Best of Utah 2010: Food & Drink 

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Best Brunch
Pago

Eggs Benedict and applewood-smoked bacon have almost become passé on the local brunch scene: Everyone seems to have ‘em, including Pago. What separates Pago from much of the brunch bunch and, in part, what makes Pago such a popular brunch destination, are its more eclectic menu choices. For example, brunch dishes at Pago include croque monsieur and croque madame sandwiches; chicken hash made with pulled chicken, roasted corn, goat cheese, mascarpone, cherry tomatoes and Spanish onions; a vegan breakfast with scrambled tofu; Utah trout with Clifford Farm’s eggs; and a Morgan Valley lamb burger. Add to that a terrific selection of wines by the glass and you’ve got a recipe for a bodacious brunch. 878 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com

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Best BBQ
Pat’s Barbecue

The only combo that even comes close to blues and BBQ is sex and chocolate. And, after eating Pat’s Barbecue super top-secret dry-rub ribs, any carnal desire will be satiated, and that’s why it reigns supreme. What would sex be like with bibs and wetnaps? Who cares? But, you will need them for the mounds of sumptuous pulled meats, delicious greens and sweet beans. Once you’ve had your fair share, sit back and enjoy local bluesmen or the world-class acts that Pat’s is known to bring to town. 155 W. Commonwealth Ave. (2125 South), South Salt Lake, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
2. SugarHouse Barbeque
3. Q4U
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Best Man vs. Food Challenge
The Wing Coop

A cautionary tale: Beware the 11 Challenge at the Wing Coop. It elevates spiciness to pepper-spray levels of pain. If that sounds tolerable, then you might survive the Wing Coop’s challenge to eat 11 of its demon wings from hell in 11 minutes—without water or refreshing dipping sauces. Sure, there’s instant fame and adoration of the opposite sex to be won, but prepare for the challenge by investing in latex gloves, goggles and antacid beforehand. If you’re too embarrassed to wear goggles, then bring eating assistants to wipe your eyes with paper cloths. You think this is a joke, pal? 3971 Wasatch Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-9464; 4095 S. Redwood Road, West Valley, 801-974-2464, WingCoop.com
2. Lucky 13
3. Pat’s Barbecue

Best Margherita Pizza
Settebello Pizza

This is the real deal. If you’re looking for the true flavor of Naples, look no farther than Settebello for your margherita pizza. Certified authentic by none other than Vera Pizza Napoletana, the margherita pizzas are made from scratch starting with Caputo 00 flour, just like in Italy, then topped with a light “sauce” of imported San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, extra-virgin olive oil and, finally, fresh basil, all cooked in 90 seconds in a wood-fired pizza oven capable of reaching 1,000 degrees. Mangia! 260 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3556, Settebello.net

Best Brie
Kimi’s Mountainside Bistro

At Kimi and Staffan Eklund’s restaurant at Solitude Resort, Kimi's Mountainside Bistro, the views are spectacular and the food and service reach equally lofty levels. The Swedish-influenced menu includes hearty items like Jarlsberg and white cheddar cheese fondue and a delicious Swedish baked omelet with mushroom creme. But for a dish to really knock your ski socks off, try the heavenly hazelnut-crusted Brie, with lingonberry compote, apple “slaw,” crackers and bread crisps. This is seriously bodacious Brie. Solitude Resort, 801-536-5787, KimisMountainsideBistro.com

Best Salsa
Sonora Grill

At Ogden’s Sonora Grill, meals begin with great chips and salsa. The “chips” aren’t typical: These are whole, intact, deep-fried corn tortillas that need to be smashed into chips. But it’s the salsas that star. There’s a lively, bright-green tomatillo salsa that is delicious, and also a rich red salsa made with roasted morita peppers that has the perfect amount of zippiness, smokiness and depth of flavor to make it a truly world-class salsa. 2310 S. Kiesel Ave., Ogden, 801-393-1999, TheSonoraGrill.com

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Best Desserts
The Dodo

Tequila cake, tollhouse pie, chocolate almond mousse pie and a rotating cast of buttermilk cakes are just some of the delectable desserts that pastry chef Ramon Montelongo served this past year. Montelongo’s creations are a big component of the restaurant’s success; head chef John Miller says they are among the restaurant’s highest revenue generators. There are a few perennial choices on The Dodo’s menu, but Montelongo rotates the dessert menu so there’s always something new. 1355 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-2473, TheDodo.net
2. Gourmandise
3. Market Street Grill

Best Cheesesteak
DP Cheesesteaks

Drop into DP Cheesesteaks and you’ll swear you’re in South Philly. The sandwiches are the real deal, right down to the authentic, gloppy Cheez Whiz. If you’ve ever visited Jim’s, Geno’s, Pat’s or Tony Luke’s in Philadelphia, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how spot-on DP (Downtown Philly) Cheesesteaks are. They’ve gotta be the best steaks this side of the Mississippi. And, you can round out your Philly cravings with TastyKakes, Birch Beer and Kerr’s potato chips. 1665 Towne Center Drive, South Jordan, 801-878-8450; 933 W. 500 North, American Fork, 801-763-0976, DPCheesesteaks.com

Best Soup Experiments
Carlucci’s

Carlucci’s is largely known for its delicious pastries, but the cute west-side café also boasts a mean lunch with standard favorites including gourmet sandwiches and an addictive pasta salad. Owner/chef Terese Roper recently started experimenting with new soups to complement the house tomato basil. Many of her most successful creations are vegan-friendly, chock-full of hearty vegetables and good enough that customers might start requesting the carrot-ginger, spicy tomato black bean and savory mushroom become permanent fixtures on the menu. 314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-366-4484, CarluccisBakery.com

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Best Italian
Fratelli Ristorante

Fratelli means “brothers” in Italian and, at Fratelli Ristorante in Sandy, brothers Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell (long story about the different name spellings) have created an Italian-flavored sanctuary where everyone is treated like part of the family. Classic Italian dishes such as veal Marsala, eggplant parmigiana, linguini with clams and chicken piccata adorn the Fratelli menu alongside more contemporary offerings like a citrus arugula salad and gnocchi di Gorgonzola. The wood oven-fired pizzas are popular, especially with the kids, and nobody should leave without enjoying the house-made pistachio gelato. 9236 Village Shop Drive, Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
2. Cucina Toscana
3. Lugano

Best Flan-trepreneur
Horacio Vallejo, Sophiflan

If any self-respecting Mexican baker can proudly flaunt his flan, it’s Horacio Vallejo. Through his company, Sophiflan, Vallejo has mastered a tasty recipe for the traditional Mexican flan, so delicioso it’s offered in such fine eateries as the Blue Iguana and Gualberto’s or can be picked up at Herradura de Oro or Marissa’s Rancho Market on State. Vallejo has even put a new twist on the old classic by creating flavor varieties such as coconut, chocolate and even walnut. Bien hecho! 3590 S. Via Terra St., Salt Lake City, 801-262-3310, SophiFlan.com

Best Potato Chips
Bambara

There’s a lot to love on the menu at Bambara restaurant, where executive chef Nathan Powers works his culinary magic. His signature steak frites, lavender-seared ahi tuna and maple-brined porterhouse pork chop are all excellent. But Powers also rocks when he turns his attention to simpler matters, like potato chips, which are made from spuds cut in-house and fried to crispy perfection. But, to punch it up that extra notch, the golden brown potato chips are then sprinkled with blue cheese, turning an ordinary potato chip into an extraordinarily scrumptious snack. 202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com

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Best Burger
Crown Burger

In so many realms of food, skill is proven through a balance of competing flavors, such as sweet and salty. Then, there are meals that demand a bold double-whammy of flavor, which is what the Crown Burger achieves with a savory hamburger patty and a savory stack of pastrami. Add cheese and lettuce for a decadent mouthful of burger that is fit for a king. Multiple locations
2. Acme Burger
3. Cotton Bottom Inn

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Best French Fries
Crown Burger

There are two schools of thought when it comes to french fries: soft or crispy. Somewhere in the impossible nexus of those two fried opposites sits Crown Burger’s fries, works of art that perfectly straddle the two dimensions. But words alone cannot explain the tao of the Crown Burger—they can only show the path for discovering why Utah’s readers have once again given the restaurant the honor of “Best Fry.” Multiple locations
2. The Bayou
3. Training Table

Best Hospital Food
Davis Bistro

A bistro in a hospital? Are you kidding me? Nope. At the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, they take hospital food seriously. The Manhattan Deli serves sandwiches like the “Lady Liberty” wrap: oven-roasted turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cranberry-pecan aioli and cheddar cheese in a whole-wheat wrap. The Grillery offers chicken strips and Mongolian-style stir-fried shrimp with Asian vegetables and soba noodles in a spicy Asian sauce. And, the Spotlite features low-calorie, low-fat selections such as cilantro-lime chicken skewers with pineapple salsa. Next time you’re in an ambulance, ask your driver for the Davis Hospital. 1600 W. Antelope Drive, Layton, 801-807-1000

Best Wine Festival
Sundance Resort

At the end of each summer, around Labor Day weekend, Sundance Resort throws Utah’s most delicious melding of food and drink. The scale of the Sundance Food & Wine Festival is perfect: not too big, but not too small, either. Typical winemaker attendees include Selby, Honig, Judd’s Hill, DeLoach and Altamura, along with many others. It’s a sunny, fun way to discover the wines you love while sampling excellent food from standout Utah restaurants. 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 866-259-7468, SundanceResort.com

Best Carbo Load
Bruges Waffles & Frites

Pasta is the traditional go-to race fuel for runners and outdoor enthusiasts preparing for physical feats of strength. But you don’t need to be an athlete to appreciate the insulin rush that Bruges Waffles & Frites offers. Pierre Vandamme takes the quality-over-quantity route with a menu limited to dense Liege waffles, frites and Flemish beef stew (you might want to skip the latter before a run). The carb-heavy treats, savory and sweet, are equally satisfying post-finish line with extra dollops of whipped cream and aioli (because you deserve it). 336 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-363-4444, BrugesWaffles.com

