THE Hot Spots to Eat (and Drink) in Salt Lake City
Desperately seeking an escape from the summer heat and humidity of the southeast, He and She trekked to Park City for a long weekend at the St. Regis (more on that in an upcoming blog post). On our way, we spent some time discovering Salt Lake City.
We heard mixed reviews of its nightlife, and didn't know what to expect. Imagine our surprise when we encountered this 42-foot long cherry wood bar wall with 2,300 bottles of booze on our first stop -- a gastrobar named Whiskey Street. We knew we were going to have a good visit.
BEST BAR SCENE
First, we hit up Whiskey Street Cocktails & Dining to experience their famous Short Rib Polenta Poutine. Executive Chef, Matt Crandall has put a great deal of time into perfecting the fried soft boiled egg which sits proudly atop this dish. The inside scoop is to undercook the egg at high heat to set the whites, peel, bread then deep fry. Easy, right?
The Poutine was tasty and very filling (but not diet-friendly), and the creative craft cocktails were welcomed after our long travel day to the Beehive State. The staff is cheerful and the crowd friendly.
With more than 360 brands of whiskey in Whiskey Street's repertoire, we had to sample a few award-winners from the region. We learned they carry some impressive rare options, like the Port Dundas 52 year Lowland Single Malt Scotch which retails for $900/bottle or $100/shot. So rare because the distillery closed its doors in 2009, and will likely never be available again. They also offer the Macallan 25 year Speyside Single Malt Scotch which retails for $1,850/bottle or $185/shot. We left those for the true whiskey connoisseurs, quite content with our shots of High West - Western Silver Oat Whiskey, High West - Double Rye Whiskey, Sugar House - Bourbon Whiskey, and Outlaw - White Whiskey. Next time we will try some of their wines on tap and report back.
Squatters Pub Brewery has been brewing fine ales and lagers since 1989. With attentive bartenders and a very clean brewhouse, it's a great place to chill.
We really liked the Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout - rich and flavorful. The Apricot Hefeweizen was a little too fruit-dominant for our taste. And the Honey Lavender Ale was unique, slightly floral but not sweet. Their most popular brew is their Full Suspension Pale Ale which we found well-balanced and satisfying. As they say "Good for what ales you."
We strolled over to nearby Pioneer Park to walk off our heavy midnight snacks. We would NOT suggest adding that to your "Must Do's in Salt Lake City." In the dark of the night, and having watched way too many scary shows, we thought the park was full of zombies stumbling around, so we high-tailed it to our hotel.
Sadly, in the light of day, we realized that Salt Lake has a severe problem with homelessness and drug addiction. According to police, more than 189,000 doses of drugs, valued at $1.5 million were seized in the area in 2016. More than 500 homeless women live and work out of seedy no-tell motels selling sex for drugs. A public safety plan, Operation Rio Grande, was executed in August of 2017, with the goal of driving the estimated 2,000 homeless, of which hundreds are addicts, out of downtown. The plan had been to help them find treatment, housing, and jobs, but that has proven a challenge to deliver. We were told a few short stay resource centers are in the works.
BEST QUICK LUNCH SPOT
Developers are working swiftly to rejuvenate the neighborhood around Pioneer Park with higher-end condos and shops. A great little spot for a quick lunch with a glass of wine and some foodie shopping is Caputo's Market and Deli.
Caputo's offers an impressive selection of house-aged cheeses, cured meats, olives, breads, and imported snacks - a charcuterie board's dream!
BEST SPOT TO BUY WINE
With no time to make it out to Moab, Utah's beautiful wine country, we ventured over to the local wine shoppe to pick up some local wines - Store 01 of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Liquor is very controlled and alcohol laws very stringent in Utah. Located so close to Pioneer Park, it was quite the experience reading wine labels while drunks were loudly arguing with check out clerks about being a few cents short on their bill, jittery addicts completing job applications, and two super-sized armed police officers guarding the doors. We couldn't make these stories up if we tried.
As He and She can attest to, Utah can be very hot and dry in the summer months, however, in the higher elevations (4,000+ feet) like Moab's growing area, the evenings cool off significantly. Area growers began planting vines successfully in the 1970s and currently grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes.
We selected a Chardonnay (Gold medal winner - Pacific Rim International for $14.95) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold medal winner - Tasters Guild for $15.95) from Castle Creek Winery, the largest winery in Utah. As we sipped our wines in our hotel room, we pictured ourselves at their historic ranch overlooking the Colorado River's whitewater rapids at the foot of dramatic red rock cliffs. Castle Creek produces more than 8,000 cases of wine annually. More than 30 of their wines are award-winners, and every bottle is filled, labeled and boxed by hand on the property.
The Castle Creek Cabernet Sauvignon offers red fruit on the nose dominated by strawberry. It is medium-bodied with cherry jam on the palate and mild tannins. We lost our notes on the Chardonnay, but it was pretty good.
BEST HIDDEN DINNER GEM
Eva's! He and She's tip here is to reserve a table in the cozy courtyard hidden in the back.
He and She heard that Chef Charlie Perry's influences were African, Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean, so we selected a bottle of versatile, intense and concentrated Hugl Weine Grüner Veltliner to pair with the big flavors and diverse spices in his dishes. We learned Harissa is a hot chili pepper, garlic, mint and caraway/coriander/cumin seed paste popular in Tunisia, and Dukkah is an Egyptian hazelnut, coriander/cumin seed, lemon zest, chili and spice mix. We welcomed so many new intriguing flavor combinations we've never experienced before!
BEST STREET FOOD
Not gonna lie, when a local foodie friend said "spits" when asked to recommend a restaurant, we were a little dubious. We are glad we took him up on his suggestion - Spitz is a great spot if you like mediterranean-influenced street food, but with an air-conditioned cute hipster vibe and a beer and wine license.
It was easy to pick out the newbies in line, such as ourselves, because it was not your everyday menu. What is a Döner anyway? Think gyro.
Both sooo delicious!
BEST UTAH BEER CAN
Polygamy, the practice of plural marriage, was allowed by the Mormon Church from the early 1840s until 1890, but that hasn't prevented Utah's Wasatch Brewery from naming their chocolatey and nutty American Porter style beer Polygamy Porter.
BEST FOOD TRUCK
On Thursdays the food trucks come out in full force for lunch in Gallivan Plaza.
There may be a longer line at Black's Sliders but it is well worth the wait! Their food is locally-sourced, hormone and antibiotic-free and ethically farm-to-truck. We highly recommend the Scooter's Southern Fried Chicken Sliders - amazing, juicy, crunchy goodness!
BEST DATE NIGHT DINNER
Martine is tucked in a well-maintained, historic building. The charming renovated interior, with its original red brick exposed, dim lighting and great music embrace you as the personable hostess leads you to a cozy table. He and She suggest reserving a window seat for two.
The updated menu created by their new, James Beard nominated, Executive Chef Ed Heath, has a mediterranean flair, with locally sourced and organic ingredients wherever possible. They have a nice wine list (primarily French and American), provide cheerful service, and delicious food.
Oh and we can't forget to mention, He and She on Wine were invited to join Utah's #1 news, CBS (KUTV) Channel Two 10 o'clock news - Continuing to build our media credentials with this fantastic crew :) Thanks guys!
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— He and She on Wine