swallows that live in nests above the patio or the bear that last year killed a buck on the golf course, nature, it seems, is right before your eyes.
East Hobble Creek Canyon Road, Springville, 435-489-6717
BEST ROAD TRIP DINER
This 1939 diner was actually relocated from Rhode Island to Utah in 2007. It was a primo diner in its day and is still a stunning tribute to the art deco design of its time. Known for omelets, homemade cinnamon rolls, pancakes, ham and hash brownseven the coffee is exceptional. If this little diner could make the trek all the way from New England to Utah, then a 40 minute drive from Salt Lake City to Oakley is a cinch. And the trip back in time is pretty swell, too, Peggy Sue.
981 W. Weber Canyon Road, Oakley, 435-783-3467, RoadIslandDiner.com
BEST WOOD-OVEN PIZZA
To create one of Zucca's authentic Napoli-style pizzas like the marvelous Margherita, with perfectly charred crust bubbles, you're going to have to import a 1,000 degree Valoriani wood-fired pizza oven from Italyand then know what to do with it. Zucca's chef/owner Elio Scanu certainly knows what to do with his imported wood-fired pizza oven. His pizzas are topped with nothing but first-class ingredients like fresh buffala mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes and then cooked to pizza perfection in a flash. You won't find a better pizza pie this side of Napoli.
1479 E. 5600 South, South Ogden, 801-475-7077, MyZucca.com
At this pointafter what seems like decades of "Best of" awards for the Red Iguana, the only shocker would be if it didn't win the Best Mexican restaurant category. Which just goes to show that the Cardenas family is as beloved here in Utah as it is time-tested. The guys from Los Lobos eat at the Red Iguana when they come to town and Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Even a guy crashing his car through the front of the restaurant and creating his personal takeout window can't slow this place down. Holy mole!
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489, RedIguana.com
2. Blue Iguana
3. Caf Rio
BEST COOKING IN THE GARDEN
Salt Lake City's own Julia Child, Marguerite Henderson has made a living not only by teaching cooking, not only by publishing cookbooks, not only by catering to bigwigs, not only by opening two restaurants (one of them the Avenues' Cucina which she has sold) but essentially by doing what she loves: cooking. She is rather famous for hosting cooking classes literally in her back-yard garden with produce just plucked off the vine. Henderson reminds us that cooking is a pleasure to be savored slowly and enjoyed, but most of all, shared with others.
BEST CHICKEN PHILLY
This 20-year-old, unpretentious little sandwich shop is a great find. If you don't find it, the packed house at lunchtime will never miss you but you, on the other hand, will miss out on some of the city's best cheesesteak sandwiches. While Joni's traditional Philly cheesesteak is the stuff of legend, the chicken Philly is its modest, blushing cousin. Order it and be ready for a veritable bomb: a fresh-baked roll encasing grilled chicken and veggies topped off with melted cheese, all designed to explode in your mouth (and your hands if you're not careful). A lunch hour spent here cannot be deducted from your life (but it will be added onto your cholesterol).
52 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6687
|BEST FOOD PYRAMID PIZZA
Tin Roof Grill
At Sandy's Tin Roof Grill, there's a tempting array of tasty tapas like basil pesto flatbread, garlicky poached shrimp, patatas bravas, Spanish tortillas, and crispy calamari. And of course the salad, sandwiches and pasta dishes are all popular too. But if you're looking to include something from each food group into one dish, we suggest the Tin Roof Grill white bean and grill steak pizza, which comes adorned with tomatoes, red onion, and fresh basil.
9284 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-566-5226
If you're feeling a bit down, the falafel here will make you feel wonderful. Or a glass of Massaya wine. In fact, Mazza has been many a Salt Laker's first introduction to the wonders of Middle Eastern cuisine. We like Mazza's slow, diagonal encroachment upon the downtown area: First 15th & 15th, then 9th & 9thwhat's next, 6th & 6th? Then it's a hop, skip and a jump to 3rd & 3rd and, before you know it, there it is: the brand-spanking new Temple Square location. Well, we can dream.
1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572, Salt Lake City, MazzaCafe.com
2. Caf Med
3. Cedars of Lebanon
BEST NEW SLC RESTAURANT
When lifelong friends Doug Nelson and George Metos put their heads together to create a new restaurant, words like "fast," "healthy," "nutritious," "natural" and "delicious" kept coming up. So voila! Au Naturale serves fast (there's even a drive-thru takeout window), healthy, natural, nutritious, delicious foods like gourmet flatbread pizzas, oven-roasted fries, homemade chicken pot pie, and fresh salads to their happy, healthy customers in a lively, spotless, contemporary setting.
880 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-8888, GoAuNaturale.com
2. Wild Grape
3. Naked Fish
BEST REASON TO LET THEM EAT CAKE
These days, specialty cupcake shops are about as ubiquitous as drive-thru coffee shacksand why not? Their products are fun, cute and delicious. Hating cupcakes, in fact, is a bit like hating kittens. So Cupcake adds to the dome-shaped pastry's curbside appeal with a secret ingredient that even health nuts will applaud. Inspired by their daughter Celina, a bright, imaginative girl with cerebral palsy who is by every definition a "foodie," Kevin and Natalie opened the store to help people make positive choices and to demonstrate the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. If that's not enough reason to frequent So Cupcake, how about Blueberry Cake with Violet Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting & 3 Fresh Blueberries on Top?
3939 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-274-8300
It feels more like a retreat than a restaurant: just a little log cabin plunked down in the middle of 40 picturesque acres of private grounds. Gorgeous canyon views give it a feeling that's both epic and intimate, whether you're nestled inside during the winter or enjoying the outdoor patio during the spring. And that's before we even begin discussing the food from chef Dave Jones, full of local and organic ingredients and complemented by an award-winning wine list. For a wedding, an engagement, an anniversary or "just because," Log Haven delivers the total package.
6451 E. Mill Creek Canyon, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
Just down from the Avenues, Sawadee is a genteel paradise for the lunch crowd, a cool Thai oasis that offers excellent, reasonably priced food in a peaceful, elegant environment. Its $7.45 lunch special is one of the best deals in town. Salad with a drizzle of peanut sauce; light, fluffy jasmine rice; a deep fried spring roll; and two choices from a 20-odd item list of curries, coconut and chicken soupseven some barbeque dishes. With delicate desserts including fresh mangoes with Thai sweety sticky rice not included, they are still a sore temptation to round up the perfect meal.
754 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-8424, Sawadee1.com
2. Thai Siam
3. Chanon Thai
BEST SUB SELECTION
Grinders 13, a Utah sandwich institution via New Hampshire, has been bringing thousands of Utahns delicious subs (or "Grinders" as those Easterners call them) for over 30 years. The 13 may have denoted how many subs Sylvia and Maurice "Moe" Girouard offered back in the '70s but, in the new millennium, this eatery now boasts almost double that, with 24 subs to satisfy the pickiest sub lover. For a little variety, how about trying the savory Salisbury steak grinder? Or the pot roast sandwich, heaped with slow cooked pot roast, gravy and veggiesit's like Mom's Sunday dinner on a bun! For the vegan crowd, try a garden burger grinder and for the not-so-vegan crowd, try out the veal cutlet grinder which goes great with spaghetti sauce and peppers.
