Best of Utah 2018 | An ode to the people, places, products and services that make life the Beehive State exceptional. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

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Best of Utah 2018 

An ode to the people, places, products and services that make life the Beehive State exceptional.

Page 5 of 13

click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Gangster Corn

Hot Cheeto-dusted elote at Fruta Crush
Food trends come and go—macarons, ramen, bacon, etc.—but Provo's Fruta Crush is living in the year 3019 thanks to its street-style corn drenched in butter, slathered with mayo and rolled around in Flamin' Hot Cheetos crumbs. The state fair wishes. One bite, and your taste buds will jump, sing, dance the floss, hate you momentarily and then dance again. Just make sure when visiting the Mexican snack eatery, that you are accompanied by understanding friends. Just like a good carnival show, there's a fair chance of a juicy slash-zone perimeter around you. Are you a closet ginger whose freckles just came out? Oh, never mind, that's just Cheeto sprinkles. (EL)
198 W. Center St., Provo,

Best Autonomous Unit for Mid-Mall Snacking
Arancini Snack
Shopping mall food courts aren't always the best places to look for local flavor, but that's slowly starting to change. Thanks to the Taste for the Space competition at the Shops at South Town just more than a year ago, local shopping meccas are starting to turn their attention toward scrappy underdogs like Arancini Snack. An original competitor in Taste for the Space, Arancini Snack has found a home within Murray's Fashion Place Mall. It's a delightful standout from the food court's usual suspects—it's nearly small enough to be called a kiosk, and it uses every inch to display Sicilian art along with its trademark arancini, a Sicilian snack of rice balls covered in crispy breading and deep fried. Arancini Snack makes a few varieties—some are stuffed with pizza accoutrement, and others packed with seafood and a creamy white sauce. The fist-sized arancini are easy to eat on the go, making them perfect companions for a bit of window shopping. (AS)
6191 S. State, 801-300-7127,

  • Courtesy Apollo Burger

Best Burger Original

Apollo Burger
On the scene for more than 30 years in a state that loves its food chains, we're lucky to have a homegrown eatery like Apollo. Throw a dart at the menu; there's no going wrong here. Feast on the signature Apollo Burger—a hulking quarter-pound beast topped with thinly sliced smoked pastrami and American cheese hugged inside a cornmeal-topped bun—the Texas Bacon, Mushroom Swiss or the Athenian, complete with a slab of feta. Craving them for more than lunch? Crown Burger's packed breakfast menu is a homerun. (EL)
Multiple locations,

click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
  • Josh Scheuerman

Best Place for #thursdaythoughts
Pig and a Jelly Jar
Even though chicken and waffles has become a bit mainstream—you can get a fried chicken and waffle sandwich at Maverik, I shit you not—it's a dish that remains foundational to the comfort-food pantheon. I've spanned the length and breadth of the Wasatch Front when it comes to variations on this classic piece of Southern cuisine, and the best bang for your buck by far comes from Pig and a Jelly Jar. They've long been worshipers at the altar of Southern comfort food, and they serve up their mammoth portions of chicken and waffles for a paltry five bucks every Thursday. I don't know how many times I've sampled this dish, but I do know I've never been disappointed. Their buttermilk fried chicken is always crunchy and flavorful on the outside and impossibly juicy on the inside, and their waffles are consistently golden browned to perfection. Thanks to Pig and a Jelly Jar, the majority of my #thursdaythoughts are about the flavor alchemy that comes from black pepper and maple syrup. (AS)
Multiple locations,

Best Spot for Summer Treats
The Shack at Jolley's
When the temperature doesn't drop below 90 degrees until after the sun sets—and the sun doesn't set until after 9 p.m.—there's only one way to fight back: with shaved ice, soft serve and fountain sodas. Luckily, The Shack attached to Jolley's Gift & Floral (which is itself attached to Jolley's Pharmacy—family owned and operated in Salt Lake City since 1954) provides just such a seasonal respite from June through September. Even better than the smorgasbord of flavors (who's up for a garbage pail mix of Tiger's Blood, Wild Poisonberry and cheesecake?) is More Jolley's Mondays, which adds food trucks, extended hours and special deals to the summertime mix. Kid-tested, parent-approved and the perfect way to avoid adult responsibility on a Monday night. (NM)
1676 E. 1300 South, 801-582-1625,

  • KS

Best Taste of the Old World

Bohemian Brewery
Sure, there are some fine European restaurants floating around in our wonderful Utah-shaped corner of the world. But how many of those places are devoted to crafting fine lagers the way our Alpen brothers and sisters have done for centuries? None in Utah, I can guarantee that; and very few in the western United States. The beloved Bohemian Brewery has had that rare focus and devotion keeping Old-World traditions alive without caving to trends, peer pressure or biases. For a staycation to the old country or a trip back in the Wayback Machine, the log cabin brewery in the middle on Midvale has no equal. (MR)
94 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-566-5474,

click to enlarge NIKI CHAN
  • Niki Chan

Best Unconventional Brunch

Fav Bistro
Nothing quite encapsulates the length and breadth of mediocrity as well as the practice of brunch. It's not exactly going anywhere, however, so it behooves us to make our peace with the gods of eggs Benedict and mimosas. Those who wish to venture outside the brunch box will want to check out Fav Bistro on the weekends. They serve a tasty and soulful variety of traditional breakfast dishes from Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. I'm a fan of their kow tom ($8.95), a heady Thai soup made of rich chicken broth, rice and topped with a silky poached egg. Why eating soup for breakfast hasn't caught on stateside is completely beyond me—this stuff warms you up from the inside out and sticks to your bones well through lunchtime. (AS)
1984 E. Murray Holladay Road, 801-676-9300,

