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Del Mar al Lago
Although ceviche—citrus-marinated raw fish and seafood—is often associated with Mexico, it’s originally a Peruvian specialty. And nobody does it better than this terrific Peruvian restaurant. Del Mar al Lago’s ceviche features only the freshest fish and seafood, presented with an array of sauces such as aji amarillo, rocoto, salsa cruda, salsa criolla and others, all gorgeous and artistically plated.
310 Bugatti Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2890
Best Coffee to Help Critters
Part of the proceeds from the java you purchase from Bjorn’s Brew goes to benefit animal-rescue charities, but you needn’t worry about the usual do-gooder markup: The drinks here are inexpensive, but tasty—perfectly foamy, with the espresso roasted just right. Plus, each drink is served with a cute gingerbread cookie in the shape of a dog biscuit that you, not your pooch, gets to eat.
2358 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-915-6438, BjornsBrew.com
Best Wine Selection
At Pago, the approach to the constantly evolving wine list seems to be “less is more.” It’s not the quantity of bottles in the small Pago cellar or length of the wine list that are so impressive, but rather the thought and consideration that goes into the bottles offered. Owner Scott Evans and sommelier Evan Lewandowski put a lot of brainpower into selecting and custom-ordering wines that specifically complement each dish on the Pago menu. It’s not a shotgun, bigger-is-best type of approach, but a precision-driven, intelligent one.
878 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com
2. The Wild Grape New West Bistro
3. Fratelli Ristorante
Best High-Class, Low-Price
Vinto Park City
Tucked around a corner at the bottom of Park City’s Main Street is a swanky little Italian place with a European vibe. Under a lofty ceiling with gorgeous, exposed wooden beams, guests crowd comfortably into high-walled booths and dine on daring pasta and pizza dishes—all under $13, the price of a two-bite appetizer at many Park City restaurants. Dinner is served at diners’ desired pace, so you can linger over your fettuccini with forest mushrooms and artichokes, or quickly scarf down a crispy flatbread pizza with braised leeks, scallions, garlic, goat cheese, fontina and pancetta. And, if you acquire an addiction to this fine Italian fare, there’s an equally stellar location in Salt Lake City.
900 Main, Park City, 435-615-9990; 418 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-539-9999, Vinto.com
Taste of India
With no shortage of excellent Indian restaurants along the Wasatch Front, this is a tough Best of Utah category to win. But Taste of India has done so numerous times, thanks largely to owners PJ and Johnny Singh’s attention to detail. Hailing originally from Punjab, their vision was to bring authentic Indian cuisine and hospitality to Utah, and with locations in Layton, Bountiful and West Jordan, the proof is in the Taste of India pudding ... well, curries.
Multiple locations, TasteOfIndiaUtah.com
2. Bombay House
3. The Kathmandu
Best Frozen Concoction
Zeppe's Italian Ice
We can’t believe it’s not ice cream! Italian water ice has the consistency of ice cream, but is made from fruit, water and sugar, so it’s deliciously fat-free. Zeppe’s 30 rotating flavors makes it the go-to Italian-ice destination of northern Utah, and the shop’s decadent custard (an egg-based, dense, premium ice cream) is a draw as well. If you want an extra treat, Zeppe’s will layer the water ice and custard (may we suggest chocolate custard and coconut Italian ice?) for a refreshing treat that’s the best of both worlds.
883 N. Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-786-0400; 1309 N. Main, Logan, 435-753-7519, Zeppes.net
Blue Plate Diner
Modeled on the mom & pop diners of a simpler time, Blue Plate Diner transports customers to a kinder, gentler past. In present times, Blue Plate has had a lock on the Best Breakfast award for as long as most can recall. And rightly so, since breakfast specialties like country corncakes, buttermilk biscuits, corned beef & hash, huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict, omelets and other traditional morning classics are served all day (and night) long, to the beat of one of the best jukeboxes in town.
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Ruth’s Diner
3. The Park Cafe
Open till 2 a.m. on weeknights and till 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, State Street’s Pie Hole has the late-night crowd cornered. Slices of roasted red pepper & basil and potato bacon pizzas are available daily, plus the basic cheese and pepperoni—but you’ll also want to wolf down a few of the daily specials, like the flavorful combo of chicken, bacon, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, cilantro and pepper jack cheese on an Alfredo base. The pizza chefs are kept so busy serving up piles of fresh, thin-crust slices to the line of hungry people streaming out the door that you’ll never encounter a slice that’s been out of the oven for more than a few minutes.
344 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4653, PieHoleUtah.com
2. Bayleaf Bar & Grub (closed)
Best Spicy Dance Floor
Mexican food by day, hot dancing by night—what could be better? Inferno Cantina’s high-quality Mexican cuisine and classy beach-inspired décor make it a great destination for lunch or dinner. Try the garlic shrimp tacos, and try to stop eating the chips & salsa—a basket of round corn tortillas that you break yourself for dipping into a spicy salsa. Whatever you order, make sure to pair it with a specialty margarita or a fine tequila from Inferno’s huge selection. Then, work it all off at one of the near-nightly dance and DJ parties—most kicking off around 10.
122 Pierpont Ave. (240 South), Salt Lake City, 801-883-8838, InfernoSLC.com
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
It’s an understatement to say that the French-influenced Vietnamese banh mi sandwich has taken the foodie world by storm the past year or so. And nowhere will you find a better version than at Oh Mai, where crisp, crunchy French-style baguettes are stuffed with everything from sardines (ca moi) and garlic-butter rib-eye steak (bit tet xao toi) to sunny-side-up eggs (trung op-la) and the “original,” dac biet, which is a delicious conglomeration of cold cuts, charcuterie and such. Oh, and Oh Mai also has great pho.
3425 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6882; 6093 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-277-9888, OhMaiSandwich.com
2. Cafe Trang
3. Pho Tay Ho