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Fried chicken to fine dining – what’s new on the dining scene

The Crack Shack

Ascent Kitchen

For those last few of you, belligerently clinging to new year resolutions – or those just arterially kaput from yet another fried chicken sandwich – check out this new healthy option with a trio of locations across the valley. The business moves seamlessly into the former Pulp Lifestyle spots (Downtown, Liberty Park, Sandy), with a focus mainly on breakfast and lunch. It’s not clear whether the business is an all new setup; notes on the Downtown Alliance blog suggest this is the same Pulp operators rebooting under a new concept. Breakfast wraps, toasts and bowls run $8-$10 with a lunch lineup of sandwiches and bowls coming in at $10-$16.

Boiling Bowl

Brand new in the South Salt Lake Chinatown complex, this Asian hot pot restaurant. Select your broth, add your toppings, dig in. The menu offers a continent hopping range of broths, Japanese Tonkotsu through to Korean kimchi inflected bowls. As it’s a matter of state law now, the restaurant also serves poke bowls.

3432 S State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
(801) 808-2691

Capital Grille

The Capital Grille - filet mignon
The Capital Grille – filet mignon

Get the expense account ready, downtown SLC just added another upscale steak house to the roster. This is the first Utah excursion for Darden’s fancy pants steak and spuds outpost and as the Downtown Alliance’s Joshua Jones notes, “we hope this opens the door for more of their platforms to our market, including Seasons 52, Eddie V’s, and Yard House.”

Some will no doubt roll their eyes, point out Darden operate Olive Garden, and bemoan the homogenization of cityscapes – but – you can guarantee the steak will top quality and cooked to spec. And that’s the point of these places; reliable pit stops for out of state travelers not willing to roll the dice on an indie-restaurant, a well oiled-machine that can host the company Christmas party etc. Steak groupies will want to know Capital Grill dry age in house, which immediately marks them a notable destination in these parts. Anyway, here’s the full press release from Capital Grille on the opening of their Utah venture:

The Capital Grille, known for dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood and a world-class wine list, is bringing its take on luxury dining to Salt Lake City. Opening Friday, March 25, the restaurant emphasizes personalized and anticipatory service in a relaxing, yet elegant atmosphere. 

The Capital Grille is best known for expertly prepared steaks dry-aged in-house for 18-24 days, a process that achieves incomparable flavor and tenderness. Steaks are hand-carved daily by the restaurant’s butcher, with selections including Bone-in Dry-Aged NY Strip; Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 15-Year Aged Balsamic; and Sliced Filet Mignon with Cipollini Onions, Wild Mushrooms and Fig Essence, among others. 

The restaurant is also popular for its blend of menu classics and twists on appetizers and sides, artfully prepared using impeccable ingredients. Signature dishes include Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry PeppersLobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese; and Lobster and Crab Cakes. Dedicated to culinary excellence throughout its menu, a skilled pastry chef prepares desserts each morning from scratch, such as The Capital Grille Cheesecake, brûlée style, and Coconut Cream Pie.

The Capital Grille pours from a Wine Spectator-recognized list of more than 350 selections, housed in a floor-to-ceiling, temperature-controlled wine kiosk holding more than 3,000 bottles. Guests may also choose from 30 wines rarely offered by the glass, including library vintages and highly sought after limited bottlings. Through continuous wine training, servers can make personalized recommendations for guests to choose their perfect pairings. Private wine lockers are available by annual lease for the aficionado, offering brass nameplates, specially procured wines and first access to special events and tastings. 

The Capital Grille in Salt Lake City is located at 40 East 100 South, near the corner of Regent Street. The new restaurant spans over 12,000 square feet, including a lounge and patio, as well a separate floor for private and semi-private space for events. The dining room is open daily for dinner, with hours Sunday from 4-9 p.m., Monday through Thursday from 4-10 p.m., Friday from 4-11 p.m. and Saturday from 5-11 well as lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are recommended but not required.

40 E 100 S Suite 100, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(385) 419-3888

Copper Common

Copper Common - nduja and mussels
Copper Common – nduja and mussels

In case you missed it in the recent flurry of stories, be sure to check out what’s been happening at Copper Common here. TL’DR, Ryan Lowder’s downtown bar has undergone a complete makeover, from design to dish. The result is a bar for grown ups who pine for life in a city not beleaguered by asinine debates over hard seltzers and mini bottles.

111 E Broadway Suite 190, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(801) 355-0543

Cupbop Millcreek

Cupbop - ugly bop bowl
Cupbop – ugly bop bowl

The explosive growth of this home grown mega-chain to be continues unabated. When I started to write this piece the brand was writing about their 35th store. By the time I hit publish they were putting the sign up on the 37th. At this point they’re literally opening stores faster than I can pen articles. I’ve written before that the chain have so many outlets, your basement likely has one at this point; check your shed as well now, because there’s one there too.