Best Fancy Fast-Food Dining Experience
Crown Burgers by The Gateway
A Salt Lake institution since 1978, the décor and setting can vary between Crown Burger locations, but the one on 300 West is truly something to be in awe of—stained glass windows, oak paneling, an imposing fireplace, chandeliers, leather chairs, hanging tapestries worthy of a high-born Westerosi castle and gargoyles that stare as you munch down on your souvlaki stick. What's that, Little Finger? You're in the area for a Jazz game or a show at the Depot? Spend $18 on your meal, and they'll let you park there for free. (EL)
118 N. 300 West, SLC, 801-532-5300,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Breakfast on the Cheap

Dee's Family Restaurant
Legend has it that in 1931, Dee Anderson sold hamburgers for a nickel to Salt Lake City residents after borrowing some cash to buy buns, pickles and meat. Almost 90 years later, Anderson's legacy is still standing in multiple locations in Salt Lake City and Taylorsville, providing reliably cheap, quality meals to the hungover and drunk masses. (And also families looking for quick, inexpensive meals. Considering that the glorious establishment is open later than bars, Dee's clientele of choice can be inferred.) Burgers, burritos, buttermilk pancakes—get it all and bask in the glory and ecstasy that is diner food. (KL)
Multiple locations,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Clucking Debut

Pretty Bird
I know I wasn't the only one who spent a lot of time last year strolling up and down Regent Street to see if Viet Pham's love letter to Nashville hot chicken had opened. When Pretty Bird finally debuted this spring, it was an event in and of itself. I can't help but think about the Pretty Bird team prepping for the big day. A lot could have gone wrong if Pham's recipe for fried chicken didn't deliver the goods—it's literally the only thing on the menu—but they've been cranking out some of the best fried chicken in the state since Day 1. From the agonizingly tempting Instagram feed Pham carefully curated to a grand opening that knocked it out of the park, Pretty Bird's arrival was one of the most memorable culinary milestones of 2018. (AS)
146 S. Regent St.,

  • Brian Lee

Best Boost for a Groggy Sunday Morning

Asia Palace
Hunger drags you out of bed at 11 a.m., but you are in no state to be standing in mile-long Sunday brunch lines at fancy hot spots on the east side. Hit up Asia Palace on State Street or in West Valley to be immediately seated in a plush leather booth. First things first: Order yourself a plate of cream cheese wontons and let their molten inner goodness wake you the hell up. Munch on your appetizer while perusing Asia Palace's extensive menu. The pho is a must but the pad thai and pretty much anything in the Vietnamese and Thai sections are perfect for a recovery-day meal. Slurp your brunch without abandon, keep your eye on whatever cable TV show or infomercial might be playing, and let your Sunday unfold. (SA)
1446 S. State, 801-485-1646; 1774 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-972-2835

Best Grocery Store Deli
Harmons Grocery
Harmons Grocery deli has solved the conundrum of craving good food, but being too lazy (or busy!) to make it yourself. Stock up on home-cooked goodness like rotisserie chicken, easy entrées and healthy salads for work-week lunches. Whether you're full-on omnivore or prefer vegan fare, Harmons Deli has you covered. They also have a well-stocked salad bar and a variety of hearty soups to go. "Our delicatessens are quite unique from any other grocery store," Andy Walker, Harmons Grocery's senior marketing manager, says. "Every single item we offer in our delicatessen is made from scratch. All of our recipes are made in stores by our chefs. Our salad bars, for example, offer more than 70 different options, all of which are hand-prepared daily—and even our dressings are all made from scratch." (AR)
Multiple locations,

click to enlarge JEFF YURIK
  • Jeff Yurik

Best Store-Bought Pie

June Pie
Many times I've driven all the way out to Heber to experience June Pie firsthand only to be thwarted by terrible traffic, highway speed traps or some other cruel twist of fate. Luckily, June Pie has started sourcing their treats to local grocers like The Store (2050 E. 6200 South), which is a bit closer to my neck of the woods. These offerings don't lose their magic when they travel down the mountain—the thick, buttery crust and fresh fillings remain as glorious as ever. As tends to be the case with June Pie, it's a good idea to pick up one (or five) of your favorites early in the day. Even if your slow ass gets denied, as I have often been, any one of their famous pies will make you grateful for your taste buds. (AS)
133 N. Main, Heber City, 435-503-6950,

Best Use of Ice Cubes In a Coffee Shop
Moab Coffee Roasters' iced coffee
Moab is a hip haven for anyone who likes brunch, brews and beers. The coffee market is pretty saturated in the red-rock city, but don't sleep on Moab Coffee Roasters. This is the first place in Utah I saw stocked copies of City Weekly—almost 250 miles away from SLC! But the real reason it's a gem is its iced coffee. Unlike other shops that load cups to the brim with ice, MCR won't water down your caffeinated nectar of the gods. The brown cubes have coffee in them, ensuring no cup space is wasted. Save the water for the trails. (KL)
90 N. Main, Moab, 435-259-2725,

Best Iced Coffee Value
Caffé Expresso
Pour overs and drip coffee are great. Chai lattes in the winter are divine. But for at least four months in Utah, iced coffee reigns supreme. Upon arriving as a new resident last summer, my first due diligence involved sampling all the coffee shops in town looking for the perfect combination of taste and value. After much deliberation, the winner is clear: Caffé Expresso, where you can get a 32-ounce iced coffee or iced Americano for just $3.50. With three locations—Highland Drive, 9th and 9th and Sugar House—a swing through the drive-thru is convenient from nearly anywhere in the city. And you can't beat the endlessly positive attitude of Caffé Expresso's employees, who plow through double lines during morning rush hour with impeccable aplomb. (NM)
Multiple locations,

Best Down Under Jolt
Campos Coffee
Located in an alley between 200 and 300 South, the new Campos Coffee flagship store in Salt Lake City is a caffeine enthusiast's dream. The 4,500-square-foot spot is the first roastery the Australian company opened in the U.S., and the second Campos in Utah (the other is in Park City). The downtown café offers breakfast and lunch, but most important are the baristas who know serving coffee and espresso is more an art than service. The pricey pour-overs are worth the extra dough; the extra few bucks nets you a postcard that tells you exactly where your brew came from, giving you a glimpse of its journey from, say, El Silencio, Palestina, Huila, Colombia to Salt Lake City, Utah. (KL)
228 Edison St., 801-953-1512; 1385 Lowell Ave., Park City, 435-731-8377,

