Not all of Utah’s best dining destinations are in its big cities. There are plenty of restaurants that lie off the beaten path, but are well worth a detour to get to. Here are a few “off the eaten path” favorites.
At Wild Thyme Cafe in Kanab, the focus is on freshness. Meals are prepared from scratch in small batches, often utilizing ingredients from the owners’ own organic gardens. The focus is on Southwestern cuisine, and the menu doesn’t ignore folks with special dietary needs; there are plenty of menu items that cater to vegans, vegetarians, and guests who are gluten free. Pistachio-crusted chicken with Southwest spices and poblano sauce and the fire-grilled trout with Cajun fried rice are just two tempting Wild Thyme dishes.
One of my favorite out of the way jaunts is to the Shooting Star Saloon, which has been serving patrons in Huntsville since 1879, even surviving 14 years of Prohibition. Buck – the largest measured St. Bernard in the Guinness Book of World Records – is stuffed and adorns one of the walls of the Saloon. Bodacious burgers and brews are the specialties here, but be sure to bring your I.D. The Shooting Star is a bar for those 21 and over.
The next time you find yourself in or anywhere near Heber, be sure to visit Afterword, a fabulous Main Street restaurant brought to you by the folks who created Park City’s Tupelo restaurant. In summer, enjoy the Golden Beet Gazpacho or English Pea & Feta Salad before tucking into Chef Matt Harris’ outrageously tasty Famous Fried Chicken. Roasted Idaho Trout, Shrimp & Grits, and Local Mushroom Bolognese are other surefire bets from the Afterword menu. Enjoy free live music on the patio in summer on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, but note that the restaurant is for guests 21 and over.
In my opinion, the best dining in and around Bear Lake is in Garden City at the Campfire Grill. It’s the restaurant located at Conestoga Ranch, the glamping resort near Bear Lake, serving breakfast and dinner during the summer. The wood-fired pizzas are excellent, as are gourmet entrees such as Wagyu meatloaf with mushroom-red wine sauce; the grilled Kurobuta pork chop and apple-sage reduction; and pan-seared salmon with a maple reduction. Best though, are the wonderful views from the eatery that is open to the outside scenery.
If I were to pick a single restaurant in Utah to enjoy my final meal at, it would be Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah. Chef-Owners Jen Castle and Blake Spalding operate the restaurant following Buddhist principles, with a commitment to sustainability, environmental ethics, and social and community responsibility. More importantly perhaps, their food is simply sensational. And the vibe at Hell’s Backbone is as welcoming and inviting as the wonderful ambiance. Dishes feature ingredients from the owners’ own farm as well as from local ranchers and other purveyors. Every delicious dish at Hell’s Backbone Grill is created with love, but highlights include The Dinner Jenchilada; Spicy Cowgirl Chipotle Meatloaf; Lemony Cluck (pan-seared organic chicken); and Three Sisters Posole. But don’t leave without enjoying the heavenly Chocolate Chile Cream Pot.
Another outstanding Kanab dining destination is Sego, where chef Shon Foster’s New American Cuisine is the star attraction. The eclectic fare at Sego ranges from Falafel; Baked Brie; and Duck Lo Mein; to Espresso-rubbed Beef Filet; Rendang Ayam Chicken Curry; Artichoke & Foraged Mushroom Toast; and Scallops with Cauliflower-Popcorn Puree. There’s also an excellent selection of wines, beers, cocktails, liqueurs and such to sip.
Tucked away in the Wasatch National Forest just outside of Salt Lake City, is Log Haven restaurant in Millcreek Canyon. While it’s only a short, scenic drive off the beaten path from SLC, it’s a world away in terms of ambiance, situated amongst streams, waterfalls, mountains and miles of nature’s beauty. Chef David Jones cuisine perfectly complements the comforting Log Haven vibe with popular dishes such as Alpine Nachos; Sesame-Crusted Dungeness Crab Cakes; Tuna Tataki; Grilled Bison Teres Major Steak; Porcini-Crusted Chicken Breast; Grilled Elk NY Strip, and so much more. The service at Log Haven is second to none.
One of the more eye-popping eateries in the state is the beautifully appointed Yuta restaurant at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship. James Beard Award-winning chef Galen Zamarra – a NYC transplant – is a killer in the kitchen, offering guests creations such as Harissa Grilled Octopus; Bison Tartare; Grilled Lion’s Mane Mushroom; Seared Baby Zucchini Blossoms; Hawaiian Kampachi Crudo; Lamb Loin Wrapped in Wild Ramps, and many more innovative dishes. The service and ambiance at Yuta are world class, as well.
“We brake for bakeries!” said one enthusiastic reviewer of Veyo Pies and Bakery in Veyo, Utah. In addition to a wide variety of fruit pies and cream pies, this small but busy bakery also offers guests lunchtime beef and chicken pot pies, as well as pastries such as turnovers, donuts, cinnamon rolls, cookies and such. But you’ll definitely want to get your lips around pies like the Mountain Berry, Double Lemon, Strawberry Rhubarb, Cherry Raspberry, Peach Blueberry, and my favorite: Banana Cream pie. Veyo also offers pies that are sugar free, replacing sugar with Xylitol, as well as gluten free fruit pies.
Well, now it’s time for me to hit the road!
Culinary quote of the week:
“I’ve run more risk eating my way across the country than in all my driving.” — Duncan Hines
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.