Steakhouses: a perfect match with Salt Lake City's outdoor playground
By Christine Balaz
Salt Lake City Local Expert
After a full day of powder skiing or cross-country mountain biking in Salt Lake City's Wasatch Mountains, you'll find yourself unable to ignore your rumblingly empty stomach. And while such an outdoor adventure will cleanse and refresh you, it will also render you helplessly hungry. When it comes time to make dinner reservations, you'll sometimes find that the only thing capable of quenching your ravenous appetite, is a massive cut of perfectly cooked, USDA Prime beef... and possibly a side of king crab legs.
Salt Lake City has been generously endowed with an enormous amount of steakhouses. Though this collection stretches across the entirety of Salt Lake Valley, it is in the downtown district where you'll find the highest concentration of these restaurants. And it turns out that most of the city's steakhouses happen to fall into the top end of the quality – and price – spectrum.
For many, the concept of “steakhouse” is synonymous with “surf 'n' turf.” And even though Salt Lake City is indeed landlocked, it nevertheless has a major port of its own – the Salt Lake International Airport. Given the size and vivacity of Salt Lake's high-end restaurant industry, this airport finds itself quite busy importing fresh seafood daily. So if you find yourself dining at one of Salt Lake's top eateries, your seafood dinner will contain nothing less than market-fresh fish.
In addition to this fleet of top-end, new-American steak and seafood restaurants, you will also find a few establishments that dare to differ. For example, Rodizio Grill, serves in Brazilian cuisine with South American gusto. And Ruby River takes the formality (and a good chunk of the expense) out of top-end steakhouse dining.
No matter what your desire, you're certain to find a restaurant on this list to match your carnivorous needs.
Market Street Grill
Nestled into the historic 1906 New York Hotel (alongside its sister restaurant, the New Yorker), the Market Street Grill has long been considered one of Salt Lake's best restaurants, particularly in the seafood and meat department. Offering top-end food in a fun, bright, and classic � yet reasonably casual � dining room, the Grill serves three meals day, seven days a week. The Market Street Grill serves one of Salt Lake City's best brunches. If you're interested, you needn't be an early riser; come by for this special menu, offered 9am � 3pm on Sundays. The Grill stands within casual walking distance of Salt Lake's major downtown sports and cultural venues. If you prefer not to walk the entire distance, you can ride TRAX � Salt Lake's light rail public transportation. Conveniently, the Market Street Grill sits within TRAX's fare-free, downtown zone. Finally, if those options are not enough, Market Street Grill offers free shuttles to and from select arts and sporting events. (801-322-4668)
Salt Lake City has fine, American steakhouses aplenty. But Brazilian steakhouses? Just one. Though it specializes in meats just like its North American peers, this "churrascaria" features a totally different flavor spectrum and style of delivery. Instead of open-handed service and wine pairing, the staff at Rodizio are masters of table-side carving with flair. Rather than USDA-such-and-such prime beef, you'll find yourself sampling wood-grilled buffalo roast, Cajun alligator sausage, wild boar, jalapeno rattlesnake, glazed bananas, polenta sticks... and of course beef , chicken, lamb, and pork. Meals are priced according to the all-you-can-eat method; you decide whether you want meat or not, and then eat as much as you possibly can. (801-220-0500)
Founded in Clarksville, Indiana, the Texas Roadhouse brings southern cooking to Utah. In business since 1993, what was once a single restaurant, has grown into a major national chain with dozens and dozens of branches across the country. However, quality must not always be compromised in the name of quality. The Texas Roadhouse still insists on baking its own bread and making its sides from scratch. The main draw at the Texas Roadhouse, though, is its meats. Whether you're looking for steaks, ribs — or just a plain burger, you'll find more than you could ask for here. And because Texas Roadhouse keeps its dining room and service casual, you can expect a relaxing experience and a less severe price tag than you would incur in downtown Salt Lake City. (801-572-7718)
Spencer's for Steaks and Chops
Located in Hilton Salt Lake City Center, Spencer's for Steaks and Chops is one of Salt Lake City's finer steakhouses, serving USDA Prime Black Angus Beef. Offering signature bone-in Ribeyes, NY strips, and filet mignons all cooked over their 1600-degree broiler, Spencer's is a master of excellent meats. Additionally, Spencer's serves some of Salt Lake City's best and freshest seafood — flown in daily via Salt Lake International Airport. If you prefer fish to beef, try the wild-caught salmon, cold-water Australian lobster tail, or sashimi-grade Ahi. Spencer's wine list includes more than 400 selections, earning it copious recognition from Wine Spectator. (801-238-4748)
