Shoulder Season in Park City

Some people call it shoulder season. Others call it mud season. Park City locals call it “we finally have our town back” season. And Wasatch Front locals call it “get great hotel and restaurant deals, and avoid the crowds” season.

Way back when I was a kid, I remember my family heading up to Park City in the fall. We’d check out the Autumn Aloft, and then head over to Main Street to walk around and absorb the sights and smells of fall in the mountains. Leaves changing colors and crisp air combined to make it a magical time.

Now, even though I’m a little bit older, fall in Park City holds the same special feeling. And best of all, the summer crowds have gone back to work and school, and the winter ski crowds haven’t yet arrived. It’s a chance for local restauranteurs to catch their breath, take some time off, and enjoy the city without having the accelerator pedal jammed all of the way to the floor.

For locals on the Wasatch Front, the shoulder seasons are a great opportunity to find hotels at a great discount (some priced 25-50% lower than their winter rates). Many restaurants also offer locals deals during this time in order to keep their tables full. Tupelo, for example, offers a five course tasting menu for a bargain price of $49. Optional wine pairing is an additional $25. You don’t see that kind of deal during the ski season.

On a recent weekend, we stayed a couple days at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley. This hotel is ideally located at the base of the Silver Lake and Sterling Express lifts, providing easy access for those adventure seekers who aren’t too interested in riding bikes or hiking uphill. Not interested in taking a lift? No problem. There is easy access to dozens of public hiking/biking trails that will take you all over the mountains if you wish. One of my personal favorites is the Mid Mountain trail, which will take you all the way over to the Canyons resort if you are looking for a big adventure. Being on the trails in the fall with the leaves changing colors is really something special, and one of the reasons I love Utah so much.

Of course, one of the reasons it’s called the “mud season” is that you have to be prepared for all types of weather. It is Utah in the mountains, after all. Our hiking and biking plans were quickly derailed when the mountain received about eight inches of snow during our weekend stay. No problem–we fired up the in-room fireplace, headed off to the hot tub, took a dip in the pool, and relaxed in the room.

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Then off to Sunday brunch at the Glitretind we went, which was absolutely phenomenal. Fellow diners and our servers were so good to our little baby, and the buffet offers something for everyone. Seafood, salads, chicken, prime rib, crèpes, waffles, eggs benedict–you name it, and it was probably there. And their dessert table is ridiculous, and featured an aspen tree centerpiece made out of chocolate.

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For dinner, we hopped down off the mountain and headed into a small strip mall next to The Market at Park City. I was thrilled to discover that one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Tarahumara, has opened a second location in Park City. The original Tarahumara in Midway is always packed, but I think that the Park City Tarahumara may still be a hidden gem, because it was not very busy. The carne asada, carnitas, and enchiladas were all excellent. And of course they have their famous salsa bar with what must be 30+ different delicious salsas.

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So if you’re crunched on time, budget, or just want a quick getaway, I’d suggest taking a look at a Park City/Deer Valley vacation. You can enjoy Main Street without the crowds, fill your belly with delicious food at a reasonable price, and perhaps upgrade your hotel accommodations from what you normally budget for. It’s a delicious and affordable getaway.

I was an invited guest of Stein Eriksen Lodge and the Glitretind restaurant. Opinions are my own.

The Food Truck League Launches Finder App

If you’re like me, one of the struggles with food trucks is figuring out when and where they will be. You need to hunt each one down individually on their various social media platforms.

The Food Truck League has launched an app that displays truck locations in real-time. This localized Utah app already has the largest amount of scheduled truck locations on any app in the country. During peak food truck season users can now find as many as 100 truck locations each week throughout the valley.

Food trucks have become a recent sensation in Utah, with over 100 trucks operating every day. This app gives users access to all the information they need to find and support local food truck businesses. Potential food truck customers no longer need to rely on word of mouth or sporadic social media posts to find their favorite food truck. They can now locate a truck with the click of their phone.

The Food Truck League Finder app has a litany of features that allows users to see upcoming roundups, follow a specific truck’s future schedule, or even request catering with their favorite truck. Use the map feature to find trucks near your location, or scroll through a list view showing all of the trucks scheduled for a selected time frame. Additionally, food trucks can use the app to provide periodic prizes and special offers.

