Best of Utah 2007 | Food & Drink | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Best of Utah 2007 | Food & Drink 

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No Worries Café & Grill
A rapid way to escape the winter blahs of the valley, No Worries is located at the top of Parley’s Summit, just high enough to be out of the inversion and see the mountains. Inside is a cozy eatery serving simple, good food. Interstate 80 exit 140, 435-658-5007, NoWorriesCafé

Koko Kitchen
We’re not talking about some fast-food tempura dollar-menu monstrosity, or the prepackaged sushi that’s been sitting on the discount shelf of your grocer’s deli. We’re talking about the affordable yet authentic Japanese cuisine of the Koko Kitchen. With a nice café atmosphere and reasonable prices, it’s easy to take a chance on some unique Japanese dishes. Try the Tonkatsu curry (breaded pork) or the Obento dinner with chicken, pork or grilled salmon and pickles, noodles, steamed vegetables and Miso soup for $9.95. Sushi is also available; $5.75 will get you an 8-piece Kenji roll topped with teriyaki chicken, spicy sprouts, cucumber, onions and avocado. 702 S. 300 East, 364-4888

BEST MEXICAN Readers’ Choice
Red Iguana
You just have to see the crowd waiting outside for a seat to know this perennial favorite doesn’t disappoint its legion of fans. Inside, the conversations are loud and the décor is bright, but it’s the food that’s the draw. Nachos, chili verde burritos and moles too numerous to mention are all stand-out menu items, as are the margaritas. When they’re in town, Tex-Mex band Los Lobos eats there. If that isn’t a recommendation, what is? 736 W. North Temple, 322-1489,
2. La Frontera
3. Café Rio

Jersey’s Sports Grill
Not just because owner Jersey Reseska is a former City Weekly staffer—dude barely even let us know he opened his own place next to Brewvies earlier this year. Surprisingly, since salads aren’t necessarily the first item you think of ordering in a sports-themed eatery, Jersey’s are fine-and-fresh winners; the Canton Chicken Salad (red onions and wanton noodles with sesame-soy dressing) and Chili Lime Cobb Salad (chili-lime sauce over breaded chicken) are especially tasty. Also of note are the kids’ items, known here as the “Future Athletes Menu”—aw, cute! 677 S. 200 West, 355-3598

Greek Market
It may hurt the feelings of many Italians to learn this, but for many years, while the world regarded the best olive oil as coming from Italy, a dirty little secret was that a good deal of that oil was from olives exported to Italy from Greece. Greeks are slow to catch on, you know. Not anymore, especially when it comes to the finest of olive oils: first-press, extra-virgin olive oil. A natural place to find it, especially in the big gallon cans, is at Greek Market and Deli. Ask owner Mike Limanzakis for his take on the better brands from Crete or mainland Greece. Your arteries will thank you. 3205 S. State, 485-9365

Perhaps it’s that enormous bank of windows overlooking 200 South or the hush of conversation at the table, but Bambara has something oddly hallowed about it. While the á la carte menu it’s out of our range—unless we’re on an expense account—there’s a very reasonable $11 lunch, the menu for which never ceases to intrigue. With a glass of wine and the tip, there’s no change from a $20, but don’t you deserve a little pampering now and then? 202 S. Main, 363-5454,
2. Caffé Molise
3. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Cucina Toscana
Once you taste Valter Nassi’s homemade gnocchi at his lovely Cucina Toscana restaurant, you’ll swear you’ve died and gone to heaven. Gnocchi such as these surely must have been made by angels. If you’re used to gnocchi that lands in your belly with a thud—heavy little lead pasta bombs—then you haven’t tried Valter’s. His gnocchi are light and delicate little potato pillows that are as tasty in pesto as in a traditional Italian red sauce or ragu. Like everything else at Cucina Toscana, the gnocchi are always in top form. 307 W. Pierpont Ave., 328-3463,

Caffé Molise
Named after the Molise region of Italy, this downtown restaurant boasts full service gourmet Italian cuisine in a relaxed and charming setting. The walls are adorned with local artwork from the Utah Artist Hands gallery next door, the bar has a superb wine selection and the John Flanders Trio provides live jazz every Friday night. The patio area opens up into a beautifully lit outdoor setting, and with the lights, wine, sumptuous meals and the soft jazz filling the night air, you’ll feel as if you were brushed into some impressionist Van Gogh painting. Maybe it’s the wine … drink up and enjoy! 55 W. 100 South, 364-8833, Caffé
2. Ruth’s Chris Steak House
3. Trio

La Caille
Most people equate the lavish La Caille near the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon with exquisite French dishes and lush surroundings—luscious surroundings, if you consider the bustier-adorned waitresses. That’s all wonderful and true, yet if you really want a fine and unique La Caille experience, try La Caille on a Sunday night. With meals served in the Basque family style (where diners help themselves to the plates of food before them), La Caille offers up a single price per person meal that from start to end fulfills and satisfies. Ladle up some soup, heap the salad and pile into the mounds of meat and veggies and you, too, will know why we’d rather do this on Sundays instead of watching another 60 Minutes nail-biter. Oh, it’s wise to order a bottle of wine, too. 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., 942-1751,

Huddle Sports Bar
Lots of places serve simple pub fare. But, in this case, it’s the simplicity itself that impresses. Elaborate? Nope, just a basic plate with your basic fries smothered in cheese and chili. If you do want elaborate, try them with sweet potato fries, but some might call that blasphemous. Fancy? No, but then again, the Huddle doesn’t try to impress with fancy, anyway. There are no bad TV viewing lines at the Huddle, thanks to its spacious room and multiple monitors. There are also no bad meals at the Huddle, starting with about the simplest sports fare of them all, french fries—and smothering them makes them all the better. 2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 438-8300

Citris Grill
Citris co-owner Erica Crosland says she wanted to have a restaurant where you could have an appetizer and a glass of wine and not be charged $100. It’s that commitment to providing what diners are looking for that shapes so much of the café’s reasonably priced and eclectic fare. Whether it’s the refreshing adventurousness to grilled cheese specials, such as brie and pear, or the sheer explosion of flavors in its most popular item, the Southwest chicken wrap, Citris endeavors to please and invariably does so. 2991 E. 3300 South, 466-1202
2. Lugano
3. Market Street Grill

