The truth is, I don't spend a lot of time eating in vegetarian restaurants. But, when I do, Sage's is where I point my GPS. At Sage's, faux meat dishes are often better than the real thing; you certainly won't miss the meat in Sage's rich and creamy stroganoff, and the “picadillo vegetariano” is also a winner.
473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
Readers Shout Out:
Pete: As a vegetarian living in meatland, I thank the lucky stars for Sage's, where I can get wholesome, meatless meals that taste great. It's not just this town's best vegetarian restaurant but best all-around restaurant—period. Three cheers for Sage's!
Sapa Sushi Bar &
The owners—Mai Nguyen and Sean Dang—put a lot of money and sweat into Sapa. The main dining room is trimmed out with orange squiggly eye-catching “chandeliers” that look like they came from a science-fiction movie set. The look of Sapa is contemporary and chic but warm, with a sushi bar elevated above the main dining room and a courtyard in back featuring small, individual wooden huts that are 300 years old. Blessedly, the food reaches the lofty heights of the beautiful décor. From yellowtail carpaccio and poki salad to the fragrant lemongrass-infused lamb sauté and warming bowls of pho, there's nothing at Sapa that doesn't satisfy.
722 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7272, SapaBarandGrill.com
Readers Shout Out:
Anna: Sapa is not to be missed! An aesthetic dream, this beautiful Vietnamese fusion restaurant has a sushi bar, Vietnamese fusion dishes extraordinaire and noodle dishes for those seeking something milder. Beyond a doubt, the best calamari this side of Greece. The 300-year-old tea houses surround a private patio, great for al fresco dining. The interior has wonderful décor and creates and ambiance that lends to savoring your meal. The wait staff seem to really love their job and make even ordering a fun experience.
Scott: I vote for Sapa for its delicious sauces and perfectly prepared cuisine.
For traditional, authentic, Napolitano-style pizza, certified as such by the president of Vera Pizza Napoletana, an organization dedicated to preserving the “identity and integrity” of Napolatino-style pizza, I turn to Settebello. The recipe for its majestic Margherita pizza is surprisingly simple: crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and extra-virgin olive oil on a crispy thin crust. Pizza just doesn't get any better than this.
260 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3556, Settebello.net
Readers Shout Out:
Fredrik: Settebello, all the way. Those pizzas (and salads) are amazing.
“Freestyle Asian cuisine” is what Shabu owners and brothers Kevin and Robert Valaika call what they do at Shabu. At Shabu, there's a lively bar scene where sushi and sake are consumed by happy patrons, and in the dining room, Shabu Shabu, where you are the chef, is a popular favorite. Shabu shabu is sort of Asian-style fondue, where you dip ingredients (meat, seafood, veggies) from a bento box into an assortment of hot freshly made broths: Thai-coconut, vegetarian or dashi-mirin. Effectively, you cook your dinner yourself at your table, and it's a fun way to dine, not to mention delicious. If you'd prefer to have chef Robert (formerly of Nobu) cook for you, try his freestyle sea bass, wok-seared diver scallops, coconut-crusted tofu, or moo shu duck. Be sure to try one of Shabu's signature saketinis.
442 Main, Park City, 435-645-7253, ShabuPC.com
The Shallow Shaft
Now in its 34th season, Alta's Shallow Shaft restaurant is an ideal spot to enjoy a quiet dinner after romping on the slopes of Alta or Snowbird. If you didn't catch quite enough scenery skiing, the Shaft has you covered. Try to score a window seat to watch the sunset and indulge in the Shaft's exquisite fare—everything from pizzas and house tacos to more elevated dishes like Black Angus hanger steak with Guinness Stout-chipotle butter and grilled onions. And, the Shallow Shaft's friendly, professional staff makes this lovely restaurant as essential as Alta's Champagne powder.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta, 801-742-2177, ShallowShaft.com
Got schweinshaxen and britchen? You would if you'd visit Siegfried's, where I go to shop for hard-to-find sausages, wurst, bacon, ham, wieners, sauerkraut and the like. And, when I'm too busy to cook, I just get in line with all the other hungry Siegfried's patrons for cafeteria-style bratwurst, weisswurst, sauerkraut, roasted chicken, spaetzle, the best Reuben sandwich in town and, of course, German chocolate cake. There are also cold beer and wine to enjoy alongside your Bavarian feast.
