In addition to being sorted by type of cuisine, price, location, etc. on the Website, I’ve also put together some fun and helpful lists to assist you in zeroing in on that ideal eatery. And, I’ve included a sampling of six of those here. Most of the online lists contain a couple dozen or more restaurants, so this is just scratching the surface.
For all-you-can-eat fare, turn to Bodacious Buffets. (Hint: Many Indian eateries offer tasty, cheap buffet lunches.) Looking for a small, independent, homey, family-style operation? Then check out the Mom & Pop list. For quick food that you can eat with your hands, standing up—sandwiches, burgers, wings, frozen yogurt, etc.—look no further than Hand-to-Mouth, while if you need a cold beer to wash down your meal, turn to The Brew Crew for sustenance and suds.
Some of the best restaurants around are aimed at hungry travelers and visitors, and you’ll find them in our Resort/Hotel listings. And if you’re in the mood for posh, innovative, contemporary, eclectic cuisine with style and panache, simply check out Chic Cuisine.
Remember though, with only six lists of six restaurants here, this is a merely an iota of the 1,700-plus restaurant listings at CityWeekly.net. And, for restaurants with more than one location, I’ve simply listed my favorite.
Transport yourself to Rio de Janeiro at this authentically Brazilian churrascaria, where an all-you-can-chew parade of grilled meats is served rodizio-style (circular) until you say “uncle!” Servers with skewers bearing a variety of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and luscious grilled pineapple rotate among Braza’s tables delivering the goods. There’s also an extensive hot-and-cold buffet bar with tasty items like hearts of palm, feijoada, quail eggs, pastas, salads and a gazillion other options. Seafood lovers aren’t left out, either; there’s a special seafood buffet on Mondays. But try to swing by on a night when Alan Sandomir and his group are playing jazzy bossa nova and samba tunes live. Best bet: the awesome skewered and grilled chicken hearts. 5927 S. State, Murray, 801-506-7788, BrazaGrillUtah.com
Wednesday through Friday, in the evenings during ski season, Deer Valley Resort’s Empire Canyon Lodge morphs into Fireside Dining, a European-style all-you-can-eat extravaganza. It kicks off with warm Swiss raclette straight from the fireplace, accompanied by cured meats, freshly baked baguettes, and homemade condiments like mustards and chutneys. That’s followed by hearty stews and fricassees and buttery Swiss potato rosti. Fire-roasted leg of lamb is another specialty and you absolutely don’t want to miss dessert, featuring chocolate, caramel, and white chocolate Grand Marnier fondues. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also available throughout dinner. 9200 Marsac Ave., Park City, 435-645-6632, DeerValley.com
Ganesh Indian Cuisine
Order a tall Taj Mahal Indian beer and tuck into Ganesh’s yummy complimentary poppadum appetizer while you peruse the tantalizing menu. It’s filled with tempting dishes like Chicken 85, a fiery mélange of boneless chicken in a bright orange curry-yogurt sauce topped with zippy jalapeño slices. Garlic naan, freshly charred in the tandoor and sprinkled with sesame seeds and cilantro is the perfect tool for sponging up the creamy, rich masala curries. And don’t miss the fragrant Hyderabad special briyani, a uniquely delicious dish you don’t find in most Indian eateries. At lunchtime, pig out on all these great Indian dishes at the all-you-can-eat buffet. 777 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-569-3800, GaneshIndianCuisine.com
If you’re looking for the most deliciously decadent brunch in town, head to the Garden Café on Sunday. Debonair general manager Ali Rafaati’s hands-on managerial approach ensures top-notch service in Grand America’s lush, fine dining restaurant. The Garden Café’s Sunday brunch buffet spans the culinary universe, from fresh seafood and sushi, to roasted meat carving stations and a cascading chocolate fondue fountain—not to mention an almost endless array of pastries, cakes, house-made confections and more. Obviously, the key to this epicurean extravaganza is pacing. 555 S. Main, 801-258-6708, GrandAmerica.com/dining
Spectacular views of Temple Square and the Salt Lake Valley accompany dinner when you dine at The Roof Restaurant, located atop the historic Joseph Smith Memorial Building. This is buffet-style dining, but don’t be mistaken: It ain’t your typical Chuck-A-Rama. The gourmet dinner buffet features selections like tossed baby field greens, cold poached salmon, chilled jumbo shrimp, imported and domestic cheeses, baked ham, prime rib, a rockin’ dessert bar, and nightly specials. There’s also complimentary validated parking at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building parking structure. Reservations are strongly recommended. 15 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-539-1911, TempleSquareHospitality.com