“People are excited about food trucks — they love the concept, they love the food and they love the sense of community,” says Taylor Harris, a founding partner of the Food Truck League. “From the beginning, the goal of the Food Truck League has been to bring great food and communities together. We knew we needed a way to bring all the information we have to the community, and this app finally allows us to be able to do that in all the ways we envisioned.”

Holly with The Cluck Truck explains, “It can be frustrating as a new small business when people love your food truck, love your food, but your business can’t grow because your customers can’t find you. The Food Truck League Finder app makes it so easy for our fans to track when we’re near them so we can keep growing.”

The app is available now on Android, iOS, and online at thefoodtruckleague.com/events.
Throughout the spring and summer food trucks will offer promotions for any customer that presents the app on their phone upon ordering.

Valentine’s Day Dining

Ah, love is in the air. Along with the inversion.

Check out some dining and celebration options for V day. Call soon–restaurants book up early.

Oasis Cafe: $40 per person, four course fixed menu featuring ahi tartare, fennel salad or shrimp bisque, halibut, beef tenderloin, or roasted chicken, and dessert. Call (801) 322-0404 for reservations.

Current Fish and Oyster: four course menu, $70 per person (drinks, tax, gratuity extra). Additionally, if you’re looking to celebrate, but don’t like the crowds on the 14th, Chef Gardner is offering dinner specials the 10th through the 13th as well. New offerings this year for the 14th include roast duck breast and a turbot and crab roulade. This is in addition to other menu options such as oysters, calamari, beef short ribs, organic cauliflower, braised salmon, and more. (801) 326-3474

Alamexo: the Mexican restaurant is celebrating el dia del amor. Valentine’s specials will be served from the 14th through the 18th, and include filet mignon with chile paste, tamale, jalapeño relleno, and salsa mocajete ($27), mahi mahi in a salsa veracruzana ($24), as well as some specialty desserts and beverages. (801) 779-4747.

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Photo courtesy Alamexo

Stanza Italian Bistro & Wine Bar: Stanza is offering a $65 per person six course dinner on the 14th. The Valentine’s menu includes buttermilk panna cotta, Alaskan king crab, black truffle spaghettini, blood orange with black olive and candied walnut, a porcini-dusted New York strip loan, and a special dessert. (801) 746-4441

Laziz Kitchen: four-course prix fixe menu. You must reserve/pay in advance. Price is $140 per couple. The menu includes stuffed roasted onions, salads, salmon, organic chicken, and chocolate cardamom ice cream. (801) 441-1228.

RYE Diner and Drinks: RYE is open for Valentine’s Day. No information on their offerings, but each entree includes a guaranteed free ticket to the Urban Lounge next door for their Valentine’s Day party. Email janavanbrocklin@gmail.com

PAGO: offering a five-course tasting menu + wine pairings. Saturday, February 11th and Tuesday, February 14th. $75 per person tasting menu, $42 wine pairings. Dinner will feature choices of chocolate-dipped strawberries, pork belly, oysters, steak tartare, braised short ribs, duck breast, curried cauliflower, triple chocolate mousse hearts, and a house ice cream tasting. (801) 532-0777.

Stoneground Italian Kitchen: offering both a three-course ($35) and five-course ($50) dining option. (801) 364-1368.

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La Caille: five-course dinner, $95 adults, $55 children. See their menu on Facebook. (801) 942-1751

Log Haven: Log Haven is completely booked on 2/14, but still has some room on 2/13 and 2/15. You can see their special menu on their site. (801) 272-8255.

Park City/Deer Valley

Stein Eriksen Lodge: the lodge is featuring special Valentine’s Day options such as a rose petal turndown service, house-made chocolates, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and flower bouquets. Call the lodge at (435) 604-2793.

The Brass Tag at the Lodges at Deer Valley: the restaurant’s raved-about dinner menu will be on offer, plus a special of porcini mushroom crusted scallops served with forbidden rice, roasted cauliflower and leek puree ($28).

