A light-and-fast way to sample Salt Lake's best cuisine
By Christine Balaz
Salt Lake City Local Expert
Lunch can be one of the trickiest meals to nail. Though you would like it to be tasty and nutritious, it should first and foremost be fast and affordable. But it can be quite challenging to find a restaurant that doesn't sacrifice quality in the name of speed and price.
However, Salt Lake City contains a number of restaurants that have perfected this midday mealtime within their own respective cuisine. Tony Caputo's, for example, offers top-quality, imported Italian foods. At lunch, you can sample the best of these meats, cheeses, and sauces, combined into delicious sandwiches, and made with home-baked bread and fresh veggies. Siegfried's Delicatessen, in business since the 1970's, provides the best of Germany's traditional dishes. If you're comfortable committing Indian cuisine, head to the Himalayan Kitchen for their incredibly delicious, copious, and affordable buffet.
Lunchtime also provides a great opportunity to sample some of Salt Lake City's most popular –and oft-overcrowded restaurants. The Red Iguana, which is usually quite mobbed during dinner hours, can be relatively clear of crowds during the middle of the day.
Perhaps you're out and about during the weekend, or have friends in town. If you have time to enjoy a beer, stop in at Red Rock Brewing Company or Squatters Pub Brewery. Both located downtown, these fun, modern brewpubs offer a huge selection of food, as well as their own beers, and clean, upscale dining rooms.
No matter what your lunch needs – whether you require speedy service or uninterrupted relaxation – there is at least one restaurant in Salt Lake City that will meet your demands.
10 Siegfried's Delicatessen
Lunch provides the perfect opportunity to sample new cuisines. A relatively fast and small meal, it gives you the chance to try something different without committing to an expensive, multi-course dinner in a totally unfamiliar flavor spectrum. And while Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Mexican foods have become immensely popular in the Utah and across the nation, it's not often that you'll find a German restaurant in Salt Lake City. Siegfried's has been open since the 1970s, providing high-quality, artisan German foods in a downtown location. Located quite near the Captiol Theater, this restaurant gives you the opportunity to enjoy a sit-down meal, sip on a coffee, or grab a bite to go. Beyond bratwurst, this offers all kinds of traditional German entrees, sandwiches, sausages, and desserts. Whether German food is new or totally familiar to you, this top-notch, local favorite will allow you to enjoy this underrepresented cuisine. (801-355-3891)
9 Red Rock Brewing Company
Lunch is all about flexibility. Business persons require fast service. Solo travelers might enjoy catching a basketball game at the bar, and eating a plate of nachos. Old friends might want to relax for a few hours over a beer. And those on a casual first date would appreciate quiet conversation and easy-to-eat food. Red Rock Brewing Company offers any and all of that. Whether you're looking for a long, relaxed, multi-course meal, a drink at the bar, or a 20-minute sandwich, you'll find what your looking for. Red Rock Brewing Company has a lengthy and varied menu, as well as a bright and open dining room, subtly divided into multiple sections. (801-521-7446)
8 Red Iguana
The Red Iguana has been in operation since 1985. One of Salt Lake City's most popular restaurants, The Red Iguana draws queues of waiting customers � stretching as much as half a city block from their door � during peak dinner times. Given the restaurant's authentic cuisine, imported straight from Mexico, the wait is definitely worth it. However, if you eat at the Red Iguana during lunch time, you can enjoy the same incredible food, and often avoid the queue entirely. The Red Iguana is most famous for its seven unique Oaxacan moles, prepared from scratch. In addition to these, the kitchen cooks up excellent renditions of classic dishes like burritos, tacos, steaks, enmoladas, and carnitas. Whether you order a beef burrito or the Red Pipian Mole, your meal will shatter your expectations. (801-322-1489)
7 Café Trio
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)
6 Barbacoa Mexican Grill
Located in Salt Lake's fun and hip 9th & 9th neighborhood, Barbacoa serves a fast and nutritious version of Mexican food. Rather than sit-down service and cheese-smothered burritos, this Mexican grill offers fresh wraps, made-to-order at the counter. Customers have their choice among meats like Barbacoa pork, grilled steak, and chicken. They can then select their type of beans, sauces, and vegetables. If you're not in the mood for a wrap, order a salad instead or possibly a burrito bowl, taco, or soup. All meals at Barbacoa are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients — and are of rather large proportions. Come hungry, or plan to save half of your burrito. (801-524-0853)
5 Squatters Pub Brewery
Squatters is one of Salt Lake City's most flexible and accommodating restaurants - appropriately rendering it one of the city's most popular eateries and watering holes. Offering a lengthy brewpub menu that contains burgers, sandwiches, and pizza alongside green curry, salads, pasta, edamame, and carnitas, Squatters kitchen doles out one of the most diverse cuisines in town. Given this range of grub, its west-Downtown location, and modern, brewpub atmosphere, Squatters provides a perfect setting for lunch. Whether you're grabbing a quick, solo bite, or want to sit down for an hour with coworkers, you'll find that Squatters can accommodate your needs. (801-363-2739)
4 Curry in a Hurry
Situated on State Street and immediately north of I-80, Curry in a Hurry provides tasty, filling curries designed for quick takeaway. Offering a handful of meat and vegetarian dishes daily, Curry in a Hurry allows you to pick and choose as you desire. Take a combination plate or a single curry. Both options come with a side of naan and rice. Curry in a Hurry is primarily a takeaway establishment; however there is a very small dining area for those who wish to eat on the spot. The restaurant serves no alcohol; however, a number of soft drinks and juices are available. Though this won't be the most richly flavored curry you've ever tasted in your life, it is nevertheless a satisfying, savory, affordable, and incredibly speedy way to enjoy lunch or dinner. (801-467-4147)
3 Soup Kitchen
Perhaps the most classic lunch meal of all time is the "soup and sandwich" partnership. And while many restaurants offer one or two choices in this category, the Soup Kitchen offers eight soups on any given day, as well as 15 deli sandwiches, combinations thereof, and weekly specials. Additionally, the restaurant's grill produces a variety of hot sandwiches, burgers, fries, deserts, and drinks. Given its central Sugarhouse location, this restaurant is both a popular choice among the business persons and the shoppers of that area. Whether you want to dine on the premises, or order a quart of soup to take back to your coworkers in the office, you'll find what you're looking for here — vegetarian or not. (801-467-0908 )
2 Himalayan Kitchen
Given the immense popularity and customer loyalty of the Himalayan Kitchen, it is astounding that the restaurant has only been in business since 2005. Located in central downtown, the Himalayan Kitchen serves savory, traditional Nepali and Indian cuisine made from scratch daily. Though dinners here always draw a crowd, this restaurant is one of Salt Lake's best lunch locations. Serving an incredible buffet 11:30—2:30 Monday—Saturday, the Himalayan Kitchen provides you the chance to sample a generous selection of dishes for one low price. For those working downtown, this couldn't be more convenient. This restaurant has won countless awards in local and state competitions, as well as national recognition from The New York Times. (801-328-2077)
1 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)
About 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 travel books, iPhone apps, and never-ending web content. As a rock climber, outdoors enthusiast and insatiable explorer, Christine has journeyed through nearly every corner of Utah, and has spent aggregate years overseas, from Turkey to Jordan, Sweden to Spain.
Read more about Christine Balaz here.