BBQ to Empanadas – what’s new on the Utah dining scene

This makes our fourteenth check in to date this year; another installment in an ever growing compendium of what’s new in Utah for 2022. I have a feeling we’re gonna smash last year’s end of year summary which recapped 195 new restaurants reported on. As ever lemme remind you that you can follow along in more granular fashion at New In Utah – our blow by blow account of newfangled stuff as and when news arrives.

So, down to brass tacks…

Open now

Noemi’s Cafe

Noemi's Cafe exterior
Noemi’s Cafe exterior
Noemi's Cafe counter ordering
Noemi’s Cafe counter ordering
Noemi's Cafe empanada and choripan
Noemi’s Cafe empanada and choripan
Noemi's Cafe empanada and choripan
Noemi’s Cafe empanada and choripan
Noemi's Cafe beef empanada
Noemi’s Cafe beef empanada
Noemi's Cafe beef choripan
Noemi’s Cafe beef choripan
Noemi's Cafe alfajores
Noemi’s Cafe alfajores

As has become standard for these pieces I’m starting out of alpha order, with my pick of the crop. Since last month’s roundup, a restaurant I’ve been eagerly awaiting for months has now opened. Noemi’s Cafe make their mark in the Fort Union spot (777 Fort Union Blvd) left free by Ganesh Indian Cuisine moving down the road.

The reason I’ve been so keenly refreshing my Facebook feed on their progress? I was lucky enough to sample some of their cuisine a couple of years back via their food truck – Noemi’s Catering. I became an instant fanboi.

At the new cafe, guests order at the counter from a concise menu, headed up by a constellation of empanadas. I’m told most are deep fried, with the carne being baked. There are also several vegan options too. These are some of the finest stuffed pastries I’ve had full stop, South American, English, you name it. Apparently the latter informed the former – at least so goes the tale told to me by the lovely folks at Dough Miner. Apparently English tin miners faced with exhausted mines headed to the Americas, and along with their picks, took along the know how for their savory pastries.

Noemis Catering pastel de choclo
Noemis Catering pastel de choclo

The suspicious side of me debates the possible apocryphal nature of it. After all, putting things inside of things, feels as self evident as putting things on top of things. Whatever the story, the roster of South American pastries here are fabulous. The carne comes with sweetly seasoned ground beef, olive and egg. Sadly we didn’t receive a side of the jaw droppingly good salsa verde I know Noemi’s concocts (Google suggests the name might be pebre sauce). I did spy it go to other tables mind you; if you don’t get any, be sure to ask, it’s magical stuff.

We also try the choripan sandwich, “it’s like chorizo”, we’re told and immediately nod yes. Dessert comes from the handsomely appointed pastry cases in the form of a stout alfajores – short bread discs are plumped apart with dulce de leche filling then rolled in coconut flakes.

That handwritten menu presumably affords the ability to change things up on the daily too. On our visit I spy pastel de choclo – see pictured above from an adventure with their food truck – a sort of South American spin on cottage pie. Sub the mashed spuds and replace with mushed corn and you’re getting close.

I continue to watch these guys on their social media, and routinely see them post sold out messages. If you head by (and you really should) do check in advance.

Pizza Volta

Pizza Volta - chew baca pizza w bacon, caramelized onions, ricotta (That One Foodie Friend)
Pizza Volta – chew baca pizza w bacon, caramelized onions, ricotta (That One Foodie Friend)

Relighting the pizza ovens left cold since Mellow Mushroom departed Sugar House, Pizza Volta is now open. The restaurant is the work of Paul Cucchiarell and Martin Brass, two seasoned restaurateurs who come to Utah hot on the heels of their work at  Hand Fire Pizza in Jackson, WY.  Together the two have 40+ years of shared experience in the industry.

The Pizza Volta menu focuses on salads, pizzas and desserts. All ingredients are sourced locally and regionally as much as possible and organic whenever available.  GF and vegan food options are available as well as full bar with craft beers, specialty cocktails and distinctive wines. The restaurants aims to provide a family friendly, comfortable dining atmosphere and has works to support community efforts; sponsoring  weekly Tuesday night pizza for local non-profits.

Pho 33

Various dishes (Pho 33)
Various dishes (Pho 33)

Numerous people have told me how their misfortune is now my luck. I live right near by this new opening in South Salt Lake, and the angst of Midvalians seeing this one depart their midst is palpable. Pho 33 now lives in the sprawling building at 285 E 2700 S, former home of Good Future Hot Pot.

