Food & Drink

Stupendous Seafood: A Dozen Outstanding Restaurant Seafood Dishes

Despite being landlocked Utah still offers great fish and seafood dishes thanks to innovative thinking. Here are 12 enjoyable, local seafood dishes.


Given that Utah is a landlocked state and there’s not much that’s edible from the Great Salt Lake, there is a surprising amount of great fish and seafood to be had at our local restaurants. In part, we can thank Gastronomy Inc. for pioneering same day seafood shipments when they partnered with Delta Airlines to fly fresh seafood into SLC from the coasts to serve at their Market Street restaurants. Today, that sort of thing is old hat. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was anything but. At any rate, there is no longer a shortage of excellent seafood in Utah. Here are a dozen of the most enjoyable seafood dishes from my dining excursions in the past year.

Wildwood Scallops

At Michael Richey’s Wildwood restaurant in the Avenues, there is an abundance of killer cuisine, but my wife and I were especially awed by the incredible Scallops dish – seared juicy scallops with roasted eggplant, hothouse cherry tomatoes, and a clever curry “fondue.” It’s one of the more creative dishes I’ve encountered dining in SLC. 

Takashi Ankimo Sashimi

I have to admit that the first time I came into contact with Ankimo Sashimi at Takashi restaurant, I was a bit hesitant. Monkfish liver? Really? Have you ever SEEN a monkfish? Not pretty. Now I’m an ankimo addict. Ankimo is monkfish liver pâté, which is a lot like foie gras in taste and texture. The last time I had it at Takashi the ankimo was served with opo squash, radish slices, lotus root, ponzu, scallions, and momiji. Simply put, ankimo is awesome. 

Flanker Spicy Tuna Bites

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club at The Gateway is an adult fun zone with bar fare that raises the bar. On the menu developed by culinary director Jeannie Glass is a bar snack that I just can’t get enough of: Spicy Tuna Bites start with a foundation of crispy rice upon which is stacked finely minced sashimi grade tuna tartare with spicy mayo, topped with thin jalapeño slices and sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds. It’s a terrific way to enjoy tuna.

Caffe Molise Scampi alla Diavola

There is so much to love at SLC’s venerable Caffe Molise, where owner/chef Fred Moesinger and his crew serve up some of this town’s best cuisine in an unmatched atmosphere. I am particularly fond of his Scampi alla Diavola – plump, tender Gulf shrimp sauteed in garlic and tossed in a spicy tomato-onion sauce with fresh fettuccine and lemon wedges. That dish is right up there with another Caffe Molise favorite: Gamberetti Insalata – a lunchtime salad of grilled Gulf shrimp on a plate of mixed greens with red onion, tomato, artichoke hearts, imported Feta, and seasonal fresh fruit salsa. 

Cena Fried Clams

Whenever I’m back east at the beach on the Jersey Shore, I’m sure to get my fill of fried clams. It’s something that’s hard to find here in the West. Not just the beach; the clams too. In fact, the only place I know to get great fried clams in Utah is at Cena Ristorante & Bar in Deer Valley. Fried clams in posh Deer Valley? Who knew? These are plump and juicy fresh clams – bellies and all – battered and fried to crispy perfection, served with a spicy tomato sauce and charred lemon, garnished with scallion slices. I’m crazy ‘bout those clams! 

Hong Kong Tea House Steamed Ocean Perch

One thing I love about Asian eateries is that yes, you can often order outstanding fish dishes, but also frequently enjoy the WHOLE fish, not just fillets or steaks. That’s true at Hong Kong Tea House, which ostensibly is a dim sum restaurant, but also serves terrific Chinese entrees ranging from Snow Pea Leaves stir-fried with garlic, and Soft Shell Crab with ginger and garlic, to my favorite: whole, head-on ocean perch perfectly cooked with a savory ginger and green onion sauce.

La Cevicheria Avocado Tuna Ceviche

As the name would imply, at La Cevicheria in downtown SLC the specialty is Mexican-style ceviche. There are numerous different ceviche offerings on the menu, but one of my very favorites is Avocado Tuna Ceviche. In the center of the large dinner plate is a mound of guacamole surrounded by sushi grade strips of tender tuna, with sliced onion, jalapaños and cucumber, topped with homemade sauce, sprinkled with white sesame seeds, and served with crispy fried Mexican tostaditas. 

Matteo Merluzzo

One of the more interesting seafood dishes I’ve enjoyed – in one of the more interesting new SLC restaurants – was a “Secondi” course of Merluzzo at Matteo Ristorante Italiano: boneless black cod with microgreens and green beans on a bed of white wine “foam” Tender, tasty, and terrific. Matteo is a wonderful addition to the SLC dining scene and the Merluzzo is just one of many eye-popping delicious dishes. 

Bar Nohm Bluefin Sashimi

The partnering of Water Witch and Nohm has given us the best of both worlds: Bar Nohm. Chef/Partner David Chon doesn’t consider himself a sushi chef, but he sure does know his way around sushi quality fish. There’s little or no sushi on the frequently changing Bar Nohm menu, but if you happen to see David’s incredible Bluefin Sashimi listed – JUMP ON IT. Served simply with ginger and wasabi, the Bar Nohm tuna preparation really lets that fabulous fish SING! 

Current Spanish Octopus

At Current Fish and Oyster, Executive Chef Manny Acero works wonders with a variety of vibrant flavors, but none more so than his sensational Spanish Octopus dish. It’s as lovely to look at as it is to eat: Grilled tender octopus that comes with heirloom beans, Moroccan olives, eggplant, and tomato. Manny has recently added a new octopus dish to the menu with confit fingerling potatoes, anchoïade and a delicious golden raisin agrodolce. Try ‘em both if you can! 

Cucina Sesame Ahi Steak

Executive Chef Joey Ferran at Cucina Wine Bar has been knocking it out of the park for a few years now, dishing up some of the Beehive State’s most inventive cuisine. A favorite current menu item of both my wife and me is the Sesame Ahi Steak, which is sesame seed-coated ahi tuna, oh-so lightly seared on the edges and served with kaffir lime rice cake, green garlic oil, sambal-coconut cream, and hot & sour cabbage. It’s a tuna tour de force. 

Adelaide Plateaux de Fruits de Mer

I really love the cuisine that Executive Chef Jacqualine Siao and her culinary team are putting out at Adelaide restaurant at Le Meridien. It’s an eclectic menu chock full of delicious dishes, but none better – or simpler – than the Plateaux de Fruits de Mer which, translated from the French, simply means “Seafood Platter.” Sometimes less is more, and there are few things I enjoy indulging in more than a chilled seafood platter where the fish and seafood is the star – not fancy sauces or cooking techniques. Such is the case with Adelaide’s Plateaux de Fruits de Mer, which includes oysters on the half shell, Dungeness crab salad, tuna crudo, Alaskan King crab legs, citrus-poached shrimp, Som Cordial Pineapple Szechuan Pepper Mignonette, and Calabrian chili cocktail sauce. It’s a simply sensational seafood platter. 

Do you have a favorite local restaurant seafood dish? Let us hear about it!  

Culinary quote of the week: “I prefer my oysters fried; that way I know my oysters died.” Roy G. Blount, Jr. 

Feature Image: Photo courtesy of Mike Bergmann on Unsplash.

, , , ,

Join our newsletter.
Stay informed.

Related Articles