Pretty Bird, Salt Lake City, Utah
Photograph: Courtesy Pretty Bird

The best restaurants in Salt Lake City

When it comes to high-quality dining experiences, it’s time to put the best restaurants in Salt Lake City on the map.

Contributor: Maya Silver

If an exciting food scene isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Salt Lake City, you’re most likely not alone. This mountain valley metropolis is known for its tales of polygamous pioneers and claims to ‘the greatest snow on earth’. 

But nowadays, more and more people are catching on to the fact that actually, especially since experiencing a ton of economic growth, Salt Lake City’s restaurant scene is a very exciting place to be. Here you’ll find everything from Mexican bistros to classic American diners, and from upmarket Italians to doughy pizza. Get ready to have your mind blown: here are the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. 

📍 The best things to do in Salt Lake City
🏨 The best hotels in Salt Lake City
🏜 The essential guide to Utah

This guide was last updated by Maya Silver, a writer based in Utah. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Best restaurants in Salt Lake City

Tucked into the charming neighborhood of The Avenues, this hidden gem offers one of the best dining experiences in Salt Lake City. Specializing in homestyle dishes, Wildwood specializes in seasonal fare like sweet corn chicken hash with vodka mascarpone cream sauce, kebabs with harissa and cucumber mint raita, and pork belly with Utah cherries. No matter what’s rotating on the menu, the cuisine is elevated and the portions are large.

There are few better places to be on a hot summer evening than on the patio of Emigration Brewing. Brunch, lunch, dinner, and the ideal libations for each can be enjoyed next to a flowing river up Emigration Canyon, and the food will be worth your short journey from downtown. Anniversary dinners, business lunches, and casual post-hike brunch-goers all seem equally welcome here.


For some of SLC’s best wood-fired pizza in cozy surrounds, head to the 9th and 9th neighborhood for the jalapeno and honey-covered Beehive pizza — or, if they have it on the menu that day, the coveted À la Vodka. This neighborhood pizza joint also has a small but mighty selection of wines by the bottle to wash down your slices.

There are many reasons why White Horse (21+) is on this list. Food? Phenomenal. Drinks? Just right. Atmosphere? Hip and elevated. Service? Unmatched. The icing on the cake is that White Horse is one of few restaurants in Salt Lake City that stays open late—food orders can be placed until midnight. The Confit Duck Wings and Arugula Salad are a must-order. If the unmissable White Gazpacho is what you’re after, go early before it sells out.


Fancy business lunch spot by day and date destination by night, Takashi is regarded as one of the best places to get Japanese in the city. The kitchen serves up decadent earth, turf—and of course, surf—in the form of nigiri, sashimi, and rolls. You’ll likely have to wait to score a table (no reservations offered here) but don’t fret—stop next door at sister bar Post Office Place to grab some cocktails and bites while you wait.

Billed as an American restaurant, this culinary anchor of downtown SLC is American in the truest sense of the term: a cultural mosaic. The menu sports everything from decidedly American dishes (like the Copper Burger) to Italian (Cacio e Pepe with housemade fettuccine), Spanish (Patatas Bravas), and Mexican (Elote). A Utah native, chef/owner Ryan Lowder has cooked the world around, from New York to Barcelona. Thankfully, he returned to his roots and we’re all a little more cosmopolitan for it.


There are many reasons to visit this Sugarhouse mainstay, but the most important one is named Ramon. This talented pastry chef has been baking pies and other desserts at the Dodo since it opened over three decades ago. If you insist on going savory before digging into the signature Toll House pie or a slice of banana cream cheesecake, the Dodo is also known for its stacked turkey sandwiches.

Like other cities across the US, Salt Lake has recently found itself in the crosshairs of the fried chicken sandwich wars—and we're Team Pretty Bird. This Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant by Viet Pham has two (soon to be three) locations for you to get your fix of extra crispy breaded chicken that gets topped with pickles, Pretty Bird sauce, and a mountain of cabbage slaw.


Many of SLC’s eateries are on the farm-to-table bandwagon, but Pago lives by its local sourcing policy. The menu here evolves with the seasons and demonstrates a genuine commitment to regional purveyors like Wasatch Meats, Clifford Family Farm, and Beehive Cheese. Pago even has its own 'micro-farm,' which supplies produce directly to the kitchen as well as to sister restaurant Finca.

Another gem inside the 9th and 9th neighborhood is Lola, an airy Mexican bistro that deftly walks the fine line between casual and elevated. Regardless of your taco order (try the Shrimp Tacos with fresh goji berries), you’ll want to get an order of guacamole and the agua fresca of the day to compliment it.


While The Pearl is technically a bar (21+), you’d be mistaken not to try every Vietnamese street food dish on the well-curated menu while sipping your inventive cocktail. Though The Pearl is one of the newest destinations on this list, the Caramel Pork Belly with Egg and the Shrimp Scallion Egg Rolls will stand the test of time.

