In Salt Lake City, the dining out options have come a long way in the past 20 years. This is truly a cosmopolitan city with an impressive lineup of restaurants with many varying cuisines, and chefs with equally impressive resumés in the kitchen. Hot new culinary wizards are flocking to this great desert mountain city for many reasons. We here in the Wasatch Front can benefit, especially at lunchtime, when meals are less expensive and popular places a little less crowded than the dinner hour. Salt Lake City's restaurants vary from old world pubs, to established popular dives, to elegant upscale, to trendy modern. There is definitely something for everyone in the way of food and price ranges.
There are the popular award-winning established joints such as Tony Caputo's, now with 5 locations, offering top-quality, imported Italian foods. At lunch, you can sample the best of deli fresh meats, cheeses, and sauces, combined into delicious sandwiches, and made with home-baked bread and fresh veggies. Each has its own market, selling upscale food items and gifts.
Blue Lemon, with locations in Arizona and Utah, advertises "pure clean food with a twist." Their fast casual, yet sleek atmosphere is brought up another notch with gourmet plating. Plus, the food is wonderful.
Whatever part of the city you're in, there is a great lunch bite nearby. Check out the following list for a variety of wonderful choices.
Situtated just far enough from downtown that parking is not a situation and the neighborhood feels relaxed, Caffe Niche is the perfect place to come for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Caffe Niche has a trendy vibe and an outdoor patio too.
Incorporating local ingredients when possible, breakfast at Caffe Niche offers scrumptious breakfast sandwiches with hollandaise sauce, superfood oatmeal with local honey, blueberries and organic coconut flakes and the daily vegetarian quiche, to name a few.
Lunch consists of Small Plates, Salads and Sandwiches. Temptations such as Deviled Local Eggs, Thai Butternut Squash Soup for starters, a Warm Quinoa or Spinach and Chicken Salad, and the Cubenesque or Local Utah Elk Chimi Burger will have you coming back.
The dinner menu also consists of Small Plates, Salads and a variety of wonderful entrees such as the Featured Fish, Morgan Valley Lamb or the Organic Half Chicken roasted in a gremolata marinade. Desserts and dessert wines are offered, as is a full bar, wines and some popular local beers.
Winner of numerous awards, come check out the uniqueness of Caffe Niche. (801.433.3380)
Cafe Trio, located on the northern periphery of Salt Lake's 9th & 9th neighborhood, is one of Salt Lake City's most consistently busy restaurants. Serving a contemporary and fresh version of Italian cuisine in a bright and stylish dining room, Trio offers simply elegant foods crafted with wholesome ingredients.
All food is offered a la carte, and is categorized as starters, sides, pizzas, pasta, and entrees.
During lunch or dinner, guests have the flexibility to order exactly the size of meal they desire. If you're feeling hungry, take a side, pasta, and entree. If not, order a salad, and follow it with a soup or pizza. Not only does Trio's simplistic, item-by-item menu allow you to adjust your meal size to your appetite, but it also allows you to respect your budget. (801-533-8746)
Eggs in the City
Located a little north of the popular Sugarhouse neighborhood, and across the street from the popular Jolley's Pharmacy and Gifts, Eggs in the City offers great food, a hip vibe and easy parking.
Breakfast items are served all day, the Biscuits and Gravy being a popular Specialty. Offerings such as 3-egg omelets, getting "Eggs-Actly What You Want (choose your ingredients)," several Benedict (Benny) choices, South of the Border items, Pancakes and Skillet Dishes, to name a few. Sandwiches, Wraps, Phillys, Burgers, Soups and Kids choices round out the Lunch Menu.
For the sweet tooth, go for the Brûlée, Parisian crepes or Swiss Cafe Cheese Blintz. Try not to come at the busiest hour, as it can sometimes be a little tough to get a table at this popular spot. (801-581-0809)
Named after a lucky card in a popular Italian game, and with locations in California, Nevada and Utah, Setebello Napolitano Pizzeria speaks to the customer who loves authentic Italian pizza. Ingredients are imported from Italy, such as the flour for the soft dough, which comes from Napoli itself. The blackened char spots on the crust result from only 1 minute's time spent in the super hot wood burning oven, which was custom built, with bricks made from volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvias even.
Offering pizzas from the most basic, the Marinara and Marguerita, to the ingredient loaded Capriccioso and Setebello, prepare to have no problem finishing off these 12 inch delights. Antipasti such as salads, focaccia and the Misto, a sampling of meats, vegetables and cheese are offered.
