clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A crowd stand and sit outside a yellow and red brick building waiting to enter. A neon accented sign above their heads reads Red Iguana / The Killer Mexican Food
Outside Red Iguana
Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

The 28 Essential Salt Lake City Restaurants

Where to find kafta burgers with za’atar fries, Tongan lamb with taro leaves, ricotta dumplings, and sherry flights by the Great Salt Lake

View as Map
Outside Red Iguana
| Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

Once dominated by Old West-style steakhouses and bars that (by an antiquated law) had to charge membership fees, Salt Lake City has come a long way from its Mormon roots. Though Utah businesses still face unique rules surrounding alcohol sales and consumption, the state is still quickly becoming a culinary destination — somewhat out of necessity, to serve all the new diners.

Over the past 10 years, banks and technology companies have been relocating their operations to the high-altitude desert, birthing nicknames for the area like “Silicon Slopes.” With new employers come new employees, people from all over the country and the world seeking out SLC for its low cost of living and high quality of life. The new workforce (which is also much more liberal than the city’s Mormon founders), along with the slew of West Coasters from urban centers like Los Angeles who relocated during the pandemic, have demanded a complete culinary overhaul.

Chefs have heard the challenge. An onslaught of talented chefs is now showcasing their takes on Rocky Mountain cuisine. Nick Fahs and Michael Blocher are turning out locally sourced New American fare in a rustic converted factory at Table X, and Iron Chef America champion Viet Pham is elevating fast-casual dining with his fried chicken establishment, Pretty Bird. At the same time, diners habitually return to stalwarts like Red Iguana, a family-run Mexican restaurant renowned for housemade moles since 1985. The food scene has become increasingly eclectic but remains strongly rooted in fresh, local ingredients, with a pervasive emphasis on rustic and casual dining. Whether you’re looking for a plant-based tasting menu or a pastrami on rye, Salt Lake City has you covered.

Sarah Entwistle is a chef and recipe developer who has worked in restaurants, test kitchens, and as a private chef. After a five-year stint in Utah, she moved back to the East Coast and currently lives in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Shooting Star Saloon

Copy Link

Established in 1879, the Star is the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi, and a favorite among wintertime adventurers. Located in the sleepy mountain town of Huntsville, this Old West joint is about an hour’s drive north from Salt Lake City, situated in the valley between the mountain resorts of Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. The ambiance and decor are quirky, with multiple huge pieces of mounted taxidermy confronting guests from the walls (including a large St. Bernard), part of the Star’s particular charm. It’s perfect for a winter pitstop after a day on the slopes nearby for a burger, chips (they have a strict policy against French fries), and a beer. Those in the know come for the off-menu Star Burger: two patties with cheese, Polish knackwurst, and bacon. The staff is curmudgeonly, the service is slow, and the place is cash-only, but the oddball factors add up to one of the best burgers in the entire state.

An Old West-looking restaurant exterior, with pitched roof, shingled awning, and log deck. The name Shooting Star Saloon in fanciful lettering hangs above the entrance
Outside Shooting Star Saloon
Shooting Star Saloon

Wimpy and Fritz

Copy Link

Voted Utah’s best taco at the SLC Taco Fest in 2019, Wimpy and Fritz specializes in a variety of street tacos and Latin entrees. Owners Lane “Lefty” Montoya and Brian Zinsmann are longtime friends and skaters who share a common love of Mexican food. They named the operation after their grandfathers and built a menu inspired by the food Montoya grew up eating. After starting out with a tent at the Ogden Farmers Market, sharing a space with the Yes Hell bar, and investing in a colorful food truck, they eventually opened a storefront in downtown Ogden (located 40 minutes north of Salt Lake). The space is vibrant, with walls decorated with painted skateboards and a mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Try the Borracho por Vida taco, a riff on birria with smoked carnitas blanketed in Chihuahua cheese and seared until perfectly crispy, served with a consomé for dipping and fideos on the side. They also offer a number of vegan tacos stuffed with jackfruit, hominy, or soy chorizo fillings.

