10 Best explores Salt Lake City's most delicious Mediterranean dishes - gourmet and casual alike.
By Christine Balaz
Salt Lake City Local Expert
Fortunately for the citizens and visitors of Salt Lake City, Utah’s fair capitol city is graced with rich abundance of delicious, soul-warming Mediterranean cuisine. Representing the broad range of cultures encircling the Mare Nostrum, SLC’s Mediterranean restaurants serve dishes hailing from Spain to Lebanon, and include favorites from Italy, Greece, Morocco, Turkey and all the delicacies born of the lands in between.
Within the broad reaches of Salt Lake City, dozens of such eateries can be found, ranging from formal, modern establishments to inexpensive, casual joints. Those looking for a gourmet meal in an elegant setting should visit Martine Café. Utilizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients, this downtown restaurant serves fine meals in a European bistro setting. If you’re looking for an intimate date night or a cozy eatery in which to share small plates with friends, visit Eva, another downtown restaurant.
Those looking for a quick, yet healthy and flavorful lunch should consider a trip to the Mediterranean Market and Deli, an all-time favorite of Downtown Salt Lake City. Here you can enjoy a prepared meal, or pick up ingredients for your own cheffing. If you happen to find yourself in the Sugarhouse area, take a trip to O’ Falafel Etc. Owned and operated by a Swiss culinary school graduate and two Jerusalem natives, this unassuming restaurant offers surprisingly delicious and healthy food.
10 Roula's Cafe
Located in Downtown Salt Lake City, Roula's Cafe is a family-owned and -operated restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and (very early) dinner. Specializing in Greek-American food, Roula's utilizes fresh ingredients to create their own homemade versions of this tasty cuisine. Roula, who grew up on the island of Crete, knows from first-hand experience how souvlaki should taste. Boldly claiming to have the best souvlaki in town, Roula's also offers daily specials, as well as a lengthy, fixed menu. Roula's is an ideal eatery for those in the mood for a quick and affordable, home-cooked meal. Be sure to leave room for one of Roula's fantastic desserts. ((801) 924-0330)
9 Greek Market
If mealtime rolls around and you're craving Greek specialties, this establishment has a host of dishes to satisfy the need, whether you want to enjoy a meal made in the restaurant, or you feel like crafting your own. Feeling ambitious - like creating your own meal? Shop around and pick up all the ingredients you need for a true feast - Mediterranean-style. If cooking is not on your agenda, then make your way over to the quaint dining area, where you can get just about anything you might want: a Greek salad with fresh-crumbled feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves, gyros, hummus, souvlaki, or kebabs. (801-485-9365)
8 Layla Mediterranean Grill & Mezze
With a name that means "exotic night" or "night beauty," this Mediterranean grill offers its guests not only delicious and fresh, modern Mediterranean food, but also lavishes them with attentive service, as well as a bright and stylish dining room with vintage accents truly reminiscent of this establishment's own cuisine. If it's your first time dining at Layla, consider ordering multiple mezze (small plates) to allow yourself a generous sampling of their kitchen's work. However, if you know exactly what you'd like to have, choose one of their specialty entrees. Those with a smaller appetite can go for a soup or fresh salad. (801-272-9111)
7 Café Med
While this cozy eatery looks austere on the outside, its aromas of grilled kebabs and sautéed vegetables immediately confirm that you're in for a treat upon entering the restaurant. Dishes headlining the lengthy menu hail from Greece, Italy and Turkey, and the oft light and healthy fare makes Café Med an ideal lunch destination. From tabouli and souvlaki to hummus and baba ghanoush, the menu includes all the staples of the region. Folks with lighter appetites appreciate the array of delicious, yet substantial, salads. Don't forget to save room for baklava! Though the dining room is simple and service minimalist, the food is excellent. (801-493-0100)
Located just a stone's throw from the University of Utah, Aristo's Greek restaurant is a nice change of pace from the usual fast-food Greek eateries that surround the area. A rugged, almost clay-like structure, symbolic of the rugged Utah landscape, serves as the backdrop for this diamond in the rough. During summer months, the front patio is filled with visitors taking in the arid breezes while enjoying the tastes of pre-dinner hummus and dakos. Main courses of keftethes or lamb skewers accompanied by a Greek red wine leave no doubt that this is the most authentic Greek food in town. (801-581-0888)
5 O' Falafel Etc.
A family institution since 2008, this Sugarhouse restaurant is owned and operated by Jerusalem natives, Mustafa and Osama Khader. Hailing from a family with rich gastronomic history, Mustafa is a third-generation restaurant owner and a graduate of Swiss culinary school. Having already opened three restaurants - two in Jerusalem and one in Chicago - Mustafa brings his love of healthy Mediterranean foods to Salt Lake City. Offering healthy, fresh and affordably-priced dishes, O' Falafel has been a hit since its very inception. Try the kabob or beef shwarma platter, the delicious and large makhshi, or enjoy falafel as patties or in a sandwich. (801-487-7747)
4 Mediterranean Market and Deli
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 and sandwiches. How does something with fresh-ground Italian sausage or Genoa salami sound? How about homemade Parmigiano-Reggiano or asiago cheese? They do it all here, and for less than seven bucks, you can walk out with a hearty sandwich, a side or two, and a drink. Located south of Downtown, this restaurant is often overlooked by the business crowd, leaving it even more open for those "in the know" to enjoy. (801-266-2011)
3 Cedars of Lebanon
Cedars of Lebanon offers guests an intense and enjoyable experience for all of the senses. From the moment you walk through the door, your nose is filled with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean aromas. From the floors to the ceilings, the restaurant is adorned with traditional décor, bright murals and plants. The menu is packed with savory flavors and rich tastes of Lebanese and Moroccan traditional cuisines. Choices ranging from spiced chicken, beef, or lamb to a wide range of vegetarian selections. Belly dancers perform on Friday and Saturday evenings, offering guests a chance to enjoy a completely atypical evening in Salt Lake City, Utah! (801-364-4096)
2 Martine Cafe
One of downtown's trendier eateries, this cozy yet modern restaurant features a tapas menu that's hugely popular with the dinner crowd and late-night diners alike. Offering "Euro-style dining" and "New World tapas," Martine gives its guests the gastronomical experience of Spain, North Africa and Province. Try their pimiento and garlic marinated quail on porcini marsala jus, halibut cakes with saffron aioli, and the like. For something more substantial, try wonderfully-prepared portions of frog legs, peppered mussels, lamb, and paella. Located in the heart of Downtown Salt Lake City, Martine brings forth the delicious flavors of its food with gourmet, yet simplistic, preparations. (801-363-9328)
Have you ever had a hard time deciding what to order at dinner - because everything on the menu sounded so good? Eva, located in downtown Salt Lake City is the place for you. A self-described "small plates" restaurant, Eva serves pizza, pasta and tapas. A perfect place for small groups, this cozy restaurant makes it 100% acceptable to share plates. The menu contains variety of offerings, grouped as small plates, grilled dishes, pasta & risotto and salads. Choose from spanakopita, flash-fried calamari, lobster ravioli, melon and prosciutto salad, lamb kibbeh and more than three dozen other options. Chef Charlie Perry hand selects wines to pair with the dishes. (801-359-8447)
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.