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March 30, 2016 News » Cover Story

Eating Well 

Dining Guide 2016

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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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