Salt Lake City was my first home away from home. It was the first city I ever explored outside of Northern California and the first place I moved to after leaving home. While this California girl never expected to fall in love with the cold city under the Rocky Mountains, she surely fell head over heels. After living in six different neighborhoods in and around the city over the past few years, I’ve grown to love and appreciate everything it has to offer, from the creative restaurants to the sweet small businesses to the lush green parks to the many incredible people who are passionate about making the Salty City a better place.
In fact, this city is packed with so many wonderful places that writing a comprehensive guide has been one of the toughest assignments I’ve had yet. I found myself adding and adding to the list, not wanting to leave out any destination that I’ve come to know and love. And of course there’s always difficult job of claiming which book store or which Thai restaurant is the best, something that we locals will always argue about. It’s a tough job and I took my stab at it, gathering up all of the places that I love most, the ones I will come back to long after I’ve left the city for other adventures.
Red Iguana– Red Iguana was the first restaurant I went to in Salt Lake City and it will definitely be the last place I go before I move. Their authentic Mexican food and famous moles are to die for and worth any wait time they might have. But if you want a short wait, I recommend getting there first thing on Saturday morning for an early lunch at 11. If you don’t have time for the full shebang, they have a to-go location inside the food court at the City Creek Mall right downtown.
Eva’s Bakery- We have a tradition of getting our haircuts at Ray’s Barbershop on Main then heading across the street for some delicious pastries and baked goods at Eva’s. The owner is incredibly friendly and serves up some delicious breakfast and lunch menus, if you have the time. If not, snag a pastry and a rose lemonade and go explore downtown.
If you’re looking for more classic cafes and bakeries, I recommend Les Madeleines and Gourmandise.
Moochie’s- While totally unassuming in yellow converted house in a completely random neighborhood, Moochie’s is definitely worth your time and money- not that you’ll have to pay much. They serve up my favorite Philly Cheesesteak (get it with cheese whiz!) and I always pair it with their perfectly fried french fries and fried raviolis. Yes, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. Yes, it’s totally worth it.
Oh Mai- Our city has been seeing more Vietnamese joints pop up here and there, but Oh Mai is always a classic. They craft the perfect banh mi and I’m always torn between the yellow curry or honey glazed pork sandwich. Grab a big bowl of pho to share and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced and totally delicious meal.
If you want more of a fusion option closer to downtown, we love Zao Asian Cafe on busy 4th south.
Hatch Family Chocolates- This family owned chocolate shop up in the classy Avenue’s neighborhood is a hit. They not only serve decadent chocolates and truffles, but also handmade ice cream and chocolate drinks. In the wintertime, I go for the rich and creamy hot chocolate and in the summer a rocky road shake. Grab your treats and cup of choice and then take a drive up the hill, admire the gorgeous homes, and look out over the valley.
The Copper Onion- It took me too long to hit up the popular Copper Onion and I will always regret not going sooner. Their cozy but modern atmosphere and New American menu is perfect for every occasion- a nice dinner with family, lunch with a new friend, brunch with a sister, and a romantic dinner date. I highly recommend the croque madame for brunch and the beef stroganoff for dinner.
Another favorite spot for upscale American food is The Dodo in Sugarhouse. Don’t you dare pass up their pies!
RubySnap- There was a time where my husband and I were going to RubySnap just about every Friday. In fact, I went there so often that it made sense to just put on an apron and start working there myself! RubySnap is home to the most incredible cookies I have ever tasted- soft and chewy and packed with amazing flavor. My favorite cookies are the Frida (chocolate mole), Lilly (lemon sugar cookie baked with lemon heads inside), and the seasonal cookie Carmen (malted toasted marshmallow and salted caramel, usually sold in January). And don’t forget to ask for samples! They’re very generous…
Food Truck Thursday- Every Thursday, food trucks gather downtown at Gallivan Plaza for lunch. Each week you’ll find new trucks and new menus to try while enjoying the buzz of Salt Lake City on a weekday afternoon. This is my favorite way to try a lot of great food at once and I always recommend bringing a friend so you have more options! Keep your eye out for my favorites, CupBop (korean food in a cup) and Off the Grid (waffle sandwiches).
