Cantina De Alamexo – This new restaurant from Alamexo chef and owner Matt Lake isn’t quite ready for prime time just quite yet, but I couldn’t resist sharing a glimpse of what to expect after a recent preview meal I enjoyed; enjoyed is putting it mildly, I’ve done nothing since but sit in a drooling stupor for when I can get my hands on this stuff again. Things will no doubt be tweaked and tuned for the grand opening, but from what I’ve seen so far, this will be one of the hottest tickets in 2017.
The new cantina is set to open in the 9th and 9th neighborhood sometime around May and will offer a more casual, neighborhood hang out than it’s big sister – Alamexo in downtown Salt Lake. The menu is built around sharing, featuring smaller plates perfect for all occasions. Indeed, Lake’s vision is one of a fun accessible space, a place that locals will drop by for everything from a snack in the afternoon through to a full blown late night meal with a group of friends.
Cantina has already been approved for a full service liquor license and will pour margaritas unlike any other place in Utah. Using the botanical damiana as the base, the ingredient/technique is the reputed original method used for the original margarita. Lake jokes you won’t find a single bottle of triple sec at either Alamexo restaurant.
I’m told, “Damiana grows wild in Mexico and its use dates back to the Mayan times as a proven aphrodisiac.” From the basic damiana base guests then choose the tequila of their choice, each imparting its own unique flavor profile.
Hornitos Plata – Licorice & Green Papaya
Vida Tequila Blanco – Citrus, eucalyptus with smooth elegant finish
Maestro Dobel Diamond – Kiwi & grilled stone fruit
Espolon Reposado – Tropical flowers with brown sugar & spiciness.
Espolon Anejo – Butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, smooth & silky
Wahaka Mezcal Joven Espadin -vanilla & smoke
1059 East 900 South, Salt Lake City, 84106
Apollo downtown – Gone from the corner of 4th South and Main is the Royal Eatery – in its place – the twelfth outlet for this popular burger joint now in its third decade. Since their first location opening in 1984, Apollo have char-broiled millions of burgers; actually I don’t know how many, no one would tell me, but I imagine its more than several.
379 Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Afghan Kitchen – I reached out to the owners of this new Afghani restaurant in South Salt Lake for more information, and they proudly responded with their many glowing Yelp reviews. I couldn’t sum up the business any better than this particularly pleased customer, take it away Jeff N:
“What a great surprise to find that an Afghan restaurant has opened in Salt Lake City! I was very excited to taste the food I’d learned to love while deployed to Afghanistan. I was not disappointed. We started off with the buloni appetizer. This tender pastry with seasoned potatoes and green onions paired well with the mildly spicy chutney.
We ordered the national dish of Afghanistan, Kabuli Palow. This took me right back to meals with good friends and brothers in arms in Kabul. The owner, Wali, was happy to oblige when I requested some fresh onion on the side. “Very Afghan,” he remarked. The portion was large enough to provide me with a light lunch the next day as leftovers.
We also ordered the chicken kabob which was also very flavorful. I see the garlic naan is very popular according to Yelp reviews. However, we had the plain naan as this was what I had grown accustomed to eating in Afghanistan. It was hot and fresh right out of the tandoor. Please give this new restaurant a try. It is a welcome addition to the ethnic offerings in the Salt Lake Valley. I’d love for them to flourish and stay in business for the long term.”
3142 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Chopfuku – New to Taylorsville comes this pan Asian restaurant with a particular focus on sushi. Pronounced chop-foo-koo the moniker apparently translates to ‘lucky chop chop’, the sound knife cutting makes. The restaurant is headed up by chef Chris Dang who has over 40 years of experience in Asian cuisine. His travels have taken him from Washington DC to Florida to Texas; and now to Salt Lake city, Taylorsville to be precise. Dang’s menu takes in a swathe of Asian cuisines from Japanese, Thai to Vietnamese cuisine.
4546 S Atherton Dr. Taylorsville, UT 84123
Chedda Burger – Not a new restaurant per se, but a move to a new location. Just mentioned on Facebook, owner Nick Watts writes, “so we have some exciting news… As some of you my know, we’ve kinda out grown our spot on 600 s.. The parking , 22 seats, one way road that you feel like your going to die when you merge back on it etc etc.. well we have some really exciting news to share today.. We’re growing!!! My partner Ryan Andrus and I are proud to announce that we’ve signed a lease to go in the foothill village.. Ryan, my staff and I wanna thank you so much for supporting what we do.”
