Best of Utah 2010: Food & Drink | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2010: Food & Drink 

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Best Bakery

When you’re in the market for European-style pastries and desserts, look no farther than Gourmandise. For nearly two decades, this family-owned bakery has been serving up sweet confections to discriminating Salt Lake Valley dessert aficionados. And, more recently, menu items such as salmon en croute and panini sandwiches have been added because, well, man can’t live on dessert alone. Specialty cakes like chocolate raspberry ganache, pear-almond tart and white strawberry Chantilly are perfect for special occasions, while solo diners can select from a range of individual desserts such as mille feuille, pailletin slice, baba au rum and traditional fudge brownies. 250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330,
2. Great Harvest Bread Co.
3. Carlucci’s

Best Lofty Cuisine
J. Wong’s Asian Bistro

Located adjacent to The Hotel and in the Patrick Lofts building, J. Wong’s Asian Bistro dishes up some lofty and elevated food. This is not your typical combo platter Chinese eatery, but rather a gorgeous, pan-Asian restaurant with everything from baseline dishes like kung pao chicken to Thai panang salmon. Another lofty notion: The walnut shrimp will send you straight to heaven. 163 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-350-0888,

Best Dining Artistry
Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill

It’s one thing to note the beautiful décor and architecture of Sapa. It’s entirely another to recognize that the food served on Sapa’s plates is equally appealing to the eye. While the restaurant interior is served up in dark woods and delicate carvings, the food is never far behind in colorful elegance. Even simple soups and salads look like no others in town, while the main courses are fit for wall paintings. But for the true palate knockout, order some sushi that looks (almost) too good to eat. 722 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7272,

Best Greek
Aristo’s Greek Restaurant & Cafe

Aristo’s is an ethnic eatery that does things right, all the way. Aristo’s offers up gourmet southern Greek cuisine (the real deal, with dishes made from Aristo’s parents’ recipes) in a relaxed and somewhat intimate setting. Hearty Cretan specialties such as gigantes, pastruma, boureki and dakos set Aristo’s apart, as does its inviting list of Greek wines and liquors. Finally, there’s ambience. Candles twinkle on tables dressed in linen, while the outside patio features summer barbecues and winter chimneas. On Thursday nights, there is live Greek music. Aristo’s is a great place to fall in love, either with another human or the many Hellenic delicacies on the menu. 224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888,
2. Greek Souvlaki
3. Mad Greek

Best Deli
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli

Not content to rest on its laurels, the deli that began in the corner shop at 300 South & 300 West continues on its evolutionary journey as a world-class Italian market and delicatessen. Caputo’s, in the past year, even briefly morphed into a fine-dining establishment known as Tipica (RIP). Caputo’s owes its success to both father Tony’s and son Matt’s love of specialty artisan foods and their combined fearlessness to tilt at food windmills. Caputo’s, now down the block in greatly expanded quarters, features a cheese cave that maintains 200 farmstead cheeses at any given time. Its chocolate bar—featuring 300 bars of premium chocolate—would be impressive in any city. Add to that an in-house salame maker—Cristiano Creminelli—as well as made-to-order sandwiches (including The Caputo), salads and pastas, and you’ve got the makings for the city’s finest deli. So spoke the City Weekly readers. 314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669,
2. Granato’s
3. Grove Market

Best Old Homey Dining
Sharon’s Cafe

Sure, there are lots of places that claim to cook breakfast like Mom, but few get it all right. Some hit on the bacon and eggs, others on the home fries or the omelets. Sharon’s hits all of the basic breakfast fare on the first pitch and serves it up in a manner that transports diners to another era—counter service, friendly wait staff, hot coffee and a roomful of friendly chatter. Add a jukebox and you might think you’ve landed back in Salt Lake City’s nostalgic-but-defunct fave, Bill & Nada’s Café. For the hearty, try the pancakes that drip over the side of the plate, or for lunch, give your all to the Bulgarian Burger, so named, we guess, because it takes a Bulgarian weightlifter to heft the pound of meat piled between man-sized buns. 2263 Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 801-278-9552

