An eclectic list of best restaurants in Utah from all over the state, plus thoughts on what makes a great dining-out experience.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to share my list of best restaurants in Utah. Even though I love to cook and make recipes of my own, I also appreciate a beautiful dining-out experience where my family and I can get a great meal to enjoy now and then.
And let me humbly qualify that my opinion is only that and yeah, “who the heck am I to know?”. But one thing I’ve found over the years is, the more I cook from scratch and use fresh, good-for-me-and-mine ingredients, the more intune I become with a well-made restaurant meal. And as a consequence, the more finicky I am now when I eat out. So my own personal list of favorite restaurants is short but I can share them with confidence and know if you try one (or all) of them, you too will have a beautiful dining experience.
First, let me define a few requirements that I think qualify as a “beautiful” dining experience:
Atmosphere (not what you might think) – Plenty of places that I love to frequent have beautiful, upscale furniture and some of my absolute favorites have outdated and “tacky” interiors, so regardless of the couture, when I walk through the door the atmosphere has to be welcoming, warm and friendly (cleanliness goes without saying). And when my family sits down, the seating has to be comfortable enough that we feel like we could stay for awhile.
Excellent service (and I mean “Excellent”) – I come from a customer service background in a previous life. I worked for a major company that set itself apart from its competitors by nothing more that its stellar customer service. Being involved in an atmosphere of great service, one comes to expect that same service elsewhere as a consumer, and dining out tends to be where the bar is set the highest. I mean, think about it. It’s a deliberate labor of your valuable time and discretionary money to choose where to dine out. If I go somewhere and the wait-staff seems hurried, bored or put-out, it doesn’t matter how fantastic the food is, the experience becomes tainted. And let me qualify before I get comments about how hard it is be a waiter/waitress dealing with rude customers, large crowds, etc. – I get that and because I get it I make sure to go out of MY way to treat my server with kindness and appreciation from the get go. So, I’m an easy customer. My husband has even told me “you know, you don’t have to thank them for every.little.thing”… and to that I say…Yeah I do, because the person at the table next to me might be rude to them or not thank them at all. So, I call them by name and reach out to develop a good rapport that I expect them to reciprocate. So even though excellent service might be part of their job, the people at the restaurants on my list make me believe it is their genuine pleasure to serve me.
Great, fresh food – I don’t think I need to say any more here.
Whether you’re a Utah resident or plan on visiting in the future, you can’t go wrong at any of these fabulous eateries:
Squatters – Salt Lake City’s original microbrewery. Great beer, food and atmosphere. Gotta try the buffalo wings. On the menu, they’re aptly called “legendary”.
Takashi – The best sushi in Salt Lake City. Period. Takashi has repeatedly won awards for Utah’s Best Japanese and Best Sushi.
The Red Iguana – This is a no brainer for locals. It’s the only place to go for Mexican food in the Salt Lake valley. Try to go to the original location. (Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)
Market Street Grill – Great seafood and beautiful atmosphere. For being an inland establishment this restaurant offers a wharf-front experience as long as you don’t look out the window, because it’s purely mountain views from here. Three locations in Salt Lake City.
Bit and Spur – A great Mexican restaurant near the entrance to Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah. Maybe the best chili verde burrito I ever tasted.
Love Muffin Café – Located in downtown Moab, Utah, handmade everyday with fresh, organic ingredients. And who wouldn’t want to try a place called Love Muffin? 😉
Salt Lake Roasting Company – Technically not a restaurant, but this Salt Lake City downtown café serves great tarts, quiches and pastries, and the coffee is simply the best around. Two levels of seating area, it’s super casual and kitchy.
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps if you’re in Utah and looking for a worthwhile dining experience.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of these establishments and gain nothing monetarily from this post. Photos shown are stock photos available on the internet.
M Maloney says
Excellent article! We were out that way a few years ago on vacation, excellent food ….I have always loved Utah…keep up the good work!