Best Schnitzel With Spaetzle
Siegfried’s Delicatessen

Don’t let the lunchtime lines deter you; it’s worth the wait for Siegfried’s bratwurst, weisswurst, goulash, leberkaese, deli sandwiches and everything else served up from the cafeteria-style deli. However, a can’t-miss is the Wienerschnitzel: tender, thin pieces of breaded pork fried up to a golden-brown, crispy perfection. The only thing that could improve on the schnitzel itself is a side of German-style dumplings called spaetzle. With a dollop of Siegfried’s brown gravy, you’re in Bavarian heaven. 20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3891, SiegfriedsDelicatessen.biz

Best Vindaloo
Taste of India

At Layton’s Taste of India restaurant, the owners make their curries from scratch, not from prepared pastes, as so many of their competitors do. They cook their master sauces very slowly, allowing the spices, herbs, onions and other ingredients to mingle and for the oil to separate from the sauce before adding chicken, shrimp, lamb or veggies. The result is magnificent. To wit, the stupendous vindaloo curry sauce at Taste of India. The secret to this spicy and tart sauce, with incredible complexity and depth of flavor, is a judicious touch of vinegar. The result is vindaloo that you’ll come back for time and again. 1664 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton, 801-614-0107, TasteofIndiaLayton.com

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Best Soups
Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen doesn’t take requests. Their soup menu is basic: clam chowder, chicken noodle, split pea with ham, broccoli cheese and so on. Their sandwich selection is similar, with mainstays like BLTs and sloppy joes. But add to those classic menu options the bonus that all daily specials include free fresh-baked bread sticks, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for a reliable restaurant serving popular comfort foods to Utahns for more than 30 years. Multiple locations, SLCSoup.com
2. Zupas
3. Tin Angel Café

Best Sushi On-the-fly
Hayai Zushi

It’s a busy world, and sometimes people don’t have time to sit down for sushi. Thankfully, Hayai Zushi has come to the rescue, offering up drive-thru sushi to eat on the fly. Master sushi chef Peggi Whiting is the brains behind Hayai Zushi, where yummy options include California rolls, tuna rolls, rice bowls, salads, bento boxes, potstickers and more, all ready and waiting to go for the busy sushi lover. 307 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-1699, HayaiZushi.com

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Best Downtown/Central Restaurant
Eva

Don’t let the size of Eva fool you. This comfy, cozy eatery packs a punch in the flavor and ambiance departments. Adorned with paintings by local artists, Eva’s food is as vibrant as anything hanging on the walls. Chef Chuck Perry cooks up an appetizing array of small plates and pizzas, allowing customers to go whole hog or simply enjoy a nibble or two and a glass of wine. Must-haves at Eva include Perry’s bodacious Brussels sprouts, flash-fried calamari, the open-face steak sandwich and sensational spanocopita. And, be sure to sample an Eva specialty cocktail. 317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 888-314-8536, EvaSLC.com
2. Takashi
3. Bambara

Best Biker Burger
Marley’s Gourmet Sliders

You might not think of the petite slider as the perfect biker food. But, once you’ve tasted Marley’s—located at the Timpanogos Harley-Davidson showroom in Lindon—you’ll agree that these sliders are packed with enough flavor to satisfy the burliest, brawniest appetite. Along with beef, chicken, turkey and hot dog sliders, Marley’s also offers delicious gourmet-style sliders, including pulled turkey, salmon and filet mignon, all served on a soft, buttery, homemade bun. You just can’t beat Marley’s sliders, especially with a side order of shoestring fries. 555 S. Geneva Road, Lindon, 801-229-2469, Marleys.com

Best Potstickers
Rooster Dumpling & Noodle Bar

Who doesn’t love Chinese dumplings, aka potstickers? Down in Utah County, Rooster Dumpling & Noodle Bar dishes up some of the best potstickers around, all made from scratch. In addition to delicious dumplings, you’ll find rice bowls, green-chili cheeseburgers, bahn mi sandwiches, agedashi tofu, ginger-scallion noodles, Thai curry chicken wings, and a lot more. But when all is said and done, it’s the shrimp, veggie and pork dumplings—stuffed and cooked to perfection—that you don’t want to miss. 163 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-375-3138, RoosterDNB.com

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Best Sushi
Takashi

Many try, but few restaurants succeed at giving patrons a complete dining experience, which requires a mixture of great food, great ambiance and great service. Fans of Takashi rave about its soba and sake selection, as well as the vibrant décor, but Takashi’s sushi rolls are what truly shine. Popular rolls like the Dragon and TNT entice devotees to brave the sometimes long wait times at Takashi. As Salt Lake City’s most popular sushi restaurant, it is also one of the most popular restaurants overall. 18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595, TakashiSushi.com
2. Tsunami
3. Happy Sumo

Best Sexy Sammies
The Sensuous Sandwich

It takes, well, balls—especially in Utah County—to name your business The Sensuous Sandwich. Not everyone thinks of Happy Valley as an especially sexy place. The folks at The Sensuous Sandwich, however, are out to change that image by serving up sammies with names like The Stimulator, The Enticer, The Tantalizer, The Satisfier, The Super Saucy and The Au Natural. Do the sandwiches come with free condiments? 163 W. Center St., Provo, 801-377-9244; 378 E. University Parkway, Orem, 801-225-9475, SensuousSandwich.com

Best Lava Rock Meal
Rancho Market Molcajete

At Rancho Market, you’ll find an amazing dish called a molcajete. It’s actually made in a lava rock molcajete, which is turned upside-down and heated until nearly molten-lava hot, directly over a gas flame. The fiery-hot molcajete is then turned right-side-up and the fun begins. First, a layer of Oaxacan cheese (similar to mozzarella) is placed into the bottom of the molcajete. It melts immediately, creating a beautiful, brown, cheesy crust. Next, strips of napolitos (cactus), cooked shrimp, chicken and thin strips of beef are placed into the hot molcajete, along with whole charred jalapenos and plump Mexican-style green onions. Finally, the entire thing is topped with thick chunks of cheese, somewhat similar to feta, and delivered to your (picnic) table hot enough to cause concern. Ole! Multiple locations, RanchoMarkets.com

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Best Appetizers
The Bayou

For many patrons, the first appetizer ordered at The Bayou is something in a bottle. After that, however, there are plenty of choices for tableside snacking, especially things that can be shared with a large group. A dependable option is the artichoke dip, which seems to never run out, no matter how many people help eat it. For a spicier choice, there is the chipotle hummus. And, of course, there are always the sweet-potato fries. 645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
2. Eva
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.

Best Charcuterie
Spruce

As with Spruce’s sister restaurant in San Francisco, one of the specialties at Park City’s Spruce is the charcuterie, which is cured in-house, antibiotic- and hormone-free. Charcuterie selections are available as individual portions, but to sample the full range of Spruce’s amazing charcuterie, you’re better off ordering the Grand Selection that frequently includes coppa, chorizo, duck rillette, ciccioli, thinly sliced poached veal tongue, duck liver mousse and shaved pig’s ear. It’s all accompanied by toasted bread points and grainy homemade mustard. For lovers of cured meats, Spruce’s charcuterie is the bomb. 2100 Frostwood Drive, Park City, 435-647-5566, SprucePC.com

Best Sandwich & Chips
Toaster’s

Family-owned and -operated, Toaster’s pairs its healthy toasted sandwiches—turkey & avocado, chicken salad, prosciutto & provolone, ham & cheese, roast beef, gourmet veggie, to name a few—with a simple side of Lay’s. And the chips taste pretty good. Maybe the incredibly nice owners and employees infuse the junk food with good vibrations and enhanced flavor. Maybe it’s just our imagination. But it works. 151 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2928; 30 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-4444, ToastersDeli.com

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Best Burritos
Lone Star Taqueria

Lone Star Taqueria is a Mexican beach cantina in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, renowned for its fish tacos. However, its burritos are not to be overlooked. Stuffed beyond bursting, they are flavorful without being dangerously hot—for spice, you can always add salsa from the fresh salsa bar. Oh, and don’t neglect the cold beer or Jarritos sodas to complete the momentary beach escape. 2265 Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-2300
2. Red Iguana
3. Cafe Rio
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Best Reason to Get Canned
Bohemian Brewery

We applaud Bohemian Brewery’s can-do attitude. Sure, bottles are pretty and nice to hold, but for many reasons, the local business chooses to house its premium Czech Pilsener in aluminum cans. Not convinced? Consider this: Bottles let in sunlight, which can decrease or destroy optimum flavor. Cans are easier to recycle, harder to break (but easier to crush on one’s head without serious injury. Just sayin’). 94 E. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5474, BohemianBrewery.com

Best Eclectic Flavors
Cy’s Eclectic

Eclectic is really the only way to describe the seasonings, sauces, marinades and rubs distributed to grocery stores by Cy’s. Dry seasonings are available for everything from Greek souvlaki to chili fajita; zingy barbecue sauces come in raspberry chipotle, habanero heat and sesame spice, among others. Your foods will have a flavorful international flair, even when grilled in your back yard. 801-973-2200, CysEclectic.com

Best Mimosa Menu
Wild Grape New West Bistro

The best part of brunch is abundant hydration. A glass of milk, juice, water, coffee and a morning cocktail is about perfect. Wild Grape New West Bistro has tapped into this desire for brunch-beverage choice by offering not just a few unorthodox mimosa choices, but 10! Champagne plus orange, mandarin, blood orange, bellini peach, mango, pineapple, blackberry, kiwi, prickly pear, strawberry, or raspberry juices create an irresistible flavor adventure, even for those hesitant to drink at noon on Sunday. 481 E South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-746-5565, WildGrapeBistro.com

Best Taste of Summer in the Winter
Desert Edge Brewery’s Raspberry Stout

For clarity on Desert Edge Brewery’s Chris Haas’ dedication to his craft, a perfect example is the miracle that is his raspberry stout. Fruity beers may still be a novelty for the average beer drinker, but with this stout, Haas has crafted a drink that truly smacks of the delights of summer. Using raspberries rather than syrup in the brewing, his sweet stout has such a texture and depth of taste that it’s impossible, while sipping it, not to close your eyes and think of sun-drenched hills and rolling clouds—which is especially nice with this beer, because it is only served during the dead of winter. 602 E. 500 South (Trolley Square), Salt Lake City, 801-521-8917, DesertEdgeBrewery.com

Best Brazilian Enterpeneur
J.R. Lopez, Braza Grill & Braza Express

When J.R. Lopez moved to Utah 12 years ago, he opened a store called Made in Brazil. Realizing that his future lay in cuisine rather than importation, he launched a well-priced Brazilian barbecue restaurant in Murray called Braza Grill. At the end of 2009, he opened Braza Express in downtown Salt Lake City, a fast-food version of his popular rodizio-style eatery that had construction workers from City Creek piling in by the dozen. Lopez’s genius, though, is his constant attention to detail. You’ll find him roaming the tables and talking to customers, always a smile and handshake at the ready. His laid-back charm marries perfectly with the soul of his restaurants. 5927 S. State, Murray, 801-506-7788, BrazaGrillUtah.com; 147 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8009, BrazaExpress.com

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Best Local Beer
Squatters

Squatters, more than others, has embraced the opportunity to produce high-alcohol beers for Utahns. Its microbrewery consistently releases seasonal and limited-run beers, including Hell’s Keep, the Bavarian farmhouse ale; Outer Darkness, a Russian Imperial stout that packs a serious punch; and Hop Rising, a double IPA that makes ordinary IPAs taste like Utah beer. Those are just the new entries, however. Squatters remains a Utah favorite thanks to traditional brews like Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout and Full Suspension Pale Ale. Multiple locations, Squatters.com
2. Wasatch Brew Pub & Brewery
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.