Recent Cupbop openings include Millcreek, Herriman, out of state in Idaho, heck they have operations in Indonesia. At some future date expect me to be writing about the boppers Musk-like riches after being gobbled up by a mega-operator. The business reported revenues of $10 million back in 2017.

Dolly Donuts

After months of rabid speculation, this classic American diner styled operation opened their doors in mid-March. The menu offers solid simple and solid breakfast, lunch and dinner – biscuits and gravy, mac n cheese, burgers, and yep, donuts. There’s a drive through too if you need a chai latte and apple fritter stat.

3245 S State St, South Salt Lake, UT 84115
(385) 355-9904

Famous Dave’s

What’s with all the chain news Stu, I hear you cry. We don’t care Stu. Well really you should care, you should be paying attention. The new South Salt Lake location of the national Q outfit, represents a massive shift in the group’s priorities, and it’s worth pausing and paying attention to the industry momentum.

The newly opened SoSL store supplants the former KFC, and with it brings a new Dave’s concept built around take out, drive thru and delivery. Virtually every big brand is experimenting with a version of this model. Cracker Barrel with their virtual-only Chicken n’ Biscuits, Applebee’s Cosmic Wings, McDonald’s massive investment into tech and recent 4 billion dollar delivery sales (and that was 2019!). Here’s a story on the Quick Que concept over at RestaurantNews.

2435 S State St, South Salt Lake, UT 84106
(385) 261-2360

Great Wall

In the ever rotating selection of businesses over at South Salt Lake’s China town facility – you can find this brand new Chinese eatery. The menu of Sichuan boiled blood curd, stir fried chicken offal and pork livers will no doubt send most Utahns quivering off to the nearest Panda Express; but for the rest of us, check out the unique (for the Beehive that is) menu. Oh, I spy xiao long bao too…

3390 S State St, South Salt Lake, UT 84115
(917) 915-2686

Hill’s Kitchen

The sister operation to Park City’s Hearth And Hill is now open. There’s a small on site cafe area for twenty five, but the focus here is catering, with the business able to handle events of up to 500 guests. Oh and hey, what’s that, Gastronomic SLC quoted in the press release. Hells yeah, we’re big time baby.

1153 Center Dr Suite G160, Park City, UT 84098
(435) 800-2870

J Dawgs

After departing Main Street, J Dawgs has seemingly been plotting the rebirth of their brand. The hot dog slingers are now back in business in downtown SLC at the City Creek (Kirton & McConkie Building). Logan, Riverdale and Spanish Fork locations will follow in the Summer – the latter also sporting the group’s first drive thru.

50 E S Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111


KITA dining room (Pendry)
KITA dining room (Pendry)

“Japanese for “north”, KITA is a Japanese grill style restaurant set in a stunning, modern space that welcomes guests with indoor, al fresco and sushi bar seating.” So goes the headline blurb for this ritzy setup at the all new Pendry in Park City’s Canyon Village; with the larger resort rocking four dining options in total. KITA is presumably the fancy “lets push the boat out on our last night darling” destination restaurant of the quartet. The humble California roll introduces the maki menu at $15, while miso soup is offered for $14 elsewhere. Japanese A5 wagyu crowns the steak section – ask for a market price. Check out chef Daniel Grunbeck on FOX13 here, detailing the menu, restaurant and resort.

2417 West High Mountain Road, Park City, UT 84098
(435) 513-7213

Kokonut Island Gril

Kokonut Island Grill - BBQ meat plate
Kokonut Island Grill – BBQ meat plate

Kokonut Island Grill expands once more under the ownership of Wags Capital, the locally based venture vehicle. You might recall last year Wags took majority ownership of Michael McHenry’s Dirty Bird operation. Side note: open my own fried chicken sandwich joint. Double side note: maybe offer poke.

Anyway, Logan is the latest expansion site for Kokonut, which opened in late March. The brand serves up Hawaiian cuisine in a fast casual setting with dishes such as katsu chicken, ahi poke, kalua pork and more.

472 S Main St Suite 110, Logan, UT 84321
(435) 296-5583


One of the more interesting openings on this months list is this high end Japanese eatery that opens over in the Fashion Place mall. For once this is a menu that reads a damn site more interesting than the usual 45 pages of maki rolls, essentially on there for mayonnaise, usually its siracha mayo. No, the roster of dishes at Miyazaki is quite different, with Japanese A5 standing out in several forms. O.k. I know what you’re thinking, let me answer your first question…

$45 gets you three ounces cooked table side over a hot stone while at the other end of the spectrum $139 secures an 8 ounce ribeye. The prices then, are reassuringly high – as anyone who has tasted the real stuff knows – it ain’t cheap. Very interested to check this one out and learn more over the year.

