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Best of Salt Lake City restaurants

It’s that time of year again, awards seem to be flying all over the place. A short while ago the Salt Lake City Magazine announced their 2008 Dining awards. Hot on their heels, the City Weekly also had their yearly best of 2008 issue last week.

On the whole the SLC magazine awards seemed fair. A couple of strange choices I thought, but largely as expected. I won’t name any names, but some of the reader choices in the City Weekly had me genuinely disappointed. Some restaurants placing number one in their categories, shouldn’t have placed at even 100. But then, that’s just my opinion, and that’s what makes talking about restaurants so interesting for me. One person’s sumptuous dinner can be another person’s idea of hell.

If I had to pick my favourite restaurant of the past 12 months, I would go for Kyoto. I simply cannot fault them for their sheer consistency of food and service. Every time I have been, the experience is spot on. Consistency is a big deal for me. I highly value having a go-to place you *know* will be great. Whether your taking out of town friends for a meal, maybe celebrating a birthday, or grabbing a bite to eat after an exhausting day at work. Knowing that when you step through the door, a great meal is guaranteed is a great feeling.

Kyoto for me is just this place. It’s relaxed, comfortable and also surprisingly affordable I feel. We have taken to hanging out at the sushi bar and chatting with the friendly sushi chefs like Mike and Akira. If they’d let me, I would happily buy one of the places at the sushi bar as reserved seating just for me. I digress.

So what do you think, what’s your favourite restaurant of this past year? Maybe there is more than one, maybe you don’t think any place in SLC makes the grade? Either way, let us know your thoughts on dining out in SLC this past year!

Come and discuss this review and other Salt Lake City restaurants on our new foodie discussion forum here.

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9 thoughts on “Best of Salt Lake City restaurants”

  1. After years and years of Thai Siam winning best pad Thai, I simply can’t trust the City Weekly awards. The stuff that restaurant passes off as pad Thai is revolting.

    Some of my favorite places of the last year:
    -Pho Green Papaya
    -La 35
    -Koko Kitchen
    -Himalayan Kitchen
    -Tacos Nacos
    -Simply Thai (full disclosure: I work there. However, I can’t get enough of it, and I’ve eaten there at least three times a week for over a year, so they must be doing something right.)

  2. The places that keep getting my money:

    Top five:

    Takashi (this is the clear #1. Everything else in no particular order)
    Greek Souvlaki
    Taste of Punjab
    Koko Kitchen
    Pho Tay Ho

    Five honorable mentions:
    Little World
    Charlie Chow’s (for the dragon grill. I haven’t tried anything else)
    Taqueria El Rey de Oros
    David’s Kitchen

  3. Geesh,

    doesn’t anybody eat decent food?
    While the City Weekly doesn’t amount to much more than a popularity contest, and a lot of back-door politicking, there are some restaurants worth going to.

    My criteria. Drop X down in any city, and it still would be seen as excellent.

    Best Restaurant, Best Sushi, Best Japanese: Takashi

    Besides being the only sushi chef who can do a proper omakase, his off the cuff creations such as his Toro with truffle oil, or the giant orange clam with a amazingly complimentary sauce… from the torched sablefish to the pefect selection of sashimi to the broad range of sake, Takashi is a gem in any city, this is coming from someone who journeys to Japan yearly, just for the food.

    Best food and service combo: Bambara. The restaurant in the Hotel Monaco gets it right every time. Excellence in food and the perfect hands-off approach to waitering. They almost remain invisible, but you are never missing anything. Knowing when to come and when not to come is not always an easy task. These guys pull it off.

    Best espresso, Best “out of the ordinary” coffee: caffe d’bolla
    Why? The only micro-roasted artisan coffee in Salt Lake City. Coffee is roasted on site.
    Their Single Origin coffees are all above “specialty” grade, and are all brewed by the cup. While there are many places to “hang” and have a cup, caffe d’bolla, as a barista at Coffee Garden put so aptly put it, “If you’re talking about coffee, you have to start with caffe d’bolla.”

    Best Pho: Pho Saigon in West Valley.

    Great broth, authentic and alive with tripe, tendon, and meat or just a standard meatball or brisket for the less adventurous.
    And the duck thigh soup is incredible.