A plastic boat lined with checkerboard butcher paper. The boat holds three tacos, crusted with cheese, alongside a small pile of fideos, and cups of pinto beans and salsa
Tacos at Wimpy and Fritz
Sarah Entwistle

Red Iguana

Copy Link

Started by Ramon and Maria Cardenas in 1985, Red Iguana features a wide variety of Mexican recipes, including many utilizing house-made corn tortillas and moles, at three downtown locations. They don’t take reservations so arrive early to ensure you snag a table, or be prepared to wait. Try the standout puntas de filete a la nortena: top sirloin tips sauteed with bacon, jalapeno strips, onions, and fresh tomatoes, served atop almond mole. Another favorite is their take on enchiladas suizas, which outperform your typical tomatillo-smothered enchiladas; two corn tortillas are filled with avocado and chicken cooked in sour cream, topped with a complex mole poblano, and finished with melted jack cheese and an extra dollop of sour cream.

Slices of steak along with chopped bacon, jalapeno, onions, and tomatoes on a thick mole, served on a decorative plate with checkerboard pattern around the rim
Puntas de filete a la nortena
Sarah Entwistle

Pretty Bird

Copy Link

Chef Viet Pham is elevating fast-casual dining with his latest foray, a fried chicken establishment called Pretty Bird. The former chef of Forage, a celebrated fine-dining establishment, is known for his television stints on Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby Flay. His current venture focuses on a limited menu that includes Nashville-style fried chicken sandwiches, crinkle cut fries, Mexican street corn salad, cider slaw, and a handful of flavorful sauces, like the buttermilk-based Pretty Bird sauce. The spice level ranges from mild to what the restaurant calls “hot behind,” so proceed with caution. There are currently two locations in Salt Lake, as well as one recently opened in Park City.

A chef holds a huge chicken sandwich, with a breaded cutlet spilling out on all sides, beneath a large mound of pickled purple cabbage, sauce, and pickles
Chicken sandwich
Bonjwing Lee

Chunga's

Copy Link

This unassuming restaurant draws inspiration from the food of central and southern Mexico, especially Mexico City, and is known for its tacos al pastor piled high with succulent pork, fresh pineapple, and cilantro. The family-owned restaurant also serves a few vegetarian dishes that highlight ingredients such as cactus and flor de calabaza. Try the famed alambre, a mix of ham, bacon, steak, and onions served with black beans, queso fresco, and a flour tortilla. Then cool off with one of their fresh, tropical fruit shakes in flavors like mango and pineapple, which will have you dreaming of your next beachside getaway.

A long plate filled with ham, bacon, steak, and onions served with black beans, queso fresco, and a flour tortilla, against a neutral textured background
Alambres
Chunga’s

Siegfried's Delicatessen

Copy Link

Located right off Main Street, Siegfried’s is a German deli that has been serving lunch and dinner since 1971. They import specialty ingredients like sauerkraut from Germany, along with beer, but meals are extremely affordable, with a hot entree and two sides running you $8.99. Wiener schnitzel is the top seller, alongside bratwurst and a selection of sandwiches, such as their corned beef Reuben. The sausages are made from scratch every day and the side dishes include hot potato salad, spaetzle with gravy, and red cabbage. The space also doubles as a market where you can buy mustard, spices, pickles, cookies, and old-world gift items, such as Heidel advent calendars during the holiday season.

A close-up on five cooked sausages, in a pool of sauce and topped with diced herbs
Sausages from Siegfried’s
Siegfried’s Delicatessen

Beer Bar/Bar X

Copy Link

Co-owned by Ty Burrell of Modern Family fame, Beer Bar and Bar X are a joint business connected by a narrow hallway in the back. Bar X was originally opened in 1933 (the year Prohibition was repealed), but came into its current iteration as a craft cocktail bar when it was purchased and refurbished in 2010 by Burrell and team. Its sister business, Beer Bar, feels reminiscent of a German beer garden, with big-screen TVs and long communal tables, the perfect setting to enjoy brews from a lineup of local, craft breweries. All of the draft beer complies with state law, which keeps them at or under 5 percent ABV, but options in their bottled selection can far exceed that. Under the oversight of executive chef Brendan Kawakami, the simple menu includes bratwursts, locally sourced bison and elk, Belgian-style fries, and a specially curated Reuben brat from chef Viet Pham of Pretty Bird. The bar also hosts an annual pie and beer day — a phonetic riff on the Mormon state holiday Pioneer Day on July 24.

A sister restaurant to Park City’s Handle, HSL focuses on American cuisine, interesting wines, and thoughtful cocktails. The space was designed by the City Home Collective firm, while chef Briar Handly oversees the rotating, seasonally driven menu. Some outstanding recent items include hamachi crudo tossed in Calabrian chile vinaigrette, fresh market fish sitting atop foie gras veloute with sunchoke and leeks, and perfectly fried chicken served alongside red pepper polenta.