1618 S. State, 801-467-3676; 2125 S. 3200 West, 801-973-6489, Salt Lake City, Grinders13.com
BEST ORAL CONTRACEPTIVE
The Cotton Bottom's Garlic Burger
Part of Cotton Bottom's long-celebrated mystique is its locally renowned garlic burger. A burger of such acclaim that Cotton Bottom owners discovered a little caf in New York City willing to admit it copied their recipe. It's the kind of indulgence you owe yourself once in a whilea slab of garlic-drenched meat washed down with a few brews. But did you know the Cotton Bottom's garlic burger keeps your teenage daughters safe? Who wants to kiss a randy male student reeking of garlic? Add to that that the burger helps soak up the booze, thus helping to temper a young man's potentially booze-clouded mind, and it's clear the Cotton Bottom is one of Salt Lake's unsung civic heroes.
2820 E. 6200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-273-9830
Back in the day, Sage's Caf dominated the Best Vegetarian category not only because owner/chef Ian Brandt possesses mad culinary skills but also because his labor of love was pretty much the only strictly meat-free joint in town. Now in its ninth year, Sage's remains on top thanks to its commitment to quality organic ingredients, inventive menu items and friendly, knowledgeable servers. Oh, and the carrot butter. We'd pretty much crown them the victors on the strength of that addictive appetizer alone.
473 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
2. Vertical Diner
SANDY'S BEST THAI LUNCH
Royal Thai Kitchen
It's hard not to love food that tastes fresh and home-made, and that's what you get at this little ma & pa Thai restaurant, tucked away in the mall that houses the beloved Spoons N' Spice and across from Salt Lake Community College's Sandy Center. Royal Thai Kitchen's lunch special at $6.99 is the real deal, featuring a rotation of soups, curries and noodles. They're more than willing to bring the heat, if requested, and some patrons leave dabbing sweat off their brows as proof. Best of all is the friendly cook who visits the tables after lunch to check on your contentment with her meal.
816 E. 9400 South, Sandy, 801-571-8791
BEST LAVISH BRUNCH
Stein Eriksen Lodge's Glitretind Restaurant
Imagine a vast spread of exquisitely prepared salmon, shrimp, sushi, free-range chicken, pork ribs, salads and soups in addition to breakfast faves like eggs Florentine, thick seasoned bacon, french toast, waffles, omelets, and crepes topped off by succulent desserts including creme brulee, chocolate decadence cake and Stein's apple pie. The altitude is high and so is your spirit after indulging in this feast. Go early, enjoy the view, linger as long as they'll let you.
7700 Stein Way, Deer Valley Resort, Park City, 435-645-6455, SteinLodge.com
Its move to the Crane Building has made Caf Trang such a popular destination for suburbanites attending events at EnergySolutions Arena that many of us, with fond memories of the old Main Street locationand even the one at the dearly departed Cottonwood Mallyearn for the good old days. But it's good to still see Trang on the map. Pho shizzle.
307 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-539-1638
2. East West Connection
BEST DOWNTOWN/CENTRAL RESTAURANT
The best thing about Bambara may be that it’s on Main Street. It’s a well-done, ground level, comfortable restaurant right where one should be in the heart of the business district. The Hotel Monaco is now overshadowed by a brand-new next-door skyscraper, but with Bambara, the older building retains the street’s classic character. Chef Nathan Powers directs the restaurant’s outstanding cuisine which is served by the city’s friendliest professional wait staff—Bambara offers the quintessential downtown dining experience. Pick anything on the menu—though you have to start with the blue cheese house-cut potato chips.
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
3. Tin Angel
BEST SMALL TOWN DRIVE-IN
Rodriguez Polar King
Every small town in Utah has one: that charming little family-run drive-in on Main Street. In Summit County’s Coalville, it was once simply “The Polar King.” Somewhere along the line, the Rodriguez family took over. They’ve added huge homemade burritos, enchiladas and yeros (yes, yeros) to the typical menu of cheeseburgers and chicken fillets. The fries are hand-cut and tasty and the milkshakes are thick and gooey. Friendly service and perfect after a day of fishing or mountain biking.
128 N. Main, Coalville, 435-336-2372
BEST MAN-NAMED SALADS
Epic Casual Dining
Fooled you, didn’t we? You probably thought Epic should win for its killer brick-oven flatbreads. Or its delectable beef tenderloin, pork medallions, ahi tuna and the like. Or it’s varied wine list. They’re all more than worthy of praise. But Epic’s man-named salads stand shoulder to shoulder with anything else on the menu. There’s Pop’s Caesar, Ken’s (mixed greens with the candied pecans), Mr. Morton’s (with the toasted walnuts), John’s (with candied peppered almonds) and Mr. Martinez’s (with the fresh mango) ... they’re all freshly loaded with treats as well as the healthy green stuff the doctor tells you to eat more of. So, eat your salad, already. And sorry, flatbread. There’s always next year.
707 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-748-1300, EpicCasualDining.com
BEST SOUTHERN VALLEY RESTAURANT
It’s one thing to earn recognition as Best New Restaurant, as this Sandy eatery did last year. But, since then, Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell have quickly turned their restaurant into a wonderful dining destination, where house-made pastas and desserts—including the impressive specialty known simply as “The Cake”—combine with imported ingredients and a solid wine list. From the waterfall sculpture that greets you when you walk in the door to the friendly table service, Fratelli creates an experience that’s pleasant, relaxing and stylish.
9236 S. Village Shop Dr., Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
3. India House
BEST SALSA BAR
Have it your way at Park City’s El Chubasco where you can customize your taco, burrito, pozole or menudo with its selection of 14 different freshly made salsas. Choose the fiery chile de arbol salsa for your machaca breakfast and maybe pico de gallo to go with a plate of carnitas. The smoky chipotle chile salsa is great with huevos rancheros and the sweet n’ spicy manzano pepper-spiked mango salsa is terrific on fish tacos. Best of all might be the tacos de birria slathered with bright green tomatillo salsa. Hot, mild, or in-between, El Chubasco has the right stuff.
1890 Bonanza Drive, Park City, 435-645-9114, ElChubasco.info
Le Nonne (the grandmother) is owner/chef PierAntonio Micheli’s culinary gift to northern Utah, and nothing at Le Nonne puts a smile on the face faster than his dreamy homemade gnocchi. His Italian mother and grandmother taught him to make these divine little pasta pillows made from potatoes, flour, and Parmesan cheese. Especially delightful is the Gnocchi al Quattro Formaggi: Hand-crafted gnocchi in a silky four-cheese white sauce made with Swiss, Gorgonzola, Fontina and Parmesan cheeses. If you prefer something simpler, give the Gnocchi Pomodoro with fresh-tasting tomato-basil sauce a try.
