The Best Food and Drink in Utah from The Best Food and Drink in Utah Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Utah Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Utah
Utah is known for the Olympics-worthy Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges, the Great Salt Lake, and some of the most stunning national parks in the country, including Zion, Arches, and Bryce Canyon. But the Beehive State is buzzing with culinary wonders as well: Heber Valley artisanal cheese, Bear Lake raspberries, and Mile High biscuits. To celebrate all the great food and drink our country’s 45th state has to offer, we’ve rounded up 18 of Utah’s claims to culinary fame as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Utah offers so much more than just breathtaking geography: Its natural bounty includes trout, stone fruit, heritage lamb, and honey. Though they are now known for abstaining from alcohol, in the 1800s Utah Mormons were famous for Valley Tan, a whiskey made from local wheat and potatoes. A near replica of the original recipe can found at the High West Distillery in Wanship. Utah was also a key state in the repeal of Prohibition, becoming the 36th (and thus deciding) state to approve the 21st Amendment. Navajo tacos are popular across the state, and utilize fry bread as the base of the taco, instead of a tortilla. This local favorite is influenced by the Navajo Indian tribe in the southeastern part of the state; try one at Black Sheep at Epic Brewing Company’s Sugarhouse location. Though the Great Salt Lake may get all the glory, the pink salt (called “Real Salt”) that’s harvested from an underground deposit near the town of Redmond is especially prized across the state, and contains over 60 trace minerals. You can enjoy a cocktail with a rim of Real Salt at craft cocktail bar Under Current.
Utah is home to many iconic foods, and over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best steakhouse and grocery store to its best dive bar and Italian restaurant in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs.
Photo by Tuyet N. via Yelp
Best Bar: High West Distillery & Saloon, Park City
The world’s only ski-in gastro-distillery, High West Distillery & Saloon is all about the whiskey. There are some perennially popular mainstays on the cocktail menu, like Dead Man’s Boots (Rendezvous rye, reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, sugar cane syrup, and ginger beer) and High West Lemonade (a concoction of High West syrup — a mixture of sugar, water, lemon, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, and whole nutmeg — fresh lemon juice, fresh water, High West Double Rye, and one mint sprig). However, the drinks that truly highlight the talent here are the classic whiskey cocktails like the excellent old fashioned. The bar’s buildings, which are on the National Historic Registry, are worth a visit, too. The livery was used to shoe the horses and mules that worked in the mines; it then became a garage. The exterior of the livery has exposed lettering and signage that was essentially baked on when the coalition mine building burned down. Excellent whiskey cocktails, delicious High West burgers, and welcoming and knowledgeable bar staff all add up to the perfect ski trip.
Best Beer: Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing Company, Salt Lake City
Photo by John C. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Mom’s Kitchen, Salt Lake City
A Salt Lake City institution, the unassuming Mom’s Kitchen is actually run by two moms, and they serve a menu of classic Chinese home-style dishes. There are plenty of surprising offerings — luffa and bamboo fungus soup, Beijing meat pie, hot and sour shredded potato, griddle cooked pig intestines, dry-fried yellow-croaker — that you’d be hard-pressed to find outside of America’s biggest Chinatowns, so don’t come here if you’re looking for egg foo young. Sichuan specialties like spicy lamb with cumin and ma po tofu are definitely worth seeking out, as is the variety of Taiwanese options.
Yelp/ Lala P
Best Cupcake: So Cupcake, Salt Lake City
So Cupcakes began with a wish, when Celina — the owners’ daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy — was granted a wish from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. In February 2008, So Cupcake was opened in honor of Celena. Their cupcakes range from the everyday So Cocoa Delight to the special So Andes Mint and the seasonal So Gingerbread.
Best Dive Bar: Cheers to You, Salt Lake City
Photo by Davis J. via Yelp
Best Doughnut: Banbury Cross Donuts, Salt Lake City
Banbury Cross doughnuts are something of an icon throughout Utah. Treat yourself to a selection of the classic glazed doughnuts (make sure you try the cinnamon crumb), and don’t forget to buy chocolate milk at the same time: The combination is a match made in doughnut heaven.
Courtesy of Downtown Farmers Market
Best Farmers Market: Downtown Farmers Market, Salt Lake City
The Downtown Farmers Market was founded in 1992 and has since expanded to four markets: the Downtown Farmers Market (Saturdays, June to October), the Downtown Art and Craft Market (Saturdays, June through October), the Downtown Harvest Market (Tuesdays, August to October) and the Winter Market at Rio Grande (Saturdays, November to April). The produce from the market comes from 16 counties in Utah. Some of Utah’s most iconic vendors have become so popular that they’ve traded in their tents for brick-and-mortar locations.
Best Food Truck: Waffle Love, Salt Lake City
If Leslie Knope of NBC’s Parks and Recreation lived in Utah, she’d probably spend most of her time chasing the Waffle Love truck around Salt Lake City. (Also, founder Adam Terry totally looks like Ron Swanson.) Here are three reasons you should be chasing it too: the “Dulce de Liège” (a cinnamon sugar waffle topped with fried ice cream and Dulce de leche), the “Nutella Love” (with your choice of fruit), and the “Banana Cream Pie” (stuffed with chocolate and topped with bananas and cream). All the options cost about $8, but the various weekly specials can be enjoyed for just five bucks. The company started with a single truck in 2012, and has since grown to include a brick-and-mortar location and five trucks, and another coming soon to Los Angeles.