A roasted piece of bass on a pile of artfully arranged vegetables
Baja bass with foie gras veloute, sunchokes, and leeks
HSL/Facebook

Caputo's Market & Deli

Copy Link

This old-school Italian grocer and deli is headed by Matt Caputo, whose family moved to the U.S. from Greece and Italy. The deli features sandwiches, pastas, salads, and desserts, including from-scratch tiramisu made using Italian mascarpone. They have their own state-of-the-art cheese cave that is used to age a variety of artisanal cheeses, as well as a bimonthly subscription service for curated selections of artisan food products. The Caputo family is passionate about preserving and protecting food items of unique provenance and provides hands-on training, workshops with food artisans, and public classes on chocolate, wine, cheese, spirits, and more.

A deli staffer in an apron cuts into a huge cheese wheel on a wooden countertop near large sunny windows
Breaking open a cheese wheel
Caputo’s Market & Deli

Current Fish and Oyster

Copy Link

It can be challenging to find fresh, high-quality seafood in landlocked Utah, but Current Fish & Oyster ensures a steady supply for pescatarians. Chef Ben Steiger’s menu highlights quality seafood with a focus on classic preparations. Situated in a renovated warehouse complete with high ceilings and exposed brick, the space boasts a full-service bar with an extensive wine list, sherry flights, and inventive cocktails. You can’t go wrong with their selection of East and West Coast oysters, grilled calamari with lemon aioli and fingerling potatoes, or wild-caught black cod with tomato Pernod veloute and saffron cream sauce.

The Copper Onion

Copy Link

After serving as chef de partie at two-Michelin-starred Jean-Georges, Ryan Lowder opened his own place to focus on locally sourced ingredients from regional purveyors. Located in the heart of downtown, this new American restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with both indoor and outdoor seating areas. The menu changes seasonally based upon product availability, but mainstays such as the ricotta dumplings, patatas bravas, Wagyu beef stroganoff, and rainbow trout keep regulars coming back.

A plate of mushrooms beneath a pile of garnishes, including shoestring fries and a poached egg
Sauteed mushrooms
The Copper Onion

Valter's Osteria

Copy Link

You’ll feel like you stepped right into picturesque Tuscany at this rustic Italian restaurant, where the tables are adorned with classic white tablecloths and the servers are dressed sharply. Named after the chef and owner, Valter Nassi, the place serves many dishes inspired by the chef’s mother’s cooking, such as Rigatoni al Sugo Della Mamma and Pasta al Forno Vera (homemade lasagna). You can also order the Nana in Porchetta Savinese, a dish that represents a typical Sunday dinner, featuring fennel-crusted duck breast in a cognac and grape sauce. In true Italian dining style, the meal will be long, but that just gives Nassi a chance to visit you; the extremely friendly chef makes it a point to stop by every table to say hello.

Banbury Cross Donuts

Copy Link

Banbury Cross Donuts opened its doors to Salt Lake City in 1986 and has been providing the community with delicious baked goods ever since. Located just a few steps away from historic Trolley Square, they’re baking cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, cake donuts, pinwheels, and more on a daily basis using fresh, high-quality ingredients. They are most famous for their old-fashioned blueberry cake doughnuts (which are delicious enough to firmly convert you from their yeast-based counterparts), but are constantly coming up with new flavors and spins on classics. If you can’t stop by on foot, head for the drive-through window, but be sure to get there early before the more popular flavors sell out.

An open box of doughnuts, stacked on several closed boxes, with six doughnuts in various shades, from pink glazed, to a white one topped with shredded coconut
Variety of doughnuts from Banbury Cross
The Donut Critic

Chanon Thai Café

Copy Link

Chanon Thai typically draws a line out the door as diners patiently wait to sample the tom yum soup with prawns, som tum salad, and a wide selection of curries. The dining space is familiar and cozy, with a cork board featuring handwritten notes and drawings from loyal customers, and you may find yourself rubbing elbows with the likes of Alex Honnold and other elite athletes that frequent this neighborhood mainstay during training stints. The restaurant is well-known for its liberal application of Thai chilies to create deep layers of flavor and heat. Even a standard Thai restaurant dish like pad kee mao (thick noodles stir fried with broccoli, Thai basil, bell pepper, Thai chili, garlic, and soy) comes with a warning that spice can vary day to day depending on the batch of Thai chilies the restaurant receives. Save room for dessert; the mango with Thai custard and sweet sticky rice is the perfect end to a fiery meal.

