10 Best recommends that you work up an appetite, and prepare to feast!

When Salt Lake City was founded by the Mormons in 1847, no one would have guessed that just 160 years later it would have grown up to become one of the biggest culinary hotspots in the Rocky Mountains. Yet, today, Salt Lake City indeed offers some of the tastiest food and most acclaimed restaurants in the entire nation. And the best part: most meals in Salt Lake cost a fraction of what they would on the trendy avenues of New York or San Francisco - even if the chefs preparing them indeed hail from those expensive eateries.

When it comes to selecting a restaurant, the first step is choosing a cuisine. In Salt Lake City, you’ll find everything from Italian to Peruvian, sushi to Greek. Once you’ve pinned down your craving, you’ll have to consider your price range - because in Salt Lake City, you can pay as much as $50 - or as little as $10 - for a plate at its top eateries.

You’ll have the option of eating sinfully affordable Oaxacan moles at Red Iguana, or savoring fine surf and turf with the high rollers at Market Street Grill. You can enjoy the fruits of local agriculture at the farm-to-table restaurant, Pago, or you could treat yourself to some of the nation’s best sushi at Takashi.

On a side note: you needn’t worry about the freshness of seafood here. Given Salt Lake City’s pumping restaurant industry and bustling airport, restaurants all around the valley receive fresh shipments of the stuff daily. So dig in!


The Aerie Restaurant at Snowbird
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

This restaurant offers a view as stunning as the wonderful food. The dining experience, along with the mountain sights, is truly special. Rack of lamb, silver dollars of foie gras, and zucchini ravioli are among the specialties. Pair one with a vintage from the wonderful wine list, and the meal is one you'll remember for a long time. In fact, dinners at The Aerie are so memorable that many people drive up from the Salt Lake Valley just to enjoy a meal there. In 2012, the Aerie reopened after an extensive and modernizing remodel - which rendered the restaurant even more attractive and elegant. Reservations recommended; business casual attire.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

If you're looking for farm-fresh, artisan food, Pago is your number-one choice in the Salt Lake City area. Whether you're looking for brunch, lunch or dinner, you can expect a diverse menu filled with tantalizing meat and vegetarian dishes of the New American persuasion. Constantly seeking the finest in locally produced foods, Pago offers an ever-changing menu to match the seasons and their fruits. Located in the heart of the hip 9th and 9th neighborhood, this restaurant occupies a renovated space in an historic building. A highly decorated eatery, Pago has received awards from Best of State, City Weekly Best of Utah, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Siegfried's Delicatessen
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

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.

Chanon Thai Cafe
Photo courtesy of Jennfer Boren

If you're a fan of Thai food, you're in luck whilst visiting Salt Lake City. Chanon Thai may seem like just another hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant; however, within the small confines of this tiny establishment, you'll experience some of the best Thai cuisine in the entire state of Utah. From the moment you walk through the door (and possibly even earlier), distinctive aromas of fresh ingredients and individual spices will foreshadow the delicate and flavorful dishes awaiting inside. Though the entrees may carry the same name as in other Thai restaurants, the excellent sauces and abundance of vegetables and meats in these dishes will outdo any competitor's offerings.

Market Street Grill
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Market Street Grill flies fresh seafood in daily from around the globe. As a result, locals say it's the best seafood restaurant in all of Utah. And visitors flying in from coastal cities will also find themselves unable to scoff at the freshness and high quality of the offerings. Pacific red snapper, lobster, mahi-mahi, and a bounty of clams, mussels and shrimp are available. Have them prepared any way you like. For those not turned on by fabulous seafood, there are pastas, steaks, and a buttery, slow roasted prime rib. Reservations are accepted for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner.

Himalayan Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

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.

Red Iguana
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

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.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

In the past years, Takashi has repeatedly won "best of city" and "best of state" awards from many publications in many categories. Given the intense culinary competition in Salt Lake City, this says a lot. Serving Japanese cuisine with an extremely extensive sushi selection, Takashi stands head and shoulders above most of its peers. While many sushi bars around the world craft creative rolls, Takashi offers true delicacies. Using daring flavor combinations, Takashi creates true gastronomical pieces of art --rather than randomly filled rolls. Be sure to try some of these specialty rolls, as well as their traditional sushi, appetizers, and entrees. Also try to save room for desert. If you're a fan of sake, prepare to order at least a bottle; Takashi offers a great selection of both hot and cold sakes, as well as a full bar.


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