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891, SiegfriedsDelicatessen.biz
Snake Creek Grill
The cuisine chef/owner Dean Hottle turns out at Snake Creek Grill In Heber is superb—an impressive feat, given that the menu ranges from onion rings to wild mushroom risotto with spinach and leeks and everything in between. A delicious starter is spicy butterflied grilled wild white shrimp with chipotle barbecue sauce, guacamole, pickle slices, fresh lime and homemade tortilla chips. And, I appreciate that Hottle allows diners to customize pasta and risotto dishes by making available add-ons such as grilled chicken, Italian sausage and grilled shrimp. It goes without saying that you must not leave without indulging in the bodacious black-bottom banana cream pie.
650 W. 100 South, Heber City, 435-654-2133, SnakeCreekGrill.com
Spencer's for Steaks
At Spencer's, aged USDA-certified natural Black Angus beef steaks are hand-cut and seared at 1,600 degrees. So, if you can find a better steak in Salt Lake City than at Spencer's, go for it. The steaks here, in tandem with sommelier (and occasional City Weekly Drink column contributor) Louis Koppel's spot-on wine pairings make lunch or dinner a risk-free experience. But before the meat, there are chilled “colossal” shrimp with Absolut Peppar Bloody Mary cocktail sauce to be had, not to mention the refreshing Romaine lettuce hearts with homemade croutons and aged Parmesan. Although the double-cut lamb chops are spectacular, it's hard to resist the classic “Spencer Steak,” which is 14 ounces of boneless Creekstone Farms natural beef rib-eye, cooked exactly to your specification.
255 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-238-4748, SpencersForSteaksAndChops.com/SaltLakeCity
Spoony & Nata's Down
The odd location of this restaurant is fitting. It reminds me of the strange, often-wonderful little cafes you find in and around New Orleans—tucked away in alleys, butting up against the Mississippi, in a hidden courtyard or in the back of someone's house. The po' boy here is terrific: tender shrimp in a crispy batter coating with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and rémoulade on a po' boy roll worthy of the Crescent City. But don't overlook the gumbo: a large bowl brimming with crab, shrimp, sausage and chicken—shells, bones and all—over rice. It's delicious in the way that only a slow-cooked, homemade gumbo can be. The jambalaya, too, is exceptional: a plate of perfectly cooked converted rice with tender chunks of boneless chicken breast and smoked sausage slices, perfectly spiced. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
1810 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-0400, SpoonyandNatas.com
Located in the beautiful Waldorf Astoria, just below The Canyons resort, this is the “sister” restaurant to San Francisco's Spruce. As with the California version, everything about Park City's Spruce is first-class. I suggest enjoying a first-class cocktail at the long white Carrera marble bar before retiring to the dining room, equipped with chocolate-colored mohair walls and faux ostrich-covered chairs. Chef Mark Sullivan's menu changes frequently, but I highly recommend the house-made charcuterie, sweetbreads Lyonnaise, honey-laquered duck breast with cinnamon foie gras and the buttered Maine lobster with potato gnocchi. A superbly well-thought-out wine selection and first-class service puts Spruce in a class of its own.
2100 Frostwood Drive, Park City, 435-647-5566, SprucePC.com
Readers Shout Out:
Zelda: Spruce at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City is truly inspired.
At St. Bernard's, located inside the Inn in the village at Solitude Mountain Resort, chef Matt Barrigar cooks up a range of delectable dishes—everything from wild blueberry pancakes and corned beef hash for breakfast, to lemon-cured free-range chicken and a lamb porterhouse for dinner. Among the dishes you won't want to miss are the duck confit with sage brown butter and the decadent pork jowls braised with dates and red wine. Dinners here tend to be lengthy and filling, so I suggest booking a room at the inn to sleep off all that dining goodness.
The Inn at Solitude, Solitude Mountain Resort, Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-535-4120, SkiSolitude.com
There are dozens and dozens of Chinese restaurants along the Wasatch Front, but Szechuan Garden is special. Hey, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman himself is a fan. For over 35 years, Chef Meng has been cooking Szechuan cuisine in prestigious venues around the world. So, we're quite fortunate to have him here cooking for us—in Sandy, no less. Orders of camphor tea-smoked duck, fish filet in Szechuan chili sauce, intestines with pickles, and scallops with black pepper are all exotic and outstanding. For the more mainstream, there's also chow mein, kung pao, foo yong, sweet & sour and the like. Truly, something for everyone.