129 N. 100 East, Logan, 435-752-9577, LeNonne.net
|BEST FALL PATIO DINING
Tiburon Fine Dining
Everyone knows that garden-fresh produce puts the “fine” in fine dining. And in the fall, with a garden located just behind its patio, Tiburon is able to create house salads and side dishes made with just-picked veggies. Combine that freshness with entrees like char-broiled New Zealand elk tenderloin or a Muscovy duck breast, and your taste buds are likely to explode. Nothing beats sitting on Tiburon’s private patio in early September, watching sunlight dance off your wine glass, savoring a perfect meal.
8256 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-255-1200, TiburonSLC.com
BEST EASTERN VALLEY
Chef/owner Greg Neville’s Millcreek restaurant isn’t just one of the Salt Lake Valley’s best Italian restaurants; it’s one of the valley’s best restaurants, period. The lively bistro-style atmosphere and open-air kitchen at Lugno create an energetic buzz every night of the week, as joyful customers assemble to take pleasure in Neville’s regional Italian cuisine and dishes like tagliattelle with wild mushroom and prosciutto “Cotto,” or his wood-burning oven “clay pot” mussels with white wine, garlic, olive oil, pesto and grilled garlic toast. Add a superb wine list with many Italian treasures into the mix and you’ve got an East Valley eatery that can’t be beat.
3364 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-412-9994, LuganoRestaurant.com
2. Citris Grill
3. Porcupine Pub & Grill
BEST TASTE OF ITALIA
Citta Gelato & Café
Ask most gelato bars in Salt Lake City where their product comes from and they’ll probably to tell you Las Vegas or California. Citta Gelato, a blessed oasis of style and cool in Sandy’s strip mall landscape, goes the extra mile, shipping in the base and flavorings from Italy. “It’s a pain in the ass,” says co-owner Alex Eskamani, when it comes to Customs’ bureaucracy, but for the consumer, it’s more than worth Citta’s struggles. The gelato has a depth of taste that other stores just can’t compete with, whether it’s the tongue-twirling texture of its chocolate or the refined bite of its lemon.
2101 E. 9400 South, Sandy, 801-790-4135
BEST VALUE MEAL
Who’d of thunk it? Utah’s most prestigious restaurant is also a great place to enjoy an economically priced casual lunch, dinner or bar snack. In a crisp-white-linen setting as lavish as Metropolitan’s, you might be surprised to find $9 to $12 lunches on the menu. Well, the 12-buck daily lunch special even includes a salad! On Monday nights, you can drop into Metro for a three-course $30 meal or have five courses for $45, plus free corkage should you choose to brown-bag it. On weeknights Metropolitan serves up 2-for-1 appetizers, and the $8 “Bar Bites” menu includes bodacious bison sliders, sensational sriracha tempura shrimp, and Metropolitan’s magnificent mac & cheese. Pssssssst: Don’t tell anyone, but it’s OK to wear your flip-flops, too.
173 W. Broadway, 801-364-3472, TheMetropolitan.com
BEST MILE-HIGH FUNGI
Mushrooms and Fillmore may have a ‘60s psychedelic /San Francisco connotation. But we’re talking crimini, Portobello, oyster, shitake, enoki, even the basic plain white button. Who doesn’t love these earthy little babies? But if you knew they were grown in wheat straw, dried poultry waste, cotton by-products with lots and lots of water, would you still love ‘em? Of course, you would because these shrumes are Utah grown ... and local is where it’s at. Located in Fillmore, Mountainview is Utah’s only mushroom farm. You can buy their shrumes in most supermarkets, but if you’re into volume, pick up 5- and 10-pound boxes right at the farm.
550 S. 1100 West, Fillmore, 435-743-6817, MountainviewMushrooms.com
BEST POT STICKER
East West Connection
You used to have to have to look high and low for good Vietnamese restaurants in Utah. Now, all you have to do is look East and West. A local favorite of the Foothill Village people, this clean, comfortable, and tastefully decorated restaurant serves some of the freshest vegetables and tastiest meat dishes, and the best pot stickers to boot!
1400 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-581-1128
BEST OGDEN RESTAURANT
Rooster’s Brewing Co.
The beers are tasty, but the food doesn’t take a back seat: Entrees like the shrimp Florentine gorgonzola and Thai ginger steak are far beyond standard pub fare, as are sandwiches like the Beehive cheddar chicken and Tuscan steak—and “Pete’s pizzas”? Perfection. The stylish-but-classic, magazine-ready décor makes the package, and did we mention the beers are tasty? Can’t be emphasized enough.
253 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171 RoostersBrewingCo.com
2. Rickenbacker’s Bistro & Restaurant
3. Bistro 258
Carol, Schmarol ... this hidden-away place in Sugar House is operated by Al, Bob and Jeff Walkenhorst—three guys who know their eclairs. And anyone who’s tried baking them know there is an art to whipping up the perfect pte choux, the pastry shell that has to be baked hot and high so it doesn’t deflate and leave no room for that heavenly filling. So Bob and Jeff have learned a thing or two over the years (the bakery has been around for decades). It’s obvious from looking at all their offerings, they’re perfectionists. But those dang eclairs—they’re impossible to resist.
1991 S. Lincoln St., Salt Lake City, 801-484-3442
|BEST PLACE TO FLIP OUT
Flippin’ Burgers, Park City
Looking for a place to feed the family in Park City for less than the cost of your monthly mortgage? Then you’ll flip out over Flippin’ Burgers in the Snow Creek Center. Each hamburger is made with 100 percent Certified Angus Beef and comes with your choice of American, cheddar, pepper jack, Provolone or Swiss cheese, along with generous options for toppings including hickory BBQ sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, spicy mustard, mayo, jalapeno peppers, and relish. Plus, there’s an incendiary selection of more than 20 hot sauces to adorn your flipped out burger. And great fries to boot!
1300 Snow Creek Drive, Park City, 435-658-1809, FlippinBurgers.com
BEST PARK CITY
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that chef and restaurateur Bill White (Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Ghidotti’s, Windy Ridge Café & Bakery) has changed the face of dining in Park City and beyond, raising the culinary bar to Olympian heights. Well, Grappa was his first independent venture and, according to City Weekly readers, is still his best. A seat at Grappa is the hottest ticket in town during the Sundance Film Festival, but during the rest of the year, we civilians get to enjoy the seductive setting, superb service, and exquisitely executed cuisine at Grappa. Lucky us!
