Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hot Spots in Salt Lake

Since a number of my friends have asked me about places to 'hang' in SLC, UT, I am providing my humble list heretofore.

In terms of coffee shops, I am listing the following based on the comfort level that I have experienced in each. I rate them based on the following criteria:
a) quality of beverages and snacks

b) customer service

Coffee shops

1) Starbucks on 4th South and 7th East. The space is truly inspiring. I wrote thousands of research pages there between 2003-2007. The baristas are generally nice and the people to ask for re: drinks are: Russ, Ashley and Monique. They seem to have a grasp on things and manage to follow 'Schulzian' recipes without much trouble.
I am giving this place the highest rating solely due to the atmosphere. Many regulars go there so if you are looking for a comfortable, familiarity-laden space in which to do quiet work, this is the place. You have the option of sitting by the window and the view of the mountains is quite nice.

Things I enjoy:
1) Venti nonfat caramel macchiato
2) Green tea lemonade
3) Passion tee lemonade
4) Defnitely, people watching. This is not a Howard Schutlz drink concoction, by the way. Literally meant.

It is difficult to mess up the second and third drinks. However, it is rather difficult to make decent macchiato, hence my pickiness and choosiness when it comes to who makes it.

2) Cocoa Cafe (9S, 3E). Very quiet spot. The owner, a European who is very kind and nice to regulars (and others, at large, I suppose) has good coffee-savvy. He recently painted the place in a very work-conducive fashion. Also, he generally plays Mozart in there, so those who are interested in a good place to do decent brooding and work this is, indeed, a great spot. Free WiFi. Fast and reliable.

Drinks and snacks:

1) Soy chai. It's an 'intense drink' as a Cooca barista calls it, but it's quite good.
2) Caramel latte.
3) Blueberry scones
4) Caprese salad
5) Any sandwich concoction delivers. Good bread, toasted just so and just right.

3) Nostalgia Cafe (1S, 3E). This is a great space to relax and do light computer work. It is also very quiet and rarely crowded. The furniture is amazing, hard-wood tables and chairs, ample space, high ceilings and displayed art on the walls. Free WiFi.

1) Espresso
2) A cornucopia of good teas is available
3) Americano
3) Good food menu overall

4) The Roasting Company(4S, 2E)
This is a local favorite and can get a tad crowded on the weekend. It is open till midnight Mon-Sat and it's closed on Sunday. The Roast, as I call it, provides good service, good food and decent drinks. It is not listed here on account of its drink recipes, since I have had better, but the atmosphere is decent, the snacks and pasties are great, it has free, fast WiFi and it's a good place to socialize. I find it harder to focus and work there, but that's why I privilege the first three spots.

Things I enjoy:

1) Italian soda
2) Fruit Flan
3) Soup du jour. I like their spoons. Great to pick at the soup.

Brunch spots:

5) Eggs in the City (13S, 17E)
This is a great place to eat breakfast and brunch especially on the weekend. It gets crowded on the weekend but it is worth the wait. Between a great staff and a good, solid menu, this is the place to be.

Things I enjoy:
1) Mr. Big, good breakfast. I only get egg whites, however, one does not need to be mimetic of my weird dish alterations, which, by the way, the staff doesn't seem to mind to oblige.
2) Irish porridge
3) Very good wheat toast
4) Maggie. Not an omlette but rather a very helpful, fun, and food-informed server.

6) The Avenues Bakery (South Temple & 5E):
This is a favorite of mine for brunch, lunch, or dinner. The atmosphere is great, the dishes are well-conceptualized, and the pastries are tasty and size-appropriate. Very friendly staff.

Things I enjoy:
1) The Caprese salad/sandwich. It is usually served on focaccia, but I prefer it in wheat. Their bread is made in-house and it always delivers. Try their wheat toast with some Perrier: good combo.
2) A side of wheat toast
3) Eggs Benedict
4) The breakfast in Paris
5) And running into movie stars and the governor.

7) Sage's (3S, 5E)
Excellent organic joint. All meals are spectacular. Whether in the mood for tofu or garden burgers, I have yet to hear a person who disliked their food.
Great, triple-filtered water. Good service.

Things I enjoy:
1) Ian's fave for brunch
2) The mountain
3) Tacos vegetarianos
4) The bruschetta appetizer
5) Berry smoothies
6) Seasonal fruits

8) The Himalayan kitchen (4s and State St.)

The best Indian in town. Actually the best Indian anywhere, as per moi. Have eaten close to 50 times with a native Indian who also found it authentic. The staff is great. Rabi, one of the original members of the previous Taj India is there and he is the one of the kindest people I've met.

Things I enjoy:
1) Mango Lassi
2) Veget. Buriyani
3) Nan
4) Repartee with Rabi, definitely part of the experience

9) Mac. Grill (Main and 3S)
Many of my friends and I have been going there for years and we all continue to enjoy. Good staff and dishes. I mostly like it for the atmosphere and the gastronomical aspect is rather secondary.

Things I enjoy:
Marianne. She is not a dish, but rather a server there. If in the mood to talk philosophy, Budhism, non-profit, and if you have culinary questions, ask for Marianne.
2) Chicken Florentine
3) Bellini (smoothie)
4) Bread

10) Red Iguana (7th & North Temple)
Authentic Mexican. Both the lunch and dinner menus deliver. It's a bit of a wait on the weekend, but it's worth it.

