Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Mountain States >
Mar 24, 2007 11:32 AM

Salt Lake City Recommendations?

I am heading out to Salt Lake City for an extended business trip (11 days) and am hoping you guys will be able to recommend some cool places to check out? I will be on a relatively tight budget but would love to splurge for a few higher-end meals. I'm coming from Seattle and love beer, seafood and all ethnic foods.

Also, looking for ideas for a weekend roadtrip driving distance to/from SLC.
Really appreciate any insight as I've never been there before.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. All of these restaurants are downtown except Tiburon, which is worth the drive.

    Best Food in SLC: Tiburon (American Continental)
    The elk entree is awesome
    8256 S 700 E
    Sandy, UT 84070-0508

    Italian: Cucina Toscana
    307 W Pierpont Ave
    Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1712
    (801) 328-3463
    (a little loud), the gnocchi is the best I've ever had. Won't be too pricey if you just have a bowl of soup and the gnocchi. If you do a starter, first, second, and entree, dessert, wine, etc., it will get pricey.

    Seafood: Market Street Grill

    Sushi: Takashi - very fresh and good.
    18 W Market St (Cross Street: Between 300 South and 400 South
    )Salt Lake City, UT 84101
    (801) 519-9595

    Mexican: Red Iguana - they have great mole'
    736 W North Temple (Cross Street: )
    Salt Lake City, UT 84116
    (801) 322-1489
    Fax: (801) 322-4834

    BBQ / Soul Food - Rib Alley

    Crown Burger - they're all over, but the closest one downtown is
    377 E 200 S
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111-2106
    (801) 532-1155

    Martine: Tapas with a Mediterranean flair
    22 E 100 S (Cross Street: S Main Street)
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111
    (801) 363-9328

    For Micro Brews or good variety you may want to try:
    Red Rock
    The Bayou - over 200 selections

    Places I wouldn't go, that you may see on many lists include:

    Cafe Molise
    Ruths Diner
    Log Haven
    Melting Pot
    Roof Restaurant

    (you may also want to check out this link


    The local newspaper recently provided a full list of food inspectors reports of every eatery in the city. If you care to email me at, I will email you the list and final results. It might help you make your decisions on cleanliness, food handling, and where to eat.

    9 Replies
    1. re: FDawson

      red iguana for anything mexican, very affordable
      takashi for sushi, good splurge
      mazza for lebanese (two locations), also pretty affordable
      crown burger because you just have to.

      rib alley in whole restaurant form has been closed for a bit. they still serve their food at a bar called the Cabana Club. But for real 'cue, i'd head out to the west side and go visit Q4U at their new location. can't say i can endorse the food at the bayou...mostly overpriced stuff that's good when you've had more beer than not, though the imbibing part is quite fun.

      1. re: FDawson

        How good is Takashi? If we have good sushi in Phoenix, would you burn 1 of 3 dinners on it? Of the remaining 2 dinners, know I have to do Red Iguana. It looks very cool. What would your other downtown pick be - if you just had one?


        1. re: FDawson

          Just Curious! Why is Log Haven on your " Places I wouldn't go" List? We just moved to SLC and went out to dinner with a colleage of my husband and his wife. They took us to LOG HAVEN, it was beautiful. The wine was great and the food was great. We had a german/swiss cheese dish appertif that was great, and a soup with mexican chipotle seasoning, fantastic. The flavour was very different yet very pleasant. I had the Grilled Diver Scallops with exotic mushrooms, fantastic to say the least. I loved it. I imagine it's a great place to go in the summer, they have the outside open for diners. I certainly would not group them with chain restaurants like: The Melting Pot, don't know the others. We've only been in SLC for 3 weeks.

          1. re: FDawson

            I know this is an old topic, but for anyone reading it for suggestions on where to eat, I thought I'd add my 2cents.