You can also find a gathering of food trucks during the summer months at Sugarmont Plaza on Monday nights.
The King’s English Bookstore- Hands down, my favorite bookstore in the entire state. Located in the small and sweet 15th and 15th neighborhood, the King’s English is an old icon that’s home to a great selection of books in an adorable converted home. The people working there are so friendly and helpful and I often find myself chatting with them about books and the city’s history. Grab a sandwich at Caputo’s across the street and make an afternoon of it!
Unhinged – Salt Lake City has it’s fair share of hipster boutiques and this one is my favorite. They sell a lot of vintage and local goods as well as carefully curated clothing. Their location in Sugarhouse is a fun 2-story space with the friendliest staff that makes it their duty to help you find items that suit your style.
Uptown Cheapskate – I’ve been to my share of secondhand clothing stores and Uptown is definitely my favorite. Not only do they pay you well when you sell clothes, but they keep their prices low and their clothes are in good shape. I always find something I love and feel good about recycling clothing (not to mention saving money).
Now & Again – There was a time where I was spending WAYY too much time in this store and my spending was getting a little out of a hand. They are a consignment shop that sells everything from clothing to luggage to kitchenware to furniture. My favorite stuff is, of course, the kitchenware and I always find fun mixing bowls and cute plates. Set aside a lot of time so you can get lost and truly explore.
Caputo’s Market – This shop should maybe fall under the “eateries” section as it’s a gourmet food shop that has a wicked deli section, but I love stocking up on my favorite artisan chocolates and high quality olive oils. You’re guaranteed to find something wonderful as Caputo’s is strict in their curation of products and only sells the best of the best. Make sure to sample their vinegars, oils, salamis, cheeses, and olives! And you can’t pass up their big artisan chocolate section.
The Farmers Market – Again, the Farmer’s Market is full of food, but I often find myself walking away with much more than produce. Keep your eye out for Amour Spreads with their jars of natural and amazingly flavorful jams, Pretty Little Pixel with their fun pixel art Salt Lake icons, and Lick’d popsicles amongst many other vendors, food and not. It’s always a fun time and is a great look into Salt Lake’s food community.
Temple Square – Whether you want to marvel at the architecture, learn more about Utah’s history, or find out about the LDS Church (or Mormons), Temple Square is a fantastic place to spend your afternoon. They even have a few restaurants on site so you won’t even have to go hungry. Take a tour, check out the visitor’s center, or just enjoy a nice day amidst the beautiful gardens.
Ensign Peak – If you’ve got the shoes, take a short hike up to Ensign Peak! Nestled right above the Avenues neighborhood, this hike is short and sweet and at the end of it all you get a beautiful view of the entire Salt Lake Valley as you stand in the hills directly above city center.
Liberty Park – While the city has a few great parks, Liberty Park is my favorite to spend time at. It features a large pond, a splash pad, a few jungle jims, pool, tennis courts, and the Tracy Aviary. It’s also a fantastic place for dog-watching, if you’re into that, as it’s a hot spot for running and dog walks. Snag a bagel at The Bagel Project a few blocks north and spend a nice morning there.
Salt Lake City Library – The central library is a giant, gorgeous modern building right in the heart of the city. Take a gander up to the roof gardens and look out over the city, grab a coffee at their cafe, picnic outside on their grounds, and of course browse through their huge collection of books. They also have movie theaters and host a lot of great events.
SLC Bike Share – Take part in this awesome program where you can rent a bike! Give yourself a little tour of downtown, from Gateway Mall to the Pierpont District to City Creek to the gorgeous Municipal building. Some of my favorite Saturday’s have been spent with no schedule, just casually exploring this city and what better way to do it than on a bike?
I am a creative entrepreneur with an intense love for food and an irresistible urge to travel. I’m well practiced at spending hours in the car singing to Journey and munching on salt & vinegar chips while roadtripping to beaches, cities, and great eateries. In the meantime I design professionally, jam out with my ukulele, work on my subpar photography skills, and explore my current home of Salt Lake City with my husband and best friend, Josh.