Best of Utah 2021 | Spreading the Love | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah 2021 

Spreading the Love

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Gourmandise’s limited run of   Boss Biscuits - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Gourmandise’s limited run of Boss Biscuits
RESTAURANTS | Readers' Picks

Best Bakery
Gourmandise

While one could wax poetic about Gourmandise's pastries, particularly crowd-favorites like the baba au rum, passion fruit mousse cake and mille feuille, it was a humble shortbread biscuit that caught CW readers' attention this year. Capitalizing on the popularity of Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning TV show Ted Lasso, Gourmandise ran a limited-edition run of buttery Boss Biscuits, complete with pink box and green army guy figurine. Marketing genius? Yes. But also the best shortbread we've ever tasted. Multiple locations, gourmandise.com
2. Fillings & Emulsions
3. Tulie Bakery

Best Coffee Shop
Beans & Brews

There's just something about the java at Beans & Brews. They say their bean-roasting process (which takes place in Utah at 4,400 foot above sea level) gives them "a significant advantage" over the competition, lending their coffees a "smooth intensity." And isn't that how we all like to feel after ingesting our morning cup: smoothly intense? They even have a system that measures the flavor, body and acidity of their beans, so you can have your coffee just the way you like it. A Utah success story, "Beans" (as their regulars call them) is family-owned since 1993 by Jeff and Kevin Laramie, who operate or franchise some 58 locations in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. Plus, they are a wholesaler of coffee beans. We know these stats are beside the point when you sit down to enjoy your morning joe and avocado toast over a copy of City Weekly. You're just after the smooth intensity. Multiple locations, beansandbrews.com
2. Coffee Garden
3. Publik Coffee Roaster

Best Indian Restaurant
Bombay House

Keeping their steady standing at the top, Bombay House serves up consistently good and authentic dishes of curries, tandoori and Indian flat breads. Aromatic and colorful dishes, with a variety of proteins for both vegetarians and carnivores, served in a casual setting, make the dining experience a go-to for locals and visitors alike. Multiple Locations, bombayhouse.com
2. Saffron Valley
3. The Kathmandu

Best Wine List
BTG

Maintaining the spot at the top is no small feat, but BTG has managed yet again. Offering a whopping 75 wines by the glass, cocktails, beer and small plates, it is safe to say there is something for the most seasoned drinker. Red and white wine flights in 2-ounce pours are available for those wanting to try a variety. 404 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-359-2814, btgwinebar.com
2. Tuscany
3. Pago

Best Italian
Carmine's Italian Restaurant

Freshly made pasta, cloth tablecloths and exceptional service help to make Carmine's a fine dining experience in a comfortable but classy atmosphere. Serving authentic Italian dishes like Neapolitan pizzas and sauces brought from his hometown in Naples, Italy, Chef Carmine creates quality dishes with a keen attention to detail. 2477 E. Fort Union Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, 801-948-4468, carmines.restaurant
2. Sicilia Mia
3. Osteria Amore

Best Thai Restaurant
Chabaar Beyond Thai

With Thai restaurants popping up on nearly every corner these days, how is it that Chabaar Beyond Thai is a perennial winner? The answer is Anny Sooksri, the entrepreneur who's now launched a veritable family of Thai restaurants, including Chabaar Beyond Thai, Tea Rose Diner, Fav Bistro and Bakes N' Bubbles. Located in what was once a coffee shop in a Midvale strip-mall parking lot, what Chabaar lacks in curb appeal, it makes up for with its creative take on Thai. Sooksri's recipes reflect her own palate, and she's taken creative license with some of her dishes, fusing them with other cuisines. Open seven days, Chabaar also serves breakfast, including Thai breakfasts, along with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free fare—everything made to order. You'll want to try this Thai cuisine! 87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100, chabaarbeyondthai.com
2. Sawadee Thai Restaurant
3. Fav Bistro

Copper Onion’s Bloody Bull - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Copper Onion’s Bloody Bull

Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
Copper Onion

I don't like to give away my secret brunch spots, but when one serves up homemade cacio y pepe and $5 bloody marys with house pickle juice, it's only a matter of time before the recognition starts to roll in. Copper Onion is a downtown staple for consistently good food any time of day, whether you're craving wagyu bone marrow, scallops with herbed spaetzle or the quintessential Copper Onion burger with duck fat aioli. And dear Lord, save room for the Valrhona chocolate pudding. 111 E. 300 South, No. 170, SLC, 801-355-3282, thecopperonion.com
2. Oquirrh
3. Takashi

Best Non-Downtown Restaurant
Cliff Dining Pub

Serving up sensational views and sushi, this south valley hot spot is an adult hang out with some of the best elevated "bar food" around (think sushi nachos). Craft cocktails, local brews and a decent wine list round out the eclectic menu. Minors are allowed, as they have both a restaurant and bar license, so a family-friendly dinner or brunch is not out of the question. 12234 Draper Gate Drive, Draper, 801-523-2053, cliffdiningpub.com
2. Mint Tapas and Sushi
3. Provisions

Best Utah County Restaurant
Communal

There are so many things to love about the food being served up at this Provo eatery. Touted as a New American Restaurant, offerings like locally sourced braised Clifford Farms pork belly and agnolotti pasta with ricotta and Parmesan filling using roasted local mushrooms make me giddy. 102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, communalrestaurant.com
2. Strap Tank Brewery
3. TRUreligion Pancake & Steakhouse

Best French Restaurant
La Caille

Maintaining the top spot, La Caille serves the best French cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Situated on beautiful grounds—20 acres of amazing flowers, trees, perfectly manicured lawns and a three-acre vineyard—your dining experience can only be extraordinary. Open for dinner seven days a week and brunch on the weekends, chef Billy Sotelo is a master at the helm. Try the French onion soup and the garlic butter roasted prime rib. 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942 1751, lacaille.com
2. Franck's
3. Eva's Bakery

Best Atmosphere
Log Haven

The thought of eating dinner in a century-old log cabin might not conjure up images of plates like grilled octopus, pan seared ahi with lobster sauce or a glass of Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fumé, but at Log Haven, that's exactly what's delivered. Decked in twinkling fairy lights among 40 acres of pine trees and waterfalls, this Millcreek gem also serves up elevated renditions of rustic fare like grilled elk NY strip with huckleberry gastrique and porcini-crusted chicken with king trumpet mushrooms, all served beside their crackling fire. 6451 Millcreek Canyon Road, SLC, 801-272-8255, log-haven.com
2. Carmine's Italian Restaurant
3. La Caille

The perfect harmony of Oh Mai’s banh mi sandwiches - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • The perfect harmony of Oh Mai’s banh mi sandwiches

Best Vietnamese
Oh Mai Sandwich Kitchen

Oh Mai! how we have grown! (That visit from Guy Fieri might have helped fuel the growth.) There are now eight locations of this fast casual eatery in the Salt Lake Valley, plus one in Orem, making it ever-easier to enjoy their spectacular soups, salads and banh mi sandwiches, in which meat, vegetables and Vietnamese seasonings find perfect harmony in a crisp baguette. Order what Guy ate! Multiple locations, ohmaisandwichkitchen.com
2. SOMI Vietnamese Bistro
3. Little Saigon

Pie Fight’s raspberry eggnog pie - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Pie Fight’s raspberry eggnog pie

Best Desserts
Pie Fight

If the last hand pie you had was of the Hostess variety, run—don't walk—to Pie Fight's walk-up window in the 9th and 9th neighborhood. With an ever-changing menu of flavors, you'll want to add this tiny patisserie into your regular dessert rotation so you can try them all, like the bourbon caramel apple, blueberry lemon or pumpkin cream cheese crumble pie. And if you're back in the office, they do corporate catering orders too. 937 E. 900 South, SLC, 385-222-5373, thepiefight.com
2. Fillings & Emulsions
3. Doki Doki