  • Derek Carlisle

Best Finger Food

Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant
Entering a restaurant that has no utensils is a strangely liberating feeling. Knowing you're expected to enjoy your food with a tactile intimacy that would get you kicked out of most other places spikes a visit to Mahider with an almost childlike enthusiasm. When you see gigantic plates covered with injera—your new favorite eating utensil—and dolloped with vibrant stews like beef siga wot and puréed lentils, you can't help but think about an edible artist's palette. I strongly suggest rounding up some of your favorite foodie friends and trying out the Taste of Mahider ($39.99 for four). Nothing quite gets a dinner party started like seeing this epic piece of culinary engineering hit the table. (AS)
1465 S. State, Ste. 7, 801-975-1111,

  • Courtesy Cross E Ranch

Best Maize Maze

Cross E Ranch
Come late September, the only working ranch left within Salt Lake City limits is a fall-lover's paradise. Cross E's epic pumpkin patch gives you all the gourd you need, while the Hay Rides provide fascinating background on the Hinckley family's history. Mega Slides, a Corn Pit and Mini Train Rides are perfect for the little ones, while adults love Western dancing and live music on weekends. But the real treat at Cross E Ranch is its corn maze, which celebrates 50 years in 2018 with seven miles of trails spread across 14 acres. If you make it out alive (and you're a carnivore), stock up on grass-fed ground beef before leaving. It's affordable ($5-$7 per pound), nothing's fresher than local—and you're contributing to the long-term viability of this SLC institution. (NM)
3500 N. 2200 West, 801-203-0148,

Best Taquería That Treats You Like Family
Taquería Los Lee
This new joint on 2700 South and 700 East (in the space that used to house Ali Baba Afghani) is a taco-lover's dream—and an honest-to-goodness family-owned restaurant where you're treated like kin, too. With a colorful tile mosaic, framed lotería cards on the wall and kids running around the cozy space, you'll feel like you're in your abuela's living room. The authenticity baked into the carne y papa, puerco rojo and asada tacos is mouth-watering, while new gordita and burrito options pack a flavorful punch. It's the little things that matter, however: the cilantro, onions and salsa separately packed in to-go orders; the evolving daily pozole and enchilada specials; real Mexican sodas with your combo purchase. This is the real deal, people. (NM)
2646 S. 700 East, 385-259-0764

  • Sarah Arnoff

Best Feat of Barbecue Engineering

Jalapeño Popper at Kaiser's BBQ
Like most everything at Kaiser's BBQ, the jalapeño popper ($1.50) is much more than meets the eye. Far superior than its deep-fried, cream-cheese-stuffed cousin, this little firecracker makes the most of its limited real estate. It starts with a good-sized jalapeño, hollowed out and stuffed with housemade sausage. Then it's capped with a mushroom and wrapped in bacon before heading into the smoker. Once it's ready, it gets a hefty dose of melted cheddar cheese. It's an arrangement that speaks of true artisanship, and it's almost too beautiful to eat—luckily it tastes so damned good. Something about the smoking process ramps up the heat in the jalapeño, and once it all comes together with the sausage and bacon, it's a smoky, spicy achievement in the field of food-based engineering. (AS)
962 S. 300 West, 801-355-0499,

Best Beer for National Park Road Trippin'
Uinta Brewing Co.'s National Park Golden Ale
Considering Utah has five national parks, it'd be stupid not to have a beer specifically designed for taking into the incredible lands that surround us. Uinta Brewing Co. managed to accomplish this feat with their rotating National Park Golden Ale. This special ale features some of our nation's greatest national parks on each can, with Delicate Arch proudly representing the Beehive State. Brewed with Carapils and Crystal malts and a moderate addition of Willamette and Sterling hops, Uinta's Golden Ale is approachable, refreshing and not to mention, just too damned cool. (MR)
1722 S. Fremont Drive,

click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Coffee Joint for Comic Book Geeks

Watchtower Café
For young cosplayers looking for love, it's hard to beat Watchtower Café for a first meet-and-greet date. Sure, there's plenty of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, but Watchtower caters to the comic book crowd, so you'll also find specialty coffees with names like Tatooine Sunrise and the Dark Knight, and teas and sodas named Captain Picard and Hello Kitty. The theme doesn't stop at the menu. There are plenty of board and card games to play while you sip, as well as Legos, video games, a gallery of pop-culture villains featuring local artwork, and, of course, comic books and graphic novels galore. It's also a great place to get work done on your laptop, with restaurant-style booths and—this is important—above-the-table power outlets so you don't have to go feeling around for one under your seat. They also have open-mic nights and weekly gatherings for Utah's fabulous furry community. Also, just so you know, the café's name refers to DC Comics' Justice League, not the Jehovah's Witness magazine. (RK)
1588 S. State, 801-477-7671,

click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Big-City Foodie Trend

The Explosion Of Ramen Joints
The ramen trend has finally taken hold in Salt Lake City. In the past two months, new joints have popped up everywhere: Jinya's much-heralded Sugar House opening, Ramen Bar on Main and Ramen930 near the Gallivan Center. Meanwhile, old staples like Tosh's, Yoko, Koko Kitchen and Tonkotsu Ramen Bar are more popular than ever. Believe it or not, all of these places are within five miles of each other, which makes a week-long walking ramen tour totally viable. Once you hop in your car, the options increase exponentially: a Tosh's outpost in Holladay and another Jinya location in Murray, CY Noodle and One More Noodle House in South Salt Lake ... As City Weekly said last year, if you've got ramen on the mind, "Seek and ye shall find." (NM)

