A few decades ago, Salt Lake City’s so-so restaurant scene wasn’t much to write home about. But as strict liquor laws relaxed, attitudes changed, and Salt Lake City’s transformation into a farm-to-fork culinary destination is upon us. From old-school Mexican to fresh New American eats, rest assured that whatever creative cuisine you’re craving, you’ll find it in Salt Lake City. When you dine out in Utah’s capital city, make it one of these 10 winning restaurants.
Best Mexican: Red Iguana
Utahns may disagree on religion, politics, and which ski resort is the best, but we all know where to find the most authentic Mexican cuisine in town: Red Iguana. Owned and operated by the same Mexican family since 1985, Red Iguana’s a lauded Salt Lake institution where lines often form outside its two locations (which are right around the corner from one another). Everything is good, but the seven signature Oaxacan moles made with dried and fresh chiles, nuts, herbs, spices, fruit, and Mexican chocolate mixed with meat are Red Iguana’s claim to fame. They pair best with an array of killer margaritas featuring a house-made mix.
Best New American: The Copper Onion
Fresh fare takes center stage at Copper Onion, a New American mainstay adjacent to the downtown Broadway independent movie theater. Helmed by Utah-born but New York-trained chef, Ryan Lowder, its diverse menu is as much a melting pot as America itself, featuring everything from fried chicken sandwiches to wood-fired pizzas. While the menu changes based on what’s in season, one favorite always remains: Wagyu beef stroganoff. Served on a bed of housemade pappardelle pasta, guests rave about Copper Onion’s take on this classic.
Best Sushi: Takashi
Despite Salt Lake City’s landlocked status, Takashi stands up against the best sushi restaurants on the coast. Reservations are a no-go, but the wait time goes faster if you spend it next door at Takashi’s bar: Post Office Place. Serving a unique menu of Japanese-Peruvian–inspired tapas and alluring cocktails, you won’t want to leave when your name is called. Once seated, don’t miss popular Beatles-themed rolls like Strawberry Fields, a fusion of escolar, strawberries, chili peppers, toasted almonds, and eel sauce. (Cooked entrees are also available for the sushi squeamish.) Insider tip: Order the mushroom panna cotta for dessert. It might sound odd at a Japanese restaurant, but it’s the finest one in town.
Best Chef-Driven: SLC Eatery
A wheeled dim sum cart hawking small plates cart is the standout feature of two-year-old SLC Eatery, where casual vibes and quality food make it a top choice for a date night or friends gathering. While there’s no guarantee what you’ll find on the ever-changing menu, don’t miss the modern takes on local classics. Utah-style scones topped in smoked cheddar and spices are a go-to, but the Beet Hachees are favorites—even among carnivores. A raw bar and meat-heavy entrees round out the genre-bending menu’s Mexican, Asian, and even French flavors. But here one thing’s certain: it’s all good.
Best Seafood: Current Fish & Oyster
Since opening in 2015, Current Fish & Oyster has become the place for seafood in downtown Salt Lake. The historic auto shop-turned-eatery channels industrial glam vibes, but the flown-in-fresh fish speaks for itself. Current specializes in new takes on seafood classics from around America, touching on nearly every geographic region: New Orleans shrimp and grits, grilled West Coast oysters, and New England clam chowder. While Current’s wine and cocktail selection is robust, you’ll find more inventive options next door at Under Current, the restaurant-owned bar.
Best Mediterranean: Laziz Kitchen
Pre-Laziz, Lebanese cuisine was hard to find in Salt Lake City. But after successfully launching hummus brand Laziz Foods at the Salt Lake farmers market, chef/owner Moudi Sbeity, and his then-husband Derek Kitchen opened this airy cafe in 2016. Middle Eastern mezzes and spiced Labneh dip never disappoint, but Lebanese-fused American dishes like za'atar fries or the tomato tapenade-topped kafta burger defy expectations. Laziz Kitchen's up-and-coming Salt Lake Central 9th neighborhood is off the main drag—but so worth a visit.
Best Brunch: Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade
First launched as a weekend farmers market limeade stand by a husband-wife team, Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade is an only-in-Utah combination that just works. Choose from fresh Southern-style biscuits topped with fried chicken and sausage gravy, cage-free eggs and cheese, or ham and hollandaise, all paired with quinoa potato hash. Skip your usual cup of coffee and add a hand-shaken limeade made with a fusion of squeezed limes, cane sugar, and fresh mint leaves.
Best Italian: Valter's Osteria
Salt Lakers were devastated when Valter Nassi left the helm of Cucina Toscana—long extolled as the city’s best Italian restaurant. But Nassi wasn’t done, and thankfully opened his own osteria a few blocks away in 2012. Here, white tablecloth service makes Valter’s a premiere date destination, and the food lives up to its praise. Order anything made with Valter’s Mother’s meat sauce, his house-made potato gnocchi dumplings, or grilled specialties from his family’s restaurant in Tuscany. Valter’s intimate size and enduring popularity make weekend reservations a must.
Best Vegetarian: Oasis Cafe
Oasis is the perfect name for this downtown restaurant sanctuary surrounded by a flower-filled patio and popular new-age bookstore. With plenty of shaded outdoor seating, it’s a tranquil space for a morning brunch or night out. The hyper-local menu uses Utah-made ingredients whenever possible and is complemented by a list of over 30 wines by the bottle and 17 by the glass. Beloved menu favorites such as the portobello mushroom Reuben sandwich and Beet Tower salad wow year after year.
Best Bar: White Horse Spirits & Kitchen
While White Horse is a popular Main Street bar, you don’t come just for the craft cocktails. Oysters served fried, raw, or Rockefeller-style are popular starters, but creative shared plates served in its moody space is where White Horse shines. Don’t miss the shareable maple-glazed heirloom carrots topped with labneh and buffalo-roasted cauliflower. When you’re craving a burger, skip the Big Mac and get the cheeseburger made with Snake River Farms Wagyu, smoked pork belly bacon, house pickles, and all the fixings. If you can’t decide which cocktail to sip, play bartender roulette, and let the masters create something unique.