What are the BEST restaurants in Salt Lake City? Who makes a good breakfast downtown? My wife and I are celebrating our anniversary tonight- where should I take her? Where can I go for the best burger? All questions we get asked on a daily basis, which is why we are simply elated to bring you this list of the 15 Best Restaurants in Salt Lake City.
The Best Restaurants in Salt Lake City
This list of best restaurants in Salt Lake City is brought to you with hours of deliberation, thought, and 100% unbiased honesty after sampling culinary offerings in the valley for over 20 years. Each of these restaurants are tried and true- places we have dined at several different times, trying as many menu items as possible over the passing months and years. This list is not a comprehensive list of all great restaurants in SLC, but rather our absolute favorites.
We hope you’ll enjoy dining at the best restaurants in Salt Lake City! If you’re interested in more Salt Lake City restaurant recommendations, be sure to check out our free bucket list of 100 restaurants to try in Salt Lake City! Please note that this post is updated annually at the beginning of each year.
15. Barbecue: R & R BBQ
R & R BBQ is our absolute favorite place to frequent for ribs, pulled pork, juicy burgers, and chopped brisket all complete with a side of Aunt Libby’s hush puppies. It’s the best barbecue in town and one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. We love the emphasis this family-owned business puts in the quality of each and every pound of meat. R & R BBQ is hands down the best in town thanks to their melt in your mouth meat and homestyle smoky flavors. As owners Rod and Roger put it, “We don’t do fast food, we do good food.”
14. Burger: Hires Big H
Hires is one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City because they have mastered the classic diner burger that hits the spot every single time. Their burgers are no frills- just a classic, darn good burger made of ground chuck hamburger topped with fry sauce, lettuce, tomato, and American Cheese. The service is always fantastic and the place is constantly packed- a surefire way to sniff out the good food. If you don’t order a Big H with cheese fries and an Oreo shake, you are doing it wrong.
13. Healthy: Protein Foundry
When it comes to the best restaurants in Salt Lake City, healthy and delicious is possible at The Protein Foundry. This is unquestionably our top pick in the Salt Lake valley for health conscious food that actually tastes good. Drop by after a workout at one of their three locations (South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, or Draper) for a protein shakeout or stop by for lunch or dinner and feast on the acai bowls, gourmet toasts, and greek yogurt bowls. Our favorite menu items are no doubt the Cali gourmet toast and the Rio acai bowl.
12. Southeast Asian: Sawadee
There are plenty of dining options in SLC when it comes to Southeast Asian food and in particular, Thai cuisine, but the best restaurant for Thai food in Salt Lake is Sawadee. Located right on South Temple, Sawadee is perfect for any occasion- casual lunch, birthday dinner, takeout, or date night. You can be as mainstream or adventurous as you’d like, but know that our favorite menu offerings are the chicken satay, fresh spring rolls, coconut soup, orange chicken, and green curry.
11. Mediterranean: Spitz
Owners Tanner Slizeski and Josh Hill fell in love with the Mediterranean döner kebab while studying abroad in Europe and brought this creation to SLC in 2013. The street cart fries with “the works” (make sure to order sweet potato!) is one of the BEST meals you can find in SLC. If fries aren’t your thing, the street cart doner is a close second. Be sure to check out their Sugarhouse and recently opened Cottonwood Heights and Draper locations if you’re in the neighborhood!
10. Bakery: Tulie Bakery
The best bakery in SLC also qualifies as one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City because they make a dang good breakfast and lunch if you decide to not make a meal out of pastries alone. Tucked away between 8th and 9th east on 700 south, this small but unforgettable bakery serves incredible French baked goods that will make your heart sing. If you’re here for breakfast get the brioche french toast or croque monsieur with a sticky bun. Visiting for lunch? Get the mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich warm with a side of homemade soup and a chocolate bouchon.
9. Brunch: Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade
If you’re in Salt Lake City and haven’t stopped at Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade it MUST be your next spot for brunch! Most Salt Lake City farmers market goers will recognize the hard-to-miss beautiful limeades filled with fresh mint leaves and thick lime wedges, but what most of them won’t know is that this brunch is (not for long) one of the best kept secrets in town! Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade has a variety of breakfast options ranging from a handful of biscuit concoctions to organic wheat pancakes to an open-faced sourdough toast with asparagus, egg, and parmesan. Our strong suggestion is to take the owner’s advice and order The Hoss. You won’t regret it.