Deer Valley Grocery Café: for those serving a special private meal at home, add a little something extra with the Fritto Misto for two ($14.75) from Deer Valley Grocery~Café. Enjoy rice flour battered wild sockeye salmon and shrimp, served with fennel, lemon, shiitake mushrooms, fresh sage dipping broth and preserved lemon salt.

Fireside Dining: spend an evening enjoying delectable selections beside a roaring fire. Fireside Dining at Deer Valley resort will be offering a trio of specials: seared duck breast with an elderberry and elderflower lacquer, slow-roasted tomatoes, Cipollini onions and sage polenta; roasted root vegetables with herb honey butter glaze; and a s’mores tart with house-made graham crust, bittersweet ganache and bourbon marshmallow.

Flanagan’s on Main: the Irish pub is serving classic surf-and-turf for Valentine’s Day. The “Lovebirds” special ($98 total) features fresh house salad, a sumptuous grilled 28-ounce ribeye, two 6-ounce lobster tails, mixed vegetables and dessert.

Grub Steak: Park City’s longtime locals-favorite steakhouse will be serving a delicious three-course prix fixe. The Valentine’s Day menu ($59.75 per person) starts with a choice of hearts of romaine Caesar salad, wild rice and mushroom soup, or Grub Steak’s 45-item fresh salad bar. Then enjoy beef wellington, featuring tenderloin of beef and mushroom duxelle baked in puff pastry, served alongside steam asparagus and citrus hollandaise. Chocolate lava cake and fresh raspberries and Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream caps the evening for dessert.

Tupelo: Park City’s home for globally inspired, artisanally sourced and stunningly prepared food is serving an a la carte menu and a five-course tasting menu for Valentine’s Day.

The tasting menu ($95, with an optional $65 wine pairing), starts with barbecue octopus with red bean stew, red pepper vinegar, kale and pickled lemon, followed by whiskey glazed Niman Ranch pork belly with apple butter, pickled beets and smoked maple; pan roasted bass with squash caponata, herb broth, lemon and smoked soy; and sous vide wagyu ribeye with wild mushroom, roasted marrow and truffles. Enjoy a tasting of artisanal chocolates for dessert. The a la carte selections draw from Tupelo’s regular dinner menu, with selections such as buttermilk biscuits, house-made ricotta, and Utah trout.

If you can’t find something in here that you like, then I’m afraid I’m of no use to you!

The Haps

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Photo Courtesy Argentina’s Best Empanadas

The SLC food scene is on FIRE right now with new openings, new menus and other goodness. Here’s a rundown on the latest.

Feldman’s Deli: after a week-long vacation, the always-delicious Jewish deli is now open, and will begin serving breakfast next week from 8-10:30.

Oak Wood Fire is now open in SLC. One of my favorite restaurants in Draper, Oak Wood Fire has moved into the beleaguered space in the Peery Hotel on 300 S West Temple. The interior has been renovated, and if the menu and service is anything like that offered in Draper, this will be a welcome addition to SLC. I’ve never had a meal there short of outstanding. Their pizzas, fries, and pastas are all top-notch. Open for both lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade is open. Sweet Lake is another Farmer’s Market success story, beginning as a small food cart, and now opening their own space at 1700 S 54 W. Their shop is open every day from 7am to 3pm, and offers your basic (but delicious) biscuits and limeade all the way up to The Pokey Joe: a biscuit sandwich featuring pulled pork, coleslaw, mint limeade salsa, and crispy onions.

Argentina’s Best Empanadas. Continuing the Farmer’s Market success theme, Argentina’s Best Empanadas has now opened their own space at 357 S 200 E, open Tuesday through Friday 8am to 2pm. This mother-daughter duo prides themselves on using local, organic ingredients, such as Morgan Valley Lamb. ABE features everything from your very traditional beef-filled empanadas to breakfast empanadas featuring scrambled eggs and bacon. I’m excited to try the Lemon Beef empanadas.

The Big O Donuts is now open at 171 E 300 S. Big O is a vegan donut shop, open from 8am to 2pm or until sold out. The donuts have been featured at Sugarhouse Coffee for a while, but now they are available at their very own storefront. My dreams of having a 24 hour donut shop in SLC are getting closer to fruition, as Big O opens late nights on some weekends for the bar crowd. At $2.95 each, these dough babies aint cheap, but I look forward to trying their Orange Cardamom, Key Lime, and Lemon Basil flavors.