1275 E. 8600 South, Sandy, 801-233-0027, The-Szechuan-Garden.com
When I'm asked to name my favorite Salt Lake City restaurant, Takashi springs forth from my lips as often as any other. “Sushi in Salt Lake City?” is the standard response. Well, yes. I'll put Takashi up against the best Japanese restaurants in the country. Takashi Gibo's cuisine is creative, artful, surprising and, most important, absolutely delicious. Add to that superb service and an outstanding list of wines, beer and sake, and, well, those are the components for creating a truly memorable dining experience—one that Takashi offers on a daily basis.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
Readers Shout Out:
Monica: Takashi is my favorite place to eat in Salt Lake City. It's not just the amazingly fresh fish, it's the inventive flavors and wonderful presentation. It's the one place in town that I can confidently order anything off the menu and know it will blow my mind. Takashi takes sushi places I never thought possible, and that's what keeps me coming back.
Talisker on Main
For many years, I've been enamored of longtime Park City chef John Murcko's cooking. Now, he has a home to call his own—at Talisker on Main—and he's hitting it out of the park. For an interesting appetizer, Murcko serves up lobster hush puppies with tarragon butter, which tastes as brilliant as it sounds. Keeping with the lobster theme, I can't resist the lobster chowder, with sorrel oil, sourdough croutons and floating lobster claw. As with everything else at Talisker, the service, too, is impeccable. They only hire the cream of the crop. For a big blow-out, consider indulging in the chef's tasting menu.
515 Main St., Park City, 435-658-5479, TaliskerOnMain.com
Taste of India
Taste of India offers authentic Indian cuisine with dishes such as shrimp korma, lamb biryani, chicken vindaloo, channa masala, saag paneer, aloo mattar, daal makhani and much more. Especially good is the butter chicken: tandoor roasted chicken cooked in a butter, onion, tomato and cream sauce. Since great care and finesse is put into every Taste of India dish, you won't find the standard lunch buffet. However, to sample a range of what this wonderful restaurant has to offer, I recommend the Thali lunch special: two entrees served on large silver platters with raita, kheer, rice and naan.
1664 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton, 801-614-0107, TasteofIndiaLayton.com
Readers Shout Out:
Melissa: I am a curry addict. Although I find the menu at Taste of India in Layton on the pricy side, the exquisite food more than makes up for it. The owners are so friendly and always willing to talk food. In fact, some of my Indian recipes at home have been much improved with their tips. My favorite dishes are the lamb roganjosh, coconut korma and the very best alu gobi in the state (and probably the world, as far as I'm concerned).
Tiburon Fine Dining
For more than 10 years now, Tiburon has been quietly pleasing palates out in Sandy. They were doing it long before other fine dining eateries discovered the suburbs. It's hard not to love a dish as decadent as the St. Andree triple creme brie and five-hour “dry” braised Kurobuta pork belly appetizer.
8256 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-255-1200, TiburonSLC.com
Readers Shout Out:
Pam: I vote for Tiburon, and I get so tired of people saying that Tiburon is just a good Sandy restaurant. This would be a great restaurant no matter where it was located. We who live in Sandy are just extra lucky that they decided to open up here. The food and service is better than anywhere else you'll find. Try it and you'll see.
Tin Angel Café
The Tin Angel Café is wildly popular for its quirky, funky, fun atmosphere and food, not to mention live music and art shows. Perched across from Pioneer Park, you can count on chef Jerry Liedtke to incorporate fresh ingredients from the Downtown Farmers Market when it's in operation. In warm weather, the patio is a great place to take in the neighborhood sights and sounds, nibbling on Tin Angel tapas like fried risotto cakes, speck-wrapped shrimp, spiced almonds with bleu cheese, bresaola carpaccio, chorizo and shrimp skewer or fish cakes with spicy aioli. On Saturdays, there's a popular brunch—be sure to try the all-natural beef tips with eggs.
365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com
Readers Shout Out:
Beth: The Tin Angel is my overall favorite restaurant. Always good, local ingredients and a great vibe.
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
I don't know a Salt Lake City food enthusiast who wouldn't lose his/her mind were Tony Caputo's Market & Deli not in existence. It's the source for imported and domestic cheeses, charcuterie, pastas, chocolates and a thousand-plus items to entice foodies, including excellent deli sandwiches, salads and specials. And now, there's more Tony to go around, with the recent opening of Caputo's on 15th, a slimmed-down version of the original downtown Caputo's.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669; 1516 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6615, CaputosDeli.com
Readers Shout Out:
Beth: Don't forget Caputo's: best sandwiches!
In the beginning, Tsunami was known—in its original Sugar House location—mostly for great sushi. But, as the enterprise has expanded to Midvale and South Jordan, so has the menu. Sure, there are still stellar sushi, sashimi and nigiri; the seven-piece nigiri combo is one of my favorites. But, Tsunami also cooks up dishes from the kitchen, like chicken katsu, miso-marinated Alaskan black cod, broiled green lip mussels, escolar and langoustine “poppers,” and their awesome baby-back ribs with jalapeño-teriyaki sauce. And, you'll find those in the know at Tsunami's popular sushi happy hour, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at all three locations.
