Back in the fall, one of my favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City relocated right to the heart of downtown. Finca, the Spanish tapas restaurant known for amazing pairing dinners and deliciously authentic Spanish food, moved to 327 West 200 South in downtown Salt Lake City. With the relocation, Finca not only gained a downtown address but it doubled in size (both in seating and kitchen space), added an independent—but co-existing—coffee shop, La Barba by Chaming Beard, a pintxos menu and extended its hours to cater to late-night eaters.
The new Finca in downtown Salt Lake City also has a dramatically different vibe than its former southern self. Gone are the days of bright sunny interiors and close-knit tables with a casual vibe. Now, Finca is drastically dark—as in dark enough to require your phone flashlight in order to read the menu. There are cozy booths, intimate private rooms, lounge chair tables and even a bar area, all in a dark bar-like setting.
The menu has maintained its virtue: Spanish small plates ranging from $5-17, plus a few larger plates for sharing ($26-34). Many classic dishes also survive: papas y aioli with a deliciously garlicky paprika kick ($5), carrots grilled in sweet cumin honey ($9) and lamb + pork meatballs with manchego ($11).
There are updates to the menu, too: like bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese ($6), sea scallops with garlic chips in an ajada salsa ($17) and wood-grilled pork ribs with an ancho-chile glaze ($14).
But the problem is—and I say this with plenty of endearment because, after all, this was one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City—that the service and the quality have been sacrificed somewhere in the relocation. Dishes are coming out of the kitchen within minutes (which is good) but lukewarm at best (very bad). And they’re lacking the passionate depth of flavor familiar at the old location, too. I’m all about ambiance and setting the mood, but if a restaurant is too dark to read the menu and enough people have complained that the servers carry flashlights, that’s simply too dark.
I am so excited that Finca is closer to where I spend my time and I’m happy that it’s now bigger with a kitchen capable of breaking down entire animals. I’m hopeful that the quality glitches that everyone keeps talking about are just that: glitches, to be ironed out with time.
Until then, I’m regretfully on the hunt for a new favorite restaurant and a replacement recommendation whenever someone asks where they should eat. Because before the relocation the answer was easily and always: Finca. Go to Finca for :: authentic Spanish small plates, creative cocktails and late-night churros. Notes :: Open Monday-Friday 11 am – midnight, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-midnight. Reservations are available online. Valet parking is available on Fridays and Saturdays.