Trestle Tavern, a new project by Scott Evans of the Pago Group, is opening this Monday, July 18th, in the former Fresco spot at 15th and 15th. The menu will be tavern-influenced, with a nod to Eastern Europe/Bohemia. Liberty Tap House, but with pierogies, chicken paprikash, spaetzle, and borscht? Guess we’ll find out next week!

Amour Cafe opened a few weeks ago. You can check out my post on this hot new space here.

Mollie & Ollie has opened downtown in the old Bayleaf Cafe spot on Main Street, and has been beautifully renovated. M&O features salads, noodle bowls, and grain bowls, and focuses on healthy, organic ingredients. 159 South Main Street. Monday through Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday (!!!) 10am to 3pm.

Have you checked out the SLCeats hashtag on IG? If not, you need to–it’s blowing up! Clicky here.

El Chubasco

I won’t lie, my taste buds may have been influenced a bit by my ravenous post mountain bike situation, however, I am here to declare the following important factual information: the carne asada burrito at El Chubasco is hands down the best rendition in all of our fair state. And I don’t say that lightly, with strong competition such as Hector’s giving chase in a close 2nd.

But up here the meat still looks like meat, is crispy in all of the right places, and has a healthy dosage of melty cheese, black beans, and pico to make this food baby the top food baby around.

If you haven’t been to El Chubasco, get there. I think they have other stuff on the menu, but I haven’t really ever checked.

1890 Bonanza Drive, Park City

The Annex by Epic Brewing

Truth be told, I never managed to make my way into The Annex, Epic Brewing’s take on a gastropub, when they initially opened a year or so ago. I never heard reviews compelling enough to sway my meal choice in their direction.

However, Annex shifted gears this Fall, bringing in chef Craig Gerome, who cut his teeth cooking at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia and Spruce in San Francisco. Chef Gerome completely revamped the menu, basically stripping everything from the old menu and starting fresh with his take. 

I was invited as a guest of Annex to try out the new menu and to meet Craig, and all I can say is that he is doing amazing things. You can tell this guy cares about his food, crowing about the fact that his mussels are FedEx’d daily from a lady named Jan in Maine, and she only sends him her very best, biggest mussels.

We tried the grilled octopus with salsa verde, lime bean and kale brodo, Bouchot mussels with Berliner weiss, poutine with braised cheek, and deviled eggs as starters. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but I’d especially steer you to the mussels. 

For the mains, we tried the herb fried chicken with fried green tomatoes and buttermilk risotto, and the stout braised pork shank. Of the two, I would definitely recommend getting the fried chicken, which was perfectly crispy, moist, and seasoned well. But other items on the menu such as the buffalo short rib pie and steak frites certainly caught my eye.

Dessert was a nice take on the traditional s’more, using house-made marshmallows and Amano chocolate, giving it extra depth and richness.

Sugarhouse continues to evolve, and the recent development occurring on and near the sugarhole continues to impress with new fantastic eateries popping up. There is a fun, electric vibe happening in this area that has been missing for quite some time.

I’m glad that Annex chose to locate here, and can’t wait to come back.

Disclaimer: I was an invited guest for dinner at The Annex by Epic Brewing.

Kale Brodo. Yes, I ate kale. And it was amazing.

Grilled octopus with salsa verde

Steamed Bouchot mussels

Poutine with braised cheek

Herb fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, buttermilk risotto

Stout braised pork shank

S’mores with Amano

Chef Craig Gerome

Valrhona Chocolate Event on April 8th

We have milk, white, and dark chocolate. And now, according to Valrhona, we have a new category of chocolate: blond. The genesis of Valrhona’s latest creation, Dulcey, began about eight years ago when Valrhona’s chef, Frederic Bau, accidentally left some white couveture chocolate in a bain marie overnight. Ten hours later, he discovered his error, but before throwing the caramelized, browned chocolate out, decided to give it a try. What he tasted was a chocolate with hints of caramel and shortbread unlike anything he’s tasted before. He knew he was on to something.

