At this friendly downtown eatery, carefully selected art and photos from Nepal and India adorn the walls, and the entire restaurant gives off a soothing, mellow vibe. One of the best dishes here is butter chicken: tender pieces of boneless tandoori chicken are bathed in a salmon-colored sauce made with butter, tomatoes, onions, cream, nuts and subtle spices. It's heavenly! Of course, the Himalayan momos are a must, as are the tandoor-baked breads. The Himalayas mountain range of Nepal is known for its many towering peaks and, with one visit, you'll discover that Himalayan Kitchen hits many high peaks of its own.
360 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2077, HimalayanKitchen.com
Ho Ho Gourmet
It might be wise to wear blinders when dining in at Ho Ho Gourmet. The, er, décor is not what brings the crowd. Perhaps that's why many people come here for takeout. But whether eating in or out, you won't find better or more authentic Chinese flavors anywhere in Utah. From turnip cakes, ginger beef tripe and steamed chicken feet during dim sum, to clams in black bean sauce, braised whole fish and Peking spare ribs from the regular menu, the food at Ho Ho is anything but ho-hum. Just be sure to ask for the special Chinese menu—the one all the Chinese families you see dining here order from.
1504 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7709
[Ed. note: The other Ho Ho Gourmet locations are not related to this one—they're all independent now.]
Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant
For fans of dim sum, Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant is nirvana, where each and every dim sum dish is a surefire winner. Fried tofu topped with shrimp balls and five-spice foil-wrapped chicken are each delicious, as is the sticky rice in lotus leaves. Like most great Chinese restaurants, this one serves whole deep-fried fish with garlic. Kids will love the steamed barbecue pork buns, while adults munch on steamed chicken feet and the best Peking duck in the state. The Szechwan ma-po tofu is fiery and delicious, and you'd be nuts not to order the deceptively simple and sensational deep-fried flounder with garlic. While you're there, sample a few of the teas from Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant's Chinese tea selection.
565 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7010, HongKongTeaHouse.com
Envious chefs salivate over the gargantuan exhibition kitchen at J&G Grill at Park City's St. Regis, named for Jean-George Vongerichten. “It's the biggest of all my restaurants,” said Vongerichten, proudly. Well, bigger doesn't always mean better … except in this case. The restaurant is simply gorgeous, and the food hits high notes as well. What J&G Grill has in common with every other Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant is a delicate touch in the kitchen. Vongerichten's dishes are complex, but not complicated. Lobster tastes like lobster, enhanced by basil-butter sauce and seasonings, not buried in them. Stunningly simple boneless, Parmesan-crusted Niman Ranch poulet rouge with lemon sauce actually tastes like chicken—moist and flavorful, on a bed of lemon-basil-butter artichokes. And, the 4,600 bottle wine selection means you'll find the perfect pairing for every dish.
2300 Deer Valley Drive East, Park City, 435-940-5760, JGGrillDeerCrest.com
J. Wong's Asian Bistro
There are few Chinese restaurants here that pull off what J. Wong's does: Offer authentic Asian cuisine (not just Chinese, but also Thai) and a gorgeous, contemporary ambiance to enjoy it in. On weekends, there's free valet parking, so drop the wheels and get ready for delicious dining. My go-to dish at J. Wong's is the heavenly walnut shrimp. But, there are other delightful dishes as well, including the Panang salmon: two large, crisp, deep-fried salmon filets infused with lovely coconut and peanut flavors. In fact, there's nothing on this well-conceived menu that you won't love, and the friendly, polished service is just frosting on the cake.
163 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-350-0888, JWongUtah.com
French-born Jean Louis Montecot is one of Utah's boldest chefs, both in his range of cuisines and his electric personality. His eclectic cooking combines Asian, American, Mediterranean, North African and Latin flavors with impeccable French technique. I like to grab a drink at the bustling bar before dinner and, sometimes, I wind up having dinner at the bar—such is the appeal of the friendly vibe there. The brasserie-style menu offers French classics such as la truite amandine, la soupe a l'oignon, roasted pork tenderloin with ratatouille, les escallopines de veau and steak frites. And, it goes without saying that you'll want to order Jean Louis' famous soufflé—chocolate or Grand Marnier, your choice. Ooh la la!
136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-200-0260, JeanLouisRestaurant.com
Kimi's Mountainside Bistro
Named for host Kimi Eklund, Kimi's Mountainside Bistro features the creative cooking of chef Matt Anderson. The setting is gorgeous, with a beautifully designed interior and even more impressive outdoor dining, featuring a stunning mountain backdrop, fresh flowers, fire pits on the patio and the ever-present Utah sun. The occasional moose strolls by, no doubt hoping for a menu morsel like the roasted chicken and poblano chili, bresaola carpaccio, Swedish-style toast smogen, cheese fondue, bison lasagna, prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin or beef “Africana.” Kimi's is the place at Solitude for apres ski and, on weekends, the brunch buffet really rocks.