Best Romantic
Log Haven

At Log Haven restaurant, chef Dave Jones’ cookery has been known to inspire lust in diners. His creative cuisine, combined with the pristine mountain canyon setting and seductive log mansion, is a recipe for romance. Log Haven servers are well-versed in the art of nurturing marriage proposals, so it’s no surprise that many couples who get engaged at the restaurant also wind up having their weddings at Log Haven. Keep in mind, though: You don’t have to get engaged or married; romance at Log Haven is strictly optional. 6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, Mill Creek Canyon, 801-272-8255,
2. La Caille
3. Tuscany

Best New SLC Restaurant
The Copper Onion

“New” isn’t always “better.” But, in the case of the Copper Onion, that cliché doesn’t really apply. Ryan and Colleen Lowder’s Copper Onion restaurant is simultaneously fresh and new, and also feels like a well-worn pair of Levis. Even though the Copper Onion is a shiny, new restaurant, the food is spot-on and the kitchen runs like the place is decades old. Simple-but-spectacular dishes such as house-made ricotta dumplings, fettuccine carbonara, peppery steamed mussels, griddled tombo tuna and Idaho Wagyu flat iron steak suggest that The Copper Onion will be garnering awards long after its new sheen has worn off. 111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282,
2. Vinto
3. Forage

Best Greek Pantry
Pella Mediterranean Market

A diligent shopper can find bits of Greek specialty items at several places in Salt Lake City—but only bits. For a one-stop Greek shopping experience, Pella has great prices on a wide variety on classic Greek olive oils, canned and salted seafood, Greek cheese (including kefalograviera), grains and spices for the Greek pantry and homemade dips and charcuterie. If you’re a bit lazy, Pella also has a selection of frozen Greek pies and finger food. Pella shares ownership with Apollo Burgers, so you can dine at the Apollo just in front of the market, or try a made-to-order sandwich at Pella itself. 940 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-975-1760

Best St. George Restaurant
Painted Pony

In a town overflowing with chain restaurants and mundane dining experiences, the Painted Pony in the delightful Ancestor Square on St. George Boulevard is a jewel by contrast. Among an elite handful of fine and independent fine dining options in St. George (along with Claim Jumper, Benja Thai & Sushi, Poncho & Lefty’s), Painted Pony could fit right in among northern Utah’s best. Highlights include the tri-color crab cakes with avocado relish, seared Ahi tuna, New Zealand lamb, beet salad, phyllo-baked brie and artichoke arancini. 2 W. St. George Blvd., St. George, 435-634-1700,

Best Chinese
Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant

We don’t suffer from a lack of Chinese restaurants along the Wasatch Front, but there is a definite dearth of great Chinese restaurants. Thank goodness, then, for the eateries offering authentic Chinese fare and ambiance, including Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant. Bring friends or family with you and order a whole Peking duck to share or, if you prefer smaller bites, show up for dim sum and dishes like steamed barbecue pork buns, fried sesame balls and shrimp dumplings. But don’t forget that this is also a tea house, so tea lovers will be in tea heaven. 565 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7010
2. Little World
3. Sampan

Best Tribute to the Soybean
It’s Tofu Grill

Utahns, despite outside appearances, do love the exotic. Over the years, sushi, dim sum, Thai, and pho have become popular dining choices. But Korean fare … well, now, that still seems a little unfamiliar. So, Korean couple Kevin and Elisa Kim decided to offer a taste of Korea at It's Tofu Grill using a non-threatening delivery system: tofu. You know: soybean curd. But, in truth, it isn’t really all about tofu—there’s plenty of barbecue-meat and fried fish and veggies, rice and noodles. There’s even fried eggs that top off some dishes. But it’s the presentation of these meals—with the array of condiments on the side, the metal chopsticks and the long slender spoon and fork—that is just so cool. Embrace these Korean vittles, people. It’s time for a new craze. 6949 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-566-9103,

