Eating Well | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Eating Well 

Dining Guide 2016

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Eating well. Go ahead and think about the notion for a minute. "Well" can mean many things to different people: clean, sustainable or just down-home, grease-dripping-down-your-chin goodness. Thankfully, City Weekly has a stable of ever-curious and always-hungry contributors who were up to the task of redefining the concept.

Inside these appetite-inducing pages, you'll find everything from a nod to altruistic eateries (p. 28) to a fantasy meal that takes bits and pieces from several eateries (p. 52) and vegetarian dishes that are—dare I say—as good (if not better) than their glutenous, meaty counterparts (p. 54).

With the weather finally getting warmer, this might be a good time to hit the pavement and plan a foodie road trip; check out our road map on page 32. Ever wonder what tools are musts for your favorite chefs? We ask them on page 72. Additionally, we cull from the great minds who make our weekly issue happen and ask CW staffers where they go to satisfy their cravings on page 40. An omelet-and-sausage-stuffed Belgian waffle sandwich? Yes, s'il vous plaît.

Also included in this showcase of all things SLC nom is a nod to stellar hand-held foods (p. 38), a showcase of cocktails that'll make you swear off your go-to rum and Coke (p. 64) and (gasp!) some love to not-so-bad-for-you drive-thru options. Room for dessert? Bow down to sticky bun and caramel chocolate pie goodness (p. 70).

So join me in this culinary adventure, fellow elastic-waistband-wearing friends! Whether your idea of good grubbin' consists of the herb-and-garlic-marinated flat-iron steak at Gracie's or an order of ham fried rice at Little World, this faux nacho, fried chicken, absinthe-infused issue's for you.

—Enrique Limón



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MEALS WITH A MISSION
Fill your plates with a heaping side of good karma.
By AMANDA ROCK
comments@cityweekly.net

Whether you're looking for a caterer for your next work meeting, in need of a new spot for lunch or just wanting to get your hands dirty by volunteering in a garden, supporting these local businesses and charities goes a long way for your taste buds, as well as our community.

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Spice Kitchen Incubator brings together refugees and other community members interested in starting a full or part-time food business.Spice Kitchen Incubator
Refugees interested in starting a food business are helped by Spice Kitchen Incubator (385-229-4484, SpiceKitchenIncubator.org), sponsored by the International Rescue Committee and Salt Lake County. Spice Kitchen Incubator provides technical assistance, training and an ample commercial kitchen. You can find menus from its burgeoning catering business on its website and learn how you can get involved. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for their booths (such as Mother of All Sudanese cuisine, pictured) at area farmers markets and at World Refugee Day on June 4 at Liberty Park. Follow Spice Kitchen Incubator on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with its many entrepreneurs and to find out about opportunities to sample its delicious, authentic food.

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Yardbarkin Hot Sauces
Deb Nahvi and Mindy Bridges are the enthusiastic couple behind Yardbarkin hot sauces. Turning their hobby into a business, they donate a portion of their earnings to animal organizations like Best Friends Animal Society and Ching Farm Rescue and Sanctuary. If you've been to the Wasatch Front Farmers Market at Wheeler's Farm in Murray or Gardner Village in South Jordan, you've noticed them peddling their six flavorful hot sauces amid a crowd of customers and friendly dogs. You can also find their tasty hot sauces on Yardbarkin.com or at Urban Farm & Feed.

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The Green Urban Lunch Box
Donate your time, your fruit trees or even your backyard. The Green Urban Lunch Box (801-318-1745, TheGreenUrbanLunchBox.com) provides hands-on training for urban agriculture through creative programs. Kids are taught about growing food with the aid of an actual school bus turned into a mobile greenhouse. In the FruitShare Program, participants register their fruit trees for extra help with care and harvesting. What they don't want will go to feed the hungry. Elderly community members turn their back yards into urban farms in the Back-Farm Program. The vegetables are divided between the homeowner, the volunteers and hunger-relief organizations.

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3 Squares
Food education for underserved children is the heart of 3 Squares (801-696-5044, 3SquaresInc.org). Through an after-school program, kids work with local chefs to learn about healthy food choices and making their own meals. Taste of the Wasatch (Sunday, Aug. 7) is the fundraiser behind this nonprofit. Each year, more than 50 chefs, restaurants and bakeries, boutique wineries and craft breweries (alongside hundreds of volunteers) come together to throw a party to raise funds to fight hunger. Guests can enjoy live music, a silent auction and the best food and drink in the state at Solitude Mountain Resort. Get your tickets at TasteOfTheWasatch.org.

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Even Stevens
Even Stevens (EvenStevens.com) has earned a reputation as the foremost philanthropic restaurant around by selling craveable sandwiches with the simple concept of donating a sandwich for each one sold. Partnering with local nonprofits, Even Stevens makes sure everybody gets fed. Between its four locations in Utah (downtown Salt Lake City, Sugar House, Draper and St. George), it donated 247,031 sandwiches in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down. Look for other Even Stevens locations popping up in Intermountain cities like Ogden, Logan and Boise.

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Traveling Well
Utah Meals Worth A Detour
By TED SCHEFFLER
comments@cityweekly.net

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France's sacred culinary bible—the Michelin Guidehas been directing discerning patrons to restaurants in France and beyond for more than a century. Created by the Michelin tire company, the guide was originally conceived to lend weary French travelers a helping hand in choosing where to eat and where to sleep. Today, the Michelin Guide—published annually—lists thousands of restaurants, with those in the top tiers earning one, two or the much-sought-after three stars. The two- and three-star ratings indicate that those restaurants are "worth a detour" and "worth a special journey," respectively.

Michelin Guide inspectors follow rigorous rules in rating establishments. As for me, well, I'm a bit more laissez-faire in my choices. After all, I'll drive 100 miles out of my way for a first-rate hamburger or pizza. Here, then, are 10 off-the-beaten-path Utah eateries that I think are well worth at least a detour, and maybe even that special journey.

Who'd have imagined that you'd have to travel to Utah County to get your lips around the best Cajun-Creole cooking in in the state? At Boudreaux's Bistro (78 E. State Road 198, Salem, 801-704-7209, GetYourCajunOn.com) the food is cooked from scratch and delivered to your table piping hot. There's nothing fancy here: Styrofoam plates, plastic bowls and cutlery are the order of the day, and there's no alcohol. But, who cares? Because Boudreaux's serves up rich and hearty gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, shrimp Creole, crawfish and po' boys that any New Orleanian would covet. So, for an authentic taste of Louisiana, schedule a stop in Salem. Your taste buds will thank you—I gawr-on-tee.

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Whenever I'm in Moab, near the top of my things-to-do checklist is to pay a visit to Milt's Stop n' Eat (356 Mill Creek Drive, Moab, 435-259-7424, MiltsStopAndEat.com). It's not just one of my favorite Moab eateries, but one of my favorites on the planet. Moab's oldest restaurant—opened in 1954 by Milt Galbraith—is today said to look pretty much as it did when it was built. The vinyl-topped stools and Formica counter are all original. The chili con carne is killer, and the milk shakes ... oh, those milkshakes! The shakes and malts are made with fresh cow's milk from McClish Family Dairy in Moab's Spanish Valley. They're also made with fresh fruit, so expect chunks of real banana, strawberries and such to clog up your straw. These are old-fashioned shakes, meant to be eaten with a spoon.