151 Main, Park City, 435-645-0636, GrappaRestaurant.com
The Monte Cristo, El Bambi Café
This spectacularly greasy invention is, according to one of El Bambi’s waitresses, much in demand with Beaverites. A sandwich of ham, cheese, and turkey is dipped in egg and fried. It comes with fries and dollops of sour cream and strawberry jam. You’re supposed to dip the sandwich in both. As grease drips off your fingers, it’s hard to imagine a plate more unhealthy than this. With its mix of the salty and sweet, it covers all the bases. Just for sheer fat-drenched chutzpah, this culinary apocalypse deserves recognition, even if the clogged arteries of Beaver’s denizens might not think so.
395 N. Main, Beaver, 435-438-2983
BEST JUKE BOX
Kitty Pappas Steak House
Dine at the 62-year-old Kitty Pappas Steak House and you’ll be treated to not only classic American cuisine but also the most eclectically loaded juke box you’re likely to ever come across. Thanks to Kitty Pappas’ server and son “Crazy George,” the juke is stocked with tunes like a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” by the trombone band Bonerama; Dread Zeppelin’s cover of CCR’s “Born on the Bayou”; Richard Cheese’s splendid rendition of “Baby Got Back”; and tunes by superb artists like Tony McPhee & The Groundhogs, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men. There are also bluegrass versions of Moody Blues songs and even “Sweet Transvestite” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
2300 S. Main (Hwy 89), Woods Cross, 801-295-9981
BEST NEW BAKERY
Sisters Kate and Leslie Seggar didn’t attend culinary school. In fact, neither one set out to be a chef, much less open one of Salt Lake City’s most attractive and satisfying bakeries. Leslie’s gourmet pastries feature only the finest ingredients, and Kate went the extra mile overseeing the store’s physical layout, right down to communal tables which lend the sleek environment a warm, inviting quality. From house-made quiche with gruyere, swiss chard and thyme, to croissants that conjure a picturesque Paris, Tulie has an eye for detail and palate for the finer things in life.
863 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-883-9741
Pat’s Barbecue & Catering
Was it the January appearance on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, which saw owner Pat Barber effectively matching wits and taste buds with host Guy Fieri? Or just the consistently killer smoked meats? The latter, obviously. The unassuming South Salt Lake barbecue-and-blues joint has been making critical inroads for years, first with the foodie crowd and now, more and more, with mainstream diners who swoon over Barber’s ultra-secret dry-rub process (not even Fieri could get it out of him). Pat’s Barbecue is as close to Texas as you’re going to get without stepping out of the 801.
155 W. Commonwealth, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
2. SugarHouse BBQ
Pat’s Barbecue & Catering
Pat Barber’s ribs can’t be beat—especially when paired with the “sweet heat,” a tangy-sweet sauce that elevates ‘em from “damn good” to “daaamn!” After hours of applewood smoking out back (meat’s always better when it’s cooked outside—it’s science), these pork spare ribs come out so tasty, even PETA would be hard-pressed to resist a bite.
155 W. Commonwealth, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
2. SugarHouse BBQ
BEST HOT SAUCE HEAVEN
Grove Market & Deli
You might be there just for one of the massive sandwiches on your lunch break, but there’s even more to tempt—and perhaps scald—the tongue. Check out the entire section devoted to spicy condiments, with something for every taste from “mild” to “the stuff that sent Homer Simpson on his insane desert vision quest.” If you’re ready to give that sandwich an extra kick, you’re in the right place.
1906 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8860
BEST BLACKBERRY JAM
Tagge’s Willard Bay
Roadside produce stands and farmers markets are a summer staple in Utah, and maybe you’ve grown so accustomed to them that you wouldn’t think to stop. But next time you grab some fresh produce, check out the jars of goodies that you may find on many of their tables. This family farm near Brigham City produces wonderful original fruit salsas, but it’s the jam that will have you coming back week after week. The blackberry in particular is a juicy, fresh-tasting delight. You may not even want to put it on bread—just a spoon will do, thanks.
3431 S. Highway 89, Perry, 801-755-8031, LocalFirst.org
When it comes to asking who is the rightful heir to king of burgers, the battle in Utah between the local favorites and the national BK chain is a case of delicious abdication—nay, a most delicious regicide! The people have spoken and the throne to burger royalty belongs to Utah’s own Crown Burger. Readers can’t get enough of the Crown’s delicious double bacon cheeseburgers which pack an astounding wallop of sizzled and savory beef, cheese and bacon. Or the one and only Crown Burger original: a quarter-pound of flame-grilled beef stacked with a precarious mound of pastrami, cheese and all the fixings. Whatever regal menu option tickles your fancy, it’s clear who the king is in this town.
2. Acme Burger Company
3. Five Guys Burgers
|BEST ICED COFFEE
Jack Mormon Coffee Co.
You can get this chilly treat year-round, but the best place to sip it is at the Downtown Farmer’s Market all summer long. Jack Mormon owner Michael Madrid and his staff serve it in tall, recyclable tumblers, with cream and sweet syrup on the side if you desire. Beans are roasted and ground at the Avenues coffee house. The perfect morning kick on a hot Utah morning.
82 E St., Salt Lake City, 801-359-2979, JackMormonCoffee.com
BEST OF THE WURST
When it comes to Americans and dogs, hot dogs that is, we generally limit ourselves to maybe a brat at a sporting event when we’re feeling sporty or perhaps a mystery dog at an all-night gas station when we’re feeling daring and/or high. But the sad truth is that for those of us who restrict ourselves to just hot dogs and brats are, in fact, missing out on a world of wursts. Thankfully Siegfried’s Delicatessen, a downtown institution of all things deliciously German, has got an affordable build-your-own sausage plate, which for $5.99 allows you to sample some Old World dogs. Try the knackwurst, a soft pork or beef sausage made with garlic, once considered a delicacy by Hapsburg royalty. Or the weisswurst, a traditional Bavarian sausage stuffed with minced veal and pork or bacon. Let Seigfried’s introduce your palatte to a new world of delicious sausage, and say auf wiedersehn once and for all to those late-night gas-station gut-buster dogs—believe us, your stomach will thank you.
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891
BEST ZION HOLE IN THE WALL
Since Springdale abuts the edge of Zion National Park, it’s little surprise the town’s economy is driven by the tourist buck. This can bring mediocre results when it comes to local eateries. But just off the main drag, Oscar’s, now in its eighth year, proudly flies the flag for hearty, tasty fare. The so-called ‘burger to die for,’ the murder burger, a garlic half-pounder with bacon, onions, provolone and cheddar cheese is as advertised, especially with a serving of sweet potato fries. There’s usually a queue, the ribs can vanish before 2 p.m., and the wait staff can get testy with the endless flow of customers, but it’s hands down the best value in town.
948 Zion Park Boulevard, Springdale, 435-772-3232, CafeOscars.com
BEST MOAB EGG-SALAD SANDWICH
Red Rock Bakery & Net Café
With the red rock mountains as its back drop, this laid-back Café captures the essence of Moab in a way few other establishments in that craggy, beautiful part of Southern Utah does. Amid the over-sized cookies and a nice range of sandwiches, one jewel stands out in the crown, their egg salad sandwich. While this item is usually a mayo-drenched bomb in soggy white bread, the Red Rock’s offering is buttressed by two heavy slabs of delicious brown bread and a filling that boasts yellow yolk and a texture that’s just exquisite.
