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Block Rockin' Eats 

A guide to the streets and blocks with the best local flavor.

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ALEX SPRINGER
  • Alex Springer

During my time sampling the best and brightest of Utah's food scene, I can't help but notice that that there are certain stretches of highway, strip malls and neighborhood blocks with a high concentration of great local eats. I am always tickled to visit a tasty restaurant one week, only to end up in the same neighborhood following up a lead on another one.

With summertime ushering in another season of block parties, I got thinking about these culinary blocks that contain a multitude of diverse eats. Here are just a few of my favorites.

3500 South & Decker Lake Drive, West Valley: There are plenty of blocks and neighborhood eateries in West Valley to make the cut, but there is something special about the near-perfect arrangement of restaurants on display right before you get to the Maverik Center. Whether you're looking for a dozen freshly made doughnuts with a whimsical spin from Donut Boy (2194 W. 3500 South, 385-528-0782, donutboyutah.com) on a Saturday morning or looking for a hip sushi bar like Fat Fish (1980 W. 3500 South, 801-887-7272, fatfishslc.com) for a Friday night bite, this spot has you covered.

If you hop East across 1940 West, you've got Tonkotsu Ramen Bar (1898 W. 3500 South, Ste. 10, 385-202-5241) which has all of your slurpable, broth-forward cravings, and El Dorado Seafood (1906 W. 3500 South, Ste 17, 385-229-4186, eldoradoseafoodutah.com) whose menu of Mexican seafood classics is perfect for these hot summer days. With an area that also includes Fillings and Emulsions, Tuk Tuk's, Café Silvestre, Bucket O' Crawfish, this is one helluva block party for local food enthusiasts.

Holladay Boulevard, Holladay: Nestled between Kentucky Avenue and Murray Holladay Road is an excellent spot for East Bench dining. For starters, you've got SoHo Food Park (4747 S. Holladay Boulevard), your home for a curated roster of local food trucks every evening. With each night bringing something a little bit different to their outdoor tables, SoHo Food Park represents a delicious ecosystem within an ecosystem, which has been an impressive feat to maintain.

Venturing outside of the food park, you've got a perfectly serviceable wood-fired pizzeria in Pizzeria Tasso (4734 S. Holladay Boulevard, 801-810-9426) and some great Mediterranean fare from Layla Grill and Mezze (4751 S. Holladay Boulevard, 801-272-9111, laylagrill.com). On the dessert front, a trip to either Auntie Rae's (4704 S. Holladay Boulevard, 801-679-3925, auntiraes.com) for a slice of Jane's Fudge Cake or Leslie's French Pastries (2308 E. Murray Holladay Road, 801-278-3341) for some croissants will always be well-spent. Just a bit North on the boulevard, you've got a Taqueria 27, 3 Cups Coffee and a Caputo's in a pear tree. The variety of good eats in this area paired with its friendly, walkable neighborhood makes this block a tough one to pass up.

Regent Street, Downtown Salt Lake City: Sure, you could split hairs about all the great food blocks that exist in the downtown area, but Regent Street is our last line of defense against the monstrous Cheesecake Factory inside the City Creek Shopping Center. The Eccles Theater commands a generous crowd whenever there's a show playing, and those potential diners would be better served by the duck confit carbonara at Fenice Mediterranean Bistro (126 S. Regent Street, 801-359-4500, fenicebistroslc.com) than they would by whatever bacon-wrapped garbage in alfredo sauce that Cheesecake Factory is serving up. For something a bit more casual but no less delicious, the Nashville fried chicken specialists at Pretty Bird (146 S. Regent Street, prettybirdchicken.com) will whip you up a chicken sandwich that will make you weep—especially if you order it hot, behind. Maize Tacos (151 S. Regent Street, 801-363-0245, maizetacos.com) and Turmeric Indian Fast Food (153 S. Regent Street, turmericutah.com) are also in the neighborhood for something fast and furious that doesn't skimp on quality. Local eats are few and far between when you get to the City Creek area, but Regent Street continues to fight for its right to block party.

Union Square, Sandy: In all fairness, I stumbled upon this Sandy strip mall because it happens to be home to one of my favorite hobby shops—but damn does this place slap when it comes to diverse cuisine. The jewel of Union Square happens to be Venezuela Mia (9460 S. Union Square, Ste. 104, 801-831-6420, vzlamia.com) whose melty, cheesy cachapas made me go weak in the knees during my first visit. It's also an excellent spot to gorge oneself on a variety of smoked meats and fried tequenos should the mood strike you. Right next door you've got El Barril (9460 S. Union Square, Ste. 105, 385-955-8838, cafeelbarril.net), a spot where Mexican lunchtime favorites like lonches and filled French crepes exist in the same place together. The complex is bookended by Ying's Thai Sushi (9414 S. Union Square, 801-999-4321, yingsthaisushisandy.com), a classic spot for—you guessed it—Thai food and sushi, and O-Ku Sushi & Poké (694 E. Union Square, 385-281-2164, okusushipoke.com) for fans of the poké bowl.

I've got plenty more blocks on my ever-expanding list, but if any of you dear readers have a particular area or neighborhood that has a high concentration of deliciousness, please hit me up.

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