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Best Salt Lake City Restaurants

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While Utah may be known more for Jell-O and sweet treats than fine dining, the culinary scene here has bloomed like a desert rose thanks to creative chefs and innovative entrepreneurs at some of the best Salt Lake City restaurants. These days, you'll find all kinds of culinary gems, from pristinely prepared sushi to seasonal tapas-inspired small plates. Don’t miss the Italian food, either, which has long dominated the city’s restaurant scene, and in a town inhabited by a large Latino population, taco carts and Mexican mole sauces are some of your best bets. Here’s a nice selection of the best Salt Lake City restaurants to satisfy your culinary curiosity.

Metropolitan

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
The Metropolitan is where Salt Lake comes to feel international, not necessarily for the cuisine, but the architecture. A sleek setting and beautifully presented plates help create the cosmopolitan aura. Go with the flow in the bar, with a martini and pommes frites or sriracha tempura shrimp, or opt for a more prolonged dining experience in the main restaurant, where American nouvelle cuisine comes in the form of veal chops with quinoa and mustard jus or corn pudding with black truffle oil. It’s a great spot for a drink, dinner or dessert before or after an arts event, most of which are within walking distance from this top Salt Lake City Restaurant.

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Fresco Italian Cafe

Neighborhood: Fifteenth & Fifteenth Price: Expensive
Cozy up around a table indoors or on the patio of the Fresco Italian Cafe, both supremely romantic settings for rustic Italian fare that tastes like it was made with love. We’re talking about things like seared polenta topped with wild mushrooms, fresh pastas and secondi piattis like cioppino and roasted pork tenderloin with mustard-apple jus. A word to the wise—you’ll regret passing up the cheesecake at Fresco, one of the best places to eat in Salt Lake City. Reservations are recommended for this hidden neighborhood gem.

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Takashi

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
You might be in the desert, but that doesn’t mean the fish can’t be fresh (there’s an international airport nearby, after all). The sushi at Takashi would wow even a seaside resident. This is the kind of place where you should trust the sushi chef to serve you what’s freshest. You may end up with Amberjack sashimi or one of many cooked fish dishes served with creative sauces. If you’re a Japanese food purist, ask your server to steer you away from rolls with goopy sauces. Try the pickled lotus root or anything from the sake menu. The sleek, urban-cool atmosphere of Takashi makes it one of the best Salt Lake City restaurants, drawing suited power players at lunch and a well-dressed clientele at dinner.

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Red Iguana

Neighborhood: West Side Price: Moderate
As a Salt Lake City staple, the Red Iguana is the kind of place you head for straight from the airport. Why? Because it’s hard to find these kind of authentic Mexican mole sauces anywhere except Oaxaca. The rich, slow-cooked sauces, some of which include chocolate, cinnamon and ground nuts, are served with a variety of meats, rice and beans, but there’s also an array of more well-known Mexican dishes. A colorful and quirky atmosphere add to the charm. Be prepared for a wait, especially on weekends. The Red Iguana is one of the best Salt Lake City restaurants and well worth the wait.

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Red Iguana  

Eva

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Eva's mixed bag of culinary influences results in a delicious smattering of small plates, such as glazed pork ribs, sautéed Brussels sprouts and lobster ravioli. The open kitchen, small space and intimate bar make this one of downtown’s most accessible spots for a casual dinner or civilized happy hour.

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Squatters Pub

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Don’t pass up the novelty of visiting a brewpub in Utah. Experienced on the scene, Squatters produces some reputable standard brews, including the Provo Girl pilsner and Full Suspension Pale Ale, and its repertoire is growing with a new batch of high-alcohol beers inspired by a recent loosening of tight liquor laws. If your pint helped you work up an appetite, choose from standard pub fare like a barbecue buffalo burger, mac & cheese and nachos at this top Salt Lake City restaurant.

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Vinto Pizzeria

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
People come to Vinto Pizzeria for the wood-fired pizzas, which are a great value and perfectly cooked—thin and simultaneously crispy and chewy. Besides pizza, choose from meatballs, a great chopped salad and delicious seasonal desserts like the apple crostata. Don’t expect a down-home Italian kitchen atmosphere, though, but a sophisticated and stylish setting. One of the best places to eat in Salt Lake City, Vinto is perfect for a date night or nice lunch.

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Vinto Pizzeria  

Vertical Diner

Neighborhood: Sugar House Price: Budget
This joint offers a modern take on the diner, with solid vegetarian fare at a good value. But just because it’s vegetarian doesn’t mean you should expect rabbit food. One of the best places to eat in Salt Lake City, Vertical's breakfasts are hearty, as in pancakes and biscuits and gravy. On the other hand, salads will make you feel lighter, with their fresh produce and addictive homemade dressings. Add avocado to anything, except maybe desserts, of course, which include a cashew berry ice cream or a real hot brownie sundae with ice cream, chocolate sauce and peanut butter. Wine and beer are available at lunch and dinner.

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Tulie Bakery

Neighborhood: Ninth & Ninth Price: Budget
Satisfy your morning sweet tooth with a delectable pain au chocolate or coconut cream tart from Tulie Bakery. Paired with espresso or coffee (and open on Sundays), and you’ve got the makings for a relaxing breakfast and newspaper nook. And if sweets aren’t your thing, try the pressed sandwiches. One of our favorites is the tomato basil mozzarella.

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Tony Caputo's Market & Deli

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
The most evolved Italian deli in town is the spot for stocking up on picnic or ski resort supplies. Raid the “Cheese Cave” for a wedge of something creamy or fill containers with spicy green olives and pasta salads. For those who’d rather eat on the spot, the casual lunchtime atmosphere makes meatball sandwiches or anything layered with the homemade salami top draws. While Caputo’s is lesser known as a dinner spot, doors stay open through 9PM and prices rise slightly for entrees such as grilled salmon, chicken piccata and sausage lasagna. Whether you want a quick lunch or a more relaxing dinner, Tony Caputo's is one of the best Salt Lake City restaurants to enjoy your meal.

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