Diamond Lil’s
It looks like a casino on the set of Deadwood, sans poker tables and with a lot less profanity. And, if you’re in the mood for a real, meat-and-potato-type meal—remember those?—Diamond Lil’s is an excellent destination. Its authentic log-cabin timbers give it the air of the territories, but there’s nothing primitive about the food. The New York strip steak is not to be missed—for dessert, follow it up with one of Donie’s home-style pies, which she’s been baking for more than 30 years (her banana cremes can’t be beat). When nature calls, as it always does sooner or later, you’ll discover the startling—and funny—secret of the in-house outhouse. 1528 W. North Temple, 533-0547

Chanon Thai Café
Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on. Some avoid spice like the bird flu. Such is the trend in Utah, where diners typically prefer ranch to sriracha, Swiss to pepper jack, and so forth. This demand for blandness leads most restaurants to turn things down a notch, leaving heat seekers in the cold. Chanon, on the other hand, pleases all palates by customizing dishes on a spice scale of 1 (being the coolest) to 5. Don’t be put off by friendly servers who attempt to discourage diners from ordering anything above a 3. Be patient. Remember where you live. Assure them you’re fully prepared to get it on. 278 E. 900 South, 532-1177

Coffee Garden
While longtime regulars lament the loss of Alan Hebertson’s flagship corner café, even critics cherish the Coffee Garden’s new 9th & 9th location. Located across the street from its original digs, the bright, open space will take time to develop the inviting, lived-in feel that inspired so many customers to while away the hours in an armchair or wooden window booth. Thanks to friendly, often sassy faces behind the counter, however, the good old days are alive and kicking in spirit. This is truly the place for perfectly sculpted cappuccinos and small-town gossip. 878 E. 900 South, 355-3425; 254 S. Main, 364-0768
2. Salt Lake Roasting Co.
3. Beans & Brews

BEST JAPANESE Readers’ Choice
The readers have caught onto what we’ve recognized all along: Takashi is king. Since its 2003 debut, the downtown Japanese restaurant has offered the most inventive entrees and freshest sushi east of California. Head chef Takashi Gibo and his talented crew are a joy to watch, their creations a privilege to experience. Armed with sharp knives and experimental edge, they carve contemporary takes on traditional favorites including ribs, udon noodle soup, tempura vegetables and the Azekura, a tower of Portobello mushrooms, green beans and thinly sliced flank steak with grilled eggplant in miso sauce. Don’t be the last one to experience the talk of the town. 18 W. Market St., 519-9595
2. Kyoto
3. Mikado

BEST QUICK LUNCH Readers’ Choice
Salsa Leedos
For a little spicy Mexican lunch, head to the west side where this restaurant cooks up plates of authentic food from south of the border. Ask for their chili verdé, they say it’s the best in the valley. If you are in the mood for something else, try the salmon with mango salsa or the chicken tortilla salad. This locally owned establishment has been filling bellies across the valley for the past six years. 9155 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, 565-8818,
2. Curry in a Hurry
3. Big City Soup

BEST ITALIAN Readers’ Choice
This Tuscan-style eatery is tucked away on the east side of town and looks like it could be a sky lodge in the north of Italy. The restaurant’s rustic Italian food is prepared by the owner/chef and made home-style. So if you want fine food with seasonal menu changes and a great wine list, come here. Try the panninis and pizzettas for lunch or a baby spinach salad with citrus-shallot dressing, dried cherries, candied walnuts and feta. 3364 S. 2300 East, 412-9994,
2. Cucina Toscana
3. Caffé Molise

Eating out doesn’t need to be a crapshoot. When you pay your $6 to $9 for a meal at Saltimbocca, the only gamble is your table placard. At this casual dining Italian restaurant, servers place a playing card on your table so the kitchen and the cashier know where to deliver your food. The last meal we had there, it was the Jack of Hearts, but our chicken piccatta was the King of Tasty. The three-cheese or prosciutto-spinach lasagna rolls are also a delicious pair. Don’t take a chance the next time you eat out, because Saltimbocca is a good bet. 790 E. 2100 South, 466-4066

BEST FIRST DATE Readers’ Choice
Café Trio
A great spot to ease those first-date jitters, Café Trio offers the casual atmosphere and affordable prices that make it a logical date venue. Better yet, the Italian-style menu with a variety of options is likely to please that finicky date of yours. This restaurant gets crowded on the weekends, but reservations are accepted. Intimate booths allow for private conversation with your date, while the patio provides a more romantic setting. If you already know your date is a keeper, request a table in the more-private loft at the Cottonwood location. Atmosphere aside, if you truly want to make your date a success, order dessert. The Tollhouse pie is a favorite that will tickle your taste buds and allow you to clink forks with your date as you share. 680 S. 900 East, 533-8746; 6405 S. 3000 East, 944-8746;
2. Brewvies
3. The Bayou

When we awarded Mazza the Best Middle Eastern Restaurant last year, we lamented only the cozy café’s cramped quarters: “If the owners could just make the place larger to cut down on wait time.” We’re glad owner/chef Ali Sabbah opened a second, roomier location at 9th & 9th. His loyal customers know he always goes the extra mile. On opening night, Sabbah compensated for a backed-up kitchen by personally checking in on tables to field complaints. Besides one woman’s irrational beef with the seating arrangement (“My feet can’t reach the floor!”), there were none. How could anyone take issue with inventive, perfectly spiced dishes including muhumara (with ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, toasted bread crumbs, olive oil, roasted bell peppers), wallet-friendly falafel, baked eggplant sandwiches and sinful baklava? 1515 S. 1500 East, 484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, 521-4572; MazzaCafé.com
2. Café Med
3. Cedars of Lebanon

Food for Thought
From a distance, Food For Thought in Draper appears to be just a small, old-fashioned house with a gravel parking lot on the side. But this historic home has been transformed into a café (10-15 tables) filled with fresh and delectable delicacies. Open only for lunch, Food for Thought specializes in heaping, freshly made, crisp salads such as the Chinese chicken and Pasadena Blue. The quiches, sandwiches (try the veggie with hummus) and home-style desserts are to die for, and in winter, it offers a mean home-style hot chocolate. 12640 Fort Street, Draper, 576-9161