That means you can now enjoy Chedda’s magic such as their Kill Me Softly (beef patty, cheese, bacon, arugula, cranberry sauce and served on a Krispy Kreme donut) with a little more elbow room and easier accessibility. I give you another Facebook post for a sneak preview of the new spot:
Foothill Village Shopping Center, 1314 Foothill Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Cupbop – The little food truck that could. From humble beginnings, Cupbop is quickly becoming an empire. Built on their simple Korean BBQ in a cup concept, people seemingly just can’t get enough of Cupbops addictive bowls. The latest sit down outlet hits West Valley City, joining an existing team of now four trucks and restaurants in Provo, UVU and Draper. At this rate of expansion, expect your own Cupbop in your spare bedroom this time next year.
3619 S 2700th W. West Valley City, UT 84119
Firewood – Chef John Murcko returns with his latest restaurant on Main Street in Park City. Since 1981 Murcko has helped open more than 26 restaurants in Park City and Sun Valley, Idaho that highlight a wide range of styles, flavors and regions of the world.
Firewood in particular will feature “American heirloom cuisine with seasonal menu rotations to incorporate the freshest regional produce”. Many dishes will be prepared over open flame using a variety of woods such as cedar, cherry and maple. Diners will get a glimpse into this as well – Firewood boasts a custom-made open flame grill with five separate cooking stations – built open to guests.
Murcko says, “Open flame cooking is a passion of mine and I have enjoyed sharing this unique dining style with my family around the holidays for many years. I know Firewood guests will love the rich flavors, nuanced variety in the entrees and the truly multi-sensory culinary experience. It’s an honor to open a restaurant on Main Street and I look forward to serving my family and friends in the best mountain town in the world.”
Rounding out the new business – a private private dining room called the Chef’s Library and a lower level bar area called the Nickel Bar – available for both pre and post dinner drinks.
306 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
Fireside On Regent – The newly revamped Regent street behind the Eccless theater is now starting to pop with activity and new businesses. One such opening is this new restaurant headed by chef Michael Richey; you might remember Richey from various posts around town including Pago way back when, and Solitude most recently cooking up their Mountain Table Series of dinners. The focus at Fireside is a smaller menu, often changing and driven by seasonal product. Of particular note, the restaurant relies on a Valoriani oven imported from Italy and all cheeses are hand made in house.
* Sicilian Salad with shaved fennel, citrus segments, lemon olive oil
* Cocoa nib braised short rib with celery root puree, chimichurri
* Stuffed quail with spiced huckleberry and a Moroccan couscous salad
126 S Regent Street, Salt Lake City, Utah
Call (801) 385-4011
Ikigai – As I wrote about toward the end of last year, Naked Fish is no more. While many have lamented the loss of one of SLC’s best restaurants, the newly imagined Ikagai looks set to build its own special legacy.
Based on the idea of the Izakaya, a Japanese pub, the remade restaurant is actually much more. The menu is chef driven (courtesy of David Hopps on the savory side of things and Elyse Osguthorpe on the sweeter end) and upscale with nary a California Roll in sight. You can find an early menu of the concept here but expect it to wax and wane as the team get to grip with the restaurant and seasonal/incidental product changes.
67 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Johnny Slice – New for downtown, this pizza joint promises “pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads, breakfast, coffee, dessert, pizza by the slice, delivery, pretty much everything you want to eat at one place.” Downtown diners in a rush can find single slices of ‘za from three bucks.
12 Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Laziz Kitchen – One of Salt Lake’s small business success stories. Starting life slinging hummus and toum at local farmer’s markets, the dynamic duo of Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity are now proud owners of this new Lebanese leaning restaurant. Situated in the upcoming Central ninth neighborhood (alongside new neighbors Water Witch and Meditrina) the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch Tue-Sun, with dinner on Friday and Saturday.