            I've never been able to figure out what all they hype is about when it comes to the Red Iguana. It's good, but seriously, there is much better mexican food in SLC.

            my 2 favorite Mexican places are Miramar (300 W. 1300 S.) and Mi Ranchito (State & 2700 S.) I highly recommend the Chile Verde at Miramar and the Enchiladas de mole at Mi Ranchito.

            Some of my other favorites are:
            Thai Siam 1435 South State St.
            Thai Garden 4410 S 900 East
            Sawadee 754 East South Temple

            The Golden Phoenix (Chinese) State & 1084 South

            in the Gateway:
            The Dodo for sure & don't leave w/o dessert, especially if they have the chocolate marzipan cake (can't remember what they call it, but I think it starts with an L)
            Costa Vida is yummy, but it's a chain that you can find in many cities, although it is a "spin-off" of the original local Cafe Rio (400 S 500 E -ish) They're both good though!

            Crown Burger & Apollo Burger are very similar, owned by brothers I think.
            Hires & Litza's Pizza are local joints that are good if you're looking for a local hamburger or pizza joint (7th south & 7th East) If you're eating a burger, fries or onion rings at a local restaurant, make sure you try the fry sauce - yes, it's usually just catchup & mayo, but it's very good. The Training Table has a version with BBQ sauce & mayo which is seriously the best thing they sell lol!

            Looking for ice cream after dinner? The Iceberg (3900 S 900 E) has fantastic shakes or Nielsen's Frozen Custard in bountiful is also a local favorite (570 W 2600 S. 15 minutes north of SLC)

            1. re: hintolime

              Red Iguana is way overrated. The service, the crowded tables, the lines out the door, and the less than decent food make this a shocking "best Mexican" restaurant on Chowhound and Salt Lake Magazine. As someone who's recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area, and considering how we're able to find some amazing ethnic food in Salt Lake City, I'm astounded by the relentless praise for this restaurant. Reg Iguana feels like it is trying to pack diners in and turn them around as quickly as possible (and I'm assuming to make as much money as they can) without much care for the dining experience or quality. I would recommend we try some other Mexican restaurants in town instead -- and I'm looking forward to checking out your recommendations.

              1. re: msl89

                What did you try there? I'm by no means a Red Iguana aficionado, but those who are recommend avoiding the tex-mex fare of enchliadas, burritos etc. instead go for some of the more unique items they serve.


            2. re: FDawson

              I was just interested in why you did not like Ruth's Diner?

              1. re: FDawson

                Can't understand why the Roof Restaurant is on your "wouldn't go" list. I have gone there many times in my travels to SLC and find the food great. Food is served buffet style. The views of Salt Lake City and the Mormon Temple Square are wonderful.

                1. re: FDawson

                  There are not enough superlatives to describe our experience at the Log Haven. Thank you all for a wonderful night. The return of Chef Jones we were told has, in the staff's minds, bettered the experience. having never dined here we cannot say. But, his menu is exquisite with something for everyone. The tastes were well blended. Presentation unreal. The service is top of the line. We were not rushed to our table but were able to enjoy a cocktail by the beautiful fireplace while our son enjoyed viewing the memorabilia scattered around the restaurant and its entrance area. Did we forget to mention that the wonderful food, services, etc., were all enjoyed while the Log Haven was on generator power. Our trip from NC to UT will be remembered from the evening we spent with all of you in your beautiful restaurant. We will come back to see the waterfall lit up next time we are in Salt Lake. 5 star!

                2. Some of my favorite places:

                  Top of the list is Red Iguana. Everything I've had from their menu has been very good. The moles are excellent. A word of warning--the mole amarillo is good but extremely hot. If you're uncertain what to choose, the Puntas de Filete a la Nortena(sirloin tips, bacon, serranos, onions, tomatoes with almond mole) listed under Red Iguana Signature Dishes is probably the best thing on the menu.

                  Cafe Med is another place I really like. I tend to stick with the Persian offerings from there most of which come with an enormous amount of basmati rice. Good soups. My wife usually gets mousakka which is good, too.