Solitude Mountain Resort, 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-536-5787, SkiSolitude.com
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
If you're looking for cutting-edge Asian cuisine, you might want to drive past Kyoto, located across from Liberty Heights Fresh. But, if traditional Japanese fare and friendly service is your thing, then Kyoto has all the right stuff. Kick off your meal with fresher-than-fresh saba—delicious mackerel served sashimi-style—before moving on to, perhaps, Kyoto's justifiably renowned tempura. Ebi (shrimp) tempura comes massively piled onto a plate, and although it looks impossible to finish, you're going to savor every single bite. Steer the kids towards the breaded-and-fried pork tonkatsu; they'll love it. Osamu Tada's lovely restaurant oozes serenity and calm, from the manicured gardens and outside patio to the lengthy granite sushi bar and private rice paper- and wood-trimmed booths. Kimono-clad servers seem to float on air through the Kyoto dining rooms, always at your table exactly when you need them. Kyoto is quite popular, and deservedly so: It's smart to make advance reservations.
1080 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 84105, 801-487-3525
Le Nonne Ristorante Italiano
Hailing from Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany, Italy, chef/owner PierAntonio Micheli brings the flavors of Northern Italy to northern Utah. There aren't many restaurants I'd drive as far as Logan to visit, but Le Nonne Ristorante Italiano is one of them. It vies with Cucina Toscana, in my opinion, for Utah's best Italian restaurant. Le Nonne (“the grandmothers”) is named for Micheli's mother and grandmother, who taught him to cook. Le Nonne features live jazz on weekends and outstanding dishes, including tuna carpaccio with asparagus, other-worldly home-style ravioli and gnocchi dishes, and specialty entrees like stracceti al Gorgonzola: thin-sliced beef sautéed and served with white wine and rich, creamy Gorgonzola. Dining at the lovely Le Nonne, you might just forget you're in Logan.
129 N. 100 East, Logan, 435-752-9577, LeNonne.com
Left Fork Grill
At Jeff Masten's popular Left Fork Grill, the concept is “Where café meets gourmet.” And that's an apt description of this diner cum bistro. Most of what's served at Left Fork Grill is made from scratch, right down to Masten's homestyle coleslaw, which is the best I've ever tasted. Kick off the morning with eggs in a hole, biscuits and gravy or the smoked salmon scramble. At lunchtime, there are terrific sandwiches—the Reuben, tuna melt and meatloaf are musts. And then, at dinner, you can go old school with liver and onions, an open-faced turkey sandwich or opt for one of Masten's more modern dishes. For sure, though, you won't want to leave without a piece of his incredible homemade pie.
68 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-266-4322, LeftForkGrill.ipower.com
Readers Shout Out:
Ashly Mae: The food is always delicious. I've never been disappointed. It's my go-to breakfast place for birthdays, Mother's Day, anniversaries, etc.
Ambiance? Who needs ambiance? This is one of a small handful of Salt Lake City Chinese restaurants that actually caters primarily to the Chinese palate. First things first: Ask for the Chinese specialty menu, not the Americanized version they automatically give to gringos. Second, if décor matters, stay home. Little World is a funky little dive where the food is simply awesome. Peking ducks hang in one corner, and the smell of garlic and hot woks permeates the place. And it's usually crowded. So, if those things bother you, get takeout (there's even a drive-thru window) and eat at home. Highlights include clams with garlicky black-bean sauce, Xo frog legs, shrimp balls and steaming hot clay pot dishes. The fried prawns may just change your life.
1356 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5213
Snowbird's Lodge Bistro is a terrific restaurant, equipped with a patio and stunning mountain views in warm weather. In winter, it's cozy and warm. Regardless of the season, I can rarely resist a bowl of chef R.J. Peterson's French onion soup, a ceramic terrine of hearty soup “sealed” on top with a layer of crisp, crunchy Gruyere and toasty homemade croutons. Another simple-but-sensational Peterson dish is his stellar cedar-plank salmon, which he's bold enough to cook medium-rare—beautifully crisp on the outside and moist and juicy inside—and, blessedly, not smothered in a heavy sauce but adorned simply with crisp haricots vertes and a side of bacon-spiked potato “hash.” And whatever else you do, be certain to indulge in the decadent Sarladaise potatoes—just screw your diet.
