Best of Utah 2008 | Food & Drink 



BEST SPLURGE
Metropolitan

“Splurge” has evolved into such a relative term. It’s not hard these days to blow a bunch of money at a mediocre restaurant. Thankfully, the Metropolitan, which advertises “handcrafted New American cuisine” comes by the term “best splurge” honestly. Dinner entrees range from $20 to $35. A respectable list of add-ons and wine choices will pump the bill a bit higher. Sophisticated yet modern design throughout, with live jazz on Saturday nights, here you can treat yourself to American Kobe beef, Berkshire pork chops or tender Utah trout. For a more casual indulgence, stop in at the restaurant’s bistro or enjoy an after-work drink at the elegant bar.
173 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3472, TheMetropolitan.com
2. Bambara
3. The Melting Pot

BEST BREAKFAST
Blue Plate Diner
Blue Plate is where you go when you roll out of bed at 2 p.m. craving corned beef hash and eggs. Breakfast is served all day, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The pancakes, breakfast burrito and scramblers taste just as good at breakfast time, when—on the weekends, at least—it seems everyone in town is at this Sugar House-area diner. Despite the retro ‘50s-ish decorating, everything about Blue Plate feels authentic, from the servers, to the food, to the outside patio with seating a few feet from multilane 2100 East. Blue Plate is the neighborhood joint you have been looking for, even if you have to drive to get there. Oh, and one more thing: chicken-fried steak.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, MySpace.com/BluePlateDiner
2. Over the Counter Cafe
3. Ruth’s Diner

BEST MOTORHEAD MENU
Front End Grille
It’s not easy to find, but the new Front End Grille is well worth the search (hint: it’s under the Studebaker grill at 510 W. 200 North). The chrome-shined café décor complemented with classic car murals reflects the menu, with stock entrees like the “Big Block” (eggs, hash browns, ham and pancakes) and the “Dip Stick” (French dip sandwich) alongside more custom jobs like the “Backfire Burger” (a half-pounder with chili) and the “Spark Plug” (eggs, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and spinach wrapped in a garlic-sauce-topped crepe). The Front End Grille is no greasy spoon; it’s gourmet-class dining in a café setting. Look it up.
510 W. 200 North, Salt Lake City, 801-326-1080

BEST OLD-WORLD PIZZA
Settebello Pizza
Sure, a good old-fashioned American pizza may satisfy your munchies or even absorb your hangover, but it’s a far cry from the old-world simplicity and beauty—like that of Mona Lisa—found in a slice of Settebello’s pizza. These thin-crusted Neapolitan pizzas are cooked in hellishly hot wood-fired brick ovens—so hot that they can cook a pizza in about a minute. Italian tomatoes, imported Caputo flour and fresh mozzarella are key ingredients that make these pizzas not only authentic and affordable, but almost works of art. Try the classic Margherita ($8.99) or Settebello’s signature pizza with crushed tomatoes, pancetta, wood-oven-roasted fennel sausage, roasted mushrooms and pine nuts ($12.99).
260 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3556, Settebello.net

BEST INDIAN
Bombay House
The east-side address has changed—but apparently not much else has. For 15 years, diners have flocked to taste the menu created by Madras-born/BYU-Hawaii educated Daniel Shanthakumar, and wallow in the atmosphere and the aroma of his unique restaurant. The addition of a Utah County location only means more avid fans to continue the ridiculous Best of Utah winning streak in this category of more than a decade. Enjoy specialties like the chicken tikka and lamb coconut korma; you’ll be in good company.
2731 E. Parley’s Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222; 463 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-6677; BombayHouse.com
2. Himalayan Kitchen
3. Tandoor Indian Grill

BEST SPICE OPTION
El Habañero
This nice little Mexican café packs some serious spice but just on the side. The restaurant’s name comes from the habañero pepper, and while the meals aren’t prepared with the pepper, the restaurant specializes in a killer habañero salsa you can get a la carte to add to your meals as much as you think your machismo can handle. It goes well with the special Yucatecas chimichangas, which come with chicken, pork or just chile verde. Or try the cochinita pibil, marinated pork with a sweet lime piquancy, served with flour tortillas, rice and beans.
8164 W. 3500 South, Magna, 801-508-1020

BEST BACON
Rosie’s Deli, Jade Market
Downtown Salt Lake City is such a Mecca for sandwich-lovers that it’s often difficult to choose between the many sandwicherias. Luckily, we can count on bacon as the great deciding factor. No other meat can cause salivating like bacon popping on a skillet, and it’s the No. 1 cause of vegetarian relapse into carne-world … probably. Thank God we have Rosie’s Deli. Tucked in the back of Jade Market, the always-chipper staff will chat your ear off while loading your BLT or Turkey Bacon Avocado up with thick slices of crispy pork.
353 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-2106

