Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in Utah

by Andrea Lita Rademan

A note on Utah’s liquor laws: Can you drink in Utah? Absolutely yes ... even on Sunday. Like other major cities, Salt Lake has bars, brewpubs, and restaurants that serve alcohol seven days a week. The "membership requirement" to enter bars was removed in 2009. If you're over 21 you can walk into a bar, order a drink, and enjoy.

In Salt Lake City, Bars are open from 11 am to 2 am. Restaurants can serve liquor, wine, and heavy beer (over 3.2%) from noon to midnight. Cheers!

Park City (southeast of Salt Lake City)

Chez Betty at Copper Bottom Inn
Deer Valley Dr. at Short Line Rd.
Park City
(435) 649-8181

Friendly service and dazzlers like grilled beef tenderloin on a
crispy potato pancake and giant grilled mushroom served with sap sago risotto make this one of the most popular spots in town.
Dinner only, except Tuesdays (and Wednesdays in off-season).

368 Main St.
Park City
(435) 649-6222

When Bill White cooked for a vacationing couple, they liked his food so much they offered to back him in his own place and Chimayo, with Southwestern barbeque chipolte-tamarind spareribs and grilled Ahi tuna tacos, is the result.

Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodge
7700 Stein Way
Deer Valley
(435) 645-6455

The guest register reeks of old money and even the wine list has a pedigree (a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence), which means that their New American masterpieces keep first class company.

Goldener Hirsch Inn at Silver Lake Village
7570 Royal St. East
Park City
(435) 649-7770

What do you get when you fashion twenty idyllic rooms and
one romantic restaurant into an Old World inn resembling its
fabled Salzburg, Austria counterpart? This.

Grappa Italian
151 Main St.
Park City
(435) 645-0636

This celebrity-studded recreation of a Tuscan farmhouse, with an award-winning wine cellar and a menu to match is Chimayo’s (see above) swankier little sister.

Mariposa at Silver Lake Lodge
7600 Royal St.
Deer Valley
(435) 645-6632

Rated #1 in the Zagat Restaurant Guide! Enjoy an evening of memorable dining in the rustic elegance of The Mariposa. Deer Valley's premier restaurant offers a blend of classic and current cuisine, as well as tasting menus which include our Mariposa and vegetarian specialties. (December to April, dinner only).

Riverhorse on Main

540 Main St.
Park City
(435) 649-3536

In summer, a seat on the balcony of this New American bistro commands a high-up view of the street scene below and a high-end meal to go with it. Otherwise, dine inside for the atrium and the rotating calendar of live musicians and artists.

Tree Room at Sundance Resort
Six miles up Provo Canyon to North Fork Canyon Rd., Sundance
(800) 892-1600
(435) 223-4200

At Robert Redford’s sophisticated and arty rustic hideaway, produce from the resort's own farms shows up in lusty fare. At Sundance Resort, dining is an art form. You can enjoy the romantic atmosphere of candlelight and soft illumination accenting beautiful Native American art from Robert Redford's private collection as you enjoy fresh, seasonal mountain cuisine created by Sundance Executive Chef Mark Shoup.

Wasatch Brew Pub

250 Main St.
Park City
(435) 649-0900

The motto of the first brew pub to hit Park City, which anchors the upper end of Main street, is “we drink our share and sell the rest” -- accompanied by huge salads and burgers, best eaten on the outdoor patio.

660 Main St.
Park City
(435) 649-9108

Robert Redford’s casual roadhouse grill, in the heart of Park City, offers an appetizing and eclectic casual menu. Zoom is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

Salt Lake City and Environs

52 West 200 South
Salt Lake City
(801) 359-0899

When a Swedish (him) and American (her) couple bring imaginative dishes like wild chanterelle mushroom soup with Canadian bacon and lingonberries to the heart of SLC, can there be any doubt that a culinary revolution is under way?

The Aerie
Snowbird Ski Resort
Little Cottonwood Canyon Rd.
(801) 933-2160

It’s 3,000 feet, by tram, up to this craftsman style castle with a dining room that earns raves for salmon, elk, lobster crayfish bisque, Napoleon of Roquefort cheese, spectacular Sunday brunch (summers only) and seafood buffets -- and that’s a mouthful.

Alta Lodge at Alta Ski Resort
Little Cottonwood Canyon Rd.
(801) 322-4631

At this family-owned ski resort, hospitality is as much a draw as the four course dinners, which include entrees like salmon cakes with Thai sauce, venison with Cumberland sauce and broccoli-spinach ravioli with walnut basil sauce.

Archibald’s Restaurant at Gardner Village
1100 West 7800 South
West Jordan
(801) 566-6940

Touristy but quaint, the historic mill that once housed Archibald Gardner’s 11 wives and 48 children, now houses a homestyle restaurant serving comfort food at comfortable prices.

Baci Trattoria
134 West Pierpont Ave.
Salt Lake City
(801) 328-1500

Centrally located and open till midnight, this bright, noisy room is as packed as a calzone with the pizza-and-pasta crowd.