Best Chinese Restaurant
Mandarin

Do you find it odd that Utah's best Chinese food restaurant is in Bountiful and is operated by a Greek family? Just get in your jalopy and make the trip to Bountiful. You'll see why Mandarin is a shoo-in. The Greek tradition is one of consummate hospitality, and that's what you'll find entering the doors of the Mandarin. Since 1977, the owners have spared no expense in creating the best in Chinese dining (they've traveled to Hong Kong and San Francisco to hire the chefs) and to create a lavish setting appointed with eye-popping Chinese art and décor. They even maintain gorgeous Chinese gardens outside. The extensive menu offers all the basics Utahns love as well as more adventurous Chinese dishes and even some fusion entrees. Quality, consistency and service is what you'll find here, as the owners are hands-on and make each visit to the Mandarin memorable for all the best reasons. 348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, mandarinutah.com
2. Red Maple Chinese Restaurant
3. Little World

Best Mexican Restaurant
Red Iguana

The North Temple location of Red Iguana (there are now three to choose from) has long been a Salt Lake mainstay, through good times, bad times and worse times. These days, you're almost guaranteed to see construction cranes for new apartment buildings while you wait in line on the sidewalk, meaning scores of incoming residents are about to get an up-close introduction to one of Salt Lake City's Mount Rushmore restaurants. The entire neighborhood appears to be on the rise, and the consistency and excellence of this family-run cafe serving world-class moles and traditional dishes has a lot to do with that. Multiple locations, rediguana.com
2. Blue Iguana
3. Mi Lindo Nayarit

Best Park City Restaurant
Riverhorse

The crew at Riverhorse on Main must be getting used to the view from the top. Serving up unique dishes like the Durham Ranch buffalo short rib and Morgan Valley lamb lollipops has earned them a Forbes rating for good reason. An extensive wine list and a solid cocktail/beer/cider menu are also on deck to pair with your meal. 540 Main St., Park City, 435-649-3536, riverhorseparkcity.com
2. Handle
3. Hearth and Hill

Best Breakfast
Penny Ann's Café

Originally from upstate New York, the Willey family envisioned an East Coast family-diner atmosphere when they opened Penny Ann's Cafe in Salt Lake. Now with locations in Draper and Taylorsville, all offer signature light and airy sour-cream pancakes, hash browns cooked crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, housemade corned-beef hash, fried scones with honey butter and killer biscuits and gravy. At lunch, try their famed grilled Reuben, trademark burgers, wraps and fresh salads. Multiple locations, pennyannscafe.com
2. Park Café
3. Eggs in the City

Best Bar Brunch
Piper Down

There is no shortage of boozy brunch locations around town, but the folks at Piper Down have really gone above and beyond with their community building—and it helps that their brunch menu is amazing. With an old-world Irish pub aesthetic and a menu that caters to both carnivores and herbivores alike, a visit to Piper Down is a great way to kick off a weekend morning. 1492 S. State, SLC, 801-468-1492, piperdownpub.com
2. Green Pig
3. Purgatory

Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant
Mazza Cafe

Like many of the restaurants on this list, Mazza has been a gateway eatery for local diners. Many of us tried Middle Eastern classics like baba ganooj and muhammara for the first time at Mazza, and it's stayed warm in our hearts ever since. Even after our inaugural visits, there is always something to come back for at this Salt Lake staple. 1515 S. 1500 East, SLC, 801-484-9259, mazzacafe.com
2. Laziz Kitchen
3. Beirut Café

Best Restaurant Patio
Ruth's Diner

Ruth's large courtyard patio offers a variety of seating choices and plenty of shade with the canopy of leafy trees. There are also heaters if the temperature dips a bit. It's the perfect place to enjoy the signature fluffy mile-high biscuits that are amazingly light. The flavorful, homemade raspberry jam really sets them off. " People come here to find comfort," says co-owner Tracy Nelson. "We rarely change the menu, and customers like to go where the food is consistent." 4160 Emigration Canyon Road, SLC, 801-582-5807, ruthsdiner.com
2. Tuscany
3. Ivy & Varley

Sunday’s Best monkey bread - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Sunday’s Best monkey bread