Things I enjoy:
1) Bean soup for lunch
2) Tacos

11) Trio (9E 7S)
Very good Italian restaurant. Their dinner menu is worth checking out in its entirety. I have religiously stuck to the salads, but my party always enjoys the fish dishes as well.

12) Mazza (15S, 15E) or (9S, 9E)
Good middle-eastern restaurant. Decent service but spectacular dishes.

1) Good Musaka
2) Baba Ganush
3) The lamb, I hear, is exquisite

13) Carlucci's (3W, 3S)
Very good pastry place. If in the mood for decadent desserts, this is the place.

Things I enjoy:
1) Apple Strudel
2) Soft drinks

14) Tony Caputo's (3W, 3S)
Whether in the mood for a good lunch or shopping for Italian ingredients, this is a must-check-out place.

15) Ichiban Sushi (3S, 2E)
Good sushi. Very good atmosphere. Whether it's the main level or the upstairs, more private seating, the place has a good feel and it's always well ventilated.

Things I enjoy:
1) California roll. I hear the spicy combos are tasty as well.
2) Good Miso
3) Looking at the chefs prepare the sushi is quite fun as well. If in need for something stimulating to gaze, that'd be a good option.

16) The Bakery on 3S, 3E
This place is open till midnight and it offers a number of good pastries. It's a good place to get a light supper as well.
It offers outdoor sitting in the summer.

Things I enjoy:
1) Particularly good bread

17) Tea Grotto (21S, 9E)
Great tea-based smoothies. Perhaps the best tea-smoothies I have had anywhere in North America.
Things I enjoy:
1) Plum smoothie
2) Green tea smoothie
3) Sitting sans shoes in the 'meditation' room in the back and playing with the sand

18) Cup of Joe's (3W, 2S)
I mostly enjoy this place because unlike other states where Cup of Joe's is almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks, this one seems to run solo in SLC.
1) Interesting interior design
2) Particularly good bagel spread
3) Above average soft drinks

19) Deser[e]t Pub (5S, 7E)
I enjoy the veg. salad in this joint because they manage to boil the peppers and the zucchini just right. They always retain a measure of crispness that rocks my palate. The staff is friendly and all their sandwiches get good reviews as well.

This for now. Happy fast-breaking, lunching, and dining.


Liam said...

my comments:

2) cocoa cafe
you somehow overlooked the most distinctive drink they offer: their italian hot chocolate. it's nearly as thick as pudding and not as sweet as most places' hot chocolates. closer to german kakao bitterness but much thicker.

4) salt lake roasting company
probably the best and most varied desert menu of the coffee shops listed.

5) eggs in the city
they recently had a fire and as far as i know are still closed pending rebuilding/relocation. oh, and maggie certainly is awesome!

6) avenues bakery
definitely the best bread in the city, if not the state or possibly some surrounding states. yes, it's that good. their blueberry muffins are also the best i've ever had in my life - i think the secret may be the possible inclusion of cornmeal in the mix. i lean toward the rosepark for breakfast, but i've had others and am always satisfied.

7) sage's
two words: SOBA SALAD! mmm...

8) himalayan kitchen
agreed as best indian downtown. i've heard better things about royal india in sandy, but so far i've only been to the newer one in bountiful, which is on par with himalayan kitchen.

10) red iguana
i've heard they recently made their beans vegan/vegetarian friendly, so i'm going to have to try this place out.

11) cafe trio
fyi: there's another trio in cottonwood. i'd also recommend going to the chocolatier next door. xocolate -

19) desert edge pub
deseret is a misnomer that could be quite enjoyable to use as a pub name given its religious implications in the city of salt. until recently students got half price pitchers after like 3pm or something. now i believe it's 25% off. besides this, i have not found them very accommodating to vegetarian diets: ie not allowing one to order the delicious sounding sides from a special that included meat and using lard in their beans and such. i also am more often than not less than impressed with the serving staff. in fact, i think the only time i didn't tip in my life was one time at desert edge. the appeal of the half price pitcher kept me going, but now that that's gone, so am i.

i think i'll follow this comment with my suggestions another time...

B.R. said...

1) Ah, yes, the Cocoa hot chocolate. My friends' favorite but, alas, not mine. My personaly philosphy on hot cocoa: if I'm not getting a reciped drink, why bother with anything else by water? But I objectivey have to say that this particular hot choc. is indeed superior.
5) Eggs in the City had a fire? Oh no. I hope they re-open soon since they are, in my view, the best brunch hangout in SLC. I just ate there the last week of July.
6) I concur fully. I only go there because of their bread, esp, their toasted wheat.
7) Sage's. Soba, yes! I beleiev I have sampled all of their dishes and my 'usualy' is the avocado/garden burger sandwich, the culinary name of which, of course, escapes me at the moment. But it's in the middle in the 'sandwiches' sections. Next time you're there, look it up, pls., and let me me know?
19) Really? I could have sworn it was deseret. Ah, double entendres. You start seeing them everywhere, I guess. And I do like this place even better than Red Rock. Better service, for sure, and better food.

Liam said...

called eggs in the city yesterday, and it turns out they were only closed for a few days about a month ago. phew!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Cocoa Cafe is the best cafe house in the city, no doubt.