Ah, dinner. Best meal of the day. Highlight of your vacation. Prequel to dessert. Finding an eatery to meet all your expectations means the difference between ho hum and ho, yah!
From north to south, and some in between, here’s a roundup of the best restaurants that are only in Utah. And while there are plenty of tasty offerings in downtown Salt Lake City, we invite you to venture out a little farther. We think you’ll find the pickins as epic — and original — as your daytime adventures.
Utah is rich in history and historic places. Peach City is a Brigham City burger joint that opened back in 1937. It moved to the current location in 1957 and still hearkens to that decade. Park yourself at the long counter or the drive-in to soak up some nostalgia.
Of course, the food is more important than ambiance. Be sure to order the fresh cut fries, which were named the best in the state by KSL Studio 5. But the BIG, hand dipped shakes may be the greatest reason to stop in. You can order tubs of ice cream to go as well. Chocolate peanut butter. Caramel fudge. Lemon custard. Yessiree, Bob!
Northern Utah has some pretty kind folks and some pretty fine food. Meet both at Maddox Ranch House, Utah’s first steak house. Located in Perry, people have been noshing fine cuisine there since 1949. As you’d probably guess, it’s a mighty popular place, so call ahead for reservations.
There’s steaks, seafood and even bison for the hoity toity, and turkey, fried chicken and roast beef for those missin’ their momma. Add some freshly baked rolls with raspberry butter and a chocolate cream pie, and you got yerself a downright hoedown picnic.
Speaking of history, you’ll find Utah’s second oldest restaurant — Ruth’s Diner — up Emigration Canyon. And there’s another nod to the state’s past: It’s housed in a trolley car. Breakfast and lunch items are served with a gravity defying mile high biscuit. Dinner includes comfort foods like pot roast and chicken fried steak. There’s a liquor menu, too, so you can pair a Moscow mule with Grandma Claire’s baked mac and cheese. You decide who’s more stubborn.
While you’re on the east side of town, stop in The Park Cafe. The fluffy, sweet, hearty pancakes are the size of a dinner plate. Phenomenal. And delicious. Your diet may need to take a back seat, but your taste buds definitely will not. Gluten free versions are available, too.
Provo/Orem may house thousands of ramen-eating students from the two sizable universities, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ample places for fine dining. When you simply must have something glamorous for breakfast, head over to Tru Religion Pancake House. Do not, we repeat, do not settle for a hotel danish.
The House menu may include standard foods like omelets and pancakes, but unique ingredients put it on the list of best places to eat in Utah. Prime steak breakfast burrito anyone? Maybe cordon bleu crêpes. Of course the juice is freshly squeezed, from no less than three orange varieties. And served on a doily.
Even the decor is well-bred. The counter, booths and ornate carvings were once housed in Lamb’s Grill, one of Utah’s oldest restaurants. All quite lovely, darling.
If you’re in a hurry, or slept in late — way late — try Magelby’s Fresh. They serve breakfast all day, as well as sandwiches and salads. So you can meet your parents for lunch and they’ll think you picked the bottomless french toast just for its crispy, sweet goodness. Did we mention house made buttermilk syrup?
Whatever you choose for the meal, add the decadent four-layer classic chocolate cake for dessert. It’s covered in a thick, creamy, rich frosting. World-renowned? Should be.
Head east along I-70 and enter a different world. Capitol Reef National Park is downright enchanting, with its incredible domes and rust colored rock. Capitol Burger, just a few minutes outside the park, has some awe inspiring creations as well.
Sure it’s a food truck, but that doesn't mean ordinary curbside dining. There’s the cheese burger, bacon burger, mac ’n cheese burger, pastrami burger, pulled pork burger. So many burgers, so little time. Locations may vary — it is a truck.
If you’re heading to the Prehistoric Museum in Price or camping near the Manti-La Sal National Forest, swing through the tiny town of Huntington. The Ponderosa Grill is a low-key, family friendly restaurant with a surprisingly extensive menu. From salmon to chicken fried steak — which we recommend — no dish will disappoint. Definitely save room for the cheesecake. Or get some to go. Because it is masterful.
Another tiny town gem is Ranch Dog Kitchen in Escalante. Hike Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, then settle in for some gourmet hot dogs. Choose from a classic or polish dog covered in fancy fixings, from blue cheese to pastrami. Or go wild — literally — and choose big game sausages including boar, bison and elk. Top it off with the chocolate bread pudding. Obviously.
This place is super casual, so you can ride in dusty from the range and feel right at home. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, letting you enjoy the scenery a little bit longer.
Central Utah can look a little end of the world desolate when you’re driving along I-15 at 80 miles per hour. But if you can hold off on the pork rinds, it’ll be worth the wait.
Never heard of squeaky cheese? Want to? Stop by The Creamery, just off I-15 in Beaver. If that’s too weird — hey, don’t knock it till you try it — order some other golden goodness. It’s all made from milk provided by local farmers.
Choose from cheese curds, cheese balls, grilled cheese, mac ’n cheese and cheese pizza. Complete your dairy coma with hand-dipped ice cream. Best of luck choosing between more than 20 varieties. Go bold and try one of the fancy flavors, such as bananas foster, coconut castaway or lemon bar. Maybe you ’d just better make it a double. Or triple.
If you’re stopping in the Cedar City area, there are a couple of doozies for your palate. Just up the canyon east of town, State Highway 14 leads you to Milt’s Stage Stop, a cabin housing one of Utah’s best restaurants.
The miraculously tender steaks are so, so good. And the jumbo shrimp — the size of newborn kittens. (Well, almost.) Can a baked potato be heavenly? Yes, yes it can. There’s even a full bar, kinda rare in these parts. Ask for a seat by the window for spotting wildlife while you wait for your seared goodness to arrive.
For more family friendly fare, try the Pizza Cart on the south end of town. It started as a food cart outside the local hardware store — thus the name — but quickly acquired so many followers, a bigger place was needed.
Pizzas are made in a wood-fired oven, giving every pie a smoky oommf. Try the margherita pizza with mozzarella and fresh basil for knock your socks off flavor. The Greek is a classic gyro spread onto a pizza. Creamy, zesty sauce. Mighty tasty.
Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much in the way of dining in St. George. Hard to believe when you drive along franchise filled River Road today. The populous — local and visitors — is large enough now to support eclectic dining, such as Wood Ash Rye. The home to table dishes are unique, with combinations only your “creative” aunt would have imagined. But they work. Try the pork belly watermelon salad. Wonderfully weird.
When you visit Zion National Park, it’s practically obligatory to try one of the locally owned restaurants in Springdale. Because you can only eat so many sub sandwiches.
Find something safe for the kids — meaning, they’ll eat without whining — at Zion Pizza & Noodle. The Schezuan pasta is loaded with savory flavor and crisp vegetables, drowned in a teriyaki sauce that makes even broccoli taste good. Order the garlic bread. It’s really a flatbread, slathered in just the right amount of butter and served on a small pizza pan.
National Parks? Got ’em. Lakes and Mountains? Of course. Dinosaurs? Why not? Restaurants worth driving to? Certainly. Take this guide of best places to eat in Utah along on your journey, and you’ll feast on unmatched sites and specialties.