Best Restaurant Brunch
Sunday's Best

You know that Sunday's Best has made a commitment to its specialty when it's chosen as its website URL "brunchmehard.com." And yes indeed, they will brunch you hard, with an all-day brunch menu seven days a week—not just Sundays—featuring stalwart dishes like Eggs Benedict, avocado toast and beignets alongside specialties including breakfast tacos and hamachi tostadas. Add a little bubbly to your bill if you're feeling extra naughty. 10672 S. State, Sandy, 801-441-3331, brunchmehard.com
2. SLC Eatery
3. Pago

Vegan comfort food: - Vertical Diner’s - mac ‘n’ cheese - JOHN TAYLOR
  • John Taylor
  • Vegan comfort food:Vertical Diner’s mac ‘n’ cheese

Best Vegetarian Restaurant
Vertical Diner

When you consider the history of Utah's plant-based cuisine, it's hard to think of a restaurant that has been more influential than Vertical Diner. It helped dispel the myth that plant-based dining consisted of sparsely dressed arugula salads drizzled with lemon juice by creating a diner-style menu packed with bold flavors. If you don't believe plant-based food can be awesome, let Vertical Diner prove you wrong. 234 W. 900 South, SLC, 801-484-8378, verticaldiner.com
2. Zest Kitchen and Bar
3. All Chay

Best Innovative Restaurant
Table X

A favorite date-night spot, Table X is an experience for the senses from start to finish. They source produce from local farms or grow it in their own onsite garden. Their bee mural is a nice touch, and the chef's tasting menu is where it is at. Reservations are recommended; double-check their hours. In case you're wondering, their gluten-free and veg options are superb! 1457 E. 3350 South, SLC, 385-528-3712, tablexrestaurant.com
2. Arlo
3. Oquirrh

Best Japanese Restaurant
Takashi

While Takashi is known for their exceptional sushi (and yes, that's the Best, too), they don't stop there when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Their marriage between keeping things traditional with an influx of contemporary is a perfect pair, such as dishes like the spicy mussel shooters, kuro buta pork belly or agedashi tofu. Takashi's armada of available nigiri, sashimi and sushi ensure that more than one stop is necessary to get through the menu, not that that's a bad thing. 18 W. Market St., SLC, 801-519-9595, takashisushi.com
2. Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
3. Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill

Best New Restaurant
Ivy & Varley
It didn't take long for Ivy & Varley to win the hearts of local diners. This approachable yet hip space seemed to demonstrate a keen understanding for what Utahns wanted from an upscale restaurant. From its menu of contemporary American comfort food favorites executed with meticulous detail by chef Neza Prieto to its roster of creative craft cocktails, Ivy & Varley knew exactly how to open with a bang. 55 W. 100 South, SLC, 801-895-2846, theivyslc.com
2. Arlo
3. Carson Kitchen

Best Greek Restaurant
The Other Place

A restaurant that has withstood various restaurant trends and fads in the neighborhood, The Other Place simply offers good food at reasonable prices, a quality desperately appreciated in the downtown area. While there's an unwavering breakfast crowd, The Other Place also plates stoutly traditional Greek cuisine like moussaka (layered potatoes and veggies), pastichio (the Greek version of lasagna) and a number of takes on roasted lamb. 469 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-521-6567, theotherplacerestaurant.com
2. Manoli's
3. The Local Greek

Best Ogden Restaurant
Tona Sushi

Utahns have high standards when it comes to sushi in the state. There's no reason to eat subpar sushi when you live here, and Ogden's Tona on Historic 25th Street is some of the best you'll find, period. At Tona, quality and elegance define the restaurant experience. The Brad Roll, a combination of spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber fried with panko and drizzled with sriracha and Japanese mayo, is one of the tastiest rolls you'll ever try. 215 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662, tonarestaurant.com
2. Rovali's Ristorante Italiano
3. Prairie Schooner Steak House

Arlo’s stuffed rainbow trout with heirloom braised beans and green tomato salsa verde - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Arlo’s stuffed rainbow trout with heirloom braised beans and green tomato salsa verde