As well as a menu that should happily satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike, Laziz Kitchen also sports a market area with a selection of a traditional Lebanese products; items such as olive oils sourced from the West Bank, unique ingredients like zaatar and orange blossom water. And of course, you can also pick up any of the Laziz Foods product lines, that started the whole story: everything from their much loved spreads to fresh baked pita.
912 Jefferson St W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Pho Saigon 2 – A second Murray location for this Vietnamese restaurant. BBQ summer rolls, bun, pho, rice dishes, banh mi, boba and more – everything diners love from the West Valley City original, can be found at this new State Street location.
4907 S State St Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Pizza Nono – Owner Will McMaster traces his love for making pizza as far back as he can remember, “since grade school. I learned how to make pizza from my older brother, who worked at a local pizzeria. My love for pizza grew while living in Brooklyn and being inspired by Lucali, Roberta’s, Sam’s, and other Brooklyn pizzerias. Trips to Italy further solidified my passion for simply made pizza with amazing ingredients and dough.”
For McMaster though, Utah pizza lovers are under served in a market overly dominated by chains. The kick starter funded Pizza Nono located in the 9th and 9th area (nono is ninth in Italian) seeks to address this by focusing on high quality, fresh ingredients, locally sourcing when possible.
McMaster explains over on his site, “We are inspired by the classical and simple traditions of Neapolitan pizza. Our philosophy is very simple. We want to simply, as one of our Brooklyn inspirations Paulie Gee describes, ‘use really good ingredients on great bread.’ Pizza done the right way is not a junk food, but a food you can feel good about eating every day.”
The practical implementation of this approach means a stripped down menu that features 4 regular pizzas, a “pizza of the week”, two simple salads, and a seasonal side. Guests can either dine in or take out in a hurry – the wood fired pizza oven makes it possible to cook a pizza in just a couple of minutes according to McMaster.
925 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Prohibition – A new bar, and located in the Fashion Place Mall nonetheless. If memory serves this is the former Huka Bar & Grill location. Prohibition is a 1920’s themed bar that offers familiar pub grub, with the obligatory curve ball like scotch eggs thrown in for good measure. On the drink side of things expect “craft cocktails made with fresh squeezed juices and ingredients” with 16 local beers available on draft; for the extra picky, expect 60+ more options by the bottle.
151 E. 6100 S. Murray, UT 84107
Purgatory – “Where are you headed? Purgatory. Wow, tough break man. Nah, I just need some pork belly and a bloody Mary”. So goes the conversation I imagine. This new bar on 7th South looks to have spared no expense on branding and aesthetics. Check out the shots above (from their own site and Facebook page) and go check it out yourself as well, the project looks like a million bucks. Fingers crossed the food is as every bit as good as it looks (p.s. do let me know).
62 East 700 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Riverhorse Provisions – As the name implies, this new multi-function business at the top of Main Street comes from the same team behind Riverhorse On Main – one of my personal favorite restaurants in Park City.
Anchoring the new Imperial Hotel at 221 Main Street, Riverhorse Provisions serves as cafe, market and deli – all rolled into one. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and après ski menus while a coffee shop and market offer prepared food items for at-home cooking.
Guests can enjoy fresh roasted coffee and espresso drinks, grab-and-go items, soups and salads made with local seasonal ingredients, gourmet sandwiches, as well as house-prepared fish or filets and fresh produce for at-home preparation. The market provides other home accents like fresh floral bouquets, ceramics, and Riverhorse-branded items like aprons, wine glasses and cutting boards.
221 Main Street, Park City, UT 84060
Rollz – More Vietnamese cuisine, this time for the good folks of Taylorsville (just next to Harmons). While the business promotes the simplicity of offering “rolls and bowls” the menu is more extensive offering banh mi, rice dishes and more.
5480 S Redwood Rd, Taylorsville, UT 84123
Slapfish – A new chain restaurant, that normally I wouldn’t highlight per se but I agree with SLC Eats – it’s the first of its kind in Utah, and hey, it’s something a little different. Starting life in 2011 as a food truck, this mini chain is expanding slowly around the US (randomly, with locations in London and South Korea too).
