Sunday, April 1, 2012

eating it up

i love eating well.  one of the things i hated about moving to new jersey was that i left behind 25 years of compiling an impressive restaurant go-to's list.  and, now that i'm back, i find myself missing newark's one or two secret gems, plus the plethora of cullinary orgasms housed in hoboken and new york city.

normally this blog is utah jazz only.  but this season, several of the jazz-twitter community types have been trading restaurant tips.  i'd been meaning to actually put a list together of my favorite spots, so i took advantage of a recent tweexchange about SLC lunch spots and did just that.

the information below was compiled with two things in mind:  (1) in salt lake city proper (with a few well-deserved exceptions) and (2) lunch spots.  most of the joints listed here are also available for dinner, and i've noted those that serve breakfast/brunch as well.  my rating is totally from the gut and meaningless, out of five stars.  i only listed restaurants i've been to three or more times.  the rest should be fairly self-explanatory.

Price My Rating Neighborhood Alcohol Breakfast

9th South Delicatessen
$$ **** 9th and 9th N/A No
NYC-style sammies, complete with matzo ball soup and Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda.  But NYC pricing, so order big to feed two.

Ahh Sushi
$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Shares space with O'Shucks bar.  Try the Funky Charlie if you don't like raw sushi.

Al Forno's
$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Hit or miss.  Really great when it's on, sub-par when it's off.

$$ **** U of U Yes No
Greek doesn't have to be gyros and souvlaki.  Try the skordalia.

Atlantic Café, The
$ *** Downtown Yes No
No-frills mediterranean fare.  Relaxed, neighborly atmosphere in the evenings.

B & D Burgers
$ *** U of U No No
Cheap burgers and shakes.  2-for-1 Tuesdays!

$ **** 9th and 9th No No
SLC's original, local-first burrito joint.  Better than Chipotle.

Bay Leaf Café
$$ ** Downtown Yes Yes
Decent lunch, tastes way better when you're hammered and they're still open at 2 am.

Bayou, The
$$ ** Downtown Bar No
Always packed and slightly overrated, it's still the best jambalaya in town.

Big Daddy's Pizza
$ *** Downtown No No
Do yourself a favor and order this pie: chicken, onions, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, on pesto sauce.

Blue Plate Diner
$ ** Sugarhouse No Yes
Somehow people love this place for breakfast.  I prefer it for lunch.

Bombay House
$$ ***** Sugarhouse Yes No
I've eaten better Indian once in NYC.  Enough said.

Boston Deli
$ ** Downtown No No
Blue-collar lunch for SLC's white-collar workforce.  Good sammies.

Busy Bee
$ *** Midtown Bar No
Garlic burgers on garlic toast that will give Cotton Bottom a run for its money any day.

Café Med
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Yellow curry pasta is amazing.

Café Rio
$ ** Downtown No No
I loved this place, then I found out about Barbacoa.  Still pretty good if you don't want actual Mexican food, I guess.

Café Trang
$$ ** Downtown Yes No
A Utah institution, I can't eat here because they bought out Xiao Li's (SLC's last great Chinese spot) space on 3rd and 3rd.  But great food.

Café Trio
$$ *** 9th and 9th Yes Weekends
A good way to try your hand at semi-fancy dining.  The balsalmic/goat cheese appetizer is bloody amazing.

$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Classic Italian.  Reminds me of Lady and the Tramp.

Canton Village
$ ** Downtown No No
Dragon Grill is disgusting, both in taste and hygiene.  Order in from these guys instead.

Cedars of Lebanon
$$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Mmmmm.  Schwarma and lentil soup.

$$$$ **** Downtown Yes No
If you need to impress a wealthy client or just want a perfect steak.  Not really a lunch place but one of my favorite SLC steakhouses.

$ **** Downtown Yes No
Sort of a weird place (pink neon lighting?) but the salad is worth every penny.

Citris Grill
$$ ** Millcreek Yes Yes
My friends love this place.  I think it's mediocre at best.  Try it if you want.

Copper Onion, The
$$$ *** Downtown Yes Weekends
Not revolutionary but pretty good foodie spot.

Crown Burger
$ ***** Downtown No No
There is no better burger in the United States and I will fight you if you disagree.

Curry in a Hurry
$ ***** Midtown No No
I have no words.  I love Curry in a Hurry and you will, too.