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Café Galleria (101 W. Main, Midway, 435-657-2002, CafeGalleriaPizza.com) is situated in and around a 110-year-old house; there's abundant seating indoors and lots more outside. Patio tables and furniture surround the house, and in warm weather, patrons can eat, literally, on the lawn. It feels like being in Boulder, Colo., or Portland, Ore. But enough about ambiance, because you'll come to Midway for the pizza. These are traditional, thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pies, baked in a wood-fired oven (they use cherry wood) at around 600 to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. The crust is terrific, but what really makes these pizzas stand out is the cheese, which is a secret house blend of homemade mozzarella and Parmesan. In the mornings, Café Galleria also serves excellent baked bagels.

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There are many reasons to visit Twin Rocks Cafe (913 Navajo Twins Drive, Bluff, 435-672-2341, TwinRocksCafe.com) when you're in San Juan County, but none more compelling than its Navajo tacos. Twin Rocks makes its fry bread from scratch, and tops it with homemade chili, lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives and shredded cheddar, with sour cream and salsa alongside. This is also the home of the Navajo pizza, which uses that deliciously decadent fry bread as the crust. Work off some of the fry-bread calories while browsing the popular Twin Rocks gift shop.

Located in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Red Canyon Lodge (2450 W. Red Canyon Lodge, Dutch John, 435-889-3759, RedCanyonLodge.com) is truly one of Utah's hidden treasures—a destination that is as appealing in winter as in summer. Red Canyon Lodge's restaurant features mostly sandwiches and burgers for lunch, and it's hard to top the Gorge Grilled Cheese. At dinner, the signature hand-cut elk sirloin with rosemary-garlic-red wine demi-glaze is sensational, as is the simpler Rainbow trout fillet, lightly fried in herb-infused olive oil with fresh sage and rosemary. Kids and adults alike love Red Canyon's fettuccine Alfredo and the chef's gourmet mac 'n' cheese with smoked Italian sausage, cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan.

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If I had to name a single Utah restaurant that was my favorite, it would have to be Hell's Backbone Grill (20 N. Highway 12, Boulder, 435-335-7464, HellsBackboneGrill.com). It's not the fanciest or edgiest. It's neither hoity-toity nor precious. And that's why I love it so. It is Utah's answer to the beloved Chez Panisse: a restaurant where the food is truly local, mostly organic, sustainable and that which seems to envelop visitors in an aura of good karma. That's thanks to the terrific team of co-owners—Jen Castle and Blake Spalding—and their exceptional Hell's Backbone family. The food, from posole to "blue ribbon" buttermilk biscuits, is top-notch. The wine selection is terrific, and the magnetism of this culinary gem will bring you back, again and again.

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The menu at North Fork Table & Tavern (3900 N. Wolf Creek Drive, Eden, 801-648-7173, NorthForkTableAndTavern.com) is nothing if not eclectic. Wood-fired oven pizzas share the menu with pan-seared Shetland salmon, wild-caught Pacific black cod, roasted organic chicken, Cobb salad, grilled New York strip steak and a vermicelli bowl with short rib, pickled daikon, cilantro, Marcona almonds and nuoc cham. I didn't expect to find that in the tiny village of Eden. But Chef Jeff Sanich is secretly cooking up a storm here, adjacent to Powder Mountain, and he knocks it out of the park during breakfast, lunch, après ski and dinner. So, venture north, my friends.

The next time you're heading to Bear Lake or find yourself in Logan, make time to enjoy a pizza at Jack's Wood Fired Oven (265 N. Main, 435-754-7523). The Margherita pizza at Jack's is absolute perfection. But, there are other tremendous wood-fired pizzas that demand attention, too, like The Sunnyside, which is a breakfast lover's pizza dream: potatoes, cream sauce, prosciutto, bacon, smoked cheddar and—the best part—two sunny-side-up eggs, finished with maple syrup. Or, try the Cozumel pizza with white sauce, shrimp, avocado, Peppadew peppers and Caribbean spices. Friendly service and cocktails, beer and wine all add to Jack's appeal.

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Conestoga Ranch, located near Bear Lake, is seasonal; its unique Campfire Grill Restaurant (427 N. Paradise Parkway, Garden City, 844-464-5267, ConestogaRanch.com) is open from mid-May until early October. The Ranch is a "glamping" destination, where guests can bunk in luxurious cottages or covered wagons. Naturally, the food is pretty glam, too. Chef Gustavo Suclla Schiaffino's menu includes a one-pound Angus rib-eye with béarnaise sauce and Parmesan-dusted frites; a wood-roasted half chicken with fingerling potatoes; pan-seared Atlantic salmon with charred asparagus and tomato beurre monte; heavenly mac 'n' cheese with  silky white cheddar, smoked gouda and provolone sauce, garnished with a crisp-fried slice of coppa; and much more. It's the perfect place to enjoy al fresco dining while watching the spectacular sunsets.

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It's far easier to find exotic foods such as Vietnamese pho, Indian curries, African wot, and Thai gai pad krapow in Utah than it is to find German cooking. That's why whenever I'm in the vicinity of Spring City, Das Cafe (33 N. Main, Spring City, 435-462-7484) calls out to me. Along with what might just be the best potato salad on the planet, Das Cafe serves up Reuben sandwiches and brats bursting with flavor, not to mention specials such as rolladen, goulash and wiener schnitzel. Fair warning: If you skip the bread pudding, you lose.

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Now, it's time to fill 'er up!
I'm With The Hand
Ditch the plate and wrap your hands around these seven delicious treats
By AIMEE L. COOK
comments@cityweekly.net

Hand-held foods are typically fast and convenient. That said, some could lack in taste and flavor—think drive-thru burgers or tacos. But, fear not; depending on what you are craving, there are many local options to satisfy that hankering, and you won't have to sacrifice flavor for quick, cheap or filling.

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The street-style tacos at the Blue Poblano Craft Taquería & Burger House (473 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-883-9078) are made to order and with the freshest ingredients. All meats are flame-broiled and give each dish a smoky taste. Chef Mark Daniels cranks out some amazing food from the small cooking space in the eclectic restaurant that only seats 36. Try the al pastor tacos ($4 each) made with sweet, marinated pork, fresh pineapple, Monterey jack cheese, salsa roja, chipotle, fresh onion, cilantro, green onion and queso cotja served in a blue and white corn tortilla.

For a quick and delicious Greek meal, Yanni's Greek Express (2761 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6525) has stood the test of time. For more than 20 years, its quality and service have not wavered. The chicken souvlaki with rice ($5.45) is a local favorite and is served on a stick. Try the classic or chicken gyro ($5.45) on the menu. Topped with white sauce, tomato and onion and wrapped in a soft, warm pita, it's a meal all on its own.

Pizza is one of the first foods that springs to mind when you think hand-held. The Pie Hole (344 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4653) has a few pies on the menu that are unique, (many have slices of potato and Alfredo sauce) and are downright good. Each day, the Pie Hole offers eight different varieties of pizza, including one vegan and four vegetarian. Grab a slice as you are walking by—it's fast, cheap and easy, and even comes on a paper plate. Try the Ninja ($2.64, if it's on the menu that day), a thin, extra large slice topped with pepperoni, jalapeño and pineapple. If not, you can't go wrong with the classic pepperoni ($2.41).