6223 S State St, Murray, UT 84107
(801) 877-7788

Ramen Haus 

Poke, ramen, boba, fried chicken, you know the drill. The people only want four things, and those four things alone. This ramen shop opened in late February in Farmington. Origami-gurus should note Ramen Haus are presently offering a promotion where you can trade your paper cranes for a free gyoza or edamame.

1060 UT-225, Farmington, UT 84025
(385) 988-3917

Park City brewing

Oh, and the people want beer. Feb saw this opening up in Summit County.

1764 Uinta Way, Park City, Utah 84098

Chubby’s Neighborhood Café

ABC4 recently confirmed this new opening, “located at The Village, near Cinemark Theater and by the new Red Tacos, is the chain’s seventh location, each family-owned and operated. The franchise has become known for fresh flavors, a casual atmosphere, and exceptional customer service. The cuisine offered includes American favorites with an added southern tang.”

Sara Thai Kitchen

Sara Thai Kitchen - Thai sausage
Sara Thai Kitchen – Thai sausage
Sara Thai Kitchen - Khao man kai
Sara Thai Kitchen – Khao man kai
Sara Thai Kitchen - Khao man kai plated
Sara Thai Kitchen – Khao man kai plated

The opening of this downtown Thai spot eluded me for quite some time, that was until I saw rave reviews on the local Utah_Food Reddit. The restaurant opened towards the start of 2022 and moved into the spot that was left empty by the closure of Pasha Middle Eastern Cuisine.

After one meal, I am already considered adding them to our list of best Thai restaurant. The restaurant is the work of chef Ning Chaisith and it’s a family affair all around. I spoke to daughter Sam Chaisith who gave me a little backstory:

“We moved from Vegas during covid about a year and a half ago. My father who is our head chef has culinary experience of 45 years since he was a little kid he learned how to cook; my mother Sara Sarunthon has 30 years experience, growing up with her parents owning a small restaurant as well. The food we cook here is all homemade and we truly cook with love. Every dish is served in big portions with our customers always packing to go! We welcome everyone with the motto of “ if people show up at our door we feed them with good food and treat them like family”.

The menu features quite a few dishes that I’ve not seen here in Utah, Thai sausage anyone? A standout from my first visit is the khao man kai pictured above, a sort of Thai-take on Hainanese chicken. Steamed/boiled chicken is sliced skin on, then layered over rice. A side of broth with a sheen of chicken fat comes on the side, as does a ginger-garlic sauce. It’s comfort food of the highest order.

60 E 800 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(801) 906-8945

Tacos Tres Garcia

Not a new opening per se, but a major new update for this taco truck. Posting to Facebook the business write about a brand new permanent home along Sugar House’s Highland drive.

Weller’s Döner Wagon

Weller's Doner Wagon
Weller’s Doner Wagon

Layton’s Weller’s Bistro have expanded their operation to the streets with this all new food truck. The German forward menu includes both beef and chicken doner as well as falafel, schnitzel, currywurst, bratwurst and more. This also make realize I would also like to see more wagons on our streets: gyro wagon? beer wagon/ fried chicken wagon? Speaking of chicken…

Zulu Grille

Making the trek North from Lehi, South Jordan is the spot for the second opening of this chicken-centric restaurant. The star of the show is the piri piri chicken – featuring in salads, bowls, sandwiches and wraps. If yet another fried chicken sandwich . Pictured above, the colorful interior courtesy of local design company Eden & Co. Interior Design.

10709 S Redwood Rd, South Jordan, UT 84095

Coming soon

Capt Remo

Not much detail yet on this one, aside from their Instagram page, which would appear to portent some sort of seafood shenanigans headed out way any day soon.

Crack Shack Lehi

Crack Shack - coup de ville sandwich
Crack Shack – coup de ville sandwich

After 9th and 9th locals moaned and moped over the replacement of Mazza with out of state Crack Shack, a second outpost is now headed our way – this time landing in Lehi. For what it’s worth, its perfectly fine fried chicken, and sometimes, perfectly fine chicken is an itch that needs scratching. See my more detailed thoughts here. Other than that, here’s the full presser from the Savory group funded chain:

Today, The Crack Shack announces the grand opening of its second Utah location on April 21 in Lehi at 1085 East Main Street. Similarly to its first Utah location in Salt Lake City’s 9th & 9th neighborhood, the 3100-square-foot Lehi location will be a family-friendly, counter service style restaurant complete with the brand’s iconic chicken artwork, cheeky puns and a full bar featuring local craft beer from KiiTOS,Shades Brewing and T.F. Brewing, craft cocktails and wine. Unique to this space will be a pet-friendly patio with mountain views, fire pit and outdoor speakers, plus a separate, dedicated entrance for takeout orders perfect for those on the go.

