A DP (stands for “Downtown Philly”) cheesesteak is on par—and I'm not blowing steak smoke here—with the best The City of Brotherly Love has to offer. What makes DP's Utah's cheesesteak champ? First, a DP cheesesteak starts out with sliced-to-order rib-eye steak, just like the big boys. Second, you can get a DP cheesesteak slathered with Cheez Whiz, just like you would in Philly. Third: the bread. It's true that there's no substitute for the Amoroso rolls used for cheesesteaks in Philly. However, the Stoneground Bakery rolls used at DP Cheesesteaks are really good—a bit denser and more rustic than Amoroso's, but an excellent roll, nonetheless. And DP stuffs those rolls to the hilt with perfectly grilled and chopped steak. If you've ever had a Jim's cheesesteak from Philly's South Street and loved it, then you're also gonna love DP's.
83 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-883-8966; 1665 Towne Center Drive, South Jordan, 801-878-8450; 933 W. 500 North, American Fork, 801-763-0976, TheDowntownPhilly.com
Easy Street Steak & Seafood
This warm restaurant anchors the culinary end of the opulent Sky Lodge, with talented chef Scott Boberek at the helm. With the restaurant's classic French brasserie décor and bustling atmosphere, you might just think you've landed on the Left Bank. A bowl of sautéed mussels with fresh herbs and white wine tomato broth, accompanied by grilled, rustic baguette slices is a perfect starter at Easy Street, as is the thin-shaved buffalo carpaccio, dressed lightly and simply with arugula, shaved Parmesan, lemon oil and tangy capers. If Boberek's soul-satisfying duck cassoulet is on the menu, by all means don't pass it by.
201 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-658-9425, TheSkyLodge.com
Readers Shout Out:
Louise: For me, it's Easy Street at The Sky Lodge in Park City all the way! Chef Scott is amazing, the food fabulous, the service excellent and the atmosphere perfect.
I know some people are nearly religious about their pizza. I'm one of them. So, when I'm in the mood for authentic New York-style pizza—the kind I used to eat at least a couple times a week when I lived in NYC—I head over to Este. And, it's not without a little pain, since I—a diehard Red Sox fan since childhood—have to fork my money over to an unrepentant New York Yankees supporter. You know this pizza has to be great for that to happen. If the superb pizza isn't enough, Este also offers up killer calzones, spectacular stromboli and bodacious Buffalo wings. You can wash it all down with beer and wine—or soda and green tea, if that's your preference.
2021 Windsor St. (840 East), Salt Lake City, 801-485-3699; 156 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2366, EstePizzaCo.com
Readers Shout Out:
Nicole: Este Pizzeria: Hands-down best pizza in town.
Quite simply, Eva is the sort of eatery I just can't resist. It's versatile. Eva is an ideal spot for a quiet, romantic dinner for two, a convenient locale for a downtown business lunch or a friendly restaurant for a group of friends to congregate over good drinks and great food—all at very affordable prices. Wood-fired pizza, like the “fig and pig,” or the fantastic flash-fried calamari are both terrific. But, and I've said this before, if you order only one item from chef/owner Charlie Perry's eclectic Eva menu, make it the Brussels sprouts. Yup, that's right: Brussels sprouts!
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com
Readers Shout Out:
Melanie: I am currently hooked on the hip Mediterranean cuisine at Eva. They have everything for the meat and vegan lovin' eater ... plus a full bar. The atmosphere is fab and the fact that they don't judge us boozers who dine with our babies is so awesome! Did I mention they are open late?
Sure, we all miss the original Finn's Restaurant at the top of Parley's Way, which was a classic restaurant on the Utah dining scene that dated back to 1952. Thankfully, Finn Gurholt carries on the Finn's family tradition at Finn's Café, serving cuisine with a Scandinavian spin, specialties such as pyttipanna, Norwegian waffles with wild lingonberries and sour cream, Jule Kake French toast, wienerschnitzel, and Norwegian-style vegetable soup with spicy meatball. The ambiance? It's clean and modern: sort of like IKEA, but without the lines.
1624 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4000, FinnsCafe.net
Franck's is a hidden Salt Lake Valley gem—a wonderful restaurant situated in a small house, tucked away behind Tuscany restaurant, which shares the same owners. It's named for French-born Franck Peissel, whose charming personality would win you over even if he couldn't cook his ass off. But, he can. And you can watch him do it at the restaurant via the big-flat screen monitor and kitchen's “chef cam.” Top-notch treats from Franck's kitchen include classic escargot Provencal, organic Southern-fried chicken, pan-seared diver scallops, sous-vide Mishima Ranch Wagyu sirloin steak and his killer meatloaf, made with slowly braised pulled pork, veal and chicken in a blueberry lavender sauce. The wonderful ambiance and gorgeous décor of Franck's nicely rounds out the elevated dining experience, and the suggested wine pairings on the menu are useful touch.