2223 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5545; 7628 S. Union Park Ave., Midvale, 801-676-6466; 10722 River Front Parkway, South Jordan, 801-748-1178, TsunamiUtah.com
Visiting Tuscany restaurant serves as a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city—a gorgeous getaway, tucked among the trees of Holladay. Ex-Jazz great Mark Eaton serves as owner and manager, encouraging diners to indulge in seductive dishes such as oysters asiago, herb-crusted beef carpaccio, pan-seared chicken piccata, Hawaiian sea bass with risotto croquet and the bodacious wood oven-roasted, cured double center-cut pork chop. And, since Eaton is a wine aficionado and collector himself, you'll find a sensational selection of wines by the bottle or glass, both in the restaurant and the comfy bar.
2832 E. 6200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-277-9919, TuscanySLC.com
Through all the dust, demolition and debris of “Downtown Rising,” Vienna Bistro owner/chef Frody Volgger has hung tough, keeping his Viennese-style eatery open despite the long odds and construction barriers. Hell, the city should be paying him rent. At any rate, this is the place to go downtown for a taste of Europe—Austria, specifically—where you'll find menu items such as semmelknodel, jagerschnitzel, chicken paprikasch and kasespazle, with a nod also to the rest of Europe: veal Marsala, steak au poivre, cheese fondue and pork loin Calvados. Of course, it's a no-brainer to finish off with linzer torte or fresh apple strudel.
132 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0334, ViennaBistro.com
Vinto ain't your daddy's pizza parlor—unless, that is, David Harries is your daddy. If so, lucky you, because Harries has a knack for creating visually appealing, palate-pleasing eateries—he's been doing it for about 30 years, dating back to the original Riverhorse Café, Ameci and Barking Frog in Park City, as well as the Park Café in Salt Lake City. The made-from-scratch meatballs at Vinto are heavenly orbs in a class of their own. And, I love the fennel and heirloom tomato pizza from the wood-fired pizza oven, which comes served on a plastic cutting board—a cool touch. Add to the terrific food at Vinto an easy-to-maneuver wine list and top-notch service, and you've got a recipe for success.
418 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-539-9999, Vinto.com
The concept behind Wahso is Shanghai in the 1930s: Art Deco and Victorian, with imported Asian screens, an ebony fireplace, private dining rooms reminiscent of Orient Express sleeper cars … in other words, an eye-popping restaurant filled with a collection of Asian artifacts from around the world. Amazingly, the food at Wahso manages to match the lofty ambiance. First course temptations include Wahso's pad Thai, hamachi sashimi and steamed pork buns. For entrees, it's hard to top the “forbidden” chicken curry made with organic chicken, the miso-marinated black Alaskan cod, or the porcini-crusted Certified Angus Beef tenderloin. A stellar list of wines and specialty cocktails rounds out the divine dining experience at Wahso.
577 Main, Park City, 435-615-0300, Wahso.com
Wild Grape New West Bistro
Wild Grape New West Bistro espouses the use of fresh, natural, local, sustainable, organic products and ingredients whenever possible. Which sounds great, but doesn't mean much if the food isn't the same. However, the cuisine at Wild Grape reaches the lofty levels of their mission, with tempting dishes such as fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese, Niman Ranch bavette steak with chimichurri, paprika prawns with local papparedelle, and roasted halibut with Utah peas and potato gnocchi. There's also a popular, wide-ranging brunch menu on the weekends, and an excellent selection of wines by the glass, bottle or splash.
481 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-746-5565, WildGrapeBistro.com
With Zucca Trattoria, Italian-born chef/owner Elio Scanu brings authentic, rustic, and robust flavors of Italy to South Ogden. The very appealing ambiance is actually overshadowed by Elio's cuisine, which ranges from wood-fired, oven-baked Margherita pizza and fritto misto to monkfish loins in Bordelaise sauce, and heavenly pasta bathed in ultra-silky sauce made with heavy cream, butter, Fontina, Grana Padano, Gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Veggie lovers will appreciate grigliata mista di verdure, a platter of wood oven-roasted peppers, zucchini, oyster mushrooms and eggplant with garlic, olive oil and parsley. And now, there's even more Zucca, with the recent opening of Zucca Market, where you can purchase fresh cheeses, olives, charcuterie and more for the home pantry.
1479 E. 5600 South, Ogden, 801-475-7077, MyZucca.com