BEST CHINESE Readers’ Choice
Little World
If only because Little World’s as close as a Salt Laker’s going to get to Chinatown, this hole-in-the-wall deserves to be revered as a local treasure. There’s nothing new to the secret behind its 14-year reign as a top Chinese restaurant. An emphasis on fresh produce, low prices and families is about it. That liquor’s not on the menu is a bummer, but its made-from-scratch oyster sauce is second to none and the $5 lunch special must be one of the best bets for downtown noon-time noshing. 1356 S. State, 467-5213/487-8115
2. Sampan
3. Hong Kong Tea House

The Mayan
The Mayan’s thrill is definitely in the spectacle, in the sight of lithe young divers springing off cliffs and plummeting down into the depths of pool below. Kids watch with wide eyes as the entertainment makes a big splash. With a $4.50 kids’ menu offering pizza, tacos and chicken enchiladas, and a balloon lady who can whip up your favorite animated-movie character in seconds, it’s no wonder children clamor to return. 9400 S. State, 304-4600,
2. Old Spaghetti Factory
3. Joe’s Crab Shack

Journey up to Em’s on Capitol Hill and you’ll swear you’ve been transported to San Francisco or Napa. All the city’s residue is left behind as you walk into Emily Gassmann’s comfy little neighborhood eatery, filled with beautiful artwork and equally beautiful food. An appetizer of phyllo stuffed with duck confit and goat cheese is a great place to start, followed perhaps by Em’s leek-stuffed wild salmon roulades on a bed of creamy cabbage. The eclectic and very reasonably priced wine list adds to the “you’re not in Utah anymore” gestalt at Em’s so you might want to sip a little Veuve Clicquot as you dip into your outrageously delicious raspberry cr%uFFFDme brulee. 271 N. Center St., 596-0566,

Cocoa Caffé
“Love for free” it said on the board outside Cocoa Caffé one September afternoon. That’s good, because there are days when it would appear not much else is available. That September afternoon, for example, there was no cocoa, no decaf and you couldn’t use credit cards. But somehow it didn’t matter. The place is so mellow, it takes away the sting of dissatisfaction and replaces it with a gentle smile. Classical music, comfortable armchairs, delicious fruit scones and several lovely large oaks providing leafy cover to outdoor tables make Cocoa a unique experience you’re happy to go back to regardless of what else is available—or not. 282 E. 900 South, 364-3332

Market Street Grill
If these walls could talk, they’d likely tell stories about $49.99 lunches supposedly purchased by lobbyists for expense-account-limited lawmakers. Something about the historic New York Building lends itself to plotting. Any given lunchtime finds deal-making downtown business movers as well as reminiscing old-time political operatives. Maybe it’s the booths that let you be seen without letting others hear what you’re talking about. Maybe it’s the exotic-feeling menu featuring lump crab cakes and seafood Louis. Business has been good business at Market Street, recently listed among the nation’s top 100 independent restaurants for its $10 million annual sales. 48 W. Market St., 322-4668,
2. Caffé Molise
3. The New Yorker

Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops
If you want to give your expense account a good spanking, Spencer’s is the place to go. While it boosts some of the best steaks in town, Spencer’s service is even harder to beat. Take Stephen (the restaurant doesn’t give out waiters’ last names). His bovine knowledge is encyclopedic. He evokes an array of cooked meat with winding sentences that leave the listeners mopping up their drool. But more than just the pitch, it’s anticipation that counts. Order a gin & tonic with Bombay Sapphire, three ice cubes and a slice of lemon and each time you return to eat there, he’ll whisk your particular G&T to the table before you even think to ask. 255 S. West Temple, 238-4748,

Blue Plate Diner
In case the rusted bikes perpetually chained to the outside patio didn’t clue you in, this isn’t a jacket-required kind of establishment. But the diner delicacies—a mix of home-style classics and veggie-friendly additions—are a bargain. The breakfast-anytime omelets won’t set you back more than $8; a full-on meatloaf or chicken-fried steak dinner (including scrumptious garlic mashed potatoes) tops out at just over a 10-spot. It’s not just the vibe that’s retro—so is your bill. 2041 S. 2100 East, 463-1151
2. Café Rio
3. Beto’s

BEST DELI Readers’ Choice
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
Anyone wanting to make a go of it as a restaurateur should study all the things done well by Tony Caputo and do his or her damnedest to emulate him. Specializing in regional Italian and southern European cuisine, the deli has anchored the northwest corner of 300 South and 300 West since 1997, its open kitchen serving made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and pasta to teeming lunch crowds seven days a week. Mainly, it’s Tony Caputo’s passion for authenticity, quality and variety that earns him our reader’s love year after year. That, and the banana peppers that come with every order. 314 W. 300 South, 531-TONY,
2. Gandolfo’s
3. Granato’s

Ian Brandt, Vertical Diner
Nearly a decade after he introduced Salt Lake City to the joys of carrot butter, Sage’s Café owner Ian Brandt launched version 2.0 of his popular organic-foods restaurant. Vertical Diner maintains Brandt’s commitment to fresh, organic ingredients while offering not only vegan-friendly but wallet-friendly options. Located on an industrial strip near SLC Bicycle Collective, Vertical’s interior space is warm and inviting (although you might want to skip the leather jacket) with cozy booths and a free jukebox including album selections from James Brown to Guns N’ Roses. Nothing like a little “November Rain” to enhance diverse meat- and dairy-free breakfast and lunch menu items, served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, including omelets, scrambles, veggie burgers, “chicken” strips, rice bowls with tofu and tempeh, fluffy biscuits—even milkshakes and fry sauce (Vegans have guilty pleasures, too). 2280 S. West Temple, 484-8378,

BEST INDIAN Readers’ Choice
Bombay House
You’d be well advised to phone ahead for reservations. You’d be well advised to skip lunch, too. The wait for starters and entrees may be a little on the long side—this is one of a select few Utah restaurants with an almost perpetual waiting list, so be patient—but the aroma suffusing Bombay House is so enticing, you’re willing to draw out the pleasure of anticipation—until you reach your limit and dive right in. As most diners have realized since its opening in 1993, few others excel in offering north Indian dishes that tantalize to such a maddening degree. So next time you’re here, expand your range by indulging in specials such as chicken tikka or vegetable briyani. Like an old friend you never tire of, every visit to Bombay House is a grand reintroduction. 2731 E. Parley’s Way, 581-0222; 463 North University Ave, Provo, 801-373-6677;
2. Himalayan Kitchen
3. Taste of Punjab

