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Crush Salt Lake City’s Foodie Scene: SLC Restaurants

By April 5, 2019October 7th, 20199 Comments

For me, it’s hard to pinpoint Salt Lake City (SLC for short). I definitely enjoyed it, but had to dig deep to find its soul. The best way I find to get a feel of a city is through food. SLC restaurants are plentiful and run the gamut, perfect for a few days of drinks and nibbles downtown. I’ve organized my finds below, paired with a little info on fitness (like SLC yoga classes) to balance out the indulgence!

Laid Back SLC Coffee Cafes

Digital nomads and people who work on the road are always on the hunt for the perfect café. I’m talking the one that doesn’t make you feel bad for being there all afternoon, has plenty of outlets and strong coffee. SLC has several of these for the java crowd, but count as great SLC restaurants too for their healthy food offerings.

My favorite is Nostalgia Café, a 25-minute walk or so from downtown center but worth the stroll. It’s big, airy and full of college kids cramming for exams. But there’s plenty of seating to go around. The menu has many vegan-friendly options, as well as a big sweet and savory crepe board. I opted for a veggie sandwich and “Van Halen” cold coffee, complete with enough barista puns to almost make me roll my eyes. But really, a fun and warm place for a cuppa and work sesh.

A close second is La Barba, found in the Gateway area behind the old train station downtown. It’s sporting the opposite feel of nostalgia, with clean concrete counters and succulent plants. The coffee is delicious, although they were out of cold coffee by lunch time. I also had an avo toast to blend in more which was decadent on thick sourdough.

Some More SLC Coffee Shops

  • Coffee Garden: Cute coffee shop with a patio and homemade bakery items.
  • Raw Bean Coffee: Downtown shop and tog-o spot for homemade biscotti, biscuits for dogs and locally roasted espresso.

Salt Lake City Hipster Bars and Bites

White horse whiskey bar wall as a top slc restaurants in salt lake city utah

For something late night and jazzy, we stumbled into the White Horse Spirits & Kitchen for dinner. You’ll see the wall of liquor right away, accessed by sliding wooden ladder and bartenders in suspenders who have excessive enthusiasm. Nonetheless I had one of the best grilled cheeses of my life (with truffle oil) and a tasty beer flight. Seems like a hot date night spot and cozy for conversation.

More SLC Bars

  • Bar-X: It’s both Bar-X and the Beer Bar with local brews on tap and a hot dog spread.
  • The Red Door: Chic martini bar for schmoozing and lounging.
  • Beer Hive Pub: Leave the hipsters behind grab a pool stick and a pint at this well-loved dive bar.

BBQ and the Basics

SLC restaurants vary from upscale and trendy to traditional and hearty. Here’s a few good joints for some finger-licking good eats.

OK, Dickey’s Barbeque Pit is a chain. Tough, I’m obsessed with it. I’ve sung their praises while in Florida too as super-fast, cheap-and-cheerful BBQ with lots of options for sides. And of course, the best part being the free vanilla soft serve icea cream machine to finish! We took a quick Uber to go here outside of downtown for a change of scenery.

Another spot that’s famous is Red Iguana, specializing in authentic Mexican food. It was always popular, but blew up with tourists since it’s debut on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Unfortunately because of that, there was a two-hour wait to sit when we tried to go on a Thursday night. Hopefully next time, as it has a great reputation for mole, tamales and fresh tortillas.

Back downtown, we enjoyed R&R BBQ for a nice stand-by for a casual meal. The highlight was the mac-and cheese, alongside the ribs and homemade sauces.

After All the Food – Spin Salt Lake City and More!

When I now travel, I really try to compensate the extra food treats with some exercise. I hate running though and feel like hitting my step goal isn’t enough. But I bypass this now with a Class Pass – it works in tons of major cities across the US and worldwide. I found gyms in Thailand, Australia, Malaysia and the UK, to name a few! You get a certain amount of credits per month to use, with classes during the day costing less.

I was able to book classes like spin in Salt Lake City on my Class Pass I usually have in Boston right on the app. Loved it.

DEAL: Here’s a $40 credit if you want to give it a try, good for a few free classes anywhere.

Near the Radisson Downtown was a few gyms, including The Rebel House. They had a great facility with rentable equipment and rooms for spin, bikram-style yoga and boot camp. I did both the yoga and spin, feeling pretty welcome as a drop-in to hang out and sweat.

yoga room with woman on her toes in slc

With most cities, there’s gyms all over, so have a look for what works for you proximity-wise and cost-wise. Here’s a few more options in the downtown area (all of these are also on Class Pass):

  • Salt Lake power Yoga: They offer a traveling yogi pass for $49 for a whole week including mat and equipment rentals while you’re in town.
  • CorePower Yoga – Trolley Square: Great fitness-style yoga, Salt Lake City-style. Drop-ins are a bit pricey but never expire independently or on Class Pass. Use credits or try a free week special.
  • Torrent Cycle: Spin in Salt Lake City, as well as shoe rentals. Lots of classes to choose from, from 6AM to 730PM. Lots of throwback music classes.

Salt Lake City has much to offer outside of SLC restaurants and fitness, from it’s interesting Mormon history and architecture, to art galleries and pubic gardens. Not to mention, skiing at Park City and other outdoor pursuits year-round make Salt Lake City a great base for a getaway. Time to book your trip!

Have more questions about SLC and taking trips in the US? Get in touch with me (Eileen) anytime.

salt lake city - SLC restaurants, liquor wall and BBQ

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Twitter @PureWander.

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Lalaine says:

    The barbeque looks absolutely incredible!! Never got the chance to try these places when I was in SLC but I’ll be back! Taking fitness classes is such a good idea when traveling – it’s always nice to work up a sweat after eating so much!

  • Katie says:

    Yay!! This is so helpful because I’m going to SLC really soon. I don’t think I remember a single place I ate there when I was little, so cannot wait to use your recommendations! I should also end my trip with a spin class…love a good spin! Thanks for the reccs.

  • So SLC for coffee and liquor… Actually, when I lived in Salt Lake I learned you could find anything you want. It’s really a beautiful city. The White Horse Spirits & Kitchen looks like a real winner.

  • Andi says:

    I spoke to a couple over Memorial Day weekend from SLC while we were camping in Northern Arizona, it is amazing how much the city has grown! Food culture is something I wouldn’t have expected to be where it’s at in SLC, but with the influx of people in the last decade, new cultural delights and even good COFFEE places can be found! I love it! Not the SLC I first visited 30+ years ago!

  • Janiel Green says:

    I live in SLC and haven’t even been to several of these places! LOL! Likely need to get out more and explore – so thanks for helping me realize just how much of a home bug I am. I have been, and highly recommend R&R BBQ though – it comes in a close second to the BBQ place in Dallas I would go to.

  • Amanda says:

    Wait a minute, you came to Utah & went to Dickey’s? Yikes.
    Also, Nostalgia is right downtown, not 25 minutes away.

    • Haha! Hey, give me a break! I have this odd thing about Dickey’s, because we don’t have them in the northeast! Our barbecue is bad in general 🙂 I only dipped a toe into SLC food for now, but loved what I found!

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