I grew up in Utah and often get asked by people visiting Salt Lake City where to eat during their trip. So, I shared my favorite coffee, brunch, lunch and dinner spots in this post! And I’ve got a second post is coming soon with all my favorite things to do!
I just got back from another trip to Utah and I’m missing it already! Since I’ve been in North Carolina for nearly 11 years, not many people realize that I grew up just outside of Salt Lake City. I went to college in Provo, Utah and I lived in Salt Lake City before I moved to Winston-Salem, NC, and still miss so much about Utah. But, considering my whole family still lives there (more about them here!) thankfully I always have an excuse to visit.
I definitely took the state for granted while growing up. People are so nice, it’s clean, the grid layout is easy to navigate, and the access to the outdoors is AMAZING. I would often finish work and be on a trail for a run within 15 minutes. And I rarely ran on roads since there are so many paved and mountain trails throughout the Salt Lake valley.
Weekends were filled with hiking, camping and boating. Being active isn’t something you plan a day around (e.g. driving 1.5 hours for a day trip for a hike in NC), it’s just part of your day. Everyone is active because it’s so easy to be active.
But, today I’m focusing on food! Utah’s food scene was pretty good when I lived there and it’s gotten even better in recent years so I love visiting new spots and old favorites when I’m home. When I was living in Utah, I didn’t know I needed to avoid gluten but now that I do, I’ve noted which places are gluten-friendly and also noted places that have some amazing gluten-filled options.
If you’ve been to Salt Lake City (or you live there!), I’d love to hear your favorites so leave a comment and share. I always like adding new places to my must-try list!
These are some of my favorites!
Best Coffee in Salt Lake City
It’s no longer impossible to find good coffee in Utah, even outside of Salt Lake City. You just have to know where to go. Pro tip – Don’t ask a Mormon for a coffee recommendation. They don’t drink coffee. 🙂 Here are some of my favorite spots all across the valley.
- Publik Coffee Roaster – this is in the heart of the Avenues, a neighborhood above Salt Lake City near the Capitol. It’s one of my very favorite areas in the entire city. Grab a cup of (amazing) coffee and go for a walk.
- 3 Cups – located in Holladay (east of Salt Lake City), it’s a good spot to stop into if you want to explore a different part of the valley on your way up the canyon. (It’s a little bit of a detour off the freeway.)
- Sunset Coffee – weird website, but great views from their patio overlooking the valley!
- Honeysuckle Coffee – it’s in a strip mall, but the interior is cozy and the pour-over coffee is fantastic. Good spot to hole up on a rainy day if you want to knock out some work. There’s also a kids play area near the back.
- La Barba – they have a location in Salt Lake City and one in in Draper so if you’re headed south, it’s worth a quick detour off the freeway. I personally love their drip coffee or an Americano. For you non-coffee drinkers, my mom said the hot chocolate isn’t great so pass on that. Pass on the pastries and avocado toast as well – there are much better options else (see below).
Other coffee shops I’ve had recommended to me but haven’t personally tried.
The best breakfast in Salt Lake City
Whether you’re going for breakfast or a later brunch, there are so many great options right in Salt Lake City (and a few are in surrounding areas).
- The Daily – This is a convenient downtown spot for breakfast. Nothing fancy but it’s solid with a bright and airy ambiance.
- Gourmandise the Bakery – This bakery was always a special place to visit when I was in Salt Lake City, and now there is a location in my hometown of Draper and I AM SO HAPPY. Everything is incredible – breakfast, lunch, pastries, you name it. While they don’t have many gluten-free baked goods, they do label which menu items are gluten-free. Their heaping avocado brunch item is amazing. (This restaurant also serves amazing lunch – their salads are anything but sad.) I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like this place.
- Rose Establishment – I loooove this place for breakfast, coffee and/or tea. (Take a pass on lunch there.) The brunch bowl is AMAZING. Tip: Be sure to get something sweet with your breakfast or take it to go. Their gluten-free cookies are INCREDIBLE, as is the gluten-free lemon poppy bread, whether or not you need to eschew gluten.
