Foodie heaven: Utah provides an underrated restaurant experience, here are some of the best

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Sorry, foodies of Salt Lake City, the local food scene here in Utah has been ranked lower than you may have thought.

According to WalletHub’s 2021 rankings of the Best Foodie Cities in America, Salt Lake City lands as the 27th best in the nation. Portland, Oregon topped the list followed by Orlando and Miami, Florida taking silver and bronze respectively.

Other cities that beat out SLC included Cincinnati, Ohio, which is famous for serving chili on spaghetti noodles, and Buffalo, New York, known for – you guessed it, Buffalo chicken wings.

According to Alondra Loex, better known as foodieutah on Instagram, Salt Lake City may have been snubbed by WalletHub’s rankings.

“I feel like Utah is a great place for foodies because we have so many restaurants,” the influencer comments. “They keep coming up, I feel like honestly I’m invited to a grand opening almost once a week.”

Interestingly, Loex credits Utah’s diverse food scene, which can include cuisine from all over the world, to its religious heritage. It’s not uncommon, she says, for returned missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to come back and open a restaurant to share the food they came to love on their missions.

Working as a ‘pro foodie,’ Loex says the other passionate members of the foodie community in Utah often talk about little else than what’s going on in SLC’s restaurant scene, and enjoy trying out new places, as well as legendary longtime favorites, as often as they can.

Food lovers in Utah will likely recognize many of the featured restaurants on the following list.

Here are some of the best foodie-friendly places to eat in the Wasatch Front area. Of course, with so many places to eat in the area, this isn’t a complete list.

This isn’t a sponsored post either.

Valter’s Osteria

Courtesy of Valter’s Osteria

Among folks who have the ability to eat at pretty much any restaurant in the country, Valter’s Osteria on Broadway in downtown Salt Lake City is one of the best in the nation. When NBA teams are in town to play against the Jazz, more often than not at least a few players and staff members, if not the entire team, can be seen at the Tuscan Granary-inspired intimate hot spot. That stamp of approval from the basketball world has been reflected in a Jazz themed mural on the West side of the building.

Mandarin Restaurant

Courtesy of Mandarin

While the Mandarin’s location in Bountiful, on the side of a former grocery store, may be unassuming, the food has been one of the state’s best and most enjoyed since 1977. Once inside the restaurant, the traditional Chinese décor sets the tone for an authentic experience with tasty fried rice, Singapore noodles, and Peking beef as highlights on the menu. If you grew up in Davis County and never went to or heard of the Mandarin, did you really grow up in Davis County?

Log Haven

Courtesy of Log Haven

After a hike in Millcreek Canyon with your partner, nothing quite completes the romantic occasion like a meal at Log Haven. The building, which was built in 1920 and set perfectly in the woods feels almost unreal, seeming more like something out of a Hallmark holiday movie. Menu offerings such as Tuna Tartare, Bison Steak, and Bacon Wrapped Elk have become legendary in the Utah food scene. The combination of the ambiance, food, and overall experience are so seamlessly delightful, it feels like the way humans and nature were meant to co-exist can be found at Log Haven.

Kyoto

Courtesy of Kyoto

Located on 1300 S and 1100 E, Kyoto might be the most authentic piece of Japan in the state. For example, back when the restaurant originally opened in 1984, the servers and wait staff were all dressed in traditional kimonos, something that was a dazzling piece of a unique SLC dining experience at the time. Nowadays, many of the restaurant’s staff still wear a kimono to provide many of the same menu items that have been a hit over the last four decades, including Ebi Tempura, Agedashi Tofu, and Salty-Sweet Teriyaki. The sushi bar is also quite good, prepared by head chef Peggy Ince-Whiting, who is a member of an exclusive club, one of a few female chefs to be trained at a sushi bar in Japan. It’s as real as it gets here.

Current Fish & Oyster

Courtesy of Current

Yeah, Salt Lake City, and all of Utah for that matter, is landlocked. Big deal. The folks at Current couldn’t care less about geographic obstacles, they’re still going to provide the best fresh seafood from around the country. At the moment, Caramelized Organic Salmon and Spanish Octopus headline the menu, but the oysters might be the magnum opus of the operation, which also has an impressive wine menu. Don’t let the understated exterior fool you, once you’re inside the old brick building, you’ll be blown away.

Stanza

Courtesy of Stanza

The same restaurant ownership group that owns Current also owns Stanza, one of the best contemporary Italian spots in town. Italian food has been historically famous for being quite good for quite a while, Stanza, however, puts a modern twist on many classics, while also providing a very modern atmosphere. You want to throw a lobster tail on a plate of pasta? You can do that at Stanza. If your palette isn’t quite as familiar with traditional Italian, you’ll likely need to Google a few of the menu items before you make your selection, but chances are you’ll be pretty happy with whatever you end up getting.

Table X

Courtesy of Table X

If it tastes like the food at Table X came right off the vine, it’s because it did. Much of the produce at the restaurant comes right out of the garden behind the building, making for an extremely fresh experience. The tasting menu is a little different than most restaurant menus. You can either choose from five or seven plates from an option of nine offerings, with a separate vegetarian menu to pick from as well. Table X’s mantra is to provide an unparalleled farm-to-table experience that’s so vivid, you can literally watch the food grow from the earth before your eyes.

What do you think? Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the Facebook post below:

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