                  Q-4-U is a good barbecue joint, but I've only really been impressed with the ribs(and the sauce) from there.

                  Royal India would be my recommendation for Indian food. I'm not from Salt Lake City and haven't been to Royal India in a while, but it still gets good reviews, I think.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Chimayo Joe

                    If you're uncertain of which mole to try, ask for the a taste. They'll bring out a saucer with a dot of 5 of the seven mole sauces. You can try them with a chip before committing. Unfortunately, not every mole is presented. I don't think the Puntas mole is presented.

                    I also love the greasy taco joints like Molca Salsa. It's open 24-hours and when a horchata and a machaca (shredded beef, scrambled eggs and cheese) burrito is the only thing you want, well, you can fill your needs.

                    Is Thai Siam still open ... and still good? It was good and pretty cheap. Though dinner was much better than lunch there.

                    How about Ruth's Diner up Immigration Canyon?

                    Oh and Lonester Taqueria for fish tacos. The fish changes every day but the jalepeno mayonaise is forever.

                    1. re: Chimayo Joe

                      Since moving to SLC area 1.5 years ago coming from Boston area where middle eastern restaurants are plentiful and great, the only place IMO that comes close and is excellent is Mazza. I've been to Cafe Med 3 times and it was ok except the last time when the food was overdone, overly salty, and just not good. Don't plan to go back.

                      1. re: cyberdave

                        What's good from Mazza? I've only been once and haven't felt any compulsion to return. I'll give them another try next time I'm in SLC, maybe at their new location. Recommendations appreciated as long as they're not eggplant dishes.

                        1. re: Chimayo Joe

                          Get a sampler plate with hummus, loobia (killer green beans), potatoes Harra and either the Spinach Fatayer or the Sfiha (lamb pizza)...or if you are really hungry get both (order the least expensive one as the extra). I hate egglplant too, but the baba ghanouj at Mazza totally rules. The new location has a full liquor license as well. Their take on a bloody mary is excellent.

                          1. re: GroovinGourmet

                            Thanks for the suggestions. I'm looking at the SLC Waiter guidebook and have a couple more questions, if you don't mind. The lamb sfiha description looks more appealing than the spinach fatayer but I'm wondering if the sfiha is successful sans the cucumber dip or if it's a crucial component of the overall dish. Not a big cuke dip fan. The other question is about the peppers in the potatoes harra. I seem to recall that you do not care for green bell pepper. Safe to assume that it's another type of pepper used in the potatoes harra or if bell peppers that they're muted enough to be tolerable for you? I'm easily overwhelmed by bell peppers but can cope with them if they're not too prominent. Will get the loobia for sure and probably the hummus. Looks like there are some new items on the menu since my prior visit. I'm sure I'll skip the baba ghanouj this time--my wife liked it, but it didn't win me over.

                          2. re: Chimayo Joe

                            The hummus is the best in the world! The chicken kabob sandwish is really good and the potatoes Harra are excellent. I miss that place. I now live 40 minutes away, so I don't get there very often.

                      2. Forgot to mention ideas for a weekend road trip. Most people here go to Moab (4 hours) to bike ride. Keep in mind that Utah has atleast 4 National Parks within a 4 hour drive of SLC, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capital Reef, and Zions.
                        You may want to just go to Park City for a dinner (Wahso is great, The Eating Establishment is affordable) on Saturday night and a play at the Egyptian Theatre. Wendover Nevada (90 minutes West of SLC on the Nevada state line) is where the locals go to gamble, there are 3 or 4 casino's there.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: FDawson

                          I will be driving from Las Vegas to eastern British Columbia in a few weeks, and will be passing through Salt Lake City around lunch time. Are there any suggestions for places that offer easy access from I-15 for a quality lunch? Unfortunately time is a bit of an issue, since I need to be in Missoula that evening.