Best Frozen State of Mind
Inspired Ice Cream

Karen Bayard, determined to cement true Renaissance woman status, wasn’t content to do stand-up comedy and also lead full-body laughter workshops. So, a line of dairy-free, nut-based ice “creams” was born, with flavors named after the positive states-of-being that guide her through her various endeavors. The frozen treats include many vegan-friendly options and ice cream sweetened with honey, with every flavor dedicated to mind-body deliciousness. How to choose between Zingy (lime), Quirky (red bean), Playful (peach) and Creative (candy cane), among the 30 options available through the Website and local retail outlets. KarenBayard.com

Best Chopped Salad
Cucina Toscana

The simplicity of Valter Nassi’s chopped arugula salad dish at Cucina Toscana is beautiful: The peppery arugula is topped with nothing more than a spritz of lemon, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and—here’s the kicker—sweet acacia honey. It’s an absolutely divine dish at the start or end of a Cucina Toscana dinner. 307 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-328-3463, Cucina-Toscana.com

Best Dinner & Bollywood Movie
Star of India

Watching one of the exuberant musical melodramas that are part of the “Bollywood” Indian film tradition can make you hungry for the cuisine, and, in turn, dining on delicious Indian fare will put you in the mood for one of those movies. So, the pairing is perfect at Star of India, where a big screen shows Bollywood films for diners. Whether it’s an effect of the movies or the wonderful food, you may feel like breaking into song and dance at the end of the meal. 55 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7555, StarOfIndiaOnline.com

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Best Sandwiches
Moochie’s Meatballs & More

What was once served to those lucky few who took pottery classes has become a full-fledged deli called Moochie’s. The meatballs are delectable, the Philly cheesesteak is savory, and everything is gooey and messy. While the sandwiches are great to go (thanks to thick butcher paper), they are really best enjoyed outside on a picnic table in the sun. 232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-1350, MoochiesMeatballs.com
2. Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
3. Robin’s Nest

Best Rice Breads
Charlotte’s Bakery

Eating a gluten-free diet can be quite a challenge, especially when it seems you’ll forever be denied tasty baked goods. But Paul Reugner’s family-run, Utah-based company has dedicated itself to turning rice flour into breads, cookies, cakes and pies with all the flavor of their gluten-based counterparts. CharlottesBakery.com

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Best Ice Cream Super-Sandwich
Smart Cookie

If you’ve spent time in the Bay Area, you might have been exposed to the gourmet ice cream sandwich treat, the It’s-It. Christian McDaniel wasn’t content to let the the Bay Area have a monopoly on that kind of deliciousness, so he created his own variation of premium cookies piled high with premium ice cream. The result is a chewy, chilly sensation that stands up to comparison with its California inspiration. 7710 S. Union Park Ave., Midvale, 801-561-1840; 743 W. 100 North, American Fork, 801-492-1711, SmartCookieCompany.com

Best Jerky Jocks
Samak Smoke House

Yep, “Samak” is “Kamas” spelled backward—but you’ll want to fast-forward to this country store on the Mirror Lake Highway in search of its smoked chewy meat treats. Beef and turkey jerkies come in a range of flavors, from spicy to teriyaki. Try ’em one at a time, or sample a variety gift pack. It’ll keep for a while—except that you’ll be too eager to chow it all down. 1937 Mirror Lake Highway, Kamas, 435-783-4880, SamakSmokeHouse.com

Best Candy/Cookie Combos
Over the Top Cookies

What to have for dessert: A flaky cookie or a chocolate candy bar? Trick question—you don’t really have to choose. At South Jordan’s Over the Top, they’re on a mission to find a baked-goods home for every confection under the sun. How does a double-chocolate cookie topped with Andes Mints sound? Or the Whoa Baby!, smothered in Baby Ruth chunks? These are cookies not for the faint—or weak—of heart. 1665 W. Towne Center Drive, Suite B3, South Jordan, 801-495-5920, OverTheTopCookies.com

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Best Ribs
SugarHouse Barbeque

The secret to great ribs at SugarHouse Barbeque: fresh ingredients, slow smoking and a signature dry rub. Oh, and an excellent house barbeque sauce. Better yet, grab a platter so you can also sample some of their tasty sides, including sweet, smoky baked beans. 2207 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-4800, SugarhouseBBQ.com
2. Pat’s Barbecue
3. Q4U

Best Quintessential Utah Cheese
Beehive Cheese Co.

If there is a cheesy manifestation of Utah’s contradictory yet balanced flavor, it’s the Beehive Cheese Company’s latest creation: The SeaHive is true artisan cheese, hand-rubbed with local wildflower honey and salt from the ancient seabed near Redmond, Utah. The salt provides contrast to the honey and also provides a rainbow of color from the 50 trace elements in the ancient seabed. This tasty creation couldn’t be any more Utah, unless the salt was from the Great Salt Lake … and that probably wouldn’t be as easy on the taste buds. 2440 E. 6600 South No. 8, Uintah, 801-476-0900, BeehiveCheese.com

Best AC/DC-Inspired Jam
Butcher’s Bunches

It’s a jam with a rockin’ badass-itude, sharing its namesake with a legendary AC/DC tune. Logan-based Butcher’s Bunches “Back in Black” jam is a delicious confection made from raspberries and blackberries grown in Brigham City, then soaked in Amaretto and mixed with a seductively rich and dark chocolate from Utah’s Amano Artisan Chocolate. Jam guru Liz-Kennard Butcher initially crafted the treat for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, but it’s now on her regular roster of products. ButchersBunches.com

Best Mormon Gelato
BYU Creamery

In Happy Valley, ice-cream parlors provide the after-work relaxation and sociability that bars provide in other heathen cities. And there’s no finer purveyor of ice cream in the valley than the BYU Creameries. Locally made, the ice cream is creamy, and it tastes like salvation in your mouth. You’ll be wowed by the pistachio and floored by the German chocolate crunch (with chocolate brownie nuggets). These flavors are such sweet and sinful indulgences that they might require a follow-up visit with the bishop. Multiple locations, BYU.edu/creamery

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Best Seafood
Market Street

Whether you’re craving oysters on the half-shell, stellar clam chowder or whatever the catch of the day is, the various Market Street grills/broiler/oyster bars are the go-to choice for top-shelf seafood. It’s also the kind of place where people in jeans and T-shirts feel just as at home as people dressed for the opera. And finally, for home chefs looking for their own fresh catch, they even offer seafood counters at every location except downtown. Multiple Locations, MarketStreetGrill.com
2. Oyster Bar
3. Takashi

Best Powdered PB
FitNutz

In an age of increased health consciousness, good old peanut butter has taken a beating for its high calories and fat. Does that mean no more PB&Js or peanut butter cookies for anyone trying to cut out the bad stuff? Salt Lake City-based FitNutz has reduced the staple to its powdered essence for a just-add-water substitute with no added oils that’s considerably lower in fat and calories—plus perfectly portable for camping. Try smooth, chunky or even sugar-free varieties in recipes or on your favorite childhood sandwich. FitNutzButter.com

Best Old-World Meat Pies
Morrison Meat Pies

West Valley-based Morrison Meat Pies has spent more than a century perfecting the kind of pies you’d find at your favorite watering hole in Scotland or Australia. Whether you prefer lamb, steak & mushroom, chicken or the original Scottish meat pie, you’ll find a flaky crust wrapping up the kind of tastiness that takes you to another time and place. MorrisonMeatPies.com

Best Park City Chef
John Murcko, Talisker on Main

Utah is lucky that Michigan-born John Murcko’s car broke down in Park City, and he decided to stay. Prior to taking over the food and beverage reins for Talisker on Main, Murcko spent 15 years working with restaurateur and chef Bill White, helping to open Grappa and serving as director of operations for Chimayo, Windy Ridge Bakery & Café, Wahso and Ghidotti’s. Now, at Talisker on Main, John Murcko really gets to strut his stuff— and for diners, that’s a glorious thing. 515 Main, Park City, 435-658-5479, TaliskerOnMain.com

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Best Gyros
Greek Souvlaki

The frills—tomato vs. no tomato, white sauce vs. red sauce, onions vs. extra onions—are just that, frills. What makes an extraordinary gyro is the meat, and Greek Souvlaki stuffs its pita bread to the breaking point with impossibly tender, carved-off-the-spindle lamb, seasoned to drool-inducing perfection. Utah’s first is still its best, nearly 40 years after Lee and Mary Paulos launched it. Grab a handful of extra napkins, because they skimp on nothing for their delicious pita-wrapped creations—least of all the flavor. Multiple locations, GreekSouvlaki.com
2. Mad Greek
3. Yanni’s

Best Double-Shot Dessert
Mini’s Cupcakes

Cupcakes used to be the red-headed stepchildren of cakes, looked upon as something for small children too naive to know better. But a number of Mini’s colorful and flavorful creations are not for children. Yes, Mini’s has straight-laced choices like Lemon Pie and the Smore Please that don’t disappoint, but the Southern Comfort, the Guinness & Irish Cream and especially the Mocha Latte give adults a valid reason to rethink the little cupcake. 1751 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-2208; 14 E. 800 South, 801-363-0608, Mini-Cupcakes.com

Best Urban Cafe Atmosphere
Nobrow Coffee & Tea Co.

