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ISO Recs for Southern Utah

ISO Recs for Southern Utah
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  • ISO Recs for Southern Utah

    Post #1 - March 16th, 2021, 12:35 pm
    Post #1 - March 16th, 2021, 12:35 pm Post #1 - March 16th, 2021, 12:35 pm
    For most of April, we'll be driving through Utah, staying overnight in Moab, Escalante, Bryce Canyon, and St. George. We'd appreciate any recs you might have for worthy food stops in these towns or on highways in and out of these towns. We're most interested in regional specialties at roadside stands, hole-in-the-wall and mom n' pop places.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #2 - March 16th, 2021, 6:13 pm
    Post #2 - March 16th, 2021, 6:13 pm Post #2 - March 16th, 2021, 6:13 pm
    Several comments:

    1) If you are in rural Utah on a Sunday evening, do NOT pass an open restaurant. Near Bryce, our options were Burger King and Arby's. The local JB's had closing hours of 8 pm but they decided to stop serving at 7 pm.

    2) The Lodge and the restaurant immediately outside of Bryce are fairly decent. Compared to other NPS offerings, the food is pretty good. The Ruby Inn Diner which is more of a fast food place is also pretty good. There were some diner options 25 miles away in Panguitch, UT.

    3) I was going to recommend the Cafe Diablo in Torrey. However, that is permanently closed. Down the road in Bicknell, UT is the SunGlow Restaurant. They make a lot of weird pirs - pinto beans, pickle relist and oatmeal that sound gross but they are excellent. They make some turnovers that are quite good. Most of their food would be classified as diner food.

    4) I am less than impressed with the food offerings around Zion. If we head there, we are generally flying into Las Vegas. We generally stop at Winco Foods in Las Vegas and pick up several sandwiches and entree salads, beverages and the like so that we can pass on the local food.

    5) And since you are spending a month tooling around Utah, do remember that there are a lot of different ethnic restaurants in the Orem/Provo area as ex-missionaries have brought home many of the cuisines of the areas that they served (and often a wife). Also, there a number of ethnic restaurants in small towns up and down I-15.

    Also, in Moroni, there is a huge Norbest turkey plant with an interesting sales outlet. If you are in the area, stop on by.
  • Post #3 - March 18th, 2021, 1:15 pm
    Post #3 - March 18th, 2021, 1:15 pm Post #3 - March 18th, 2021, 1:15 pm
    Thank you, jlawrence01.

    The Sun Glow Motel & Restaurant that you mention seems somewhat promising, and I've entered that info into our itinerary, though it's hard not to detect your lack of enthusiasm for most of the places mentioned. Clearly, Utah is going to be a challenging place to find interesting chow, and we can use all the help we can get.

    Though I've been maintaining an 18-hour intermittent fast on most days since the pandemic started, I'm now thinking that during our Utah trip, I might make it a 24-hour fast.

    We appreciate the tip re: Sunday night.

    One place I've found that might prove worthy is Mom's Cafe in Salina: been around almost a century, serving scones and other local stuff, and it's just a few miles north of 70.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #4 - March 23rd, 2021, 12:00 am
    Post #4 - March 23rd, 2021, 12:00 am Post #4 - March 23rd, 2021, 12:00 am
    David,

    I love food in Utah. The Red Iguana in Salt Lake City (both locations) serve some of the best moles in the country. There are dozens of hamburger stands like Crown Burger and Hires that put In-n-Out to shame. BYU and Utah State both offer excellent creameries that make some of the finest ice creams and have an interesting fountain setups in some of their stores. In addition, there are a number of rodizio style restaurants that will give you more meat than you can handle at a decent price.

    I think that there are numerous small town eateries along I-15 between Salt Lake and Nephi that offer some solid diner food.

    However, I don't see a lot of great options in and around the national park areas. A lot of these areas are HIGHLY seasonal and generally cannot support a lot of great restaurants. And in rural Utah, the average income and to an extent, family size, means that most families eat at home rather than going out.