One World Café
People are still incredulous when they hear about One World Café, a local, nonprofit organic foods restaurant that operates on a pay-as-you-go policy, no menu and a living wage for workers who can also punch the clock in exchange for healthy meals. Owner/head chef Denise Cerreta founded the tiny café in 2003 to help people fill up without filling out—or turning the earth into one giant landfill. Cerreta recently took her concept nationwide with One World Everybody Eats, a program that teaches trailblazers in other cities how to establish their own community kitchens, reduce waste and encourage conscious consumption. Cerreta is currently working on a book to spread her message, but you can do your part by telling a friend. Who tells another. And so on. 41 S. 300 East, 519-2002,

BEST THAI Readers’ Choice
Thai Siam
In its quiet, understated manner, Thai Siam never seeks to impose or demand but rather gently guide you through a surprisingly lengthy 50-item menu. The service is at times almost self-effacing, but when it comes to the food, the confidence with which the spices are used seems like an orchestra erupting around you. Particular stand-outs are the curries, notably the gang panang and the pineapple curry, and the salads, including a beef salad with mint, Thai chili and lime juice that just keeps the music coming.1435 S. State, 474-3322,
2. Sawadee
3. Bangkok Thai

Avenues Bakery
New to town and want to learn your way around? Start eating at the Avenues Bakery and learn to associate breakfast food with neighborhoods. There’s the “Avenues” French toast, “Lindsay Gardens” eggs and avocado on rosemary bread, “Liberty Park” bacon and eggs, “Rose Park” huevos rancheros with black beans and “Sugarhouse” oatmeal. The weekend brunch menu also includes “Federal Heights” eggs Benedict and the “Marmalade Hill” wild salmon hash. There’s also a nod to Paris (a demi baguette and jam) and Portland (demi baguette, jam, granola and yogurt), but mainly it’s about our fair metropolis. Might we also suggest to the chef a future dish called the “Sandy” (crustless white bread rolled up into little soccer balls)? 481 E. South Temple, 746-5626

Rock Canyon Dipping Grill
It happens all the time: You’ve got your eye on the restaurant’s grilled chicken, but it only comes with a cilantro pesto that you loathe. No problemo, just head north to Rock Canyon Dipping Grill in Clearfield where you can mix and match your food with any of 20-or-so unique dipping sauces: maple-cranberry, jalapeno-mustard, spicy orange, red pepper & cheese, teriyaki, peanut, barbecue, and many more. The Rock Canyon chicken skewers are dee-lish with honey-mustard sauce and the New York strip steak rocks with the berry-chipotle sauce. Got your eye on the green-chili burger? Then you’ll want it lathered in Canyon ranch sauce, of course.1266 Legend Hills Dr., Clearfield, 779-1110,

Moki’s Hawaiian Grill
Let’s face it: On a cloudy day when winter’s inversion has set in, you need to hear a warm “Aloha.” The casual family dining of Moki’s, with its authentic Hawaii cuisine such as mainland paniolo (New York strip with gravy), the outrigger (seared fish with yams and rice), Katsu chicken (breaded breast of chicken) and Kalua burger (slow roasted pork) is the perfect pick-me-up for dreary gray days. The freshly made macaroni salad is another surprising island favorite. Located in a strip mall, the impeccably clean island-themed interior and Hawaiian music make you feel as though you’ve just gone on a mini-vacation for the price of meal.4820 S. Redwood Road, 965-6654,

Sage’s Café
There are a precious handful of thoroughly vegetarian restaurants in Salt Lake City, and Sage’s has rightfully and duly grown its way to the top of the organic heap. With a faux Philly cheesesteak sandwich as savory as Sage’s, and vegetable ingredients so fresh you can practically taste the day they were picked, who can possibly doubt it? The recent return of pizza night, extended hours of operation, and the ever-popular breakfast menu keep the bounty coming. 473 E. Broadway, 322-3790, SagesCafé.com
2. Oasis
3. Evergreen

Espresso Connection & Cyber Café
This sunny café across from Salt Lake Community College has much to recommend: It’s LavAzza Italian coffee (No. 1 in Europe), made-from-scratch soups and sandwiches, moist home-style carrot cake, patio tables with umbrellas, free wireless hub and stationary computers to rent ($3 per hour). A best-kept secret is its conference room that seats 16, which can be reserved at no cost when you purchase food and drink. A private reading room with comfy chairs even allows a book exchange. The vibes are especially good here for gamers and college students needing to cram. Everyone else can eat, sip and be merry.4465 S. Redwood Road, 268-1944, EspressoConnectionCafé.com

BEST FRENCH Readers’ Choice
Paris Bistro
French cuisine is sometimes as difficult to navigate and decipher as the French themselves—at least where the Anglo mind’s concerned. It’s often infuriatingly rich, complex in execution and gets nowhere near the publicity of Italian and Mexican offerings. Thank God, then, that one local restaurant knows how to deliver the true spirit of the food with fresh ingredients and style to spare. Paris Bistro’s offerings are hearty enough to make an impression, yet light enough to hit scores of bright notes on the palate. One sample of this bistro’s mussels, and you’ll know you’re in expert hands. One of the indisputable anchors of Salt Lake City dining, and rightly so.1500 S. 1500 East, 486-5585,
2. La Caille
3. Franck’s

Salt Lake Roasting Company
Cider, for some, is simply apple juice with a kick—nice, but nothing to write home about. And, while we all know coffee is what the Roasting Company is known for, its apple cider is a particular standout. The coffeehouse treats its seasonal beverage as nectar of the gods, or at least a very fine wine. Nutmeg and cinnamon tango with sweet, fruity accents warmed just this side of scalding under a soft cloud of foam. One sip of this cider, and you’ll be saying, “Cocoa schmocoa!”320 E. 400 South, 363-7572,

