Dining in Utah is generally casual. Menus are becoming more varied, but you can nearly always order a hamburger or a steak. There are a growing number of fine restaurants in Salt Lake City and Park City, and good places are cropping up in various other areas. Also look for good dining in Springdale, Moab, and Torrey. Seek out colorful diners along the secondary highways like U.S. 89; they usually serve up meat and potatoes along with the local flavor of each community. Authentic ethnic food is easy to find in Salt Lake City, but generally not available elsewhere. The restaurants we list are the cream of the crop in each price category.
Meals and Mealtimes
Although you can find all types of cuisine in the major cities and resort towns of Utah, be sure to try native dishes like trout, elk, and buffalo (the latter two have less fat than beef and are just as tasty); organic fruits and vegetables are also readily available, especially in finer establishments in Salt Lake City and Park City. Southwestern food is popular, and you'll find several restaurants that specialize in it or show Southwestern influences in menu selections. Asian and Latin American cuisines are both gaining in popularity (and quality) in the Salt Lake area.
Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed in this guide are open daily for lunch and dinner. Dinner hours are usually from 6 to 9 pm. Outside of the large cities and resort towns in the high seasons, many restaurants close by 10 and are closed on Sunday.
Credit cards are widely accepted, though not always at restaurants in rural areas.
Reservations and Dress
Reservations are relatively rare outside of the top restaurants in the urban and resort areas. It's a good idea to call ahead if you can. We only mention them specifically when reservations are essential (there's no other way you'll ever get a table) or when they are not accepted. Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy. We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie—which is almost never in casual Utah. Even at nice resorts dress is usually casual, and in summer you're welcome nearly everywhere in your shorts, T-shirt, and hiking shoes.
Wines, Beer, and Spirits
Despite what you've heard, it's not hard to get a drink in Utah, though you must be 21 to purchase or consume alcohol. The state overhauled liquor laws in 2009 to bring it more in line with the rest of the United States. The state abolished the "private club" system, which required each patron have an annual or short-term membership in order to enter the premises. Many restaurants have licenses, which allow them to serve you wine and beer—and occasionally liquor—with a meal. At restaurants, you will have to order food in addition to alcohol. Some restaurants—generally those that cater to families—opt not to carry a liquor license. If you're set on having a drink with your meal, check before you go. Some restaurants will allow you to bring your own wine, but may charge a corkage fee. Call ahead if you want to take your own wine or other liquor to a restaurant—lots of regulations cover brown bagging.
Utah has a thriving microbrewery scene, with local lagers produced in Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Springdale, and Ogden. There are several brewpubs with their own beers on tap—try St. Provo Girl and Polygamy Porter to get a taste of the local drinking humor. Some brewpubs also have a liquor license that allows the sale of wine and spirits.
Most hotel restaurants carry a liquor license, and you'll be able to get your own drinks from the minibar in your room.
Beer with 3.2% alcohol is available in grocery stores and some convenience stores. For anything else, you'll have to go to a state liquor store. There are 16 liquor stores throughout Salt Lake City and others throughout the state. They are closed on Sunday, Election Day, and holidays.