When I moved to Utah in 1992, specialty food stores were few and far between. Liberty Heights Fresh was still a year away from opening and Granato’s was about the only gourmet game in town, selling imported Italian foods, hot and cold sandwiches, kitchenware and such.
Thankfully, much has changed in the nearly 30 years since then, and SLC and its environs are now home to a number of great markets for foodies, ranging from Asian supermarkets and independent seafood stores, to businesses featuring Middle Eastern and African foods and ingredients. Here are a few of my faves.
If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll remember that Granato’s spawned Caputo’s Market & Deli, in a sense.
Tony Caputo, founder of Caputo’s, opened his namesake specialty shop after working for Sam Granato at the now closed Granato’s on 300 West. Today, his son Matt runs Caputo’s and it is still THE PLACE for imported cheeses as well as those aged in-house, gourmet chocolates (one of America’s largest selections), all sorts of pastas, olives oils, vinegars, and foods for your pantry, not to mention excellent hot and cold meals to enjoy on the spot.
The aforementioned Liberty Heights Fresh was opened by Steven Rosenberg in 1993, and has been a go-to spot for fresh produce and assorted gourmet goodies ever since. Long before “farm to table” was even coined as a phrase, Rosenberg was working with farmers and artisan food producers to stock his neighborhood market.
You’ll find everything at LHF from meats and poultry produced by Canyon Meadows Ranch, Diestel Turkey Ranch and D’Artagnan, to fresh flowers, world-class cheeses, top-quality produce from Utah growers, coffee and tea, charcuterie, chocolates, cocktail accoutrements, dairy products, groceries and much more. If Liberty Heights Fresh doesn’t have it, you probably don’t need it.
For everything Asian, I don’t know what I’d do without Ocean Mart. It’s where I go for everything from Thai rice noodles, frozen potstickers and Asian vegetables to live blue crabs and lobsters, woks, rice by the 50 lb. bag, fresh noodles for ramen and pho, and a thousand other things. There are more varieties of soy sauce alone at Ocean Mart than I could try out in a decade. Oh, and some of the Ocean Marts — like the one in Roy — have freshly made Asian fare and tables to sit at for hungry customers to dine in-house.
For Japanese foods and ingredients, I rely on Sage Market. Remarkably, it dates way back in 1910 by a Japanese farmer who sold fresh produce from Sage Farm to customers in SLC. Junko Urabe, Sage’s longtime owner, hails originally from Tokyo and opened the current version of Sage Market in 1982. Along with a variety of Japanese kitchen goods and foodstuffs, Sage Market is also a deli specializing in freshly prepared foods such as gyoza, udon, ramen, sushi, curried rice, onigiri, bento boxes and donburi.
When I’m in the mood to cook Indian food, I turn to Qaderi Sweetz & Spicez for the ingredients. At Quaderi, you’ll score everything from basics like imported basmati rice and hundreds of spices to fresh mangos, coconuts and other fresh produce. Of course, there are plenty of hot sauces and curries to choose from, as well as prepared foods ready-to-eat such as haleem, paratha, nihari, kabobs, biryani, samosas, chaat, pakora, tikka pizzas, curries, lassis and much more.
Where’s the beef, you ask? At Beltex Meats you’ll find freshly butchered beef as well as lamb, pork, charcuterie, and even seafood from Beltex’s friends at Frisky Fresh Fish. Just north of Liberty Park, Beltex Meats is owner Philip Grubisa’s whole-animal, nose-to-tail butcher shop that uses humanely raised and locally sourced natural meats. This is the perfect place for holiday hams, turkeys and roasts, as well as homemade items like pate forestier, pork rillettes, coppa steaks, beer brats, merguez sausages, bone broth, baked sourdough bread and, on Saturdays, the best Cuban sandwich you’ll find this side of Miami.
For the highest quality fish and seafood, look no further than Aquarius Fish Company, located adjacent to Caputo’s in downtown SLC. Open since 2001, Aquarius sources top-notch, fresh seafood from around the world. With products ranging from fresh caviar and sushi-grade fish to shrimp, crab, scallops, whole fish, fish fillets, and imported items like St. James Smokehouse smoked salmon, if it ever swam you’ll likely find it at Aquarius Fish Company.
Pirate O’s in Draper may be diminutive in size, but its food selection is huge. Cured meats, fresh cheeses, artisan sodas, gourmet pantry items, gift baskets, sauces and oils, pastas galore, chocolates and baked goods — those are just a smattering of the stuff you’ll find at Pirate O’s to make your mouth water.
In Park City, Bill White Farms offers grass-fed Heritage smoked hams, Bill White Ranches grass-fed beef and lamb, organic produce and flowers, prepared foods like meatloaf, baked goods and chicken soup, pizza kits, farm fresh eggs, fresh pasta sauces, sustainable scallops, halibut, Wild Isles salmon and yellowfin tuna, Billy Blanco’s smoked spareribs, ice cream and sorbets, and even dog biscuits for your pups.
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