Once dominated by Old West-style steakhouses and bars that (by an antiquated law) had to charge membership fees, Salt Lake City has come a long way from its Mormon roots. Though Utah businesses still face unique rules surrounding alcohol sales and consumption, the state is still quickly becoming a culinary destination — somewhat out of necessity, to serve all the new diners.
Over the past 10 years, banks and technology companies have been relocating their operations to the high-altitude desert, birthing nicknames for the area like “Silicon Slopes.” With new employers come new employees, people from all over the country and the world seeking out SLC for its low cost of living and high quality of life. The new workforce (which is also much more liberal than the city’s Mormon founders), along with the slew of West Coasters from urban centers like Los Angeles who relocated during the pandemic, have demanded a complete culinary overhaul.
Chefs have heard the challenge. An onslaught of talented chefs is now showcasing their takes on Rocky Mountain cuisine. Nick Fahs and Michael Blocher are turning out locally sourced New American fare in a rustic converted factory at Table X, and Iron Chef America champion Viet Pham is elevating fast-casual dining with his fried chicken establishment, Pretty Bird. At the same time, diners habitually return to stalwarts like Red Iguana, a family-run Mexican restaurant renowned for housemade moles since 1985. The food scene has become increasingly eclectic but remains strongly rooted in fresh, local ingredients, with a pervasive emphasis on rustic and casual dining. Whether you’re looking for a plant-based tasting menu or a pastrami on rye, Salt Lake City has you covered.
Sarah Entwistle is a chef and recipe developer who has worked in restaurants, test kitchens, and as a private chef. After a five-year stint in Utah, she moved back to the East Coast and currently lives in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.