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Chedda Burger (26 E. 600 South, Salt Lake City, 801-448-6116) has taken its food-truck favorites and now offers them in a brick-and-mortar location. Chef Nick Watts has brought his love of gourmet burgers to the people of Salt Lake City, and the people are pleased. Priding itself on sourcing as many local ingredients as possible, Chedda Burger has taken the burger to new heights. From the Kill Me Softly burger ($8.99)—a beef patty, blue cheese, bacon, arugula and cranberry sauce all served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut—to the Old Faithful ($6.79), a beef patty, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, tomatoes, leaf lettuce and fry sauce, there is a burger for every palate. Two hands are required for these burgers, even if you cut 'em in half.

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Another obvious hand-held option is the burrito. Hector's Mexican Food (2901 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-3850) is food you crave. The drive-thru makes it a fairly quick option, yet one that doesn't skimp on flavor. The breakfast burritos are hearty and the other burritos on the menu include classics like chicken and carnitas. Try the simple and delicious carne asada burrito ($5.20), a fresh tortilla stuffed with carna asada, guacamole and pico de gallo. Top each bite with red salsa, again a simple recipe, but a nice addition. Speaking of burritos, they've taken on a new look, with new ingredients. Sushi Burrito (multiple locations, SushiBurritoUtah.com) has changed the way we eat sushi. Now you can get your favorite sushi rolls, like the Vegas, and have it morphed into a larger version, aka a burrito. The freshness of the burrito is similar to a traditional sushi roll, so you are not losing a thing. Try the California Sumo ($7.99), which comes with crab salad, avocado, cream cheese, cucumber and eel sauce in a deep-fried roll.

Spitz (multiple locations, SpitzSLC.com) brought the döner to the Beehive state. The Mediterranean street-food style wrap is filled with your choice of meat, lamb, beef, chicken, mixed meat or falafel and various other fillings, making it almost necessary to eat with two hands. The fresh and flavorful combination is a taste treat. Try the classic street-cart döner ($8.25)—a wrap filled with romaine, cabbage, tomato, onion, green pepper, cucumber, garlic aioli, fried lavash chips and tzatziki.

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Well, Well, Well
Foodie picks from City Weekly's hungry staff
By CW STAFF

Here at City Weekly, we're a hungry bunch. Long deadlines, longer work hours and consistently thwarted attempts to maneuver State Liquor Store hours keep us on our toes and fuel our undying appetites (you should see the stampede scene when someone brings in a box of cookies). So, for what it's worth, we're experts at eating good, fast and, if payday is days away, cheap. Want to know where we satisfy our voracious hunger? Read on.

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Scott Renshaw, A&E Editor
Rainbow Trout @The Copper Onion
(111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282)
My schedule and finances don't generally allow me to be much of a restaurant diner, so when I do go to a higher-end spot, I hope to make it count. And I hit the jackpot during a visit to The Copper Onion, with the rainbow trout entrée. The trout itself was prepared with textbook finesse—crispy skin and succulent fish—but the entire plate came together brilliantly. A bed of French green lentils with morsels of caramelized speck was surrounded by a sauce of sofrito and Greek yogurt, creating an astonishing burst of textures and flavors that infused every bite—salty, chewy, tangy, silky, savory. Garnished with a slice of burned lemon for yet another unique component in its smoky acidity, it was simply one of the best meals I've ever had anywhere.

Chasing Tail Golden Ale @Squatters
(147 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2739)
When I find something that works, I tend to stick with it. While there's a downside to getting stuck in ruts of any kind, it's also in keeping with my personality to appreciate food and drink that never lets me down, and return to it again and again. That's been true over the years with Squatters Chasing Tail Golden Ale whenever I'm looking for a pairing. Squatters' own restaurant menu is impressive about offering suggestions, but I love the versatility of Chasing Tail. It's light and crisp enough for something as simple as a salad, but with enough bite that it can stand up to Squatters' dishes like the Cajun-spiced Black & Bleu Burger. And sometimes, it's just what I want all by itself, at the end of a long day.

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Andrea Harvey, Copy Editor
The Gouda Smoker @The Robin's Nest
(311 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378)
I first went to The Robin's Nest because a friend recommended it, and it's close to the office. I go there at least twice per week now. Yes, it's that good. The Gouda Smoker (below) is my favorite and one of the most popular at the restaurant. It features roasted turkey breast, bacon, tomato, lettuce, melted smoked Gouda cheese and garlic barbecue spread on toasted ciabatta bread. They'll ask you if you want avocado—say yes. The lunch special includes a whole sandwich, orzo pasta or chips (get the orzo), a cookie or "dessert bite" and a drink for $9.99 (you can also do a half sandwich for $7.99). Gluten-free options are available. With seriously top-notch ingredients and a fast and friendly staff, it's pretty clear why this sort of hole-in-the-wall type of sandwich shop is a Salt Lake City favorite.

Mountain West Ruby Hard Cider
(425 N. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-935-4147)
Utah has plenty of local breweries, but it isn't exactly known for its hard cider. Salt Lake City's first cidery, Mountain West Hard Cider, however, is turning the tables, thanks to its head cider maker, Joel Goodwillie, who came to Utah with more than 25 years of experience making award-winning wine and hard cider. With a tasting room and manufacturing facility located near downtown, and ingredients sourced only from the Mountain West region, it's as local as you can get, and as tasty or moreso than the big names, like Angry Orchard or Woodchuck. Their flagship cider, Ruby, is an instant classic—with 6.8 percent alcohol by volume and a taste that isn't too sweet or too dry. Cider lovers in Utah, you have to try this.

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Stephen Dark, Senior Staff Writer
Top Sirloin @Braza Grill
(5927 S. State, Murray, 801-506-7788)
Come springtime, who doesn't feel that yearning to start a fire? Cooking outdoors is one of the great pleasures that assails every sense, from the prickling of heat as you spread out the ash-coated coals under the grill, to the smell of fat and smoke mixing in the air above you. But at a time when the weather in Salt Lake City remains so unstable, I confess myself unwilling to risk costly chunks of meat when I can head over to the warm welcome of JR at his Braza Grill. The smell of coal fires greets you like a heady fragrance as you walk in, and by the time the waiter brings a sword threaded through a juicy, bloody chunk of top sirloin, I have some bread ready to lay the tender carving of sirloin upon that he or she slices off for my delectation. That smoky meat sandwich is one of the simplest yet most palate-gratifying experiences I can imagine.

Fernet Branca and Coke @Bourbon House
(19 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005)
Wherever I roamed during the 10 years I lived in Argentina, the sight of someone nursing a glass of Fernet and Coke at a drearily lit downtown Buenos Aires bar or a countryside pulpería (think a rustic tavern with gauchos, Argentine cowboys) was one of the constants I always enjoyed. It was typically an older man, moodily hunched over a glass as the world passed by beyond the bar's doors. A former manager at the Latino night club Karamba informed me that you could get Fernet at a state liquor store, but somehow drinking the vegetable-sourced liquor mixed with Coke at home just isn't the same. So when I get in a funk for la patria, I head down to Bourbon Street, sip on a Fernet and Coke, and dream of the cobblestoned streets of Buenos Aires and its mysterious, gothic spires. And, of course, I do my best to ignore how I've become one of those old men I once thought as charicatures.