As a branding element that gives nod to its individual locations, The Crack Shack is partnering with a local artist at each new unit to feature an interpretation of “Cock Fight.” The Crack Shack in Lehi is excited to partner with dynamic, local artist Adam Munoa for the custom piece. Munoa’s love for pop culture and comic books has heavily influenced his work, and he’s most well-known for his character illustrator work. Munoa’s version of the “Cock Fight” is gamified, inspired by the popular Street Fighter series. He’ll also be contributing custom graffiti work on the interior walls.

Culinary Director Jon Sloan is behind the SoCal/Baja-inspired fried chicken that combines non-GMO, “beyond free range” birds fresh from Jidori Farmsand a proprietary “Crack Spice” blend from Le Sanctuaire. While bone-in fried chicken is their signature (photo), the menu boasts  fried chicken sandwiches such as the Coop Deville and Firebird, fresh and hearty bowls for the healthy-ish at heart and a Lil’ Cluckers menu kids will love and grown-ups will feel good about serving. The Crack Shack prides itself on its house-made sauces, produce sourced from local farms and bread baked by Utah’s own Stoneground Bakery. Patrons will have access to The Crack Shack’s beloved sauce bar, which will feature house-made condiments like ranch, Sriracha 1000 Island (The Crack Shack’s spicy fry sauce), pineapple mustard and Sweet Baby G’s BBQ. For those with a sweet tooth, The Crack Shack is partnering with Utah-based Rockwell Ice Cream to bring handcrafted shakes to its guests. 

“The team and I are so thrilled to expand The Crack Shack in Utah with the opening of our location in Lehi,” said Jon Sloan, culinary director for The Crack Shack. “Having started in Southern California, it is truly humbling to see our passion project go from one coop to seven and to share our love of damn good chicken with customers across California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.”

The Lehi eatery will open officially to the public on April 21.

Emigration Cafe

Rumor has it that the shuttered 108-O-Eight space in the 15th and 15th neighborhood will be home to a new Scott Evans concept. The signs went up for Emigration Cafe recently, and the rumor mill insists it’s a brunch and lunch spot for Evans. As soon as that’s confirmed or denied I’l be sure to let you know.

Update: this KSL job ad confirms the rumor, and explains, “Featuring one of the best patios in Salt Lake City, Emigration Cafe will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (& brunch on Saturday & Sunday). As part of the award winning Pago Restaurant Group, farm to table now has three square meals a day, a beautiful bar, fabulous patio, and lots of growth opportunity.”

Franklin Ave Cocktail & Kitchen

Franklin Ave Cocktail & Kitchen will be the name for the latest venture from the popular Bourbon group which includes White Horse, Whiskey Street and Bourbon House. I spoke to head honcho of food for the group, Matt Crandall, to get some initial details.

Crandall was a little coy on what to expect from a final menu, admitting “I don’t want to limit what we can do by putting a concept on it, I want some creative room.” Crandall did tell me to think more along the lines of White Horse than Whiskey Street; and also a space that will straddle two floors on Edison Street, seating more than 150. I’ll be stopping by before the opening when the final menu and interior space takes shape. Stay tuned.

Gordos Tacos & Beer

Big tacos, big beer, what more could you ask for. So goes the name for this impending eatery in Murray. Gordos will make their mark in the space one home to Cous Cous.


American Fork will be the next town to enjoy the sweet charms of Gourmandise. This Facebook post at the start of the year indicates the doors will be flinging open any day now. The opening will join the original SLC spot, Draper and the also an airport outlet.

Slim Chicken

ABC4 writes about the upcoming opening of this chicken chain in Pleasant Grove.

A food hall for Granary District

In February’s roundup I wrote about a new food hall slated for the former Rico / Frida Bistro facility (operated by Woodbine Hospitality); since that post I’ve learned a little more detail. The rumors are indeed true, and Zachary Howa (globe trotting new owner at Stanza) will be the lead. I spoke with Howa recently on some of the details, and hope to follow up in the next few weeks with a more detailed story on what to expect. The early noises are great though – it looks like we’re getting our first *real* food hall concept like our big city cousins. Look ma, we’re all grown up here now. Ma: no you’re not, you can’t even buy a hard seltzer.

Sushi Squad

Lastly but by no means leastly, expect a new food truck to be rolling the streets this Summer. According to their website, chef Josh Talley’s Sushi Squad should be on the road by May or June.

Previously mentioned with no further update

We’ve written about the following new restaurants in recent posts tracking new restaurants around SLC. We’ve heard no further news on these at this time: 

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