Nestled among the tree-lined streets of the Avenues are a handful of some of the most delicious restaurants in Salt Lake City. Although there are not a ton of offerings, the best restaurants in the avenues are just as varied as the quaint Victorians and cozy bungalows they sit among.
The Very Best Restaurants in the Avenues
Whether you are looking for spicy Asian cuisine or classic Americana, a quick bite or a leisurely sit-down meal, you can find what you are looking for all within about a mile of each other in the Avenues of SLC.
9. Straw Market
Straw Market is a sweet, window-lined cafe on 4th Avenue in Salt Lake City that is open for breakfast and lunch. They have simple and classic options like breakfast burritos, french toast, omelets, and sandwiches. You’ll feel stuffed and happy after eating the breakfast burrito full of eggs and sausage (or another filling of your choice) and their main attraction: large, pillowy cinnamon rolls, made in-house daily, which will only set you back two dollars (they also happen to be vegan). There are several tables inside so you can dine-in, or take your foil-wrapped burrito to one of the many nearby beautiful SLC parks for a picnic brunch.
8. Cafe on 1st
Cafe on 1st is a cool industrial space on I Street with polished concrete floors and art lining the walls. They serve light breakfast and lunch fare, as well as a large selection of standard hot and cold drinks, and some outliers like Thai Iced Tea and Iced Chocolate. For breakfast, you’ll love the bomb breakfast burrito, which is stuffed with egg, potatoes, bell peppers, red onions, cream cheese, avocado, your choice of cheese, and Sexy Sauce (a mix of basically every delicious sauce: soy sauce, sesame oil, mayo and ranch, plus some garlic and cilantro). If you’re in the mood for a filling lunch, you’ll want the Dynamo Turkey Sandwich, which is stacked with a mound of turkey, a salad’s worth of lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickled jalapenos and Sexy Sauce. Top your meal off with their sweet and subtly spicy Hot Chai.
7. Cafe Shambala
Cafe Shambala is a bright and airy Tibetan restaurant on 4th Avenue that specializes in vegetarian fare. While they serve meat, their most recommended dishes are vegetarian. The fried noodles (options for veggies, tofu, chicken, or beef) are soft and chewy, and occasionally slightly crunchy from their contact with the hot pan. Order a side of Veggie Momos, stuffed with a mashed potato-like mixture of potatoes, cabbage, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. You can get them steamed or fried (the fried ones are delicately crunchy on the surface while maintaining a squishy chew on the inside), and dip them in the sweet, tangy sauce that has notes of ginger, lemon, and cantaloupe(!). If you’re feeling adventurous, try the (very) spicy red sauce that has a bold taste of dried chilis with hints of fennel, Szechuan pepper and soy sauce.
6. Saffron Valley
Saffron Valley is a one-stop destination for Indian food. While they offer standard curry dishes like Saag and Coconut Korma, as well as samosas and biryanis, they also serve more obscure Indian dishes like Madras Goat Curry and dosas. You can’t go wrong with the classic Butter Chicken, but the dosas scratch the itch for a combination of familiar and unique. The curry filling is wrapped inside a warm savory crepe made from rice and lentils, and is accompanied by fresh tomato and coconut chutneys, which are smooth and deeply flavorful– a refreshing contrast to the aromatic spices of the dosa filling. You’ll also get a side of sambar– a creamy and lightly spicy lentil soup, which is perfect after a chilly fall hike in the beautiful SLC foothills just above the Avenues. Anything you order also pairs well with the Mixed Pickles– a mixture of lemon, mango, chili, carrot, beet and pickle powder that is both sweet and thrillingly tart.