RESTAURANTS | Staff Picks

Best Marmalade Miracle
Arlo Restaurant

Opening in the midst of a pandemic (and surviving) is a bit of a miracle. And the offerings themselves are miraculous. The freshest ingredients come together in each picture-perfect dish from chef Milo Carrier, who's been working in the kitchen since he was a teenager—and it shows in every detail. His take on meaningful food launches patrons on a culinary expedition, first tasting with their eyes, as each plate is a visual masterpiece. Then, to diners' delight, their first bite. The flavors, textures and soothing experience of food created with intention is a rare gift waiting to be enjoyed at Arlo Restaurant. 271 W. Center St., SLC, 385-266-8845, arlorestaurant.com

Best Street Cart Named Breakfast
Beehive Breakfast

Downtown dwellers should rejoice at the existence of Beehive Breakfast. The perfect casual weekend bite-grab and the remedy to running-out-the-door mornings, this brekky cart across the street from Johnny's on 2nd is a lifesaver. Offering a simple lineup of breakfast sandwiches (eggs, meat of your choice or hash browns for the veg heads and choice of cheese) for an easy-going price, Beehive Breakfast is the early morning street food you didn't know you needed. 166 E. 200 South, SLC, 978-778-4386, beehivebreakfast.com

Best Vegas Import
Carson Kitchen

Las Vegas has given us a lot of new restaurants over the past few years, but Carson Kitchen seems to be the only one that brought a bit of Vegas along for the ride. It's an ideal medley of comfort food classics, sophisticated culinary talent and eye-popping entrees. Next time you need a trip to the City of Sin but don't have travel time to spare, pop in here and get your fix. 241 W. 200 South, SLC, 385-252-3200, carsonkitchen.com

Best Thai Takeout
ChaiYo Thai Togo

Rising to the top tier of Utah's Thai restaurants is quite the accomplishment, and ChaiYo is definitely among our favorites. We're especially happy with their takeout-only model, since places that offer consistently delicious takeout have become increasingly important over the past year. ChaiYo's fried rice is an absolute bomb of Thai flavors—we highly recommend checking it out. 3804 S. Highland Drive, Ste. B2, Millcreek, 801-890-0036, chaiyothaitogo.com

Best Butcher Comfort Food
Chop Shop

Owners John and Paige Courtney know a thing or two about good eats, both having been in the biz for years. Finding a new niche in Park City was no small feat, but the couple found success behind their butcher counter and in front of their imported Italian wood-fire oven. If you crave craft delicious wood-fire sandwiches (such as the Butler Dip) and Detroit style pizzas, stop in for some quality meats and stay for a meal. 1177 Center Drive, Ste. J2, Park City, 435-604-0244, chopshopparkcity.com

Best Restaurant Save
Cotton Bottom Inn

It seemed every local fan of The Cotton Bottom Inn and its magnificent garlic burgers held their not-as-garlicky-as-they'd-like breath when its official reopening took place last year. Thankfully, the Bar X Group lovingly restored this Utah institution and brought garlic breath back into the limelight where it should be. Whether you're a garlic burger veteran or rookie, this place continues to be a good time. 2820 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 801-849-8847, thecottonbottom.com

Crusts light as air: - Centro Woodfired Pizzeria - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Crusts light as air: Centro Woodfired Pizzeria

Best Pies for Feasting Anon
Centro Woodfired Pizzeria

How far would you go for pizza? The answer should be approximately 251 miles, assuming you're coming from Salt Lake, because that's how far it is to Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. When you get there, expect light-as-air crust with the perfect amount of chew and plenty of "leopard spots" (the good charred bit imparted from cooking with real flame). Speaking of heat, order the dolce diavola with spicy calabrese and hot cherry peppers, fresh mozz, whipped ricotta and a sweet drizzle of honey. 50 W. Center St., Cedar City, 844-385-3285, centropizzeria.com