Carvers Steaks & Chops
Salt Lake City has a reputation among Utahans and national food critics alike as having a dense concentration of excellent downtown restaurants. But these high-end, reputable establishments dwindle dramatically the farther south you drive in Salt Lake Valley. However, a few south-side, fine-dining establishments stand strong. Carvers Steaks & Seafood is one of these beacons of upper-crust dining in Sandy. Winning the OpenTable "Dining Award" and 2011 "Summit Award" for Best Restaurant in Sandy, Carver's offers a menu with multiple pages of new-American-style seafood and beef dishes. Guests may pay a extra to specify their steak's cooking method and accompaniment, be it a cajun spice rub, chili oil, and sweet & spicy pepper relish or a side of crab meat, asparagus and béarnaise sauce. (801-572-5177)
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Situated in the Gateway Center, Salt Lake City's most attractive, outdoor shopping center, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is a stylish and elegant steakhouse, nationally recognized for their USDA Prime Beef, excellent steakhouse cuisine, and a superb wine list. Offering a unique wine list that includes something called "Fleming's 100," this restaurant has an incredible 100 wines for sale by the glass; no wonder it has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2008-2011 and Award of Unique Distinction 2009. Though the Salt Lake City Fleming's is one of a few dozen scattered around the nation, you'll find that the ambiance and service here vastly surpass that of a standard chain establishment. (8013553704)
Christopher's Prime Steak House & Grill
Winner of Utah's Best of State "Best Steakhouse" and Zagat-rated "Excellent," Christopher's Prime Steakhouse & Grill offers some of the best steaks in Salt Lake City. Situated on prime real estate in the Salt Lake downtown restaurant and culture district, Christopher's has been locally owned and operated since 1995. Whether you order their steaks or seafood, you're sure to get the best. Using 21-day, dry-aged USDA corn-fed beef and seafood flown in fresh daily through the Salt Lake International Airport, Christopher's incorporates the finest possible ingredients in their meals. If your trip happens to center around the southern portion of Salt Lake Valley, consider swinging by Christopher's Steakhouse & Grill in Draper. (801-519-8515)
Ruth's Chris Steak House - Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City's installment of Ruth's Chris, a nationally-famous USDA Prime steakhouse, changed ownership and was relocated to its current West Temple home in 2009. Co-owned by Chris Watkins and Mark Robbins, this restaurant's leadership has multiple decades of Salt Lake Valley restaurant experience and diehard loyalty — among customers and staff alike. And the newest version of Ruth's Chris is as appealing visually as it is gastronomically. Ruth's Chris is an immaculately professional establishment, providing the highest excellence in both food and service. Steaks are cooked at a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and glazed in butter, sizzling all the way to your spot at the table. And all steaks are cooked exactly as ordered. Which is fitting, as any food this delicious (and pricey) would insinuate bad vibes if delivered to you in any state other than perfect. (8013632000)
Ruby River is almost exclusively a Utah steakhouse phenomenon, with four outposts in the Beehive State, and one in Nevada. Perhaps because of its Utah roots, Ruby River offers much more of a laid-back atmosphere than many of Salt Lake City's hoity-toity, downtown steakhouses. Here, guests enjoy a relaxing combination of excellent food and a casual ambiance. Though you'll feel completely comfortable wearing blue jeans, you'll nevertheless be eating USDA grain-fed, 21-day dry-aged, American cuts cooked over a 1600-degree broiler. If a massive beef slab isn't your bag, consider their alternative options. These include fish, chicken, pork, and smaller portions of beef. All entrees come with a choice of two sides. ((801) 359-3355)
The New Yorker
Located on Market Street — and therefore in the heart of Salt Lake City's favorite culinary district — the New Yorker Restaurant has been a Salt Lake City institution since 1978. Occupying the historic 1906 New York Hotel, this restaurant specializes in high-end, classic American and Continental surf and turf. Whereas many restaurants change menus with every season and trend, The New Yorker takes pride in refining the reliable classics. The menu offers an generous and diverse selection, spread across the genres of soup, salad, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and dessert. Though many people think of the New Yorker as Salt Lake City's best place for seafood, this restaurant should rightly be acknowledged for its excellent preparation of certified Angus Beef steaks, lamb, chicken, and even pheasant. (801-363-0166)
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.