Nobrow Coffee & Tea Co. is located in a car showroom of a bygone era, so it inherited large windows and tall ceilings that connect the outside city street and sidewalk to the interior. Nobrow barely embellished anything—they left the exposed rafters and basic cement floor, plus they used simple furnishings—which serves to direct your attention to the art, some of it from the many artists who rent the back-of-shop studios. 315 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3448, NobrowCoffee.com

Best Secret Rendezvous
Beehive Tea Room

For an environment that wraps people in fabric and color, Beehive Tea Room is the place. The food is delightful and tea selections diverse, but the real treat is the presentation and privacy. If you need to have a secret liaison without being disturbed, grab a pot of tea and relax here. 12 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4700, BeehiveTeaRoom.com

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Best Spicy Lunch Buffet
Himalayan Kitchen

One of the best ways to discover the tempting Nepali and Indian dishes offered at the Himalayan Kitchen is the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Dishes vary from day to day, but you’ll typically find a curry or two, such as chicken vindaloo or butter chicken, along with veggie specialties like aloo tamabodi, saag paneer or malai daal maharani. There are tandoor-cooked foods, basmati rice, stir-fried noodles called chow chow and, of course, tandoor-charred naan, plus much more. Remember, though: With this many delectable options, pacing is critical. 360 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2077, HimalayanKitchen.com

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Best Pizza
The Pie

From its humble beginnings as a cellar-dwelling University of Utah hangout 30 years ago, The Pie has grown into an institution with five locations spanning the Interstate 15 corridor from Ogden to South Jordan. Whether you like to build your own pie—with more than 30 topping options, from good ol’ pepperoni to oysters or smoked gouda—or sample one of the establishment’s specialty pies, the piled-high discs of deliciousness continue to satisfy. The cellar remains for the U-district faithful, but the flavors of The Pie aren’t just for college students—or a secret to remain buried underground. Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Este
3. Settebello

Best Tom Kha
Sawadee Thai Restaurant

This Thai coconut-milk soup is bolstered with big vegetables and mushrooms in Sawadee’s daily soup. Made with chicken or vegetarian, Sawadee blasts the lemon-lime flavors, and the gingery brightness of galangal for a fresh and complex flavor. 754 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-8424, Sawadee1.com

Best Food to Wait in Line for at the State Fair
Navajo Tacos

Beans, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes stacked atop fresh fry bread: There are few things that taste more quintessentially summer than Navajo tacos after perusing award-winning livestock, watching cheesy how-to cooking presentations, or prowling the midway. So grab a Navajo taco, a cold beer or lemonade and go watch the alligator show. 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City, 801-538-8400, Utah-State-Fair.com

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Best Salads
Cafe Zupas

The name means “soups,” but for its many fans, it means salads, too. When you step up to the Zupas counter, you could be overwhelmed by the topping options if you decide to build your own salad. So, why not simply try one of the uniquely terrific specialty options, like the red raspberry spinach salad (with pears, grapes, bleu cheese, pistachios and raspberry vinaigrette) or the piña colada chicken salad (with pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut, macadamia nuts and a zippy piña colada dressing). Half-salads (a plentiful portion) are just $4.99, and you can finish off each with the chocolate-dipped strawberry that’s part of every purchase. Multiple locations, CafeZupas.com
2. Cafe Trio
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.

Best Veggie Sandwich
Great Harvest, Layton

Great Harvest stores are laboratories of bakery inventiveness. Except for the logo, fresh-ground flour and honey whole-wheat bread, franchise locations are encouraged to experiment. Vegetarians who like big flavor can rejoice: Without such nonconformist policies, the spicy veggie sandwich available only at the two Layton Great Harvest locations may not exist. Red pepper spread on tomato herb bread are the ingredients that set this sandwich apart, but the cheddar and provolone cheeses, cucumber, mixed peppers, onions, tomatoes and lettuce seal the deal. 96 N. Main, Layton, 801-543-0304; 755 W. Antelope Drive, Layton, 801-614-0422, GreatHarvestLayton.com

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Best Chef
Will Pliler, The New Yorker

Longtime New Yorker chef Will Pliler’s head should be about ready to explode—he’s probably won more awards than he has wall space for. This talented chef is confident, yet keeps his ego in check. Perhaps that’s why his local following is so vast. Well, that and his culinary expertise. From classics like escargot with Roquefort-garlic butter and roasted rack of lamb, to more contemporary fare such as his awesome pappardelle with Maine lobster or pepper-seared ahi tuna, Pliler hits all the right notes, day after day and night after night. Don’t be fooled by his humility; this guy can cook. 60 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-363-0166, GINC.com/NY
2. Peter Cannella, Fratelli Ristorante
3. Nathan Powers, Bambara

Best Euro-dining
Vienna Bistro

Did the lousy economy cause you to cancel your European vacation this year? Not a problem, thanks to Frody Volgger’s Vienna Bistro. If you’re looking for a slice of European ambiance, not to mention first-class Austrian-influenced cuisine, Vienna Bistro is the place. Grab a sidewalk table in warm weather and pretend you’re dining on a Viennese boulevard, or hunker down inside the cozy restaurant—perhaps at one of the window seats in front. Frody’s specialties include Raclette/Gruyere/Appenzeller fondue for two, j%uFFFDgerschnitzel, semmelkn%uFFFDdel, veal Zurich-style, pork loin Calvado, tournedo Rossini and, of course, fresh apple strudel. Just think how you’ll be able to splurge with the airfare you’re saving! 132 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0334, ViennaBistro.com

Best Lentils
O’Falafel Etc.

O’Falafel Etc.’s signature sandwich is delightfully unorthodox. They serve their falafel almost as a spread rather than the traditional deep-fried ball, allowing each bite of the pita to include the key ingredient. But the menu doesn’t end at deep-fried chickpeas. Among the “et cetera” is the savory mujadareh, a vegan dish made with lentils that becomes vegetarian only if you dare dip into the delectable cucumber mint yogurt sauce. The lentils are mixed into a bed of rice and caramelized onions, topped with crisp sauteed onion strips. 790 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7747

Best Raw Bulk
Cali’s Natural Foods

Chef, gardener and restaurateur Ian Brandt recently opened Cali’s Natural Foods grocery store to complement his other endeavors: Sage’s Cafe and Vertical Dinner. Upon entering Cali’s, the mounds of potatoes and winter squash along with rows of bulk beans and oats gives a warehouse-y, no-frills, “heck-of-a good deal” feel. Cali’s focus is on raw, wholesome ingredients that support the local environment—fry sauce out, Sun River Farms garlic in. 389 W. 1700 South, Suite C, Salt Lake City, 801-483-2254, CalisNaturalFoods.com

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Best Vegan Dishes
Sage’s Cafe

For those who struggle to find restaurants that understand vegan needs, Sage’s continues to be the standard by which others are assessed. As its “sensitivity menu” demonstrates, it strives to cater not only for vegan tastes, but also those who require gluten-free alternatives. And best of all, it recognizes that vegan doesn’t mean tasteless. Just try its superb sautéed spinach salad with Portobello mushrooms, almond sprinkles and pure maple candied pecans. 473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
2. Vertical Diner
3. Cakewalk
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Best Cheap Breakfast out West
Ogie’s Cafe

Ogie’s Cafe in West Valley has a attentive waitstaff that’s uncharacteristically pleasing: They’re ever so prompt with a coffee refill, but have been spotted chatting on their phone, talking to Mom, while serving up homestyle grub. The laid-back vibe fits well for early morning, but Ogie’s biggest brag is its five different plates for $2.99 that will fill your belly on the cheap. Of all the $2.99 plates, the fan-favorite is the scrambled egg burrito smothered in green chili. 3515 S. Redwood, West Valley, 801-201-4638, OgiesCafeandCatering.com

Best O-Town Hooch
Ogden’s Own Underground

Hard liquor made in Utah? What have you been drinking? This handy concoction brewed in Ogden has made its way around the local liquor stores and down the throats of many a willing drinker. Tim Smith decided to pay tribute to one of the city’s real heritage markets and push his love for booze to the next level by creating his own distillery. Already, he has his liquor in stores in 31 states. It’s a fitting memory of the long-gone Two Bit Street. 208-1/2 25th Street, Ogden, OgdensOwn.com

Best Crunchy Cookie
Salt Lake Roasting Co.

Binaries shape our lives: Limbaugh/Olbermann, talkers/listeners, boxers/briefs, haves/have nots, in love/seeking love. When it comes to cookies, the crunchy/chewy binary holds sway, but like Macs in a PC world, the crunchy cookie lover gets short shrift. Most bakeries offer only limp, doughy cookies. The Salt Lake Roasting Co. is the exception. There, the chocolate-chip cookies, embellished with pecans, are crisp from edge to middle. A rare chance to chomp down in a soft-cookie world. 320 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7572, Roasting.com

Best O-Town Cajun
Soul & Bones

The chalkboard menu at Ogden’s Soul & Bones reads like a N’awlins dream: Fried pickles, fried okra, crawfish beignets, étouffée, blackened chicken, shrimp, crawfish Creole, blackened catfish, St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, beef brisket, black-eyed peas, hush puppies, collard greens, dirty rice, crab cakes—it goes on and on, and there’s not a weak dish in the bunch. Even if you’re not into Cajun heat, Soul & Bones’ smoke-barbecued meats alone are worth the trip to 24th street. 319 E. 24th Street, Ogden, 801-627-4227, SoulAndBones.com

Best Dessert Oddity
Meditrina’s Drunken Oreo

No longer challenged by the deep-fried Twinkie? Try Meditrina’s Drunken Oreo. A conflation of three Oreo cookies saturated with red wine topped with Fendall’s vanilla bean ice cream and finished with a port reduction, the dessert is especially appealing to those who like a shot of Bailey’s in their after-dinner coffee. To the hoi polloi, the Drunken Oreo dessert is, well, odd. 1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com