On That Note, Best Ramen Refills
Jinya Ramen Bar
When I visit a ramen place, it's not all that uncommon for me to slurp up all my noodles before finishing my broth, and I imagine most ramen fans are in the same boat. During one of my early visits to Jinya Ramen Bar, I was pleasantly surprised when a waiter noticed that my broth happened to be devoid of noodles and asked if I'd like some more. I had to ask him to repeat himself—did he just offer to refill my noodles? Is that a thing? As it turns out, ramen refills are indeed a thing, both at Jinya and beyond. The practice is called kae-dama, and most ramen shops in Japan offer their dishes with the option. While I'm sure it's possible to get a ramen refill at any place that takes its noodles seriously, this waiter at Jinya—bless his eternal soul—was the first person to open my eyes to this cultural norm, and he will always have my gratitude. (AS)
Multiple locations,

Best Neighborhood Pho
Thai This
No matter how many times I draft this blurb, no words can properly communicate my love for Thai This. At first, I was going to talk about how my grandma and I visit there when we need a little (or a lot of) comfort food. She orders the chicken pad thai ($7.99)—pulled noodles wok-tossed in a subtly sweet traditional sauce, with shredded chicken and roasted peanuts—and I order the pho gai (or chicken pho) ($7.99)—a sumptuous combination of warming broth, slim rice noodles, shredded chicken and an assortment of herbs and veggies, such as basil and soybean sprouts. Then, I thought about mentioning how the first time I ate here was on a date (which went pretty well), and my date insisted we get the Thai iced tea ($2.50) and the coconut sticky rice with mango ($5.99), both of which are perfectly addicting in their sweetness—as far as I'm concerned, together they constitute a fully balanced meal. Draft after draft, I was eventually left with this: Thai This is damned delicious, damned affordable and, dammit, well worth the drive to West Valley from anywhere in Utah. Tell your neighbors. (ZS)
2836 S. 5600 West, Ste. 10, 801-967-0949,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Bachelorette-Approved Treat

The Roll Up Crêpe
There are many reasons to visit Orem (insert a wink-and-a-nod here, only one other person on Earth besides me will get), but The Roll Up Crêpe definitely takes the cake (or, you know, the crêpe). Shining like a powdered sugar-dusted beacon, the Utah County hotspot's menu is laden with cutesy items like the Awkward First Date (caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream and caramel), the saucy Tinder (vanilla ice cream, brownie, chocolate and caramel sauce), and the Trista Rehn-approved Bachelorette (white chocolate, raspberries and whipped cream). Mmm ... slurp. (EL)
538 E. University Pkwy., Orem, 801-882-7373,

  • Enrique Limón

Best It's 1 a.m. and I Need This Now

Chip Cookies
"Need" is a subjective word. Do I need a set of novelty margarita glasses or a to-scale model of the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro? Probably not. But late on Saturday (or Tuesday) nights when the munchies hit, by gum, I need me some Chip cookies. I'll most likely only make it through three-quarters of one of their hefty chocolate chip-filled cookie monsters before succumbing to a sugar coma, but it's worth it. Chip delivers until the wee hours of the morning, which is perfect for my dessert emergencies. Plus, their 900 South location is close enough to home that I can walk there and back in the daylight hours to justify the calories. (SA)
155 E. 900 South, Ste. 101, 801-889-2412; 159 W. 500 North, Provo, 385-225-9888,

  • Alex Springer

Best Russian Collusion

The Galley Grill
If only our president's political ties with Russia were as clear as my deep affection for The Galley Grill. From its inexplicable naval theme to the Eastern European game shows playing on TV, this is one of Utah's most beloved anomalies. Russian cuisine is rich, starch-forward and comforting enough to sustain human life no matter how cold it gets. When Utah's winter descends with its inversion and outside-damning glory, you can bet The Galley Grill will be the place that gets you through. It's owned and operated by people who hail from a land that endures some of the most bitter winters on the planet, so they know how to whip up a plate of vareniki that'll keep your bones warm when the temperature drops. (AS)
1295 E. Miller Ave., Ste. 1, 801-466-9224,

Best Southern Utah Oasis
Zion Brewery
Surrounded by the deserts of Southern Utah and carefully placed by the beer gods near the gates of one of the most beautiful places on the earth, Zion Brewery has become the beer mecca in Utah's outdoor playground. Under relatively new ownership, Utah's southernmost craft-beer outpost has exploded with purpose and flavor; stunning thirsty northern beer nerds craving innovative session beers. When Zion's strawberry rhubarb gose periodically hits SLC, it's gone in days. Not many breweries in northern or southern Utah can claim beers like that. (MR)
95 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale,

Best Cruelty-Free Steak
Table X
Meatless substitutes are, more often than not, unholy abominations. Not that there's anything wrong with trying to recreate steak, burgers or bacon in a way that keeps our animal brethren safe, but most attempts at meatless meats don't cut the mustard. It wasn't until I visited Table X that I realized the problem with meatless meats is that most purveyors are so myopic about the process. When I sat down to a plate of intermountain gourmet mushrooms ($20) or their aptly named vegetable steak ($22) and found my brain was triggered in places I typically reserve for medium-rare steaks, I realized that meat isn't an ingredient—it's a state of mind. (AS)
1457 E. 3350 South, 385-528-3712,

Best Big Meals in a Bite-Sized Building
Laan Na Thai
Chefs and Thai immigrants Yupin and Wichai Charoen have been running their restaurant for just over two years now, and their operation is still going strong. Five people feels like a crowd inside Laan Na's almost-literal-hole-in-the-wall location, but the close quarters are worth squeezing into to get your hands on pad see ew, drunken noodles or any of their slew of curries. If there's room, you can cozy up to the window-side counter to feast, or mosey outside in good weather. Either way, your stomach will be satisfied with the Charoens' homeland cuisine. (SA)
336 W. 300 South, 801-363-2717,

