The state of Utah is an often overlooked gem in the American Southwest. Boasting five national parks and countless opportunities for world-class skiing, Utah’s access to adventure is unparalleled. Add to that a burgeoning restaurant scene, and we may have just found one of the most exciting travel destinations in the world. Having narrowed down a list of dozens of excellent establishments, we highlight the top ten restaurants in The Beehive State.
Forage could play ball with fine-dining restaurants in any bigger city. The upscale eatery took the Salt Lake dining scene by storm just a few short years ago, with its creativity and innovation – unmatched in the area. Forage offers a prix-fixe menu that changes often, utilizing ingredients at the peak of freshness. The chefs are dedicated to connecting people with their food, by buying as much from local farmers and purveyors as possible. The head chef has been known to forage (literally) the bounteous Wasatch Mountains for wild herbs, leaves, and flowers that he uses in his dishes. Reservations are highly recommended.
Takashi brings world-class sushi and Japanese cuisine to Salt Lake City. Though Utah is entirely landlocked, the chefs manage to serve only the highest-quality seafood. The menu is extensive, offering a variety of options like traditional maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. Takashi also offers several cooked entrees, to accommodate diners who may be squeamish about consuming raw fish. Fan favorites include the shiitake lamb shank in yellow curry, the wok-tossed asparagus with glass noodles, and the lightly fried vegetable tempura. One of the most popular sushi rolls is the Strawberry Fields, consisting of escolar, strawberry, and chili peppers, with toasted almonds and eel sauce.
Riverhorse on Main has become a well-respected mainstay in the Park City dining scene. In the last two decades, Riverhorse has received numerous prestigious accolades, both locally and nationally. The restaurant blends the friendliness of Park City’s small-town main street, with a decidedly urban, swanky feel. High-quality steaks and fresh fish dishes are a highlight on the menu, with local game like buffalo, venison, and elk also appearing as popular dishes. The restaurant is open daily for dinner and also for a delightful Sunday brunch. Riverhorse graciously offers to accommodate food allergies and dietary needs, making this a destination for any diner to enjoy.
A relative new-comer to Salt Lake’s downtown restaurant scene, Valter’s Osteria is full of Italian charm. The owner, and restaurant’s namesake, is familiar to local diners, having worked in other fine restaurants nearby. He modeled Valter’s as a place to welcome guests to his Tuscan heritage, service, and cuisine, and often personally visits each table. The result is an experience that is warm and memorable. The menu offers both Tuscan classics and updated traditional fare. Pastas and gnocchi are made in-house, and meats and seafood are selected and prepared perfectly.
Since opening in 2010, Copper Onion’s popularity has exploded. Locals flock to this contemporary American locale, making the atmosphere lively and always upbeat. The menu is intentionally small, seasonally driven and expertly crafted. The Copper Onion’s interior is chic and open, with uncomplicated decor and neutral, soothing tones. An outdoor patio provides an ideal place to people-watch in the summer months. The menu offers small plates of vegetables, fine meats, and cheeses, designed to be shared. Favorites include ricotta dumplings, with thyme, lemon, and sage, and Wagyu beef stroganoff, on a bed of house-made pappardelle pasta.
Embracing the influences of the southwest, Painted Pony upgrades local flavors and styles with sophistication. The restaurant is located in the St. George, the southernmost city in Utah, in an area that is characterized by red sandstone canyons, and a stunning desert landscape. The decor of Painted Pony perfectly marries contemporary, clean lines with rugged warmth. Dishes like sage-smoked quail and pork chops brined with juniper berries showcase the unique flavors that are available in the region. Painted Pony’s upscale atmosphere, impeccable food, and extensive wine list make this a must-stop destination in Southern Utah.
Hell’s Backbone Grill is definitely off the beaten path, but it is nonetheless worth the trip. The restaurant’s location right in the middle of sprawling national parks and rustic wilderness is part of the overall charm. Hell’s Backbone grill serves organic food from local sources, often taking fresh produce straight from its six-acre farm, with two gardens on sight. The restaurant is committed to sustainability on many levels, and proudly supports a number of non-profit organizations. When it comes right down to it, the excellent food is really what puts Hell’s Backbone on the map. For breakfast, try the blue corn pancakes, and for dinner, don’t miss the steelhead trout with tarragon butter.
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Nestled in the verdant, picturesque Millcreek Canyon, Log Haven serves American fare in a setting that exudes romance. The estate was originally built as a vacation home in the 1920s and has changed hands – and been added to -several times since. The result is a restaurant that feels effortlessly homey, with an ideal ambiance for any special occasion. Log Haven’s dining room has sweeping views of the Wasatch National Forest and the outdoor lawn has become a local favorite for summer weddings. Open only for dinner, the menu offers classics like steak, salmon and duck, with surprising dishes like grilled bison steak, and elk carpaccio. For an excellent meal set in the heart of some of Utah’s most beautiful mountains, Log Haven is not to be missed.
In a town that isn’t otherwise known for creativity or going against the grain, Communal has certainly made its mark. The restaurant is located in Provo, just 45 minutes south of Utah’s capital. Communal touts a fresh-from-the-farm menu, with plenty of creativity and flair. Developing a sense of community is of the utmost importance, and the restaurant works hard to build relationships with local purveyors and with their customers. An immense amount of thought and soul goes into crafting memorable dishes and experiences at Communal. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and Saturday brunch, and is just as welcoming and unpretentious as it can be.
Another long-standing establishment in Utah’s restaurant scene is the Tree Room. Situated amid majestic mountains at the base of Sundance ski resort, the Tree Room is the epitome of rustic beauty. The restaurant is like an upscale log cabin, with cozy fireplaces, live trees growing up through the floorboards, and Native American blankets and art adorning the walls. Priding itself on sustainable, organic, and local fare, the menu serves updated American dishes, with a distinctively western vibe. Trout amandine is served with pickled turnip and haricot verts, and the beet salad features a burnt rosemary panna cotta. The Tree Room truly is a unique and delicious Utah experience.