Salt Lake City continues to broaden its culinary chops, offering a wide variety of cuisines from around the globe. However, we still have a ways to go. Often we only have one or two restaurants offering a particular cuisine, and to use baseball parlance, I’d love to see us have a deeper bench. In no particular order, here’s my list of cuisines I would like to see in the city.
We desperately need a solid Cuban food restaurant. And I’m not just talking about the sandwich. We need a place that offers ceviche, plantains, yucca fries, empanadas, vaca frita, and roasted pork. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a solid Cuban sandwich, head over to Beltex Meats early on Saturday mornings to pick up one of their Cubans. They only make a small amount of these sandwiches on Saturdays, and always sell out. And it’s no wonder they are so popular, since the sandwich features their in-house smoked ham, roast mojo pork loin, house-brined pickles, Weber’s mustard, Swiss cheese, fennel marmalade, and Red Bicycle bread. It’s the best Cuban I’ve tasted anywhere.
While we have a few food trucks that are serving up Caribbean and Puerto Rican food, we have zero brick and mortars to choose from. Jerk chicken, spicy cabbage, and oxtail all sound heavenly.
I would love to see a French-style bistro grace the streets of SLC. Loud, maybe a bit raucous, with chairs and tables close together. Patio dining with live music. Olive plates, mussels, braised pork belly, charcuterie, coq au vin, and of course steak frites. All served in reasonable portions and reasonable prices.
On nearly every street corner in Buenos Aires you will find parrillas. Grab a seat and watch the asadero grill heaping amounts of meat on an open-fire grill. Meats are slow-roasted and are seasoned with an unhealthy amount of salt. They offer everything from chorizo sausages, tripe, blood sausage, chicken, to strip steak, flank steak, and ribeye. Or get a choripan: chorizo sausage split and grilled, then sandwiched in a baguette then topped with plenty of chimichurri. Think Brazilian barbeque, but in a more casual, quick-service type restaurant. Sure you can get some bread and salad, but it’s really all about the meat.
Yeah, I used the F-word. But really, I don’t have any other way to describe it. We have ramen shops. We have pho joints and Korean BBQ. Thai restaurants around every bend. But I want a place that offers steamed pork buns, satay, beef rendang, Malaysian nasi lemak, chicken rice, and laksa soup. SLC needs some Cambodian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Laotian, Indonesian, and Filipino food.
Basically I really want Plum Alley to come back. Please. I will let you in on a little secret, though: Ryan Lowder mentioned that he’s currently working on something “with PA (Plum Alley) vibes.” So we’ll just have to hang tight and see what comes of it.
I asked for feedback on my Instagram stories, and one of the more popular suggestions was for Southern food. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. We have some places that flirt with Southern cuisine, like Tradition and The Bayou, but every “real-deal” Southern place that has opened up in the valley seems to make it a few years then closes up shop. I’m talking shrimp ‘n grits, chicken fried chicken, pimento cheese, catfish, roasted pork, and of course chess pie.
While on vacation in Barcelona, my wife and I fell in love with various pintxo (pronounced pincho) restaurants located throughout the city. Stop by, grab a drink, and enjoy a variety of very reasonably-priced small plates to share with your friends. Melon and jamon ibérico, clams with chorizo, sauteed prawns, albondigas (meatballs) and of course paella. We have Café Madrid, but their prices (with the exception of their $7 Tapas Tuesdays) are prohibitive of regular visits. There’s also Meditrina, but their focus isn’t Spanish cuisine.
24 Hour Donut Shop
Someone needs to do this! Please! Or at least convince Banbury to keep their drive-thru open 24/7. Find a tiny little spot next to some bars and you will print money. For Utahns’ proclivity for a sweet tooth, I’m surprised this hasn’t been done yet. Let’s make it happen, team.
Small Batch, Artisanal Ice Cream Shop
Continuing down the sweet tooth path, I’m also surprised we don’t have a cool little ice cream shop to call our own, like Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco that offers Meyer Lemon, Black Sesame, Ricanelas, and Honey Lavender. Or Salt and Straw in Portland, which offers The Elvis, Lemon Chevre Cheesecake, Roasted Strawberry Coconut, and Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. I guess Utahns are just too in love with our mile-high shakes to consider anything else.
What did I miss? What cuisines would you like to see in Salt Lake? Comment below!