As Salt Lake's food scene continues to grow, so too does the number of local restaurants in which you can order a meal that is well-and-truly refined. As with most chef-driven spots, these operations stress the importance of top-notch, seasonal ingredients and, whenever possible, local sourcing. If you have a reason to celebrate or are simply looking for a meal more imaginative than usual, these are seven of our favorite spots for a special bite:
1) SLC Eatery. Managed by chefs Logan Crew and Paul Chamberlain, SLC Eatery is defined by inventive, aspirational cuisine served in a wholly unpretentious, laid-back manner; The service is still top-notch, but any would-be air of rigid formality is replaced with warmth and friendliness. The fare, meanwhile, is certainly the star or the proverbial show. From top to bottom, the menu is rife with intriguing combinations, beautiful ingredients, and elegantly composed dishes. Better yet, in addition to providing an à la carte menu, SLC Eatery adds a twist to proceedings via their take on a traditional dim sum cart. Used to present guests with intriguing bites and small plates throughout their meals, the cart adds even more intrigue to an already stellar dining experience.
2) Table X. Started by a cadre of talented chefs from the East Coast, Table X consistently plates up some of the best fare in the region. Serious about sourcing, this operation takes a step beyond farm-to-table, allowing food grown in their own behind-restaurant garden to inform much of the menu. As far as service is concerned, guests can choose a 7-course or 5-course tasting menu--with the option for an entirely vegetarian selection--and have the option to include wine pairings, as well. The restaurant's open kitchen, meanwhile, ensures that visitors are afforded a first-hand look at this talented team's serious abilities. Also of note: in addition to running a top-notch dining room, Table X also operates a wholesale bakery that churns out some of the finest bread in the city.
3) Oquirrh. Chef Drew Fuller--Oquirrh's chef and owner--is a long-standing member of Salt Lake's food scene. After cutting his teeth at some of the city's finest, Drew and his wife Angela decided to draw upon their decades of collective experience in the food industry and open their own restaurant. Unsurprisingly, Oquirrh has been a smashing hit. The food is big and bold but still keenly balanced, the service is dialed, and the space is perfectly charming. While the menu changes seasonally, the Oquirrh's milk-braised potatoes are--hand to heart--one of the best dishes in the city. If you see them, be sure to snag them.
4) HSL. The Salt Lake spin-off of acclaimed Park City restaurant Handle, HSL (short, unsurprisingly, for Handle Salt Lake) is a perennial favorite of many locals, and for good reason. No matter the season, the menu is sure to be packed with inventive but accessible dishes that don't skimp where nuanced flavor is concerned. Better yet, our stellar design team had a hand in creating the space (click here to view the full project), which draws upon rich green tones and quasi-tropical vibes to transport diners from high desert to verdant oasis.
5) Arlo. Perched above the city in the heart of Marmalade, Arlo is a laid-back, inviting neighborhood spot that happens to offer one of the most pleasing dining experiences around. The service is top-notch but in no way stuffy, and the fare is excellently balanced and composed of ingredients of the highest quality. Where sustainability is concerned, Chef Milo Carrier makes a point to partner with local farms whenever possible, while also maintaining a whole-animal butchery program. Finally, this spot gets plenty of bonus points for the incredibly charming vibe it cultivates. From its gorgeous, blue-tiled kitchen to its converted store-front facade partially obscured by a tangle of hollyhocks, Arlo absolutely embodies the history, elegance, and quaintness of the neighborhood in which it resides.
6) SLC Pop. While chef-driven meals often require a night out, SLC Pop offers an alternative for those seeking a dose of molecular gastronomy without leaving home. Started by acclaimed chef Katie Weinner, this catering operation goes above and beyond, providing an at-home dining option that meets or even exceeds what you might find in a top-notch restaurant. Interactive, technical fare, custom dishware, and wholly unique flavors define chef Katie's unforgettable pop-ups, making SLC Pop a perfect option for those with something to celebrate.
7) Hell's Backbone Grill. Although Hell's Backbone is a bit of a drive from downtown SLC, the flavors served up at this like-no-other eatery make the trek well-and-truly worth it. Thanks to the laudable efforts of chefs and owners Blake Spalding and Jen Castle, this otherwise out-of-the-way restaurant has bagged itself plenty of prestigious attention and now assuredly sits as one of the best restaurants in the Mountain West. The fare here revolves around regional flavors and ingredients sourced from the restaurant's organic, no-harm farm. Whether you are passing through, relaxing at the neighboring lodge, or looking to refuel after a day-hike, Hell's Backbone is an idyllic, memorable destination that should not be missed.