I’ve yet to swing on by myself but you can bet I will in short order. The menu comprises a roster of classic Vietnamese staples like bun, banh mi, and pho, before riffing all over; Chinese, Japanese and Thai all make an appearance.

Bistro Provenance

Duck a l'orange (Bistro Provenance)
Duck a l’orange (Bistro Provenance)

Now providing French-flair in Utah County is Bistro Provenance. Owned by Chad Pritchard of Oregano Italian Kitchen and Fat Daddy’s Pizza, the menu looks set to scratch an itch for many a Francophile; French onion soup, charcuterie, steak frites, duck a l’orange – you name it – the whole gang is here. There’s even (finally after years of me banging on about it) trout almandine with local Utah trout.

Meat Hook BBQ

Meat Hook BBQ - exterior
Meat Hook BBQ – exterior
Meat Hook BBQ - patio
Meat Hook BBQ – patio
Meat Hook BBQ - interior
Meat Hook BBQ – interior
Meat Hook BBQ - all the foods
Meat Hook BBQ – all the foods
Meat Hook BBQ - brisket, pork and chicken
Meat Hook BBQ – brisket, pork and chicken
Meat Hook BBQ - ribs and sausage
Meat Hook BBQ – ribs and sausage
Meat Hook BBQ - sauces
Meat Hook BBQ – sauces
Meat Hook BBQ - ribs
Meat Hook BBQ – ribs
Meat Hook BBQ - brisket
Meat Hook BBQ – brisket

“There’s a sign for a Meat Hook BBQ in at about 3400 S Redwood in West Valley. It’s a newish construction attached to south of the Westerner Club. Looks like they will have a patio and indoor, but can’t tell much else. Let us know if you hear anything about it.” So goes the plea sent my way by a curious reader. Ever the grease stained glutton investigative journalist I headed on down at the first available opportunity.

Meat Hook BBQ is a brand new Q spot that I believe is owned by the same folks as The Westerner; with a certain Jason Hook noted as the owner of the latter, it’s not a huge leap to speculate that from the name.

The menu commences with familiar meat combo plates before moving onto some interesting mish mashes; salads and sandwiches, tacos and nachos, all with BBQ flourishes. We went with a two and three meat combo to get our greasy hands on all five proteins Hook smokes up.

Initial indications were mixed. Our noon arrival didn’t seem to quite line up with the brisket coming fresh from the fire, arriving as it did to our table, a little dry and without much supple fatty flex. I have to admit the additional charge levied, for the resulting solitary slice felt a little meagre. Opting for sliced over chopped (because what rational actor doesn’t) the sliced beef had a good thunk of smokey flavor.

Highlights were the ribs with a beautiful crimson bark and bags of peppery flavor (a recurring motif here). The andouille sausage lasted barely seconds too; but frankly I’ve only ever encountered a single sausage in forty four years that I didn’t enjoy. Chicken thigh came pulled much like the pork, and featured a pointed peppery kick. On the side, the star was the sweetcorn fritters – corn studded remixes of classic hush puppies.

Wisely, meats are served un-sauced. Curiously, of the three sauces, the sweet and sassy offered the most oomph, delivering black pepper heat and molasses tang. The Feckin Hot mind you, was, well, lets call it Utah hot and just move on. A few other highlights include the full restaurant liquor license. Domestic and local beers flow, as do cocktails. The space is brand new, comfortably large, and the outdoor patio is nifty. You’ll never want for parking either with the behemoth of a parking lot.

I’ll be back to see how things are going in a month or three. The BBQ business is a tricky game, I get it; and trying to judge it is mercurial stuff, at least in a restaurant setting. Random thought for the day – I’d love for BBQ joints to start posting their “hot off the smoker times”.

Poke Kings Utah

New to Holladay and replacing the old Laid Back Poke Shack, just across from Snider Bros. Initial reviews for Poke Kings seem solid though there’s not too much out there I can find on them right now.

Rockwell Ice Cream

Regent Street location (Rockwell Ice Cream)
Regent Street location (Rockwell Ice Cream)

Taking up a spot on downtown SLC’s Regent Street is Rockwell Ice Cream. This SLC spot makes for their second outpost, their first being found down in Provo.