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Ameda Tarr, Editorial Intern
Chicken and Waffles @Pig & a Jelly Jar
(401 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-202-7366)
This is arguably the best meal in Salt Lake City. I've had chicken and waffles from many different places but Pig & a Jelly Jar's recipe is quite remarkable. You can either add egg or bacon on the top (which I would highly recommend) or simply just the chicken and waffle. Either one is just as good on the eyes as the stomach. The chicken on top of the waffle isn't like any you've ever had—I would put money on it. This chicken is extra crispy, warm throughout the meal, and seasoned with spices I'm sure only the chef knows of. The syrup served along with the dish gives the chicken a sweeter taste which complements the other seasonings. Usually, I throw some hot sauce on there, too, which is absolutely life-changing. Every time I walk into the restaurant, I can taste the food in my mouth, and get weirdly impatient, but the wait makes it that much more worth it.

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Randy Harward, Music Editor
Combination Platter @Red Iguana
(736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489)
My Red Iguana dining companions usually have to tell me—through their teeth—"Just pick something." How can you choose from so much killer Mexican goodness? So, I have two fallback dishes. There's the enchilada suizas, where shredded chicken, sour cream, avocado, corn tortillas and chocolaty mole poblano mesh together brilliantly. Or I get the tacos de carne asada, overflowing with seasoned sirloin nuggets. I also order a bowl of chile verde, extra tortillas, a bag of chips and a pint of salsa to go. The next morning, I use the thick chips and savory salsa for my bastardized version of migas, then have verde for lunch. Lately, though, I've discovered the massive Red Iguana combination plate, which is totally worth losing a day to self-loathing and naps. You get a chewy, gooey cheese enchilada, a juicy shredded-beef taco à la Iguana, a giant beef flauta with tons of guac, a chile relleno with tangy salsa Española, and a tostada.

Pabst Blue Ribbon with a water sidecar @any dive, anywhere
As a baby drinker, I cut my teeth on candy drinks, like Copper Camels. Once upon a time, I liked to order super-steins of Long Island Iced Tea at The Holy Cow (now The Urban Lounge). These days, I might spike a giant styrofoam cup of Beto's horchata with rum—but I tend to stick with shots and beer. Mostly the latter, and nothing too fancy. You see, I might order a Corona at the Red Iguana, but I don't care how my brew matches my grub. I do enjoy a nice, cloudy hefeweizen, a toasty Fat Tire or sweet Newcastle Brown Ale, but when I'm out with friends, I am not a picky man. I'm just fine with a can of the good ol' domestic pisswater known as Pabst Blue Ribbon, aka PBR. As long as it's cold, the company is good, and I have plenty of water to ward off hangovers, I'm happy.

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Colby Frazier, Staff Writer
Burrito @Real Taco
(115 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-403-4771)
As much as I can, and time permitting, I eat the same thing every single day for lunch: A bean, rice, cheese and fried onion burrito slathered with an unusual amount of pico de gallo and myriad other salsas. For five bucks, I find this consistent stream of nourishment on the northeast corner of State Street and 200 South, where the fine folks of Real Taco set up shop. I choose to forgo meat at lunchtime, but Real Taco offers the gamut of cooked animal that one would expect from a taco cart. City Weekly Senior Reporter Stephen Dark raves about their tortas. For me, though, I'm locked into the burrito. Even when I convince myself I'm going to order something new, the Real Taco crew overrides me. They throw a tortilla on the grill and start whipping up my burrito when they see my famished frame crossing State Street.

Brighton Revolver Session IPA @Molly Green's
(12610 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Brighton, 435-649-7908)
Nothing stokes thirst like physical exhaustion. This is why ski resort bars exist, and it is also the reason why every ski-resort bar is packed all day, every day between Jan. 1 and tax day. When I hit the slopes, I usually go to Brighton—the no-frills resort that is much more about skiing and snowboarding than five-star amenities. At Brighton is Molly Green's, an A-frame lumber bar that offers all of the poisons a famished skier or snowboarder could ask for. Grabbing a pitcher of the Brighton Revolver Session IPA, which rotates in style and is brewed by Uinta Brewing Co., is always tempting. But the happy meal is the ticket. For a mere $7, anyone can find themselves the proud owner of either a 16-ounce Rainier or 16-ounce Moab Red Rye IPA and a shot of whiskey. What you need to watch out for, dear reader, is overly enthusiastic drinking. A trip with pals to Molly Green's too early in the day has been known to interfere with stellar performance on the slopes, so save the happy meal(s) for post-shredding hydration.

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Enrique Limón, managing editor
Fried Chicken Plate @Curry Fried Chicken
(660 State, 801-924-9188)
So you love curry and you also love chicken...what to do? Luckily, the masterminds behind Curry Fried Chicken have come up with a winning formula not witnessed since those 1980's "You got chocolate in my peanut butter" commercials. CFC beats its Kentucky counterpart not just in taste but in its attitude. Oh-so-loud Bollywood musicals play from a flat-screen, patrons can often be seen arguing with cooks over a mixed-up order, and a four-star Yelp review is proudly reproduced in the joint's menu. As evidenced by a bright red sign, "Keep calm and curry on" is the mantra here, and you can't go wrong with ordering anything featuring the spice mix—be it the hot fries ($1.99), rockin' samosas (.99 apiece), or the daddy of them all, the Curry Fried Chicken plate ($9.99). My eyes turned like pinwheels upon arrival of the dish, overfilled with two pieces of crispy fried chicken, just-right basmati rice, a ladleful of sloppy and delectable vegetable curry and a warm pita to boot. CFC, you've earned your fifth star—not just in ratings, but in rank, too, as you have the Western tie-wearing colonel beat.

Death Star Margarita @El Chihuahua
(3926 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8091)
A paradise awaits inside El Chihuahua's strip mall storefront; one filled with the expected fare (enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas) and some of the most magical elixirs on this side of Tatooine: the rubber duckie-topped "Death Star" cocktails. Big enough to share between a colony of ewoks, these salt-rimmed bad boys are definitely sippers, not chuggers. Available in an array of flavors—and in every color of the rainbow—at 13 bucks a pop, the fruity libations are guaranteed to liven any mood. According to the establishment's Twitter feed, the DayGlo drinks "rule the show," and it ain't hard to see why (imagine dumping four or so regular margaritas along with everything else that's at hand into a fishbowl and going to town). Is your budget more Jakku than Cloud City? Chihuahua has you covered on Tuesdays and Thursdays with discounted 'Star rates; just make sure not to overdo it. It's not uncommon to see holographic images the next day saying, "Help me, Tylenol Extra Strength; you're my only hope."

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Mikey Saltas, Dining Listings dude
Anything @Takashi
(18 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-519-4595)
Ask anyone in Salt Lake City where to get the best Japanese in town, more likely than not, you'll be directed to Takashi. Don't procrastinate, though: Dinner lines can be a couple hours long with people waiting to satisfy their sushi craving. What packs the house night in and night out? Takashi imports and serves only the freshest fish and inspects each shipment individually. Fresh fish—combined with an artisan flair—keep the restaurant atop of the so-called Utah dining food chain. Start off with the mussel shooters with quail egg, a delicacy with a kick of citrus soothed by the neutrality of the egg. Also try the fan-favorite Crunchy Ebi, served with shrimp tempura, avocado and tempura crumbs sprinkled on top. Another must-have is the Ramon's Roll, dished up with tuna that melts like butter in your mouth. Not into raw sushi? Don't worry, Takashi has a variety of hearty steaks and out-of-this-world soups. Really, there's never a bad meal at Takashi.

