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Salt Lake City eats, are these worthwhile?

I am a DC foodie, visiting Salt Lake partly for business, partly for pleasure. I am looking for places to eat over several days, and have scoped out some likely spots. The first three days I am there, I will not have a car and will be in the Hilton near the convention center, the next three I will have a car so driving a few miles is a possibility. Here are the places I have scoped out, any other good recommendations?

Near the convention center:

Blue Iguana (they have a groupon deal)
Squatters (boss really wants to go, and I love nitro-beers :D)

In general:

Forage
Red Iguana (saw on Food Network, looks amazing)
Tiburon Fine Dining (They have a groupon, wife wants to try elk)
The Copper Onion
Crown burger (not exactly "good eats" but my wife grew up in Salt Lake and wants some fry sauce)

What do you think? Anything I should know about these places, or any other places I shouldn't miss? Also, are Red Iguana and Blue Iguana owned by the same people? Same menus etc? I had planned just to go to Red, but Blue has a groupon and is right next to the convention center. I also would appreciate another good rec for lunch within walking distance of the convention center.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. Blue Iguana is the red-headed stepchild of Red Iguana. Different owners, similar menu, don't bother.

    Do the Red... it's the real deal. If the line is too long, or you want to avoid the construction along North Temple you can skip the original and head a couple of blocks south and do Red Iguana 2. Every bit as good food-wise, even if it lacks the "buzz" of the original. They also have "Taste of" outlet in the City Creek Center food court.

    Crown Burger is my favorite of the local Greek burger chains. I like the fry sauce at Training Table better, and their burgers are more upscale.

    Squatter's food is decent, beers are good. UT draft is decidedly un-strong, so you can enjoy a couple of pints with the boss and still be clear-headed.

    Copper Onion is awesome, especially if you like splitting small plates. Same chef also runs Plum Alley which is his take with an Asian spin.

    Tiburon would be fine with the Groupon. If I were going to pay full boat for elk I might head up Millcreek Canyon to Log Haven if it's on the menu. Chef David Jones is a Utah legend, and it's one of the area's most romantic spots.

    Siegfried's Deli is probably your best bet for lunch close to the Salt Palace. 22 in Zagat, if you put any value in that.

    Some other places to consider: Pago, Wild Grape Bistro (their gnocchi dish is to die for) and, if you like Middle Eastern, Mazza is a MUST. The location at 9 and 9 is larger and more happening, with a full bar. SLC's other ethnic gem along with Red Iguana.

    5 Replies
    1. re: GroovinGourmet

      Is Blue Iguana literally not worth eating at, at all? I am definetely going to the Red, I was just thinking of also trying the Blue since I can go there for lunch one of the days of the convention, and there is a Groupon. I will need lunch 2 days while at the convention center, and I am not too big on delis (coldcuts) but I see that Siegrieds is more of a German restaurant. Looks like it could be worth a visit, do you have a second lunch suggestion?

      Thanks for the suggestions btw, Training Table does look better than Crown, and Plum Alley looks good too.

      1. re: thejavuar

        As far as Blue Iguana and a Groupon... if saving some money is more important than the overall meal and experience, then go for it. It would be interesting to get an out-of-towner's take on Red vs. Blue. I'd rather go twice to Red than once each with a Groupon.

        As enbell mentioned below, Settebello would be a good choice. A brief walk from the south end of the Salt Palace. Pizzas are true Neapolitan-style and the salads are exceptional as well.

      2. re: GroovinGourmet

        Groovin, would you consider Settebello and Caputo within walking distance? Also, do you think chowtruck is a good option it's been a few years for me.

        1. re: enbell

          I love Chowtruck... definitely worth checking out if she is anywhere close by.

          Settebello would be another excellent choice.

        2. re: GroovinGourmet

          "Is Blue Iguana literally not worth eating at, at all?"

          I don't think it's inedible, or even terrible, its just not going to blow your mind. It's a fairly typical tex-mex place with the obligatory sides of bland rice and mushy refried beans. Theres the usual suspects of tacos, burritos, combo plates etc. If you order these items at either place its going to be a vaguely similar, meh experience.

          I don't personally think theres much difference to Red Iguana - until - you start ordering more unique dishes like their signature moles or something like puntas de filete a la nortena. Tacos don ramon with sirloin tips and chorizo is a home run too.

          --
          www.gastronomicslc.com | www.bestofsaltlakecityrestaurants.com

        3. Definitely hit Squatters! I live in Heber but when I do hit SLC it's a place we visit. Get the "beer shot" sampler...I won't tell you what the serving platter is, it's a surprise. :-)

          1. How was everything?

            3 Replies
            1. re: UTgal

              Sorry I didn't report back. Ok places we went, and what I thought:

              Eva - wow. Very good, especially for the price. I was amazed and quality and quantity of food for the cost compared to the DC area. Wife and I left full for under $40, we got gnocchi, spanikopita, tri tip bruschetta, spicy green beans, and something else. Oh, and a dessert.

              Copper Onion - Most fun I have ever had at dinner. There were four of us, and the wait was 45 min. We asked if they had seats at the bar. The hostess cleared off 4 seats for us at the "bar" but it wasn't a typical bar, it was right next to where they prepare the food! So we got to watch the chefs prepare everything right in front of us, and we talked with them also. It was a hell of a lot of fun, great cocktails, the food was very good, but not the best I ever had.

              Red Iguana - All the moles are interesting, and I liked the complexity. However, the enchiladas were kind of boring. Needed something on the side, or some crisp lettuce and tomatoes or something. Still glad I went.

              Chowtruck - Tacos were good, mixed fried chip basket thing needed more seasoning. Good for the cost, definitely worth it if it's nearby.

              Wild Grape Bistro - I had the gnocchi here at someones suggestion, and I have to say - it is so far the best (non-dessert) dish I have ever eaten. It was INCREDIBLE. Plus our server was great, put up with a ton of questions from me. All in all, amazing food.

              Forage - Wow. Was all the food the best ever? No, but it was all very good, super creative and inspired, and really well thought out. The service is impeccable. Most interesting dinner experience I have ever had, wife and I had a blast. I am looking for a place anything like it in DC and failing.

              Aristos Greek Cafe - The food here was solid, and pretty cheap. Lowkey atmosphere, exactly what we were looking for that night. Worked out perfectly.

              Blue Lemon - Solid Panera-esque place, but up 2 notches. Good spot for lunch, wish there was one near here.

              Market Street Grill - Probably the worst place we went. It was fine, but VERY overpriced (only meal I felt this way in SLC). Like I said, food tasted fine, but it was just an average, and overpriced experience.

              Never did get to Growlers (even though we stayed right next to it). I think that is about everywhere we ate, and I literally cannot wait to go back, I would 100% hit up Copper Onion, Wild Grape, and Forage again no questions asked. Also Eva if I was looking for something cheaper, or later in the evening.

              1. re: thejavuar

                I'm glad you had a mostly good experiences! I confess to not having been to any of those places. I know I'm only 30 minutes away from SLC but I rarely go down. Now I have a solid rec list! Thanks thejavuar! :-)

                1. re: thejavuar

                  Glad the gnocchi at Wild Grape lived up to the hype!

                  I'm newly diagnosed as diabetic, but that dish is not going anywhere... skipping the oh-so-fabulous blood orange mojitos is more than a fair trade-off.