                          1. re: QAW

                            Red Iguana would be perfect if you had more time—I know it often gets crowded for lunch, though.

                            Otherwise, there is Settebello Pizzeria on 300 West, at about 250 South (right next door Red Rock Brewery). Really good Neapolitan (thin crust, wood-oven fired pizza). Take the the 600 South Exit off of I-15 and turn left onto 200 West to about 250 South. Park on the street on either side or paid parking (the pizzeria will be on your right hand side, thanks to the brewery, you can't miss it).

                            Takashi also offers a great lunch if you want any sushi/sashimi and above-standard Japanese fare. Located on Market Street (350 South). Also take the 600 South Exit, then turn left on West Temple. Then turn right onto Market Street. There's metered street parking and paid lot parking.

                            1. re: wasabi

                              Popping in with a hearty thumbs up for Settebello. The lovely Denise has been several times, with a glowing review published in the City Weekly's letters section. I was way impressed on my first visit. Cool, casual vibe and the pizzas are to die for.

                            2. re: QAW

                              If you go to Red Iguana you need to get there before 11:30 am for lunch or you won't get in and out quickly. If you're travelling on I-15 you can exit on 600 South. Take a left turn on 300 West. Go North on 300 West about 6 blocks until you get to North Temple. On the NE corner (rh side) of 300 West and North Temple you'll see a CROWN BURGER. Go in there. They have great burgers and a pretty full menu including Gyros. You can then leave Crown burger and go North (mountains on your rh side) for a few blocks to 600 north where you can get access back on I-15 North. This might be your best bet with easy off and on access to I-15.
                              Incidentally, I had some pretty good Italian food in Missoula several years ago at The Bridge.

                          2. Am business tripping SLC as well.

                            Any of these recommends near The Gateway? Staying near Broadway and S 300 W.


                            9 Replies
                            1. re: ccl1111

                              Takashi, Red Rock, and Squatters are within walking distance. For a business lunch, you may want to consider Caputo's Deli for sandwiches or Settebello Pizzeria which is right next door to Red Rock brewery for an honest-to-goodness Neapolitan pizza with incredible ingredients. The pizza place is also open for dinner.

                              1. re: wasabi


                                I am a big fan of Settebello here in Las Vegas, and the thought of those aroma's can make the morning drive so much more pleasant.

                                1. re: wasabi

                                  Got in too late to have much choice. Drove by Red Iguana at 8:00 pm + and there were probably 15 people waiting outside. Since they closed at 9 pm, will hopefully have better luck in the next 2 days.

                                  Ended up at Red Rock as Settbello was closed. Had a tasty Nut Brown ale. Yummy beer cracker appetizer - flatbread w/roasted garlic, gorgonzola cheese, kosher salt & fresh sage. Followed by a respectable bowl of french onion soup. Finished with a good chicken schnitzel (could have done without the Italian parsley). Was also a bit letdown by the horseradish mashed potatoes - couldn't really detect the horseradish at all.

                                  In addition to brewing their beer, they also brew cream soda and root beer. Went with the cream soda and it was the best I've ever had. Awesome.

                                  1. re: ccl1111

                                    SLC Rest of Recap - wanted to say thanks for the info & do due diligence in responding:

                                    monday lunch - costa vida
                                    had a killer salad for lunch. they brought catered in. had rice, beans, lettuce, awesome crispy tortilla strips (very thin), seasoned chicken breast and a killer dressing. need to find the name of that place.

                                    found out today (day after) that it was from a chain! the place is called costa vida and they even have one in mesa here in az. had the shredded chicken salad. huge chunks of marinated, grilled chicken. as mentioned, rice beans, lettuce, great crispy tortilla strips all in a tortilla lined bowl. one of the stars was the killer cucumber ranch or tomatillo ranch. can't find the description on the website and the locals here disagree. anyway it was rocking.