BEST BBQ & RIBS Readers’ Choice
SugarHouse Barbecue Co.
According to our BOU BBQ archives, SugarHouse Barbecue Co. (then Redbones) was the first restaurant to bring real Memphis-style barbecue (i.e., rubbed and cherry-wood smoked) to Salt Lake City back in 1996—it was easy to find, because SugarHouse has been winning this one sauce-splattered hands-down every year since. And please note that the sauce is always served on the side. “Best Ribs” is likewise always inseparable from “BBQ,” so excuse us for consolidating a bit of space here—they’re good, trust history.2207 S. 700 East, 463-4800,
2. Q4U
3. Pat’s BBQ

Sensuous Sandwiches
Tucked away on Provo’s leafy Center Street is this sandwich-bar gem. Sensuous has been around since 1980. Current owner and manager Almond Bethers took over from her father, Bill Cox. Sandwiches are sold by the inch and go with such pornographically promising names as the Tantalizer (pastrami, roast beef, turkey with jack cheese) and the Super Saucy (roast beef smothered in barbecue sauce). Almond says she has the coolest customers ever. Locals return the compliment, calling her “the sensuous girl,” a title guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s lips.163 W. Center, Provo, 801-377-9244; Northeast corner of Burlington Coat Factory, Orem, 801-225-9475,

As they say at Finn’s, “It’s been 10 years. Some of you must be really, really hungry.” It’s been 10 years since the historic restaurant at the top of Parley’s Way closed its doors. And now the Finn Gurholt family has re-created the magic in Sugar House with the new Finn’s Café. Naturally, the reincarnated eatery sports the Swedish and Norwegian faves of Finn’s v1.0, like Norwegian waffles, pyttipanna, Scandinavian breakfasts, roast turkey with lingonberries and Finn’s superb Wiener schnitzel. But, at the old Finn’s, you couldn’t get a macchiato; now you can. No wine or beer, though (there’s a church across the way).1624 S. 1100 E., 467-4000, FinnsCafé.net

BEST BREAKFAST Readers’ Choice
Blue Plate Diner
Not far from SugarHouse Park, this scruffy little diner is the real deal. Its wait staff is anything but cloying and the atmosphere, while retro, is decidedly amped. They recommend the all-you-can-eat cornmeal pancakes or huevos rancheros with a black bean crust and poached eggs covered in melted cheese and salsa. For vegans, the tofu scramble will appease not only your conscience but also your appetite.2041 S. 2100 East, 463-1151
2. Eggs in the City
3. The Bagelry

Acapulco Market
That means “Mexican butcher shop,” gabacho, and it’s just the thing for anybody who sadly yearns for a more carnivore-friendly time—it’s a meat-lover’s paradise. Acapulco doesn’t just sell meat; it sells meat-related products and even things that don’t look all that meaty. (But meat could be in there somewhere!) The inexpensive and delicious pork tamales alone, kept in a pot near the cash register, are worth a special trip.1430 Indiana Ave., 359-8944

BEST SUSHI Readers’ Choice
We already knew Takashi serves this town’s most delectable sushi. Unlike a hipster hiding his favorite band from mainstream audiences, however, we’re thrilled the public is equally hooked on shining slivers of sashimi, Spanish mackerel and torched sablefish nigiri, brilliant rolls including the T&T, Buddha and Alta (with chunks of heavenly, real crab) and ceviche cocktail served in a martini glass with avocado. Besides the obvious culinary delights, the often-packed downtown eatery keeps people coming back with friendly, professional servers and pristine digs that somehow evoke both warmth and ultra-coolness. Once you’ve accepted Takashi as your personal sushi savior, saddle up to the bar and let the chef’s imagination run wild. You won’t be disappointed.18 W. Market St., 519-9595
2. Happy Sumo
3. Tsunami

Rich’s Bagels
Rich’s Bagels are so popular that they ship worldwide. The signature bagel, the light and airy Asiago cheese, is delectable with a variety of toppings ranging from honey and butter to light veggie cream cheese, gouda, turkey, capers and sprouts. With a new chicken pistachio salad and a bagel of the day that ranges from blueberry, cinnamon-sugar to poppy seed and an “everything” bagel, this is a bagel-lover’s paradise. The banana bread, homemade cookies, and hot breakfast egg sandwiches round out the taste-tempting menu.6191 Highland Drive, Holladay, 277-3137; 8691 Highland Drive, Sandy, 947-0890

The Argentine Corner
Argentina’s international culinary reputation rests on the quality of its meat. But spend time in Buenos Aires and street-corner pizzerias soon catch your eye. In Clearfield, Argentine expatriot Jose Luis Palacios is a master pizza maker. The secret he says is in the 3/4-inch dough. His wife has watched him, he says, and under her hands, it still doesn’t come out the same. “The hand of the pizza maker is exclusive,” he says in Spanish. He offers 10 different pizzas. Gringos go for the Napolitano, which has garlic, black olives, tomatoes and mozzarella. But, if you fancy something different, try la de espinacha, with tomato sauce, spinach, white sauce and parmesan.442 N. Main, Clearfield, 801-773-9909

The Bayou
The Bayou is known and loved for its wide-ranging beer selection. It only stands to reason that the private club’s appetizers would be equal in stature. Great exotic beers demand killer munchies, such as the Bayou’s alligator cheesecake and Cajun-spiced Buffalo wings. Other tempting starter fare includes chicken quesadilla, chipotle hummus, fried ravioli, artichoke-cheese dip and the ever-popular sweet potato fries served with a garlic-chipotle fry sauce. True comfort food with a Cajun twist—just the way we like it in Utah.645 S. State, 961-8400,
2. Caffé Molise
3. Panache

La Taqueria Lolita
Next door to strip club Trails, Lolita is the best kind of hole-in-the-wall. The salsa’s picante, the chimichanga lightly fried, the salad fresh, the tacos crispy. But, while many other hole-in-the-wall establishments abandon dessert as unworthy of attention, Lolita proves the sweet is as important as the salty. Lolita’s traditional nieve frita—fried snow—features ice cream rolled in sultanas and sugary rice cereal, sitting on a base of fried dough with liquid chocolate drizzled over the top. Whether it’s Trails’ influence or just the cook’s enthusiasm for sinful treats, this is one dessert not to be missed.909 S. 300 West, 364-4123

