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BEST CHILE VERDE
Named for the native Tarahumara people of Chihuahua, Mexico, this terrific little Midway eatery dishes up some of the best Mexican fare you'll find in the state. There's a salsa bar with more than 20 different homemade salsas to complement dishes like pollo asado, barbacoa, mole poblano, and seared scallops in passion fruit & tomatillo sauce, But the real bell-ringer at Tarahumara is the slow-braised pork chile verdepork so tender you can eat it with a spoon. Redolent of Anaheim chiles, this is truly championship chile verde.
380 E. Main, Midway, 435-654-3465, Tarahumara.biz
Shabu BEST FUSION
At Park City's high-energy Shabu restaurant, owners/brothers Kevin and Robert Valaika characterize what they do as "Freestyle Asian Cuisine." It's a creative fusion of traditional Asian ingredients and flavors such as Mongolian shabu shabu with contemporary culinary techniques in a new wave ambiance. So at Shabu, it's not frowned upon to order fresh escolar nigiri, dip it in truffle-ponzu sauce, and wash it down with a Shabu signature Japanese Julip cocktail. Or, for the ultimate seafood fusion fare, try the Freestyle Sea Bass, which is steamed and infused with ginger and chives, then brushed with black bean and garlic paste, creating its own natural broth.
333 Main, Park City, 435-645-SAKE, ShabuPC.com
Aristo's BEST GREEK
Since opening in 2003, Aristo's has elevated the Greek dining experience in Salt Lake City. For too long, souvlaki and dolmathes have been presented as fast food, comfort food and coffee shop fare. Where was a Greek restaurant that offered an upscale setting for going out to dinner, i.e., table service; beer, wine and liquor; weekly live music and fabulous, authentic Greek specialties such as keftethes, octopus and marides? Now, we have the answer in Aristo's; life is no longer a Greek tragedy.
224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristosGreekRestaurant.com
2. The Other Place
3. Greek Souvlaki
BEST COFFEE STALWART
Salt Lake Roasting Company
In a town where you'd think coffee shops have no future, it turns out they have quite a past. At least 20 years of a past at the Salt Lake Roasting Company, the venture that basically kicked off the city's modern-day coffee house movement. Its exceptional roasts make SLRC the brand to give as gifts and to buy for personal consumption. But best of all is simply joining friends for a fresh cup of coffee and a tasty bakery treat at either of its two locations. It was the hip place to gather back in the day, and remains so today, even with a burlap bagful of new competitors.
320 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7572; Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0450; Roasting.com
BEST FORKED TONGUE
Inadequately cooked cow's tongue is an unattractive, decidedly chewy morsel. But boiled for several hours, then sliced wafer-thin and served with a garlic and parsley vinaigrette, it's a culinary jewel. Clearfield's Argentine Corner is one of the few proponents of this particular art. Served with crusty white bread while you wait for the chef to fire up his barbecue, it's the perfect starter, melting like butter on your taste buds.
442 N. Main, Clearfield, 801-773-9909, ArgentineCorner.com
Bombay House BEST INDIAN
As the pioneer of Indian food in Utah, 16-year-old Bombay House has a special place in Salt Lake City's heart. It's tandoori oven-prepared lamb and chicken dishes, along with their naan breads, have long been a key staple of their menu. But the Bombay is nothing if not adventurous when it comes to broadening the palate of curry-loving Utahns. One recent addition to the menu, the delightfully named Bollywood Chicken, includes an intriguing concoction of pineapples, ginger and coconut milk. Along with its classic fare such as lamb saag and Rag's chicken, batter-fried and sauteed with mangos and onions, Bollywood chicken reflects the kind of ambition that helps keep Bombay top of mind when pining for a curry.
2731 E. Parley's Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222; 463 N. University Ave., 801-373-6677, Provo; BombayHouse.com
2. Himalayan Kitchen
BEST DOWNTOWN EGG-SALAD SANDWICH
The Robin's Nest
This popular downtown eatery is packed every day around noonbut even the frenetic lunchtime crowd can't obscure The Robin's Nest's warm, inclusive atmosphere. Sandwiches are prepared to order, and each one comes with a portion of the Nest's specialty orzo salad (it's got basil, pine nuts, olive oiland something else ... a secret ingredient management refuses to divulge). But if you're ever walking by and see a placard announcing egg salad day, don't. Don't walk by, that iswalk right in and order. You'll be glad you did. The fact that you can't get that egg salad just any day of the week only adds to its elusive allure.
311 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378
BEST HUNGER FOR SURVIVAL
One World Everybody Eats
This downtown cafe's business model might have made yesterday's greedy MBA execs laughfeed customers a good, wholesome meal, and ask them to pay what they think the meal is worth. Since then, the world's economy has tanked, and restaurants everywhere at bracing for a rough year. Even One World had to face growing pains and take stock after much of its staff left. Yet, One World, with its idealistic vision, compassion and down-to-Earth practicality, is still here. And it may represent just what the world needs to get back on track.