BEST ITALIAN
Cucina Toscana
City Weekly’s own Ted Scheffler gushed in 2002 of Valter Nassi’s establishment that finally Utah had a “best Italian restaurant worthy of the label.” More than five years later, nearly everyone still seems to agree, from local reviewers to Zagat’s to our own readers. The menu offers delicious Tuscan fare at wallet-friendly prices, and half-orders for waistline-friendly dining. And unlike many classy establishments, it’s also a family-friendly one. There’s a little something for everyone; no wonder everyone loves it.
307 W. Pierpont, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3463, Cucina-Toscana.com
2. Lugano
3. Fratelli Ristorante

BEST PLACE NOT TO BE BOTHERED
Nostalgia
It’s always nice to run into friends and acquaintances when you’re out and about, but isn’t it nicer sometimes to have a bit of quiet time to study, work or simply contemplate the meaning of life over a cup of coffee? Salt Lake City’s Nostalgia offers oversize tables, a roomy interior and one of the most comfortable couches in town. Then again, if you’re reading this, the secret is out and Nostalgia will no longer be so quiet. Sorry, Nostalgia …
248 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-3225, NostalgiaCoffee.com

BEST CLASSIC SODA SELECTION
Little Dave’s Deli
This vintage diner boasts a good menu of deli sandwiches, BBQ selections and burgers, but its real claim to fame is the astounding collection of vintage glass-bottle sodas kept on hand to wash down the tasty entrees. With glass-bottled classics collected from 10 countries, the real fun is sampling a world of soda pop you never knew existed. Like the smooth Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer (a choice companion to the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich) or the timeless Moxie Cherry Cola, a soda recipe dating back to 1884 using only real sugar. For the more adventurous, try Jamaica’s Finest Ginger Beer—although be warned, this is a “sipping” soda; the ginger packs more punch than any ginger ale you’ve ever tried.
41 W. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-1400, LittleDavesDeli.com

BEST INEXPENSIVE
Blue Plate Diner
We all tend to associate “cheap eats” with “fat-infused stuff that comes in a paper sack.” Then there are places like the Blue Plate Diner, where an inexpensive breakfast—like the biscuit-variation huevos rancheros or a terrific omelet—isn’t a budget-buster, and you can even find fantastic vegetarian-friendly options for not so much dinero. And the weekday all-you-can-eat specials make the delicious menu even more of a bargain. It’s low-key at low cost.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, MySpace.com/BluePlateDiner
2. Over the Counter Cafe
3. One World Café

{PAGEBREAK::}BEST KOREAN BBQ
Ejos
With a grill built right into the table, you gotta go with the famous barbecue at Ejos. Try the sam-gyup-sal (bacon and onions) which makes a fantastic lettuce wrap especially when dipped in bean paste, or the tender Galbi (beef ribs) which are stand-alone delicious. Entrees come with an assortment of great little dishes from traditional kimchi to potatoes stewed in soy sauce and sesame seeds, as well as rice and soup.
3250 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-474-0047

BEST OVER-THE-COUNTER INDIAN FOOD
Indian Market & Grill
You might not even know it exists, but for the love of all that is good in the world, you need to. Family owned and operated, the Indian Market & Deli serves affordable regional dishes that are so delicious it should be a crime (example being the Tandoori chicken). Diners are apt to feel less like customers and more like family when they’re in the deli, and like any good family member, they’re sure to return again and again for great home cooked meals. True to its name, there’s also a small market for all your exotic Indian dishes.
89 D St., Salt Lake City, 801-531-1652

BEST REUBEN SANDWICH
Barry’s Parkview Drive-Inn
What better hot sandwich to grab before you go drag Main in Spanish Fork than a classic Reuben sandwich from Barry’s Parkview Drive-Inn? This local fast-food eatery has perfected the simple art of the Reuben, serving up hot fresh pastrami, sauerkraut, swiss cheese on a tasty toasted rye bread. Just the basics, done just right, and for only $5, it also comes with a mountain of crispy french fries served with the staple of any Utah County dining experience: loads of fry sauce.
115 S. Main, Spanish Fork, 801-798-2257

BEST POST-SKI GRUB
Porcupine Pub & Grille
After a long day of the steeps and deeps, when your stomach is empty and your hammies are throbbing, the best feeling on earth is taking off those goddamned ski boots. The second best feeling is stuffing your face full of nachos piled high or creamy chicken noodle soup that makes mom’s taste like gruel. Wash it down with one of Utah’s delicious microbrews and you might think you’ve arrived in a place called Life Elevated. Situated at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Porcupine is an essential ingredient to any successful ski day.
3698 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-942-5555, PorcupinePub.com