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Matthew Kunes, Editorial Intern
The Classic Burger @Wasatch Brew Pub
(2110 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-783-1127; 250 Main, Park City, 435-649-0900)
I'm a sucker for tradition, and in the field of food, it's no different. I love a good old-fashioned burger as much as the next guy, and Wasatch Brew Pub has one of the best in town. Juicy meat, fresh pickles and tomatoes, cut onions and the usual Heinz 57 ketchup. You know the drill. Made to order, and with plenty of steak fries to wash it down with, the Brew Pub has you covered. If you're feeling it, feel free to add sauteed mushrooms to the mix, or your choice of cheese and bacon. If you want to try something new, this burger is not for you. If instead, you want one of the finest specimens of American traditional cooking, head on over to the Wasatch Brew Pub for your burger-craving needs.

... and a Polygamy Porter
Offering some of Utah's favorite temptations, Wasatch Brewery also provides the most interesting beer brews in the state. My personal favorite, Polygamy Porter, is billed as a "chocolatey, easy-drinkin' brown porter" rich in flavor. Giving a little comedic wink to one of the more interesting chapters in Utah history, the porter can be paired with any entrée, though I've found pairing it with their classic burger does the trick for me. Coming from a newbie to beer drinking, a quick browse through Wasatch Brewery's selection could provide something for anyone's palate, but I always come back to the Polygamy Porter as my first foray as a former Mormon boy into the world of drinking alcohol. I felt "more than a little naughty" washing that one down, and again and again, I've come back for more. Bottoms up!

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Jerre Wroble, Editor
Luke Breakfast Sandwich @Bruges Waffles & Frites
(2314 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-486-9999, BrugesWaffles.com)
There are almost too many reasons to visit Bruges Waffles & Frites, the "Machine Gun Sandwich" being one of the more famous. But for what is actually a hale and healthy breakfast, try putting your hands around "the Luke" waffle sandwich served at the Sugar House location. Its unique flavors are not something you'll find at other breakfast joints. It all comes together between two savory waffles stuffed with egg, Provolone cheese, grilled peppers, caramelized onion and a choice of sausage (which really should be the lip-smacking freakandel). Add to that a side of Bruge's famous frites and dipping sauce. Top your meal off with a creamy "Miraculous" coffee mocha, and you're set to face the day. No need to go Dutch or get in Dutch for suggesting that you split the bill; this casual eatery is so easy on the wallet, you can spring for the bill.

Bourbon No. 2 @The Rest
(331 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4042, Bodega331.com)
Located down a flight of stairs from the Bodega bar on Main Street, entering The Rest requires advance reservations (or arriving at a time when seating is available). But once you're allowed to enter, and you have occupied your coveted seat at a table or the bar, the speakeasy magic begins to happen. It's hard to imagine that a windowless basement room with dimly lit chandeliers and flickering candles could warm your heart so, but it does, being perfectly appointed with random curios and figurines. From animal mounts and old-timey photos on dark wooden walls to bookcases filled with classic collections to a turntable spinning vinyl albums that music aficionados relish, the mood is utterly cool. And even as you're drinking it all in, you then must decide what you literally want to drink. So consider this suggestion: Bourbon No. 2—a concoction of Caffe Lolita, Amaro Averna, orange and chocolate bitters, and, of course, lovely bourbon whiskey. Its slight chocolate notes will slide down your gullet with ease and its chemistry will lift your spirits and make you think anything is possible. Match it with the pork belly appetizer or the cheese plate, and the reason you live in Salt Lake City will be revealed to you.

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A restaurant critic's fantasy dinner
By TED SCHEFFLER
comments@cityweekly.net

Sometimes I fantasize about food. But, not just any food. My food fantasy revolves around an impossible idea: the notion that I could enjoy my favorite dishes from local restaurants, all in a single meal. Sure, I suppose I could Uber from place to place during the course of an evening, but I like to imagine sitting down in one spot and digging into all of my faves. It would go something like this:

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I'd choose Log Haven (6451 Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com) as the setting for my dinner, because of its warm, natural ambiance and surroundings—aso, my wife works there, and she'd demand it.

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First off, a couple of appetizer plates are in order: I'd slurp down a half-dozen fresh oysters on the half-shell from Kimi's Chop & Oyster House (2155 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-946-2079, KimisHouse.com), served with mignonette du jour, housemade cocktail sauce and fresh lemon. Then I'd follow up those oysters with an order of The Copper Onion's (111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com) Wagyu beef tartare dressed with minced red onion, capers, crispy garlic and salsa rosa.

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For my soup course, I would turn to the tomato soup at Oasis Café (151 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0404, OasisCafeSLC.com). It's a beautiful bowl of roasted tomato soup with hints of fennel—so simple, and yet so sensational—especially with a glass of wine from their list such as Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

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The fish course would consist of psari psito. That's Manoli's (402 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-3760, ManolisOn9th.com) amazing pan-seared branzino fillets with braised greens and lemon-roasted purple and yellow fingerling potatoes. And, yes, as a matter of fact, I would like a glass of Boutari Moschofilero with that.I'm torn as to what to order for a pasta course; there are so many delicious options. But I'm going to have to pick two.

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First, I'd love a bite of the duck egg pierogi that the amazing Bowman Brown created for soon-to-be-closed Forage (370 E. 900 South, 801-708-7834, ForageRestaurant.com). It's one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. I'd also like a portion of homemade gnocchi in mushroom-cream sauce from Valter's Osteria (173 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4563, ValtersOsteria.com). And, yes, I would like fresh white truffles on top!A salad course is called for to refresh the palate between fish, pasta and meat courses, and I'd opt here for The Paris' (1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net) salad Lyonnaise. It takes me back to the most memorable salad I ever ate, which was at a restaurant called Bistrot du Paradou, in Provence. The Lyonnaise salad at The Paris is heaven: a mix of radicchio, frisée, endive and mustard greens tossed with warm pancetta and a vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, mustard and black truffles. The finishing touch: Free-range, perfectly poached eggs. Chablis, please!For my meat course, I'd be very happy with a sizzling steak from Ruth's Chris Steak House (275 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2000, RuthsChris.com). They are always perfectly cooked and superb.

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However, I'm going to opt this time for the "Three Little Pigs" entrée at Bambara (202 S. Main, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com). Chef Nathan Powers offers a tasty trio of pork: a grilled tenderloin, glazed ribs with bourbon BBQ sauce and braised cheek, all accompanied by white cheddar polenta cake, a cheddar tuile and apple-fennel slaw.

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The super talented chef/owner of Del Mar al Lago Cebicheria Peruana (310 Bugatti Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2890), Frederick Perez, is a master at creating memorable desserts. His torta derretida is gorgeous to behold and impossible to forget. Derretida means "melted" in English, and this is a decadent molten chocolate cake spiked with rocoto chili and cinnamon, sprinkled with dark chocolate crumbs and powdered sugar, garnished with fresh mint leaves. It's spectacular.

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Almost like The Real Thing
How to do junk food, vegan-style
By Amanda Rock
comments@cityweekly.net

 

Whether you're eating vegan for your health, the environment or for the animals, you're going to crave junk food—you're only human. If you're looking to satiate your cravings without the meat, dairy and eggs, keep reading. Unbutton your pants, tuck a napkin into your shirt and get ready to chow down on these delectable vegan dishes.

