Eat Like a Local in Salt Lake

Salt Lake City holds the vibrancy of a large city in its heart, although it feels cozily nestled into a deep valley. Maybe you’re visiting family, or are here for a work conference. Maybe you’re one of the many transplants from another state—to that I say welcome, friend! Join the club!

Whatever the reason on your visit, you might be asking yourself what you should do when visiting the Crossroads of the West. There are a million and one ways to explore a new place, but I think the best way to get a sense and feel for a new city is through the food it dishes out to its inhabitants. 

The great news? Salt Lake City is one of those magical places that has surprisingly delicious eateries. The cuisine, although not the as diversified as it might be if it were a city on a coastline, the salty city is not without its charms. So here’s a quick list of places I recommend to just about everybody I meet, whether they’re here for the long hall, or just passing through.

A Quick Breakfast
Downtown SLC is safely one of the best breakfast cities you’ll find, as you'll be able to quickly determine on sites like They’ve got it all, and everyone knows that if you want to hit up one of the better breakfast spots on a weekend morning, you should prepare to wait for up to an hour. Don’t worry, the wait is worth it, depending on what you’re looking for out of your breakfast meal. 

Pig & a Jelly Jar
Looking for fantastic breakfast options, homemade jams, and great service? Look no further! This establishment makes the classics—like thick-cut bacon and perfectly crisp chicken and waffles—with a bit of flare. The little corner restaurant, that also has a vibrant iron rod outdoor “porch” is a hoot to visit. If you’re in need of southern flare foods, or the comforts of delicious gravy and jam, this is the spot for you. 

Brunch, Lunch, and Everything Inbetween  
If you’re feeling peckish in the middle of the day, it’s not a challenge to find great lunch spots while exploring downtown. Want to feel like a local for the afternoon? Check out…

The Red Iguana
Every city has it, that one restaurant that seems like every resident in the area knows. If you were to look up this fabulous, traditional Mexican establishment right now, you’d likely see images of an unassuming building with a line that stretches from its front door all the way around the corner of the place itself.

You might be thinking, is that line normal? It is. And the good news is, that line is absolutely worth waiting in. The Red Iguana opened its doors back in 1985 and has been feeding residents and visitors alike since then. Their menu is fairly diverse, which means it’s likely you’ll spot about 5 things right off the bat that the very thought of will make your mouth water. I always recommend the Signature Mole Dishes for those who have never been. 

Dinner and Drinks

Visitors of downtown Salt Lake City have a tendency to make the assumption that this pretty little city doesn’t have much of a nightlife. Contrary to that belief, a good time in Utah doesn’t end when the sun dips down past the mountain ridges. It isn’t complicated to find establishments that do a perfect mix of dinner and drinks, but sometimes you’re looking for a space that also promises a grand aesthetic.

Lake Effect
Here’s the thing about Utah, although downtown isn’t void of spots for dinner and drinks, it can be tricky to find one that doesn’t compromise on the other. Thankfully, Lake Effect is not one of those places. Although it happens to have a delicious brunch and lunch menu—seriously, try the Tin Can Nachos—it’s an excellent place to take your friends and family out for drinks, food, and a little nightlife. I would recommend it alone for the Spanish-inspired fare, but it also has a selection of spirits, wine, and beer that is unparalleled in this city. Only in the city for a few nights? Salt Lake’s “big city bar” usually has a fantastic live performance happening just about every night. 

Current & Under Current

These side by side spots are the ideal place to start and end a weekend night. It’s not often that you think about Salt Lake as a great seafood spot, but the Current is a wonderful exception to the rule. Whether you’re stopping in for their delicious yet understated seafood dishes, or decide to drop in next door to the Under Current Bar for craft drinks and “happy hour” bites, you won’t be disappointed by their food, drinks, or atmosphere.

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