Tapa Sushi

Saratoga Springers now have the all new Tapa Sushi to check out. The Japanese restaurant features a respectable range of maki, nigiri and sashimi as well as an extensive cooked menu. Many of the house specialty maki rolls hover appealingly around the ten dollar mark and it’s always nice to see hamachi collar on any menu.

Tea Rose Thai Express

Tea Rose Diner - special fried rice
Tea Rose Diner – special fried rice

Pictured above a plate of the special fried rice from Tea Rose Diner – progenitor of Anny Sooksri’s Thai-fueled restaurant empire. Following that first outing in Utah, Sooksri went on to open Chabaar, FAV Bistro, Siam Noodle Bar, Noodle Run, and Bakes N Bubbles. Tea Rose Thai Express is the latest and moves into the spot that the last two on that list tried third hand at. The name is as explanatory as any you will find.

The Underground

Of this new Ogden opening the Trib’s Stefene Russell writes, “Stella’s on 25th (225 25th St., Ogden) has opened The Underground, a 25-person club designed to feel like a 1920s speakeasy. The tiny venue must be accessed through a red padded door with a MAINTENANCE sign on it. You also can’t just walk through that door — reserve a space by calling 385-333-4184 or 801-564-0258. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m.”

Oh Shabu Shabu & BBQ

New for South Jordan hot pot lovers is Oh Shabu. The all you can eat menu starts at $22.95 for lunch and $29.95 for dinner. Priced additionally to the bubbling broth are meat skewers (presumably the BBQ bit of the name) – selections such as spicy lamb, curry beef, pork belly and more.

Via 313

Via 313 - Detroit style pizza
Via 313 – Detroit style pizza

This Detroit-style pizza operation was welcomed into the Savoy Fund fold a while ago, and has now expanded with another location – their fourth in Utah. Rivertonians can now enjoy their own Via 313. Here’s the full press release on the opening:

Over a decade ago, Via 313 opened up as just a small food truck operating on the streets of Austin. While the food truck stayed in Texas, the award-winning pizzeria has captured the appetite of the Beehive State and recently opened its newest location in Riverton.

To celebrate, the award-winning pizzeria invited the local community to join the Via 313 team, Mayor Trent Staggs and the Riverton Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and is now serving the community at 13222 S. Tree Sparrow Dr., Ste. R180 in the Mountain View Village shopping center.

“We’re thrilled to continue growing in Utah,” said Co-Founder Brandon Hunt. “We’re honored to share our Detroit-style pizza everywhere we go, and we’re excited to have it in Riverton. We’re so grateful for the warm reception from the community at the grand opening and hope everyone comes and discovers their new favorite pizza spot.”

The Riverton location marks Via 313’s fourth in Utah and 11th systemwide. The store’s operating hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Via 313 exists so more people around the country can enjoy the pizza that’s beloved in Detroit. The pizzas are called square, but they’re actually rectangle and baked in metal trays, just like the ones used on the automotive assembly lines at the Big Three. But instead of being filled with metal parts, Via 313’s trays are filled with the finest pizza ingredients it can source. To learn more about Via 313 or to view the full menu, visit via313.com.

Coming soon

Bobby Flay and Bobby's Burgers
Bobby Flay and Bobby’s Burgers

The following should be with us any day now, here’s what you can expect next on the Utah dining scene.

Aqua Terra Steak & Sushi

Coming soon to City Creek is this high end concept, seemingly configured similarly to Murray’s Miyazaki. The job posting for Aqua on KSL reckon this one will be as follows:

Coming soon to City Creek Downtown SLC, AQUA TERRA Steak + Sushi delivers premium cuts, inventive sushi, sake cocktails, and a curated wine list in an alluring yet approachable atmosphere. Inspired by the nature surrounding Salt Lake City, the restaurant’s aesthetic embodies the color palette of the mountain ranges, waters, and forests of the region, while the menu features classic cuts of beef, mountain-influenced game, and a contemporary sushi program focused on ocean-fresh sashimi and nigiri, contemporary rolls, and crispy rice.

Bobby’s Burgers

I reported on Bobby Flay’s likely arrival in Utah here. Bobby’s Burgers is the fast food concept led by the superstar chef, and they’re keenly eyeing franchise opportunities in the state.

Cast & Cut

Coming this snow season (will there even be one?) to Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge, this ritzy looking steak and seafood joint. The website reckons:

New this season, Cast & Cut is the latest evolution of the Deer Valley dining experience. Celebrate the season with an array of delicately prepared a la carte dishes, fresh seafood towers featuring an enticing selection of oysters from around the U.S., mussels, lobster, crab legs, caviar and more. Our award-winning team of chefs has created the quintessential mountain seafood and steakhouse experience, offering dry-aged cuts, locally caught trout, along with the best locally sourced ingredients and accompaniments.