Photo by K K. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: Harmons, Salt Lake City
“Harmons is almost untouchable in quality in Utah from the rest of the grocery stores. They pride themselves on fresh food and a large variety of it,” a reviewer said on Google. As an extra step toward quality, Harmons also sends its bakers to a top professional bread baking school in San Francisco to make sure the people of downtown Salt Lake City are getting great products.
Best Italian Restaurant: Valter’s Osteria, Salt Lake City
Valter Nassi is the natty ever-present proprietor of his eponymous restaurant, and his lineup of Tuscan classics inspired by his mother have kept crowds coming back to his stylish, modern restaurant for years. The homemade fresh pastas are all standouts, as well as many other dishes, which include fennel-crusted duck breast in cognac and grape sauce; salmon topped with clams, scallops, and baby calamari in tomato sauce; and butterflied pan-fried pork tenderloin with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Red Iguana, Salt Lake City
One of Salt Lake City’s most popular restaurants (owing in no small part to a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), Red Iguana has been lavished with more awards than you can count, and now we’re officially naming it the best Mexican restaurant in Utah. And it’s not just hype: This place is really, really good. Founded in 1985 by Ramon and Maria Cardenas, who’d been opening restaurants since 1965), today it’s run by their children, who continue to use their family’s tried-and-true authentic Mexican recipes. The massive menu features six different moles (each meticulously handmade), pork doused in red or green chile sauce, slow-roasted cochinita pibil; eight enchiladas, a variety of tacos and burritos, and some outrageous breakfast dishes, among dozens of other specialties. If you live in Salt Lake City and you’re not a regular here, reconsider.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Powder, Park City
Located inside Park City’s luxurious Waldorf Astoria, the season-driven menu at Powder is creative, delicious, and quite expensive. A plate of local cheese and charcuterie costs $29 ($49 if you include jamón ibérico), appetizers include $18 kurobuta pork belly and $19 salmon sashimi, and entrees (all of which cost more than $40), top out at a $45 Snake River Farms wagyu bavette steak.
Yelp/ Tony L.
Best Pasta Dish: Rigatoni al Sugo Della Mamma at Valter’s, Salt Lake City
Valter Nassi is the proprietor of Valter’s, and his Tuscan dishes are inspired by his mother. The homemade fresh pastas are all standouts, but you’ll find the best dish on the menu — and the one that Valter’s most proud of — with the dried pastas. Its Rigatoni al Sugo Della Mamma, perfectly-cooked al dente rigatoni with a tomato-based porcini and meat sauce based on his mother’s recipe.
Yelp/ Lala P.
Best Pizza: Settebello, Salt Lake City
Settebello really goes above and beyond in its efforts to make pizzas that are as close as possible to what you’ll find in Naples. Flour, tomatoes, prosciutto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano are imported from Italy; pancetta and Finnochiona come from Seattle’s renowned Salumi, and salame comes from Berkeley’s Fra’Mani; and pies cook in a thousand-degree wood-burning oven (handmade in Naples) in less than a minute. The menu doesn’t get too crazy (no pot roast pizza here!) but that’s a good thing; keep it simple with a Margherita DOC or the popular pizza carbonara, with crushed tomatoes, pancetta, egg, mozzarella, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.
Best Sandwich: Meatball at Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli, Salt Lake City
Caputo’s is a super-popular Italian deli with four locations in town. Tony Caputo and his son, Matt, import high-quality foods from Italy and the rest of Southern Europe, and over the years it’s become one of the best specialty food stores in not just Salt Lake City, but in all of America. A cheese cave is home to more than 200 farmstead cheeses, salami is made in house by a guy whose family has been doing it for more than 400 years, and crowds line up out the door on a daily basis for their selection of sandwiches and pastas. With that in mind, we present one of their most beloved sandwiches: the meatball, made with house-made meatballs on a fresh Italian loaf. The menu puts it best: “Meatballs, marinara sauce, Parmesan, and provolone cheeses. What more could you want?” Well said.
Yelp/ Gavin H.
Best Soup: Soup Kitchen, Salt Lake City
The Soup Kitchen has been serving the best soup in Utah since 1976, all scratch-made daily using tried-and-true recipes. Favorites include chicken noodle (with thick dumpling-style noodles), cream of tomato, cheddar cheese and broccoli, and vegetable beef (pictured). You’ll be glad they also sell soups by the gallon.
Yelp/ Xuehua L.
Best Steakhouse: Jeffrey’s Steakhouse, Moab
Located in a renovated early-twentieth-century house, Jeffrey’s makes diners feel like they’re guests in the home of owners Jeffrey and Lauren Davis. Start your meal in the Ghost Bar upstairs, then head down to the warm and inviting dining room to sample hormone-free wagyu-style beef from a Nebraska farm, the only beef that’s served at the restaurant. Fillets, rib-eyes, and New York strips are available, served with a variety of sides and accompaniments.
Photo by Jesus R. via Yelp
Best Taco: Carnitas at Tacos Don Rafa, Salt Lake City
The crowds line up every day to get their tacos from this small cart, and its loyal devotees will tell you that these are the absolute best tacos around. They’re cheap (75 cents!) and delicious, and the crispy and flavorful carnitas will most likely become your favorite. Don’t miss the nearby cooler that’s filled with a wide selection of toppings and salsas. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.