Just a block from the Salt Palace Convention Center, a mix of clientele can be found here, patio available. (801-322-3556)
Open 11AM til 10PM weekdays and 12AM on the weekends, Spitz is a very popular downtown spot with those in the know. The food is simply amazing. Known for their Döner Kebabs (pronounced du-ner), they have hit upon a winner of a cafe with this cooking technique. It is not skewered meat, as in shish kebab, it is rotating meat, which is shaved off, after juices have dripped down and caramelized (are you hungry yet?) and put into wraps, salads and sandwiches with house made sauces, toppings and sides. It is definitely a heavenly mouthful. The most popular, the Street Cart Döner, comes with garlic aioli and fried lavash chips.
Choices of meat are offered for all the wraps too, like beef and lamb or chicken.
Try a Craft Beer or Sangria at the bar and catch the game on TV. For fun, UNO cards are supplied at each table. (801-364-0286)
Pig & A Jelly Jar
Located in the revamped Liberty Park area, with a new location opening soon in Ogden, the Pig is no longer a well kept secret. Winning "Best Comfort Food" at Salt Lake Magazine's Dining Awards, this little restaurant is a delicious gem. Thanks to the past year's success, it is now open more hours, 7 days a week. Everything is made from scratch with the freshest ingredients and it tastes like it - delish! The breakfast menu is available all day. Sandwiches and Such are served with hand-cut fries, potato salad or house baked beans. Try the buffalo chicken slider or fish 'n chips. Salads, like the 3 bean salad, curried chicken salad and slaw salad are generous and appealing.
Bar Bites, such as fried dill pickles, ham hash and cider braised greens will fulfill the snack craving. Save room for the beignets or pig berry shortcake for dessert. (385-202-7366)
The aptly named Oasis Cafe is a hidden retreat in the heart of Salt Lake City. Located beside the Golden Braid Bookstore, this restaurant offers not only a treat for the food seeker's taste buds, but also a quiet place in which to relax. Serving handcrafted foods featuring the finest, freshest ingredients possible, the Oasis Cafe offers creative, locally-inspired cuisine designed to be as refreshing and delicious as it is nutritious. Believing in the Local First mentality, the Oasis Cafe utilizes Utah-made ingredients whenever possible. Though the Oasis Cafe has a very favorable reputation among Salt Lake City's vegetarians, this restaurant also proudly serves many meat dishes.
For lunch, interesting choices of tasting plates, wraps, sandwiches and burgers are available, as are salads, daily soup specials and entrees such as the gilled salmon with honey lavender polenta cake and arugula. (801-322-0404)
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
Tony Caputo's offers deli-style Italian cuisine in a prime downtown location. Creating incredible sandwiches made-to-order, and sitting in the center of Salt Lake's business and conference district, this restaurant is likely the most popular of all Salt Lake's lunch eateries.
Tony Caputo's sells sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes, and salads. The main draw, the sandwich, is created with homemade bread, gourmet and imported meats and cheeses, delicious sauces, and fresh vegetables. The soups, pasta dishes, salads, and various daily specials can be taken in combination with sandwiches as a side dish, or as a self-standing meal.
If you enjoyed your lunch, pick up any of their food products - like olives, honey, coffee, and meats - to take home with you. (801-531-8669, 801-519-5754)
Blue Lemon brings their "pure clean food with a twist" to five locations in Utah and one in Arizona. Place your order at the counter and your food is brought to the table. So the service is fast and efficient, without the fast food feel. The decor is sleek and modern, down to the contemporary design of the drink dispenser. Meals arrive with a gourmet presentation. Floor to ceiling glass windows provide tons of natural light, to go with the fresh natural ingredients, most from local suppliers.
Open 7AM til 9PM and til 10PM on the weekends, Blue Lemon also serves great breakfast items, like omelets, crepes and pancakes. Lunch items include fresh salads like the Shrimp Cusabi and the Smoked Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella, both new on the menu.
Artisan sandwiches appeal to all taste buds and appetites, from the Toasted Turkey Pastrami to the Black and Blue Burger and Chipotle BBQ Brisket. Gourmet entrees include pasta, seafood and beef with tempting choices like Coconut Chicken Curry, Fresh Black Bean Ravioli and Blue Lemon Steak Griller. Gourmet Tacos, as well as a variety of Starters and Flatbreads are offered, as well as a variety of sides that can be added to any meal, from soups, salads, sweet potato fries to apple and toffee dip. (801-944-7787)
About Jennifer Boren
A native of Oklahoma, by way of New Mexico and now Utah, Jennifer Boren makes her home in Salt Lake City. A total lover of Park City, she spends many weekends there, especially in the summer for all the outdoor activities. A thrill this past summer was seeing the cyclists in the Tour of Utah cross the finish line right on the historic Main Street.
A former professional ballet dancer, she now teaches at the University of Utah and another local studio and enjoys seeing Ballet West performances. Her son is also a professional dancer.
Read more about Jennifer Boren here.
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