Barking Frog Grille
39 West Market Street
Salt Lake City
(801) 322-3764 or (801) 649-4006

Expect no barking frogs but lots of animated human conversation, along with BBQ baby back ribs, lime-tequila chicken, wild game and grilled seafood. No pond, but a patio.

Bill and Nada's Cafe
479 South 600 East
Salt Lake City
(801) 359-6984

There’s nothing fake or remotely self-conscious about this well-loved, if not well-rated, greasy spoon, a blue collar Salt Lake institution.

Blue Iguana
165 South West Temple, Arrow Press Square, Bldg. 1
Salt Lake City
(801) 533-8900

The Mole Kings serenade and Ramon’s paella stars at Red Iguana’s downtown, dolled up sister restaurant, but there’s really no sibling rivalry. Sure, Blue Iguana’s a looker, but Red Iguana’s got character.

Bombay House

Lamplighter Square, 1615 South Foothill Dr.
Salt Lake City
(801) 581-0222
(also at 463 N. University Ave., Provo; (801) 373-6677)

There’s no need to eat with a hose in one hand -- the emphasis here is on flavor, not fire, in complex curries, garlic naan and sag paneer. Even the papadum is smart.

Cafe dell’ Arte

22 East 100 South
Salt Lake City

As the name indicates, this brownstone mansion is the place for food and coffee (fine, micro-roasted coffee, along with an eclectic menu) in a gallery setting, featuring local-artist shows that change monthly. Have some culture with your caffeine.

Cafe Trang

818 South Main Street
Salt Lake City
(801) 539-1638

Ignore the funky location and drab decor, and focus on the oodles of noodles and other authentic, and very cheap, homestyle Vietnamese dishes.

204 East 500 South
Salt Lake City
(801) 355-8518

What’s tiny here: the prices and the size of your check. What’s huge: the portions and the crowds, most of whom come for the Italian salad, topped with sausage in a roquefort-studded vinaigrette, but lunch only except for
Thursdays and Fridays.

Capitol Cafe
54 West 200 South
Salt Lake City
(801) 532-7000

Just west of the historic Capitol Theatre, chef Rosanne Ruiz, who has shown off her skills at the James Beard House, shows off her Cal-Med cooking at this sleek bistro.

City Creek
Wyndham Hotel, 215 West South Temple
Salt Lake City
(801) 521-7800

Comfort and convenience (next to the downtown sports stadium and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily) are the key notes of this classic American grill with a Mediterranean flair, in pleasantly refurbished surroundings.

Fresco Italian Cafe
1513 S. 1500 East
Salt Lake City
(801) 486-1300

Breaking with local spaghetti-and-meatball tradition, this fabulous Northern Italian kitchen, known for their lamb medallions in garlic-rosemary demi-glace, has been recognized by both the Wine Spectator magazine and DiRona.

Helen’s Restaurant and Garden Cafe
6055 S. 900 East
(801) 265-0205

Russia is far away, but authentic borscht, pierogi and chicken
paprikash, in a cute little house, is just 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City.

400 East and 336 South
Salt Lake City
(801) 532-7522

As a Mormon missionary in Japan, Peggy Ince-Whiting found her true calling -- that of sushi chef. In the turn-of-the-century church she converted to a sushi bar, she serves Funky Charlie Tuna Roll and others named for ski resorts.

Il Sansovino

American Stores Center, 299 South Main Street
Salt Lake City
(801) 533-9999

Valter Nassi’s members-only ($5 two week memberships available) authentic Tuscan eatery is a cluster of private dining rooms, including a cigar room, a terrace and a “family table” in the kitchen, where a private chef and waiter cater just to your party.

La Caille at Quail Run
9565 Wasatch Boulevard
(801) 942-1751 or (801) 263-9363

The kitchen may not be as ambitious as it once was, and the menu has veered to the eclectic, but the atmosphere is still a French fantasy, making this the most romantic destination in town, and much in demand for weddings.

348 E. 900 North
(801) 298-2406

A trip to Bountiful is just a 20 minute ride, but go early because Utah’s number one Chinese restaurant, as crowded as China, takes no reservations. Prices do not reflect recent refurbishments.

Market Street Broiler

260 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City
(801) 583-8808
Market Street Grill
50 West Market St.
Salt Lake City
(801) 322-4668

If it swims, chances are it’s here, but if great clam chowder and fresh fish don’t appeal, don’t carp. Carnivores can appease their cravings for prime rib, steaks and chicken morning, noon and night every day.

Market Street Oyster Bar
54 West Market St.
Salt Lake City
(801) 531-6044

Salt Lake’s premier spot for seafood and fresh fish has a big menu and an even bigger following. And why not? After all, this is an oyster-bar.

173 West Broadway
Salt Lake City
801-FOIE GRAS (364-3472)

The priciest place in town is Metropolitan, a hard-edged room with cutting-edge cookery. The jury is still out on the new chef but a la carte, cafe, and vegetarian menus, and the $75 eight course tasting menu are still in.

New Yorker
60 West Market Street
Salt Lake City
(801) 363-0166

Even after a twenty year reign the most popular, and one of the poshest, restaurants in town shows no signs of giving up the throne. American-Continental cuisine is served in the upstairs dining room, the casual basement and the private banquet rooms.

