It may be difficult to think of Utah’s capital as a foodie destination. However, Salt Lake City may be located in the desert but it’s grown into a young urban center. There are plenty of opportunities to explore artisan food in and around Salt Lake City. The city has everything to offer including great brunches, contemporary American food, steakhouses, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Indian cuisine and more.
Log Haven is consistently awarded the honor of most romantic restaurant and is a popular spot for weddings and private parties.. Located near downtown Salt Lake City but feels like a world away. The log cabin restaurant and resort is located in Milkcreek Canyon in the Wasatch National Forest. The resort was built by steel baron L.F. Rains in the 1920’s. Logs were pulled in from Oregon by horse drawn carts. In 1994 Margo Provost renovated the restaurant creating a romantic elegant spot that focuses on locally grown ingredients. Chef Dave Jones creates a menu of small plates and entrees including Juniper Smoked Elk Carpaccio, Cider Brined Duroc Pork Chops and roasted mushrooms with Yuba Noodles.
Caffe Molise is one of Salt Lake City’s best Italian restaurants. Located on South West Temple Street, Caffe Molise is a great spot for lunch or dinner in downtown. The decor is inviting and features local artwork in the dining room or dine on the paying homage to the Molise region of Italy. The romantic restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes antepasta dishes, salads, chicken, seafood and pasta. There is an extensive cocktail and wine list. The dessert menu is decadent. Caffe Molise features live jazz music on Fridays.
Located on the So Da Row at Daybreak, Porch provides a relaxed urban chic spot to enjoy a hearty brunch or dinner. The restaurant opened in 2014 and is decorated eclectically and features an eclectic menu of low country dishes. Brunch features chicken and biscuits, crawfish and grits, grilled Bavette steak and eggs and a Southern Stack of pancakes topped with egg, bacon, crawfish and maple syrup. The dinner menu features classic southern dishes like meatloaf, fried chicken, baby back ribs, grilled pork chops and crawfish mac and cheese. Dessert is served for brunch and dinner. Diners can enjoy craft cocktails and boutique wines.
Japanese chef and business man Sam Tada and his wife Yoshikko Yamasaki opened Kyoto in 1984 and established a traditional Japanese restaurant on E 1300 South in Salt Lake City. Chef Tada trained in Kyoto and moved to Salt Lake City to begin his career. Tada and Yamasaki aimed to create a traditional Japanese restaurant with traditional simple Japanese decor with servers garbed in kimonos. Tada and his wife expanded the restaurant’s sushi bar in 2001. Kyoto has partnered with the LaSalle Group to continue as a Salt Lake City staple.
Spencer’s Steak and Chops
Spencer’s Steak and Chops has been a staple of Salt Lake City for two decades. Located in the downtown Hilton Hotel, Spencer’s is a classic club steakhouse and is cozy and romantic. Executive Chef Sebastian Lowrey provides a classic steakhouse menu with French and Italian influence and creativity. The USDA Prime meats are dry aged, cured and smoked. Aside from the steak, the menu includes House Cured Duck Bacon with Scotch Maple Glaze and Coffee and Bacon Braised Wagyu Beef Brisket among other fare. The wine list is extensive and guests can enjoy tasting.
Lavanya Mahate has brought traditional regional Indian cuisine to Salt Lake City and has created a brand. She has opened three restaurants, created a line of spices and opened a culinary school. Mahate was born in the Southern Indian State of Andhra. She learned cooking skills from her mother and extended family and was inspired to travel to different regions of India to study cooking as a teenager. She came to Salt Lake City in 2001 and worked with young men and women to help them build business careers. In the meantime, Mahate created a line of spice blends and opened the East Pantry line of blends in 2010. The following year she opened Saffron Valley whiSh has become a popular destination for lunch and dinner. The menu provides dishes from all of the regions of India including chaat, dosas, kebabs and curry. Mahate runs a culinary school.
Current Fish and Oyster
Current Fish and Oyster is located in downtown Salt Lake City by the bar “Under Current”. The traditional seafood restaurant offers traditional, fresh and quality seafood with an eye on sustainability. The atmosphere of the restaurant is fresh and airy with a large open kitchen, a raw bar, a lot of natural light and a ceiling that is designed to look like a ship’s hull. Chef Alan Brines and his staff create contemporary seafood including carmalized organic salmon, pan roasted scallops, shrimp and grits, Alaskan King Crab, and Pacific Black cod. The menu also features chicken, burgers and fish sandwiches as well as a craft cocktail and wine menu.
Ramon and Maria Cardenas opened Red Iguana in downtown Salt Lake City in 1985 and it was an instant success. Ramon and Maria brought their traditional Mexican and southwest cuisine from their native San Luis Potosi and Chihuahua and added innovative flare. Prior to opening Red Iguana, the Cardenas opened Casa Grande in 1965. The original Red Iguana seated just 18 but the award winning restaurant would soon need to expand to accommodate the crowds. The decor is traditionally Mexican and festive. Today the Cardenas’ children run Red Iguana which recently further expanded.
Stanza Italian Bistro and Wine Bar
Stanza Italian Bistro and Wine Bar is one of the latest restaurants to hit downtown Salt Lake City. The award winning Stanza is is run by the LaSalle Group and designed by the same group that designed Current Fish and Oyster. Executive Chef Jonathan LeBlanc has travelled throughout the country exploring and working in a variety of restaurants. He helped open Stanza in 2014. He and his team have created a success. The menu features traditional Italian cuisine and includes small plates, salads, pasta seafood and meat.
Avenues Proper Restaurant and Publick House
Avenues Proper is a great place to hang out with friends for brunch and for dinner. The English pub ambiance and menu is charming and delicious. The restaurant is located on 8th Street in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. Traditional pub choices from the menu include burgers, pork belly, chedder squash dumplings, chicken mole tacos and roasted poblano mac and cheese. The amazing brunch choices include homemade waffles, raspberry fritters, biscuits and jam and southern Benedict. Avenues Proper has a wide selection of signature cocktails, beer cocktails, ciders and wine.