The Lodge at Snowbird, Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, Snowbird, 801-933-2145, Snowbird.com
Log Haven Restaurant
Yes, my wife handles weddings at Log Haven. But that doesn't prevent me from loving chef Dave Jones' cooking and the well-selected wines and pairings from general manager Ian Campbell. I'm not alone.
6451 Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
Readers Shout Out:
Matt: The four seasonal menus per year are full of delectable options prepared from local fare. Margo and the staff are polite, professional and fun. They treat us well—like family—every we time we dine there. It is located in a well-maintained historic, sizeable log cabin. The view is beautiful from both the indoors and the outdoor deck/patio seating, and it is a great way to enjoy a break from the Salt Lake Valley. It is a unique dining experience and I recommend it to anyone visiting or living in Salt Lake City.
Lugano chef/owner Greg Neville has garnered more acclaim and awards than he has room for—including being invited to cook at New York City's prestigious James Beard House. His popular east-side eatery combines a friendly bistro/trattoria-style ambiance with the rich flavors and scents of Italy. It's a bustling spot, where the open-air kitchen and wood-burning oven give customers a live Food Network-worthy show each night. I like to begin with an order off the vast wine list, which includes the biggest selection of Italian wines in the state, before enjoying dishes like Neville's spaghetti with Napa cabbage or the pizza quattro stagione.
3364 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-412-9994, LuganoRestaurant.com
Readers Shout Out:
Jonathan: Lugano is, by far, my favorite restaurant in the entire state. The Italian food there is amazing. The spaghetti with shrimp, mussels, clams, fish, garlic, chili flakes and tomato is the best. I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever eaten. My wife and I return whenever we can, and I get the same thing every time.
MacCool's Public House
If you're in the hunt for a small piece of the Emerald Isle, MacCool's Public House has your number. Owners Mic Warner and Scott Schlisman have done the nearly impossible: created a small slice of Ireland right here in Zion. At MacCool's, you'll discover a unique Irish ambiance, complete with faux Irish stone walls, 7-foot-high beachwood chairs, a Victorian dining area, busy pub section and the hand-painted wall art of Sarah Berkowitz. MacCool's also dishes up Utah's best corned beef, made from scratch daily, and an equally good rendition of chicken pot pie, served with a puff-pastry square the size of a throw pillow. The barbecued lamb ribs are essential, as is a pint of Guinness or Tetley's. “Cead mile failte.”
1400 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-582-3111; 855 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-728-9111; 11610 S. Main District Drive, South Jordan, 801-727-3111, MacCools-Utah.com
This wildly popular Chinese restaurant might be located in Bountiful, and it might be owned by Greeks, but the flavors are distinctly, authentically Chinese, thanks to a kitchen full of Chinese chefs via Hong Kong and San Francisco. Hopefully, you won't have to wait too long for a seat in this gorgeous restaurant before ordering something from the extensive wine and drink menu, then launching into a meal of delectable dishes such as Peking duck, Singapore noodles, Nanking chicken, Hunan pork, Mongolian beef, or what has become Mandarin's most popular specialty: black bean salmon.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, MandarinUtah.com
At Deer Valley's Mariposa restaurant, located mid-mountain at Silver Lake Village, timing is everything. The warm, cozy eatery is only open in winter, during ski season, and then only for dinner. So, the opportunities to enjoy Mariposa's superb cuisine and service are limited. After skiing Deer Valley powder all day, I like to settle in for dinner with fresh oysters on the half shell and Kobe beef carpaccio before moving on to favorite entrees from executive chef Clark Norris. They include seared yellowfin tuna filet, Utah-raised natural lamb, pan-roasted sea scallops and the ginormous Mariposa mixed grill. Finish things off with a chocolate snowball, of course.
Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Resort, Park City, 435-645-6715, DeerValley.com/Dining
Market Street Oyster Bar
With by far the best and freshest selection of oysters in town, Market Street Oyster Bar is a must for any oyster lover and has been since opening in 1980. Six to eight oyster varieties are typically offered daily, along with an array of fresh seafood and steaks. The chilled seafood platter of Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, and Gulf shrimp is pretty hard to resist, but I'm also a sucker for the fried clam strips. All of the chowders and seafood stews at the Oyster Bar totally rock, but here's a surprise: They also serve the best chili in town, not to mention excellent Certified Angus Beef Natural steaks. Or, just do as I do and belly up to the bar for a good glass of wine and a dozen oysters on the half-shell.