                                    monday dinner - crown burger
                                    basically a fast food dive with a bit of a twist. they do gyros & some other interesting stuff. the crown burger is a cheese burger with pastrami piled on top. as it was suggested that it was pretty rich and greasy, went for a standard cheeseburger meal. the cheeseburger was great. could really taste the charbroil. fresh lettuce and tomato. nice. would rate it ahead of in n out (my favorite chain burger here). the fries were great and the onion rings were super great too. also tried the (i was told) local specialty "fry sauce". seemed to be a mixture of stuff - maybe mayo, maybe ketchup, ??? maybe a little in the vein of 1000 island but that doesn't do it justice. was very good!

                                    tuesday lunch- wasatch pizza
                                    lunch today, catered in again, was pizza from wasatch pizza. pretty good. nice crust. had a piece of bbq chicken and a piece of chicken pesto. the chicken pesto sounded like a great idea & was talked up. it was good but not as good as i'd built it up in my mind (hate it when i do that). kind of dry. the bbq chicken was quite good though. good crust, nice huge chunks of chicken breast and green onions charred. excellent bbq chicken.

                                    tuesday dinner - red iguana
                                    cool place. chips were good. hot sauce was very good. was pretty set on having one of their moles as was told that's what they were known for. deliberated for a while and the server offered to bring a taste. brought a plate with 5 moles on it. as described:

                                    mole amarillo - good but a bit too spicy for me. menu description: a very spice mole, chile guajillo, chile habanero, fresh vegetables and spices, sauteed and simmered to perfection. a oaxacan treat. served with chicken.

                                    red pipian - very good. seemed to lack heat so didn't order it but it was my alternate. after i ordered, detected heat so i kind of kicked myself. menu description: peanuts, pumpkin seeds, pasilla & guajillo chile transport to you Mexico, a delicious national dish. served with chicken.

                                    mole poblano - this is what i chose in part because of the server recommendation. menu description: a rich blend of peanuts, walnuts, almonds and a hint of mexican chocolate make this puebla original the king of moles. delicioso!! served with turkey.

                                    mole verde - this was good. would be happy if someone served it to me and didn't have a choice but when compared with the other moles, just didn't seem as distinctive. not much spice, no real bold flavors. menu description: a verdant pleasure from oaxaca of fresh green vegetables sauteed and blended with pumpkin seeds and spices. served with your choice of chicken or turkey.

                                    mole negro - this was good too. some spice. some strong flavors. thought about going with it. menu description: chile mulato, peanuts, walnuts, almonds and fennel seeds fuse together with spices to make this oaxacan treasure unforgettable. served with chicken or turkey.

                                    so i ended up ordering the mole poblano. i really liked it. had big chunks of turkey in it. came with rice, beans and tortillas. the tortillas were decent but nothing special. the tortillas at rito's and carolina's killed them. the beans at rito's killed them. if you put the mole together with a carolina's (az) tortilla and rito's (az) beans, it would be too good to handle. the mole was pretty thick. the heat definitely built too. after a bit, i had to keep eating bites with the tortilla or with rice on the fork...something to offset the heat. wasn't too much for me but it was spicy. by the time i'd fished most of the chunks of turkey out (which were covered with the thick mole) and just had the mole sauce left, the spice won and i had to call it quits. i was very happy though.

                                    followed that up with arroz con leche - homemade mexican style rice pudding. this rocked hugely. it was basically rice cooked in a sweet milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top & shards of vanilla bean & raisins throughout. the consistency was pretty liquidy - not very pudding-like. still, i really, really enjoyed it. sweet but not too sweet, nice notes of cinnamon and vanilla. yummy.

                                    AND THEN THE WORST THING OF ALL...
                                    when i was leaving i saw in the airport a slc dining issue. takashi was on the cover. looked through it and my worst fears were realized. from the description, takashi sounded like everything i want in a restaurant, not just only the best sushi that a possible non-sushi town has to offer. i remember some sea saw (az), nobu (lv) style sounding dishes and the one phrase i definitely remember was that something was analagous to "sex on rice". if i get the chance to go back, that's where i'm stopping first.

