By Elise Edwards, JustLuxe -- Despite its reputation for being “dry,” and under-served when it comes to quality cuisine, Utah is home to some of the top chefs and mixologists in the country.  In fact, Salt Lake City is attracting more and more food and beverage experts who are determined to make the area a destination for vibrant dishes and hip cocktails. They're quick to point out they're in it because they love what they do, not for the fortune and fame some others chase in more prominent cities. Plus, they all share a healthy sense of competitiveness by pushing themselves and each other to change peoples perceptions of Utah being a food and beverage desert.  Here are a few standout Salt Lake restaurants that are successfully hitting the radar of foodies in the know.  


James Beard semi finalist, Briar Handly, is the force behind this award winning spot located in downtown Salt Lake.  His support of local farmers and fresh vibrant ingredients extends from the food to the drinks where cocktails enhanced with cinnamon, citrus and rosemary flow freely throughout the evening. Patrons can also choose from the extensive wine list or grab a cider or beer. Handly's passion for combining sophisticated, challenging and local ingredients in comforting and subtle ways has been noted in The New York Times, Forbes and Food & Wine.  If you’re headed to Park City, check out his other acclaimed restaurant, Handle, also known for exquisite cuisine, creative cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere. 

Table X

Table X is what happens when 3 chefs, who are best friends, put their shared vision, tastes and talents together. The restaurant, which is about 5 minutes outside downtown, boasts an onsite culinary garden, which serves as a constant inspiration to the culinary masters who always look to push the envelope.  They're also brilliant at getting back to basics in the bread they bake and butter they hand churn each day. The restaurant, housed in a rustic wood barreled roof building originally constructed in 1929, redefines formal dining with its classic yet modern touches which steer clear of feeling uptight and stuffy.  Forget what you know about having too many cooks in the kitchen. At this level, it's magic.  


This award winning favorite, located in the Rio Grande district, is one you can come to for a 3-4 course meal, or stop in for a seat at the bar where bar manager, Bijan Ghian, can be found mixing up balanced and inventive cocktails. Constructed in an old dairy loading dock, Pallet’s hip but comfortable design makes it one of the most sought after venues in the city. Dim lighting, communal tables and loads of candles all help to give it that cozy, inviting vibe.  The food, expertly prepared by Executive Chef, Zachary “Buzz” Willey, is known for being innovative and flavorful in ways you may not expect.  For instance, his jerk duck leg glaze seasoned with just the right hint of habanero is one to be savored.

So whether your plans in Salt Lake include skiing, hiking or sightseeing, be sure to add fine dining to your itinerary. Trekking all the way to Park City for an incredible dining experience just isn't necessary anymore.