Best Lucky Charm
Talisman Brewing Co.
A talisman is typically an inscribed ring or stone that is thought to have magic powers and bring good luck. In Utah, Talisman is a brewpub located in the northernmost part of Ogden that cast spells on your tongue and creates a cozy space for thirsty northern folk. Ogden's "other brewery" has raised the craft-beer game in Weber County, creating locally made beer styles our denizens at the top of the compass could previously only get in Salt Lake City. Talisman Brewing Co. is truly a lucky charm. (MR)
1258 Gibson Ave., Ogden,

Best Mashed Potato Delivery System
The New Haven at Nuch's
Not too long ago, hitting up Nuch's for a New Haven pizza became my go-to birthday tradition. Before I dig into the significance of this particular pizza, and why I only eat it once a year, you first need to understand my relationship with pizza itself. Within a 48-hour period, I have some iteration of pizza coursing through my system. If it's slathered in sauce, cheese and pepperoni and it's within a one-mile radius of my current position, you can bet I'll eat the damned thing. And Nuch's New Haven is not just any ordinary pizza, you see. Instead of sauce, it's spread with a velvety purée of garlicky Yukon Gold potatoes hit with mozzarella, asparagus and bacon. Nuch's favors the New York style, so this party happens on a thin crust and gets fired up in a brick oven. It's a truly transcendent experience, which is why I only reserve it for one night each year. Alas, this night recently passed me by—is it next year yet? (AS)
2819 S. 2300 East, 801-484-0448,

Best Edible Safari
Burger Bar
Imagine surreptitiously trekking the streets of Roy, bushwhacking a path through dense forestation, all in search of some prized game—lions, tigers, bears ... There's no need to break out the topee and cargo pants. Instead, head to Burger Bar. Established in 1956 by Ben and Rita Fowler, Burger Bar is a time-tested, hometown hangout offering handcrafted burgers ($7), shakes and malts ($3), and an array of deep-fried delectables ($3). But what keeps me coming back, setting out like Teddy Roosevelt on safari, is Burger Bar's Meat of the Month. Each month, the restaurant offers a different exotic meat burger ($11) to any spirited hunter—I've personally eaten camel, ostrich, shark and alligator. If you've got enough grit, I'd suggest ordering your fries old fashioned, getting a peanut butter shake for good measure, and pitting yourself against BB's latest delicacy. (ZS)
5291 S. 1900 West, Roy, 801-825-8961,

click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Northern Utah Continental Flair

Sabores cuisine
Tucked inside an unassuming location in Logan, Sabores is more than meets the eye. Shaped by the culinary traditions of the Garcia family, the establishment bursts at the colorful seams with a menu chock full of worldly flair. Whether you're craving tres leches pancakes, Argentine empanadas with housemade chimichurri sauce, Bolivian cerdo picante or a bánh mì to rival Oh Mai's, this is definitely the place. (EL)
255 S. Main, Ste. 300, Logan, 435-750-5555,

Best Gastronomic Gamble
Spice to Go at Spice Kitchen Incubator
Spice Kitchen has always been a flagship for diverse eating in Salt Lake, and its Spice to Go project has provided a way for locals to take some of that diversity home with them. Every week, Spice Kitchen spotlights an up-and-coming chef—typically one of their potential restaurateurs—and lets them cook up take-home meals that curious diners can order in advance. The best way to keep tabs on the rotating menu is via social media—Spice Kitchen announces each week's chef and menu on Sundays, giving customers until Thursday to place their orders. Spice to Go has been up and running for over a year now, and the program has managed to gross over $80,000. Not only is this a great way to explore the international cuisine Spice Kitchen's members are creating, but it helps local entrepreneurs realize their culinary dreams. (AS)
2180 S. 300 West, 385-229-4484,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Place for Seitan Worshipers

Made from dense wheat gluten, seitan has quickly become a staple of the meatless kitchen. This hearty, protein-rich meat substitute can hold up to marinades and grills, which makes it an ideal burrito filling for the folks at Boltcutter. They've stolen my carne-asada-loving heart more than once with their flavorful take on this versatile ingredient—their Cali burrito ($8) is a plant-based revelation. Although seitan is the foundation of Boltcutter's menu, they're also quite creative with other meat substitutes like jackfruit and tempeh, which stand in for Barbacoa pork and fried fish, respectively. Much like the demonic panic of the mid 1980s, Boltcutter is a whole lot of fun once you give it a chance. Hail seitan! (AS)
57 E. Gallivan Ave.,

Best Re-creation of Childhood Memories
Kiitos Brewing's Dreamsicle
It was only around for a brief, summery moment, but if you were lucky enough to sip on the Dreamsicle craft brew on tap at Kiitos Brewing, you likely had a sudden rush of sense-induced childhood memories. Is it strange to capture the exact smell and taste of a Dreamsicle in a glass of beer? Yes. Is it also delicious? Damned straight. We can only hope Kiitos brings this swirling concoction of reminiscence back long-term. (SA)
608 W. 700 South, 801-215-9165,

Best Reminder of Philadelphia in a Local Grocery Store
Soft pretzels at Smith's
It's difficult for Philadelphians to find reminders of home once they leave the City of Brotherly Love. The stereotypes are largely true—we're a curmudgeonly bunch who as a general rule will never try your "Philly" cheesesteak. And OK, we get it, the Jazz are fine, but they're not the Eagles. Elitism aside, occasionally I get homesick and find myself more willing to try foods made "Phamous" by my hometown. One acceptable substitute is a $1 soft pretzel at Smith's. Even though it's shaped like a traditional German pretzel and not the "s" figure associated with Philadelphia, the salty goodness gets the job done and gives me an emotional hug for a cheap price. (KL)
Multiple locations,