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Full Whittaker Smothered Nachos, $9.50
If you're craving something hearty, head straight for Frisch's Full Whittaker Smothered Nachos. Organic corn chips are topped with a layer of housemade vegan cheese sauce and smoky red sauce, but it doesn't stop there. A plethora of organic black beans, brown rice, tomatoes and meaty spicy soy "chicken" make these nachos meal-worthy. Served with a flavorful fresh salsa—they are messy and finger-licking delicious.
Frisch Compassionate Eatery, 145 E. 1300 South, Ste. 201, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8277, FrischEats.com

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Granny V's Sugar Cookies, $27 for a dozen
Salt Lake City's most popular vegan baker, Kelly Colobella, first perfected the vegan Twinkie and then moved on to re-create another popular snack from our childhoods. Granny V's Sugar Cookies are made without dairy, eggs and scary preservatives. They're big, with pink frosting, and every bit as good as those other sugar cookies you buy at gas stations. Cakewalk is conveniently located inside Frisch for a well-rounded meal.
Cakewalk Baking Co., 145 E. 1300 South, Ste. 201, Salt Lake City, CakewalkBakingCompany.com

Seaweed Rolls
These palatable maki rolls will stick to your ribs. Opt for the Firecracker Roll ($8.99), a scrumptious and spicy combination of deep-fried soy meat, jalapeno and vegan cream cheese with a flaky soy topping, drizzled with savory brown sauce and a squiggle of peppery vegan aioli. The Double Jade roll ($7.99) is another winner. Stuffed with tofu, avocado and cucumber and topped with ultra crispy fried tofu. Ask for the Evergreen Menu to view the selection.
Golden Phoenix, 1084 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-539-1122

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Zao Tacos, $7.25
For your next Taco Tuesday, try Zao's Korean tacos. It's "fast food" in that it's prepared quickly, but the similarities end there. Three flour tortillas are filled with Thai-spiced organic tofu, romaine lettuce, dressed with a Korean red sauce and chili-lime aioli (optional) and topped with carrot daikon, crispy ginger scallions and cilantro. With locations throughout the valley, it's easy to get a quick, flavorful healthy vegan option.
Zao Asian Cafe, various
Locations, ZaoAsianCafe.com

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Ocean Love Noodles, $8.95
The moment you bite into the meaty, battered and fried vegan shrimp, you'll fall in love just like the name suggests. This Vietnamese noodle salad is brimming with a tasty combination of fried "shrimp," a sliced veggie egg roll (in an eggless wrapper, no less), shredded lettuce, cucumber and mint served over chilled vermicelli noodles with a sweet and sour sauce. A sprinkling of peanuts, scallions and house-pickled carrot and daikon add color, flavor and crunch. Both filling and refreshing, this noodle salad is sure to please.
All Chay, 1264 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4789

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The Avalanche, $9.50
Good luck escaping this avalanche of vegan breakfast food. It's a lot of food: two fluffy pancakes with vegan butter and maple syrup, savory tofu scramble (taking the place of eggs), home-fried potatoes and housemade vegan sausage. Whether you're in need of a hangover cure or just can't decide between sweet and savory, The Avalanche will come to your rescue. It's served all day.
Vertical Diner, 2280 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-484-8378, VerticalDiner.com

Kein Fleisch Burger, $10
David Morris, the self-proclaimed "King of Vegan Junk Food" single-handedly created vegan bar food in Salt Lake. As co-owner of Ice Haüs, he's made the bar into something special. The Kein Fleisch Burger is gloriously messy—loaded with sauerkraut, sautéed mushrooms and onions. A slice of vegan cheddar, lettuce, vegan mayo and mustard round out the burger made with quinoa and kale, peppered with crunchy almond bits. Choose from garlic, Cajun or regular fries as a side.
Ice Haüs, 7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127, IceHausBar.com

Cheesesteak, $6.50
If "vegan cheesesteak" sounds like an oxymoron, you haven't visited Buds Sandwich Co. This all-vegan sandwich shop has become popular for serving plant-based versions of traditional sandwiches. Its cheesesteak is as gut-busting and succulent as anything you'll see Guy Fieri enjoying.

A toasted sourdough hoagie is loaded with peppered soy steak, bell pepper, grilled onion and warm smoky cheese sauce. Take it up a notch and add housemade marinara and sliced olives to make it a pizzasteak. Buds, 509 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, BudsSLC.com

Veg'd Out sandwich, $7
You don't need fake meat or cheese to be satiated. Case in point: The Veg'd Out sandwich is bursting with fresh cucumber, tomato, kale, tart sundried tomato and a hearty slathering of Laziz hummus. Choose from any of the bagels (I suggest the everything) for your sandwich. A commitment to tradition means bagels are made without honey or eggs. You'll be addicted, so be sure to grab a dozen (or two) to go. Pro tip: they freeze well. The Bagel Project, 779 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0698, BagelProject.com

Vegan Mac & Cheese, $6.25
Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, even if it's vegan. City Cakes Vegan Mac & Cheese is luscious. Generous curly noodles are drenched in a distinctive bright orange cheese made from cashews and red peppers. Each forkful is gratifying and characteristically decadent—even better than the mac & cheese you might remember. Be sure to treat yourself to a chocolate-chip cookie for dessert; you've been good today. City Cakes, 1000 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2239, CityCakesCafe.com

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Life In the Fast Lane
Five Healthy-ish choices for those on the move
By Enrique Limón, Jerre Wroble & Gavin Sheehan
comments@cityweekly.net

In an ideal world, we'd all have the time to prepare a mindful feast and sit down to enjoy every meal of the day. That's not the case, however, as the vast majority of us are eating on the go at fast-food joints and, oftentimes, don't have the option to think twice about what we're putting in our mouths. According to a popular article on Health.com, Utah is among the top 10 states most obsessed with fast food (we'll drink our fry-sauce to that). Still, if you're looking to mix up your happy meal and eat something "good-ish," here are five selections that are far healthier than just asking for a super-sized No. 1.

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Chicken Club Sandwich @The Sconecutter
(2040 S. State, Salt Lake City, Sconecutter.com)
Adhering to the motto "When in doubt, scone it out," Sconecutter has been serving up the goods in Utah since 1977 when its first shop opened in 1977. Since then, the homegrown chain has spawned 11 locations. While the menu isn't shy on indulgent delights (maple "sconuts," for example), there's a more mindful side to Sconecutter thanks to signature sandwiches like the chicken and bacon club ($8.18). This particular location thrives sandwiched between a Burger King and a Subway, and it isn't hard to taste why—chunks of turkey meshed with bacon due to a sprinkling of cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions and sprouts, all snuggled in a housemade wheat roll. Leave your crumbly scone expectations at the door. Here they are light, fresh outta the oven and ever so fluffy. (EL)

Glazed Chicken Chipotle Salad @Café Zupas
(Multiple locations, CafeZupas.com)
Super-fast, delicious and good for you? Can a patron expect all three from the same restaurant? If it's Café Zupas, the answer is yes, which may be why the franchise—which started in Provo in 2004—now has 19 locations in Utah and more elsewhere: It's catching on! Café Zupas makes its soups, salad dressings, sandwich spreads and salads from scratch daily and has them ready to assemble the moment you walk in the door. Right before your eyes, the friendly staff will prepare the Glazed Chicken Chipotle Salad, loading it up with all-natural grilled chicken, house-chopped mixed greens, red onions, grape tomatoes, corn, black beans, peppers, cheddar cheese, Hass avocado and tortilla strips. Your salad will then be nicely dressed with a lip-smacking chipotle ranch dressing and a honey-cilantro glaze. Your first crunchy bite is an OMG moment followed by the conviction that Café Zupas is your new go-to for fast food—never mind that it's utterly good for you. (JW)