Desert Edge
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Great sandwiches and it's a pub, so great beer too!  Try the balsalmic chicken with a Latter Day Stout.  Also, great french onion soup.

Dodo Restaurant, The
$$$ *** Downtown Yes Weekends
Bunch of hipster clowns serving you overpriced food.  But it's delicious, so if you don't mind idiots, stop on in.

DP Cheesesteaks
$ *** Downtown No No
Pretty good cheesesteaks, lots of options if you're already in the middle of downtown.

Eggs in the City
$ * Sugarhouse No Yes
Worst breakfast in SLC.  Just awful.

El Chihuahua
$ ** Millcreek Yes No
Food here is nothing to write home about.  The Deathstar is (you can only order 2).

Em's Restaurant
$$$ *** Downtown N/A Sunday
Good foodie grub in the Marmalades, who knew?

Este Pizzeria
$ *** Downtown Yes No
The closest thing you can get to a New York slice in Utah.  It's not Grimaldi's good but it's tasty.

$ *** Downtown No No
Seems kind of dicey, but this is a great get-it-done sandwich shop.

Fiddler's Elbow
$$ ** Sugarhouse Bar Sunday
The 21+ side of SLP&P, this place is totally overrated and (excluding the prime rib for brunch) the food is rarely tollerable.

Finn's Café
$ * Sugarhouse No Yes
Another breakfast place I don't care for but always has a line on Sat/Sun mornings.

Gandolpho's Deli
$ *** Downtown No Yes
A zillion sandwiches.  Not crazy good, but I've been eating there since high school.

$$ *** Downtown Bar Sunday
Pretty good pub grub.  No-pay shuffleboard!

Greek Souvlaki
$ **** Downtown No No
Best gyro in Utah.

Green Pig
$$ *** Downtown Bar No
So-so food, great rooftop patio.

Happy Sumo
$$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Really good sushi at the Gateway.

Hector's (Molcasalsa)
$ ***** Millcreek No Yes
Formerly Molcasalsa, they should have changed names to "Hector's Super Delicious Mexican Food."

Hector's Miramar
$ **** Midtown Yes No
This place used to be a used car dealership, now they have amazing enchiladas suizas.

Himalayan Kitchen
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Fantastic weekday lunch buffet, plus a great evening menu as well.

$ ** Downtown No No
Pretty good burgers, shakes, and fries.  Eat here; the food doesn't stand up well in "to-go" form.

$$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
My favorite SLC sushi.

Koko Kitchen
$$ ***** Downtown N/A No
I could eat the chicken curry udon noodle soup every day forever.

$$$ **** Sugarhouse Yes No
My second favorite SLC sushi.

La-Cai Noodle House
$$ **** Midtown N/A No
Above-average indochine cuisine at a reasonable price.  Great pho.

Lamb's Grill Café
$$ *** Downtown Yes Yes
Lamb's has been open since the Mormons got to Utah, I think.  Good BLT, so-so french onion soup.

Little World
$$ ** Midtown No No
It's hard to find good Chinese downtown, and Little World isn't a blockbuster.  But it works.

Lucky 13
$$ **** Midtown Bar Sunday
These guys smoke their own bacon and it is AMAZING.  Really great burgers.

$$ **** Sugarhouse Yes Weekends
The "Irish" fare here is pretty tasty.  But Sunday brunch is where MacCool's really shines.

Market Street Grill
$$$ **** Downtown Yes Yes
Grill/broiler, whatever.  Boring but consistently delicious.

$$ ***** 9th and 9th Yes No
Everything at Mazza will blow your mind.  Seriously.

$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Solid tapas joint for pre-Bees conversing.

Mill Creek Café
$ *** Millcreek No Yes
Pretty solid breakfast/lunch joint across the street from Milosport.

$ ***** Downtown No No
Wow.  Cheesesteaks.  Meatball parm subs.  Go now.

$$ **** Downtown Bar No
SLC's best reuben sandwich, great staff.

My Thai
$$ ***** Midtown No No
The best Thai in SLC, rivaling only the Thai joint in Tooele for the state title.  Thai fried rice 4EVAR.

Oasis Café
$$$ **** Downtown Yes Weekends
Great foodie spot, try the lavendar flan for dessert.

$$ **** Sugarhouse No No
Kind of overpriced for what you get, but good falafel (surprise) and decent schwarma.