54 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-531-6044; 2985 E. 6580 South, Salt Lake City, 801-942-8870; 10702 S. River Front Parkway, South Jordan, 801-302-2264, GInc.com
This charming, independent restaurant quietly—without a lot of fanfare or press—continues to entice customers old and new with its lovely ambiance, friendly and professional service and dishes that please. Martine Café, situated in an beautiful old brownstone building downtown, has been pleasing customers with its world cuisine since 1999. A must-have tapa at Martine is chef Tom Grant's stupendous Moroccan braised beef with gingered couscous. And, one of the understated attractions of Martine is the wine list. It's not the biggest, but it might be one of the best. Owner Scott Hale has a fetish for finding interesting, inexpensive wines and then not pricing the bejesus out of them. Much appreciated!
22 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-9328, MartineCafe.com
Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
I recall when the original Mazza at 15th and 15th opened: Owner Ali Sabbah mostly served falafel sandwiches from a walk-up counter. The dinnerware was Styrofoam. Sabbah's Middle Eastern food was delicious back then, but much has changed over the years. Now, there's a second Mazza at 9th and 9th and both are full-service, full-menu restaurants, complete with an exceptional wine list featuring an international selection of wines, including some from Lebanon, Morocco and Greece. I still think Sabbah's falafel is the best in Utah, but now and then, I veer away to other delectable dishes like ful mudammas, maghmoor, dolaa (stupendous) and baked kafta.
1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572, MazzaCafe.com
Readers Shout Out:
John: I've been coming to Mazza since the original one opened. The Middle Eastern food there is awesome. Definitely the best around. I can't live without Ali's falafel! Nice people, too.
Meditrina Small Plates & Wine Bar
What's not to love about this offbeat eatery? It's an uncluttered, minimalistic space adorned with purple ceilings, jet-black tables and chairs, and a mix of exposed brick and avocado-colored walls that are hung with provocative local art. At Meditrina, you'll likely order two or three dishes to share, depending on the size of your party, then repeat as necessary. The small-plates concept lends itself beautifully to informal, unrushed, and unstructured dining. Tasty tapas include peppercorn-crusted lollipop lamb chops, prosciutto di Parma-wrapped asparagus and irresistible piquillo peppers stuffed with crab and mascarpone. And, there's a terrific wine selection, to boot.
1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com
Readers Shout Out:
Karen: I just tried Meditrina for small plates (vegetarian only, that's all I eat), and they were so fantastic. Delicious Mediterranean, and some really creative plates, too. I have not often been this satisfied in dining out.
There's a reason Metropolitan owner Karen Olson was recently named chairperson for DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) the lady knows a thing or two about fine dining. Since opening in 1996, Metropolitan has continually set a high bar for creative, contemporary American cuisine in this town. And, the most recent menu, filled with palate-pleasing dishes such as Blue Point oysters with kimchi and red beer, braised rabbit pizza, the decadent pork charcuterie plate called “Three Little Pigs,” and Arctic char with white beans and Umbrian black truffles, keeps Metropolitan firmly at the forefront of the downtown dining scene.
173 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3472, TheMetropolitan.com
Over the years, Moochie's—which is located in owner Joanna Rendi's husband's pottery shop—has become less about pottery and more about fantastic East Coast-style meatballs and cheesesteak sandwiches. The eatery has grown from a handful of tables inside and out to a comfy spot to enjoy one of Utah's best cheesesteaks. In fact, the food here is so good that Guy Fieri featured it on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “Moochie's is money!” proclaimed Fieri. But, since man cannot live on meatball subs and cheesesteaks alone, there's also a terrific grilled Reuben, eggplant parmigiana, tuna grinder and still the best potato salad in town.
232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-1350, MoochiesMeatballs.com
This wine bistro is candy for the eyes, one that would fit comfortably into Salt Lake City's Downtown Rising scheme—or, for that matter, SoHo in New York City or San Francisco's Embarcadero. Most of the wine at Moxi is available by either the glass or bottle. California spot prawns are split and beautifully charred on the grill, served whole with heads on. Lamb-loin medallions sing with a cucumber-mint “bombe” and come with yummy grilled yams alongside. And, the grilled game hen, with its raisin-chili glaze, is moist, tender and delectable, accompanied by Israeli couscous studded with dried fruit. Time for a trip to Bountiful!
1025 S. 500 West, Bountiful, 801-335-0394, MoxiBistro.com
Like a free, unfettered mustang stallion, owner/chef Bill Hufferd's cuisine at his Mustang restaurant in Park City is bold and even a bit wild. But then, so is the arty, contemporary décor at the restaurant. So, prepare yourself for exotic dishes such as Southwestern duck chile rellenos, fresh papaya and arugula salad, grilled Honduran lobster with Texas ruby-red grapefruit salsa, and chipotle-barbecued baby-back ribs with watermelon-jicama salad and pasilla chile quesadilla. And, a setting this contemporary just cries out for a signature Mustang cocktail like the Cosmopolitan.
890 Main, Park City, 435-658-3975, MustangParkCity.com