12 Essential Eats in Salt Lake City

By SLC Food Radar on July 17th, 2015

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Salt Lake City, nicknamed the Crossroads of the West, is rich in diverse cuisines. / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Where to find the best dishes to eat in Utah’s capital  

Salt Lake City has grown a lot since Brigham Young led a group of 143 pioneers into the valley in 1847.  Salt Lake welcomed the world during the Winter Olympics of 2002, and has remained a city diverse with international culture.  The capital of the Beehive State is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake to the North, the Uinta mountains to the West, and the Wasatch Front, home of Park City and Utah’s famous ski slopes to the East.  Salt Lake may not have the numbers other larger cities have on the dining scene, but it definitely has something for everyone.  Here’s a collection of the essential eats with unique locations and menus every visitor must try.

1. Cheese Fries - The Training Table

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The Training Table serves the area’s best cheese fries with the state’s famous Fry Sauce / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

You can’t go to a burger joint in the state without having Fry Sauce on the menu.  Even outside chains have to adapt to this Utah tradition.  Fry Sauce is basically a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup, with everyone having their own version.  Training Table offers up one of the best with a huge platter of cheddar cheese fries accompanied by a sauce of mayo and hickory sauce. 

2. Mole - Red Iguana

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The Red Iguana serves the best Mexican food Salt Lake City has to offer / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Red Iguana has been on every show imaginable about Salt Lake City’s food scene.  Between downtown and the airport, Red Iguana is always packed with hungry crowds.  The specialty here is the authentic mole that comes in seven varieties and colors.  Perhaps the crown jewel of their many mole dishes is the Puntas de Filete a la Nortena, which features house sautéed sirloin tips dressed with bacon, jalapeno strips, onions and tomatoes, all on top of a bed of almond mole. 

3. Burnt Ends - Pat’s Barbecue

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Pat’s famous burnt end special / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Salt Lake has some extremely good barbecue options, but near the top of everyone's list is Pat's Barbecue with its Burnt Ends Friday special (tender brisket tips).  The burnt ends are first come, first serve and usually go quickly.  All of the meats here are top-notch, but every great barbecue joint also has to deliver awesome sides, and Pat's does that.  Among the best are the rice dishes where you can add meaty gravy and red or Creole black beans.  Diners pack the picnic tables while enjoying live music in the main hall. 

4. Cheesesteak Sandwiches - Moochie’s

The Jumpin’ Jalapeno Sauce is worth a trip to Moochie’s / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Is there anything more glorious than grilled meats covered with cheese?  What started as a small stand in the back of a potter shop in the Liberty Wells neighborhood has turned into a cult destination.  These sandwiches are as good as they get west of Philly.  What makes them even more spectacular is the coveted Moochie’s Jumpin’ Jalapeno Sauce.  

5. Mormon Funeral Potatoes - The Garage

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The Garage turned the Mormon Funeral Potato into a fried sensation / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Mormon food is all about green Jell-O and funeral potatoes.  The Garage has taken the classic au gratin potato casserole and created a fried sensation with its bite-sized morsels.  Located in the back of a fuel refinery in North Salt Lake, The Garage also has outstanding salads and burgers. 

6. The Breath Enhancer - Lucky 13

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The Breath Enhancer and beer battered onion rings at Lucky 13. / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Where are the best burgers in town?  That’s easy … Lucky 13 Bar and Grill, just down the street from Salt Lake’s AAA baseball affiliate of the L.A. Angels.  Conveniently located in front of one of Salt Lake’s light rail stations, Lucky 13 is pure hamburger bliss.  The beer battered onion rings are fantastic! 

7. Reuben Sandwich - 9th South Delicatessen

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The Reuben sandwich at 9th South Delicatessen / Courtesy of tasteofsaltlakecity.com

For a premium sandwich experience, visitors can visit the 9th district of Salt Lake City.  This neighborhood has many awesome food options, and the 9th South Delicatessen might be the finest Jewish deli in town.  It was here I officially converted over to the religion that is the Reuben sandwich.  Each element of the sandwich is crafted and prepared with love using only the finest ingredients available.  This sandwich might be one of the best things I’ve had in Salt Lake, period. 

8. Home-made Chocolate - Hatch Family Chocolates

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At Hatch Family Chocolates, a Rice Krispies treat is named for Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Located in The Avenues in northeastern Salt Lake City, you may recognize Hatch Family Chocolates from the TV show "Little Chocolatiers." Known not only for its assortment of fine chocolates, the store is renowned for its hot chocolate like none you’ve ever tasted.  It is like drinking chocolate velvet straight out of Willy Wonka’s factory. In Karl Malone’s honor, the owners also crafted a Rice Krispies treat coated in marshmallow crème and Grandma Hatch’s caramel. Chocoholics should not pass this up.

9. Belgian Waffles - Bruges Waffles & Frites

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The Waffle Monster is loaded with Nutella, cookie crumbs, vanilla ice cream and strawberries / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

Owner Pierre Van Damme started selling Belgian waffles at the Farmer’s Market in Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City. But the lines grew so long he soon moved to his own place just north of the park.  Using all-natural ingredients and imported pearl sugar, Pierre makes the best Belgian waffles in town.  In addition, Burges serves hot frites -- as they’re called in Belgium -- or french fries as they call them in the states – with more than a dozen dipping mayos to choose from. 

10. Mondo Dumplings - Cupbop Korean BBQ

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Mondo pot stickers at Cupbop Korean BBQ / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

The number of food trucks has really grown around town over the past few years.  One of the best is Cupbop Korean BBQ.  The owners entertain the crowds and please the bellies.  The highlight of the menu for me was the mondo pot stickers. The wrappers were fried to just the right amount of crunch while the spicy filling hit what the owners called a “8.5 out of 10” on the heat index.  Amazing! 

11. Porcupine Pub & Grill

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For the best nachos in Salt Lake City, head to Porcupine Pub & Grill / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

If you come to Salt Lake City often, you may be familiar with the ski dive at the base of the Big Cottonwood Canyon that leads up to Solitude and Brighton ski resorts.  Porcupine sports a cool skier’s atmosphere and delicious meals.  I'm quite fond of the nachos, and was recently triple-dog dared to finish one off by myself.  It didn't end well for me. 

12. Carne Asada Burrito - Lone Star Taqueria

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Fish tacos at Lone Star Taqueria / Courtesy of Hyrum Romrell

I would not be doing Salt Lake justice if I didn’t mention where to get the best fish tacos in town.  The fish selection ranges from halibut, to mahi-mahi, to salmon.  Lone Star mixes it up all the time.  I personally love the carne asada burritos, which by themselves could pass as a nuclear submarine in size. 

Meet the author
SLC Food Radar

Salt Lake City

“I’m willing to wager at least 25 percent of my body is made of mac ’n’ cheese and pizza," Hyrum Romrell boasts. "Both my parents worked and I have six siblings, so pizza was a fallback choice in a lot of my childhood meals. Pizza also was associated with fun things in my childhood: school parties, roller-skating, baseball games, etc.” A relationship manager in investment banking in Salt Lake City, Hyrum says he’s always been a huge…... More