What makes a good dinner spot? For me, there’s a few non negotiable details that a restaurant needs to meet. First up, the ability to make a reservation is a must; I don’t know about you, but I don’t want get dressed up to the nines, turn up and be told to wait in the rain, or be SOL entirely.
It goes without saying that great food and great service are essentials, and personally speaking a full bar. Another huge plus is a comfortable space with ample room to relax. I’d rather not have to rub elbows and hear every word from nearby tables if possible.
Lastly, I love dinner spots that don’t try to rush you in and out, turning that table faster than light speed. Maybe I’ll linger a little longer over dessert and one more glass of wine.
The following restaurants all meet these criteria and more, making them perfect dinner destinations.
1 – Stanza
There aren’t many better places in Salt Lake City to while away an evening, than at this downtown Italian restaurant. The chic modern space is home to some spectacular cooking, courtesy of chef Jonathan LeBlanc.
LeBlanc’s cuisine harnesses traditional Italian dishes replete with fresh made house pasta and locally sourced ingredients when possible; moreover, flashes of New American cuisine punctuate a menu thats hard to choose just one dish from. Lastly, with pastry chef guru Amber Billingsley also at work here, yes, yes you will be having dessert tonight…
2 – SLC Eatery
Chef’s Paul Chamberlain and Logen Crew first dreamed up the notion for SLC Eatery more than a decade prior to it’s opening while working together at the much missed Fresco.
Years later, the duo’s dreams came true with this unique restaurant that showcases the chef’s innovative ideas and eclectic tastes. The menu changes almost nightly, and delivers impromptu table side delicacies via cart – think Chinese style dim sum dining – only with a New American twist.
1017 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
3 – Kyoto
The nigh 40 years under their belts tells you all you need to know about this restaurant – it’s as close to an SLC dining institution as you’re likely to find. One of the few restaurants in town that specializes in traditional Japanese fare, you’ll find everything from teriyaki to tempura to tonkatsu here. Kyoto has a full bar and is busy every night of the week – always make reservations.
1080 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
4 – Oquirrh
Drew and Angelena Fuller’s chef driven restaurant is one of the finest spots in the SLC. From the chef driven seasonal menu to the curated wine list and cocktails – there’s every ingredient here you need for a special night out. Reservations a must.
368 E 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
5 – HSL
The Downtown SLC outpost of chef Briar Handly’s Park City original, Handle, is one of the best dining destinations in town. The menu checks of all the important line items: local sourcing, seasonal, chef driven and more.
418 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
6 – Pago On Main
This sister restaurant to the 9th and 9th neighborhood’s famed farm to table restaurant offers a modern and elegant space with a similar chef driven menu. Open seven days a week and amidst the hubbub of downtown Main Street’s many bars and restaurants.
341 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
7 – SOMI
Head to Sugar House for this upscale spin on Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The chic space is also equipped with a very smart wine list and hand crafted cocktails. Secret insider tip – the jalapeño and garlic dressed wings are some of the best in the city.
1215 Wilmington Ave Suite 100, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
8 – Mr Shabu
This Winter warmer is located in the fun Gateway facility in Salt Lake City. The order of the days is DIY shabu shabu – table side cooked meats and veggies in bubbling pots of broth. Read our full review of Mr Shabu here.
159 Rio Grande St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
9 – Copper Onion
This stalwart of the downtown dining scene is more than a decade old, and with good reason. The restaurant is a grown up oasis amongst a landscape dominated by fast casual eateries. The menu changes seasonally and is equal parts fun and sophisticated. Open seven days a week and with a very strong bar program.
111 E Broadway #170, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
10 – Oasis Cafe
Likewise, another lesser known dinner spot, is this tranquil oasis in the heart of SLC. More commonly known for their killer breakfast and brunch, Oasis is open for dinner every night of the week as well. The cooking is every bit as good in the evening, and not being known to the crowds, offers a peaceful and pleasant way to spend a dinner date.
151 500 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102