    Best Dim Sum:
    The NEW Golden Dragon.
    Crisp “fatty pork” with the skin toasted to a golden brown, a salt, pepper and hot pepper based battered calimari, tiny fried fish full of eggs– a treat to behold! And all the standards are constantly fresh and well done. Excellent service and two can fill up for under $40 including tip.

    Best Chinese: Szechuan Gardens in Sandy. Award winning chef, authentic Chinese food such as thin sliced marinated pork lung served cold, tea smoked duck, fish in spicy Szechuan sauce, hot and spicy eel…
    While some reviews will talk about such and such made for American tastes, this would only apply to those filler dishes that the “wannabe” would order. Order from the first two pages of the menu, or ask the Chef. Incredible food.

  4. I’m from the east coast, MA, and it’s interesting to see the different tastes people have but also their reaction to the differences each region can have in the same food. For example, to me, the Pad Thai at Thai Siam is just like east coast pad thai and I really like it. The pad thai I find at places around here that are highly regarded I cant stand!

    Taste of Punjab is the WORST Indian food I have had in the valley so far. We live near India House which is far better and I like Bombay House as well.

    Good chinese food around here is like finding a needle in a haystack and we discovered Golden Dragon by accident and it is wonderful. We also like Davids Kitchen, Little World, and newly found Asian Star.

    Yes Mazza is the best in the area for middle eastern but House of Kabob is damn good too! We also like Aristos for greek.

  5. What didn’t you like about Taste of Punjab? It’s been consistently good for me, despite the really slow service. Bombay House is the only one around I’ve found to be nearly as good, but the portions seem quite small considering the prices. I haven’t tried India House.

  6. I am going to throw my hat in the ring for the best in the city, in my humble opinion.

    -Greek: Aristo’s without a doubt. You can always spot him checking things out, saying hello to the regulars, and making sure you enjoy your meal. He frequently sends us free items to try, and it is always amazingly good.

    -Sushi: Everyone is spot on with Takashi. No one can touch it although a close second would be Tsunami.

    -European/French: The Paris Bistro without a doubt, although I’m yet to try Franck’s which I have heard great things about. The Paris, although expensive, and I have heard bad things about their service, has always been amazing for my girlfriend and I. Everything is amazing, the servers are very educated, you’re likely to see high-profile Utahns, such as Rocky Anderson there, and you’ll have amazing food, with better mixed drinks.

    -Indian: Tandoor Indian Grill is my favorite. The only drawback is no alcohol, which is important to me… I like to drink… They have a lot of dishes I’ve never seen at any of their competitors restaurants. The lamb is unbelievable, and they know how to actually make is spicy, not just white-person spicy (although I’m white…)

    -Pizza: There is only one choice in my mind which is Este in Sugarhouse. For New York style pizza at least. Their homemade mozzarella sticks, to their authentic Buffalo Wings, with the only real New York style pizza I’ve had in this state. If you haven’t been there go!

    Quickly I will state that I pretty much eat out everyday, and know when food is good. I have had a lot of people say I’m the best foodie in town…

  7. Rob,

    I’m glad to hear that you’re the best foodie in town. I’ve been wondering.

    Quickly I will state that my mom says I’m the world’s handsomest boy.

  8. My favorite food is curry and I’ve tried the majority of them in the Valley. India House is by far the best. For Thai I like Five Star downtown, not to be confused with the Five Star in West Valley which is absolutely awful. Credit where credit is due, its a bit better than Kow Loon on 3500 S, yuk!. For an Asian Bistro and Sushi I prefer the Red Ginger on State at 3300 South. Deli’s? I’ve found Dave’s Deli on 3300 S to be excellent. French food I don’t know, I’ve never had a French dish I’d even call food. Mama’s Plantation on Redwood Rd. in Taylorsville ain’t no Mama’s cooking I’ve ever had. Sliced bread with your meal????

    One of you may be the best foodie and the other the best looking, I conceed. But when it comes to dining, there’s no one out there that appreciates good food like I do. I’d be amiss if I didn’t give an honorable mention to Reno’s on Parleys Way.

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