Best of Utah 2009: Food and Drink | Salt Lake City's finest restaurants | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2009: Food and Drink 

Salt Lake City's finest restaurants

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They're green and organic, they're saving the planet, their beers are slammin'just a little free-range freestyle; Squatters would approve. Squatters Pub & Brewery is too classic to ever go out of style, as evidenced by countless Best of Utah wins with our readers over the years. The urban energy crackles here even during the slower hours, and food is on par with the impressive array of internationally awarded brews. You're nobody until you've been seen hoisting one at Squatters. Also, slammin' the good times in Park City.
147 W. 300 South, Salt LakeCity, 801-363-2739; 1900 Park Ave., 435-649-9868;
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Desert Edge

Big City Soup

It's a sight to behold on a cold, rainy day when the lunch customer line snakes the entire length of the restaurant, and Big City Soup servers work their stations in-tune like the sections of a symphony orchestra. Six to eight workers assemble an orderfrom ladling delicious homemade soups to doling out tasty bread to ringing up at the cash register. Thanks to precision hospitality, the line moves quicker than most fast-food joints in town. 235 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-333-7687, BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Beehive Cheese Co. Even lactose-intolerant foodies have a hard time passing up a chunk of the local cheesemakers' Barely Buzzed. From Bite 1, we've been hooked on the ingenious, melt-in-your mouth combination of lavender, espresso and first-class-grade whole milk from Ogden's Wadeland Dairy. Really, it's the perfect replacement for your typical run-of-the-mill dairy/caffeine fix. Best of all, it won't spill all over your suit on the way to work.
2440 E. 6600 South, Uintah, 801-476-0900,

Musumeci's Italian Deli

There's a saying that restaurant success is all about three things: location, location, location. Well, a crappy locationsandwiched in a corridor of a State Street office buildinghasn't kept ravenous customers from finding Musumeci's Italian Deli, an out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall eatery with big flavor. Sicilian by way of Brooklyn, Musumeci dishes out hearty New York-style deli fare like veal parmigiana, hot pastrami sandwiches, manicotti, meatball sandwiches alla pizzaiola, sausage and peppers, custom-made subs and moreall with an attitude and style that's hard to come by outside the Big Apple. Put it this way: Don't even think of asking for mustard on your mortadella sandwich.
251 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-596-2562

Caf Trio
For all those hardworking corporate-types cooped up in office parks and business hotels of Cottonwood Heights, lunch at Caf Trio is somewhat akin to finding a desert oasis for the parched and sun-stroked. For starters, the food at Triofrom wood-fired oven-baked rosemary flatbread and the panzanella salad to the pizzas, pastas and paninisis all scrumptious. And at its downtown location, the Italian restaurant is famous for keeping things cool on its inviting patio by way of its misters and refreshing cocktails. Top it off with a plate of gourmet flatbread and you've got yourself one decadent night out. And the servers? Let's just say we know where GQ keeps its male models off-hours.
680 S. 900 East, 801-533-8746; 6405 S. 3000 East, 801-944-8746, Salt Lake City,
2. Bambara
3. Market Street

MacCool's Public House

MacCool's steams its corned beef brisket as opposed to braising or boiling it. Co-owner Scott Schlisman says that the steaming process allows him to best control the cooking temperature of the meat, treating it with tender, loving care. If you just throw your brisket into a pot of boiling water, the meat tightens up and gets really tough. MacCool's also cooks its corned beef for about 8 hours, resulting in ridiculously delicate, tasty meat that's damned near erotic.
1400 S. Foothill Drive, No. 166, Salt Lake City, 801-582-3111

Boston Deli

There are plenty of reasons to love the Boston Deli, starting with the scrumptious Albacore tuna sandwich and chicken club. And then there's all the funky musical paraphernalia scattered about the place, toolike the drum set hanging from the ceiling. But who'd have thought you'd also find the best chili in town at Boston Deli? This ain't Texas-style chili con carne; this version has yummy, tender beans mingling with tasty beef and a secret concoction of spices that's ever so appealing. Plus, you get crackers and bread on the side to sop up every last luscious drop.
9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2146,

The Mandarin
How does a restaurant owned by a Greek family in Bountiful wind up winning the award for best Chinese restaurant? Well, it helps to stack the deck (or the woks) with Chinese chefs from Hong Kong and San Francisco who prepare authentic regional Chinese cuisine of the type you'd normally need a Chinatown to find. Along with traditional dishes like Peking duck and Kung Pao shrimp, you'll also find at Mandarin more modern flavors such as Velvet chicken with gooseberries and pine nuts or lamb with an Asian-Mediterranean fusion sauce. And unlike most Chinese restaurants, Mandarin has a winning wine list.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406,
2. Little World
3. Hong Kong Tea House

Chanon Thai

The secret is out: Chanon Thai tops the list of local foodies' favorite authentic eateries. Since opening its modest doors three years ago, the little-cafe-that-could has achieved a loyal following among diners who prefer their Thai authentic, spicy and, well, a little offbeat. From the mismatched tableware to menus complete with detailed nutritional facts and homeopathic trivia (lemongrass is a diuretic; kaffir lime leaf's benefit is ... as an appetizer), to small staff of affable servers who chuckle good-naturedly when you confess you can't quite handle the higher end of their 1-5 spice scale, Chanon charms and satisfies every time. Even being oddly closed on Saturdays, other evenings are incredibly busy, proof that this place is well worth the wait.
278 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1177