A side view of a plate filled with cashews, pineapple, mushrooms, and peppers in a dark sauce, beside a mound of rice
Pad him ma parn
Chanon Thai Café

Freshie’s Lobster Salt Lake City

Copy Link

Freshie’s started with humble beginnings at the Park Silly farmers market in Park City, but over time expanded into a food truck and brick-and-mortar operation with outposts in Park City and downtown Salt Lake. Owner Lorin Smaha grew up in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where she developed a love of lobster, before marrying a fellow New Englander who shares the passion. The business focuses on sustainable, fresh lobster shipped from Maine daily, living up to the motto “from shore to door in 24,” and the menu features the main ingredient in various formats, including rolls, sliders, lettuce cups, and bisque. In 2017, Freshie’s took home the prize for world’s best lobster roll at the Down East Lobster Roll Festival in Portland, Maine, beating many local competitors and sending shockwaves throughout the crustacean community.

Two lobster rolls served on metal trays with waffle fries
Lobster rolls
Freshie’s Lobster

Laziz Kitchen

Copy Link

In Lebanon, the word “laziz” means tasty or lighthearted, perfect descriptors for the ethos that co-founders Moudi Sbeity and (state Senator) Derek Kitchen bring to their shareable plates. Sbeity immigrated from Lebanon in 2006 and the two began selling homemade hummus to colleagues and friends. They eventually opened a storefront and expanded the menu to include dishes such as za’atar fries (inspired by batata harra) and a kafta burger with tomato tapenade. Sbeity and Kitchen are both proud members of the queer community and were plaintiffs in the landmark case Kitchen v. Herbert, which overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A row of plates of burgers and fries on a kitchen counter. The burgers are covered in gooey cheese and other fixings
Kafta burgers with za’atar fries
Laziz Kitchen/Facebook

Pacific Seas Restaurant

Copy Link

This family-owned restaurant and market specializes in Polynesian food, and has become a beloved gathering place for Polynesian Americans in the community. For decades the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent missionaries to the Pacific region, inspiring migration both ways, historical culture ties, and a mutual love of Pacific Islander cuisines. Pacific Seas serves island favorites including Hawaiian musubi, Samoan muli pipi (turkey tails boiled and fried), Tongan lu/luau (taro leaves served with lamb), and whole fried golden pompano. Don’t forget a bag of Bongo baked chips in flavors like cheese or chicken, imported from Fiji. Wash it all down with a refreshing mango ’otai, a blend of fresh mango, pineapple, and coconut.

Kyoto Japanese Restaurant

Copy Link

This traditional Japanese restaurant is headed by James Beard semifinalist chef Peggy Ince-Whiting, who trained with sushi master Inou at Hama Sushi in Tokyo before working in Salt Lake for over 30 years. The owner, Sam Tada, grew up in Kyoto and moved to the U.S. at 23. He opened the restaurant, alongside partner and wife Yoshiko Yamasaki, with the hopes of recreating a small piece of home. Guests come for ebi tempura, agedashi tofu, and extensive sushi bar offerings, and to relax in the cleanly designed space, with hanging lanterns and booths partitioned by screens.

A low chabudai-style table in a private dining area partitioned on one side by a paper screen, lit by a large paper lantern above, with a Japanese print on the back wall, and a chest to the other side
Seating at Kyoto
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant

The Park Café

Copy Link

Situated next to Liberty Park, this neighborhood spot serves homestyle breakfast and lunch in a small but inviting space, whether you grab a seat at the diner-style counter or opt for a table with friends. The crowd is eclectic, from groups of 20-somethings nursing hangovers, to Real Salt Lake players, to hip parents with toddlers who can already ski better than you. The service here is fast and attentive, partly to turn over tables beneath the crush of busy crowds and weekend lines. Notable dishes include the biscuits and gravy as well as the breakfast platter known as French Toast Foolishness, but be sure to check out their whiteboard for daily specials (look out for the huevos rancheros topped with pork chile verde goodness). If you want to order like a local, complete your meal with a chai latte and add cheese to your grilled park potatoes, a side on many of the dishes.