BEST THAI COFFEE/FURNITURE
Ruen Thai
This unique store offers 100 percent Thai Arabica coffee, imported straight from the Chiang Mai region of Thailand to Utah and brewed in small batches to ensure freshness. Grab a cup of the delicious Thai light or dark roast or a signature Thai drink special like the hot and sweet Kafae Ron. Then stroll over to the other half of the building and admire beautifully ornate teak-wood furniture, like the carved elephant dining set or the large intricate wooden elephant saddle, of the style once used to carry Thai royalty now converted into a dinner table. Complete with jade, silver and bronze sculptures, Ruen Thai is a unique and relaxing environment to enjoy a cup of gourmet Eastern coffee and marvel at the artistry of the exotic imported furniture.
7129 S. State, Midvale, 801-568-9888, MyRuenThai.com

BEST PIZZA & WINGS
Sicilia Pizza
It’s a pretty bold claim to say someone has the best wings, but if there’s one thing that definitely separates Sicilia Pizza’s wings from the rest of the flock, its that these are real wings, man! Instead of getting a stubby little buffalo wing, this downtown eatery provides the full wing, cooked and glazed in a special tangy Sicillian sauce. Served up hot with your choice of ranch or blue cheese sauce, or both, a serving of eight alone is a feast. One bite and it’ll be easy to see why Sicilia sells barrels of these wings every week. Just don’t forget the napkins.
111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-961-7077

BEST BUSINESS LUNCH
Caffe Molise
We think we have this one figured out. The reason City Weekly readers like Caffe Molise so much for business lunches is that no business gets done at Caffe Molise during lunch. The laid-back atmosphere—especially out on the patio in warm weather—and wholesome, savory Italian fare brings out the European in all of us. And everyone knows that Europeans don’t do business at lunch. So shut down your iBook, turn off your Blackberry, and focus your attention on chef/owner Fred Moesinger’s wonderful antipasti, panini, insalate, piatti and dolci.
55 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-8833, CaffeMolise.com
2. Bambara
3. Market Street

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BEST APPETIZERS
Trio
Trio calls them “starters,” not appetizers. But let’s not nitpick. Beginning any meal at Trio with crispy flatbread from the wood-fired-pizza oven kicks off the meal with a bang. The rosemary flatbread with ch%uFFFDvre and roasted peppers especially rocks. Ooh, and then there’s the Trio tartlet, a mini-tart topped with caramelized onions, olives, ricotta and roasted eggplant. Did we mention steamed Manila clams with shaved garlic, fresh basil, tomatoes and white wine butter sauce? You might not even make it to the entrees.
680 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-533-8746; 6405 S. 3000 East, Salt Lake City, 801-944-8746, TrioDining.com
n 2. The Bayou
n 3. Caffe Molise n

BEST SANDY SWEETS
Citta
The most welcome addition to the anodyne landscape of Sandy in the past year was Citta, an Italian gelateria, or Italian low-fat ice cream parlor. Citta opened in November 2007, the brainchild of Rachel Bartnicki, a mortgage company owner, and Alex Eskamani, her commercial-pilot partner. It’s part café, part sandwich bar, but its heart is the 24 flavors of gelato. Citta imports all its raw materials from Italy. Much of the pleasure of Citta is its informal, family air. Their two kids hang out and give a helping hand while classical music plays in the background. It’s a café that encourages you to sit back, relax and watch the world go by while enjoying a taste of the old world in the new.
2101 E. 9400 South, Sandy, 801-790-4135

BEST MEXICAN BEACH HUT
Las Casitas
Open Wednesday through Sunday, Las Casitas is at the humble end of Salt Lake City’s Mexican cuisine offerings. They don’t even have a phone. The menu is simple, covering the basics, but what sells the place is the strange, cantina-like atmosphere of this State Street hole-in-the-wall. As you enjoy the beans and frijoles and chile verde, the light outside transforms the gray urban thoroughfare into a miasma of beachlike proportions. Close your eyes and you can hear the mariachis strumming their guitars, the rush of the sea and the beckoning promise of a gentle siesta.
919 S. State, Salt Lake City

BEST SANDWICHES
Grove Market
The line at the deli counter starts forming around 11 a.m. at this Main Street market, but don’t worry if it takes a little while to fill your order—if you had one the previous day, you probably won’t need to eat again for more than 24 hours. Meet “The Deluxe,” a monster combo of ham, turkey and all the trimmings on a French roll the size of your head. And that’s just one of the many tasty options. Spice it up with something from the Grove’s killer selection of hot sauces, and you’re set until tomorrow.
1906 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8860
2. Tony Caputo’s
3. The Robin’s Nest

BEST BAVARIAN BAR
Truffle Hollow
Tucked away in a corner of Midway’s Blue Boar Inn—just beyond the Gold Medal-worthy collection of Olympic pins—is a cozy little pub called Truffle Hollow. Although the walnut-paneled pub is stuffed with antiques from France and England—there’s even a 16th-century hand-carved bar from France—the gestalt of Truffle Hollow is Bavaria all the way. It’s a perfect place to sip a beer, a glass of wine or maybe an icy J%uFFFDgermeister.
1235 Warm Springs Road, Midway, 435-654-1400, TheBlueBoarInn.com

