Whether you’re mountain-bound or just looking for a quick city break somewhere new, Salt Lake City has plenty to see, eat, and do. First-timers should stop by Temple Square, everyone should stroll through the Sugar House neighborhood, and if you’re lucky enough to be there on the third Friday of the month, hit the city’s gallery stroll. Despite peculiar liquor laws (though it’s not that hard to find a cocktail), the city is filled with great eats and outdoor activities. Here’s what we suggest you do to assuage those preconceived notions…
Breakfast: The retro-cool architecture of Finn’s is enough to make us pull over, but the indulgent breakfast menu (with something for everyone) is its real draw. It’s Scandinavian at its core, though there are plenty of American breakfast options on offer. Sourdough pancakes with warm syrup and oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar are classics, while the Scandinavian breakfast of trout with Finn’s tartar sauce and two eggs is for the homesick Swede in Salt Lake City.
Lunch: In downtown Salt Lake City, Bambara is buzzing with the city’s coolest folk. It’s critically acclaimed and sleek with black, white, and gray décor within. And the menu, set up by chef Nathan Powers, offers blue cheese potato chips; farmers market-fresh salads; fish tacos; a steak Cobb salad; and a hearty burger with grilled onions, butter pickles, horseradish crème fraîche, and Cheddar cheese.
Dinner: There is no better food-obsessive spot in Salt Lake City than Forage. As the name suggests, they’re dedicated to local ingredients, as well as atypical cooking techniques and creating a unique experience night after night. It’s simple and elegant, with small and beautiful portions that pack a punch. The menu often changes, but their sample menu features their slow-cooked diver scallop with sunchoke puree, Hudson Valley foie gras, confit of wild ono, and a crispy pork shoulder with a slow-cooked farm egg and truffle purée.
Afternoon Snack: In Salt Lake City, there is a local “specialty” called “fry sauce,” that is basically a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup with a variety of other seasonings, depending on where you eat it. Bruges Waffles and Frites is the perfect place to indulge in all things “fry sauce” (and aioli, curry ketchup, lemon-pepper-dill mayo, and “samurai” mayonnaise). Run by a native Belgian, the crispy fries and sweet and light waffles are authentic and delicious. Their waffles can come topped with crunchy speculoos spread (which is a shortcrust cookie-turned-spread), crème fraîche, Belgian chocolate sauce, and seasonal fruits.
Day Trip: Less than an hour from Salt Lake City, Park City is home to quaint and charming streets, unbridled winter luxury, and the High West Distillery. Pop into their saloon and restaurant for a closer look at Utah’s first distillery (opened in the 1870s), book a tour of the distillery, and sidle up to the bar for a beer. We wouldn’t let you leave without an order of their High West popcorn (and maybe their sourdough pretzels on the side). (Photo courtesy of Flickr/calamity_hane)
Sleep: The Monaco Salt Lake City is the most charming hotel in town, and it’s home to Bambara — our choice lunch spot. If you decide to make Park City your home base, book a room at Montage Deer Valley for a level of luxury that’s hard to surpass. The activities, in summer and winter, are fantastic, from picnics and pony rides to a ski-in bar, dogsledding, and ice skating.