Plates of sunny side up eggs with bacon strips, cheese-covered hash, and slices of toast
Breakfast plate
Sarah Entwistle

Mahider Ethiopian

Copy Link

Since 2008, this Ethiopian restaurant has served traditional dishes using cooking methods and recipes passed down in the Tadesse family through multiple generations. The menu is varied and includes plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, and all dishes are served with injera made from scratch daily (rice may be substituted as a gluten-free alternative). Dishes are redolent with mitmita, a spice powder made from African bird’s eye chile peppers, and berbere, a chile spice mix that is foundational to Ethiopian cuisine. They also serve imported Ethiopian beer and wine, as well as tej, made from fermented honey and gesho hops. For special occasions, you can participate in a coffee ceremony for up to four guests using Ethiopian coffee beans.

Part of the highly successful Pago Restaurant Group, Finca is currently in its third location in the 15th & 15th neighborhood. The Spanish restaurant offers tapas and platos made with local and sustainable ingredients, including classics such as croquetas, paella, tortilla espagnole, ceviche, and patatas bravas, with cinnamon churros and chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Owner and sommelier Scott Evans has curated a wine list featuring unique Spanish and Portuguese options, especially natural wines from small producers.

From above, a large red handled pot filled with noodles, calamari, mussels, shrimp, chorizo, sauce, and lemon wedges
Fideo
Finca

This Middle Eastern restaurant serves traditional Lebanese cuisine in the quaint 15th & 15th neighborhood. Owner Ali Sabbah made the journey to Salt Lake City from Lebanon to study economics at the University of Utah, but he fell in love with the state and stuck around to open a restaurant. Go with a group and start by splitting a few of the dips, such as the hummus, baba ghanoush, and muhammara. Then move on to heartier options like the tender, bone-in lamb shank, braised in a blend of allspice, ginger, and fenugreek, and served alongside saffron-scented couscous. Mazza also boasts one of the largest selections of Mediterranean beer and wine in the United States, with selections from Lebanon, Morocco, and Greece, and they import many of the condiments and spices featured on the menu.

From above, a table filled with various plate, including skewered meat over rice with vegetables, tabbouleh, muhammara, and pita
A full meal at Mazza
Mazza

Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade

Copy Link

Like many of the businesses on this list, husband-and-wife duo Hasen (Hoss) Cone and Teri Rosquist started out small, selling their freshly juiced limeade at local farmers markets and county fairs. Over time, they expanded their offerings to include from-scratch food and eventually opened a storefront. The menu is inspired by homestyle Texan cuisine from Cone’s upbringing and features local ingredients, hearty salads, and baked-daily biscuits. This popular brunch spot also offers a selection of cocktails that feature spirits from local Utah distilleries. On your first visit be sure to order the Hoss, the signature sandwich: crispy fried chicken, bacon, egg, sausage gravy, cheddar cheese, and green onion on a fluffy biscuit.

Two people clink tall bright drinks, one pink with a bit of fruit pulp, the other a foggy tan with mint leaves, both with tall red straws. They sit at a metal patio table
Drinks on the sunny patio at Sweet Lake
Natalie Haws/Beehive Photography

Saffron Valley

Copy Link

Saffron Valley founder Lavanya Mahate grew up in southern India and later attended school in the western part of the country, where she developed a love of street food. She moved to the U.S. in 2001 and began selling her proprietary spice blends at SLC’s Downtown Farmers Market. She went on to open her first restaurant, Saffron Valley Indian Street Food Cafe, and now has multiple locations, including in the Avenues and Sugarhouse neighborhoods. The mini-chain prides itself on the largest Indian buffet in Salt Lake, with a menu that features dishes such as deconstructed samosas (mashed potatoes, sweet peas, roasted cumin, and ginger), bone-in goat curry (with mustard, fenugreek, curry leaves, and sambhar spice), and gulab jamun soaked in aromatic syrup. Through the restaurant, Mahate works with the Utah Refugee Training and Education Center to provide free culinary training to refugees and disadvantaged youth, including paid internships and job placement assistance.

A metal dish overflowing with biryani, studded with chunks of dark meat, topped with mint and a lemon wedge. Served on a slate board with a small tin raita on the side
Lamb biryani
Saffron Valley

11 Hauz

Copy Link

This family-run business is inspired by partner Sheron Grant’s late grandmother Florence. Born and raised in Mount Salem, Jamaica, Florence passed down a love of Jamaican cuisine to her family, who keep her culinary traditions alive in Park City. All of the food is made to order, with the majority of proteins cooked bone-in to keep all the flavor and marrow. The rest of the menu features traditional island flavors and ingredients, with lots of scotch bonnet peppers, homemade jerk seasoning, conch, and ackee and saltfish. They also turn out homemade roti, lovingly referred to as Jamaican mop, to soak up every last drop of sauce.