The menu takes in coastal US specialties aplenty – SoCal style fish tacos sit happily alongside East Coast lobster rolls and New England clam chowder. As you might expect with the ingredients being used, compared to an average fast food concept, the prices are markedly higher; whether Utahns are ready to thrown down $15 on a fast food sandwich, only time will tell.
The Lehi location is the only Utah location for now, but the private equity group responsible for the local launch has option to open seven more locations in Utah moving forward.
3360 N Frontage Rd, Lehi, UT 84043
Tikka Indian Grill – Fast casual, fast casual, repeat the mantra. This time Indian food receives the fast casual treatment, that is so utterly in vogue right now. The steps go as follows at Tikka Indian Grill:
* choose your base (wrap, bowl, salad, platter)
* select a protein (chicken tikka, paneer tikka, spicy lamb, veggies, tofu)
* select a curry (makhani, saad, tikka masala, coconut
* jazz it up (add tamarind chutney, mint chutney, tikka and garlic chili)
* add veggie topping (lettuce, masala corn, pickled carrot and radish, tikka slaw, onion, tomatoes)
Add in a side of fries, rice, samosa, chat or naan and you’re all set. Prices start from $8.49 with several options in the process costing an extra buck or two here and there.
1336 Foothill Drive Salt Lake City Utah, 84108
Vertical Pizza – Vegan’s rejoice from your rooftops – welcome to (as far as I know) Utah’s only 100% vegan pizza parlor. From the same guys behind Vertical Diner and Sage’s Cafe, apart from banishing cheese from the premises, this is the pizza place you know and love, in fact maybe even more; every Tuesday, every week, Vertical Pizza offers all you can eat pizza from 5-10 p.m.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, serves beer and wine, delivers and even offers dessert pizza and gluten free options. Who knew.
2280 S W Temple, South Salt Lake, UT 84115
Water Witch – Easily one of Salt Lake’s most eagerly anticipated bar openings – is this new bar from local bar tending celebs Scott Gardner, Sean Neves and Matt Pfohl. If you recognize those names, it’s because between the three of them, they’ve been responsible for more refined liver damage beverage menus around town than anyone else in recent memory.
Water Witch is the space they can finally call their own home, and as you might expect from their track records, its solidly focused around craft cocktails. As Gardner is keen to point out though, first and foremost this will be an accessible bar for everyone; there’s miller lite on draft and you’re more than welcome to order up a pitcher.
A great story on the new bar appeared recently in the Salt Lake Magazine here.
163 W 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Wild Pepper Pizza – A much more by the numbers pizza restaurant on State Street. Bargain hunters should take note that prices start from just $5 for a 14″ cheese or pepperoni pizza. At those prices you could probably make change for a pie down the back of the sofa. Other regular options (for pickup) don’t pass the nine dollar mark and Wild Pepper is open seven days a week, offering delivery for orders $15 and up. Yes, that means you will need to order yourself three cheese pizzas to make delivery, and yes you have my blessing.
777 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Yeah Hot Pot & Grill – Korean BBQ is the name of the game at this West Jordan spot, and a fairly unique one at that for Utah. Rather than order from a menu, diners hand select their own ingredients from a wall of refrigerators and pre-plated items. The list of ingredients is as exotic as it is diverse and broad: filet mignon, freshwater prawns, beef tongue, konnyaku knots, pork tenderloin, zucchini, lotus root, eggplant, taro, lamb, eggs, mayo mussels, brisket, king crab, lobster, bean glass, baby octopus – just a few of the name checked options from the businesses Facebook page.
With seasoned meat, veggies and seafood in hand, diners get to cook their selections to order table side. Each table comes replete with hot plate, hot pot and handily placed overhead extractor fan too, should you get carried away. Rice, noodles, condiments are more are on hand from the friendly wait staff too.
3078 W 7800 S, West Jordan, UT 84088
Phone: (385) 900-5875
Vivint Arena – And just hot off the press, news of a locally focused food revamp at this downtown SLC venue.
After the soon to complete upgrade, each corner of the main concourse will feature a different Utah eatery, including: R&R BBQ, Cubby’s, Maxwell’s and El Chubasco. Other popular SLC originals such as J Dawgs, Hire’s Big H, Cupbop (again!) and Zao Asian Cafe will all make appearances throughout the facility too.
301 S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
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.