Here's the mission: Find a grocery store/cafe that offers top-tier restaurant-quality food at fair prices, plus a sunny dining deck overlooking a lake. Oh, and it has to be dog-friendly and located in the most affluent neighborhood in all of Utah.
Stumped? Not if you've visited the Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe.
You may have driven past the Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe on your way to Snow Park Lodge or to Silver Lake Village in Deer Valley without ever noticing it. That's because the grocery-cafe is hidden away inside the Deer Valley Plaza building, in lower Deer Valley. Adjacent to the Plaza building are the Deer Valley ponds, where, from the deck, you can watch ducks fishing, dogs frolicking and humans paddleboarding. In fact, you can get a paddleboard lesson right on the spot from Park City SUP (stand-up paddling), if you're game.
The Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe has become a necessity for friends of mine visiting from out of town and staying in or near Deer Valley. It offers an array of specialty foods ranging from fresh-baked breads, pastries, baguettes, biscotti and such, to soups and stews (chili con carne, beef Burgundy, Deer Valley turkey chili), fresh salads, pastas, condiments, cheeses, olive oils and vinegars, house-smoked salmon, desserts and frozen items (handmade pizzas, quiches, etc.) to take home. It's the perfect place for visitors to stock their condos, especially since the grocery-cafe also has a license to sell booze for takeout. Why, you can even purchase housemade dog treats there, not to mention gift baskets that are perfect for enjoying during Deer Valley Resort summer concerts.
Still, my favorite part of the Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe is the cafe itself. I think it's still something of a Park City secret, although word is beginning to leak out. The cafe is open daily from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with menus that change with the seasons. Highlights from the breakfast menu include house-made challah French toast with whipped butter, powdered sugar, maple syrup, fresh berries and strawberry-rhubarb compote ($9.70); housemade yogurt with seasonal berries, fresh mint and orange-vanilla-bean simple syrup ($7.25); and the vegetarian-friendly avocado and beet toast ($6.50): avocado, beet hummus, micro greens, Shepherds Dairy goat cheese and black Hawaiian sea salt on toasted fresh-baked wild-rice harvest bread.
Additional breakfast items include lox toast, breakfast paninis, Irish oatmeal, crustless quiche, and my favorite, the Southwestern breakfast wrap—an "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" wrap featuring scrambled eggs, black beans, pepper jack cheese, green chilies, baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh guacamole, spiced spuds and salsa fresca in a whole-wheat tortilla ($9.65). The Southwestern wrap is my go-to breakfast for carbo-loading on Deer Valley ski days.
Lunch, along with alcoholic libations, is available in the Cafe from 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., and runs the gamut from starters, salads, soups and chili to sandwiches, paninis, tacos, pizzas and a handful of specialties, like the delicious butternut squash and shiitake mushroom enchilada ($14.25) with cilantro sour cream and tomatillo sauce. The enchiladas—there's also a roasted chicken enchilada—are served with Copper Moose Farm field greens, tomato, honey-Dijon vinaigrette and Southwest beans.
I have to admit, beet hummus ($7) isn't something that held much appeal for me—until I tasted it. The purple-hued hummus is a garbanzo bean-beet combination, blended with tahini and served with flaxseed crackers and sugar snap peas. Turns out the beet hummus is a great starter; shame on me for doubting the Deer Valley culinary crew. For a heartier appetizer—or as just a nosh with beer, wine or cocktail—I recommend the massive turkey-chili nachos plate ($10.75) with Deer Valley Oomph!-spiced tortilla chips, green onions and cilantro sour cream. If you love the Oomph! spice mix as much as I do, it's available for purchase in the grocery.
I've largely given up on fish tacos in restaurants, since they're typically made with bland, cheap tilapia and are usually a disappointment. Not at Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe, however. Here, the tacos are made from salmon dusted with rice flour (gluten-free), then flash-fried to a crispy crust, and served with grilled scallion-citrus slaw and heavenly roasted poblano guacamole, drizzled on warm corn tortillas and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.
There is one aspect of service at the grocery-cafe, however, that I'm not too keen on. Customers line up at a single cash register during meal service—both those buying food to take out and those dining in the cafe—to order and pay for their meals and drinks in advance. The food is then delivered to dine-in customers' tables. That means having to select your entire meal and beverages in advance. If you wish to add dessert, a second cocktail, an order of nachos or whatever, you have to return to the (sometimes lengthy) line. It's tedious, frankly. I wish the management would require only customers buying takeout items from the grocery to pay at the register, and offer full, sit-down table service for customers who are eating in.
That register line gets especially crowded on Sunday evenings, but for good reason. The grocery-cafe offers a special menu with items grilled on the deck on Sundays beginning at 5 p.m., along with live music featuring artists like Steve Schuffert and Mike Rogers. It's hard to find a better way to spend a Sunday evening than enjoying a Niman Ranch beef burger with Cabot white cheddar on the Deer Valley Grocery-Cafe deck, while Steve Schuffert treats you to classic tunes by The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and others.