When Salt Lake City’s murky, gray-brown inversion air envelopes the Wasatch Front like a giant, smelly dishrag, it’s time to make an escape. Thankfully, there are a number of first-class eateries perched either above or beyond the pollution. Here are a few that will allow you to breathe freely as you enjoy great grub.
Perched on a butte overlooking Draper, the views from Vuz Restaurant (12234 S. Draper Gate Drive, 801-617-8600, VuzBar.net) are stunning enough to match the artful edible creations of Executive Chef Kaharim Becerra. Enjoy a breath of fresh air on the expansive patio while digging into tasty dishes like tuna ceviche with gastrique made with jicama, mango, chipotle and orange; or the pan-seared Arctic char with yuzu, basil, hibiscus and pineapple relish.
Also located in Draper, and also sporting incredible valley views above the inversion, is Sweet Home Chicago Pizzeria (1442 E. Draper Parkway, 801-545-0455, SweetHomeChicagoPizzeria.com). There, you’ll find authentic Chicago-style pizzas along with calzones, Chicago dogs and cold draft brews.
A little closer to home, Log Haven Restaurant (6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com) is only four miles up Millcreek Canyon, 20 minutes from downtown SLC, but just high enough in elevation to get you out of the muck. Rustic log-cabin charm and stunning natural surroundings combine with Executive Chef Dave Jones’ creative cookery to provide a delicious dining getaway.
Perched next to Park City Mountain Resort’s Silver Star chairlift, the 360-degree views of Park City, Quarry Mountain, the Uinta Mountains and beyond from the deck at Silver Star Cafe (1825 Three Kings Drive, 435-655-3456, TheSilverStarCafe.com) are incredible, as is Chef Dave Bible’s rib-sticking fare. Bake in the sun and take in the fresh mountain air as you enjoy Bible’s custom-made pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, and entrees like vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, pork osso bucco and duck cassoulet.
Farther into town, Deer Valley’s Royal Street Cafe (Silver Lake Lodge, 7600 Royal St., 435-645-6724, DeerValley.com) provides gorgeous mountain views from the sun-drenched patio just below Bald Mountain. Hike or bike the trails of Deer Valley Resort and work up an appetite for Royal Street faves like the fresh Dungeness crab tower, famous Deer Valley turkey chili, house-smoked pulled-pork sandwich and Korean-style bulgogi.
Another Park City option would be to make a picnic. I’d advise stopping by World Kitchen Specialty Foods, located at The Market (1500 Snow Creek Drive, 435-640-2554) for gourmet takeout foods like Sichuan-chicken lettuce wraps, blistered green beans, maple & mustard-seed salmon, Thai green curry and lots more. Then, perhaps take a moment to enjoy Park City’s fresh air with a ride on the historic Rail Trail to find a perfect spot to spread out your blanket, or just hunker down in one of Park City’s many parks. For the adventurous, a high-altitude ride with Park City Balloon Adventures (435-645-8787, PCBalloonAdventures.com) would make any meal memorable and ensure that you’ll be flying high above any inversion.
A drive up beautiful Big Cottonwood Canyon will help you forget all the murk and muck you left behind. While you’re cruising the canyon, drop in to rustic Silver Fork Lodge (11332 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Brighton, 801-533-9977, SilverForkLodge.com) for a meal on one of the sprawling patios. The service is as friendly as can be, and the cuisine is comfort food at its finest. The sourdough pancakes—made from a 50-plus-year-old starter—are justifiably famous, as are signature dishes like chateaubriand, Elmo’s meatloaf, beef brisket and baby back ribs. Be sure to check out the fun monthly wine and beer dinners, too.
A little farther up the canyon, at Solitude Mountain Resort, St. Bernard’s (12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-534-1400, SkiSolitude.com) is the perfect escape from the city. You’ll enjoy breathtaking mountain views along with Chef Michael Richey’s exquisite cuisine: dishes such as caviar pillows, mini Wagyu burgers, spiced quail with Moroccan couscous, Sicilian braised rabbit, seared walleye and more.
Over in another canyon—Little Cottonwood—the high-altitude views from two restaurants in particular are spectacular, as is the fresh, clean mountain air. At Snowbird Resort’s The Aerie (The Cliff Lodge, 9600 E. Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-933-2160, Snowbird.com), Chef Ken Ohlinger dishes up an eclectic array of culinary treats like lamb potpie, elk cheese- steak sandwiches, vegetable grinders and pasta carbonara. There’s also sushi, sashimi, nigiri and more, not to mention frequent live music in the evenings. Across the street and up the road in Alta, the Shallow Shaft Restaurant (10199 E. Highway 210, 801-742-2177, ShallowShaft.com) offers superb views of the Wasatch Mountains and superb fare from Chef Kurtis Krause to go with them. Enjoy dishes such as smoked Utah trout cakes, miso black cod and Southern-fried quail as helpful manager/sommelier Peri Ermidis provides valuable advice on wine selections.