Best Sandwich for Five
The Big John at Grove Market and Deli
My track record for eating—and finishing—freakishly huge sandwiches is pretty solid. I figured that tackling Grove Market and Deli's Big John ($11.49) on a day when I was equal parts hungry and self-destructive wouldn't be much of a challenge. Boy, was that a mistake. When you order the Big John, you're essentially ordering a personal delicatessen. It's a football-sized hoagie bun stuffed with all seven of Grove's deli meats, topped with Swiss and American cheeses and bedecked with lettuce, tomato and pickles—a sandwich that can easily feed you and four of your friends. I vividly remember standing in the cozy marketplace watching as the woman behind the counter just kept adding meat to the sandwich, every so often fixing me with a look that said, "You have no idea what you're getting into." (AS)
1906 S. Main, 801-467-8860,

click to enlarge JOHN TALYOR
  • John Talyor

Best Quick Bite

Nomad Eatery
Nomad Eatery excels at quick and casual fare whether you're tempted by the spicy chicken sandwich served with housemade salt-and-vinegar chips ($11) or you've got a craving for margherita pizza ($12). With a full bar, and innovative ice cream desserts from Normal, Nomad Eatery is the ideal spot for a delightful and quick meal. "Our attention to detail is one of our greatest focuses," owner and chef Justin Soelberg explains. "From the extra zing our pickles give to every dish, to the thoughtfulness of putting chips on sandwiches for that extra crunch, we try and think of anything that helps the food and dining experience—before the customer asks for it." (AR)
2110 W. North Temple, 801-938-9629,

Best Doughnut Fusion
Donut Boy
In the many visits I've made to West Valley's Donut Boy, I've seen them transmogrify everything from apple pie to Victoria sponge into doughnut form. Lately, their Instagram feed has revealed their bakers are accepting requests, which means it's only a matter of time before I call them up for a doughnut inspired by neon purple Pop Tarts and black coffee, which once came to me in a nightmare. Until then, however, I'm more than satisfied with Donut Boy's flair for the dramatic—for best results, ask them for a mixed dozen and let them pick your lineup. You end up driving home with a cavalcade of deep-fried pastries that look like they came right out of Willy Wonka's factory. (AS)
2194 W. 3500 South, 385-528-0782,

Best Tropical Toast
Matterhorn French Toast
Maple syrup has been such a staple accompaniment to breakfast baked goods, we sometimes forget that there are other creative options. The Matterhorn food truck serves up innovative, piled-high French toast options like the Switzerland, which finishes off a treat of Nutella, bananas and whipped cream with their own special coconut syrup. The concoction is so popular with guests, you can even buy it by the 12-ounce bottle to take home. (SR)

Best Understatement
Normal Ice Cream
If you've visited Trolley Square in the past year or so, then you might have noticed the disco ball surface of Alexa Norlin's chrome ice cream truck parked conspicuously within the east entrance. If you've had the pleasure of visiting Normal ice cream truck, then you know it's anything but. Norlin's team specializes in housemade soft serve ice cream, or ice cream in its "natural state," as Norlin puts it. On a given day, Normal Ice Cream serves up vanilla bean soft serve topped with olive oil cake, blueberry and brown butter ice cream bars or their own take on Choco Tacos, which are a nostalgic dream come true. I'm always a fan of trying whatever Norlin has on the menu, but I go all Whitney Houston for the vanilla soft serve with Normal's signature dulce de leche dip ($4). (AS)
602 S. 700 East, 801-521-9877,

Best Pale Ales
Desert Edge Brewery
The English invented the pale ale, but America perfected it. Now, I'm not slamming pals across the pond; they make some great suds. We Americans just happen to be gifted with brilliant indigenous hops. The best local spot for the best examples of American pale ales is Trolley Square's Desert Edge Brewery. Brewmaster Chad Krussel just gets it. His pale-ale game is strong; incorporating the best hops the world has to offer with local and international barley to make basic ales that are stunning in their simplicity and flavor profile. Made you thirsty, didn't I? (MR)
273 Trolley Square,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Bread On the Rise

From its entrenched location just off 300 South, Gourmandise The Bakery has waited patiently to further expand its empire. Just this year, the French-inspired bakery opened Gourmandise To Go, and has recently procured the building that used to belong to Bake 360 in Draper for its newest location. Based on my recent visits to Gourmandise To Go, Gourmandise isn't interested in spawning carbon copies of itself like other restaurants do. The original location maintains its European ambiance while Gourmandise To Go caters to the business lunch crowd. It will be interesting to see what direction the bakery's new location takes. Once it opens, I'll make sure to visit at least 17 times to make sure. (AS)
Multiple locations,

Best Chimney Sweep
Sweet Chimneys
Although chimney cakes have been around for a few hundred years—you might have missed them because they're traditionally called kurtoskalacs and live in Hungary—this street-friendly dessert has started to pop up in certain places around town. Sweet Chimneys is currently the most accessible and arguably most creative of these bakeries. Their operation is mobile, but you can consistently find their food cart at Gardner Village (1100 West 7800 South) on Saturdays where they whip up chimney cakes topped with everything from Fruity Pebbles to toasted coconut. These conical confections are perfect mobile snacks, so it's a wonder they didn't catch on here earlier. Regardless, they're here now, and they're most definitely worth your time. (AS)

Best Alcoholic Bang for Your Buck
Squatter's Hop Rising Double IPA
While not the best beer in the city, Squatter's Hop Rising is an exceptionally drinkable 9-percent ABV double IPA. Prices vary, but the canned or bottled brew seems to go for less at bars than similarly alcoholic crafts. Smooth, malty and exceptionally hoppy, this bad boy is best for those who are morally opposed to the glorified water that is Utah draft beer. Cheers to all those who roll their eyes when they remember they can't buy PBR from the grocery store because it's basically filtered H2O. Who says you should have to drink a dozen pints to get your night going? (KL)
Multiple locations,

