5 Surprising Must-Eat Restaurants in Utah to Enjoy a Fantastic Vacation
Learn about these must-eat restaurants on your vacation to Salt Lake City. When visiting Utah, you are bound to gain an appetite once you see the Wasatch through your airplane windows. First, take religion off the table and try some fry sauce or green jello to participate in Utah’s food identity. Salt Lake City has numerous restaurants locals have sworn by for years, plus some newcomers. All options make it hard to find a bad meal in Salt Lake after a day of activities.
You can spend your entire trip eating in downtown SLC, or head out to other parts of the city or state. All these must-eat restaurants are casual and offer gluten-free food & drink options you can enjoy. This is Utah though, so be aware that most local restaurants are closed on Sundays. Here are 5 surprising must-eat restaurants in Utah to enjoy a fantastic vacation:
1. Utah’s Must-Eat Pastrami Burger: Crown Burger
You simply cannot visit the state without eating Utah’s pastrami burger. While this is not necessarily the place one would expect to find Jewish deli meat, pastrami burgers have been a Utah staple since 1978. For the best pastrami burger in Utah, you must go to Crown Burger, where you’ll notice everything is made to order (no heat lamps here). It also has arguably the best interior of any burger place, where you can enjoy your meal under a chandelier next to a gargoyle at the downtown location.
Order your crown burger as a lettuce wrap for a gluten-free option. You can also stop at Astro Burger to get a gluten-free bun on your pastrami burger. Add a side of french fries with fry sauce to complete your Utah meal. Fry sauce is what Utahns eat with fries instead of ketchup or mustard, and it’s a mixture of ketchup and mayo. Although the “true” recipe for fry sauce is up for debate between Utahns. One bite of Utah’s pastrami burger will have you forget In and Out even exists. You’re welcome.
2. Thick Milkshakes: Iceberg Drive-Inn
Milkshakes are typically made with ice cream and milk mixed with flavored syrup or fruit you can drink through a straw. Well in Utah, milkshakes are remarkably different. Shakes are so thick here that the server can hand them to you upside down.
Order a thick milkshake from Iceberg Drive-Inn original location on 39 south. Order their famous mini shake (still 20oz!) with fresh strawberries for the best strawberry milkshake you can find outside your home. Or grab a flavor of the month, like their grasshopper or caramel bacon shake.
If you cannot make it to Iceberg, try a thick milkshake from Arctic Circle, another must-eat restaurant in Utah famous for its thick milkshakes. While people cannot be really sure which company brought thick shakes to Utah, we all can agree that Utahns eat their milkshakes without straws.
3. Funeral Potatoes: Garage on Beck
Technically this is a bar, not a restaurant, but you should still stop at Garage on Beck for funeral potatoes. A staple of LDS food culture, funeral potatoes are typically made with potatoes, cream soup, sour cream, butter, onions, cheddar cheese and cornflakes. You may recognize these as cheesy potatoes or potatoes au gratin. Whatever name you choose, funeral potatoes from Garage on Beck should be on your list of must-eat restaurants in Utah.
The funeral potatoes at Garage on Beck are served as bite-sized balls of cheesy potatoes “baptized in hot oil.” Gluten-free options are available upon request. Order their Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes “fiery” with a side of candied bacon. If you have little ones with you and cannot eat at a bar, order take-out or stop at Whole Foods in Draper for ready-made funeral potatoes.
4. Hawaiian Grill Must-Eat: Mokis
Yes, even in the land-locked state of Utah you can find great Polynesian food. There are 38,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders residing in Utah (Source: Utah Department of Health). So give the island of Hawaii a break and instead stay in Utah and enjoy some classic Hawaiian dishes.
Order the Loco Moco for a Hawaiian dinner complete with spam or beef patty, brown gravy, eggs and rice. Gluten-free eaters will love the Kalua Pork with veggies and rice. While their Taylorsville location may seem a bit out of the way when staying downtown, it is well worth the drive. You best believe they have laulau and spam musubi here! If you cannot make it to Taylorsville, visit other must-eat restaurants in Utah: Mo’Bettahs, which has over 10 locations throughout Utah.
5. Indigenous Must-Eat: Navajo Hogan
This list would not be complete without sharing Indigenous food. The Navajo Nation covers land in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, with over 250K members (Source: Utah Division of Indian Affairs). Gone are the days of hunting and gathering as seen from white-washed history textbooks. Even after the attempted genocide of Indigenous people & their culture, some traditional foods are still around and eaten, while others are only used for special occasions. Today, mutton continues to be a staple of Navajo foodways, while fry bread is a story of survival and “slow death.”
That being said, you can try mutton stew or fry bread right in the city. Stop at Navajo Hogan on 33rd south for another must-eat in Utah. They offer fry bread and mutton soup that will make you feel like a special guest. You can even find blue corn!
These iconic foods of Utah favor white heritage, but it is important to understand that non-pioneer foods are strong in Utah as well. This list of must-eat restaurants in Utah barely hits the tip of the iceberg that is Utah food. When you start to add additional immigrant cuisine and modern variations, you can get anything from mole, moussaka, aebleskivers, dirty diet coke, to the first KFC franchise.
Read Next: 5 Things to Do in Salt Lake City if You Do Not Hike or Ski >
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