Utah: There’s Seafood on these Salty Shores
Salt Lake City, flanked by grand mountains and the Great Salt Lake—a massive vessel holding nothing but tiny brine shrimp adjacent to a vast desert of white, crystalline sands—is not known for seafood. The city IS gaining a reputation for great food, however, and catching this wave are a couple of excellent new restaurants with a focus on seafood.
The first must-visit is Current Fish & Oyster in downtown SLC, a modern hot-spot built with bow-like curves, tall windows, natural light—all conducive to the fresh, au courant ocean-born menu, but not in a lame, “themey” way. Think about unctuous oyster pairings with cocktail shots; smoky grilled lobster tail with Fresno chile-miso-citrus sauce; or whole branzino, perfectly crisp skin wrapping juicy slabs of fish, scattered with Marcona almonds and sea salt. The renovation of the building was in the hands of perfectionist developers and food-lovers, the partners behind Vinto. And the Current project is the creation of restaurant veterans La Salle Group and Mikel Trapp (Fresco, Luna Blanca Taqueria, Trio), so there’s little doubt it will stay on trend and be a success. Expect buzzy, happening crowds for months to come.
New in Sugar House is Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House. The remodeled building is a one-story square that, upon ascending the wide steps, feels like you’re entering either a fancy government building (which it was) or a museum, which it’s leaning toward now. Previously a wedding hall with pale yellow walls and no meaningful space, the new Kimi’s is a series of rooms with seductive midnight blue walls with crisp white trim; oversized vibrant abstract art; and a mix of clean white “seafood-restaurant”-style tables and sexy lounge areas near the bar. It’s Scandinavian-spare but posh while remaining totally inviting. The menu is a delightful mix of seafood (big list!), comfort food (short ribs and burgers) and some serious nods to Swedish fare (toast Smögen with shrimp, crab, dill & horseradish creme, fresh lemon, caviar). The steamed clams were simply some of the best I’ve ever had, with broth I want to bathe in and bread I could live on. Kimi Eklund is also a beloved name in Utah’s dining world and for all food lovers (including those who have been seeking her divine chanterelle mushroom soup) let’s hope the chop house has sunk a deep anchor.
Not to Miss + to Top Your List
- Copper Common. A vintage-style hipster bar that serves chic mixed drinks and delicious little bites, including great oysters. Visit for a cacophonous après-ski meal with the mustache crowd.
- Provisions. Chef-Owner Tyler Stokes is all about local flavors but also has amazing preparations of branzino, scallops, and other seasonal seafood dishes. Visit now, visit often.
- Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. CLOSED for the season. Let the tears begin! This is a MUST-DO for any visitor to Utah. Its reputation is top-notch and the excellent seafood is fresh and endless.
- The Oyster Bar. A classic in downtown and Cottonwood Heights. Great place to people watch while slugging oysters and sipping a Bloody Mary. Or two.