Salt Lake City is most famous for mountains and Mormons, but Utah’s state capital is slowly gaining culinary momentum. Here are my 9 Top Tastes of Salt Lake City Food + Drink based on a visit from May 17 – 19, 2013.
Establishments appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Banbury Cross Donuts: This Salt Lake City institution packs a rocking horse logo, peaked roof, and racks upon racks of donuts, 97 cents apiece. Strawberry and chocolate glazed, raised beauties join “regular” raised and heartier old fashioned donuts. They also have rosettes, butterflies and pinwheels, all glazed with cinnamon.
2. Copper Onion: Chef-owner Ryan Lowder built adjacent restaurants: pan-Asian Plum Alley and this seasonal comfort food emporium. Copper Onion has a covered patio at base of an office tower, a dining room with copper ceiling, and a communal table with a black and white photo of Fergus Henderson at the head. They make pasta in-house, cure their own beef for Reubens, and feature market fresh vegetables. I’d recommend ordering a trio of Sides ($11), which during my visit, included blistered shishito peppers (some spicy) dressed with olive oil and flakes of Maldon sea salt; spring peas with green garlic sofrito; and roasted carrots folded with crushed green olives and a fluffy house-made cross between ricotta and feta.
3. Epic Brewing: Co-founders David Cole and Peter Erickson recruited head brewer Kevin Crompton to help them produce strong handcrafted ales and lagers south of downtown Salt Lake City. Due to Utah regulations, Epic can’t pour anything above 3.2% ABV on tap, but they do sell fridges full of 750s and bombers…which you can’t legally drink on-site. Confused yet? Me too. Since Epic carries a restaurant license, you have to order an entree to access beer in the tapless taproom. Not a problem considering one of those options involves an Artisan Meat Board featuring Creminelli meats. Bonus: tasters cost only $0.40 to $1 apiece. I enjoyed Imperial IPA with lingering bitterness and Brown Rice Ale brewed with barley and brown rice, but my favorite sips were of Brainless IPA, a balanced Belgian style IPA.
4. Les Madeleines: [CLOSED] Proprietor Romina Rasmussen charges $5.50 for a Brittany inspired baked good she calls the Kouing Aman (better known as Kouign Amann) ($5.50) in the flats of Salt Lake City, and justifies the price tag by delivering a thin, crisp coating, and flaky, pull apart layers of concentric pastry that clearly contain butter, but don’t come off as too rich or sweet.