We all hear about the popular restaurants. We all know of the top-of-the-town restaurants that everyone “must visit.” But lesser-known places, with exceptional food and atmosphere are the places we tend to associate with road-trip memories. These are the places in and around Salt Lake that are perfect for folks new to town—they are our local hole-in-the walls.
If you were to find a travel guide highlighting local eats, this would be at the top of the list. Sharon’s, open only for breakfast and lunch, is the place where everybody knows your name. No matter what time you go in, everyone is relaxed, enjoying life, and is in no hurry to be anywhere else. The food is equally as welcoming, yet simple and delicious—with breakfast classics such as skillets, omelets, pancakes, and waffles.
The lunch menu offers sandwiches, burgers, soups, and salads. This is not a place just to get a meal and move on, it will become part of your regular routine.
2263 Murray Holladay Road, Salt Lake City
Some of the best restaurants can be found in obscure locations; in this case, a strip mall next to a Smith’s. Siam Orchid has an eclectic, delicious, and inexpensive lunch menu. The lunch combo includes your choice of two dishes—curries, soups, salads, pork, and tofu. There are also single-dish items such as pad thai, pad see-eiw, and drunken noodles. But the gem of the menu is the noodle lunch option: pick your noodles—egg, flat rice, or thin rice; your broth—naam, hang (which is actually no broth), or tom yum (spicy and addictive); and then your meat.
This is an unpretentious place where the experience, food, and prices leave you in happy disbelief. The owner took over a failing restaurant a few years ago, and turned it into this thriving eatery.
*Siam Orchid closes at 3pm*
4410 S. 900 E., Salt Lake City
La-Cai Noodle House
The words “almost hidden” and “State Street” don’t go together too often. But just try to find this little gem as you head toward downtown while still paying attention to the road. Once you do, it will definitely be worth it.
The menu here is large, authentic, and incredibly satisfying—they were serving Pho long before it was the trendy dish it has now become; try both the Pho Rare Beef and Brisket and Meatballs. Come back weekly until you’ve also had the Spicy Beef Sate Noodle Soup, Bun-Vermicelli with Grilled Pork & Eggroll, Flat Rice Noodles with Seafood, and add some crab rangoon as an appetizer.
I have never seen an advertisement for La-Cai and now I know why: their food is the only promotion they will ever need.
*La-Cai Noodle House closes from 3pm to 4:30pm on weekdays and reopens for dinner until 9:30pm. Friday and Saturday hours are 11am to 9:30pm. Closed Sundays.*
961 S. State Street Salt Lake City
Curry Fried Chicken
Tucked into a little space on State Street, just north of downtown is a restaurant with an exotic flair in their food and a laid-back vibe. Curry Fried Chicken took an American classic—fried chicken—and uncovered an acre of diamonds. The sizzling chicken has batter infused with Indian spices and is deep fried to achieve extra crispiness. If you order the Curry Fried Chicken Plate, it comes with rice, naan, lentils, and salad.
They also offer a Tandoori Chicken Plate, kebabs, and Shwarma Plates. Sitting at the counter allows you to watch the preparation—thus enhancing the experience. This fusion of American and Indian cuisine and culture will leave your mouth watering and your soul rejuvenated.
660 S. State Street, Salt Lake City