Braza Grill
Braza Grill’s greatest coup is not the high quality of its grilled tenderloin or the pork and pineapple that waiters bring to the table on sword sticks. Nor is it the abundant salad bar. Rather, its greatest asset is what its clientele provide—the constant, at times raucous, rumble of Portuguese and Spanish. The voices swoon and ripple like the distilled essence of samba and bossa nova. Braza Grill’s pleasure lies in the intimacy it affords—and the illusion that you’re dining just off the Copacabana rather than exhaust-plugged State Street.5927 S. State, Murray, 506-7788

BEST CALZONES Readers’ Choice
The Pie
Actually, the menu calls it a “Zappi,” but whatever—in most folks’ eyes, it’s still a pizza folded in on itself. Thankfully, The Pie doesn’t consider the calzone in such simple terms, loading its meat, cheese or vegetarian Zappis with the tastiest of ingredients you’ll be snacking for days (if you can finish a Zappi in a single sitting, hats and belts off to you).1320 E. 200 South, 582-0193,
2. Este Pizza
3. Big Apple Pizza

Monsoon Thai Bistro
With its roaring fireplace, ornate ceiling and plush, elegant décor, the initial impression of Monsoon Thai is more a banquet hall than a bistro. Once you’ve chosen from the extensive wine list and enjoyed some superlative starters, notably the Thai calamari or the lobster-mango spring roll, it’s as if the lights start to dim around your table. The mellow, gothic atmosphere somehow adds to the subtle flavors of dishes like the Thai basil salmon with pasta or the honey-ginger duck. By the time you get up from your table and the bistro’s silken shadows give way to the harsh valley lights below Foothill, it’s hard not to marvel at how seamless the Monsoon experience is. 1615 Foothill Drive, 583-5339

BEST STEAKS Readers’ Choice
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
If you want a proper piece of beef, then this national franchise is for you. Order up the Midwestern corn-fed specialty 12-ounce filet if you want beef. Or try the crab legs. While the menu items have a New Orleans flare, this is not food of the Cajun persuasion—just plain steaks, thank you, mama.134 W. Pierpont Ave., 366-4000,
2. Spencer’s for Steak & Chops
3. Fleming’s Prime Steak house

Mama’s Southern Plantation
Trying to extract from cook Lily or one of Mama’s owners the secret behind the astonishing baked beans is a fruitless exercise. Lily defers to the owners and they smile beatifically at Mama’s large portrait. Nevertheless, the taste buds don’t lie. Whatever Mama’s recipe contains, it delivers the goods: sweet, tomato-based spicy sauce and tender beans that linger on the palate long after lunch is over.1394 S. West Temple, 485-6715

Chef’s Table
Chef and owner Kent Andersen’s 6-year-old Provo eatery continues to rule the roost when it comes to fine dining in Provo. His combination of applying French cooking methods to American seasonal produce results in a menu that changes five times a year and continues to draw a solid base of culinary fans. Entrees range, depending on the time of year, from halibut encrusted with macadamia nuts to osso bucco to classic tenderloin dishes. With decor that includes original oil paintings, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on the valley, Chef’s Table manages to combine class with comfort. Andersen appreciates Provo’s small-town flavor and, it seems, would rather concentrate on the details that keep folks coming from Salt Lake Valley than on opening up another restaurant.2005 S. State, Orem, 235-9111,

BEST SOUP Readers’ Choice
Soup Kitchen
The best part of Soup Kitchen—aside from the best soup in town, of course, and sandwiches like Mom used to make—is the no-fuss atmosphere. Particularly at the Sugar House location, decorated with vintage posters from ’60s rock shows, Soup Kitchen feels more like a commune than a restaurant. You are asked to leave some bread sticks for the next guy, but in sort of an each-according-to-his-hunger sort of way. Then you can fill your paper cup at the water fountain and find a seat in the cafeteria-like space. Unlike the commune, you do have to pay—but not very much.2012 S. 1100 East, 467-0908; 15 W. 3300 South, 486-0341
2. Big City Soup
3. Paradise Café

BEST PAD THAI Readers’ Choice
Thai Siam
Longtime favorite Thai Siam is best known for its killer lunch special—choice of two entrees plus steamed rice and a deep fried spring roll—but frequent diners are perfectly willing to eat at night if it means another serving of Pad Thai. The traditional dish of rice noodles served with meat or tofu, green onion, bean sprouts, egg and Pad Thai sauce and topped with crushed peanuts, is the perfect comfort food for anyone who craves their sweet with a little spice. 1435 S. State, 474-3322,
2. Sawadee
3. Chanon Thai Café

Protea Cottage
Former high school teacher Shandre Dovale opened up her bastion of civilized tea-sipping Valentine’s Day last year. “Tea doesn’t talk back,” she quips. But the lost art of conversation, not to mention pouring cups of tea, is what West Jordan-based Protea’s about. Its celebration of the old-fashioned English ritual of the afternoon tea is as authentic as the artery-clogging clotted cream and scones she serves with one of her 70 odd loose-leaf teas. Dovale’s afternoon tea service, a meal in itself, is a big seller, along with Mommy-and-me teas. Women and their daughters escape for an hour to a world where the only question is “One lump or two?”Gardner Village, 1100 W. 7800 South, 938-1980

The Hole
No, make that perhaps the only coffee in Brigham City. Still, humble monopoly doesn’t mean quality is scrimped—and certainly not when it comes to price. In fact, with espresso shots for a mere 50 cents and a large latte for little more than $2, thrifty but thirsty coffee enthusiasts will certainly hope for the day when this little Brigham City institution starts multiplying like Starbucks. That, of course, will never happen. In the meantime, we can saunter toward the counter for another refill.1064 S. Main, Brigham City, 435-723-0466

There hasn’t really been any competition in this category for years—yet somehow Tiburon’s status as the cream of the south valley restaurant crop hasn’t caused Ken and Valerie Rose to rest on their laurels. They continue to serve up some of Utah’s best fine dining, irrespective of location, in a setting that’s classy without feeling intimidating. If you haven’t savored one of the Roses’ succulent creations on the lovely seasonally available patio—well, you’re spending too much time dining downtown.8260 S. 700 East, Sandy, 255-1200
2. Salsa Leedos
3. Royal India