A plate with a small pile of saucy shrimp, beside a mound of rice, fried plantains, and colorful cabbage salad
Shrimp with rice and peas, plantains, and cabbage salad
11 Hauz

Feldman's Deli

Copy Link

Utahns don’t have to book a flight to New York to find a good deli. Feldman’s serves a variety of sandwiches piled high on flavorful bread and old-world specialties. Nestled up in the mouth of Parleys Canyon (the mountain road that takes you to Park City), the restaurant is worth the hike for their award-winning sandwiches, including pastrami, corned beef, Reubens, and sloppy joes. The menu also includes European fare such as pierogies, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash, kielbasa, brisket, and smoked whitefish salad.

An everything bagel sliced on a plate beside a mound of cream cheese, lox, pickled onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes
Bagel with fixins
Michael Feldman

Table X

Copy Link

At Table X, set in a converted factory, chefs Nick Fahs and Mike Blocher serve new American fare in five- to seven-course traditional and vegetarian tasting menus. While the menu is always shifting, the current iteration features garden sunchokes with smoky nage, delicata squash, and poblano, and the Jones Creek beef bavette steak with garden garlic, radicchio, celery root, and truffle. Blocher is primarily responsible for innovating the dining menu, while Fahs focuses his attention on growing Table X’s new wholesale bakery, Table X Bread, which serves coffee, sourdough bread, and assorted pastries, including croissants, scones, cookies, and spandauer. The restaurant sources fresh produce from its French potager garden, and the kitchen practices a variety of preservation methods including fermentation, pickling, canning, drying, and aging. If you’re looking to host a special occasion, the garden dining room can fit up to 14 guests.

A chef shaves an ingredient over a ceramic bowl
Putting together the tasting menu
Mike Blocher

Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub

Copy Link

This locally owned and operated restaurant started in Ogden and recently opened its latest outpost in Industry SLC, an adaptive reuse office space in the trendy Granary District. Loyal customers know Slackwater for its live music, large selection of craft beer, and pub-inspired menu. Their wide artisan pizza selection focuses on global flavor combinations, including the California Sunrise (roasted chicken, peppered bacon, green goddess dressing, sliced avocado), Italian Job (pepperoni, salami, capicola, pepperoncinis, creamy herb vinaigrette), and tikka masala pie. The pork chile verde nachos and hearty spinach artichoke dip also deserve a spot at your table. The space includes patio seating, separated from the dining room by glass garage doors, which lift to combine the areas into an open-air dining concept in the warmer months.

Shooting Star Saloon

An Old West-looking restaurant exterior, with pitched roof, shingled awning, and log deck. The name Shooting Star Saloon in fanciful lettering hangs above the entrance
Outside Shooting Star Saloon
Shooting Star Saloon

Established in 1879, the Star is the oldest continuously operating saloon west of the Mississippi, and a favorite among wintertime adventurers. Located in the sleepy mountain town of Huntsville, this Old West joint is about an hour’s drive north from Salt Lake City, situated in the valley between the mountain resorts of Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. The ambiance and decor are quirky, with multiple huge pieces of mounted taxidermy confronting guests from the walls (including a large St. Bernard), part of the Star’s particular charm. It’s perfect for a winter pitstop after a day on the slopes nearby for a burger, chips (they have a strict policy against French fries), and a beer. Those in the know come for the off-menu Star Burger: two patties with cheese, Polish knackwurst, and bacon. The staff is curmudgeonly, the service is slow, and the place is cash-only, but the oddball factors add up to one of the best burgers in the entire state.