74 S. Main, Moab, 435-259-5941
You can ask for a lot of things to be done to your burrito at Café Rio, such as wrap it in a stone-ground whole wheat or flour tortilla and fill it with chile and/or rice and/or beans and/or cheese and/or meats and/or sauces. And cook it enchilada style or not. But just don’t ask them to nuke it or freeze it, because the company swears it has no microwaves or freezers on site. They’ve been serving it up fresh and furiously in Utah since 1997, now at 22 locations.
Multiple locations, CafeRio.com
3. Red Iguana
BEST CHOCOLATE-HABANERO ICE CREAM
House-made ice creams are a standard at your finer dining establishments, but here’s one you don’t see every day. If you wanted your after-dinner sweet with more than a touch of spice, you could have sampled this selection from this Salt Lake City eatery. Like mole does in entrees, this dessert gives cocoa an unexpected hot punch. It’s fire and ice all in one spoonful.
271 N. Center St., Salt Lake City, 801-596-0566, EmsRestaurant.com
BEST THAI WITH GOOD VIBES
Pawit’s Royale Thai Cuisine
There are few truly charming eateries that strike such a complete chord as Pawit’s. Maybe it’s because owner Ponpawit Numnuan, aka Pawit, loves to work hard, thrives on hospitality and is eager to do good deeds for people. It seems to radiate from there. From the moment you walk in the door, good vibes begin to ebb in your direction, from the warm colors on the wall to the large saltwater aquarium’s harmonious feeling to the colorful leafs that form a path to the restrooms. The wait staff greets you with a warmth equal to the décor’s; they’re pleasant, helpful and efficient at bringing the incredible Thai cuisine you crave. But Pawit’s exquisitely flavorful Thai specialties seem to tie it all together into one resounding “ooooommmm.” Or, rather, “yummmmmm.”
1968 Murray-Holladay Road, Salt Lake City, 801-277-3658, PawitsRoyaleThai.com
Gourmandise The Bakery
Just walking through the front door could be enough to cause a salivary meltdown; the display case seems to go on forever, offering a mind-boggling range of cookies, cakes, tarts and other confections. From Napoleons to cannolis and everything in between, Gourmandise tempts its customers with enough options to pick a different new dessert every day of the year. The flaky, creamy, sweet and dreamy choices are almost too much—but the raspberry-chocolate mousse cake is a nice place to start. Just understand: Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330
2. The Dodo
3. So Cupcake
BEST SMALL TOWN DINER
Cluff’s Car Hop
Whether it’s the John Deere tractor parked outside, or the plumbing-service ad on the toilet seat in the restroom, there’s a rural charm to Cluff’s family diner that time has not dulled. This is a family business already on its second generation. Open only in the spring and summer, its cramped, narrow seating inside is much helped by the car hop and outdoor bench from which you can take in the genteel splendor of Fillmore’s Main Street. Munch on the slender, lightly fried potatoes Cluff’s serves with their crispy-bacon cheeseburger, ponder the way, as one local puts it, the sidewalk gets rolled up at 6 p.m. every night, and it’s tempting to give up the rat race and hunker down in this peaceful American backwater.
270 N. Main, Fillmore, 435-743-5510
If you want a gyro, you go to Greek Souvlaki. Ask anybody. Sure, other places have gyro on the menu. But have you ever seen anybody order it? Of course not. It’s always “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.” Trust us: You want a gyro; you go to Greek Souvlaki. It’s not by accident the shop’s flagship 400 East location has been in business for nearly 40 years.
2. Crown Burger
3. Mad Greek
BEST APRES SKI CASUAL CHINESE
After a day on the slopes, where do you go when that hankering for Szechuan pork or moo goo gai pan takes hold? You can’t exactly ski in to this place, but, situated in the Brighton Point shopping center on Bengal Boulevard, Dragon Isle is pretty darn convenient to Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. It’s a nice little bit of Chinese-food-in-a-strip-mall heaven, with all the favorites, prepared authentically and at prices any ski bum would appreciate. The servers are pleasant and quick to bring your food, even beer and wine! If you’re too spent from skiing, they’ll even deliver.
3414 E. 7800 South, Cottonwood Heights, 801-453-9998
BEST FRENCH FRIES
Little known to some, there is a tried-and-true way to judge the worth of a bag of french fries. It’s called the sunlight test: Buy a bag of french fries, eat the hell out of ’em, and then, when you have just an empty bag, hold it to the light to see how translucent the bag has become from residual deliciousness. Employing this scientific method to a bag of Crown Burger fries will undoubtedly leave the consumer satisfied that indeed they have just consumed a highly delectable assortment of fries. So take the sunlight test for yourself with a bag of these crisp little deep-fried slices of heaven the next time you’re at a Crown Burger, and you will have science backing up your satisfied stomach—reassuring you that you’ve just consumed Utah’s best french fries.
2. The Bayou
3. The Training Table
BEST DELIVERANCE FROM HUNGER
Dependable lunch spots are few and far between in downtown Salt Lake City, specifically places within walking distance of Main Street’s ghost-town corridors. Este Pizzeria swept in just as our options were exhausted, opening up a second location to its original Sugar House store (the first of which nearly perished in a 2007 electrical fire, but is now open again). Este specializes in New York-style pies, with mostly organic toppings for meat-lovers and vegans alike. Just remember three things before your visit: No Ranch. No Pineapple. No Red Sox Attire.
168 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2366, EstePizzaCo.com
BEST SOUTH-END ALL-DAY BREAKFAST
You know you’re in a good old-fashioned diner when you’re sitting down in horseshoe-shaped, vinyl-upholstered booths, and your jones for breakfast can be sated any time. Britton’s features plenty of burgers and other homestyle favorites, but sometimes you just want eggs and pancakes or waffles. Try the Seventh East scramble: a mound of eggs with ham, peppers and tomatoes covering toasted English muffin and smothered in country gravy.
694 Union Square, Sandy, 801-572-5148
BEST MOVEMENT FOR TASTE BUDS
Slow Food Utah
You are what you eat. And so is your community. That is the philosophy of Slow Food Utah, which aims to support local farmers and get fresh vittles to the table while improving food safety and creating a sustainable and ethical food economy. All you have to do is buy from local growers, a project made easier by a directory of local gardens and producers of meat and cheese being assembled on Slow Food’s Website. As local growers prosper, you get increasingly tasty fare. Evidence for success of the effort can be seen in the explosion of locally made food—from some of the best salami in the country to goat cheeses to bread (the kind that won’t still be around after the apocalypse).
