Gratitude with a Side of Gravy | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Gratitude with a Side of Gravy 

A few things that have made me thankful this year.

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  • Alex Springer

Thanksgiving has become something of a Super Bowl-style event for foodies nationwide. Whether we're frantically whipping up our own recipes at home or relying on local joints to provide our turkey-day feasts, food is front and center.

That said, being someone who writes about food makes me especially grateful for all the dining options we have in our fair state. Not only do I enjoy food on what some would call a spiritual level, but getting to explore and document the eats that keep our communities running is a unique opportunity that fills me with gratitude. As taking stock of the blessings in our lives is part and parcel with perfectly cooked turkeys or a gravy-laden casseroles, I'd like to spend a bit of time cataloguing the dishes and institutions for which I am grateful this year.

The Utah Food Bank ( I've had the privilege of talking with members of the Utah Food Bank organization over the years, and their operation is one of the greatest forces for good that we have. With a strong reputation for community outreach and volunteer service, this institution has provided millions of meals to people and families in need. During this time of year when many of us are focused on the delectable Thanksgiving menus we are planning to enjoy, let's not forget those who could use some extra help during the holidays. With several different ways to help the Food Bank, from donating money or food to volunteer service, there is something that even the most time-strapped of us can contribute.

Fillings and Emulsions (multiple locations, As I've gotten older, I've tried to spend more time and effort giving to causes that strive to make the world a better place. One of my gateways into this newfound sense of philanthropy has been the annual bake sales hosted by Fillings and Emulsions. There's something universally rewarding about these events, and they've become a kind of tradition for me and my family. Donating money to help marginalized communities is evergreen, but Fillings and Emulsions has used this platform to create a sense of togetherness that always makes my heart smile. Sure, it's charity where you get some delicious baked goods in return, but getting a little something sweet to munch on while contributing to a noble cause makes the process that much more enjoyable. Helping people enjoy giving to a good cause is a rare talent, but it's something Chef Diaz and his team have almost perfected.

Happy Hour at Itto Sushi (multiple locations, Sometimes I just need to spend some quality time with the sushi rolls at Itto Sushi. Thanks to their happy hour menu that kicks in on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, it's something I can indulge whenever the need takes me. The Sushi Vampire, with its spicy baked baby lobster tail and tempura shrimp, packs enough punch to get me moving, and the Mafia Roll usually suffices when I need a bit of sliced jalapeño with my tuna for some additional impact. Of course, I'll always have fond memories of my first experience with the Dracula Roll and its tiny wooden coffin filled with smoke. It's moments like these that make me get all warm and fuzzy with gratitude for the creativity at work within our local food scene.

Local Fusion Restaurants. Nothing makes me happier than a menu that gleefully combines foods and techniques from multiple culinary backgrounds into something unique. Over the past few years, we've seen places like Curry Pizza (, Tandoori Taqueria (, Kabob Bros ( and Sanfran Burritos N Fryz ( reinvent the idea of comfort food. Let's also not forget fusion pioneers like Fav Bistro (, Curry Fried Chicken (, and The Angry Korean (, who dared traverse these waters in the first place. I will always be grateful to the chefs and restaurant owners who continue to create new offerings in the world of pizza, burritos and cheesesteak sandwiches.

City Weekly Readers. Last, but certainly not least, are the people who snag a copy of City Weekly every week, or partake online. I've gotten to know plenty local food enthusiasts during my tenure as the magazine's food dude, and I am always charmed by the generosity, savvy and excitement for all things local and delicious displayed by our readers. I've gotten some great tips and recommendations from our readers over the years, and I hope that the dining section does the same for you. The hospitality industry is still struggling to recover from a hellish volley of bombshells fired by the past few years, but I have seen some great examples of locals supporting the restaurants and local brands that they love. I adore exploring Utah's culinary offerings and am looking forward to another year of documenting Utah's gastronomic ecosystem with all of you.

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