    Most of my trips to Utah over the last 20 years have involved flights into Las Vegas or SLC. When I fly in, I always make it a habit to eat a meal or two in those cities looking for memorable experiences. Then, I have always headed into towns to see what we can find. Only occasionally do we really find any surprises.

    If you are going to hit the entire state of Utah, do realize that snow is still possible at higher elevations. I was hiking around Logan, UT in May and we were hiking in six inches of snow.
  • Post #5 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:27 am
    Post #5 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:27 am Post #5 - March 23rd, 2021, 7:27 am
    My knowledge is a bit dated as I've been all through that region many times, but not for a quite a few years. But:
    1. Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder is more of a fancy farm to table place. It had a great reputation years ago and was great when we ate there. Don't know the current status.
    2. Check out the town of Bluff if you can put it on your route. It's a very quite and lovely little town and there was a nice family diner when we went there many years ago. Don't recall the name.
    3. You might have lunch at the Red Cliffs Lodge on Highway 128 outside Moab. First, it's a very scenic and little known highway along the Colorado River. The food is just average, but the outdoor setting is magnificent.
    4. About the only "local" food item I can ever recall is lots and lots of frybread.
  • Post #6 - March 23rd, 2021, 10:25 am
    Post #6 - March 23rd, 2021, 10:25 am Post #6 - March 23rd, 2021, 10:25 am
    Jailhouse Café in Moab for breakfast.
  • Post #7 - March 23rd, 2021, 11:07 am
    Post #7 - March 23rd, 2021, 11:07 am Post #7 - March 23rd, 2021, 11:07 am
    jlawrence01 wrote:
    However, I don't see a lot of great options in and around the national park areas. A lot of these areas are HIGHLY seasonal and generally cannot support a lot of great restaurants. And in rural Utah, the average income and to an extent, family size, means that most families eat at home rather than going out.

    If you are going to hit the entire state of Utah, do realize that snow is still possible at higher elevations. I was hiking around Logan, UT in May and we were hiking in six inches of snow.


    The National Parks are our destinations, so it sounds like we'd better bring a cooler and stock up on good stuff when we come across it and then eat on that as we travel through what seem to be the vast food deserts of Utah.

    As we travel along highways from NP to NP, I'll ask Siri/Google to locate some diners nearby. Good to know Crown Burger and Hires are worthy quick-service stops. Pastrami Burgers are on my must-try list of Utah regional specialties, and I believe they're on the regular menu at Crown Burger (can probably sample Fry Sauce there, too).

    All our travel will be south of Moab (so unlikely to get the snows that are seen further north, in places like Logan, though possible, of course). We plan to return next autumn, and at the point SLC recs will come in handy. Thanks.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #8 - March 23rd, 2021, 4:37 pm
    Post #8 - March 23rd, 2021, 4:37 pm Post #8 - March 23rd, 2021, 4:37 pm
    Jonah wrote:4. About the only "local" food item I can ever recall is lots and lots of frybread.


    Frybread is definitely on our list (I usually have it only once a year at a pow-wow), but I'm also keen to try the Pastrami Burger and Fry Sauce (mentioned above), as well as Funeral Potatoes and Utah Honey (we buy honey whenever we travel; it's cool to sample how the bees are making this stuff in different states/countries, and we eat a lot of it).

    On several run-downs of Utah regional foods, I've seen Green Jello listed, which I find kind of funny.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #9 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:23 pm
    Post #9 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:23 pm Post #9 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:23 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    Jonah wrote:4. About the only "local" food item I can ever recall is lots and lots of frybread.

    Frybread is definitely on our list (I usually have it only once a year at a pow-wow), but I'm also keen to try the Pastrami Burger and Fry Sauce (mentioned above), as well as Funeral Potatoes and Utah Honey (we buy honey whenever we travel; it's cool to sample how the bees are making this stuff in different states/countries, and we eat a lot of it).