The grandmother of SLC eateries, Ruth’s has been flipping burgers since 1930 – though it’s changed locations and hands over the years. Tucked away in Emigration Canyon, this local institution has a sprawling, verdant patio that feels like a well-kept secret. What’s not a secret are Ruth’s mile-high biscuits, which make excellent fluffy vehicles for everything from bacon to maple syrup.


Utahns may not see eye-to-eye on some things, but we can all put politics aside and agree that Red Iguana is the city’s most beloved Mexican food restaurant. A local favorite since the mid-‘80s, this colorful restaurant has not one but seven varieties of mole on the menu, including a must-try Mole Coloradito with Mexican chocolate, pine nuts, and fresh poblano over carnitas. The Cardenas family behind Red Iguana also serves killer Mexican cocktails from a Paloma to a sour-sweet Tamarindo marg.

Part sports bar, part happening patio, part biker destination, this award-winning burger joint just blocks from Smith’s Ballpark defies categorization. A foot-tall burger is just one of the many culinary trials that await. If you don’t feel like consuming 28 ounces of fresh ground chuck in one sitting, there are many more reasonably sized options, from the Fungus Amoungus to the Pigpen, topped with bacon smoked in-house, ham, cheddar, Swiss and Lucky 13 sauce.


With a well-rounded menu of antipasti, salads, pizzas, pasta and seafood, Stoneground is consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in SLC by those who know. Don’t wait for a special occasion to dine on the Black Tagliatelle pasta—the chunks of lobster meat in chardonnay cream sauce will make you wish it was your nightly meal.

This charming café off the beaten path will satisfy all Middle Eastern cravings with habibi (that’s 'love' in Arabic). Chef/owner Moudi Sbeity serves classics like Shakshouka but also deftly corners Lebanese flavors into more American dishes like the classic breakfast or a burger. Case in point: the Kafta Burger topped with sundried tomato, Akawi cheese, and cabbage pickled in-house.


Treat yourself to the taste of Tuscany courtesy of SLC’s legendary Chef Valter Nassi. Whether you’ve been returning to this restaurant for years or are scared away by the price tag, everyone deserves to experience this type of hospitality – and the long, leisurely meal – at least once. You’ll be greeted by a photo of Michelle Obama sitting in the very same dining room as soon as you walk in the front door, and Nassi will likely come by to personally greet you during your meal.

Come to Nomad East for the après-anything. Stop by après-work to split a bottle of wine with a friend, après-bike through the city’s cyclist-friendly neighborhoods, or, of course, après-ski at one of Salt Lake’s world-class resorts. Get a pizza topped with Stracciatella (shreds of fresh mozzarella soaked in sweet cream) and thank us later.


Stop by this indulgent, fast-casual counter for Korean fried chicken and sauce-covered (but still unbelievably crispy) fries that are roll-your-eyes-back good. This is one of many dynamite eateries inside Salt Lake City’s Chinatown Market, where food options include a handful of cuisines spanning the Asian continent. You’ll want to try them all – or you might just keep returning to Chick Queen.

Aromas of cumin, turmeric, and cardamom hit before you even set foot inside Bombay House, which prepares many of its items in a tandoor – a coal-fired clay oven – imparting a delicate smoky flavor to meats and flatbreads alike. The latter goes far beyond garlic naan, with options ranging from a gluten-free chickpea Channa Roti to the bold Peshawari Naan stuffed with coconut, raisins, and cashews.


Though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, plan on ordering every offering from the rotating cart menu to share. The SLC Eatery cart gets wheeled to each table and contains delectable bites that change with the seasons. Examples include turnips with caper-date puree, shrimp in brown butter remoulade, and a smoked cheddar rillette nod to the classic Utah Scone.

Unassuming and intimate, chefs Angie and Andrew Fuller have mastered the art of simple, elevated American dishes at Oquirrh. Take a seat inside the cozy restaurant—you’ll feel almost like you’re being served in the Fuller’s own home—and indulge in locally-sourced seasonal dishes like Milk Braised Potatoes, Diver Scallop Tartare, and House Made Bucatini with Fermented Mushroom & Butter Sauce.


A visit to this Italian sandwich counter doubles as a day trip to the largest Italian specialty grocer in the city. Make your outing even more special by ordering your muffaletta or meatball sub to go, then wander the market for other goodies and take your winnings across the street to Pioneer Park for a picnic.

Another newcomer to the SLC food scene, Nona is the sister restaurant to the aforementioned Pizza Nono—and it just might be hosted in the most beautiful outdoor dining space in the city proper. A dinner here feels like a garden party: think kiwi G&T’s, exemplary focaccia, and wood-fired lasagna in unexpected, vine-covered surrounds.

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