BEST LOCAL BEER
It’s customary to begin a Best of Utah write-up for perennial favorite Squatters with a recap of what they won at last year’s World Beer Cup competition, so here goes: German-style dark ale Alt & In the Way (a brew master’s special) took a gold medal, and longtime lighter favorite Provo Girl Pilsner won a bronze in the 2008 contest. Squatters’ latest beer generating buzz with brew geeks is Hell’s Keep, a Belgian-style golden strong ale; they’re already salivating for a fruit-tinged concoction called Fifth Element dropping later this year. For the regular folk, Full Suspension, Captain Bastard, Chasing Tail and the rest are sipping just fine, thank you.
147 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2739, Squatters.com
2. Wasatch Beers
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.
Taste of India
Masala is to Indian cuisine as butter sauces are to French cooking—the foundation for scads of great dishes. And nobody does masala any better than Taste of India. The secret of this great masala is cooking their sauce very slowly, allowing the dried spices like coriander, cinamon and cumin; along with fresh herbs, onions, garlic, ginger and other tasty ingredients to meld and mingle, and for the oil to separate from the sauce before proteins like chicken, shrimp, lamb or veggies are added. The result is magnificent masala. Accept no substitutes!
1664 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton, 801-614-0107
BEST P.C. COFFEE
Park City Coffee
While other local roasters might compete for the tastiest brew, it’s hard to argue Park City Coffee isn’t the best—in a strictly moral sense. Twin brothers Ray and Rob Hibl were inspired to switch to fair-trade coffee by Park City’s “Coffee Priest” Rev. Jim Flynn, who has long crusaded for the welfare of the coffee workers of Latin America, taking groups of Utahns to visit coffee regions of Nicaragua and Guatemala and returning home to spread the word about paying a little more to feel good about your cup. The brothers Hibl claim roasting coffee in small batches at Park City’s higher altitudes also give their coffees a distinctive taste. Many varieties from Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kenya, Sumatra, Ethopia, Peru and Columbia available through an online store, Harmon’s groceries and are served at several Park City ski resorts.
P.O. Box 682788, Park City, 435-647-9097, ParkCityCoffeeRoaster.com
The Pie has been winning this for as long as we’ve been doing the Best of Utah, seems like. It’s hard to beat the Pie’s big portions, cheap prices, and appeal to the foodie palettes (fresh-rolled dough, premium ingredients). The Pie has been smart about something else, too, and that’s to make its deliciousness available across the Valley by adding new locations. So while we tend to think of the Pie as a university mainstay, the Pie has gone on to capture the pizza cravings of the entire Valley.
Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Este Pizzeria
A ploughman’s lunch is a staple of the English summer diet. Presumably named after farm workers who would seek a filling lunch before they resumed their manual labor, the classic ploughman consists of crusty white bread, slabs of cheddar cheese, pickle and pickled onion. Elizabeth’s Bakery has all of the above available on its ploughman’s plate for a robust $8.95, with an addition of a second delicious cheese, Derby Sage. The only problem is this 2-year-old bakery with a bountiful collection of tea pots does not stock beer. Without some suds to wash it down, a ploughman’s lunch just isn’t the same. But since it’s the only eatery in Utah that offers a ploughman, hey, who are we to quibble?
575 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1170
BEST FINISH TO A GREAT MEAL
Sugar House always has a taste treat or two up its sleeves. But with Elizabeth and Mark England’s Dolcetti, a cream dream has been realized. The Englands learned how to make their frozen concoctions from Italian artisans, and the quality is obvious upon your first bite. Check out the exquisite flavors, such as pistachio, pomegranate, chocolate mole and crocantino al rum, to name just a few. This ain’t your grammy’s ice cream. Dolcetti makes its gelato and sorbetto by hand using fresh, locally grown fruits and berries and milk from family-run dairies. It’s an edible art form, waiting for your lips and tongue to melt it. Go ahead, take a lick; it’ll be the best 5 pounds you ever gained.
1751 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-485-3254, DolcettiGelato.com
BEST WING SAUCE
Art City Trolley
How can you describe Art City Trolley’s homestyle wing sauce? It’s no easy task. The sticky and delicious sauce is the secret ingredient to the Springville diner’s main menu attractions from wings to chicken sandwiches. But the essence of the sauce is hard to pin down—it’s not necessarily a secret ingredient but rather an artfully crafted balance between sweet and tangy—the same dueling elements nearly every sauce maestro struggles to balance, but that, at Trolley, is a precise bullseye on the infinitesimally small interval between too tangy and too sweet. Like catching the setting sun right before it disappears behind the mountains, this sauce is a thing of beauty.
256 N. Main, Springville, 801-489-8585
BEST MEXICAN IN PROVO
We suspect the real reason Utah County earned its Happy Valley nickname has something to do with the region’s bountiful supply of top-notch restaurants—especially Diego’s. The modest-sized Mexican eatery is home to some of the best tacos anywhere in the state. Really, everything on the menu is a hit, from Al Pastor and Carnitas to quesadillas and burritos all topped with a fiery green avocado salsa.
22 E. 200 North, Provo, 801-377-4710
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
Tony Caputo has one hella deli occupying its own delicious corner of Salt Lake City’s old Italian and Greek neighborhood. And not to discredit the marvelous selection of chocolate or the amazing cheese cave—but the deli is still is the anchor of this mouthwatering eatery. Sample the finest Italian fare ranging from a sumptuous sweet pepper and fresh arugula sandwich dripping in balsamic vinegar and olive oil to something meatier with the famous Caputo stacked high with prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone, lettuce and tomatoes. You can’t go wrong with the savory meatball sub—an exercise in savory simplicity with sauce, meatballs and fresh Parmesan cheese. Any way you slice it, this deli’s got something delicious for you.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-519-5754, CaputosDeli.com
3. Rosie’s Deli
BEST HIDDEN-AWAY CHINESE IN MIDVALE
Royal South Sea Restaurant
“Unassuming” is putting it lightly. This little café is behind what looks to be a residential home on State Street. But your trip up the “driveway” to the paved parking lot will be rewarded with mouthwatering Chinese and Thai dishes—like Szechuan chicken, shrimp in lobster sauce and pad Thai—all served up fresh and piping hot. How does this restaurant make it, you ask? Longtime Midvale restaurateurs Ting and Bo have a loyal seven-days-a-week following of eat-in, take-out and home-delivery patrons. The monster egg rolls should be shared.
7444 S. State, Midvale, 801-352-8888
BEST PORK & POLENTA
The boiled cornmeal that is polenta used to be peasant food, and consumption of cloven-footed swine makes some squeal. But a rare treat awaits those whose dietary requirements allow: Stoneground’s brined, roasted-pork tenderloin accompanied by grilled polenta, creamy Portobello, dried cranberry and red-wine sauce. Pair this dinner entree with a crisp Chardonnay, and there’s not much else to write about in all of creation unless you’d like to finish with Stoneground’s scrumptious tiramisu, a frequent BOU winner itself.