BEST FAUX FRENCH
Easy Street Brasserie
Got a yearning for Provence or Paris but can’t handle the exchange rate? The U.S. dollar is still strong at Park City’s Easy Street Brasserie, where it might not be the Riviera, but the food and vibe is 100-percent French brasserie. What French bistro or brasserie would be without authentic French onion soup, baked with provolone and gruyere cheese? And there’s also tapenade, Ni%uFFFDoise salad, frites, steamed mussels in white wine, roasted garlic chicken, and of course, the classic French-style custard: cr%uFFFDme brulée. The only thing missing is an accordéon player. Ooh la la!
201 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-658-9425, TheSkyLodge.com

BEST FRENCH FRIES
The Training Table
Crispy potato goodness is just a phone call away—the phone next to your table, that is. Order up a mountain of extra-long fried spuds to accompany your burger or sandwich. Heck, even a half-order is big enough for most normal humans. And when nothing else will do, throw caution to the wind and make ‘em cheese fries.
Multiple locations, TheTrainingTable.com
2. The Bayou
3. Crown Burger

{PAGEBREAK::}BEST STUDY SPOT
Coffee Connection
As a student himself, the owner of the Coffee Connection realized that the kind of environment that fosters creativity has got to be special. Whether it’s up-and-coming artists honing their skills or students wracking their brains on a term paper, customers agree the soothing earth-tone colored walls adorned with local art work make the Coffee Connection feel more like an art gallery than a coffee shop. With more than a dozen comfy booths with laptop plug-ins in the study lounge, free Wi-Fi Internet and a full coffee bar (offering bubble tea), cramming for a midterm exam is practically a treat.
1588 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4937, MySpace.com/SaltLakeCoffeeConnection

BEST BAR BURGER
The Big Mo, Wee Blu Inn
While many bar menus have been undergoing a TGIF’ification process, one little Utah county dive has been holding strong to the concept of good greasy, bar food. Located just off I-15 about twenty minutes south of Provo, The Wee Blu Inn’s “Big Mo” burger is a culinary delight of hamburger smothered in gooey American or Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and green peppers and dragged through the garden with every other fixin’ imaginable. The Big Mo is the kind of feast of that should be a part of every barfly’s complete and balanced diet, and for $6 this two fisted burger also comes with a mountain of fries, enough to absorb last night’s five boilermaker hangover and then some.
39 N. Main, Payson, 801-465-9071

BEST DELI
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
Maybe it’s the fresh salads—the Caprese, the Greek, the Vanocur, the pesto pasta. Maybe it’s the gigantic sandwiches—the Caputo, the Muffaletta, the Soprano and meatball—that require you to unhinge your jaws to fit your teeth around them. Maybe it’s the classic Italian deli ingredients like wine-cured salami, capacollo, prosciutto, Genoa salami, and mortadella. Maybe it’s the daily hot-plate specials like lasagna, chicken or eggplant Parmesan, pasta with Italian sausage or meatballs. Maybe it’s the welcoming downtown location in a historic Italian/Greek neighborhood across the street from Pioneer Park. But, suffice it to say, Tony Caputo’s got game.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
2. Granato’s
3. Gandolfo’s

BEST FOOD FIGHTER
John Winders, Spotted Dog Creamery
After four years of fighting for shelf space in local grocery stores for his gourmet ice cream, you would have thought John Winders would have given up in frustration. Not so! The voluble former chef has up-gunned his State Street ice-cream plant with enough stainless steel to make a bosen’s mate smile. In the wake of Snelgrove Ice Cream’s demise, Winders is equipped and eager to rejoin the battle in a summer offensive. Take heed, Ben & Jerry: Winders has fire in his belly. His “buy local” guerrilla followers continue to press Albertsons and the rest to make room in their freezers for Salt Lake’s very own Spotted Dog.
2980 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-485-7768, SpottedDogCreamery.com

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BEST DESSERTS
Gourmandies the Bakery
If you have to wait in line, beware. You’ll have too much time to struggle over which of dozens of fresh pastries to order. Customers love the traditional rice pudding and cr%uFFFDme brule, along with dense chocolate cakes (Black Forest is a dream, as is traditional German chocolate) and fresh fruit tarts. The Gourmandies’ coffee is good; the little patio is extra nice on summer mornings and evenings. Cakes are made to order, and the staff will even try to accommodate special requests, including traditional Mexican tres leche cake.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330
n 2. Red Butte Cafe
n 3. Caffe Molise n

BEST 8-TO-10 A.M. COFFEE
Alchemy Coffee
Once you take the first sip of Alchemy’s Kona coffee, your internal body clock will start jolting you out of bed each and every morning. Alarm clocks be damned. Every morning from 8 to 10 a.m., the house coffee at Alchemy is Kona. These beans have been handpicked and perfectly roasted by the Salt Lake Roasting Company. While a regular pound of whole bean coffee will cost $10-15, the Kona blend is $28.95. It’s almost like Alchemy is giving away gold, black gold (with cream and sugar), if only for two hours each morning.
390 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City 801-322- 0735, AlchemyCoffee.com