Best 9th & 9th Bar Bites
East Liberty Tap House

Aside from East Liberty Tap House's adorable 9th & 9th patio, the food is amazing and much of it is gluten-free. Our true love? Their chorizo-loaded french fries. They also have plenty of options for your veg-head friends (like the corn cakes—a brunch must!). ELTH is a bar, so leave the little ones at home and bring your ID. 850 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-441-2845, eastlibertytaphouse.com

Best East-Side Morning Skillets
Eggs in the City

Eggs in the City moved out of their 1300 South and 1700 East location and into their new Millcreek digs, and it's been a happy marriage in the community ever since. The newer location has a bigger kitchen, seating area and patio, alleviating waits while accommodating more people for their superb breakfast and lunch. For breakfast fare, go for one of their savory skillets, or if you have a sweet tooth, the pancakes are some of the best you'll find around town. Also, their chile verde may be the best in town. 2795 S. 2300 East, Millcreek, 801-581-0809, eggsinthecityslc.com

Tastiest Community Cause
Flourish Bakery

Don't mistake Flourish Bakery's nonprofit status for some run-of-the-mill bake sale. The pies, cookies and biscuits coming from their ovens are legit! Hands down, they have the best jalapeno and cheddar biscuit in town, and their lemon chess cutie pie and solstice Uganda chocolate pie are a revelation. If this is what giving people a second chance to thrive tastes like, you can sign me up all day. 752 W. Center St., Midvale, 385-474-0371, flourishslc.org

Best Pastry Superheroes
Mad Dough

Once you've had a box of the pillowy, flavor-filled doughnies that have made Mad Dough local pastry superheroes, it's tough to go back to conventional donuts. When you combine owner Mandy Madsen's bubbly, sunshiny personality with a rotating menu of flavors that range from Boston cream to peanut butter pie and vanilla fig, it's easy to get addicted to these sweet confections. Check them out online or in person at the Central Ninth Market. 161 W. 900 South, SLC, maddoughslc.com

Best Ethiopian
Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant & Market

Ethiopian cuisine is characterized by thick stews, vegetables and spicy meat dishes placed in piles atop injera, a thin layer of elastic textured bread. Ethiopians eat their community-inspired meals by tearing off chunks of the bread and scooping up bites from the dish. Open since 2008, Mahider is Utah's premiere Ethiopian restaurant offering rich, flavorful meals with fresh injera made daily. Just the place to expand your palate! 1465 S. State, SLC, 801-975-1111, mahiderethiopian.com

Grab a Munchies guava cake slice to go - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Grab a Munchies guava cake slice to go

Best Bakery for Night Owls
Munchie's

Most bakeries close up shop before those post-dinner cravings kick in, which is why we're grateful for Munchie's. Their famous brownies, cakes and cinnamon rolls are available from 7 to 11 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which is usually when we start thinking about putting something sweet in our bellies. They also offer monthly specials that are always worth checking out. To those about to munch, we salute you. 3838 S. Highland Drive, Millcreek, 385-252-8718, munchiesslc.com

Best Restaurant Relocation
Rio Grande Cafe

Making the decision to relocate a restaurant isn't one any owner takes lightly, but in the case of Rio Grande Cafe, it was nudged along to the tune of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in March 2020. The Rio Grande Station, historic home to the Cafe, suffered structural damage that left it unfit for residence. Turning lemons into lemonade, or rather limes into margaritas, Porcupine Pub & Grille on 1300 E. transformed into the Rio Grande Cafe's new home, and tacos have been flying out the door ever since. 258 S. 1300 East, SLC, 801-364-3302, riograndecafeslc.com

Best Pandemic Recharge
Oasis Café

Due to the pandemic, 2021 was the year of dining al fresco. The patio scene in Salt Lake City remains competitive these days. Still, there is no question that the Oasis Café's serene flower-lined grotto is the best spot to catch your breath downtown and recharge while sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a piping hot cappuccino. 151 S. 500 East, SLC, 801-322-0404, oasiscafeslc.com