5. Blatch’s Backyard BBQ
Blatch’s Backyard BBQ is exactly what it sounds like: Christopher Blatchford makes barbeque in the backyard of his little blue house on the corner of I Street and 4th Avenue. Not only does he smoke everything in his backyard, the veggies he uses in his sides and barbeque sauce come from his own garden. The menu is small, but everything is delicious and Blatchford pays attention to every detail, including an entire vegan menu and a slew of homemade sauces. But back to the meat: the Beef Brisket is fatty, tender, and melts in your mouth while the Pork Belly Burnt ends are simultaneously crunchy and fall apart. Make a sandwich with the rolls or pair your meat with the Cuban inspired black beans, but you really can’t go wrong at Blatch’s– one of the best restaurants in the avenues and some of the best barbecue in Salt Lake City. Note: Text Blatchford by 5 PM on Thursday for pickup on Friday between 3 and 6.
4. Avenues Proper
Avenues Proper on 8th Avenue serves classic and elevated pub fare. If you’re in the mood for a rich and heavy (and unquestionably delicious) meal, start with the Rarebit Frites, a poutine-like dish topped with a glossy cheese sauce made from Avenues Proper’s Lake Effect beer. Then move on to the Truffle Mac and Cheese, a creamy and umami stovetop mac and cheese doused with lots of thinly sliced garlic. If those dishes don’t do you in, end with the Mussels. Or maybe just start with the Mussels; they are pretty close to perfect. Juicy and plump, stewed in a broth of yuzu kosho and coconut milk– the coconut and bright citrus manage to make it feel hearty, while still being light and refreshing. Bonus: Afterwards, head next door to Hatch Family Chocolates for dessert.
Cucina recently had a grand reopening to show off their new facelift– a chic black and white color palette with deep green accents and cushy benches lining the dining room. Though the menu rotates, the Sesame Ahi Steak is one of the mainstays. Slices of ahi tuna crusted with toasted coconut and sesame seeds are nestled in a creamy sauce made with sambal and coconut cream and drizzled with green garlic oil. It’s served with a side of kaffir lime rice and barely pickled cabbage, creating a perfect marriage of both flavors (savory, spicy, and a little sour) and textures (smooth, creamy, crunchy). Pasta is another menu staple (it’s one of the head chef’s specialties), so the pasta is always fresh and innovative, like the current garlic and bay leaf tagliatelle smothered with bison bolognese, smoked cheddar and spinach and topped with bread crumbs and barberries. Cucina has a small menu that changes frequently, which just gives you an excuse to keep sampling one of the best restaurants in the avenues.
2. Foodie & Sweetie D Market
One of SLC’s hidden gems, Foodie and Sweetie D Market is a no-frills Chinese restaurant on D Street and 2nd Avenue where Szechuan pepper is the star of the show. If you crave that numbing spice, be sure to order the Spicy Popcorn Chicken and the Szechuan Noodle Soup. The soup’s noodles are springy and chewy, topped with crunchy greens and fall apart chunks of beef simmering in a broth that is rich and spicy without feeling heavy. The Popcorn Chicken is fried in a light and airy batter giving it a subtle crunch that is perfectly juxtaposed with the juicy thigh meat, and then gilded with red pepper flakes and Szechuan pepper. The Dan Dan Noodles are also right up there with the soup and chicken, but if you need a palate cleanser after all the spice, order the Shengjian (Pan-Fried Pork Buns)– the bread in these savory buns is barely sweet and the accompanying dipping sauce has a vinegary bite for a perfect ending to your meal.
If you’re looking for the best the Avenues has to offer, look no further than Wildwood– a chic bistro serving classic American food with a cozy, secluded patio on a quiet street in the lower Avenues. Their dishes expertly layer flavor and texture, and you can taste the depth of flavor in each bite. The Pork Ribs and Stone Fruit layers generous slices of buttery pork belly with pears (or green apple, depending on the daily offerings) with shisitos, sunflower seeds, and fingerling potatoes sitting atop a bed of greens. Two slices of toast topped with heady rillette punctuate the dish. Another slam dunk is the fried chicken thighs– they’re light and crispy, placed on top of whipped potatoes, pearl onions, and pickled raisins. The appetizers and entrees are both generously portioned, so you can definitely get away with ordering less than you think you’ll eat, but you might as well order more because everything is delicious.