The funny thing about Salt Lake City is that nothing changes… nothing changes… then suddenly it feels like everything has changed. It’s been almost two years since I moved from my hometown, but I come back every few months and it always felt the same — until one day it didn’t. Suddenly a dozen new restaurants were open and I had a whole new list of places to try.
Now that I’ve tried them (and a few others that didn’t make the list), here are the new(ish) Salt Lake City restaurants you should try.
7 Salt Lake City Restaurants to Try in 2017:
New American, Downtown
Handle took Park City by storm when it opened in 2014 with Chef Briar Handly at the helm (previously of the notorious — and now closed — Talisker on Main). Handle was more than enough reason to trek up to Park City, especially with their famous buffalo-style cauliflower.
Luckily Chef Handly brought his masterpieces downtown to HSL in the former Vinto space on 418 East 200 South. He’s still serving up New American dishes with a creative twist, this time with Alexa Norlin as the pastry chef, which means you can’t skip dessert! Reservations accepted.
Greek, 9th & 9th
Manoli may be a new name on the restaurant scene but owner Manoli Katsanevas is no newbie to food. Manoli comes from the catering business and before that a chef at Fresco and Caffe Niche. His namesake restaurant, Manoli’s, is a modern take on Greek small plates created with seasonal, local ingredients in a cozy spot on 402 East 900 South. It has a perfect patio for the warmer months and serves brunch and dinner. Their cocktails (pictured at top) are equally as awesome as the food. Reservations accepted.
The superstars that brought us Current Fish & Oyster are at it again, this time Italian style. Stanza is the newest brainchild of The LaSalle Restaurant Group, manned by Executive Chef Logen Crew with beverage genius James Santangelo and manager Hillary Merrill at his side. Stanza has taken over the former Faustina address with a completely new building, save for the bar, which remains intact to circumvent the Zion Curtain law. (Insert Utah eye roll here.)
Stanza follows the small plates trend with an emphasis on wine and wine flights. They even have a Wednesday Flight & Bite series. Reservations accepted.
Ikigai is the restaurant reincarnation of Naked Fish: same building, new name, new menu. The biggest change (and blow to the entire SLC restaurant scene) is that sushi is no longer served. Instead Ikigai serves modern Japanese cuisine similar to the dishes on Naked Fish’s omakase (if you were lucky enough to have it). Don’t worry, fish is still on the menu. The red snapper with green tea sea salt and the amber jack with pickled plum were easy favorites. But the most memorable was the koji beef sukiyaki with mushrooms and egg yolk. Reservations accepted.
Update November 2017 :: Ikigai is now closed.
5. Trestle Tavern
Eastern European, 15th & 15th
Trestle Tavern makes its home in the cozy house-like space formerly occupied by Fresco on 15th and 15th. The casual restaurant is the newest addition to the Pago Restaurant Group known for Pago, Finca, Hub & Spoke Diner and East Liberty Tap House; this time focusing on Eastern European fare. Hearty dishes like Beef Goulash, Mushroom Paprikash and Lamb Shank grace the menu alongside comfort favorites like pierogies (try the farmer’s cheese with sweet onion jam) and soft pretzels with Pilsner cheese sauce.
I like the comfy atmosphere combined with comfort food and can’t wait to enjoy a glass of Austrian Gruner Vetliner on one of Salt Lake City’s Best Patios. No reservations.
6. Table X
Seasonal/New American, Millcreek
Table X is one of the few places on this list that isn’t a remake of a former SLC restaurant or a recombination of local chefs in different kitchens (not that those are bad things). In fact, all three of Table X’s chefs are Salt Lake City transplants (Mike Blocher from Washington D.C., Nick Fahs and David Barboza from Virginia) who bring worldly experience to the table. The main focus of their food is seasonality, which results in a creative, ever-changing menu using whatever is hitting its peak at the moment. They even grow produce in a garden outside the restaurant!
The appetizers at Table X stole the show, from creative smoked octopus tacos to surprisingly flavorful mint-nettle gnocchi. I love the open atmosphere of the restaurant that somehow manages to be intimate without being too dim. Did I mention the tasting menu is only $55/person?! Open Wednesday – Sunday only. Reservation accepted.
It’s about time Salt Lake City had a spot specializing in southern comfort food! SoCo gives us our fried chicken fix, plus other southern favorites like po boys, shrimp and grits, hush puppies and gumbo right downtown on Main Street (next to Eva). The casual spot is excellent for lunch (the massive amount of food pictured is only $10.99 during lunch!) or even late night. They have a full bar, too, with plenty of southern-style cocktails (like Lynchburg Lemonade and Redneck Punch — red kool-aid and vodka). No reservations.
Update November 2017 :: SoCo is now closed.