Who doesn’t love something bright, shiny and new? Grumps, that’s who. And I know you guys aren’t grumps. So join me in this semi-regular piece covering some of the more interesting openings and upcomings on the SLC restaurant scene.
Grumps, this is your formal warning to close your browser here please. Everyone else, lets get excited about the ever burgeoning SLC food scene.
3 Cups – So goes their homepage blurb: “The brainchild of nine-year Coffee Garden veteran Derek Belnap, 3 Cups is a fresh and modern neighborhood joint for coffee, pastries and gelato. Currently brewing beans from Salt Lake City-based Blue Copper Roasters and serving house-made sweets and savories by our pastry chef Amber Billingsley, formerly of Vinto.”
Got that? The drop dead perfection of Amber Billingsley’s mastery of all things sweet combined with the excellence of Blue Copper coffee – do you really need any more excuse to check these guys out? Actually, that was rhetorical, I have nothing more. If those two points alone don’t have you scampering to Holladay (hooray for more non downtown SLC openings!) right now, you are a lost cause. Again, close your browser now please.
4670 S. 2300 E. Holladay, 84117
All Chay – Remember the pho crave? Check your basement, there’s probably a pho operation down there. Vegans however had to watch everyone gleefully slurping down all those noodles loaded with funs tuff like tendon and marrow and weep. Presumably that’s the driver behind this new vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Rose Park. Vegan’s rejoice, order a banh mi and dunk it in your pho, safe in the knowledge only plants we’re murdered in the name of your satiation. Reports so far (see Yelp link below) are very, very good, even from meat eaters.
1264 W 500 N. Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Bruges Waffles And Frites – Just hitting my desk as finishing up this piece, news of a third location. Full details via KSL.
Current Fish And Oyster – Expect to hear a lot about this place, with very good reason. A joint effort between Mikel Trapp (Cafe Trio) and the La Salle Group (Oasis Cafe, Faustina, Kyoto, Caffe Niche) the restaurant seeks to fill a noticeable gap in the dining market – a modern seafood restaurant amidst an ocean of sushi.
It’s an ambitious project to say the least – a reputed million bucks went into the revamp and build out of the grand space; the press release calls the design ‘elegant grunge’ which sounds about as delightful as refined mud, but take it from me, it’s a plush space that eschews many contemporary overplayed design affectations for its own special ambiance.
The no expense spared approach applies to the assembled team too. Logen Crew (formerly Fresco) is head chef, Alexa Norlin (formerly Cafe Trio, Fresco) is pastry chef while James Santangelo and Amy Eldredge (formerly Bar X) are heading up the boozy bits. GM Hillary Merrill has bags of experience too, previously running a tight ship at Faustina for years.
Of the menu Crew wrote, “We extracted what we feel are the golden nuggets from each region in creating this menu. We are not trying to recreate the wheel here. We just want to offer our favorite classic American seafood preparations and add our contemporary spin on some new tastes with innovative dishes. Oysters are huge for us. We like to highlight regions and educate people about different profiles and pairings and watch with delight as our guests discover some new favorites.”
I’ll take a deeper look at Current in a future article; suffices to say I enjoyed a fine meal during the restaurant’s soft opening week (on the house) and the signs so far excellent.
279 E 300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Hoof and Vine – Like a star falling into a singularity, high end steakhouses seem irresistibly drawn towards downtown SLC. Not so with this latest restaurant from the owners also behind South Valley restaurants Tiburon, The Wild Rose and Epic Casual Dining.
Still, even though out in the Southern burbs’ prices wouldn’t be out of place in the city, check out the menu here. Prices do however include salad and side unlike other joints, plus curiously in a nod to the 90s – a sorbet course.
Hub And Spoke – Scott Evans’ latest restaurant opened late last week. His modern take on a classic American diner moves into the empty East side space via Finca’s migration downtown. Like all of Evans’ restaurants, it’s safe to say there was some buzz and excitement surrounding the opening. Here’s what Evans had to say via email on the opening:
“After we planned Finca’s move to a larger space downtown, we wanted to rethink the existing space and find a unique restaurant concept that would add something new to the SLC dining scene and fit well into the neighborhood. I’m often inspired by my travels, and this time I drew on my experiences dining in places like Brooklyn, Portland and San Francisco where there is a diverse offering of breakfast and all-day dining restaurants. I wanted to bring a unique take on the all-day diner with a casual but modern interpretation – using fresh, local ingredients to create a menu with familiar flavors used in unique ways. Like Pago, Finca, and East Liberty Tap House, Hub & Spoke Diner will use high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients as the foundation for the menu – all fresh, nothing frozen. That means we’ll be using local, organic eggs, making our bakery items in-house, from scratch daily, including our breads, pastries, scones, pies, cakes, and other deserts, and making house-made sausage, house-smoked bacon, and a variety of ice-cream shakes and boozy shakes. Hub & Spoke will have a full espresso bar and coffee shop inside the restaurant and an extended beverage list featuring a selection of wines, beers, and spirits that don’t sacrifice taste for value.
The menu was crafted by our award-winning team with Phelix Gardner as Executive Chef, Max Nelson as Chef de Cuisine, and Courtney McDowell as pastry chef. We’ll have new twists on classics like our Banana Flapjacks, Reuben Sandwich, Country Fried Steak & Eggs, and Chicken Pot Pie, as well as our own take on what we think a modern diner with global and local influences should have, like our Breakfast Bahn Mi sandwich – a breakfast twist on the Vietnamese pork sandwich on baguette, Kentucky Hot Brown with fried eggs – turning the open face broiled turkey & bacon sandwich with béchamel sauce into a breakfast item, Navajo Taco Salad with pinto beans, pork, cheddar, pico, sour cream and romaine on traditional Navajo fry bread, and Kale Tabbouleh Salad adding kale to the popular Middle-Eastern Tabbouleh combination of bulgur wheat, mint, cucumber and tomato.