                                    1. re: ccl1111

                                      Personally I don't think I would call SLC area a non-sushi town because it seems everywhere I go in the city/county there is a sushi place somewhere. Have not been to many yet since new to the area but so far the places I have enjoyed it at (ok so maybe not "the best" but still good) are Sushi Express, Tepanyaki. I know a lot of people like Nagoya Sushi but I was not completely thrilled with it but that's just me. Also sushi is not a strong point at Kyoto when I went there. We plan to go to Ginza soon. My favorite sushi places in Boston where I moved from were Ginza (not related but rated best in Boston) and Oishii (also not related but started by a Nobu chef). I have a friend in SLC who loves the sushi at Benhana downtown.

                                      1. re: ccl1111

                                        Hi ccl1111, thanks for the recap in detail..... this really serves as a good guide for folks like me. I agree with your assessement about red iguana. I am kicking myself for not trying out Crown Burgers after mentioning it beats out on In-N-Out which is my only fast food burger joint.

                                        1. re: ccl1111

                                          Full disclosure -- I'm friends with the owners, but I got to try that "sex on rice" last week at Takashi. OMFG. It's torched sablefish nigiri and it's best eaten warm with your fingers. It was so good, I went back again for it on the way to the airport. Really I think it's the best sushi I've ever had, and we've got some pretty upscale Nobu-style in Boston and New York.

                                          1. re: yumyum

                                            Takashi is pretty fantastic, I have to agree with you Yumyum. I've had sushi all around America and Europe and it's up there with any of the best I have tried.

                                            I guess that's why its a bit of pain to get in there at the weekend (only real downside). If only they'd take reservations!

                                    2. re: ccl1111

                                      Decent restaurants in the Gateway include Happy Sumo (sushi). There's pretty much all Gringo's behind the sushi bar, but the Surf and Turf roll and the Sunshine roll are good.

                                      Thaifoon is good and so is California Pizza Kitchen.

                                      You might also try the DODO which is also at the gateway. Killer Apple Pie and other desserts.

                                    3. I agree with many of the other comments. I would say this: as someone who moved from the Northwest (Portland) you WILL be let down by the beer here. Anything on tap has to be 4% alcohol or less, so even the better beers here don't compare to the great microbrews back home. There's a reason people go to the Bayou and pay ridiculous prices for good beers. So the beer will either be lacking in taste, or too expensive.

                                      I would add Sugarhouse Barbeque Company (2207 S. 700 E.) for great bbq. I recommend the greek potatoes, cucumber salad, or baked beans sides. The cornbread is nothing to write home about.

                                      Monsoon Thai Bistro (1615 Foothill) is my favorite Thai food place.

                                      I've had numerous recommendations for Koyo (2275 E. 3300 S.). I've heard their Japanese food is excellent, and is actually more than just sushi (too many times I've been referred to a Japanese food restaurant that was just a sushi joint). You can request to sit in a paper booth.

                                      For lunch I like The House of Bread (2005 E. 2700 S.) where they grind their own wheat berries to make their bread. They use no preservatives, and the bread is top notch. The sandwiches are large, and the main attraction is definitely the bread.

                                      As far as weekend trips, Moab or Bryce Canyon/Zion would be recommended. Park City can be a fun, short trip (walk up and down Main Street). I actually enjoyed visiting Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. You have to pay to go on the island, but there are hundreds of bison roaming the island and it can be a fun day trip. I can't see what the big deal with Wendover, NV is except that people here are so gambling deprived they think it's cool.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Stunslinger

                                        AHHHH...Used to live in Sugarhouse. Fiddler's Elbow is another good spot with decent beer and a fun atmosphere. If you can though, you should drive to Park City; definitely worth it.