An Old West-looking restaurant exterior, with pitched roof, shingled awning, and log deck. The name Shooting Star Saloon in fanciful lettering hangs above the entrance
Outside Shooting Star Saloon
Shooting Star Saloon

Wimpy and Fritz

A plastic boat lined with checkerboard butcher paper. The boat holds three tacos, crusted with cheese, alongside a small pile of fideos, and cups of pinto beans and salsa
Tacos at Wimpy and Fritz
Sarah Entwistle

Voted Utah’s best taco at the SLC Taco Fest in 2019, Wimpy and Fritz specializes in a variety of street tacos and Latin entrees. Owners Lane “Lefty” Montoya and Brian Zinsmann are longtime friends and skaters who share a common love of Mexican food. They named the operation after their grandfathers and built a menu inspired by the food Montoya grew up eating. After starting out with a tent at the Ogden Farmers Market, sharing a space with the Yes Hell bar, and investing in a colorful food truck, they eventually opened a storefront in downtown Ogden (located 40 minutes north of Salt Lake). The space is vibrant, with walls decorated with painted skateboards and a mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Try the Borracho por Vida taco, a riff on birria with smoked carnitas blanketed in Chihuahua cheese and seared until perfectly crispy, served with a consomé for dipping and fideos on the side. They also offer a number of vegan tacos stuffed with jackfruit, hominy, or soy chorizo fillings.

A plastic boat lined with checkerboard butcher paper. The boat holds three tacos, crusted with cheese, alongside a small pile of fideos, and cups of pinto beans and salsa
Tacos at Wimpy and Fritz
Sarah Entwistle

Red Iguana

Slices of steak along with chopped bacon, jalapeno, onions, and tomatoes on a thick mole, served on a decorative plate with checkerboard pattern around the rim
Puntas de filete a la nortena
Sarah Entwistle

Started by Ramon and Maria Cardenas in 1985, Red Iguana features a wide variety of Mexican recipes, including many utilizing house-made corn tortillas and moles, at three downtown locations. They don’t take reservations so arrive early to ensure you snag a table, or be prepared to wait. Try the standout puntas de filete a la nortena: top sirloin tips sauteed with bacon, jalapeno strips, onions, and fresh tomatoes, served atop almond mole. Another favorite is their take on enchiladas suizas, which outperform your typical tomatillo-smothered enchiladas; two corn tortillas are filled with avocado and chicken cooked in sour cream, topped with a complex mole poblano, and finished with melted jack cheese and an extra dollop of sour cream.

Slices of steak along with chopped bacon, jalapeno, onions, and tomatoes on a thick mole, served on a decorative plate with checkerboard pattern around the rim
Puntas de filete a la nortena
Sarah Entwistle

Pretty Bird

A chef holds a huge chicken sandwich, with a breaded cutlet spilling out on all sides, beneath a large mound of pickled purple cabbage, sauce, and pickles
Chicken sandwich
Bonjwing Lee

Chef Viet Pham is elevating fast-casual dining with his latest foray, a fried chicken establishment called Pretty Bird. The former chef of Forage, a celebrated fine-dining establishment, is known for his television stints on Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby Flay. His current venture focuses on a limited menu that includes Nashville-style fried chicken sandwiches, crinkle cut fries, Mexican street corn salad, cider slaw, and a handful of flavorful sauces, like the buttermilk-based Pretty Bird sauce. The spice level ranges from mild to what the restaurant calls “hot behind,” so proceed with caution. There are currently two locations in Salt Lake, as well as one recently opened in Park City.

A chef holds a huge chicken sandwich, with a breaded cutlet spilling out on all sides, beneath a large mound of pickled purple cabbage, sauce, and pickles
Chicken sandwich
Bonjwing Lee

Chunga's

A long plate filled with ham, bacon, steak, and onions served with black beans, queso fresco, and a flour tortilla, against a neutral textured background
Alambres
Chunga’s

This unassuming restaurant draws inspiration from the food of central and southern Mexico, especially Mexico City, and is known for its tacos al pastor piled high with succulent pork, fresh pineapple, and cilantro. The family-owned restaurant also serves a few vegetarian dishes that highlight ingredients such as cactus and flor de calabaza. Try the famed alambre, a mix of ham, bacon, steak, and onions served with black beans, queso fresco, and a flour tortilla. Then cool off with one of their fresh, tropical fruit shakes in flavors like mango and pineapple, which will have you dreaming of your next beachside getaway.

A long plate filled with ham, bacon, steak, and onions served with black beans, queso fresco, and a flour tortilla, against a neutral textured background
Alambres
Chunga’s

Siegfried's Delicatessen

A close-up on five cooked sausages, in a pool of sauce and topped with diced herbs
Sausages from Siegfried’s
Siegfried’s Delicatessen

Located right off Main Street, Siegfried’s is a German deli that has been serving lunch and dinner since 1971. They import specialty ingredients like sauerkraut from Germany, along with beer, but meals are extremely affordable, with a hot entree and two sides running you $8.99. Wiener schnitzel is the top seller, alongside bratwurst and a selection of sandwiches, such as their corned beef Reuben. The sausages are made from scratch every day and the side dishes include hot potato salad, spaetzle with gravy, and red cabbage. The space also doubles as a market where you can buy mustard, spices, pickles, cookies, and old-world gift items, such as Heidel advent calendars during the holiday season.