El Viroleo

This local eatery offers a full menu of authentic El Salvadoran dishes for lunch and dinner but they're famous for their pupusasthick tortillas cooked up with special stuffings like beans, eggs, pork and cheese. These delectable treats also make for an affordable lunch. Try the pupusa with loroca (a tasty vine flower bud from Central America) for $1.50 or the chicharron, stuffed with savory shredded pork for only $1.75. Top it off with a tasty El Salvadoran Super Cola Shampan (it's the champagne of Latin American orange sodas!) and you've got a delicious light lunch for about $5.
471 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-595-7021

Coffee Garden
Vast amounts of the City Weekly staff's total caffeine intake is supplied by the Coffee Garden's Main Street location, so we can fully get behind this readers' pick. But we don't overlook the original 9th & 9th store's unique charms; each location has a distinct personalityMain Street's is literary and incisive; 9th & 9th is cinematic and expansive. Whatever their Myers-Briggs scores, however, each has earned places near and dear to the hearts of Salt Lake City's caffeine junkies, long may we jitter.
878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, 801-364-0768, Salt Lake City
2. Beans & Brews
3. Alchemy Coffee

Diva's Cupcakes & Coffee

Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in your soul, Diva's domed greenhouse is the destination of choice. Its lush interior, perfumed by narcissus and enlivened by gurgling water, is a restorative space for coffee, scones or a bowl of soup on a bleak day. In spring, when the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful, the adjacent patio invites you into the sun for a boost of serotonin and perhaps a chicken-salad sandwich and one of Diva's signature gourmet cupcakes. There's also plenty of interior space, clean and well-lighted, offering the choice of tavern tables or library room with comfy chairs.
1560 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-0619,

The Cabin

Located in the Canyons' Grand Summit Hotel lobby, The Cabin's fine dining features eclectic Western dishes including venison, elk and bisonall served in cabin coziness. It's so sweet and intimate at the Cabin, as flames flicker in the fireplace and candlelight illuminates your table, it would seem the perfect place to "pop the question" even if you're just sucking up a spicy bowl of bison chili after a day of skiing or hiking in the mountains. It's romantic in the old West style. It also provides an eye-popping wine list as well as fine whiskeys and scotchesshould liquid courage be required.
4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City, 435-615-8060,

Stella Grill

Something is happening in the 'burbs we like to call bistro-ization. A number of hip little eateries are sprouting up and many, like Stella, are proving you can be hip and sleek and modern and survive outside of downtown. Stop at Stella any weeknight and catch a large group of Red Hat Society ladies kibitzing over soup and sandwiches, parents with their kids downing enchiladas and fettuccine, date-night couples savoring Morgan Valley lamb and mashed potatoes and even a few singletons with a good book, a juicy burger and a beer. It's a warm and inviting little joint that may just prove that the time for little bistros in the 'burbs has come at last.
4291 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-288-0051

Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
Some of us remember a time pre-Caputo's. It was not the worst of times, but it was not the best of times, either. Today, it's hard to imagine downtown Salt Lake City without Tony Caputo's ode to all things edible: his magnificent market and delicatessen across from Pioneer Park. From high-end Venezuelan chocolates and fresh Italian truffles to hearty Italian subs, heroes and hoagies, Tony Caputo's Market & Deli delivers a flavor-filled urban punch to our palates. And, not one to rest on his laurels, Tony recently installed Utah's best cheese cave. Like a fine Timex timepiece, he just keeps on tickin.'
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City 801-531-8669,
2. Granato's
3. Grove Market & Deli
Oasis Cafe

The Oasis Caf has long been a hub for people who care about what they eat. Salads here are sophisticated greenery to say the least. There's the traditional spinach salad made wonderful with gorgonzola cheese and candied pine nuts. The Mediterranean grilled salad combines Yukon gold potatoes, onions, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and hummus with various fish or meat. The Imperial features crab cakes and a sticky rice roll with your greens. But to really impress yourself or others, order the roasted beet tower topped with arugula and goat cheese. It's "salad elevated."
151 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0404,
2. Zuppa's
3. Red Rock Brewing Co.

Spencer's Smokin' Grill, Park City

"Everything tastes better when you're high..." goes the motto at Spencer's Smokin' Grill. But don't call the narcsthey're talking about the Park City altitude, of course. The secret to this terrific BBQ joint is smoke, which you can begin to smell blocks from the restaurant. The pork at Spencer's is smoked for 16 freakin' hours before Mark and Susan Spencer deem it ready for your plate. And the secretthough not a secret for much longerto the bodacious smoked pork, sausage and salmon is the wood they use: oak. Once you taste the cookin' at Spencer's, you'll never utter the words mesquite, applewood or cherrywood again! Oak is where it's at.
1890 Bonanza Drive, Park City, 435-645-8483,

Paris Bistro & Zinc Bar
In Paris, corner bistros are as ubiquitous as French poodles. Here in Utah, they're more rare than finding cassoulet on a restaurant menu. Merci! then, to chef/owner Eric DeBonis for bringing a slice of the City of Lights to Salt Lake City, with his Paris Bistro & Zinc Bar. Menu items like escargot, duck confit with Puy lentils and watercress, and steak tartare with pommes frites help give Francophiles a reason to go on living. And The Paris' exquisitely selected wine list holds many, many treasures from France and elsewhere to round out a French-themed evening.
1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585,
2. La Caille
3. Franck's


Thanks to John, the namesake owner of Johnniebeef's in Midvale, you don't have to fight the crowds at a ball game to get your lips around a world-class hot dog. Fenway Franks notwithstanding, you might never taste a better tubesteak than Johnniebeefs' classic Chicago Dog. You can have it your way, of course, but the traditional Windy City wonder comes with mustard, onions, green relish, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pickles and celery salt on a steamed poppy seed bun. Order a pair because you're going to want seconds.
7194 S. Union Park Ave., Midvale, 801-352-0372,

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