Best Mid-Valley Restaurant
Since moving into gorgeous new digs in its Holladay location earlier this year, Cafe Madrid has become even more popular, if that’s possible. Of course, longtime loyal customers of Cafe Madrid know of the warm and caring service provided by owner Gabrielle McAfee’s family and staff. And now, a new bevy of mid-Valley diners are discovering the superb Spanish cuisine offered there—dishes ranging from cold tapas like tosta con sardinas encebolladas and warm ones such as pulpo a la gallega to scrumptious main courses like sea bass with caramelized onions and creamy shrimp sauce. It’s like a quick getaway to España!
5244 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-273-0837, CafeMadrid.net
2. Red Rock Fashion Place
3. Stella Grill
Best Sweet Expansion
Hatch Family Chocolates
Steve Hatch and Katie Masterson’s original Aves chocolate shop (as seen in 12 episodes of TLC’s The Little Chocolatiers reality series) was quaint and cozy, but couldn’t accommodate growing demand for both product and service—the sweets are tasty and acclaimed, but it’s also nice to have some room to enjoy them with friends and, ever the chatterer, Hatch himself. So when Hatch Family Chocolates moved into the old Eighth Ave. Meat & Grocery store in 2011, it didn’t just go big, it went big, inside and out with more seating, some breezy patio space and a couple of extra slots for other businesses. Who needs a reality show?
376 Eighth Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-532-4912, HatchFamilyChocolates.com
Best Moab Breakfast Joint
You know you’re up for some tasty morning grub when the restaurant in question does breakfast and breakfast only. Moab’s Jailhouse Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to noon every day, and there’s pretty much a line to get in that entire time. No problem—grab a cup of coffee from the Wicked Brew Drive-Thru across the street, sit on the patio and plan your day, because soon enough, you can delve into one of the house specialties, like ginger pancakes with Dutch apple butter, or a chorizo scramble. Just be sure to order the “soul-food bacon” on the side.
101 N. Main, Moab, 435-259-3900
Best Student-Cooked Dinner
The Savory Palate
When most of us were students, our culinary expertise stopped at figuring out which old condiment found in the fridge bests complements Top Ramen. But at the Art Institute of Salt Lake City in Draper, students learn to cook and serve upscale, contemporary cuisine with worldwide influences. The Savory Palate restaurant, where the students learn to be professional chefs, servers and managers, offers a six-course dinner that will set you back less than 20 bones.
Art Institute of Salt Lake City, 121 W. Election Road, Draper, 801-601-4769, ArtInstitutes.edu/SaltLakeCity
Best Big-Bite Contest
The next time Guy Fieri is passing through central Utah, he might want to scout out Big Moe’s for Food Network’s Guy’s Big Bite. Big Moe’s has a challenge for masochistic food machos out there: If you can beat the current best time—as outlined on the centrally located chalkboard—of eating a 1-pound hamburger, 2 pounds of fries and drinking a large drink, then glory and fame is yours for the taking. Glory is the $12.99 on the house, and your name stenciled in chalk on the board. The best time in 2011 was just under seven minutes, but the time is reset Jan. 1 of each year.
Big Moe’s, 61 S. 700 East, Price, 435-636-0451
Best “New” O-Town BBQ
Soul & Bones BBQ
There were few ways to improve upon the original Soul & Bones BBQ, which boldly (and rightfully) claims to be “Ogden’s best bar-b-q and Cajun” joint, but Chef “Big” John Dearmin did it with a bigger, better location and a newfound determination following the untimely death of his wife and restaurant co-founder, Jennifer Habel, in June 2011. Soul & Bones’ revamped menu features fried okra and crawfish beignet appetizers, po’boys, etouffee, jambalaya, blackened amberjack and barbecue specialties like St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked chicken, baby back ribs and more. Another new addition is one that separates simple barbecue restaurants from bona fide barbecue joints: live music three nights a week.
2432 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-627-4227, SoulAndBones.com
Best New Local Spirit
Five Wives Vodka
From Ogden’s Own, the distillers who previously brought us the dark and sweet Underground Herbal Spirit, comes a new shot from the other end of the booze spectrum: Five Wives Vodka. The half-and-half wheat/corn distillation is filtered through active carbon and then blended with spring water from Ogden Canyon, making for a smooth, clean finish that belies its low price tag—just $19.99, $10 cheaper than, say, P. Diddy’s celebrity lighter fluid. Even better, Five Wives caused a minor outrage with certain local groups upon release, thanks to its title and label illustration, which is always good for business. Grab some fast; Five Wives is flying off state liquor store shelves.