Best Jazzy Gyro
The D-Will at Greek City Grill

Not much changes about the gyro. Layers of lamb (mostly) on a nice piece of fluffy pita and slathered in onion, tomato and tzatziki sauce. When someone first exchanged the white tzatziki sauce for a red tomato-based sauce, he was likely considered heretic and skewered on his own kebab. But gyros are growing up and now include many ingredients, the best of which is served at Greek City Grill and was invented by Utah Jazz star Deron Williams. The D-Will is a a pita smeared with red-pepper hummus, then stuffed with grilled chicken breast, diced cucumbers, tomato, minced red onion and crumbled feta with house dressing on the side. 6165 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-277-2355, GreekCityGrill.com

Best Fort Union Philly
Back East Cheesesteaks

Displaced Easterners are a fussy lot, always looking for “authentic” when it comes to cheesesteaks, hoagies and fries. So many eateries fuel the cheesesteak wars by insisting theirs is the quintessential sandwich. But this shop isn’t out to win a switchblade fight; it’s all about Philadelphia brotherly love. Relish a warm roll stuffed with meats, veggies and cheese and savor that good Back East feeling. Not only are the low prices revolutionary, but you’ll have freedom from hunger for hours afterward. 1005 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-233-5345, BackEast.biz

Best Sandwich With a Side of Quirk
Baba Mitza’s Soup & Sandwiches

In our haste to cruise State Street while wolfing fast food, dialing in tunes and checking our e-mail, we’ve gradually become inured to State Street’s charms. Bypass the open-only-for-lunch Baba Mitza’s, though, and you’ll miss the oversize turkey, Reuben and vegetarian sandwiches as well as the gumbo and cheddar potato soups. And then there’s the quirk: You’ll think you’ve stepped into a dark tavern. Pool tables beckon from the back room and a TV blares from behind the beerless bar. Take it all in while Baba Mitza and her next generation of sandwich staff cater to your empty craw. It’s a State Street original. 3110 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-466-0882

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Best Banana Cake
Kiwi Bakery & Fish & Chips

Leave it to downtown Magna to have one of the most over-the-top bakeries in Utah. Operated by New Zealander Don Oliphant, the Kiwi Bakery serves up oversize specialty pastries like custard squares, lamintons, New Zealand cream donuts and creamed apple turnovers. Beyond that, its cases are filled with fresh sausage rolls and assorted meats pies. But then, what bakery in its right mind also serves succulent fish & chips to go? Crowds roll in for the sweet, the savory and the fried—many sporting a British, Aussie or Kiwi accent. And what about the banana cake, you ask? Imagine a slice of banana bread becoming all that it can be: a huge, rich piece of moist cake, covered with thick banana frosting and sprinkled with walnuts. This is banana bread’s college graduation. 8963 W. 2700 South, Magna, 801-250-9557, KiwiBakery.com

Best Wholesome Sliced Bread
Prairie Grain Bread Co.

This locally baked bread is available in grocery stores and, heck, even Walmart. The weighty sliced loaves come in varieties like crunch, honey whole wheat, golden honey wheat, low-carb “spelt” and oat bran. Put a slice in the toaster, wait for it to brown, spread butter and jam, and then commence to chew. No. 1, it’s nutty and oh-so-good. No. 2, one slice and you’re full. No. 3, now we’re talkin’ fiber (or should that be No. 2?). 211 W. 3680 South, Salt Lake City, 801-281-4076, PrairieGrainBread.com

Best Carnitas
Tomatillo Mexican Food

We know. You were expecting to read about one of your favorite street vendors. And sure, they’re authentic. But many of us go out to eat not only in search of the little braised meats which, when enclosed in a tortilla, become carnitas, but we also seek a place away from work, home and general chaos. Tomatillo is that welcoming café offering carnitas in generous portions using family recipes, made fresh to order and served hot off the grill. Try the Tomatillo lunch specials—most are less than $5 and will get you thinking outside the bun and the Bell. 355 W. 1830 South, Salt Lake City, 801-463-4741

Best Combo Meals
Hook & Ladder Co. Firestation #13

They’re not new in town. Their menu says they’ve been serving for 37 years. With antique fire trucks parked outside and a flamboyant adjacent floral and gift shop, the Hook & Ladder grabs your eye from the street. You can tell it’s an undiscovered candidate for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. So before it hits the big time, eat a pastrami or jalapeño burger, a foot-long hot dog, chicken crunch, soft taco, fish & chips, or a Goliath special. There are 19 combo meals to choose from, plus all manner of floats, cones, sundaes and shakes—all promising to put out the fire of your hunger pangs. 1313 W. California Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-972-2336

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Best Wine Selection
Pago

You might think that winning a Best Wine Selection award would require a 4,000-bottle wine cellar, a phone book-size wine menu and a dedicated sommelier. But, you’d be wrong. When it comes to wine, City Weekly readers seem to favor quality over quantity. At Pago, owner Scott Evans’ well-selected wine list features around 20 wines by the glass or bottle, with a number of very interesting choices (Evans is a self-confessed wine geek). So, along with Pago’s quality fare, you might find yourself sipping wines such as Pedro Ximenez Odysseus, Cave de Pomerols Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine Tempier Mourvedre, Apaltagua Cabernet, or a festive, bubbly glass of Marques Gelida Brut. Sometimes, less is more. 878 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com
2. Fleming’s
3. Fratelli Ristorante

Best Hop & Go
The Beer Store

Sure, you can get the good brew at State Liquor Stores, but it’s always warm and dusty—what do they think we are, European? The brewery-ensconced Beer Store on 300 West sells the local bra%uFFFD fresh and cold, whether in growlers from the tap or refrigerated bottles of Wasatch and Squatters favorites like Devastator, Hop Rising and even Brigham’s Brew root beer (if you’re into the non-alcoholic stuff). After a long day at the office, there’s nothing like picking up a frosty sixer or two of some of Utah’s best suds; the only way to improve The Beer Store would be to install a drive-thru window. 1763 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-8855, UtahBeers.com

Best Budget Lunch Downtown
City Market Place & Deli

For downtown denizens, the City Market Place & Deli is a well-kept secret. Just off the hustle and bustle of Main, the deli offers a bounty of tasty breakfast and lunch options priced right for our trying economic times. No meal on this menu, from a Reuben to a chicken pita, will cost more than $6 with tax. Breakfasts like freshly-made breakfast pitas stuffed with two scrambled eggs, ham or bacon and a choice of cheese will only cost about $4. Add a cup of joe and it’s still about $5. For the real treat, though, try the daily specials, such as filling chicken enchiladas or chile verde burritos. Now, if only they were open for dinner, it really would be possible to dine downtown on a dime. 46 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-0100

Best Classy Burger
Salt City Burger Co.

In the Quarry Bend strip mall, Salt City Burger Company provides an oasis of coziness in a range of stores and restaurants that offer little in the way of inviting facades. The warm light from Salt City is like a beacon broadcasting the existence of this unusual entry in the fast-food stakes. With its rust-brown walls and comfortable booths, it encourages the diner to savor the burger-only menu, of which the smokehouse bacon, with bacon ground into the patty, is a standout. Salt City understands that diners crave a little class with their burger so they don’t feel like cogs in a corporate wheel, and Salt City delivers in style. 9176 S. Village Shop Drive, Sandy, 801-495-4111, SaltCityBurgerCo.com

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Best Mexican
Red Iguana

Holy mole! Can anyone remember a year when Red Iguana didn’t win the Best of Utah award for Best Mexican? Will it ever happen? We should live so long. When Red Iguana founders Ramon and Maria Cardenas got into the restaurant biz more than 40 years ago, they couldn’t have possibly foreseen the success they’d have. But Red Iguana is so popular with lovers of Mexican food that it’s now spawned Red Iguana 2 and Taste of Red Iguana with, undoubted, more Iguanas to come. The reason: A fun, funky atmosphere combined with friendly service and signature dishes such as cochinita pibil, papadzules, chilaquiles, puntas de filete a la Norteña and, of course, those glorious moles. Multiple locations, RedIguana.com
2. Blue Iguana
3. La Frontera

Best Cityscape Escape
Cafe Trio

To truly pass muster, a restaurant’s outdoor patio must do one thing: Transport you away from the urban chaos. It’s no good having a gorgeous vine-covered patio if a nearby crowded street destroys the serenity and chokes the air with toxic fumes. Trio’s patios set the standard—they’re covered by striped awnings and have flower-boxes and mist-sprays to whisk you away to wherever your dreams require. 680 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-533-8746; 6405 S. 3000 East, Salt Lake City, 801-944-8746, TrioDining.com

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Best Eastern Valley Restaurant
Citris Grill

Talk to Citris Grill’s regulars, and sooner or later, they’ll talk about how it’s their local haunt, the one venue that’s truly worthy of the word “neighborhood.” Part of that reflects Citris’ attentions to a customer’s wants. It recognizes that size matters. Their small wine list doesn’t overwhelm you, while half-sized plates can be ordered if you’re just in the mood for a nibble. The waitstaff are always friendly, and by the time you’re ready to leave, it’s with the knowledge that it won’t be long before you’re back again. 2991 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-1202, CitrisGrill.com
2. Lugano
3. Bombay House

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Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Café Trang

Cafe Trang’s biggest selling point has always been its ample portions and its extraordinary range of dishes. How do they manage to serve dishes so quickly from a menu that runs in the hundreds? Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, vegetarian and sushi—only on the dinner menu—are offered in a pan-Asian approach that ensures no palate goes away unsatisfied. Multiple locations, CafeTrangRestaurant.com
2. Mi La Cai
3. Pho Tay Ho

Best Plate Lunch
Mo’ Bettah Steaks

At Kimo and Kalani Mack’s Mo’ Bettah Steaks, the specialty is what is known in Hawaii as a “steak plate” or “plate lunch,” a protein served with rice and macaroni salad. And, at Mo’ Bettah Steaks, the plate lunch rocks! The Kahlua pork is juicy, shredded, heavily salted (authentically Hawaiian) tender pork that is so full of flavor your tastebuds will be doing the hula. The teriyaki chicken lunch plate is a big pile of boneless, skinless thighs that’ll instantly transport you to the islands. Best of all, Kalani and Kimo encourage all comers to arrive in shorts and “slippahz” (flip-flops). Aloha! 335 W. 1830 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-3886; 273 W. 500 South, Bountiful, 801-296-2928, MoBettahSteaks.com