Best Slippery Sweets
Meet Fresh

As much as we love desserts that smack us in the face with sugary goodness, we haven't been able to stop thinking about the bao bing at Meet Fresh. Sweetness takes a back seat to texture with their shaved ice bowls topped with chewy taro balls or slippery grass jelly. Bao bing is immensely fun to eat and is perfect for Utah's scorching summer heat. 3390 S. State, Ste. 32, South Salt Lake, 385-549-1134, meetfresh.us

Best Restaurant Survival
Oquirrh

There's never an "easy" time to start a restaurant, but it was only a year after opening Oquirrh in 2019 that veteran chef Andrew Fuller (formerly of locations like Copper Onion and Pago) and his wife, Angelena, suddenly faced the existential threat of the pandemic. Yet they managed to make it through, and if you haven't had a chance to try their inventive menu of locally-sourced American fare—with everything from house-prepared sourdough bread to Niman Ranch pork chops—it's a great time to prove that all the angst over the past year has been worth it. 368 E. 100 South, SLC, 801-359-0426, oquirrhslc.com

Roots Cafe’s veggie Peta breakfast sandwich - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Roots Cafe’s veggie Peta breakfast sandwich

Best Morning-After Breakfast Spot
Roots Café

Delicious espresso? Yes, please. Big veggie omelet with or without bacon? Um, heck yes. Buckwheat gluten-free pancake bigger than our face? You know it. Roots is a favorite breakfast spot. Their portion sizes will give you enough for three meals and are well worth the weekend wait, during which you can pop next door to the most darling consignment shop. 3474 S. 2300 East, Millcreek, 801-277-6499, rootscafeslc.com

Best Basement Bar
O'Shucks Bar & Grill/Ahh Sushi

You can get down at the Salt Lake location of O'Shucks because it's downtown and downstairs in a brownstone at 22 E. 100 South. That coolness alone is worth a nod. But they also serve specialty sushi rolls, courtesy of a resident sushi chef, and mega-schooners of beer. The specials, like a Tuesday $3 burger special (add fries for $2!) and Wednesday $3 and $4 roll specials are unreal! This laid-back oasis is ground zero for those who crave sushi and booze at bargain basement prices. Oh, and don't forget their original dive bar: O'Shucks Bar and Grill—on Main Street in Park City for the past 26 years—and their all-ages eatery at Pinebrook off I-80 (that serves breakfast). Multiple locations, oshucks-ahhsushi.com

Best Way to End a Camping Trip
Ray's Tavern

Stop me if you've heard this one: A girl walks into a bar... but make that bar a tavern and said girl has been camping in the desert for several nights. The punchline isn't as funny as it is delicious—a juicy burger on a sesame seed bun, hand-cut fries and a slice of homemade pie all washed down with a cold beer. Is it the best burger in Utah? After a week of tinfoil dinners, hot dogs and jerky, Ray's serves up manna from heaven. 25 S. Broadway, Green River, 435-564-3511, facebook.com/RaysTavern

Best Murray Mexican
Restaurant Morelia

Murray residents regularly congregate at the family-owned Restaurant Morelia for lip-smacking Mexican fare. Two dishes showcase the legendary chile verde and relleno sauces: the Laura Special (a chile verde burrito topped with relleno sauce, cheese, sour cream, cilantro and avocado slices) and the David Burrito (a chile verde burrito stuffed with a chile relleno). (Yep, Laura and David are the owners.) But if combo plates are the only thing to stave off your raging hunger, go with the Larry Miller (2 cheese enchiladas, 2 beef tacos and a bean tostada). Did we mention their reasonable prices? In these inflationary times, affordable and delicious basically seal the deal. 6098 S. State, SLC, 801-265-8790, restaurantmorelia.com

Best Soul Food
Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen

Growing up living in homeless shelters, Chef Julius Thompson's most memorable exposure to homemade food was at his grandmother's table. Today, he showcases both of their culinary skills at Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen, where his recreation of her fried chicken is one of the most popular dishes. While she often served bread pudding and fried apple together, Thompson tops his traditional bread pudding with apple cream. His shrimp and grits, catfish and cornbread are all evidence that it's now possible to deliciously visit the South at the south end of Salt Lake County. 877 E. 12300 South, Draper, 385-434-2433, saucebosssouthernkitchen.com