Best Chicken & Ribs Greek Food
If you’re the best and you know it, clap your hands: Clap! Clap! The only thing unlovable about Best Chicken & Ribs Greek Food is that it’s been getting busier and busier at lunchtime. Somehow, the word is getting out that the “The Best” is more than just a name. The Chicken Souvlaki sandwich ($4.49) with hot fries or salad, is, well, The Best. Dolmades, falafel, chicken and ribs. It’s the best. It’s in the name. Put it in your belly.111 E. 2700 South, 466-8311

Back Door Deli
Maybe you’re not on Main Street in Park City, but in any tourist town, if you go slightly off the beaten path you can find good food and dropped prices. Located on a side street just off of Main near the transportation hub, Back Door sells a wide variety of sandwiches beginning around $6.50—add $1 for brie cheese and 25 cents for an extra pickle—a relative bargain and a great quick escape from the throngs.136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-647-9200

Windy Ridge Café & Bakery
The best part of this bakery, opened to the public in January, is the behind-the-scenes view it gives customers. The huge expanse of the bakery kitchen stretches out behind the walk-in counter giving views of bakers in impossibly white aprons creating a seemingly endless array of goodies. Visiting for the first time gives the sweet-toothed an idea of what it must have been like for Charlie Bucket to walk into the chocolate factory. Windy Ridge is the bakery for some of Park City’s best restaurants, including Grappa, with which it shares an owner. Customers can take home favorites from the restaurants, including an apple pie with 6 inches of apple slices and breakfast items such as croissants and granola.1756 Iron Horse Drive, Park City, 435-647-2906

BEST ROMANTIC Readers’ Choice
Log Haven
“The elk steak is delicious,” she said tenderly. He could look at nothing, however, but her face; her beautiful, flawless face. That, and his potato-crusted Alaskan halibut. A fire crackled under the mantelpiece, but it was he who was consumed—consumed with desire. “Darling,” he said, “Cheryl, my love—I have something I want to ask you. Will you … will you share your dessert with me?” “Oh, yes, John, yes!” rang out her passionate reply. And, for one perfect moment, there was silence.6451 E. Mill Creek Canyon Road, 272-8255,
2. Caffé Molise
3. The Melting Pot

Fiddler’s Elbow and Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta
This Sugar House combo is the perfect place to dine for the group who wants a little of everything. Somebody want a little carbo loading? Drop them off at the 2100 South entrance to Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta for a custom-built pizza or a plate of chicken Contadina fettuccine. Someone else in the mood for a custom-built burger or a plate of cranberry-and-leek salmon? Then it’s the attached Fiddler’s Elbow, just to the north of 2100 South in the same building. Same ownership, two dining spots. What could be better? Not to mention if someone wants a salad and a beer, they can have that at either location.1063 E. 2100 South, 463-9393 (Fiddler’s), 484-1804 (SLP&P),

Greenhouse Effect
Even before walking through the doors of Greenhouse Effect, you’re flung backwards in time to the fabulous ’60s. The deliciously steaming coffee or tea served in a quaint atmosphere of rickety tables and comfy chairs, surrounded by stunning artwork and interesting doo-dads, makes this a place to savor. What brings customers back time and again is the out-of-this-world crepes, served in many tempting varieties from vegetable, egg or the best: strawberries and whipped cream. This is perfect for a lazy weekend get-together with good friends, getting buzzed on caffeine, sugar and great conversation.3231 S. 900 East, 483-0885

Settebello Pizzeria
The folks in Naples, Italy, are picky about their Margherita pizza. That’s why authentic Margherita pizzas are only made using “00” Italian flour, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fresh basil. And that’s precisely how pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Matteo Schiavone does it at Settebello, which is also why his Settebello pizzas are VPN-approved. They’re certified as authentic Italian pies by the venerable Vera Pizza Napolitano, a consortium formed to insure that qualified pizzerias cook their pizzas as Napolitanos have done for two centuries. Don’t even think about asking for pineapple.260 S. 200 West, 322-3556

Moochie’s Meatball & More
Mentioning to most that Moochie’s has the best Philly cheesesteak on either side of the Mississippi (we’re just lucky to have them in Salt Lake City) is like reminding a Mormon that Jesus is the good guy and Satan is the one who opens swimming pools on Sunday. It’s just that obvious. Moochie’s is that good. But, get out of your delicious rut. Moochie’s excels at far more than just Philly cheesesteaks. Try the Philly-style cheese-ham, the meatball sandwich or the eggplant parmigiana, and you’ll soon find yourself swimming through one delicious rut after another.232 E. 800 South, 596-1350,

BEST LATE-NIGHT Readers’ Choice
Beto’s Mexican Food
Who hasn’t hit a Beto’s drive-thru window at 2 a.m. after a night of clubbing? Sit down, Ted Scheffler. For being so fast, cheap and nocturnal, the chain’s surprisingly varied menu (including vegetarian items for those people) remains consistently tasty and filling, even when sober and in broad daylight—it’s true, try it sometime.Multiple locations
2. Molca Salsa
3. Dee’s Family Restaurant

Scandia Kaffee House
Practically legendary for its marzipan cakes and other sweets and baked goods, Scandia Kaffee House is also a fine, nongreasy alternative for nursing a wicked case of the day-afters. Sipping a cup of Joe amid Nordic wares and kitsch is oddly comforting; add some eggs, bacon and deliciously fluffy crepes (another Scandia specialty) and all is right with the world again. Worry about all those drunken text messages you sent last night later.1693 S. 900 East, 467-0051

Sun & Moon Café
The view from the patio isn’t much: a hillside in Emigration Canyon. But the terraced wooden deck behind the old restaurant remains one of the most pleasant places in the valley to spend a summer evening. The beer selection is excellent and the live music—blues and bluegrass—keeps you coming into fall when the canyon can be downright chilly. The food is good, too. Once a place for burgers—damned fine burgers—in the restaurant’s previous incarnation as Crompton’s Roadside Attraction, Sun and Moon has gone a little fancy with wine tastings and a wide variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner menus designed by owner Carl Wayant, the former chef of Solitude’s Yurt.5195 Emigration Canyon, 583-8331, TheSunAndMoonCafé.com