Best Slider
Metropolitan

Sure, Metropolitan is well-known and deservedly lauded for its cutting-edge cuisine, stunning design and decor, and superlative service, but we also love Met for its bar food. Yes, at Metropolitan you can actually belly up to the bar and order mac & cheese, pommes frites, grilled cheese & tomato soup, and chicken pot pie. But, the one bar bite you definitely won’t want to miss is the juicy, toothsome, bodaciously awesome buffalo slider. Bet you can’t eat just one! 173 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3472, TheMetropolitan.com

Best Moab Pizza
Paradox Pizza

It’s easy to support Paradox Pizza because it uses fresh ingredients, humanely raised natural meats, organic products, plus it composts, recycles and uses biodegradable packaging. That’s all well and good, but the main reason to get your lips around a slice of Paradox pizza is the taste. Paradox Pizza serves up East Coast-style pies from its old deck pizza oven that lends a taste of Little Italy. All of the pizzas at Paradox are good, but the East Coast Special really rocks. 702 S. Main, Moab, 435-259-9999, ParadoxPizza.com

Best Latino Flavors
The Alley Table

Jose, Ernesto and Demetrio opened up this simple but intriguing eatery in 2009 after working together as short-order cooks at a Flying J truckstop. They wanted to do something different from the typical Mexican eatery, so they’ve expanded their menu to include South American fare such as empanadas and milanesas. Their milanesa—lightly fried breaded veal—is a revelation, so tender it all but melts in the mouth. 1190 N. Main, Springville, 801-491-8870‎

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Best Balls
Lugano

Anytime is the right time to visit Lugano for owner/chef Greg Neville’s sensational Italian cooking. But if you have to settle on just one day per week, we suggest Monday. Nothing gets the week started off with a bang like Neville’s “Everything Pinot and Meatball Mondays,” where the stars of the evening are Pinot Noir wines and meatballs the size of yer noggin. These 14-ounce balls are slowly braised and served with spaghetti and homemade sauce, with a selection of PInot Noir flights by the glass. Go ahead: Have a ball. 3364 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-412-9994, LuganoRestaurant.com

Best Fried Chicken
Mom’s Cafe

As the sun sets on the corner of Main and Center Street in Salina (central Utah), Mom’s Café stands defiant. The delicious and surprisingly unstodgy Utah scones, moist broasted chicken (read: deep-fried under pressure), and liver and onions testify to what’s best about Utah cuisine— homey, old-fashioned cooking. Even though the deceased former owner’s porcelain-doll collection has been replaced by the new owner’s hunting photographs—he’s the district’s game warden—the way patrons and waitstaff talk about “Mom” suggests her spirit still keeps the flag flying for honest food. 10 E. Main, Salina, 435-529-3921

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Best Thai
Chanon Thai

Perhaps it’s the mellow vibes from the friendly family of servers, the eclectic mismatched plates or just the rich culmination of spices and flavors—whatever it is, it has become an exquisite all-around dining experience known simply as Chanon. The authentic menu will bring the heat, so be ready to chase your sensuous pad thai or Massaman curry with a soothing banana or coconut and ice cream dessert. Whether you’re a Thai aficionado, curryphile, foodie or just plain hungry—this is the Thai spot for you. 278 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1177
2. Sawadee
3. Thai Siam

Best Park & Ride Cafe
Liberty Park Grill

One block away from the always-crowded Park Cafe, in the heart of Liberty Park, is a small breakfast cafe that almost never has a wait, offering ample outdoor seating and, most importantly, good eats. It’s also a great place to take kids, because the surrounding park space gives them plenty of room to run without the parents losing sight of them. Finally, during the summer, breakfast can be followed with old-school fun-park entertainment on the nearby ferris wheel, carousel, and flying chairs. 1150 S. 600 E., Salt Lake City, 801-972-7800

Best Huge-Portions Restaurant
La Frontera Cafe

This long-standing Mexican restaurant may have the best comfort food in the valley. La Frontera’s ample servings, which should always be smothered with its amazing chili verde, are a giant, greasy hug for ragged souls. That’s true for any of their six outposts, but the food served at the Glendale location seems to have more spice, while the restaurant itself feels more like a small-town cafe. 1236 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-523-3158

Best Flashing Knives
Fuji Japanese Steak House & Sushi

Watching an Asian chef toss knives and spatulas with abandon over a hot plate is hardly new. What Fuji—a newcomer to Sandy’s ever-expanding line up of culinary institutions—does, though, is turn it into an art form. Their chefs do a dazzling series of knife juggles followed by an onion volcano that they put out with a squeeze toy that pees on the flames. Then, the chef catches an egg in his hat, finishing a performance that will cause children to break out in cheers, a response that justifies the price of the check on its own. 10649 State, Sandy, 801-523-6022, FujiSandy.com

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Best Japanese
Takashi

For many fans of Takashi Gibo, his namesake restaurant isn’t just the best Japanese restaurant in town, but the best restaurant, period. The vibrant eatery is constantly buzzing with customers who come not just for Takashi’s world-class sushi, but also for his sublime cooked fare. Innovative dishes such as bluefin tuna topped with a bone marrow meringue; Kurobuta pork belly with spicy miso; and green tea panna cotta push the envelope of Salt Lake City restaurant cuisine, and the knockout sake selection just adds to the fun at Takashi. 18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595, TakashiSushi.com
2. Kyoto
3. Naked Fish
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Best Steaks
Donovan’s Steak & Chop House

For the meat eater, Donovan’s defines pleasure. It’s not just the outstanding wine list and attentive sommelier (Jimmy Santangelo) that tells you after you’ve sat down that you’re in good hands. Nor is it the wood-paneled décor or the free prime steak sandwiches and wraps at happy hour from the bar that leave so many departing with smiles on their lips. What truly elevates Donovan’s to an experience to be savored, cherished and repeated is its understanding that great food and wine in a comfortable location is all most folks need. 134 W. Pierpoint Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-359-4464, DonovansSteakhouse.com
2. Spencer’s For Steaks & Chops
3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

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Best Middle-Eastern
Mazza

Mazza could be an acronym for: My adorable zesty zaftig antipasto. The name suggests meze or mezze, which refer to an array of appetizers and small-plate offerings in Lebanese and Middle Eastern dining. But Mazza can also refer to the complete mazza dinner table, similar to a Scandanavian smorgasbord. It’s possible to have both small-plate and smorgasbord experiences at Mazza. Just ask owner Ali Sabbah, whose small falafel empire at 15th & 15th enlarged in 2007 to include a full-service restaurant at 9th & 9th. Both menus feature not only falafel but many traditional Lebanese and Middle Eastern dishes, such as shawarma, musakhan, lamb and rice dolaa, maghmoor, kebabs, dips, sandwiches and salads. There’s even a wide-ranging wine list with extensive selections from Lebanon, Morocco and Greece. By the way: Mazza in Hindi means “fun.” So here, you can have your mazza and eat it, too. 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 Big Love Diner
Merry Wives Cafe

Whether seeking an extra wife, a little curious about fundamentalist Mormons or simply passing through, the Merry Wives Cafe holds something of a captive market when it comes to accessible local cooking in the polygamous twin-city capital of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Go into the heart of FLDS-ville and restaurants are not always welcoming, but at the Merry Wives, friendly staff typically wearing the trademark polygamy get-up—long dresses, hair piled up—let their fresh, delicious sandwiches and raspberry lemonade bear testimony for their solid cooking and, possibly, their larger community. 625 N. State, Hildale, 435-874-1425

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Best Inexpensive
Blue Plate Diner

Blue Plate’s recession-proof menu has held up well in a year when many knew not from whence their next unemployment check would come. Most can get in and out of the Blue Plate without dropping more than $10 per person for a burger or breakfast order. But here’s a moneysaving tip: Skip the meal and just order a robust $3.99 chocolate shake. Made with real ice cream, topped off with way more whipped cream than anyone needs, it’s a complete meal in itself. Overcompensation is just the Blue Plate way. You get a lot of lip-smacking goodness for your hard-earned money. 2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Bayleaf Cafe
3. Scaddy’s

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Best Breakfast
Blue Plate Diner

Blue Plate’s omelets, benedicts, corn pancakes and biscuits with gravy are, to borrow Ben Franklin’s line, proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy. Vegans as well as meat-eaters can find plenty to choose from to start their days. With its nostalgic 1950s décor and upbeat waitstaff, Blue Plate fills rumbling stomachs each morning with wholesome comfort food, and puts a smile on their waking-up faces. 2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Ruth’s Diner
3. Eggs In the City

Best Family-Made Pizza
Freestyle Pizza

Ex-New Yorker Steve Magnetti and his wife, Kris, are living his dream—owning and running a pizzeria. While Beaver is a town of pizza traditionalists—heavy on the pepperoni—the Magnetti’s offer variety alongside the classics, notably the pizza that bears their surname. The Magnetti features an alfredo-sauce base topped with chicken, artichokes, mushrooms, onions, garlic and olives. With reasonably priced hand-tossed pizzas—an 18-inch pizza costs about $15—Freestyle is a great reason to visit Beaver. 53 N. Main, Beaver, 435-438-0404

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Best Southern Valley Restaurant
Fratelli Ristorante

Not that long ago, this award would have almost had to go to a franchise restaurant. There simply wasn’t much else in the suburbs. Now, suburban diners have many choices, but their top choice is Fratelli Ristorante, a family-run eatery specializing in classic Italian fare in a setting with contemporary flair. From spaghetti and meatballs to Tuscan steak to bucatini carbonara to tiramisu, Fratelli Ristorante tickles the fancy of Southerners. 9236 Village Shop Drive, Sandy, 801-495-4550, FratelliUtah.com
2. Tiburon
3. Bohemian Brewery

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Best Western Valley Restaurant
Q4U

“Call the dogs in, put the fire out, the hunt’s over.” That’s the Q4U slogan and yes, the hunt for deliciously messy barbecue ends here. Since 1996, Q4U owners T (The Sultan of Sauce) and Becci have been keeping it real with authentic, slow-smoked BBQ and by treating customers like they were part of their ever-expanding family. Succulent ribs slathered with homemade sauce, slow-cooked beef brisket, tender, juicy pulled pork … those are just a few Q4U specialties. But the flavor doesn’t end with the meat, thanks to Becci’s sensational sweet potato pie and baked cobblers. 3951 W. 5400 South, Taylorsville, 801-955-8858, Q4U.com
2. Red Rooster Waffle Co.
3. Copper Creek Pub & Grub

Best Chef’s Smile
Good Karma’s Houman Gohary

Walk into Good Karma, in an otherwise nondescript strip mall in the foothills of Park City, and chances are you’ll be greeted by the warm smile of chef Houman Gohary. It’s as if he’s welcoming you to his home, a restaurant rich in the subtle smell of spices and cooking from Gohary’s kitchen. Some of that warmth is extended through what his Website describes as “Indo-Persian cuisine with passion and integrity.” Just the appetizers alone, particularly the curried potato, scallion and green-pea samosas in a flaky pastry, are to die for. When it comes to the dedication and commitment Gohary brings to his food and his customers, Good Karma redefines the personal touch. 1782 Prospector Ave., Park City, 435-658-0958, GoodKarmaRestaurants.com

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Best Brewpub
Squatters

Since launching in 1989, Squatters has perfected the art of the brewpub in Utah. As brewers, founding partners Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis have come to appreciate the philosophy of authentic, organic, local and small—not only as it relates to beer but also food preparation. There’s a winner for every finicky eater among Squatters savory appetizers, exotic specialties and pub favorites. With award-winning beers as well as a casual atmosphere that says, “Welcome to Utah, and yes, we know a thing or two about brewing beer,” Squatters is a Salt Lake City staple. Multiple locations, Squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Desert Edge

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Best Ogden Restaurant
Roosters Brewing Co.

