Salt Lake City's best places for casual dining and great coffee

In the Rocky Mountain West, it can be challenging to find a true cafe - a place to savor a delicious cup of coffee and a pastry, or grab a fresh sandwich with a group of friends. It seems that most establishments have taken either the pure “coffee house” route, serving only brewed drinks and overpriced cookies – or have gone the way of the “greasy spoon diner,” offering weak coffee and fried foods only.

However when you're in Salt Lake City, you're in luck. Many restaurants scattered throughout the valley have managed to nail the perfect attributes requisite of a cafe: a variety of tasty food, “real” coffee, and a casual environment. Still, there is quite a spectrum of these establishments: those quite resemble coffee shops, and others that seem more like diners. But at any of these top eateries, you'll be able to get a great cup of coffee and a satisfying meal - or dessert.

If you're leaning more toward the coffee house end of the spectrum, consider checking out Salt Lake Roasting Company or Alchemy Coffee. Both of these offer lengthy menus and welcoming environments in which to work, chat, or simply relax.

If you have more of a breakfast (or lunch) hankering - say for waffles or eggs Benedict – then head up Millcreek Canyon to Ruth's Diner or stay downtown and check out Lamb's Grill Cafe.

And if you have a hankering for a downright cafe, then head to Millcreek Cafe & Eggworks, the Red Butte Cafe, or Le Petit Cafe.

Ruth's Diner
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Located in a renovated 1930s trolley car parked right in the heart of Emigration Canyon, Ruth's Diner serves all your favorite American and southwest breakfast dishes, from sausage and pancakes to huevos rancheros. The popular eatery has gained...  Read More

Alchemy Coffee

Alchemy Coffee sits west of Sugarhouse, in a low-key, residential neighborhood called Liberty Heights. Standing among a cluster of other businesses (such as tattoo parlors and artist galleries), Alchemy has become a neighborhood staple and...  Read More

Mediterranean Market and Deli
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

No doubt about it - if you're on the go at lunchtime and don't really have time to sit and eat, then this deli should be a "must." The place offers some of the area's best lunch specials, including delicious Italian and Greek-influenced salads...  Read More

Lamb's Grill Cafe
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Though the name probably has you thinking "lamb chops" and "Shepard's pie," Lamb's Grill Cafe is actually one of Salt Lake City's best, most classic breakfast eateries! Opened in 1919 and reputed to be Salt Lake City's oldest restaurant, Lamb's...  Read More

This extremely popular eatery is a great place to stop for a tasty breakfast and a hot cup of coffee. Located on the lobby level of the Judge Building, the cafe has a relaxed, old-school ambiance and a bustling dining room. Go for one of the...  Read More

Le Petit Cafe

Tucked into the lobby of the Little America Hotel, this would be an easy one for anyone but the hotel guests to miss. However, this is a great little spot for a midmorning or afternoon refresher. Beverages are the menu item of choice, with...  Read More

This two-story cafe is one of Salt Lake City's longest-running, most classic cafes. Serving delicious, roasted coffees (ranging from lattes to dark espressos) throughout the day, alongside a fairly extensive food menu, this is a go-to favorite...  Read More

Millcreek Cafe & Eggworks

Millcreek Cafe & Eggworks sits quite near the mouth of Millcreek Canyon - a location central to both those staying in Downtown for business, and those visiting Big and Little Cottonwood canyons on a ski vacation. This restaurant has created...  Read More

Red Butte Café

Located in Salt Lake City's east side, the Red Butte Cafe offers its guests a special chance to enjoy high-end, casual eating. Combing a laid-back atmosphere with top-notch foods, Red Butte Cafe has invented an eclectic/ Southwestern menu...  Read More

Park Café

Boasting a wonderful view of the Liberty Park pond, this casual eatery offers up diverse lunch and dinner menus that feature everything from quesadillas and Thai chicken to Greek salads and an always-reliable "Quiche of the Day." However...  Read More


Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine
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