Try our absinthe drip experience or enjoy a full bar stocked with specialty cocktails and a tasteful selection of beer and wine. Save room for decadent desserts, large enough for the whole family to share, and taste the genuine Deer Valley Difference as you take in the famous views from the historic Snow Park Lodge. Join us this winter for a fireside toast to a memorable vacation or day on the slopes, and experience mountainside dining in the heart of the Wasatch.

PSA: absinthe drip is how I want my end of life care folks, please note this article to my healthcare provider.

El Morelense Tacos Tortas Huaraches

South Jordan should be the next outpost for El Morelense – the restaurant that some regard as home to the best tacos in town.

Leonard’s Market and Taqueria

Town Lift have the scoop on this one. Coming to Park City, Leonard’s is the work of the similarly named family, residents of Park City for two decades. The space will operate as equal parts full service butcher shop, Mexican market and dine-in taqueria.

Libertango

Meat fanatics will want to check out the menu on this one. Libertango is a new Argentinean steak house set for Sandy this Fall and looks set to be relatively unique in Utah; lamb chops with saffron rice anyone? Libertango is likely to open in the coming weeks.

Caffe D’Bolla

The finishing touches are being applied on the move of this Utah coffee house, known for their exacting appliance of science and technique. The move sees D’Bolla skip down the road from 400 S. over to the Wells Fargo building (facing out onto Gallivan where the road returns to meet Broadway).

TBA Tex Mex

A kindly reader sent me this link which promises a new Tex Mex food truck possibly headed our way sometime soon.

Hoppers Grill & Brewing

After I wrote this story, people started to pop up in my inbox. By the end of the week, I was able to confirm that yes, Hoppers is indeed coming to the Central 9th neighborhood and also, Daybreak. The Midvale stalwart that closed to make way for Raising Cane’s has been plotting a return ever since. I’ll be speaking with the owners in due course and bring you the full, detailed breakdown of what to expect.

Training Table

Another returning local name reported on here last week. The Training Table reboot is no longer a mystery, and gobbled up acres of column inches. The quick reveal is that the brand are back with multiple food trucks that they hope to build on with physical locations in the future. There’s also now an online store for ordering your favorite TT sauce. Here’s the full release from the company in case you wanted every last ounce of detail:

Following months of anticipation, The Training Table announced today they are bringing their beloved food and nostalgic restaurants back to Utah—and with some new twists. The Training Table is releasing two of their signature sauces, The Ultimate Dipping Sauce and The Ultimate Hickory Sauce, which are a must-have accompaniment to their world-famous cheese fries and burgers. Both signature sauces will be available for purchase by the bottle on their website.

In addition, The Training Table announced it will soon be hitting the road, with the debut of food trucks, bringing the restaurant’s world-famous cheese fries and other menu items to public, private, and community events across Utah.

Training Table Chairman Stephanie Chard is excited about what’s ahead. “Our restaurant was a Utah institution and phenomenal success for nearly 40 years when we closed our doors,” Chard explained. “We always hoped that wouldn’t be the last time Utahns would see The Training Table and are proud to be “A Utah Original.” We’re excited to move forward, starting with bringing back a part of the legacy that people loved, and missed most —our dipping sauce and cheese fries.”

In July 2022, The Training Table’s website and Instagram page teased “something tasty” coming soon, and thousands of fans and followers from Utah began speculating as to what it meant. Utahns remember The Training Table as a unique, local favorite, where diners placed their orders from phones at their tables. The company plans to continue having phones be a featured part of the customer experience, both at the food trucks and the full scale restaurant locations. Thousands of Utahns have reached out on social media and shared their memories and photos from The Training Table over the years.

“We first opened our doors in Midvale 45 years ago, on October 7, 1977 – so we thought today being our anniversary, would make for an ideal time to announce our intentions to serve the community once more and bring people together again to enjoy great food and make new memories at The Training Table,” explained Kent Chard, Founder of the Training Table.

The locations of full scale restaurants will be announced in the coming months. In the meantime, The Training Table is encouraging fans and followers to stay tuned and stay hungry. They are hoping past and future customers will enjoy getting a taste of The Training Table by bringing the proprietary dipping sauce home to their own kitchens and watching for Training Table food trucks to pop up around town.