Sushi Groove’s toasted granny - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Sushi Groove’s toasted granny

Best Sushi for Under $3
Sushi Groove

With creativity ga-lore, Sushi Groove is one of Sugar House's hidden gems. Enjoy fresh fish flown in throughout the week and check out their Tuesday night $2.50 specials, veggie rolls, impressive sake selection and live music. Don't be surprised if you become a regular and bring out-of-town guests to bask in all their delicious raw-fish glory. 2910 Highland Drive, SLC, 801-467-7420, sushigroove.us

Best Holy Union
Tandoori Taqueria

Combining the savory flavor aesthetic of Indian cuisine with the convenience and cultural clout of tacos is a tricky beast to pull off—but Tandoori Taqueria has cracked the code. This upstart from Southern Utah recently staked a claim on the Wasatch Front, and things will never be the same. Tandoori chicken stuffed with cabbage slaw and wrapped in a buttermilk naan tortilla is something everyone needs to try. 3540 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-590-9473, thetandooritaqueria.com

Best Lake Views
The Lakehouse on Deer Creek Reservoir

The panoramic lake views from both the deck and inside the restaurant might be enough to get you there, but when coupled with the impressive offerings created by chef Tamara Stanger, all your senses commit to the experience. Stanger finds inspiration for her dishes within the stories of the ingredients. From there, she finds ways to complement the ingredients, building a delicious masterful dish. 5317 S. U.S. Highway 189, Heber City, 435-210-7474, thelakehousedeercreek.com

Best Menu Update
The Rose Establishment Teams Up With Pallet's Buzz Willey

If ever there were a silver lining to Pallet closing its doors, it's the expansion of The Rose Establishment and its menu collaboration with Pallet chef Buzz Willey. While nothing quite replaces the hole left in our hearts—or stomachs—that was once occupied by Pallet, Chef Willey's Cubano sandwich with tea-braised Snake River Farms kurobuta pork, sliced ham, Gruyère cheese, pickles and garlic aioli is a good start. 235 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-208-5569, theroseestb.com

Best Portion Sizes
Venezuela Mia

For those proudly proclaiming to be in the Clean Plate Club, those who seldom leave a restaurant with leftovers packed in a box, you may have met your match. Each time we've visited Venezuela Mia, we've had to hang our heads in shame as we shuffle out the door toting our doggie bags. Whether it's gigantic, cheese-stuffed cachapas or arepas overflowing with an abundance of carne asada, this is a place that delights in generous portions. 9460 S. Union Square, Ste. 104, Sandy, 801-831-6420, vzlamia.com

Vessel Kitchen’s Good n’ Plenty with honey mustard pulled pork. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Vessel Kitchen’s Good n’ Plenty with honey mustard pulled pork.

Best Build-Your-Own Meal
Vessel Kitchen

The term "fast casual" evokes assembly line preparations that might be convenient, but don't generally scream "healthy" or "interesting." Locally launched in 2016, Vessel Kitchen made a commitment to from-scratch preparations with a wide range of flavors and menu items for every dietary preference, from vegan to keto. In addition to great salads and tacos, they offer market plates that allow a combination of one delicious meat, seafood or vegan entree, plus a pair of sides that range from mac 'n' cheese to Israeli slaw or Thai-spiced carrots. Your taste buds will never know how quickly it all came to you. Multiple locations, vesselkitchen.com

Best Seasonal Menu
Wildwood

There's comfort in visiting a restaurant and keeping it safe by ordering favorite dishes you know you enjoy. At Wildwood, executive chef and owner Michael Richey keeps customers on their toes with a menu that changes with the seasons. But don't fret—some dishes remain year-round but with flavor twists—such as their chicken wings that shouldn't be missed. The wings are always cooked crisp and served as an order of eight or so, but currently, you can enjoy the warm flavors of a spicy sambal sauce, drizzled in sesame dressing and served with a side of slaw. 564 E. Third Ave., SLC, 801-831-5409, wildwoodslc.com



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