41 S. 300 East, OneWorldEverybodyEats.com
Copper Creek Pub & Grub BEST WESTERN VALLEY RESTAURANT
It's a simple place with a simple plan: Good, inexpensive American chow served up with a big-ass stein of beer (also pretty cheap). Copper Creek recently opened a Park City location, but it was West Valley where City Weekly first fell in love with the "Full Monte" Cristo sandwich, turkey, ham and Swiss battered and deep-fried, powdered lightly with sugar and served with a side of raspberry jamthat item alone brought us back to WVC more than once; there are dozens of others just as delectable.
3451 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-417-0051; 825 Main, Park City, 435-615-9900, CopperCreekPubAndGrub.com
3. India Fusion
BEST SLICE O' PIE
Left Fork Grill
At Left Fork Grill, owner/chef Jeff Masten's homemade pies are often sold out by noon or shortly thereafter. So we advise getting there early, like Masten does. Jeff Masten begins making his pies and home-style soups from scratch early in the morning, before the 7 a.m. breakfast service begins. Each and every last pie that Masten bakes is a reason to go on living, but the strawberry, banana-cream, and blackberry pies are truly to die for.
68 W. 3900 South, Murray, 801-266-4322
BEST TRULY FRENCH FRIES
Most foodies are already hip to Les Madeleines' out-of-this-world pastries, namely the recent Food Network-approved Kouing-aman, a rich, buttery pastry whose devoted fans snatch up without pausing to peruse the cafe's lunch menu. Might we suggest leaving some room in your stomach for an order of absolutely superb pommes frites? Golden and dusted just so with a combination of addictive but hardly overpowering spices, the fries are crispy on the outside, dense on the inside revealing authentic potato with every bite. Imagine that. Fries that taste like potatoes and not a vat of grease. And, in keeping with Les Madeleine's attention to detail, each order comes with a side of dipping sauce: half-ketchup, half-mayonaisse giving diners the option of eating fries as the French intended, or as Utahns prefer.
216 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2294, Les-Madeleines.com
BEST MURRAY SUSHI
You don't need to head downtown or up the canyon for fresh, innovative Japanese fare. Many Murray residents can practically walk to Yamasaki for sushi and cooked dishes on par with more high-profile Utah restaurants of its kind. Service is friendly and efficient, with menu items like the Nemo roll and sushi arriving at the table in perfect waves.
6055 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-293-7115
Takashi BEST JAPANESE
Just mention the name Takashi to Utah foodies and the reaction is usually somewhere between fawning and drooling. This downtown restaurant offers a tantalizing blend of old and new, with updates on traditional Japanese fare that often leads to fierce cravings satisfied only with an order of clams in red curry-coconut broth or a comforting bowl of agedashi tofu. Even sushi slaves who like it raw make room for a little of the hot stuff. In Takashi's hands, any temperature is the right one.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
3. Naked Fish
Takashi BEST SUSHI
The only downside to eating sushi at Takashi is realizing that while in theory it makes sense to order every item on the menu, neither your stomach nor your wallet would appreciate the all-in approach. A more ideal method of sampling each of the restaurant's insanely fresh, delicious and inventive rolls, nigiri and sashimi is to simply return again and again for bites of buttery soft aji, basil-filled Easy Rider and jalapeno-flecked Ramon's Roll. Your waistline will thank you.
18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 84101, 801-519-9595
3. Happy Sumo
BEST BLUE-COLLAR GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
Lamb's Grill Caf
Yeah, yeah, go ahead and spend $12 on some uptown fad version of a grilled cheese sandwichsomething with six kinds of cheese (brie, goat and god knows what else) on rosemary-infused French bread. But the real thing, the pinnacle of comfort in a sandwich, resides at Main Street's mainstay dining spot, Lamb's Grill Cafe. You can order cheddar or Swiss on whole wheat, white or rye bread. The sandwich comes expertly fried, buttery and crisp. (And hooraycut diagonally!) The cheese (choose cheddar) oozes from the crusts and melts in your mouth. It comes with potato chips, but if you're serious about your love affair with fat, order Lamb's fries instead. Ask for them crispy and eat them while they're good and hot.
169 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7166, LambsGrill.com
BEST CANYON CAFE
Springville Golf Club Caf
As greasy spoons go, this caf serves a mean cheeseburger. What sets it apart is its locationand the view that affords. Smack at the mouth of Grindstone Canyon, it also stands just before the entrance to the wonders of Hobble Creek itself. Beyond the delights of the Springville Golf Club, which it faithfully serves throughout the year, lies the glory of the rising canyon. Locals proclaim autumn is the best time of the year to truly revel in the views from the caf of the pine and brush blessed mountains. But whether it's the darting swallows that live in nests above the patio or the bear that last year killed a buck on the golf course, nature, it seems, is right before your eyes.
East Hobble Creek Canyon Road, Springville, 435-489-6717
BEST ROAD TRIP DINER
This 1939 diner was actually relocated from Rhode Island to Utah in 2007. It was a primo diner in its day and is still a stunning tribute to the art deco design of its time. Known for omelets, homemade cinnamon rolls, pancakes, ham and hash brownseven the coffee is exceptional. If this little diner could make the trek all the way from New England to Utah, then a 40 minute drive from Salt Lake City to Oakley is a cinch. And the trip back in time is pretty swell, too, Peggy Sue.
981 W. Weber Canyon Road, Oakley, 435-783-3467, RoadIslandDiner.com