On a more personal note – the name Hub & Spoke Diner is a nod to my paternal grandfather, George Evans, who was also a restaurateur. He owned and operated The Hub Cafe in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota in the 50’s and 60’s, which provided a living for his family of 10, including my dad. My dad grew up working at the The Hub, and although he didn’t pursue a career in restaurants, he was always comfortable in restaurants and loved food and dining out. I didn’t see my dad often, since he lived in California while I was growing up, but one of the things we bonded over was our love of food. From a young age, he took me to a variety of different restaurants across the Los Angeles area and gave me exposure to many different styles of food and cuisines – from ethnic food carts to fine dining restaurants. My grandfather and father passed away years ago, so they won’t be able to see this diner, but I like to think that their passion for food was somehow passed down to me through the generations. And, since restaurants, food, and wine have become not only my passion but my career, this is a little thank you back to them for giving me that genetic inclination“.
1291 S 1100 E Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Hot Dynasty – Over in South Salt Lake and the ever expanding China town development comes this latest restaurant – focused on the arresting flavors of Szechwan cuisine.
A gigantic menu of over 220 items is offered in addition to wine and beer and boba too.
3390 S State St, South Salt Lake, UT 84115
H&D BBQ – Moving into the former Cucina Vanina space is this new BBQ joint from brothers James and Garrett – award winning pit masters (the former of which is also an R&R BBQ alumni). The menu is one of the larger ‘q menus in town, offering a smorgasbord of six smoked meats in total; a trio of which are available piled on a burger if you wish – pictured below – the three meat Bosatch burger:
Laid Back Poke Shack – This new concept on Highland Drive is already garnering some excellent reviews. The order of the day is Poke, served in bowls, quick casual fashion. There’s also a hefty dash of mix and match customization too. So go right ahead and order kahlua pork and ahi as pictured below.
6213 S Highland Dr. Holladay, UT 84121
Penny Ann’s Cafe – Everyone loves a sequel right? Folks living in the South of the valley should be especially stoked by this one, the second iteration of the Willey family’s ode to the classic American diner. By all accounts the new location is already a mega hit. Paul (Willey) was kind enough to update me on the new restaurant so far:
“We are now offering breakfast all day and lunch from 11am-3pm Monday-Friday. We truly are a family run cafe. My brother Warren, who is our Executive Chef is overseeing the quality at both locations. He is formally of the Westgate Grill in Park City which has now changed its name to the Edge. Along with Warren, sisters Penny Ann, Cindy and brother Paul work with Mom and Dad to serve up fresh homemade dishes in comfortable and inviting cafe setting. Even our nieces Meaghan, Tiera, and Rianna have joined in on the fun. And our kitchen and serving staff has been amazing with the transition of opening up our new location. Last year we won Best of State Best Breakfast and we are known for our “Heavenly Hot Cakes” and pie. At any given time we have over 10 flavors including: Key Lime, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Mousse, Coconut Cream, Banana Cream, Lemon Raspberry and Old Fashioned Buttermilk to name a few.
We have been so grateful for the positive response we have received from the Draper community and surrounding areas. We hope to continue our expansion and open a 3rd location in the next 12-18 months. ”
Place your bets now (or bribes for true aficionados) for that third location…
280 E 12300 S, Draper, UT 84020
Pleiku – Fans of Main Street’s Cindy Lee Cafe’s budget friendly cuisine have probably already commiserated the loss of the downtown staple; in its place a thoroughly modern replacement, both in remodel (see below) and menu. Pleiku is the latest restaurant from the folks behind Pipa (also no more) and serves up a variety of small and large Vietnamese influenced plates.
264 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Porch – More info to follow as soon as we have it but coming to Daybreak’s Soda Row in late April is Porch – the latest restaurant from the good people behind Meditrina. The concept is “upscale Southern comfort food” and anyone familiar with Meditrina’s effortlessly edible tapas, will no doubt be excited.
Salt & Smoke Meats – From former owner and chef of Vienna Bistro – Frody Volgger – comes this artisanal butchers shop in South Salt Lake. Details are still limited, and the website isn’t quite there yet, but look at that meat display below. If you weren’t thinking of grilling seasons yet, I bet you are now.
155 W Malvern Avenue, South Salt Lake, UT, 84115,
Taqueria 27 – Todd Gardiner’s high end taco movement recently saw its third opening. The downtown location joins the existing roster of locations on Foothill and Holladay. Handily located next door to Beer Bar and Bar X and open to midnight on Friday and Saturday – hint hint hint – the new T27 will undoubtedly fuel some great nights out downtown.
149 East 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT
The Food Truck League – Not much concrete info on this one yet, but keep your eyes peeled around the 2200 South area of Highland Drive. Coming in May is an effort to routinely gather food truck operators for a weekly mini festival of food on wheels. More info here http://thefoodtruckleague.com/
Zaferan Cafe – Finally, and ending appropriately at Z, a new Persian restaurant in Cottonwood Heights. And, as I’ve blathered on enough, I’ll let them explain and show you in their own words – happy dining all!
2578 E Bengal Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84121
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.