BEST JAPANESE
Takashi
This downtown sushi hotspot seems to be transplanted from another realm, perhaps from a hip West Coast city where it otherwise would be teeming with film stars or Silicon Valley geeks. Just about any night of the week, the vibrantly colored walls reverberate with the glee of sushi fiends gorging on their favorite rolls. The artistic giant mesh fish above the sushi bar puts diners on notice that chef/owner Takashi Gibo’s specialty seafood is what the restaurant is all about, and the chalkboard specials bear this out. Although sushi rolls might be center stage, Takashi proves he knows his way around the kitchen, too. His grilled chicken and fish delight, his tempura is succulent and the flank steak melts in your mouth.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
2. Kyoto
3. Koko Kitchen

BEST APPLE A DAY
The Forbidden Fruit
There has to be a way to make the embodiment of healthy eating decadently delicious, right? The Emery County community of Cleveland is home to just such an innovation, with a business providing apples covered in sweets and designed for a variety of occasions. Dress it up in baby-blue and bows for a birth, or smother it in M&Ms … well, just because. Eating from the bottom of the food pyramid never tasted quite so good.
265 E. Main, Cleveland, 435-653-2679

BEST TRAIN-ING TABLES
Dairy Keen
A summertime trek into the mountains might leave a family with a yen for ice cream. This Heber City fixture provides dozens of milkshake flavors but does so in a lively environment that pays tribute to the history of the Heber Creeper. A model train zips around the perimeter of the restaurant overhead; a coin-operated Hogwart’s Express sits under glass in one room. And when the weather is nice, you can even sit in one of the train cars outside.
199 S. Main, Heber City, 435-654-5336

BEST BBQ
SugarHouse Barbeque Co.
Regardless of the 2009 smoking ban in bars, SugarHouse Barbeque plans to keep on smokin’, nice and slow, just as it has since 1996. Hold on, vice squad, the smokin’ we’re talking about is for its Memphis-style dry-rubbed pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken and turkey. And yes, you can order your Q to go, but why not take in one of the rare restaurant charms on 700 East at Interstate 80? Enjoy casual indoor and patio seating, super-friendly wait staff and an inviting selection of crafted beers. Tap your toes, on the occasional Thursday night, to the live bluegrass and old-time swing of the Red Desert Ramblers. Good times—and Utah’s best barbecue—await.
2207 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-4800, SugarhouseBBQ.com
2. Pat’s Barbecue
3. Q4U

BEST WING CHALLENGE
The Wing Coop’s “11-11-11”
Finally, a restaurant in Utah offers an eating challenge that not only tests the stomach capacity but the bravery of participants. The Wing Coop’s “11-11-11” pits innocent diners against 11 wings smothered in “11” sauce that is one of if not the hottest in the valley. If you can muscle through in less than 11 minutes with no other food or drink, you get a free T-shirt and can add your photo to only 18 others on Wing Coop’s “Wall of Shame.”
3971 S. Wasatch Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-9464; 4095 S. Redwood Road, 801-974-9464; WingCoop.com

BEST CORNISH PASTIES
Beehive Tea Room
The cozy Beehive Tea Room celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Along with its rarefied mix of retro bohemian joined with the classic American tea room, it has also taken to offering that staple of British cuisine, the Cornish pasty. Beehive owner Lisa Brady first encountered the turnover-shaped savory pie in the pages of Harry Potter. Intrigued she tracked down a U.S.-based supplier. At $11, they’re not cheap, but both the spicy vegetable curry pasty and particularly the shepherd’s pie-version—which includes meat, potatoes and onion—are absolutely delicious. Add a pint of Guinness which recently debuted on the Beehive menu, and you can’t go wrong.
12 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4700, BeehiveTeaRoom.com

{PAGEBREAK::}BEST BURRITOS
Cafe Rio
Café Rio is Utah’s own little fresh Tex-Mex eatery whose burritos rock our readers’ world. And for good reason. Every day, Cafe Rio goes to the trouble of making its tortillas from scratch. Every item they load into your burrito is prepared fresh daily in an open kitchen. And then there’s the burrito itself—big, fat, filled with green chile rice, black or pinto beans, cheese and your choice of meat and sauces—prepared in an assembly-line of choices that you get to make. And for the coup de gr%uFFFDce? They can make it enchilada-style. Yum.
Multiple locations, CafeRio.com
2. Barbacoa
3. Red Iguana

BEST LITTLE SUSHI THAT COULD
I Love Sushi
Until recently, downtown sushi lovers had few restaurants to choose from. A year ago, an upstart in the shape of I Love Sushi opened its doors on State Street. A popular choice judging by recent lunchtime traffic, the half-off rolls from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. are certainly a factor in its rising prominence. But it’s the bustling friendliness that sells the place, from the way the chef calls out in garbled English, “How are you?” to each patron who comes in, through the comfortable booths and quirky background music. Even with formidable competition, I Love Sushi is becoming a solid alternative in the downtown sushi stakes.
368 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0203, ILoveSushiUtah.com