Other Place Restaurant, The
$$ *** Downtown N/A Yes
I used to go here when it was too busy at George's Café (now defunct).  Typical Greek/American greasy spoon with a decent breakfast.

$$$ ***** 9th and 9th Yes Sunday
Go on a date here and impress your significant other with your knowledge of SLC's sneaky but amazing elite restaurants.

Park Café, The
$ ***** Midtown No Yes
Best breakfast in town, bar none.  Great biscuits and gravy, good bacon, good potatoes.  Solid lunch lineup as well (try the chili).

Pat's Barbeque
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Nationally famous for a reason.

Pie Pizzeria, The
$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
It's not NYC thin crust, and it's not Chicago deep dish.  Once you get past the labels, it's just so good.

$$ ** Downtown Bar Weekends
Less-than-amazing lunch, and there's no Uinta beers on tap.

Red Butte Café, The
$$ *** Sugarhouse Yes Weekends
Best fish tacos in Utah?  Fight it out with Lone Star Taqueria, I guess.

Red Iguana
$$ ***** Downtown Yes Weekends
I had dreams about the Iguana while I lived in New Jersey.  Regularly.  Try all the moles.

Red Rock Brewing Co.
$$ *** Downtown Bar No
Great mashed potatoes, my friends don't seem to like this place as much as I do.

Rich's Mighty Fine Burgers
$ **** Downtown No No
These guys exist solely for the business lunch crowd, but I bet they expand in the next two years.  Great burgers, amazing blue cheese fries.

Robin's Nest
$ **** Downtown Sort of No
Awesome sandwiches, and you can order from Cheers to You next door if you want a pint with your lunch.

Ruby River Steakhouse
$$ ** Downtown Yes No
One step above chains like Outback, I don't know how these guys perpetually win "best steak" in CW when Spencer's is 1.5 miles away.

Rusted Sun
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Really fantastic pies and calzones that are generally traditional but not always (try the Mediterranean).

Ruth's Diner
$ **** Sugarhouse Yes Yes
Half the point of eating here is driving out of the valley to escape the summer heat.  Great biscuits and corned beef hash though.

$ ** Sugarhouse N/A No
Another of SLC's mediocre Chinese spots.

$$ *** Downtown N/A No
I thought this was SLC's best Thai until My Thai came along.  Still pretty good, definitely better suited to formal/romantic occasions.

$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
It's not New York pizza, it's Neopolitan, which apparently is the traditional pizza form.  Either way, it's f-ing fantastic.

Siegfried's Delicatessen
$ *** Downtown No No
Got Spaetzle?  It's the best German deli in SLC.  But I think it's the only one, so that's not saying much.

Squatters Pub Brewery
$$ ** Downtown Yes Weekends
Decent beers (I prefer Uinta), pretty good food.  Another place all my friends love and I don't think is that amazing.

Star of India
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
I rate only Bombay House higher.  Saag aloo FTW!

Su Casa
$ *** Downtown No No
Barely mexican food, this is more or less straight from the Old El Paso can but the chile verde isn't half bad.

Sugarhouse Barbeque
$$ ***** Sugarhouse Yes No
Pat's might be famous, but SHB is my preferred source for mac n cheese, collard greens, oh and also brisket.

Tasty Thai
$$ *** Midtown No No
Near my house, I want this joint to be amazing every time I eat there.  Yet it's constantly only pretty good.

$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Good sandwich selection though a little pricey.  Real Boar's Head meat and cheese though!

Training Table
$$ *** Sugarhouse No No
Hickory burger and an order of cheese fries.

Tres Hombres
$$ ** Millcreek Yes No
So-so mexican food.  Mucho mas bueno margaritas.

Trolley Wing Company
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
A zillion different kinds of wing sauce.  Well, 120+.

Uinta Brewing Co.
$ *** Midtown Yes No
Just cold-cut sammies at the Uinta facility, but there's Cutthroat.  Lots and lots of Cutthroat.

Yanni's Greek Express
$ *** Sugarhouse No No
On the weird, non-perpendicular intersection of 1300 E & Highland resides this quick gyro gem.

$$ ** Downtown Yes No
Some folks "love" this place, including the Radio from Hell staff and numerous sports radio people (all of whom to get paid to say so).

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