BEST BREWPUB Readers’ Choice
Don’t just ask our readers—though we’re delighted to hear from them. Ask the judges for the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, who have honored Squatters’ brews over the years too many times to count. With a variety of wonderful beer options like Chasing Tail Ale and Polygamy Porter—in addition to the tasty pub food—it’s no wonder that the formula has proven successful enough open a new location in Park City. And in case all that wasn’t enough reason to visit, it’s also one of the state’s most environmentally conscious businesses.147 W. 300 South, 363-2739,
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Desert Edge Pub

Across the street, there is a velvet rope and a line of gawkers craning their necks to get a glimpse of Britney’s ass. Meanwhile, you, Brad and Angelina are having a quiet Italian meal or listening to blues at the nightclub, enjoying the lower profile of Cisero’s and discussing if, really, you didn’t buy into Park City a tad too late.306 Main, Park City, 435-649-6800,

Café Trang
Count Salt Lake City blessed that we have Vietnamese restaurant of this quality and choice of locations. Count Salt Lake City doubly blessed that we have a Vietnamese restaurant with such an extensive menu of offerings and the option of brown rice to boot. Caramel pork, mango fish, and the ever-popular spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce are standard for longtime customers, but it’s likely not even they have covered the full terrain of Trang’s menu. Not that they, and we, won’t keep trying.Multiple locations, Café
2. Mi La Cai
3. East West Connection

Jean Louis
At Chef Jean Louis Montecot’s namesake Park City restaurant, the appetizer options are so inviting, you might just decide to make a meal of nothing but starters. We could imagine, for example, kicking things off with steamy escargots served in the Burgundian style with toasted country bread before moving onto a dish of fresh tuna tartare with English cucumber and roasted peppers. Next, smoked wild salmon with Peruvian potatoes or maybe Muscovy duck rillette with cornichons and pearl onions would be in order. Don’t get too busy with the Swiss Raclette or cheese fondue, though, because you’re absolutely going to want to save room for an appetizer order of seared foie gras drizzled with a fig and balsamic vinegar reduction. And that’s just for starters!136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-200-0260

Pistol Pete’s
At many other Mexican eateries, the tortilla soup is thin, runny and bland. This is not the case at Pistol Pete’s, an Arizona style Mexican walk up and order joint whose tortilla soup has a base of thick tomato broth, guacamole, tortilla strips, rice and cheese. It’s served with a side of tortilla chips complemented by the free salsa bar. This dish is sure to keep your stomach full with its dense content and your wallet thick with its low price.2477 Fort Union Blvd., 944-1833

Whether you’re a curry girl or a Pad Thai kind of guy, the Thai explosion has been one of Salt Lake City’s best dining developments in recent years. Sawadee may be the new kid on the block, but we’re glad it moved in—and so close to the Avenues. Adventurous diners will appreciate authentic Thai seafood dishes the likes of which have not often been seen in these parts and, for those who already know what they want—curries, natch—Sawadee offers a rainbow of them.754 E. South Temple, 328-8424,
2. Mazza
3. Chanon Thai

What can get SLC downtowners to leave their comfortable confines and head southwest to Q4U’s new location? How about a chance to experience the finger-licking delights of T’s succulent barbecue or the side dishes that taste like a Southern grandma just put ’em out on the table? Bring a big appetite, a couple of toothpicks and a willingness to get messy. Oh, and maybe the classified ads—when you’re done, you just might consider moving a little bit closer.3951 W. 5400 South, West Valley City, 955-8858,
2. Texas Roadhouse
3. Red Iguana

Wasatch Broiler & Grill
Whether skewered on a kebab, atop a salad or on a pizza, the chicken dominates in flavor and succulence in every one of Wasatch’s dishes. Wasatch focuses on healthy dining and does not skimp on the chicken. The pieces are stripped of their skin and marinated for 24 hours in a blend of vegetable juices and seasonings. The chicken is then flame grilled, never fried, over a specially built broiler and grill. Better yet, each dish is cooked fresh to order and served hot.4927 S. State, 266-3311,

Flying J Travel Plaza
Sometimes a late-night hankering for hash browns—or for a surreal adventure with your freaky friends—calls for a visit to the local travel plaza. The smell of diesel fuel permeates everything and the truckers will eye you with suspicion if you laughingly order a java mocha half-calf back-flip latte. Stick with coffee; you’ll be OK. The wait staff aren’t all named Flo, but they might call you “hon” if you leave a decent tip. Otherwise, be prepared to kiss some grits.850 W. 2100 South, 972-3711

BEST GREEK Readers’ Choice
Located a stone’s throw from the University of Utah, this upscale Greek bistro boasts a sunny patio, a full bar with an extensive Greek wine list and kick-ass appetizers (“mezedakia”). Perhaps it’s the smelts or Greek classics like moussaka, pastitsio, souvlaki and gyros that readers love, or the pine-tasting retsina wine to wash it all down with. Or maybe it’s triangles of succulent baklava or cups of rice pudding made by the owner’s mom. What sets Aristo’s apart from the others—in addition to white linen tablecloths—are skylights that, on a sunny day, can fool you into thinking the Mediterranean is lapping outside the front door.224 S. 1300 East, 581-0888,
2. Greek Souvlaki
3. Yanni’s

El Matador Restaurante/Cantina
After more than 40 years of business in Ogden, you could easily say that the folks here were blessed with great Mexican food long before most Salt Lakers knew a burrito from a baked potato. Started by the Hasratian family, El Matador is still family run, and the shredded cheese melted into warm salsa still keeps Ogdenites coming back for more.2564 Ogden Ave., Ogden, 801-393-3151

Rodizio Grill
This is a carnivore’s dream. Just order the “Full Rodizio,” sit back, loosen your belt buckle, and prepare to feast on a nonstop barrage of grilled meats, poultry, seafood, veggies and fruit. But pace yourself. The guys in the gaucho outfits will keep coming to your table with skewers of grilled stuff until you say “uncle!” Highlights of this Brazilian-style churrascaria include lombo (marinated pork loin), picanha (top sirloin), corac%uFFFDo (bacon-wrapped turkey breast, grilled chicken hearts) and luscious abacaxi—glazed, grilled pineapple slices. Muito bem!600 S. 700 East, Trolley Square, 220-0500,

Corbin’s Grille
As the most recent addition to Layton’s growing “restaurant row,”

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