BEST BRITISH SCONES
Elizabeth’s Bakery & Tea Shop
These are the queen’s scones, thank you very much—not Utah fry bread. They’re similar to biscuits, only richer, more cakelike and somewhat sweeter, especially if you get the ones with currants in them. And do they ever hit the spot, spread with butter and jam, or Devonshire cream, and dunked into Cadbury hot chocolate or chased by a sip of English tea. As do Elizabeth’s many other British-style fresh-baked goods such as crumpets, hot cross buns, flapjacks and more. Jolly good!
575 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1170

BEST CURRY
Curry in a Hurry
Owned and operated by the Nisar family since 1998, CIAH specializes in four curries: lamb, chicken, tandoori chicken and veggie. You can order a meal quick, get it served up on a Styrofoam plate, and sit down and eat it while Indian pop-music videos play on a plasma-screen TV. Best of all, you don’t pay a lot. CIAH is one of Utah’s few restaurants serving Halal food (food that is permissible to eat according to Islamic law), so don’t be surprised to see Indians, Pakistanis and diners of many other nationalities sitting beside you enjoying comfort food that reminds them of home.
2020 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4137; 273 W. 500 South, Bountiful, 801-298-7557
2. Himalayan Kitchen
3. Sawadee

BEST S.O.S.
Sill’s Cafe
This is old school. And we mean old school. Like, there are customers sitting at the counter here who actually know what S.O.S. means. At Sill’s, you can order your chipped beef on toast with that spackle-like white gravy either solo or on the side. But the best way—especially if you’re in Leaving Las Vegas-suicide mode—is to order the Boss’ breakfast: It’s an egg your way with bacon, cheese, hash browns, S.O.S. and a scone the size of Rachael Ray’s noggin. Got Lipitor?
281 S. Main, Layton, 801-544-7438

BEST MIRACLE MUFFINS
Fairweather Natural Foods
Walk into Fairweather Natural Foods in Park City and you’ll see all the stuff you’d normally expect at a health food store: rows and rows of herbal remedies, Echinacea, fresh organic produce, dairy-free cheeses and yogurts, earth-friendly cleaning products, vitamin supplements, and a food counter offering wholesome soups, salads, and sandwiches. But what you don’t want to miss is Fairweather’s Miracle Muffin, made with apple, carrot, nuts, agave nectar, coconut and bran. It’s a muffin so marvelous, it nearly caused a ruckus the day a customer tried to buy out the entire inventory!
1270 Ironhorse Drive, Park City, 435-649-4561

BEST PIZZA
The Pie Pizzeria
One look at the walls at the Pie’s underground location, and you know you’re on hallowed ground. The Pie’s longtime loyal following knows the colorful eatery has taken a traditional party food and beefed it up (sometimes literally), creating thick, cheese-rich pizzas so liberally topped and filling, they’re likely to induce euphoria. If a whole pie is too much, you can buy a single slice for $2.25. The Pie stays open late, too, making it the perfect landing after that crazy night of drinking and/or studying.
Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Settebello
3. Big Apple Pizzeria

BEST WINE DINNERS
Monsoon Thai Bistro
One gazillion bottles of great wine in the cellar and an owner—Keith Chan—who is as passionate about vino as some of us are about pad Thai. What more do you need to know? Everyone knows about the terrific food, ambiance and stellar service at Monsoon. A better-kept secret is the monthly Sunday night wine dinners, which typically kick off with a one of those heavenly lobster-mango spring rolls and maybe a glass of bubbly or Riesling. Best of all, the low prices of the wine dinners keep snobs away.
1615 Foothill Dr., Salt Lake City, 801-583-5339, MonsoonThai.com

BEST FASHION PLATE
Jean Louis Montecot
You gotta love a guy who can cook his ass off and also wear duds that Lenny Kravitz would kill for. And hey, he’s not even from Paris! Normandy-born Jean Louis Montecot—of his namesake Park City restaurant—is one of those disgustingly skinny chefs (you listening, Tony Bourdain?) who can actually wear all those cool clothes meant to fit the 18-year-olds doing dishes in the kitchen. Does this guy ever eat his own food? Certainly not the duck rillette. But who doesn’t like a fella dressed in Chloe Lane who can cook cassoulet?
136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-200-0260, JeanLouisRestaurant.com

BEST GREEK
Aristo’s
Much of this elegant restaurant’s charm lies in its crisp décor and subtle lighting. Commercial properties in the University district all have their quirks, but Aristo’s makes the most of its space by offering its customers three different dining experiences: al fresco dining on the front patio during summer months, an open and airy room near the picture windows in the front, and an intimate and friendly atmosphere toward the rear. Its wine list is completely respectable, and the food? Nostimo.
224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristosGreekRestaurant.com
2. Greek Souvlaki
3. The Other Place