Best Vegetarian
Sage’s Cafe

Nine years in row, Sage’s Cafe has been voted best vegetarian restaurant. Inside the facade, whose time-worn sign indicates simply “Cafe,” Sage’s has a bright, cozy ambiance of a large-windowed restaurant house and cool comfort under the grape-vine covered patio. Sage’s provides an adventurous menu that includes basil pesto crepes, the raw cashew
pad thai, and large wine and beer options. While any restaurant that stays open for nine years has something to brag about, few are more beloved by their customer base than Sage’s. 473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790,
2. Vertical Diner
3. Evergreen House

Best Lunch Judgment
Judge Cafe & Grill

It’s hard to contain one’s enthusiasm for making the correct lunch-hour decision. Judge Cafe has the variety, for starters, from hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and quiche to mouthwatering home-style entrees such as meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, salmon with veggies, burgers and the piece de résistance: the hot turkey sandwich for the unbelievable price of $7.95. Then, there’s the environs: a historic setting with stained glass windows and large-format photos of old Salt Lake City. And finally, there’s the service and welcome you receive, even when it’s high noon and everyone else is clamoring for the hot turkey sandwich. 8 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-531-0917,

Best Atmosphere

Maybe in an effort to ensure a Best Atmosphere award for next year’s Best of Utah, Bambara has just undergone a nifty remodel. But don’t worry, the place is as stunning as ever. The new overhaul at Bambara features a return to the restaurant’s historic roots as a bank, with a historic safe door utilized in the downstairs kitchen, safe-deposit box artwork and a penny-studded host stand, blending an old-time vibe with contemporary flair. There’s a wine “vault” with two bar-height communal tables and, in the main dining room, diners can catch all the action in the exhibition kitchen from perches at the elevated tables. You want atmosphere? Bambara has it nailed. 202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454,
2. Log Haven
3. La Caille

Best O, Canada Sports Pub, eh
Legends Pub & Grill

This joint places such an emphasis on its menu that it’s probably more accurate to call Legends a sports restaurant rather than a sports bar. While you can find plenty of televisions overhead and all the usual suspects dotting the menu—wings, nachos, burgers, pizza—there aren’t many places where a puck-crazed Canuck can belly up for a plate of poutine, the beer-battered seasoned fries sprinkled with mozzarella cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy. Add a beer or some whiskey and you’ll be singing “O, Canada” in no time. 677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3598,

Best Unique-to-Utah Eatery
Training Table

When is calling for take-out also having a sit-down restaurant meal? When you’re having it at a Training Table. Just use the tableside phone to place your order, usually one of the many rib-sticking burgers. Or, maybe it’s just a mountain of cheese fries. Either way, it’ll take no time at all to get your order up—and all you had to do was call. Multiple locations,
2. Ruth’s Diner
3. Red Iguana

Best Dim Sum
Red Maple

Chinese Cuisine Every weekend, hundreds of Chinese immigrants (and a few non-Chinese) descend upon Red Maple. They come for the midday dim sum, which is hands-down the best around. Meats, soups, seafood, vegetables, dumplings, desserts and fruits are served in small dim sum-size portions via heated pushcarts that servers roll up and down the aisles of the restaurant—you simply reach for whatever looks and smells appealing. Options range from the exotic, such as boiled tripe soup and stewed chicken feet with black-bean sauce to the more ordinary: siu mai dumplings and barbecued pork spareribs. No matter which dishes you choose, they’re all spectacular. 3361 S. Redwood Road, West Valley, 801-747-2888,

Best Old-World Charm
The Atlantic Cafe

The Atlantic Cafe displays its passion for authenticity in its wide-ranging offerings from the Balkans, Italy and Greece. Its savory soups, salads and paninis as well as its gyro, cevap and grilled-chicken sandwiches always hit the mark. Perhaps somewhat underappreciated is its breakfast menu, which uses only organic locally produced eggs in dishes like its authentic Balkan breakfast, savory and fruit crepes and Mediterranean eggs Benedict. Sitting in the cozy, dark cafe, sipping wine, or out on the relaxing sidewalk patio, conversing with foreign-born servers, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a quaint European cafe. Which is to say, delightful! 325 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-524-9900

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