    On several run-downs of Utah regional foods, I've seen Green Jello listed, which I find kind of funny.

    I used to regularly fly from Chicago to Seattle and often tried to schedule a long layover in Salt Lake City, exclusively to eat pastrami burgers (and fry sauce, I guess). Unfortunately, it never worked out. I've linked to this terrific article a couple times before, but here it is again: Greeks Bearing Burgers. I used to work with a guy from Utah who told me root beer (especially homemade) is very big in those parts. The Root Beer Store in Sandy UT claims to have the world's largest selection of root beer (though I don't see Brigham's Brew listed), but I suspect that's only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Post #10 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:42 pm
    Post #10 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:42 pm Post #10 - March 23rd, 2021, 5:42 pm
    Markauf wrote:Jailhouse Café in Moab for breakfast.


    I put this on our itinerary, as we'll be in Moab for a few days. Thx.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #11 - March 24th, 2021, 12:34 pm
    Post #11 - March 24th, 2021, 12:34 pm Post #11 - March 24th, 2021, 12:34 pm
    Rene G wrote:I used to regularly fly from Chicago to Seattle and often tried to schedule a long layover in Salt Lake City, exclusively to eat pastrami burgers (and fry sauce, I guess). Unfortunately, it never worked out. I've linked to this terrific article a couple times before, but here it is again: Greeks Bearing Burgers. I used to work with a guy from Utah who told me root beer (especially homemade) is very big in those parts. The Root Beer Store in Sandy UT claims to have the world's largest selection of root beer (though I don't see Brigham's Brew listed), but I suspect that's only the tip of the iceberg.


    Based on Greeks Bearing Burgers, it looks like most of the main purveyors of pastrami burgers are around Salt Lake City, and we'll be far from there, but the article listed several other "chains" that carry this Utah specialty, and there is an Apollo Burger in St. George, and we'll be in that for a night, so that will be where we have dinner. The Root Beer Store will have to wait until we return to Utah in the autumn.

    The pastrami burger is the kind of thing I was hoping to find, a regional specialty that, as the article says, "is still relatively unknown outside of Utah. Portland food blogger Nick Zukin said he has heard of a California restaurant offering the burger, but found nowhere to compare to Utah’s 'city on a hill where all burgers come with pastrami.'”

    Nick Zukin, as many here will remember, has posted on LTH as ExtraMSG.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #12 - March 24th, 2021, 9:24 pm
    Post #12 - March 24th, 2021, 9:24 pm Post #12 - March 24th, 2021, 9:24 pm
    David Hammond wrote:The pastrami burger is the kind of thing I was hoping to find, a regional specialty that, as the article says, "is still relatively unknown outside of Utah. Portland food blogger Nick Zukin said he has heard of a California restaurant offering the burger, but found nowhere to compare to Utah’s 'city on a hill where all burgers come with pastrami.'”

    Image
    That's the pastrami burger from The Oinkster in LA. Let me temper your expectations. Pastrami burger isn't much of a revelation. Have you ever had a burger and thought to yourself "this is a great burger but what it really needs is a lot more pepper"? Have you ever had pastrami and thought to yourself, "this is great meat, but what it really needs is to be less cured and less peppery"? Hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. At least about the food. The rest of the trip sounds spectacular.
  • Post #13 - March 25th, 2021, 8:18 am
    Post #13 - March 25th, 2021, 8:18 am Post #13 - March 25th, 2021, 8:18 am
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:
    Image
    That's the pastrami burger from The Oinkster in LA. Let me temper your expectations. Pastrami burger isn't much of a revelation. Have you ever had a burger and thought to yourself "this is a great burger but what it really needs is a lot more pepper"? Have you ever had pastrami and thought to yourself, "this is great meat, but what it really needs is to be less cured and less peppery"? Hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. At least about the food. The rest of the trip sounds spectacular.