It took Valrhona eight long years of recipe development to be able to produce this chocolate on a large enough scale to offer it worldwide to confectioners as well as the public. But now the time has come. And Valrhona, together with Caputo’s, is hosting a fantastic event to introduce this chocolate to Utah.

Representatives will be at Caputo’s the evening of April 8th, and they are putting on a friendly competition to showcase the Dulcey chocolate. Three of Salt Lake’s top pastry chefs, Amber Billingsley (Vinto), Alexa Norlin (The Rose Est.), and Courtney McDowell (Pago, Finca) will go up against each other to see who can make the most over-the-top decadent dessert. Viet Pham (Forage), Ryan Lowder (The Copper Onion, Plum Alley), and Takashi Gibo (Takashi) will be the judges. 

Caputo’s Butcher shop will be dishing out free bites of charcuterie, new kids on the block Charming Beard Coffee will be satiating your caffeine needs, and Uinta Brewing will be sampling their Spring and Summer session style beers, along with a chocolate pairing.

And to top it all off, Valrhona USA corporate pastry chef Alex Espiritu from will be on hand to sample the newest chocolate.

The event is Monday, April 8th at 7pm at Caputo’s Downtown. Admission is $20 and an additional $10 for the beverage pairing. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling (801) 531-8669 or going to http://www.caputosdeli.com/products/special-event-battle-blond.html I wouldn’t wait too long–these Caputo’s events typically sell out quickly.

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Penny Ann’s Café

Penny Ann’s makes me happy. I won’t lie–I’m a sucker for any business that remembers my name. And Penny and her family have remembered me from day one. I walked in for lunch today, and Penny immediately says hi, followed with “I was thinking about you today!” Welcome home.

I love that their restaurant is a family business. Penny can be found up front serving guests, and her brother, Warren, is the chef. Sisters, brothers, and parents are all present, clearing tables and prepping food. 

They have a large selection of items on their menu. You’re not going to see Korean tacos, lavender-infused pork belly, or anything that could be described by the word fusion. Penny Ann’s offers the epitome of comfort food. You’ll find chicken parmesan, turkey melts, meatball subs, fish and chips, and Philly cheese steaks gracing their menu.

Nine times out of ten, however, I go with the Reuben. They make their corned beef in-house, and it shows. Ever since I had a Reuben in New York (thank you Katz!), I regularly crave it. And I go to Penny Ann’s to satiate the craving, because it is a near-perfect rendition. Tender, peppery corned beef is sliced thin and partnered with sauerkraut and just the right amount of Thousand Island dressing. The bread is crisped to perfection. One of my favorite dishes in SLC. 

Their fries are delicious as well, but if you’re an onion ring fan, I’d highly recommend you swap the fries for onion rings. You won’t be disappointed. They have just the right amount of breading, and they serve it along with their tasty version of fry sauce. 

And don’t think you can leave Penny Ann’s without ordering a piece of pie. The pies are made by Penny’s mother, I believe. They have banana cream, coconut cream, key lime, and lemon raspberry cream in their regular rotation, among many others. My wife particularly loves a special pie they make from time to time with blueberries. I believe it’s called blueberry paradise. I never dare leave Penny Ann’s without a slice of blueberry paradise in a to-go container. A portion of their peanut butter chocolate pie usually comes home with me as well. It’s such a rich affair that even this sugar junkie can only eat about half before throwing in the towel.

I’m just going to say it: their prices are ridiculously low. I know–that makes me the kid who would remind your teacher about the assignment due that day. But it has to be said. Their reuben is $6.99, and for an additional $2.50 you can add fries or salad and a soda. I’m pretty sure they don’t have anything on their menu over $10. 

They are located in a bit of a culinary No Man’s Land, with Pho Tay Ho one block north and Grove Market one block south, but not much else. Look for a big, cream-colored apartment building–their restaurant is attached to this building. They used to offer dinner service but have since changed their hours (probably so their family can get some much-deserved sleep). They are now open from 7am to 4pm, Monday through Saturday.

These guys deserve your business. Not just because they’re local or family-owned. Penny Ann’s deserves your business because their food is outstanding, their prices are exceptional, and their service is excellent. And I can guarantee you won’t leave hungry. 

1810 S Main St

Salt Lake City

(801) 935-4760

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