Star of India
Star of India serves up authentic curry, masala, biryani and naans with all-natural spices. There’s also an extensive vegetarian menu. For dessert, finish up with the restaurant’s signature specialty Indian sweets. There’s also a terrific all-you-can-eat lunch buffet which usually features curries, tandoori chicken, veggie dishes, naan, and lots more. Very friendly service, to boot. 55 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7555, StarofIndiaOnline.com
MOM & POP
At the friendly, downtown Bayleaf Cafe, you’ll find an interesting mix of cuisines, including American South, Filipino, Korean and Chinese. That’s because the couple who own Bayleaf Cafe are Asian and American, the latter from Alabama. So, the menu is dominated by American comfort food such as meatloaf (from Grandma’s recipe), fried and blackened catfish, po’ boys, hoppin’ John, cheese grits and chicken fried chicken. All that Southern goodness is supplemented by more exotic fare such as scallion pancakes, chicken adobo, bulgogi, congee and coconut shrimp tempura. For you late-nighters, Bayleaf Cafe is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturdays, making it a hot spot for clubbers. The breakfasts, which start at 6 a.m., are also terrific. Order the “trash” plate, which has a little bit of everything: eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, cheese and hash browns. And, for just a snack, be sure to try the boiled peanuts and fried pickles. 159 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8490, Bayleaf-Café.com
Located in Lamplighter Square on Foothill Boulevard, India Unlimited is, first and foremost, a market selling all sorts of hard-to-find Indian and Pakistani groceries. It’s a great place to buy inexpensive bags of basmati rice, fragrant spices, canned goods, jars of curry and even the kitchenware to cook with. The owners are super-friendly and always willing to help you create the perfect Indian meal. However, if you don’t want to cook, you don’t have to. That’s because India Unlimited also has a small kitchen off to the side and serves combo meals (two entrees, basmati rice and naan) for $7.99, to either eat-in or take out. The small menu changes daily but often features dishes such as chicken tikka masala, palak paneer (with homemade cheese), chicken biryani, vegetable korma, fresh vegetable samosas and chicken curry. 1615 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-583-3300
Koko Kitchen is a small, friendly, neighborhood place specializing in Japanese and other Asian fare. There’s no table service. Just order at the counter and pick-up your food when it’s ready. There’s fresh sushi and sashimi, teriyaki dishes, yakisoba, tonkatsu, and surprisingly good homemade kimchi. Sit outside and enjoy your meal on the patio during warm weather. 702 S. 300 East , Salt Lake City, 801-364-4888
Mo’ Bettah Steaks
Kimo and Kalani Mack from Hawaii own and operate Mo’ Bettah Steaks. The specialty here is what in Hawaii is known as a “steak plate” or “plate lunch,” a protein served with rice and macaroni salad. At Mo’ Bettah Steaks, the macaroni salad totally rocks. And so does the Kahlua pork—juicy, shredded, heavily salted (authentically Hawaiian) tender pork that is so full of flavor your taste buds will be doing the hula. The teriyaki chicken lunch plate is a pile of boneless, skinless thighs that’ll instantly transport you to the islands. Best of all, Kalani and Kimo encourage all comers to arrive in shorts and “slippahz” (flip-flops). Just ‘cause this food is fast doesn’t mean it ain’t fabulous. 335 W. 1830 South, 801-466-3886, Salt Lake City, MoBettahSteaks.com
Pho Chau is a Vietnamese noodle shop in the Latino Mall, serving up terrific pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), along with bun (vermicelli bowls) and an amazing dinner special which is seven courses of beef, with sides. But pho is the real attraction and the basic pho tai (noodle soup with steak) is superb: Light homemade broth and oodles of rice noodles, topped with tender slices of beef, spring onions and cilantro. Sprouts, fresh basil and sliced jalapeños are served alongside. The owner, Lam and his wife, Chau are super-friendly and helpful. 2470 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-975-1050
