There was a time when eating at a bar pretty much meant a choice between corn nuts, pretzels, pork rinds, or maybe a pickled egg from that gigantic jar behind the bar. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But thankfully, times have changed and those looking to dine a little more creatively or healthy in bars can now do so. Here are a dozen of my favorite bar bites.
White Horse Spirits and Kitchen sports a food menu that rivals many of the best restaurants, with dishes ranging from hamachi crudo and confit duck wings to ricotta gnocchi and a terrific raw bar seafood selection. One of my White Horse favorites is simple but sensational: a grilled artichoke served with garlic aioli, clarified butter, charred lemon and gremolata.
A bit further west in downtown SLC, Lake Effect also has an eclectic bar menu that runs the culinary gamut from Himalayan sea salted Wagyu skewers to cauliflower and black bean burrito, and Chilean sea bass with scallops. My preference at Lake Effect is to enjoy one or two of their six different taco varieties: avocado, pulled pork, blackened ahi, grilled shrimp, flank steak, or chipotle BBQ braised hibiscus.
I love tacos and I love burritos. So for the Sunday bar brunch at Ivy and Varley I skip right past the shakshuka, churro French toast (although it sounds fantastic), and the Wagyu braised beef Benedict and head straight for their smothered breakfast burrito. It’s jam packed with scrambled eggs, beans, Oaxacan queso, tomatoes, and onion with salsa verde and crema, served with breakfast potatoes alongside.
Up at the St. Regis Deer Valley, The Vintage Room pop-up bar/club is an amazing spot to enjoy a nosh and a cocktail, wine or beer during ski season. They have a full seafood raw bar as well as cooked items like lobster rolls, turkey chili, clam chowder and more. My go-to items from the raw bar include the jumbo stone crab claws, freshly shucked oysters, and the killer ceviche, with a choice of octopus, tuna, hamachi, or calamari.
Another great bar to visit in Deer Valley is the Troll Hallen Lounge in Stein Eriksen Lodge. There are rib-sticking menu items such as the Snake River Farms Wagyu pastrami hoagie and a killer 8-ounce Angus beef burger to enjoy. But there are also lighter and healthier dishes like the superb Shellfish Ski Bowl Salad to enjoy, with sweet crab, Nordic bay shrimp, quinoa, power greens, cucumber, carrot, haricots verts, radish and Green Goddess vinaigrette. But we’re not judging.
On Main Street in Park City, Chef Scott Boberek offers up an eclectic bar menu at Fletcher’s, spanning the culinary globe from poke salad and peanut-crusted salmon to portobello chicken and the popular zucchini squash purse. But I can’t step into Fletcher’s without ordering the “Best in State” short rib grilled cheese sandwich with roasted garlic aioli, Beehive Promontory Cheddar, arugula and tomato. It’s awesome.
Back in SLC, BTG Wine Bar offers an outlandish array of wines from around the world as well as cocktails, beer, cider and more. BTG guests have the added advantage of being able to order from the Caffe Molise kitchen, BTG’s sister establishment where Chef/Owner Fred Moesinger and his crew cook up bar food dishes such as butternut ravioli, chicken piccata, coulotte steak, shrimp scampi, and much more. I can’t resist the homemade vegetarian eggplant meatballs with scrumptious from scratch shallot and tomato cream sauce.
To the west of BTG Wine Bar lies The Gateway, where you’ll find Flanker Kitchen + Social Club – a sprawling adult funhouse with fab food and drink, not to mention all sorts of entertainment. There is a wide variety of delectable dishes to choose from at Flanker, but my favorite is the Spicy Tuna Bites appetizer. It’s finely minced sushi grade tuna tartare with spicy mayo and fresh jalapeño slices on a crispy rice foundation, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds.
The Bar at Beehive Distilling recently upped its food game with an eclectic menu full of Mexican-Fusion foods.There are three different slider options on the new menu: Al Pastor Jumbo Slider (Marinated Pork, Grilled Pineapple, Cilantro Ranch, Oaxaca Cheese), Carne Asada Jumbo Slider (Ground Beef, Salsa Verde, Pico de Gallo, Pepper Jack Cheese), and Tofu Jumbo Slider (Korean BBQ Glaze, Pickled Vegetable Mix). All can be made gluten free with a lettuce wrap or rice bao bun. And for taco lovers like me, the Beehive Bar still hosts Tacos Tuesdays every week, with $3 local drafts, $4 tequila shots, and $5 taco plates.
At the various Red Rock Brewery & Restaurant locations you’ll find an abundance of award-winning brews and outstanding pub fare to accompany them. Eating options range from oven-roasted cauliflower, avocado toast, and an array of salads, sandwiches, pastas, and entrees, to desserts like the chocolate stout brownie. Since Red Rock downtown opened some 25 years ago, I’ve been particularly fond of their wood-oven fired pizzas – they were doing wood oven pizzas long before all the wood-fired pizza joints that came later. Red Rock pizzas include a basic Margherita, Four-Cheese Pizza, Arugula & Prosciutto, classic Pepperoni, Barbecue Chicken, Wild Mushroom, Artichoke, Thai Chicken, and others, including a special pizza of the day. Personally, the spicy Italian sausage pizza with San Marzano tomato sauce is my go-to pizza preference.
I am not aware of many bars that serve ramen, especially the first-rate ramen that you can get while seated in the bar area at Ramen Bar in downtown SLC. Wine, beer, sake, and cocktails are served here, and so a few tables closest to the bar (within 10 feet) are reserved for customers 21 or older. The tonkotsu ramen at Ramen Bar is outstanding. The broth here is said to be cooked for 36 hours, and it tastes like it. The tonkotsu is a bowl of pork bone broth with ramen noodles, roasted pork belly, bamboo shoots, half a hard-cooked egg, scallions, a square of roasted seaweed, and corn kernels. It’s ramen that rocks.
One of the newer bar destinations in downtown SLC is the beautiful bar at Laurel Brasserie and Bar in The Grand America Hotel. The bar menu at Laurel features wood-fired pizzas, French onion soup, arancini, meatballs, pigs in a blanket, heirloom tomato tartlet, and much more. So far, my favorite bar bite at Laurel is the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers, with button mushrooms and served with a fresh herb dipping sauce on the side. It’s just one of the wonderful things to come from Executive Chef Fernando Soberanis’ kitchen at The Grand America.
Do you have a favorite local bar food? Let us know about it!
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week: “Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” – W.C. Fields
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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.
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