Best Bake Sale
Fillings and Emulsions
Like most Americans, chef Adalberto Diaz was horrified when he heard stories of immigrant families being detained and separated at the U.S. southern border. An immigrant himself, Diaz saw himself reflected in the plights of these families, which inspired him to mobilize. Doing what he does best, he and a few other local bakeries organized an epic bake sale in June. During the bake sale, customers could purchase some tasty baked goods and help generate funds for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Overall, the event was a significant success—the bakers were able to raise more than $14,000 on the first day. It's
the kind of story that reminds us why we have bakeries in the first place—someone's got to make sure that we get a little sweetness out of life. (AS)
1475 S. Main, 385-229-4228,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Amazing Array of International Delicacies

Southeast Market
Southeast Market exerts a strange sort of gravitational pull. Through its doors, you'll find ramen, udon and soba noodles in a thousand varieties, frozen cuttlefish balls and exotic fresh fruits, sauces you didn't know existed and pickled veggies you wish you'd never smelled. There's also interesting Blue Boy brand sodas and handcrafted teapots, Korean blankets and herbal medicines. On top of all that, the staff offers superb customer service. Recently, a friend was in desperate need of dried banana leaves for a weekend pig roast. After calling every market in Salt Lake Valley with no luck, Southeast was the only one that had what she needed—in three sizes to boot. Moments like that will make you a customer for life. (NM)
422 E. 900 South, 801-363-5474,

  • Enrique Limón

Best I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

Seasons Plant Based Bistro
Not only is Seasons preternaturally good at what it does—which is French and Italian food without butter, cream or cheese—but the audacity of taking on such dairy-centric cuisine from a plant-based mindset is groundbreaking, inspiring and a little nuts. Or, a lot of nuts. Cashews, to be more specific—that's what they make their vegan cheesecake out of. There are plenty of places that simply offer plant-based versions of food in a half-assed kind of way, but the folks at Seasons aren't here to simply appease local vegans with meatless versions of the same crap they can get anywhere. There's a sense of innovation, provocation and exploration that permeates the menu here, and it's always fun to see what they've got up their sleeve. (AS)
1370 S. State, 385-267-1922,

Best Buns
The Rising Bun
Taking a cue from the steamed buns that are integral to Chinese cuisine and hitting them with pork belly, pickled mustard seeds and chile-hoisin sauce, Lehi's The Rising Bun has created something special. Although the innards of each bun are tasty, and they come with clever names like Krispie Yum-Aguchi and the Bun-Dance Kid, the reason to visit The Rising Bun is to actually taste the pillow-soft buns they steam day in and day out. They nail the texture, making toppings like curry fried chicken or miso-marinated tofu stand at attention. Should you venture southward to grab a handful of these buns, make sure you also pick up an order of Comrade Fries ($4.95), a fork-able helping of fries topped with kalua pork and chile-hoisin sauce. (AS)
3725 N. Thanksgiving Way, Ste. A, Lehi, 801-331-8251,

Best Seafood Subscription
Seaforth Fish
Community-supported agriculture has been a successful way to promote seasonable, sustainable eating—but apparently plant products aren't the only way to make the system work. Seaforth Fish Co. applies the same principle to seafood, bringing fresh, sustainable and ethically caught seafood to Utah as part of a subscription service. For $69.95, you can get a monthly 5-pound pickup (in South Jordan) of sockeye salmon, halibut or rockfish in flash-frozen, vacuum-sealed portions. And your commitment helps support practices that ensure future sustainability. (SR)

Best Sourdough Pancakes With a View
Silver Fork Lodge
Since 1947, Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant has been a popular destination to escape the city. It was a brisk morning when my husband and I drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon to visit the rustic restaurant. The patio was cozy; fluffy blankets were given to guests and sheepskin adorned each chair. We settled in, admiring the view of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest with mugs of hot coffee. I ordered their famous sourdough pancakes ($10), made from a starter that's more than 70 years old. These pancakes are the most sourdough-y, tart and scrumptious you'll ever devour. Order the short stack for $6 to accompany your savory breakfast and thank me later. (AR)
11332 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Brighton, 801-533-9977,

Best Place To Nosh

Feldman's Deli
Feldman's stands alone when it comes to authentic Jewish deli-style sandwiches stacked mile high, gefilte fish, blintzes and dozens more East Coast-influenced items that have turned the establishment into a neighborhood fixture. To sweeten the pot, live musical entertainment and variety nights also call the place home, turning your visits into more than just an opportunity to stuff your face with pastrami and injecting a cool dose of New York chic to the Wasatch Front along the way. (EL)
2005 E. 2700 South, 801-906-0369,

click to enlarge NIKI CHAN
  • Niki Chan

Journalists' Best Friend

Coffee Garden
Empathy time. Being a modern-day journalist isn't easy: pressing deadlines, flaky subjects, demanding editors, overzealous publishers, more internet trolls than you can wave an ink-stained stick at, and oh, yeah, the commander-in-chief dubbing you Public Enemy No. 1. Luckily for us here at 248 S. Main, Coffee Garden is a short jaunt away. The fact that our logo is emblazoned on their cup sleeves is no mistake, we really do love the fine folks here. Next time you need a caffeine fix (or a distraction from the 24-hour news cycle), pay either of their locations a visit. They'll give you the royal treatment—regardless of your profession. (EL)
254 S. Main, 801-364-0768; 878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425

Best Downhome Breakfast
Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade
According to a 1980s advertising campaign, the best part of waking up is a cup of instant coffee. Those in the know, know it's a bellyful of Sweet Lake's signature Hoss. Leave your McMuffin expectations at the door; we're talking about a hearty slab of fried chicken breast, topped with egg, cheddar, bacon and gooey sausage all stuffed inside a heavenly biscuit guaranteed to make your tastebuds exclaim, "Yee-haw!" Complete your meal with some freshly squeezed OJ, signature limeade or cup o' joe. No Folgers here though, only organic Caffe Ibis. (EL)
54 W. 1700 South, 801-953-1978,