"Build Your Own" Gyro @Padeli's Street Greek,
30 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1111, PadelisStreetGreek.com
For years, Salt Lakers have flocked to the Greek Souvlaki to scarf up delectable Greek offerings ranging from souvlaki plates (grilled meat, rice and salad that's hits the spot every time) to spanakopita (spinach-cheese pie) to avgolemono (chicken-lemon soup). For more than 40 years, the family-run chain has continued its proud tradition, cranking out souvlaki and gyros. But now, they've launched the "street Greek" concept and have opened a restaurant named after the patriarch of the family: Padeli's. Here, you create your own gyro, bowl or wrap from scratch while you decide what goes it in. Choose from lamb, beef, chicken, pork and falafel and then add sauce and toppings to it. Based on the lunch-hour crowds alone (don't worry, the line moves fast), Padeli's is a winner. (JW)

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Garden Burger @Crown Burger
(Multiple locations, Crown-Burgers.com)
A staple of Salt Lake City fast food, Crown Burger is known for its gut-busting pastrami-topped burgers and bodacious fries. But the chain also features a number of healthy offerings including the Garden Burger. It is a veggie patty (primarily tofu, mushrooms, nuts, grains and corn) served with tomato slices and lettuce. There is also a veggie burrito, which includes an extra helping of veggies. Some locations put on more beans and rice while others go heavy on the veggies, so you might end up having to play Goldilocks until you find the burrito you like the most. Completing the trifecta is the broiled chicken—a great substitute for the beef patties in any of the house-offered burgers. Crown Burger also offers a choice of six fantastic salads, including a Greek salad. I see you eyeing that Oreo sundae ($2.95 for a small). Go for it, you've earned it. (GS)

Carne Asada Fries @Mezquite Mexican Grill
(Multiple locations)
OK, so we've given you a few healthy options, so why not live a little? Mezquite Mexican Grill locations are popping up like mushrooms lately, giving the Taco Bells and Del Tacos of the world a run for their money. The local Mexi-empire keeps things simple, and even then, offers a chockful menu. For a speedy breakfast, the bacon-and-egg burrito ($3.70) is a solid go-to. It's bigger than a child's arm, and takes care of both the most important meal of the day and partial lunch in one fell swoop. For something even heartier, head to the open-24-hours State Street location and order the carne asada fries ($8.21)—a heaping order of french fries, topped with carne asada, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and guac that's guaranteed to make your tastebuds yelp ¡ajúa! (EL)

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Sip Well
Raise your glass to some of the best cocktails Salt Lake City has to offer.
By Darby Doyle
comments@cityweekly.net

Step behind the Zion curtain to explore Salt Lake City's flourishing 21-plus bar options, and you'll see there's some advanced alcoholic alchemy going down. But more than just the quantity of recently available libation locations, it's the increasingly top-notch quality of cocktails crafted by Utah's cadre of talented and passionate boozeslingers that's raising the beverage service bar across our fair city and beyond. The perennial question, "Where can a gal get a drink in this town?" is getting easier to answer all the time.

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Bitter Thief @Bar X
(155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287)
No list of top spots for engaging in a little intemperance would be complete without Bar X, as, starting in 2010, it was arguably the first bar in town to elevate the craft cocktail scene to bi-coastal levels of hipness. Classics like Sazeracs and Manhattans are served up with equal parts skill and panache. But it's the quality and attention to details on Bar X's ever-changing original cocktail menu that keeps drinks aficionados coming back. Example? Check out barman Jacob Sloan Hall's "Bitter Thief," stirred up with internationally sourced abandon: rye whiskey, Smith & Cross Jamaican Navy-Strength rum, Cynar (an artichoke-based amaro), Génépy des Alpes, orange bitters, a hint of lemon and presumably the sparkly tears of baby unicorns.

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Absinthe Service
@Under Current
(270 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-574-2556, UnderCurrentClub.com)
Called "the green fairy" by artists like Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso and others in late 19th-century Paris, absinthe is a chartreuse-colored booze famous back in the day for getting people both messed up and kinda crazy. In addition to one of the most dependably stellar cocktail programs in the city under the direction of Amy Eldredge, UCB brings back the romance of Parisian drinks service with two- and four-spout absinthe fountains, allowing guests to control drips of chilled water (usually over a sugar cube resting on a flat slotted spoon) into glasses of absinthe. This combo releases characteristic licorice and fennel flavors and creates a mesmerizing cloudy suspension called louche ("shady" in French). Oh-la-la!

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Bloody Mary@Lucky 13
(135 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com)
If your idea of "outdoorsy" means you like drinking on patios, the al fresco scene at Lucky 13 can't be beat. The bountiful Bloodys ($4) here are all about spicy, boozy balance. No need for outrageous garnish gimmicks like a whole deep-fried chicken at Lucky 13, though we highly recommend getting the big ol' house-smoked bacon slab upgrade for just a buck extra to snuggle up alongside that crunchy cornucopia of veg atop this sassy beverage. Think of it as a meal in a glass. Lucky 13 also sports an impressive (and inexpensive) selection of beer on tap, whiskey and phenomenal burgers.

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Wine Flights
BTG Wine Bar
(63 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2814, BTGWineBar.com)
Caffé Molise chef/owner Fred Moesinger and sommelier Louis Koppel have cranked Utah's oenophilia excellence level to 11 at BTG. Offering pours from around 75 bottles total of reds, whites and fortified wines at any one time, BTG (By the Glass) excels at all levels of wine education, quality and service in an elegant and intimate space. Koppel also curates a changing menu of a dozen or so wine flights—usually three different wines offered as a trio of 2-ounce pours—comparatively highlighting wines by region, varietal or other notable characteristics. In addition to the superlative selection of vino, BTG offers clever cocktails, local beers and a selected Italian-forward menu from next-door sister spot Molise.

Classic Daiquiri
O.P. Rockwell
(268 Main, downstairs, Park City 435-615-7000, OPRockwell.com)
Named after one of Utah's most famously hirsute guns-for-hire, O.P. Rockwell corners the market on craft cocktails served with style. This Park City venue's dark velvet speakeasy-like space hosts major musical talents like Poor Man's Whiskey, Colin Hay and the Brothers Comatose. But even on nights without scheduled performances, locals in the know head to the upper-level bar to order truly exceptional cocktails crafted by drinks diviner and classic cocktail revivalist Christopher Panarelli and the talented slate of drinks slingers at O.P. In addition to a very nice selection of tequila, rum, whiskies and wine, the bar menu is filled with impeccably balanced standards like this delightful three-rum Daiquiri ($10) and other clever creations.

Green Juice Mimosa
Zest Kitchen & Bar
(275 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-433-0589, ZestSLC.com)
For those of us who like to feel nominally healthy while getting our buzz on, Casey Staker, owner and bar guru at Zest's vegan dining, dancing and drinking emporium has us covered. His solution? Super-fresh cold-pressed fruit and veggie juices, Mamachari kombucha and top-shelf liquor brands featured in seasonally inspired cocktail options that are equal parts refreshing and delicious. Whether they're fuel to keep us dancing well into the wee hours of the night or jump-starting recovery mode come 10 a.m. weekend brunch, Zest's bright bevvies come in a rainbow of tasty options. Think berry-packed margaritas, High West whiskey sours and brunch Mimosas zapped with beet-apple-ginger, orange-basil or fresh-pressed green juice ($5).