- Rye – great ambiance with a solid breakfast menu that will please everyone, whether you want a healthy vegan hash or some fried chicken & biscuits. (Side note: I liked their brunch much better than dinner there.)
- Porcupine Pub & Grille – this is right at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon so it’s a great pre (or post) hiking/skiing spot. Many people know to stop here drinks and dinner, but their brunch is seriously underrated. Get a patio seat with a view of the mountains! Warning – their portion sizes are HUGE.
- Eggs in the City – cozy spot in the heart of Sugar House, another one of my favorite areas of Salt Lake. I often ate here after my Saturday long runs and after races.
- Ruth’s Diner – go for the ambiance and the giant biscuits. It’s up Emigration Canyon and has an incredible patio. They also do a great lunch!
- Five5seeds – If you venture up to Park City, this brunch spot is amazing. Plan for a wait. (It’s not on Main Street – it’s in a strip mall – but so good.)
Note: People are obsessed with Kneaders for french toast but since it isn’t gluten-free, I can’t really vouch for their breakfast. The last time I ate there, it was the saddest salad in the whole world, so it left a bad taste in my mouth.
To be honest, I typically hit up a fast casual spot for lunch since there are SO many local chain options that I really like. I save my nicer, sit down meal for a more leisurely dinner. But, all of the places listed for dinner make great lunch options too!
I’ve never been to a place with more fast casual options than the Salt Lake Valley. And my theory is that because so many families have lots of kids, they need places that are kid-friendly, affordable and fast. And, the fast casual options in Utah are healthy and gluten/vegan friendly, which is definitely not the norm. Some of my favorites:
- Aubergine & Company – there’s a location in Sugar House (near SLC) and two in Utah Country. If you go to Thanksgiving Point, there’s one right next to it! Lots of kombucha and healthy desserts too.
- Spitz – While it’s not solely a local chain, it’s definitely worth a visit for solid Mediterranean street food in a casual downtown spot. (They also have other locations across the Salt Lake Valley.)
- Zao Asian Cafe – I’m here for the rice or noodles bowls and all the spicy sauces. Lots of locations.
- Fueled Fresh Kitchen – Their menu is huge so it’s a crowd pleaser. I personally love the Buddha Bowl. (Note: It’s in Draper so if you’re in that area, it’s worth stopping in if it’s convenient to where you’re headed, but don’t make a special trip for it.)
- Caputos – I loved this place when I lived in Salt Lake City and it was quite dangerous living next to one of their location. They have fantastic Italian sandwiches and lots of deli goodies to make an amazing meal at home.
- Tsunami – not exactly fast casual since it’s more of a sit-down restaurant, but I often get sushi to go from Tsunami. They’re very gluten-free friendly as well and have a dedicated gluten-free menu.
- Laziz Kitchen – This Lebanese restaurant is small, cozy and delicious. I love their Dips sampler plate (always with baba ghannouj) and their Laziz salad is shockingly good. I like it with falafel.
- Taqueria 27 – Great tacos, low-key vibe. Family friendly but also a great spot for a drink.
- Blue Iguana or Red Iguana – Most tourists hear about Red Iguana but locals know to go to Blue Iguana if the wait is too long at the original restaurant. Blue Iguana is a sister restaurant and much easier to get into.
- Mazza – This Middle Eastern restaurant was one of my favorite spots for lunch or dinner. I like the 9th & 9th location since it’s a cute area to wander around before you eat. There are some cute boutiques just up the hill – I always pop in Hip & Humble and Koo de Kur.
- Sapa Sushi – You’ll probably drive right by it the first time since it’s pretty nondescript. But the interior is cozy and the sushi is solid. They’re very gluten-friendly too. Takashi is another sushi place people talk about but I’ve heard the wait time is insane (and my friends who have tried both say Sapa is better anyway).