249 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-1368, StonegroundSLC.com
| BEST APPETIZERS
OK, if the phrase “sweet potato” gives you the willies, conjuring up images of Aunt Margie’s Crisco- and marshmallow-topped yams at Thanksgiving, it’s understandable if you’ve gone your whole life without so much as glancing at that particular root vegetable. But, ah!, my friend—your eyes will be opened the first time you order sweet-potato fries at The Bayou. No, they’re not sweet sweet, just a little … well, sweet. And you’ll get used to that in a hurry, especially while you’re washing them down with one of the Bayou’s 17,000 varieties of beer, and that’s just counting the ones hailing from the Eastern provinces of Hungary. Good beer. Good appetizers. Go. Now.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
Gastronomy Inc. restaurants took the top two places in the seafood category, proving once again that this formidable culinary corporation has clout, not to mention an army of 650 employees. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, flown in daily, this is the place. Market Street sells more than 600 gallons of its famous clam chowder daily, along with 1,000 pounds of fresh fish and an annual tally of 1,200,000 oysters. What helps make the venerable downtown Market Street Grill special is its display kitchen where you can watch master oyster shuckers in action, the black-and-white-checkerboard floors reminiscent of the 1930s, and, of course, an impressive menu featuring Alaskan halibut and salmon, Hawaiian ahi tuna, Maine lobster, oysters from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and much more for the serious seafood lover.
48 West Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-322-4668, GInc.com
2. Oyster Bar
BEST RESURGENT TREAT
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Maybe it’s part of the whole nostalgia baked-goods craze that started with cupcakes. But bundt cakes, the humble hole-in-the-middle treats that got their start in 1950s Minneapolis, are back. April Nielsen opened her Nothing Bundt Cakes store in Sandy last year. And there’s nothing terribly humble about them. The cakes are rich and loaded with butter, eggs, chocolate and every other scratch ingredient you could imagine. Flavors include ever-reliable marble, carrot and red velvet as well as the more exotic pecan praline, white chocolate raspberry and chocolate bliss. Nielsen says the cakes have been popular for birthdays, baby showers and even weddings. Prices range from $3.99 for an individual “bundtlette” to $39.50 for the 18-serving size.
10389 S. State, Sandy, 801-619-3757, NothingBundtCakes.com
BEST CHILI VERDE IN SANDY
Everyone needs four go-to Mexican eateries in this town: The Red Iguana to impress out-of-town guests, the street vendors for a quick snack, Alberto’s or Rancherito’s for a fast-food-style sober-up meal, and finally the best of all: a local neighborhood café where you can count on delicious homestyle food, cozy atmosphere, great service and a relaxed, happy vibe. This is that place in Sandy. Operated by the Quinonez family, serving traditional cuisine from the Chihuahua region of Mexico, it is rumored the owner’s dad actually knew Pancho Villa. Smothered burritos, ribs, shredded-beef enchiladas, chicken suizas and other tempting entrees beckon but no one complains about the heaping portions of chile verde or the green salsa for that matter. iAndale, amigos!
8475 S. State, Sandy, 801-566-4464
The Soup Kitchen
Hearty homestyle soups are the unheralded center piece of our national cuisine. Clam chowder, chicken noodle, cheese brocolli or good, old-fashioned split-pea—these are the names that call us when we smack our lips at the thought of soup for lunch. The Soup Kitchen offers all of these flavors and several others. What makes its slurp-licious products so popular its commitment to quality ingredients and making soup with oodles of flavor. When added to its lunch specials such as sloppy joes, egg-salad sandwiches or their BLT, you have a meal that not only satisfies, but also provides a damned fine, all-American anchor for the rest of the working day.
Multiple locations, SLCSoup.com
2. Big City Soup
BEST AUTENTICO ITALIAN
Rino’s got a good thing going. And he’s had it going on for about 28 years. Gotta be doing something right, eh, paisan? Maybe it’s the fresh vegetables he grows in his own garden, or his delicious red sauce or his homestyle ravioli, or his yummy Lasagne. Or the way he graciously introduces himself welcoming you as you walk in the door. You will feel very comodo at Rino’s. But, be warned… you won’t find a meatball in the place. But then, you probably won’t find one in Italy either. See? Autentico!
2302 Parley’s Way, Salt Lake City, 801-484-0901
Spencer’s For Steaks & Chops
The secret to Spencer’s award-winning steaks is really no secret at all. Simply begin with aged, beautifully marbled, hand-cut USDA prime beef from Chicago’s stockyards, and then sear to perfection—not too slow; not too fast—at temperatures which approximate those of the sun’s surface. You can’t go wrong with the Porterhouse, New York strip, prime rib or Filet Mignon at Spencer’s. But, for our money, it’s the “Spencer Steak,” a juicy, perfectly seasoned 14-ounce ribeye cooked to order, where Spencer’s achieves meaty magnificence. It just doesn’t get any better than the Spencer Steak with a side of house-cut frites, and a bottle of great red wine.
255 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-238-4748, SpencersForSteaksAndChops.com
2. The New Yorker
3. Texas Roadhouse
|BEST BEER GOBLET & SUSHI SHOOTER
O’Shucks & Ahh Sushi
It’s Friday lunchtime, and your boss won’t mind if you had a goblet of beer or two, right? The place to go to get those big-as-your-head beer goblets is O’Shucks and Ahh Sushi. Order plenty of rolls, because every day during the lunch hour, they’re half-price. That leaves more money for beer, and it’s good beer too, like Moab Scorpion Pale Ale. A “must” roll is the Funky Vegas—deep-fried Sushi may not be for the sushi purist, but it tastes so good ... especially with beer.
22 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 358-6770
BEST FANCY DOUGHNUTS
Tucked away off the frontage road north of Ikea in Draper, there’s an amazing little doughnut place. It’s basically fancy icings and toppings on top of classic glazed doughnuts, but the flavors are terrific. Try the Key Lime Crumble with crushed graham cracker on top, plus Nutmeg Dash or Caramel Apple. At press time, the store was about to move to a more easily accessible location; call or check the Website for whether it has become even easier to get a delicious gourmet fix.
12714 S. Pony Express, Draper, 801-809-5791, BeyondGlaze.com
BEST WINE SELECTION
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine
The bedrock of Fleming’s’ prize-winning wine selection is “The Fleming’s 100.” At Fleming’s, you’ll find a selection of 100 award-winning wines available by the glass, hand-picked by Fleming’s wine director Marian Jansen op de Haar. The result is options, options, and more options, from Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne and Luna “Freakout” White, to Onyx South African Syrah and Greg Norman Cabernet. But remember, that’s just the wines by the glass. In addition, Fleming’s offers wine flights which allow customers to sample small pours of various different wines, along with a reserve-bottle list peppered with gems from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austrailia, New Zealand, Chile, the United States ... well, you get the idea.
