Northwest Side Story 

When I move to Portland next month, I will have lived in Salt Lake City for almost one year. Part of me wants to stay because I like it here, but part of me has decided I’m ready to move on. As is true of most men, my parts seldom agree on which action is best.

Maybe it’s just in comparison to the nine previous years I spent in Utah County, but I love “The SLC.” Yet there is Portland, calling to me, beckoning me and offering me a toke on its marijuana cigarette, which I’ll decline. Born and raised in California, I never intended to live in Utah for 10 years; it happened accidentally, like knocking over a drink or stubbing your toe. “Whoops!” I said one morning not long ago. “I’ve lived in Utah for a decade!” And so now it’s time to go someplace else.

I’ll miss this place, though. Make fun of it if you will—I know I will—but Salt Lake City has its share of nice, cool, awesome and/or rad things. Herewith, some of the things I will miss most about “The SLC” and Utah in general.

The flautas at Cafe Pierpont. Chunks of chicken, sour cream and cheese, all rolled up in a giant flour tortilla and deep-fried—and you get two of them! One to eat there, and one to eat at home later that night when you’re watching Letterman! I love these flautas so much, more than anything I’ve had at any other local restaurant. They are not gourmet (though I do applaud Pierpont’s use of chicken chunks, rather than shredded chicken), nor are they fancy, nor are they expensive. But they are deep fried, and that goes a long way in my book. If our repressive government would allow it, I would marry the flauta and we would live happily ever after as man and flauta.

The quaint mispronunciation of basic English words. Who knew “sale” and “sell” were homophones? Not me, not until I moved to Utah.

Fry sauce, obviously.

The City Library, for its supply of books, but also for its modernity, beauty and location within walking distance of my apartment, and right across the street from a Burger King. Don’t forget its bank of Internet-enabled computers you can use even if you don’t have a library card. At last, homeless people have a place to check their e-mail!

The way people in Utah Valley talk about “The SLC” as if it’s a dangerous den of sin. Salt Lake City’s crime rates and liberalism are higher than Utah Valley, yes, but they’re still lower than those of most large cities. And yet Utah Valleyites talk about it like it’s Beirut or Amsterdam. In Portland, they talk about Salt Lake City like it’s Provo.

Coffee Garden at 9th & 9th. I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t like hippies—two facts that make my move to Portland questionable, I know—but I love Coffee Garden. It’s big enough that I don’t feel bad occupying a spot for a few hours at a time as I write, read, and sip hot chocolate, and the employees seem legitimately friendly and cool, unlike the jerks at some coffeehouses, who seem to be trying to be friendly and cool. One downside: Coffee Garden serves pastries and treats, but no coffeecake. Perhaps this is just as well, for if coffeecake were readily available to me, I would probably enter into an unwholesome three-way marriage with it and the flauta.

Portland will have replacements for some of these, but it won’t match the overall SLC experience. I mean, what do they dip their fries in up there? Beer?

Eric D. Snider is a freelance writer who lives in Salt Lake City.

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