6263 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-6264, FrancksFood.com
This Sandy restaurant pulled an upset earlier in the year by walking away with the City Weekly Best of Utah award for Best Italian restaurant. But, I can't say I was surprised. Brothers—“Fratelli” means “brothers” in Italian—Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell cook up exquisite Italian fare at easy-on-the-wallet prices. My favorite appetizer is the steamed clams and mussels in garlic-lemon broth, but the antipasti plate is also a great starter. The authentic Margherita pizza is one of the best in town and you can't go wrong with any of Fratelli's pasta dishes. The creamy gnocchi di gorgonzola easily supplants the standard fettuccine Alfredo served at most Italian eateries. And, for dessert don't miss the outrageous pistachio cake called simply “The Cake.”
9236 S. Village Shop Drive (1000 East), Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
Fresco Italian Café
Fresco is tucked away on a tree-lined block of 1500 East in Sugar House, and there's no place I'd rather be in warm weather than on the courtyard patio. In colder circumstances, the cozy dining room radiates warmth, thanks in part to Fresco's excellent service staff. I like to kick things off with a glass of fizzy Prosecco or a signature cocktail like a Bellini, ginger martini or High West Manhattan and a starter from the antipasti menu before digging into Fresco's risotto, which is always outstanding and changes depending on what fresh ingredients are available. The wine list at Fresco is adventurous, if not massive—there's only a very small space to store wine in the restaurant's cozy quarters—and I'm grateful when I dine there that the prices don't gouge.
1513 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-1300, FrescoItalianCafe.com
Readers Shout Out:
Cindy: Fresco is my absolute favorite dining spot. It's great for a date, especially on the patio when it's nice out. And the food is extraordinary.
Named for the controversial Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, this namesake bistro is vibrant, decorated from a bright and lively palate and strewn with evocative art. The art, including paintings, Mexican masks and figurines, has been collected by Frida Bistro owner Jorge Fierro. The colorful eatery is a salute to the more refined cuisines of Mexico and so, for example, you'll find dishes such as pollo asado: Yucatan-style chicken stuffed with poblano chiles, black beans and queso fresca, wrapped in a banana leaf and served with a slightly sweet, fruity sauce. And be sure to order the elegant, complex, visually beautiful and delectable chiles en nogada (chiles in walnut sauce) if you see them on the Frida menu.
545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com
Readers Shout Out:
Scott: One of my favorites is Frida Bistro for very wine-friendly Mexican fare, unlike any other Mexican food I've had.
Curtis: I love everything about Frida Bistro—the food, the atmosphere, the patio, and even the bizarre industrial location. Give me more!
One of the best reasons to visit the Garden Café at the Grand America is general manager Ali Raafati. He's old school all the way (I say that with love), speaking five languages and bringing a European panache and professionalism to running his restaurant. It's a place where executive chef Phillip Yates and his 43-member kitchen staff create memorable dining experiences daily. Sunday brunch at the Garden Café is nothing less than decadent, and the Land & Sea menu on Saturday nights is a special treat, with an unlimited grand buffet of salads, breads and appetizers followed by entrees that include selections such as fresh wild-caught fish from Honolulu, porcini cannelloni, Niman Ranch natural flat-iron steak, a 26-ounce Angus double porterhouse and Loch Duart Scottish salmon with caper sauce. Do not leave without munching on the fresh-made beignets.
555 S. Main (Grand America), Salt Lake City, 801-258-6708, GrandAmerica.com
Ghidotti's Italian Restaurant
Park City restaurateur Bill White named Ghidotti's for his Italian grandmother, and the food here would make his nonna proud. I like to kick things off with a selection from wine manager Mike Brown's well-selected list before indulging in extraordinary dishes such as White's shrimp scampi Florentine, clams casino, “Mama's” chicken soup with Parmesan dumplings, tortellini made with wild oyster mushrooms, Niman Ranch pork osso buco or my favorite: slow-braised beef braciola. Surprisingly, Ghidotti's doesn't require splurging—the restaurant also offers full family dinners to go, which feed four hungry people, for a mere $25. Of course, you'll want to finish up your Ghidotti's experience sipping something from the list of grappas.