20 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3704, FlemingsSteakhouse.com
2. Wild Grape
3. The New Yorker
After a morning or entire day of skiing the vast, wide-open terrain of Snowbasin ski resort, cheese fondue just seems mandatory. Well, lots of places offer fondue. But executive chef Eric Byrd of Snowbasin’s Earl’s Lodge and Cinnabar Lounge takes the notion of cheese fondue to a whole new level. Granted, it sounds odd, but he makes his luscious fondue with bleu cheese, melted with a splash of imported Belgian whit beer. The result is divine. And the finishing touch: this silky, sensational fondue is served with thick, crunchy house-cut potato chips. Now that’s fabulous fondue!
Snowbasin Resort, Huntsville, 801-620-1000, Snowbasin.com
Like virtually every Japanese restaurant nowadays, Kyoto has a vibrant sushi bar and all the raw fish and maki rolls you can handle, not to mention traditional homestyle dishes like tonkatsu. But what the gang at Kyoto does better than all the rest is tempura. Granted, it’s hard not to love anything that’s deep-fried in oil. But Kyoto’s tempura seafood (especially the shrimp) and veggies seem downright healthy; the batter is so light and crisp. Now, if only it served frites on the side.
1080 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-3525
Rio Grande Café
Remember when the Rio Grande almost lost its space a few years ago? Or when the Gateway construction threatened to leave it in a literal cloud of dust? This venerable Grande Dame of the near west side has weathered more than its share of storms, but it just keeps on making people happy. Maybe it’s all due to the Purple Lady, the alleged ghost of a jilted woman who jumped in front of a train at the Rio Grande depot. She is said to be responsible for slammed doors, dropped dishes and eerie footsteps in the night. Or, maybe it’s just those killer carnitas that keep longtime customers coming back.
270 S. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City, 801-364-3302
BEST PORTION CONTROL
Unfortunately, we live in a state where bigger is usually considered better. But that’s not the case at Citris Grill, where super-size portions aren’t forced down customers’ throats. Most of the menu items come in two different sizes: “hearty” and “petite.” We absolutely love that. Because maybe you just have an appetite for a half-order of crab wontons, slow-roasted chipotle babybacks and butternut squash fettuccini—or maybe you really do want the whole magilla. Wine choices are similar: You can get a bottle, a regular pour or a taste. There’s a good word for the customers’ options at Citris Grill: respect.
2991 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-1202, CitrisGrill.com
BEST SPECK TELLER
Vienna Bistro’s executive chef and owner—Austrian-born Frody Volgger—couldn’t find any speck teller locally to suit his perfectionist standards. So now, he makes it himself. Speck teller is an Austrian air-dried ham, and it’s fabulous … especially at Vienna Bistro. But then, so is Frody’s bundner teller (air-dried beef), his bundner fleisch, house-smoked trout, homemade wurst, and every other damned thing on Frody’s menu. It’s all about quality control and a commitment to excellence, from the speck to the house-made semmelknudel. He’s Austria’s gift to downtown Salt Lake City.
132 S. Main, 801-322-0334, ViennaBistro.com
BEST BRITNEY SPEARS MEXICAN
The signed photo at the Blue Iguana from Britney Spears says, “The Blue Iguana rocks!” Tucked away in Arrow Press Square, you gotta give Britney props for even finding the place. We don’t know what she ordered, but she certainly had options. The extensive menu ranges from a vast selection of mole dishes and mariscos (seafood) to chile verde and Colorado, carne asada, flautas, a healthy selection of vegetarian items and much more. Britney’s made lots of bad choices, but the Blue Iguana wasn’t one of them.
165 S. West Temple, 801-533-8900, TheBlueIguana.com
The New Yorker
Following an educational trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, The New Yorker’s executive chef Will Pliler came home preaching the classic cocktail gospel, and retrained the restaurant’s bar staff to create classic cocktails from scratch using only freshly made mixes and juices, top-shelf spirits and liqueurs, and time-tested techniques. The result: flawless renditions of timeless drinks such as the Negroni, Cable Car, Ramon Fizz, Old Fashioned, Bellini and Martini. Shaken or stirred; your choice.
60 W. Market St., 801-363-0166, GINC.com
BEST OGDEN BISTRO
In summer, the airy, sun-drenched patio is a lovely place to dine, filled with fresh flowers, shrubbery and good vibes. And in colder weather, Bistro 258 takes on a cozy, warm hue that befits bistro fare like their New York steak dressed with Gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar. Like any authentic bistro, Bistro 258 wasn’t just conjured from the ether on an architect’s table. The restaurant is located in one of Ogden’s oldest historic buildings, and adorned as a true bistro/brasserie should be, with a marvelous antique wooden bar and beautiful brasserie-style mirrors. It’s just a little slice of Paris in Ogden.
258 25th St., Ogden, 801-394-1595
BEST MEXICAN SEAFOOD
Hector’s Miramar Restaurant
Too bad so many people stop at beef burritos when ordering Mexican food. Besides the rich traditions of moles and sauces, Mexico lays claim to thousands of miles of coastline that contribute to its lesser-known (at least around here) tradition of excellent seafood creations. There’s plenty of Mexican seafood on the valley’s west side, but why drive when you can go to Miramar on 1300 South? Miramar was the first local restaurant to specialize in a tasty Mexican seafood dishes including camarones in green salsa, fish tacos, ceviche, ajo in garlic sauce, oyster and octopus plates, plus an excellent fish soup. Not feeling fishy? Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered.
342 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5737
BEST SPANAKOPITA TWIST
Too much spanakopita served in these parts often comes in two versions: too much feta or too much spinach. Not to mention that it can be mistaken for a masonry brick. Not at Eva’s. Though brand spanking new, if their salads and spanakopita are any indication, they’ll be around for quite some time. Spanakopita at Eva’s didn’t come from Yiayia’s ancient-memory recipe. It’s served in a tight coil, for starters, like you might find in a restaurant in the core of Athens. But the surprise is they defy Yiayia, placing their twist of spinach and fillo on a bed of pureed poblano peppers doused with a balsamic vinaigrette sauce. If only the Greeks had thought of that.
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447
BEST SUSHI BARGAIN BY DAY
Maybe not all day, but from 2-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Tsunami puts the full assault on high prices at all of their locations (they recently opened a third location in River Park). Now people who are too often sticker-shocked at the price of sushi can choose from an array of Japanese classics, including their award-winning rolls (the Sugar House, Cococabana or Tokyo Cowboy for example). At happy-hour prices or not, Tsunami also excels at small-plate offerings, donburi dishes and its popular bento boxes.
2223 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5545; 7638 S. Union Park Drive, Midvale, 801-676-6466; 10722 S. Riverfront Parkway, South Jordan, 801-748-1178
BEST SUSHI BARGAIN BY NIGHT
On certain late nights, Shogun in downtown Salt Lake is the place to be if you have the dual hankering for sushi and savings. Featuring a reduced menu with all rolls priced at just $6, Shogun is packed—particularly with the young at heart—from 11 p.m. to closing at 2 a.m. While you won’t find to