8. Sandwich: Feldman’s Deli
If you’re looking for the best sandwich in town, or better yet something like you’ve never tasted before, zip on over to Feldman’s Deli for one of the best bites you can have in all of Salt Lake City. Feldman’s Deli is a New York style delicatessen offering a variety of traditional Jewish deli sandwiches alongside some of the more old time “classics” in a gorgeous, vibrant cafè setting. Make sure to try the Sloppy Joe (their most popular sandwich) or the Trisha (my favorite) for your first time. You’ll be simultaneously licking your fingers clean and counting down the days until you can come back!
7. Mexican: Red Iguana
If you’re looking for the best Mexican food in Salt Lake City, take your friends and family to Red Iguana. This Mexican restaurant has an enormous menu with a following to match it (two restaurants within a 1/2 mile proximity from each other #word), undoubtedly some of the best food in Salt Lake City. We have eaten here more times than we can count and love their Puntas de Filete a la Norteña (#1 selling menu item, pictured above), Tacos Don Ramon, and the Red Iguana combination plate. While you’re looking at the menu, be sure to ask your sever for a side of guac and the sampler of their moles- a small plate of quarter sized samples of each mole they make in house! Their original location (Red Iguana 1) is located four blocks from the local Trax station which connects to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
6. New Restaurant: Pretty Bird Chicken
There were a lot of new restaurants that hit SLC in 2018 but the best above the rest was unanimously Pretty Bird Chicken. Opened by Chef Viet Pham (Iron Chef winner and former Chef at Forage) his clean and vibrant fast casual restaurant features one thing and one thing only: hot chicken. You only have two choices here but you can’t go wrong with either the fried chicken sandwich or the quarter bird. We recommend first timers try the fried chicken sandwich with a side of crinkle cut fries and a sugary soda to wash it all down. Come hungry leave glutinously happy.
5. From The Sea: Freshies Lobster Co.
In the state of land-locked Utah fresh seafood isn’t always easy to come by. Lucky for SLC natives, Freshies (one of THE best restaurants in Salt Lake City) flies their lobster in from Maine fresh every single day. Freshies originally started with a food truck, and then opened a brick and mortar in Park City, but thankfully their brick and mortar #2 is right on 9th south near downtown. You’re unquestionably going to get the lobster roll here- delicious fresh Maine lobster served on a New England hot dog bun with mayo, hot butter, and seasoning. Simple yet sublime, this lobster roll will change your life.
4. Pizza: Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana
For the best pizza in town (and in the great state of Utah) I always recommend Settebello. This restaurant became a reality after owners Mike Brooks and Brad Otton lived in Italy, became enamored with the art of authentic Italian pizza, and decided to bring it back to Salt Lake City. Since then their family-owned business has expanded to locations in Henderson, Summerlin, Oxnard, Pasadena, Marina del Ray, and Newport. Many of the serving staff at Settebello have been there for nearly ten years and are extremely knowledgable about the menu. Their #1 selling pizza is the classic Margherita and my personal favorite is the Diavola- picture red bell peppers, garlic, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Pizza = life. Settebello = the best there is in Salt Lake City.
3. American: Handle Salt Lake (HSL)
HSL provides one of the best American dining experiences you can find in Salt Lake City. The interior of the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous, their food is sourced locally, but above all their seasonal dishes are absolutely and phenomenally delicious. If you’re headed there for your first time we confidently recommend general tso’s cauliflower to start with and working your way down the menu with your server. This is a perfect spot for a weekend dinner, a great place to celebrate a special occasion with friends or take a client, and even one of our favorite spots for an exceptional burger.
2. Sushi: Takashi
Unanimously the best sushi in downtown Salt Lake City. Takashi boasts a fresh and modern environment with fish flown in daily for some of the most delicious and addicting sushi rolls known to man. They are constantly packed- be prepared to wait (especially on the weekends)! Favorite menu items include the azekura for an appetizer, the nigiri sampler for delicious nigiri sushi, and the crunchy ebi roll and the summit for our favorite sushi rolls! If you still have room, make sure to try their house-made panna cotta. Some of the best panna cotta you will ever have. Promise.
1. Italian: Valter’s Osteria
If you’re going to splurge on one restaurant this year in Salt Lake City, make it a night at Valter’s Osteria for the best high end dining in town and the best of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. Owner and founder Valter Nassi has created an authentic Tuscan experience that will quite literally transport you to his mother’s kitchen in Italy. Although his restaurant boasts an amazing menu filled with incredible authentic Italian dishes, we recommend allowing your server to take the lead for your incredible night out. Make sure to read our full post on Valter’s Osteria for all the delicious details.