6030 N. Market St., Redstone Village, Park City, 435-658-0669, Ghidottis.com
Deer Valley's Mobile Five Star-rated Stein Eriksen Lodge is all about luxury, and dining at The Glitretind restaurant is no exception. From the bustling, award-winning, no-holds-barred brunch to intimate dinners in the dining room or on the deck, Glitretind meals are memorable, thanks to the efforts of talented executive chef Zane Holmquist. In combination with sommelier Cara Schwindt and a top-notch staff of seasoned servers, Holmquist orchestrates a symphony of flavors daily. Appealing appetizers include pork belly with pea puree, sea scallop ceviche, Kobe beef tartar and shrimp sautéed in Patron tequila. For the main attraction, try the Berkshire pork porterhouse, Muscovy duck breast, Kobe short ribs, wild-caught salmon or the double jeopardy lamb T-bone with braised pork shoulder.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, 435-645-6455, SteinLodge.com
At Good Karma restaurant in Park City's Prospector district, you'll discover an eclectic array of Indian, Persian and Asian dishes. Owner/chef Houman Gohary is a wizard in the kitchen and regulars love his lamb curry, made from an authentic family recipe as well as the Punjabi veggie kabob, saag with tofu, chicken tikka masala, and the excellent Raj tiger shrimp. At Good Karma, you can also find traditional breakfasts such as house-made buttermilk pancakes, fresh-baked challah French toast, huevos rancheros, a steamed veggie bake and even a Persian omelet with artichokes and feta cheese. The warm service and friendly vibe here helps this terrific restaurant earn the apt name of Good Karma.
1782 Prospector Ave., Park City, 435-658-0958, GoodKarmaRestaurants.com
Grappa Italian Cafe
This is the restaurant that began Bill White's Park City restaurant empire. And, for many loyal customers, it's still his best. Situated in a house at the top of Main Street in Old Town, diners compete for tables in the cozy, busy dining rooms and outside on the sprawling patios in summer. Calamari fritti is always a great place to start a meal or, perhaps, the seared ahi tuna “mini-steak.” The roasted tomato soup sings with fresh flavor, and for pasta I can't resist the handmade ravioli stuffed with braised veal, beef and pork. Given the restaurant's moniker, it's not surprising that Grappa also offers an extensive selection of grappa liqueurs.
151 Main, Park City, 435-645-0636, GrappaRestaurant.com
Readers Shout Out:
John: Bill White has opened so many fantastic restaurants, it's hard to pick just one favorite. But if I have to choose, I think Grappa is the one. There isn't any place better to go for a great meal in Park City.
Greek City Grill
Don't be fooled by the small size of owner Bob Daskalakis' eatery; it's packed with giant-size flavors and friendliness, much of which can be experienced even via the drive-thru takeout window. There are plenty of tasty menu items here, including the D-Will, a favorite sandwich of the Jazz's Deron Williams. But I come for the gyros. When a customer orders a gyro, Daskalakis starts carving. A gyro sandwich is a generous mound of juicy, tender well-seasoned gyro meat strips—a 50/50 combination of beef and lamb—wrapped in soft, warm pita bread and served with sliced tomatoes, diced onion and creamy homemade tzatziki or red sauce, your choice. Now, that's Greek to me!
6165 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-277-2355, GreekCityGrill.com
Hanamaru bucks the trend of the typical Japanese restaurants peppering the Wasatch Front; that is, restaurants specializing in raw fish. Yes, you can get sushi here, but Hanamaru features the sort of food that average Japanese people eat day in and day out—noodle dishes like niku udon and fried items such as pork tonkatsu or chef Roy Yamamoto's traditional Japanese curry. Hanamaru may not be trendy, nor is the cuisine cutting-edge. But authentic, traditional Japanese fare, consistently served up with warmth and grace, is an ageless fad that I can thoroughly get behind. If you're looking for homestyle Japanese cooking in Ogden, Hanamaru is the place.
350 E. 37th St., Ogden, 801-395-0329, Chikyujin.net
High West Distillery
Park City's High West Distillery & Saloon isn't so much a restaurant, bar and distillery as it is a compound—a fun zone for lovers of good food and great whiskey, not to mention wine, beer, cocktails and more. The sprawling labyrinth contains numerous dining rooms, bars, private nooks and crannies, a souvenir shop and a distillery, in addition to the “livery,” which can hold up to 180 people. This is the place to sample “Whiskey” Dave Perkins' award-winning whiskeys, made right on the premises, as well as superb fare from chef James Dumas. From comforting macaroni & cheese to the rockin' 21-day aged bison rib-eye with huckleberry whiskey sauce, both the food and drink at High West win high marks.
703 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8300, HighWest.com
Readers Shout Out:
Scott: I vote High West Distillery for best new restaurant and best pet-friendly restaurant (and perhaps best restaurant, period).