A close-up on five cooked sausages, in a pool of sauce and topped with diced herbs
Sausages from Siegfried’s
Siegfried’s Delicatessen

Beer Bar/Bar X

Co-owned by Ty Burrell of Modern Family fame, Beer Bar and Bar X are a joint business connected by a narrow hallway in the back. Bar X was originally opened in 1933 (the year Prohibition was repealed), but came into its current iteration as a craft cocktail bar when it was purchased and refurbished in 2010 by Burrell and team. Its sister business, Beer Bar, feels reminiscent of a German beer garden, with big-screen TVs and long communal tables, the perfect setting to enjoy brews from a lineup of local, craft breweries. All of the draft beer complies with state law, which keeps them at or under 5 percent ABV, but options in their bottled selection can far exceed that. Under the oversight of executive chef Brendan Kawakami, the simple menu includes bratwursts, locally sourced bison and elk, Belgian-style fries, and a specially curated Reuben brat from chef Viet Pham of Pretty Bird. The bar also hosts an annual pie and beer day — a phonetic riff on the Mormon state holiday Pioneer Day on July 24.

HSL

A roasted piece of bass on a pile of artfully arranged vegetables
Baja bass with foie gras veloute, sunchokes, and leeks
HSL/Facebook

A sister restaurant to Park City’s Handle, HSL focuses on American cuisine, interesting wines, and thoughtful cocktails. The space was designed by the City Home Collective firm, while chef Briar Handly oversees the rotating, seasonally driven menu. Some outstanding recent items include hamachi crudo tossed in Calabrian chile vinaigrette, fresh market fish sitting atop foie gras veloute with sunchoke and leeks, and perfectly fried chicken served alongside red pepper polenta.

A roasted piece of bass on a pile of artfully arranged vegetables
Baja bass with foie gras veloute, sunchokes, and leeks
HSL/Facebook

Caputo's Market & Deli

A deli staffer in an apron cuts into a huge cheese wheel on a wooden countertop near large sunny windows
Breaking open a cheese wheel
Caputo’s Market & Deli

This old-school Italian grocer and deli is headed by Matt Caputo, whose family moved to the U.S. from Greece and Italy. The deli features sandwiches, pastas, salads, and desserts, including from-scratch tiramisu made using Italian mascarpone. They have their own state-of-the-art cheese cave that is used to age a variety of artisanal cheeses, as well as a bimonthly subscription service for curated selections of artisan food products. The Caputo family is passionate about preserving and protecting food items of unique provenance and provides hands-on training, workshops with food artisans, and public classes on chocolate, wine, cheese, spirits, and more.

A deli staffer in an apron cuts into a huge cheese wheel on a wooden countertop near large sunny windows
Breaking open a cheese wheel
Caputo’s Market & Deli

Current Fish and Oyster

It can be challenging to find fresh, high-quality seafood in landlocked Utah, but Current Fish & Oyster ensures a steady supply for pescatarians. Chef Ben Steiger’s menu highlights quality seafood with a focus on classic preparations. Situated in a renovated warehouse complete with high ceilings and exposed brick, the space boasts a full-service bar with an extensive wine list, sherry flights, and inventive cocktails. You can’t go wrong with their selection of East and West Coast oysters, grilled calamari with lemon aioli and fingerling potatoes, or wild-caught black cod with tomato Pernod veloute and saffron cream sauce.

The Copper Onion

A plate of mushrooms beneath a pile of garnishes, including shoestring fries and a poached egg
Sauteed mushrooms
The Copper Onion

After serving as chef de partie at two-Michelin-starred Jean-Georges, Ryan Lowder opened his own place to focus on locally sourced ingredients from regional purveyors. Located in the heart of downtown, this new American restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with both indoor and outdoor seating areas. The menu changes seasonally based upon product availability, but mainstays such as the ricotta dumplings, patatas bravas, Wagyu beef stroganoff, and rainbow trout keep regulars coming back.

A plate of mushrooms beneath a pile of garnishes, including shoestring fries and a poached egg
Sauteed mushrooms
The Copper Onion

Valter's Osteria