BEST WENDOVER BURGERS
Mildred’s
This gourmet oasis in Wendover’s otherwise mostly casino-buffet-littered landscape is a little off the main drag. Don’t let that put you off owner Alan Rowley’s world of up-market burgers and high-calorie desserts. The most popular item on the menu is the Mildred Special, a third-of-a-pounder with Canadian bacon and Cache Valley cheese. For the ambitious and large of stomach, the Gihugs is an intriguing option. If you can eat the 80-ounce burger in an hour, you get it for free—if not, you pay $20. Either way, you get a T-shirt commemorating the gut-straining effort.
85 E. Skyhawk Drive, Wendover, 435-665-0721

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BEST FRUIT CARVING
Thai Lotus
Carving isn’t just for pumpkins—not if you’re looking for a unique decorative centerpiece. Drop by this family-owned downtown restaurant for a delicious lunch or dinner but hang around to take a look at the catalog of amazing carved fruit creations. Your upcoming event could provide something as beautiful as it is delicious.
212 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4401, ThaiLotusCafe.com n

{PAGEBREAK::}BEST HOLLADAY THAI
Thai Orchid
Thai restaurants have been popping up all over the valley recently, which can only bode well for lovers of spicy food. Still, trying out an unfamiliar place can be hit-or-miss—which is why we were so pleasantly surprised by Thai Orchid. Tucked demurely away in a strip mall near Snyder Bros. Meats, Thai Orchid offers unexpected bang for your Thai-food buck. The tofu curry is delightful, with a complexity of flavors—and just the right amount of heat—that reminded us why we fell in love with Thai food in the first place.
6219 Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-274-3000

BEST NEW MILLENNIUM CHILI
Stein Eriksen Lodge
True, we grew up on Nalley and Hormel canned chili or homemade chili with hamburger, overcooked kidney beans and spaghetti sauce. So why bother with chili? Well, executive chef Zane Holmquist of Deer Valley’s Stein Eriksen Lodge has created a chili for the new millennium. To make it at home, you’ll substitute buffalo and venison for the traditional beef. Oh, and throw in a couple pounds of wild boar while you’re at it. Got any peppercorn, pasilla and New Mexico chiles on hand? Then grind ‘em into a powder. Speaking of fresh ground, you’ll also need two cups of freshly brewed coffee, not to mention some dark beer or beef stock. Better yet, just cruise up to Stein’s anytime for Holmquist’s wunderbar Wild Game Chili.
7700 Stein Way, Park City, 435-645-6455, SteinLodge.com

BEST SCHNITZEL
Vienna Bistro
Hailing originally from Austria, Vienna Bistro owner/chef Frody Volgger knows Wiener schnitzel. Even on a menu stuffed with German, Swiss, and Austrian specialties like beef roladen, reh geschnetzeltes, gef%uFFFDllter schweinsbraten, zwiebelrostbraten, j%uFFFDgerschnitzel and sauerbraten, the Wiener schnitzel at Frody’s is special. It starts with all natural, range-fed veal cutlets which are breaded and pan-seared to a crispy golden crust. Nobody does Wiener schnitzel better.
132 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0334, ViennaBistro.com

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN
Mazza
Salt Lake City’s best Middle Eastern is one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City, period. Mazza is a place locals take out-of-town visitors to show off. So, it was a little frightening when owner Ali Sabbah opened a second restaurant at 9th & 9th. Would the original hole in the 15th and 15th neighborhood wall survive? Would popularity damage a good thing? Thankfully, both locations thrive. Mazza also has succeeded at what predecessors found impossible: making a go of a restaurant at 9th and 9th and bringing some life to the area. Diners will find dishes unlike anything else in Utah, including grilled chicken schwarma; homemade makenek lamb sausage; and maghmoor, a dish of baked eggplant, onions, garbanzo beans baked in a tomato garlic sauce.
1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572; MazzaCafe.com
2. Cedars of Lebanon
3. Cafe Med

BEST STUFF THAT SWAM
Fin
At Fin—as in, “shark fin”—chef Scott Boberek patrols the dining room periodically just to make sure no fish has jumped from someone’s plate. It’s that fresh. It’s hard to believe you’re eating in a ski town when you see the menu filled with grilled baby octopus, Coast crab bisque, salmon gravlax, grilled grouper, seared Diver scallops, pan-fried trout, and even that classic French stew called bouillabaisse. Oh boy, this is a fish and seafood lover’s dream. Stop by the ice bar at Fin and fall in love all over with Champagne and oysters on the half shell.
201 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-658-9420, TheSkyLodge.com

