With thousands of votes cast, tallied – and laboriously spell checked and corrected – the results are now in. I’m excited to take the wraps off our 2021 readers choice awards. Voted for by the smartest and most informed food crowd in Utah – that’s you dear reader.
The following are the results of the month long anonymous voting process in November; all votes are organic, nothing here is paid for. For our previous awards, check out the 2019 winners list here. Without further ado…
Best American restaurant
Previous 2019 winner: three way tie between HSL, Hearth And Hill and Glitretind
Best Chinese restaurant
While some categories feel like they’ll never be disrupted, best Chinese food is an exciting place right now. Hong Kong Tea House places first with 8% of the vote but a wide variety of other spots share the runner up spot on 5.3% – Mandarin, New Golden Dragon, One More Noodle House. Plenty of other interesting choices aren’t far behind either – Mom’s, Foodie N Sweetie, Chinese Taste etc. This will be one to watch in the coming months and years.
Previous 2019 winner: The Mandarin
Previous 2019 winner: Franck’s
Previous 2019 winner: Manoli’s
Best South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese etc)
Previous 2019 winner: Bombay House
Valter’s Osteria leaps to the top of the pile with a hefty 21% voice share in this category; the downtown SLC restaurant helmed by Valter Nassi, no doubt helped along by a little RHOSLC boost. Our fabulous sponsors Caffe Molise place second with 7.9%
Previous 2019 winner: Sicilia Mia
Takashi is a predictable winner in this category and grabbed 35.7% of the vote. And rightly so, they’re a cut above most spots in town. Following close behind, another favorite of mine, and sponsor of this website – Kyoto with 14.8%
Previous 2019 winner: Takashi
Relative newcomer Baek Ri Hhyang sweeps to first place with 13% of the vote. The traditional Korean restaurant has been receiving a quietly-bubbling of praise in food circles for some time now. You can find them over in the South Salt Lake Chinatown complex. Myung Ga came a close second with 10.9%
Previous 2019 winner: Myung Ga
Previous 2019 winner: Red Iguana
Best Middle Eastern
Another category where the winner seems a shoe in. Mazza tops the voting with 27.8%, although Laziz Kitchen sneaks into a quite close second place with 20.8%. This category is surely one to watch in the future especially with so many more great options coming online in recent years (Beirut Cafe, Kabob Bros to name two).
Previous 2019 winner: Mazza
Best South American
For those asking why I don’t break this one down with more granularity (best Chilean, best Peru, best Argentinian) South American once agains wins the prize of “least voted” with only 15% or so of voters making a choice here.
Those that did cast a vote proclaimed Arempas the winner with 16.7% of the votes. Puro Peru takes the runner up spot with 11.1% of votes.
Previous 2019 winner: Asado, Rodizio Grill, Rubi’s Peruvian Taste
Previous 2019 winner: Chanon Thai
Previous 2019 winner: Oh Mai
An expected first place sees R&R with 27.8%. Second place goes to Pats with 20.6%. This particularly category was the one replete with the most “Doesn’t exist” type answers. For the most part I’d agree, though I’d recommend keeping an eye on Richie Lush’s BBQ out of Kamas. I just checked them out myself and… wow.
Previous 2019 winner: R&R BBQ
Previous 2019 winner: Lucky 13
Best desserts / sweet tooth treat
Gourmandise takes the prize with 13.9% while Fillings And Emulsions isn’t too far behind on 8.9%. Given Utah’s sweet tooth – some voters commented this section might need breaking out into further categories?
Previous 2019 winner: Gourmandise
Previous 2019 winner: The Pie
Previous 2019 winner: Tosh’s Ramen
The Dodo claims first place with 7.5% of the vote. Blue Lemon and Aubergine Kitchen share second place with 4.5%. I may update this category next year to be a little braided; think best salads / healthy eats. The former is of the major trends national, with acai bowls, poke spots and the like exploding.
Previous 2019 winner: Hearth And Hill
Previous 2019 winner: Feldman’s Deli
Previous 2019 winner: Current
A two way tie sees Ruths Chris and Log Haven share claim to the best steak in the state with 14.1% of the vote. Another national chain, Fleming’s came in a close second with 12.7% Yet another massive national chain – Capital Grille – is expected to land in SLC this time next year, so this category will have another mammoth slugging it out.
Previous 2019 winner: Ruth’s Chris
Takashi crushes the competition here, and is there any doubt that would be the case? 48.8% of voters named Takashi and Tamara Gibo’s iconic spot their favorite in Utah. The margin of victory is second only to Current. The question of second place is more of a debate – Sapa takes that prize with 10.6% of the votes.
Previous 2019 winner: Takashi
Previous 2019 winner: Taqueria 27
Best vegan / veggie
Previous 2019 winner: Boltcutter
An extremely hotly contested category and one with a diversely split vote. Sweet Lake Biscuits And Limeade came out top with a relatively low 10.3% of the vote. Eggs In The City, Ruth’s Diner and The Grand America all share a joint runners up spot with 5.2%
Restaurateurs take note – any category that lacks a titanic Takashi or Current like victory – means there’s a mile of marketing space to make your restaurant THE place to go for a certain style/dish/meal, just sayin…
Previous 2019 winner: Stein Eriksen
Previous 2019 winner: Hearth And Hill
Best date night
Log Haven easily grab the crown here. The romantic Millcreek canyon restaurant nestled amongst soaring trees and waterfalls grabbed 20.8% of the vote. Newcomer Arlo shares the runner up spot with downtown stalwarts Bambara on 5.8% of the vote.