Best Way To Eat Vegetables You Think You Hate
Crispy Brussels Sprouts at Franck's Restaurant
If you've got a lingering belief that certain foods are yucky—remnants of a picky-eater childhood, or preparations that rendered those foods borderline inedible—maybe you just need to see what they're like in the hands of a pro. The crispy Brussels sprouts appetizer at Franck's takes those often-misunderstood mini cabbages, roasts them to a delightful texture, and tops them with Parmesan, a vinegar reduction and toasted almonds for a treat that turns your veggies into a comfort food you'll be fighting your table partners to finish. (SR)
6263 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-6264,

Best Flavors of Nepal in the South Valley
Himalayan Kitchen
Some of the more exotic flavors of international cuisine are easy to find in downtown Salt Lake City, but harder to come by in the farther reaches of the valley. Himalayan Kitchen's State Street location serves happy customers downtown, but the South Jordan location offers a convenient way for south-siders to get their fill of dishes with a different kick than traditional Indian cuisine. If you've ever had a hankering for traditional Nepali goat curry or momo dumplings filled with bison, the deliciousness doesn't have to be so far away. (SR)
11521 S. 4000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-0800,

  • Randall Snyder

Best Cinnamon Rolls in the West, and Ain't Nobody Lying

Parowan Café
Any Vegas-bound, sin-seeking heathen riding I-15 has no doubt seen a certain billboard stationed near Parowan—"Yummm! 'Best Cinnamon Rolls in the West' Next Exit, Turn Right." But, how many of us have taken that advice, and dared the diners and cafés of Parowan to wow our senses with their cinnamon rolls? I'm here to say, lovers, sinners, road trippers, turn right! And make your way to the Parowan Café, situated on Main Street. Taste the coffee ($1.50), strong enough to wake up even the weariest traveler. Grab a crispy chicken wrap ($9.25), which comes highly recommended from a once-hungry vagabond. And don't you dare leave without buying at least three cinnamon rolls ($2.75)—large, decadently dressed in a thick cream cheese icing, with a satisfying smack of cinnamon. They are the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had—East, West or anywhere, for that matter. (ZS)
33 N. Main, Parowan, 435-477-3593,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Place To Get Chucked Up

It was my dining review that made a few purist foodies out there clutch their freshwater pearls and other, more daring, ones say "Hell yeah!": Chuck-A-Rama. With the cubed Jell-O settled, I can say there's a subtle art to navigating one of the Beehive staple's many locations. Obeisance must be paid to the salad bar for obligatory veggies, but make sure to eschew any salad containing whipped cream—cruciferous greens look down on such impostors. Once the necessary vegetable matter is in your system, it's time to make for the proteins. Go easy on the starches—I know it's hard to resist the buttery siren song of a fried scone and a heap of mashed potatoes, but that comes later. I recommend hitting the carving table for a few slices of turkey and roast beef. If you happen to go on taco night, don't limit yourself to the toppings in the designated taco section—pot roast, mac and cheese and stuffing fit just as well in a taco shell. The dessert table continues to perplex me, however. Navigate this altar to the sugary pantheon at your own peril. Now go forth and chuck in peace. (AS)
Multiple awesome locations,

Best Gas Station Snacks
Jacksons Food Stores
If your gas station doesn't offer pebble ice and fresh maraschino cherries for your fountain drink, you deserve better. Add flavor shots and a squeeze of lemon or lime for a DIY dirty soda at half the price of those fancy drive-thru joints. If soda's not your thing, grab a bottle of cold-brew coffee or kombucha. Need a protein boost? Scan the good-for-you snacks for hummus or grass-fed beef jerky. To balance it all out, treat yourself to a fresh sugar cookie, made from scratch for only $1.79 or grab a Krispy Kreme doughnut (or a dozen!). Jacksons also stocks the expected gas station fare like deli sandwiches, warm breakfast sandwiches, nachos and has a grill featuring hot dogs and other good stuff. (AR)
Multiple locations,

Best Ice Cream With a Side of Inclusivity
Howdy Homemade Ice Cream
While Howdy Homemade is worth a trip because of their huge repertoire of ice cream flavors that you can't get anywhere else—my love for their Dr. Pepper chocolate chip burns brightly—but it's also an excellent place to participate in a culture of inclusivity and celebrate diversity. A large portion of Howdy Homemade's workforce consists of people with disabilities, which contributes to the unique vibe that emanates from the Millcreek ice cream shop. It's clear this is a place where everyone loves their job, which is why it's so fun to roll in for a frozen treat. Or an ice cream cake. Or a milkshake—honestly, you can't really go wrong here. (AS)
2670 S. 2000 East, 801-410-4302,

Best Restaurant Dessert Combo
Copper Kitchen's brown sugar cake
Maybe for some, dessert is just a chance for a burst of sugar at the end of a great meal. At Copper Kitchen, the signature dessert delivers a variety of flavors and textures that makes it remarkable. The brown sugar cake itself is a moist, slightly caramelized slice of joy, but the plate also features a delicious coconut ice cream, a sprinkle of toasted cashews and a guava gelée that provides not just a bright burst of color, but a tangy complement to the other flavors. Leave room for this one. (SR)
4640 S. 2300 East, Ste. 102, Holladay, 385-237-3159,

  • Courtesy Photo

Best Edible Art

Last Course
Don't let its fast-casual layout fool you—a trip into Last Course is a study of how design elements impact our enjoyment of food. Each dessert dish arrives artfully arranged—the 35 crepe layers of the Lemon Stack evoke the rings of a tree, the 24-Karat Cake is adorned with gold leaf, and the German chocolate cake creates a singular sensory experience as hot caramel sauce melts a perfect chocolate sphere to reveal the cake within. Last Course is an extravagant answer to the fast-casual genre, seamlessly combining a modern spin on dessert with the affordability and familiarity of today's restaurant culture. These places have been popping up all over—the newest location just opened in Farmington's Station Park area. (AS)
Multiple locations,

  • Enrique Limón

Best Totally Accurate Branding

The picture is pretty self-explanatory. (EL)

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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