    Thanks for the warning, but be assured that expectations are not all that high. A lot of what I've read about Utah regional food suggests that it's not the stuff of dreams, but rather just relatively pedestrian food items gussied up with a bit of weirdness. That said, these weird variations are exactly what I'm looking for because (at the risk of sounding a touch high-falutin') my interest in these foods is sometimes more anthropological than gustatory. Moreover, admittedly, after a day of hiking (and we'll be doing potentially hundreds of miles of that on this trip), I'm pretty sure I'd be hungry for whatever is set before me (and if part of that meal contains some minor insight into the culture that produced it, then my appetite will be fully sated).

    That the search for strange foods is not uncommon on this board is confirmed by Peter's comment, above, that he has tried to change his air travel plans, on more than on occasion, exclusively to sample the pastrami burgers of Northern Utah. I fully understand and admire that drive to seek out unusual deliciousness wherever it may take us.

    Dan, about dressing up simple foods, we're thinking of ordering a stuffed pizza tonight (probably from Giordano's), something I haven't had in (no kidding) probably 40 years or so. Stuffing a pizza is the kind of over-the-top rendition of a relatively simple food that we also see in the Utah pastrami sandwich: meat as a condiment for even more meat.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #14 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:20 am
    Post #14 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:20 am Post #14 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:20 am
    We did the Mighty 5 in late August early September. Not a lot culinary stars. Given the pandemic we stuck mainly to outdoor dining. In Zion, the Whiptail Grill had pretty good Mexican fare. The lodge in Zion was closed for dining at that time. The Lodge in Bryce had carryout only and out side of breakfast was disappointing. In Torrey, next to Capitol Reef we enjoyed Slackers Burgers. Small drive in with great burgers and onion rings. Ice cream good also. In Capitol Reef National Park the Gifford Homestead has great homemade cinnamon rolls, pies, and breads but need to get there early for the cinnamon rolls. Our best dining experience was in Moab at the Desert Bistro. We actually went back a second time. Hope this helps.
  • Post #15 - April 6th, 2021, 1:42 pm
    Post #15 - April 6th, 2021, 1:42 pm Post #15 - April 6th, 2021, 1:42 pm
    I'm tardy for the party here, and the OP is likely on his way and won't see this, but if you keep your expectations low the pastrami burger will overpeform. The the titular specimen at Crown Burger has all the beauty of a hospital cafeteria/concession stand hamburger, but there's some alchemy going on there with how the ingredients work together.

    Re: Bryce Canyon, I would recommend starting and finishing your day 30 minutes earlier than planned/expected so you have the energy to drive into Panguitch for dinner. The buffet restaurant at the Inn just outside Bryce won't kill you, but it has no real value beyond simply being the closest--and only--thing for your tired legs.

    Re: Zion, there's an In n' Out burger off the I-15 exit to the park, and a decent poke place in St.G (Hawaiian Poke Bowl) that's great for a chance of pace.
  • Post #16 - April 6th, 2021, 2:22 pm
    Post #16 - April 6th, 2021, 2:22 pm Post #16 - April 6th, 2021, 2:22 pm
    chezbrad wrote:I'm tardy for the party here, and the OP is likely on his way and won't see this, but if you keep your expectations low the pastrami burger will overpeform. The the titular specimen at Crown Burger has all the beauty of a hospital cafeteria/concession stand hamburger, but there's some alchemy going on there with how the ingredients work together.


    We actually leave tomorrow, so your come just in time.

    MJZ mentioned Slacker's (where Pastrami Burgers are on the menu), and Crown Burger's are also a target. This is the kind of thing I'm looking for: food that is, more or less, unique to Utah.

    I've read a lot about honey, and plan to come home with some of that. Utah is, after all, the "beehive state."

    Tomorrow through Friday, I'll be doing my best to hit some of the Den-Mex favs (fried taco, toro pot, Denver-style chili rellenos) that Titus "Da Beef" Ruscitti has brought to our attention.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins

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