Previous 2019 winner: Oquirrh
Best late night
Pie Hole is the undisputed champ with 23.5% of votes cast. Pointing to a lack of clarity on available options, a quintet of businesses share runner up spot on 4.4% – Lake Effect, Arempas, White Horse, Betos, Varley. Also scoring 4.4%, multiple voters reckoning, “no option for late night eats”.
Previous 2019 winner: Pie Hole
Best new restaurant
Arlo turned the most heads here, winning best new restaurant with 12.9% of votes. Arlo is the chef-driven restaurant that took over from the much loved Em’s in the Capital Hill area North of the Aves. The duo of Ivy/Varley takes the runner up spot with 6.5%
Previous 2019 winner: Oquirrh
Best chef / baker / pastry chef
Filling And Emulsion’s Adalberto Diaz is the winner with 9.4% of the vote. Les Madeleine’s Romina Rasmusson is a close runner up with 7.8% of the vote.
Previous 2019 winner: Adalberto Diaz
Best food truck
Best overall restaurant 2021
Log Haven makes it four wins this year by securing 20% of the vote and winning our readers choice for the very best Utah restaurant in 2021. Make it five wins actually, as this win makes Log Haven the most acclaimed restaurant in our overall awards. Log Haven are another business we’re proud to call a supporter too! Oquirrh takes the runner up spot with 6.2%
Who else do you want to mention?
- Penny Anns for best breakfast
- Pretty bird
- Angelena Fuller (Oquirrh)
- Best bar food White Horse
- Copper Onion, Provisions, Caputo’s, Pho Thin, Mazza, Fav Bistro, Pie Hole, Per Noi, Kathmandu, Pho Tay Ho, Afghan Kitchen, Beaumont Bakery and Cafe (best croissants), Left Fork Grill, Log Haven
- Kathy Stephenson, Rio Grande, Seabird, Fenice
- Bes boba – Moge Tee
- Tacos Don Rafa
- Cooking classes – Continuing Ed at the U, Harmons, SL Culinary
- Fenice is amazing
- Restaurants and foodies learned a great deal during the pandemic. The nimble ones have come back stronger than ever
- Blue Copper for best coffee
- HSL is one of my standards. Consistently good. Also Cucina
- Pub – Red Rock Fashion Place
- Gossip Tapioca has the best boba from scratch, Blacksmith Ice Cream, Pizzeria Tasso, Grid City Beer Works, Tuk Tuks, Afghan Kitchen
- Water Witch
- Best brewpub – Hopkins, Best counter serve/fast casual – Spitz
- I think Thy Mims deserves a shout out for all the amazing work shes done in her life that was cut to short
- Fillings And Emulsions is an amazing Cuban pastry shop. So low key, so bomb. Best Doughnut: Fresh Doughnuts and Deli
- I also think a brew/distiller readers choice category or separate awards should happen! I’d vote beehive distillery for best distiller
- Huge burger connoisseur here. Just want to point out how hard it is to answer best burger. A Crownburger is just as good, but totally not comparable to a Lucky 13 burger, which is not comparable to a Copper Family burger
- I truly cannot speak highly enough of Moms. We get takeout almost every week
- Legends best overall sports bar
- Buds, Handlebar, Spitz
- Bricks Corner (great Detroit style pizza)
- Dont forget about Southern Utah. Several nice choices in Cedar City, including Centro Woodfired Pizza, French Spot, and Palette Bakery
- Ruby Snap
- Taqueria los Lee is a close 2nd in the taco category
- Amber Billingsley (Flourish Bakery)
- Gaetanos Sub Shop
- LDs Cafe (Richland, Utah)
- Garage Grill
- HSL – second place for American
- Makanmakan Asian Streat Food Fare
- Over the Counter, Sharons, The Other Place, Cottonwood Cafe
- Check out Celeste. Owner is fab and food over the top
- Café Molise
- caffe dbolla. Seventeen years. A coffee Mecca and local legend
- Brownies x 3, Big O Doughnuts, Pie Fight (you need more sweets categories, haha). Also Alibi (best cocktails), Beehive (best distillery), Shades (best beer)
- Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen (true blue Southern comfort food that is dynamite)
- TF Brewing
- Pizzeria Tasso
- Bjorns Coffee
- Pig & A Jelly Jar
- Osteria Amore is #2 best Italian!
- Sweet Hazel
- Ozora Izayaka
- Brickyard Bar
- Chick Queen Korean fried chicken
- Chick Queen
- Thanks to Log Haven for their great and professional service
- Blue Boar
- 5 seeds, Eating Establishment, and Woodland Bakery Best Breakfasts
- Chinatown in South Salt Lake. Theres always something new and delicious
- Localz Bistro
- Beaumont Bakery has the best avocado toast I have ever tasted
- Log Haven
- Copper Onion, Caputtos, Great Harvest, Marias Mexican, Silver Fork Lodge, Nonos Pizza, Barbacoa, Kathmandu
- Special shout out to the real life and soul of all restaurants: the dishwashers
- Log Haven
- Sagato Bakery
- Kevin Finch
- Love Zao for fast healthy food
- Midway Tavern & Eats, Midvale
- How about Greg Skedros founder of Mandarin Restaurant? At 92 years of age, he still goes to his pride and joy daily to say hello to dining guests. He founded Mandarin with his late wife in 1977
- Conte De Fee (for dessert), Meet Fresh (for Boba), BAMBU (for waffles), Handels (for ice cream), Sailors Boil (for seafood boil), Hanaya Poke (for poke bowls), Tonkotsu Shabu (for shabu), Rubyis (for Peruvian), Curry Pizza (for pizza), Shiro Kuma Snow Cream (for dessert)
Keep the conversation going
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Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with multiple local publications from Visit Salt Lake to Salt Lake Magazine, not least helped to consult on national TV shows.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for the better part of fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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