BEST LOVIN’
Mama’s Southern Plantation
Feeling a little lonely? Like you could use a little lovin’? We suggest foregoing the Eliot Spitzer route and turning instead to the nice people at Mama’s Southern Plantation. The food is certain to be better than anything you’d find at the Mayflower Hotel and the prices, well, no contest. Scrumptious Southern fried chicken and catfish (along with cornbread and sweet potato pie) at Mama’s is the smart choice for a pre- or post-Bees game coming up just around the corner at Franklin Covey Field. As John Lennon said, all you need is love.
1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-6715

BEST FRENCH
The Paris Bistro
If you’re looking for standardized American fare featuring industrialized produce out of season, don’t come here. The Paris Bistro has figured out where food comes from, so you won’t find any pale, artificial tomatoes or beef shipped from another hemisphere. What you will find is good, soul-satisfying food cooked with fresh—even wild—ingredients grown as locally as possible. And, don’t be fooled by the Readers’ choice category: The Paris offers not only French, but Mediterranean and Italian fare as well—and its wine list is positively dangerous.
1500 E. Emerson Ave. (1500 South), 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
2. La Caille
3. Franck’s

BEST SHRIMPS ON THE BARBIE
Matilda’s Fair Dinkum Aussie Outpost
OK, Matilda’s offers much more in the way of Aussie eats than just skewers of shrimp from the barbecue with lemon butter. For example, every day, Melbourne-born chef Peter Osuchowski prepares down-under specialties like chook on a stick, jackaroo lamb, Australian seafood chowder, bangers and mash, and hard-to-find authentic desserts such as the fabulous Pavlova and Lamington. Still, who can resist ordering shrimps on the barbie when you’re surrounded by didgeridoos?
9400 S. State (Jordan Commons), Sandy, 801-304-4095, MatildasOutpost.com

BEST BHAGARA BAINGAN
Tandoor
Alright, we admit it’s quite possible that Tandoor might serve the only bhagara baingan in the state. Still, it’s award worthy. This electric-orange-colored dish looks like it popped right out of someone’s acid trip. But in fact, it’s a very unique—not to mention delicious—Hyderabadi dish. Baby eggplants are stuffed with peanut and sesame-seed paste and cooked with tamarind, garlic and onion, served in a radical red curry with hints of cumin, coconut, coriander, turmeric, ginger and red pepper. Wear your sunglasses.
733 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-4542, TandoorIndianGrill.info

BEST ROMANTIC
Log Haven
If an enormous yet elegantly rustic canyon lodge set among dramatic cliffs and surging waterfalls is your idea of romance—and, if it isn’t, then why not?—you will book reservations at Log Haven for your very next anniversary. Your beloved will swoon, and you’ll be treated to exotic fare as bison tenderloin, pan-roasted rabbit, and wild striped bass. The jumbo lump crabcake with daikon sprout is one of those “you had to be there” experiences—and, since love is in the air, you may as well treat yourself to one of Log Haven’s carefully selected wine pairings. It might even save your marriage.
6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
2. Caffe Molise
3. La Caille

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BEST PARK CITY RESTAURANT
Wahso
Park City is becoming a destination spot not just for skiing, but for restaurants. It seems most are owned by Bill White, creator of Park City’s Grappa, Chimayo, Windy Ridge Café and Ghidotti’s. White’s Asian grill, Wahso, may be the pride of the bunch. Fodor’s in 2005 highlighted the restaurant as one of the travel guide’s 10 picks for the year worldwide. (One of just four in the United States.) The restaurant’s elegant interior is filled with artifacts from throughout Asia that are as diverse as Wahso’s menu. Diners are likely to find anything from traditional Szechuan duck to unique creations such as wok-seared rack of lamb. Don’t go without having a Wahso sake “martini” made from sake, liqueurs and fruit juice, shaken at tableside.
577 Main, Park City, 435-615-0300, Wahso.com
n 2. Grappa
n 3. Chimayo n

BEST ORGANIC
Wasatch Community Gardens Tomato Sandwich Party
Every September, the Wasatch Community Gardens salute the growing season and all their community volunteers with an organic tomato sandwich smorgasbord! If you’ve never heard about the community gardens and their programs and workshops on selling your own produce, composting and conservation, then the sandwich party is the perfect opportunity to check them out—and of course to enjoy delicious organic heirloom tomatoes with homegrown basil and pesto sandwiches.
801-746-0464, WasatchGardens.org

BEST DEEP FRIED
B&D Burgers’ Zucchini Fries
If you think that just about everything is better when fried, then you will love the zucchini fries at this U of U and Midvale burger joint. Served in a boat like normal fries, these crisp, salty zucchini wedges melt in your mouth with greasy deliciousness that make it easy to get your daily vegetable fix. They accompany well any of the other fantastic burgers, gyros, kabobs or other sumptuous meals this fine home-style burger institution has been dishing up to happy locals for more than 25 years. And if you’re worried that zucchini fries might give you a bit of heartburn, B&D also has a dazzling array of cold, delicious shake options to help cool off the fries and burgers.
7793 S. State, Midvale, 801-255-5900; 222 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-582-7200

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