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The Sweet Spot
Try these delicious desserts for the mind, body and soul.
By ALEX SPRINGER
comments@cityweekly.net

At this point in the year, most of us are licking the crumbs of our diet-related resolutions off of our sugar-glazed fingers. It's always a challenge to keep on a diet's good side—especially during tax season—but there are some local bakers, chocolatiers and pastry chefs who are whipping up some indulgent sweets that are surprisingly not bad for you. Even for a staunch non-vegan like myself, these desserts are everything you need to keep that sweet tooth satisfied.

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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns
@Passion Flour Patisserie
(165 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-242-7040, PassionFlourSLC.com)
Nothing quite screams "breakfast of champions" like a warm spiral of dough dripping with thick caramel—it's the type of food that provides a life-affirming comfort on those days when you just don't want to get out of bed. The offerings at Salt Lake's Passion Flour Patisserie achieve all of the gooey indulgence necessary to a sticky bun ($3.50)—it's generously portioned, swimming in caramel and crowned with crushed pecans. Both the dough and the caramel taste rich and buttery, which might cause that pesky diet guilt to flare up a bit—until you remember that you're in a 100-percent vegan-friendly patisserie. All of that sticky goodness comes thanks to Jessica Davies, a classically trained pastry chef with a miraculous ability to capture the flavor of butter, eggs and cream without actually using them.

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Truffles @The Chocolate Conspiracy
(774 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 385-212-4474, EatChocolateConspiracy.com)
Truffles have often been touted as the most indulgent members of the chocolate community. As they're not known for being easy on the waistline, it's hard to justify their place in one's diet. It's something that the folks at The Chocolate Conspiracy have addressed head on, because chocolate doesn't always have to be bad for you. The truffles at The Chocolate Conspiracy are made with raw cacao that is certified organic, fair trade and kosher. After getting hit with a little organic maple syrup for sweetness, they are dusted with raw cacao powder, cinnamon and coconut palm sugar or crushed pistachios. To call their cinnamon sugar truffle a piece of candy would be like calling Hamlet airplane reading. With one bite, this little morsel takes your mouth on a historical tour of the cacao bean that leaves you somewhere in the Aztec era.

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Banana Split Sundae @Vertical Diner
(2280 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-484-8378, Vertical Diner.com)
VD is quickly becoming my go-to restaurant when I'm craving something that's bad for me. Its vegan- and gluten-free take on classic diner food has yet to disappoint. Vertical Diner is not one to skimp on portion sizes, and its banana split ($7.50) is no exception. Big enough to share, its cruelty-free soy ice cream and housemade strawberry sauce provide more than enough of an excuse to keep it to yourself. I've tried a lot of dairy-alternative ice creams, and nearly all of them struggle texturally, landing somewhere on the spectrum between "frozen chalk powder" and "cold soup." The ice cream at Vertical Diner is just right, melting into the chocolate and strawberry sauce only when you want it to. Caramel Chocolate Pie

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@Omar's Rawtopia
(2148 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-486-0332, OmarsRawtopia.com)
No one does raw food quite like Omar. Boasting a huge menu of seriously satisfying raw food options is impressive enough—but how are the desserts? Omar's Rawtopia is famous for its caramel chocolate pie ($8), a silky smooth slice of bliss on a crisp coconut-almond crust. It has all of the draw of a well-made chocolate cream pie, but the caramel swirled on top and the crust's toasty coconut flavor add a bit of sophistication to this lavish dessert.

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Major Tools
Talking trade and tools with some top local chefs
By Heather L. King
comments@cityweekly.net

Strike up a conversation with any home cook, and it eventually turns toward which kitchen tools have changed the way dinner gets done at their house. Whether the saving-grace gadget is a garlic press, sous vide machine or professional thermometer, each comes with a story about how it revolutionized the cooking process.

Professional chefs are no different. In addition to the dedication, talent and fortitude it takes to be a great chef at a successful restaurant, having the right tools to produce tantalizingly tasty dishes for hungry Utahns each and every day is essential. So, we asked chefs from some of the most popular restaurants along the Wasatch Front (and Back) which kitchen gadgets they couldn't live without. And while you might not be surprised to hear personal stories about necessary items like knives and pans, you might be delighted (and inspired) by some of the more unusual indispensible tools being put to use in some of your favorite restaurants.

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1. Fred Moesinger, chef/owner
Caffé Molise and BTG Wine Bar
"Which kitchen tool could I not work without? It's probably my first chef's knife from 20-plus years ago. It's nicknamed 'Precioso' and it's a 10-inch Wüsthof Classic chef's knife. It makes my job easier because the blade stays sharp through many uses, the balance is just right for me, and there's something about all that time we've spent together, too. The handle even has a thumb indentation that I've worn into it over the years. I bought it from Lorenz Cutlery back when they were on 400 South. A few years ago, Wüsthof came out with a double-serrated bread knife, and it is amazing. It works great on bread and delicate produce and is totally deserving of the hype and price."

2. Jennifer Gilroy, chef/owner
Porch and Meditrina
Lodge cast-iron skillets or any perfectly seasoned cast-iron pan are Gilroy's go-to tool. "I use them while camping, at home and in the restaurants. There is no sear like a cast-iron sear. They're great for searing ahi tuna, and we make the iron-skillet cornbread on the Porch menu in them." In fact, Gilroy even has a cast-iron pan which was used in her great grandma's bar and grill in Jensen, Utah, in the 1950s and which she still personally uses today along with her spatula.

3. Anny Sooksri, chef/owner
Tea Rose Diner, Chabaar, Siam Noodle Bar
Sooksri can't say enough good things about the Kiwi Pro Slice peeler made in Thailand. All three of Sooksri's restaurants use the tool to shred and peel everything, from the shredded carrots in the pad Thai to the carrot art found atop rice bowls. Even though it's inexpensive (around $6), there isn't anything she's found that will do the job better. "We just love it. It makes life easier," she says. "At my cooking classes, we always let students use it to peel the carrots and everybody loves it and wants one."

4. Matthew Lake, chef/owner
Alamexo
"My kitchen tool I could not live without, nor could Alamexo, is our comal plancha flattop range. We use this range for so many things—from roasting tomatoes and chiles for salsas and warming our tortillas to cooking
almost all our proteins."

5. Dave Jones, chef/co-owner
Log Haven
"My knives would be my most critical tools," Jones says. "Knives are very personal to most chefs." He's used many over the years but his favorites are from MAC, Miyabi, Misono, Wüsthof, Henckels, Shun and Global. "I would also say my cookbooks are extremely important to me on a daily basis," he says. "Other critical tools that make life in the kitchen easier would be water stones, immersion blenders, mandolins, cast iron pans, Silpats, tongs, Vitamixers and Robot Coupes."

6. Matt Harris, chef/owner
Tupelo
The Gray Kunz spoon is Harris' pick. "I use this for everything. It's a spatula, unit of measure, ladle, sauce spoon, plating spoon—I have one in my hand about 90 percent of the time I'm in the kitchen. I write recipes using this spoon as measurement," he says. "The spoon helps me train cooks, too, and keeps things looking neat." His wife and restaurant co-owner, Maggie Alvarez, adds, "One of his chefs bought him the limited-edition gold-plated one. It lives in a special box at our house—where we also have a drawer full of more everyday Kunz spoons."

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