Since 1994, owners Kym and Pete Buttschardt have been putting smiles on the faces of Ogden residents and visitors alike at Historic 25th Street’s Roosters Brewing Company. Roosters has become a community gathering place for folks who love great food, great beer or both. It’s hard to find a better meal starter than Roosters’ “What a Crock,” a blend of eight different cheeses baked with crab, artichoke hearts, spinach and roasted garlic. And, the “Pepper Jack Shrimp” dish is equally delectable. Of course, you’ll want to wash down Roosters’ delicious food with an award-winning brew such as its popular Bee’s Knees Honey Wheat, Polygamy Pale Ale or Junction City Chocolate Stout. 253 Historic 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171, RoostersBrewingCo.com
2. Taste of India
3. Zucca Trattoria

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Best Park City Restaurant
Chimayo

With such a variety of eye-popping eateries, winning the Best Park City Restaurant award is no small feat. But, through the years, Bill White’s Chimayo restaurant has been a shining star of Main Street, blending traditional Southwestern flavors and ingredients with French-American cooking techniques. The result is an award-winning array of dishes like queso fundido, green pipian seared trout fajitas, mustard seed-crusted salmon, and the wildly popular crown roast of barbecued spareribs with chipotle-pineapple glaze. Of course, no meal is complete without the signature Chimayo margarita. 368 Main, Park City, 435-649-6222, ChimayoRestaurant.com
2. High West Distillery
3. Grappa
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Best Indian
Bombay House

As more Indian eateries dot the Utah landscape, the overflowing parking lots on any Friday or Saturday night outside either Bombay House location will tell you that it’s still on top. From appetizers to dessert, the meals are consistently good. Beverages like mango lassis or rose milk help cool spicy tandoori, tikka masala, curry and briyani dishes, and an order of naan will soak up the leftover sauces. It’s not just the food, however. Bombay House’s waitstaff are in uniform attire, and many of the men wear dark turbans, adding to the exotic experience that keeps Bombay House on top. 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. Royal India

Best South Valley Patio Dining
Tuscany

Since Rudolph Knudsen established “Knudsen’s Grove” in 1912, the Tuscany setting has been one of the most beautiful dining locations in the city. Tucked away in a heavily wooded lot next to a stream, the outdoor patios beckon one and all in warm weather. Yes, the interior of Tuscany is eye-popping, but the exterior grounds seem to be designed for the romantic in all of us. It’s the perfect place for a wedding, anniversary, or to pop the question. 2832 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 801-277-9919, TuscanySLC.com

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Best Coffee House
Coffee Garden

A 9th & 9th institution, the Coffee Garden welcomes coffee drinkers of the world and everything they stand for—which, in Utah, can mean many things. While the 9th & 9th location has survived many a setback—from relocation to road construction—now the Main Street digs are bracing for change as Sam Weller’s Bookstore, in which the cafe is housed, plans a move. But everyone knows not to worry—they’re on solid “grounds.” There is no better place to settle in and enjoy a piping hot Americano or iced chai along with pastries, desserts, quiche, sandwiches, burritos and pasta salads. People-watching and lively conversations with strangers come free of charge. 898 East 900 South, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, 801-364-0768
2. Beans & Brew
3. Nobrow Coffee & Tea

Best Vegetarian Value
Shanghai Cafe

The sheer number of vegetarian choices on Shanghai Cafe’s menu is impressive, but this place excels at meat replacements like the ginger chicken, and has the best vegetarian fried egg rolls in town. The prices, substantial portions and fast service make this place an excellent choice for a comfortable, meat-free dinner. 145 E. 1300 South, No. 145, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1841

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Best French
The Paris

Bon vivant restaurateur Eric DeBonis is nothing if not passionate about food and drink. He travels the globe seeking the best ingredients and recipes, then treats his Paris customers to them. From the classic Parisian zinc bar to dishes such as escargot, mussels mariniere, salad Lyonnaise, steak au poivre and duck confit with puy lentils, The Paris delivers a serious slice of France with every meal. 1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
2. La Caille
3. Franck’s

Best Mobile Meal
Chow Truck

Talk about truckin’! The Chow Truck is, literally, a mobile feast, a screaming yellow food truck with a dragon logo, landing from day to day in various neighborhoods around the Wasatch Front. The brains and talent behind the Chow Truck are “Boss Lady” SuAn Chow and “Chef” Rosanne Ruiz. Chow was founder of Charley Chow and ChowMeinia restaurants, while Ruiz was chef/owner at Sage Grill in Park City and executive chef at Salt Lake City’s Capitol Café. Chow Truck specializes in tacos, sliders, salads and calamari, but this isn’t your typical fast food. Taco options, for example, include coconut-lemon grass chicken, pineapple-ginger pork, spicy beef with cilantro-chile pesto, and panko-crusted tofu. ChowTruck.com

Best Dollar Rita
Mi Ranchito

There’s no reason to wait to imbibe for a full economic recovery when Mi Ranchito on South State serves margaritas for only a dollar. Every day from noon to 11 p.m., diners at this popular Mexican eatery can partake of the concoction of tequila, lime and salt that Jimmy Buffet made so famous back in the ’70s. Make no mistake, these are not high-shelf cocktails, though you can opt for Patron or other popular tequilas. However, for a buck, who cares? They go perfectly with Mi Ranchito’s fare—smart diners skip the combo plates and go right for the muy authentico Mexican specialties. Ole! 9550 S. State, Sandy, 801-233-0571; 396 E. State, American Fork, 801-7566138, MiRanchitoGrill.com

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Best Late-Night
Bayleaf Cafe

In the past year, diners have seen an explosion of new eateries on and off Main Street north of 400 South. Even more of a lucky find is a cafe catering to night owls. On weekends, the Bayleaf Café, open daytime hours during the week, keeps its doors open from Friday at 11 a.m. to Sunday at 9 p.m. It tops the list for late-night diners with its cheesy grits, country-gravy-smothered fries and barbecue shrimp, often served with live music on the side. Most dishes slide in under $10. What more could you ask? 159 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8490, Bayleaf-Cafe.com
2. Eva
3. Molca Salsa

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Best Bakery
Gourmandise

When you’re in the market for European-style pastries and desserts, look no farther than Gourmandise. For nearly two decades, this family-owned bakery has been serving up sweet confections to discriminating Salt Lake Valley dessert aficionados. And, more recently, menu items such as salmon en croute and panini sandwiches have been added because, well, man can’t live on dessert alone. Specialty cakes like chocolate raspberry ganache, pear-almond tart and white strawberry Chantilly are perfect for special occasions, while solo diners can select from a range of individual desserts such as mille feuille, pailletin slice, baba au rum and traditional fudge brownies. 250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, Gourmandies.com
2. Great Harvest Bread Co.
3. Carlucci’s

Best Lofty Cuisine
J. Wong’s Asian Bistro

Located adjacent to The Hotel and in the Patrick Lofts building, J. Wong’s Asian Bistro dishes up some lofty and elevated food. This is not your typical combo platter Chinese eatery, but rather a gorgeous, pan-Asian restaurant with everything from baseline dishes like kung pao chicken to Thai panang salmon. Another lofty notion: The walnut shrimp will send you straight to heaven. 163 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-350-0888, JWongUtah.com

Best Dining Artistry
Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill

It’s one thing to note the beautiful décor and architecture of Sapa. It’s entirely another to recognize that the food served on Sapa’s plates is equally appealing to the eye. While the restaurant interior is served up in dark woods and delicate carvings, the food is never far behind in colorful elegance. Even simple soups and salads look like no others in town, while the main courses are fit for wall paintings. But for the true palate knockout, order some sushi that looks (almost) too good to eat. 722 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7272, SapaBarAndGrill.com

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Best Greek
Aristo’s Greek Restaurant & Cafe

Aristo’s is an ethnic eatery that does things right, all the way. Aristo’s offers up gourmet southern Greek cuisine (the real deal, with dishes made from Aristo’s parents’ recipes) in a relaxed and somewhat intimate setting. Hearty Cretan specialties such as gigantes, pastruma, boureki and dakos set Aristo’s apart, as does its inviting list of Greek wines and liquors. Finally, there’s ambience. Candles twinkle on tables dressed in linen, while the outside patio features summer barbecues and winter chimneas. On Thursday nights, there is live Greek music. Aristo’s is a great place to fall in love, either with another human or the many Hellenic delicacies on the menu. 224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristosRestaurant.com
2. Greek Souvlaki
3. Mad Greek

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Best Deli
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli

Not content to rest on its laurels, the deli that began in the corner shop at 300 South & 300 West continues on its evolutionary journey as a world-class Italian market and delicatessen. Caputo’s, in the past year, even briefly morphed into a fine-dining establishment known as Tipica (RIP). Caputo’s owes its success to both father Tony’s and son Matt’s love of specialty artisan foods and their combined fearlessness to tilt at food windmills. Caputo’s, now down the block in greatly expanded quarters, features a cheese cave that maintains 200 farmstead cheeses at any given time. Its chocolate bar—featuring 300 bars of premium chocolate—would be impressive in any city. Add to that an in-house salame maker—Cristiano Creminelli—as well as made-to-order sandwiches (including The Caputo), salads and pastas, and you’ve got the makings for the city’s finest deli. So spoke the City Weekly readers. 314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
2. Granato’s
3. Grove Market

Best Old Homey Dining
Sharon’s Cafe

Sure, there are lots of places that claim to cook breakfast like Mom, but few get it all right. Some hit on the bacon and eggs, others on the home fries or the omelets. Sharon’s hits all of the basic breakfast fare on the first pitch and serves it up in a manner that transports diners to another era—counter service, friendly wait staff, hot coffee and a roomful of friendly chatter. Add a jukebox and you might think you’ve landed back in Salt Lake City’s nostalgic-but-defunct fave, Bill & Nada’s Café. For the hearty, try the pancakes that drip over the side of the plate, or for lunch, give your all to the Bulgarian Burger, so named, we guess, because it takes a Bulgarian weightlifter to heft the pound of meat piled between man-sized buns. 2263 Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 801-278-9552

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Best Romantic
Log Haven

At Log Haven restaurant, chef Dave Jones’ cookery has been known to inspire lust in diners. His creative cuisine, combined with the pristine mountain canyon setting and seductive log mansion, is a recipe for romance. Log Haven servers are well-versed in the art of nurturing marriage proposals, so it’s no surprise that many couples who get engaged at the restaurant also wind up having their weddings at Log Haven. Keep in mind, though: You don’t have to get engaged or married; romance at Log Haven is strictly optional. 6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Mill Creek Canyon, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
2. La Caille
3. Tuscany
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Best New SLC Restaurant
The Copper Onion

“New” isn’t always “better.” But, in the case of the Copper Onion, that cliché doesn’t really apply. Ryan and Colleen Lowder’s Copper Onion restaurant is simultaneously fresh and new, and also feels like a well-worn pair of Levis. Even though the Copper Onion is a shiny, new restaurant, the food is spot-on and the kitchen runs like the place is decades old. Simple-but-spectacular dishes such as house-made ricotta dumplings, fettuccine carbonara, peppery steamed mussels, griddled tombo tuna and Idaho Wagyu flat iron steak suggest that The Copper Onion will be garnering awards long after its new sheen has worn off. 111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com
2. Vinto
3. Forage

Best Greek Pantry
Pella Mediterranean Market

A diligent shopper can find bits of Greek specialty items at several places in Salt Lake City—but only bits. For a one-stop Greek shopping experience, Pella has great prices on a wide variety on classic Greek olive oils, canned and salted seafood, Greek cheese (including kefalograviera), grains and spices for the Greek pantry and homemade dips and charcuterie. If you’re a bit lazy, Pella also has a selection of frozen Greek pies and finger food. Pella shares ownership with Apollo Burgers, so you can dine at the Apollo just in front of the market, or try a made-to-order sandwich at Pella itself. 940 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-975-1760

Best St. George Restaurant
Painted Pony

In a town overflowing with chain restaurants and mundane dining experiences, the Painted Pony in the delightful Ancestor Square on St. George Boulevard is a jewel by contrast. Among an elite handful of fine and independent fine dining options in St. George (along with Claim Jumper, Benja Thai & Sushi, Poncho & Lefty’s), Painted Pony could fit right in among northern Utah’s best. Highlights include the tri-color crab cakes with avocado relish, seared Ahi tuna, New Zealand lamb, beet salad, phyllo-baked brie and artichoke arancini. 2 W. St. George Blvd., St. George, 435-634-1700, Painted-Pony.com

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Best Chinese
Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant

We don’t suffer from a lack of Chinese restaurants along the Wasatch Front, but there is a definite dearth of great Chinese restaurants. Thank goodness, then, for the eateries offering authentic Chinese fare and ambiance, including Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant. Bring friends or family with you and order a whole Peking duck to share or, if you prefer smaller bites, show up for dim sum and dishes like steamed barbecue pork buns, fried sesame balls and shrimp dumplings. But don’t forget that this is also a tea house, so tea lovers will be in tea heaven. 565 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7010
2. Little World
3. Sampan

Best Tribute to the Soybean
It’s Tofu Grill

Utahns, despite outside appearances, do love the exotic. Over the years, sushi, dim sum, Thai, and pho have become popular dining choices. But Korean fare … well, now, that still seems a little unfamiliar. So, Korean couple Kevin and Elisa Kim decided to offer a taste of Korea at It's Tofu Grill using a non-threatening delivery system: tofu. You know: soybean curd. But, in truth, it isn’t really all about tofu—there’s plenty of barbecue-meat and fried fish and veggies, rice and noodles. There’s even fried eggs that top off some dishes. But it’s the presentation of these meals—with the array of condiments on the side, the metal chopsticks and the long slender spoon and fork—that is just so cool. Embrace these Korean vittles, people. It’s time for a new craze. 6949 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-566-9103, ItsTofu.com

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Best Vegetarian
Sage’s Cafe

Nine years in row, Sage’s Cafe has been voted best vegetarian restaurant. Inside the facade, whose time-worn sign indicates simply “Cafe,” Sage’s has a bright, cozy ambiance of a large-windowed restaurant house and cool comfort under the grape-vine covered patio. Sage’s provides an adventurous menu that includes basil pesto crepes, the raw cashew
pad thai, and large wine and beer options. While any restaurant that stays open for nine years has something to brag about, few are more beloved by their customer base than Sage’s. 473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
2. Vertical Diner
3. Evergreen House

Best Lunch Judgment
Judge Cafe & Grill

It’s hard to contain one’s enthusiasm for making the correct lunch-hour decision. Judge Cafe has the variety, for starters, from hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and quiche to mouthwatering home-style entrees such as meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, salmon with veggies, burgers and the piece de résistance: the hot turkey sandwich for the unbelievable price of $7.95. Then, there’s the environs: a historic setting with stained glass windows and large-format photos of old Salt Lake City. And finally, there’s the service and welcome you receive, even when it’s high noon and everyone else is clamoring for the hot turkey sandwich. 8 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-531-0917, JudgeCafe.com

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Best Atmosphere
Bambara

Maybe in an effort to ensure a Best Atmosphere award for next year’s Best of Utah, Bambara has just undergone a nifty remodel. But don’t worry, the place is as stunning as ever. The new overhaul at Bambara features a return to the restaurant’s historic roots as a bank, with a historic safe door utilized in the downstairs kitchen, safe-deposit box artwork and a penny-studded host stand, blending an old-time vibe with contemporary flair. There’s a wine “vault” with two bar-height communal tables and, in the main dining room, diners can catch all the action in the exhibition kitchen from perches at the elevated tables. You want atmosphere? Bambara has it nailed. 202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
2. Log Haven
3. La Caille

Best O, Canada Sports Pub, eh
Legends Pub & Grill

This joint places such an emphasis on its menu that it’s probably more accurate to call Legends a sports restaurant rather than a sports bar. While you can find plenty of televisions overhead and all the usual suspects dotting the menu—wings, nachos, burgers, pizza—there aren’t many places where a puck-crazed Canuck can belly up for a plate of poutine, the beer-battered seasoned fries sprinkled with mozzarella cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy. Add a beer or some whiskey and you’ll be singing “O, Canada” in no time. 677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3598, WhyLegends.com

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Best Unique-to-Utah Eatery
Training Table

When is calling for take-out also having a sit-down restaurant meal? When you’re having it at a Training Table. Just use the tableside phone to place your order, usually one of the many rib-sticking burgers. Or, maybe it’s just a mountain of cheese fries. Either way, it’ll take no time at all to get your order up—and all you had to do was call. Multiple locations, TheTrainingTable.com
2. Ruth’s Diner
3. Red Iguana

Best Dim Sum
Red Maple

Chinese Cuisine Every weekend, hundreds of Chinese immigrants (and a few non-Chinese) descend upon Red Maple. They come for the midday dim sum, which is hands-down the best around. Meats, soups, seafood, vegetables, dumplings, desserts and fruits are served in small dim sum-size portions via heated pushcarts that servers roll up and down the aisles of the restaurant—you simply reach for whatever looks and smells appealing. Options range from the exotic, such as boiled tripe soup and stewed chicken feet with black-bean sauce to the more ordinary: siu mai dumplings and barbecued pork spareribs. No matter which dishes you choose, they’re all spectacular. 3361 S. Redwood Road, West Valley, 801-747-2888, RedMapleSaltLake.com

Best Old-World Charm
The Atlantic Cafe

The Atlantic Cafe displays its passion for authenticity in its wide-ranging offerings from the Balkans, Italy and Greece. Its savory soups, salads and paninis as well as its gyro, cevap and grilled-chicken sandwiches always hit the mark. Perhaps somewhat underappreciated is its breakfast menu, which uses only organic locally produced eggs in dishes like its authentic Balkan breakfast, savory and fruit crepes and Mediterranean eggs Benedict. Sitting in the cozy, dark cafe, sipping wine, or out on the relaxing sidewalk patio, conversing with foreign-born servers, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a quaint European cafe. Which is to say, delightful! 325 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-524-9900

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    • Sep 10, 2014
  • Artys 2014

    Celebrating the creators who make Utah great
    • Sep 10, 2014
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Latest in Best of Utah

  • 25 Year Beer

    Venues now offering the CityWeekly Best of 25 Year Beer French Saison Avenues Proper Bayou Beer Bar-new Beerhive Boston's-Layton-new Este Pizza Fiddler's Elbow MacCools Foothill MacCools Layton
    • May 5, 2014
  • Best of Utah 2014: Media & Politics

    Best Radio Station X96 Listeners can complain about Mumford & Sons all they wish, but the truth is that X96 is one of the few alternative destinations remaining on Utah’s dial
    • Mar 26, 2014
  • Best Of Utah 2014: Goods & Services

    Best Antiques/Collectables Now & Again Since bursting onto the retro scene in 2009, this downtown shop has racked up loyal fans who count on the keen eye of owner Michael Sanders to find the choicest mid-century furniture and fun
    • Mar 26, 2014
  • More »

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