La Cevicheria

First previewed by Joshua Jones over at the Downtown SLC Alliance the word is now out what will be taking over the former Cancun Cafe space. The newly unveiled sign atop the building proclaims “seafood, Mexican cuisine and equal”. I’m in.

Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn To-Go

The famous Morgan Utah chicken restaurant is almost set for a comeback. According to posts like this, the restaurant which closed shop back in January 2021, is almost ready to re-open at a new location.

Mr Shabu

You can read my review of Mr Shabu at The Gateway here. Skip forward some three years or so and my thoughts still hold true. With that in mind, lucky people of Orem, you get a Mr Shabu too!

Umi Shabu Shabu

Umi are the latest to try their hand at this corner spot at 2700 S. and State. Before them, you might recall Big Tortas, Seoul Garden, and Jangsoojang as eager restaurateurs. Shabu Shabu is quickly becoming the new boba don’t you know.

Pica Rica BBQ

Meatwhile (I’m trademarking that) down in Southern Utah, serial-restauranteur Michael McHenry has a new BBQ concept ready to roll. Here’s the full preview by way of press release from the group:

The McHenry Group, a progressive restaurant group focused on experiential restaurant concept creation, today announced its bringin’ sexy back to BBQ as its newest concept, Pica Rica Americana BBQ, gets set to open this fall, first in St. George.

rue to the DNA of The McHenry Group, Pica Rica Americana BBQ is a collaboration between award-winning geniuses, brought together by nationally recognized concepteur, Michael McHenry, with Jason Neeley (named 2022 Restaurateur of the Year); and culinary wizard Chef Tyler Stokes (Chef of the Year, 2022) – This trio are all forces of nature in their own right, coming together to change the BBQ game for good.

The McHenry Group (TMG) is known for its ability to create brands that weave into the fabric of the neighborhoods where they reside – restaurants where people from all walks of life come to gather.

“Pica Rica Americana BBQ will be right in the heart of St. George – we’re by the neighborhood, for the neighborhood – and it’s what makes our business tick,” said McHenry. “St. George really bloomed during the pandemic as a big focus turned to health and lifestyle. Positioned 45-minutes from the front entrance of Zion National Park and nestled in the red cliffs of southern Utah, we couldn’t think of a better backdrop for our latest experience! We’re bringing the relationship between the guest and the Pitmaster back to BBQ. Few styles of culinary fare are as personal, intimate and connective as BBQ and it’s time to take it on. The recipe for the smoke show we’re bringing has been honed and refined for 15 years, marrying central Texas BBQ themes with the excitement and flavor of Mexico City.”

“You’ll see hand-rolled tortillas, fresh off the griddle handed right to the guest — you’ll walk through the kitchen to see fresh sausage being made on your way to the pit room where dozens of award-winning briskets are being smoked – that’s BBQ at its best,” said Neeley.

Pica Rica means rich & delicious – BBQ moles, fresh salsas, street corn and desserts — in an environment where people will want to see and be seen, we’re bringing a new flare to the Pit.

“We believe everything tastes better in a tortilla – especially brisket – so we’re taking on real BBQ, curating an experience that captures that essence and connectivity of celebrating life through sharing a meal,” said Stokes. “We’re taking on BBQ and making it sexy!”

The opening of Pica Rica Americana BBQ comes fast on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the opening of TMG’s most recent hit, Sunday’s Best, a brunch-only concept that quickly became Utah’s hottest restaurant, bringing pancakes and champagne to the heart of Utah’s Wasatch Front. For more information, visit TheMcHenryGroup.com

Pollo Camero

First noted by the Salt Lake Tribune in recent weeks – Pollo Camero is expected to land in Utah. Stefene Russell writes Camero are “a fast-casual chicken restaurant, {with} plans to expand to Salt Lake City, with 10 brick-and-mortar locations planned to roll out over the next five years.

Vietopia Deli

Wondered what might go into the spot left empty by D’Bolla moving West, now you know. It’s set to be the latest location for Vietopia, which has quickly grown around the Wasatch.

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: 

Opening a new restaurant in Utah? Be sure to read our restaurant resource section which includes info on everything from marketing through POS systems.

2022 holiday gift guide

With the holidays coming up quickly be sure to check out our Utah foodies gift guide. Locally made products, services and gifts galore for that picky eater in your life. All given our seal of approval.

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