Pierpont Cantina

122 West Pierpont Avenue
Salt Lake City
(801) 364-1222

There’s a festive atmosphere, thanks to the families who gravitate here for the kids’ menu, Americanized Mexican fajitas, marinated beef or chicken, and fried ice cream, and especially the Sunday buffet.

Hillside Plaza, 2440 East Fort Union Blvd.
(801) 944-1895

Praise for the owners of this suburban eatery, who oversee every detail every night, serving innovative Ital-Cal cuisine and great wines in a warm and spacious setting.

Red Iguana

736 West North Temple St.
Salt Lake City
(801) 322-1489

In all of Utah, no Mexican restaurant earns more kudos. There’s no decor to speak of, but the 10 specialty moles, the great chile verdes, and the killer just-about-everything are sure worth talkin’ about.

Rio Grande Cafe
270 South Rio Grande St.
Salt Lake City
(801) 364-3302

It’s not as fancy as the Orient Express, but if you’re after fast, cheap, fresh and savory Mexican dishes, as served at this restored 1800s Rio Grande Train Station, this could be the ticket.

Roundhouse & The Yurt at Solitude Ski Resort
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon
(801) 536-5787

Even if the glorious views and the Mediterranean bistro food weren’t half as good as they are, the sleigh ride to Roundhouse or the cross-country ski trek to The Yurt make this an exotic adventure.

Ruth’s Diner

2100 Emigration Canyon
Salt Lake City
(801) 582-5807

Ruth’s spirit lives on in this 40s dining car set against the mountains, where the same old-fashioned favorites she once served are making fans of a whole new yuppie clientele.

Squatter’s Pub and Brewery
147 West Broadway (300 South)
Salt Lake City
(801) 363-2739

At Salt Lake’s original brew pub, slow roasted chicken and beer cheese flatbread from the wood fired oven go down nicely with handcrafted lager and stout or, for abstainers, housebrewed root beer.

2832 East 6200 South
Salt Lake City
(801) 277-9919

Even more of a draw than the savory pastas and interesting salads is the fine cigar selection and the setting, a rustic lodge at the base of the Wasatch Mountains.

Red Rock Area (South of Salt Lake City)

Cafe Diablo
599 West Main St.
(435) 425-3070

Using local ingredients, including from the restaurant’s own
garden, Gary and Jane Panko serve some of the best food in Utah, like tortilla twisters and perfect poached pears. Open May 1 - mid-October.

Center Cafe
92 East Center St.
(435) 259-4295

Moab built its reputation on mountain biking, river rafting and the sophisticated and inventive California cuisine served at Center Cafe.

Cowboy's Smokehouse
95 North Main
(435) 676-8030

At this historic spot, the lip-smackin’ good barbecue is so tender you don’t need teeth to eat it and the atmosphere is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Hell's Backbone Grill

Boulder Mountain Lodge, Highway 12 at Burr Trail
(435) 335-7460 or (800) 556-3446

Gorgeous as it is, you can’t eat the scenery at this remote spot, but you can tuck into upscale down-home dishes like Boulder beef, farm-raised ruby trout, home-baked breads and monster apple pie.

Jailhouse Cafe
101 North Main Street
(435) 259-3900

There’s no escaping the bread (homebaked) and water (bottled) rations at this old jailhouse, where your reward is the best American breakfast and lunch fare in town.

Ray's Tavern
25 South Broadway
Green River
(435) 564-3511

Few places qualify as institutions; Ray's is one. Suds'n'burgers are the order of the day -- and night, at this funky old-time watering hole where river runners and touristas relax after a rough ‘n’ tumble run down Utah's Green River.

Switchback Grill at Zion Park Inn
1215 Zion Park Blvd.
(800) 934-PARK (7275)

Fresh and hearty portions of American standbys are the hallmark of this spot for drive-by dining at the gateway to Zion National Park.


Elsewhere in Utah

Maddox Ranch House

1900 South Highway 89
Perry (about an hour north of Salt Lake City)
(435) 723-8545

In 1949, Irv and Wilma Maddox built this log cabin diner on skids so if no one came to their middle-of-nowhere (then) steak, bison, chicken and seafood house, they could cart it away. Been here ever since. (closed Sunday and Monday)

3981 Wall Ave.
Ogden (about 40 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City); (801) 392-7777

Some folks think it’s even worth a drive to this new “Silicon Valley” for real, and real cheap, gargantuan Mexican appetizers, hot combination platters and fried ice cream.

Al Azteca
746 East 820 North
Provo (about an hour south of Salt Lake City)
(801) 373-9312

Take University Parkway to this family-owned restaurant for sensational mole poblano, carnitas, pico de gallo and pozole but no alcohol, not even beer. Or head for their second location, a nearby taco shop at 46 W. 1230 North,
Provo; (801) 375-9690 to eat in or take out.

La Casita
333 North Main St.
Springville (about an hour south of Provo)
(801) 489-9543

It’s back to the pueblo for food like mamacita used to make, at prices even impoverished tourists can afford, made even more attractive by weekend specials.

Andrea Rademan is a Salt Lake City-based freelance food writer.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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