Located adjacent to a spicy neighbor—Golden Trails Men’s Club—Taqueria Lolita offers up plenty of spice itself. For instance, the devilishly incendiary camarones el Diablo (shrimp in a fiery red chile sauce) will singe the enamel from your teeth. But there are milder options at this cozy restaurant as well. Tacos, for example, come in a multitude of flavors: pastor, asada, lengua, pollo, cabeza, carnitas, and more. The moles at Taqueria Lolita are terrific too; the chicken in rich, dark mole transports you to Oaxaca. And owner Jesus Sanchez is always standing by with a friendly iHola! to greet customers. Cold Coronas as well. 909 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4123
Barbacoa Mexican Grill
Locally-owned Barbacoa has been satisfying big burrito appetites since 1998, long before the faux-Mexi food chains came to town. It’s high-quality fast food with no fillers at low prices. Barbacoa burritos are always a surefire bet, filled with cilantro rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and a choice of salsa. Don’t feel like having a burrito? How about a burrito? There are also burrito bowls at Barbacoa, along with burrito salads and burrito soup. OK, if you must deviate from the holy burrito, there are also tacos on the Barbacoa menu. Multiple locations, EatBarbacoa.com
Chubby Toad Grill
Chubby Toad Grill is the sit-down venue of Greg & Kevin, the original “two dudes” of Two Dudes Catering. The Chubby Toad specializes in salads, wraps, and sandwiches. Caesar salad, candied pecan salad, the “Chubby Chef’s Salad,” and a create-your-own salad are healthy options to balance more decadent temptations such as Chubby’s pulled pork sandwich and the steak and cheese sammy. The boys get creative in the kitchen with wraps like the grilled Caribbean jerk wrap and the spicy Thai tenderloin wrap. Top it off with a green tea and a Chubby’s brownie. 310 W. Bugatti Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-466-4457, TwoDudesCatering.com
Cotton Bottom Inn
Award-winning garlic burgers set this classic tavern apart from all other wannabes. The Cotton Bottom is the place where active folks gather to wind down after a day of skiing, hiking or any other adventure enhanced by Utah’s great outdoors. But the inactive are allowed in for a pitcher and game of pool, too. Nothing says comfort like a frosty mug of beer paired with Cotton Bottom’s legendary garlic burger. Take it out on the patio for maximum pleasure. The intimate pub is nestled in a scenic canyon that makes every visit feel like a grand getaway. 6200 S. Holladay Blvd. (2820 East), Holladay, 801-273-9830
Sugar House always has a taste treat or two up its sleeves. But with Elizabeth and Mark England’s Dolcetti, a cream dream has been realized. The Englands learned how to make their frozen concoctions from Italian artisans, and the quality is obvious upon your first bite. Check out the exquisite flavors such as pistachio, pomegranate, chocolate mole and crocantino al rum, to name just a few. This ain’t your grammy’s ice cream. Dolcetti makes its gelato and sorbetto by hand using fresh, locally grown fruits and berries and milk from family-run dairies. It’s an edible art form, waiting for your lips and tongue to melt it. Go ahead, take a lick; it’ll be the best 5 pounds you ever gained. Located in the Tea Grotto building. 2030 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-485-3254, DolcettiGelato.com
The folks at Lunaberry are dedicated to the art of “groovy yogurt and crepes,” which probably tells you all you need to know. Everything served at Lunaberry is “all natural.” No canned fruits or veggies. The non-fat all natural yogurt is made from scratch, just the way you like it. Even the smoothies are made with fresh, wholesome fruit with no artificial colors, corn syrup, additives or preservatives. The mango chicken crepe, dark chocolate crepe, banana-strawberry smoothie, and frozen yogurt shaved ice are terrific. 358 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0427, LunaBerry.com
Trolley Wing Company
Trolley Wing Company has been making chicken wing lovers happy at their historical Trolley Square site for 10 years now (as of November 2009). So you know these wings are special! And, with more than 25 varieties of chicken wings to choose from, there’s a wing option for everyone. The Trolley Wing Company’s wings are rated on a 0-4 red pepper scale, from mild to incendiary. Thankfully, there is also a good selection of cold beer to help extinguish the heat. You’ll need it if you order the hotter-than-hell wings called The Enema. It’s so hot that if you can finish your Enema order, it’s free! Not into wings? Trolley Wing Company also serves great bratwurst and other goodies. And, you can watch big-screen TV action on the tavern’s heated patio. By the way, Trolley Wing Company isn’t called that for nothing: This great little eatery is actually situated inside an old trolley car. 602 E. 500 South, 801-538-0745