SALT LAKE CITY, January 2012 - Newcomers may notice a completely different look and feel to downtown this year. Salt Lake has experienced an unprecedented cultural renaissance in the past 12 months with exciting new offerings on the horizon for a completely re-envisioned downtown. Combined with the recent openings of two groundbreaking museums, the Natural History Museum of Utah and The Leonardo, downtown Salt Lake boasts some intriguing new restaurants and bars opened in the central convention district.


Plum Alley, Chef Ryan Lowder's latest venture, opened in December 2011 in downtown Salt Lake, next door to his award-wining The Copper Onion on Broadway. Named after the alley that was the heart of Salt Lake's Asian neighborhood in the early 1900s, Plum Alley is a Southeast Asian-influenced eatery specializing in communal dining, including soups and curries served family style, such as Duck Noodle Soup, Dtom Ka Gai, Short Rib Rendang, Shrimp and Grits with House-Made Curry, and Dirty Pork Rice with Poached Egg. The beverage side of the menu has been crafted to complement the deep and complex flavors of Plum Alley's cuisine, and features specialty cocktails such as Thai Tiger (Stoli, lemon grass simple, Thai red chili simple, coconut juice, lime) and an affordably-priced wine, beer and specialty craft soda list. Plum Allen's kitchen focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, seating is first come, first served. 111 E. Broadway, Suite 190; 801.355.0543.

Zy Food Wine & Cheese opened in summer 2011 by Chef Matthew Lake, who has a notable résumé, including being named as one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs in America" a few years ago. Zy offers refined contemporary American cuisine, extensive cheese selections, and a wide wine and spirit selection in an historic landmark building. The modern restaurant was designed by local architects EDA and features hardwood floors, stunning atrium-seating, city views and windows into Chef Lake's bustling kitchen. With menu items such as Chipotle Shrimp, Corn and Scallion Pancake with Pico de Gallo; Steelhead Trout, Pumpkin Seed Pureé with Apples and Porcini Mushrooms; and Wild Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas, Goat Cheese, baked in Salsa Verde, Zy also boasts delicious desserts and artisan cheese selections. Within easy walking distance of the Salt Palace, Zy is located just east of Gallivan Plaza, and is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner nightly. Reservations are suggested. 268 S. State St.; 801.779.4730.

Lamb's Grill, opened in 1919, is now under the steady hand of new ownership and culinary staff, overseen by Executive Chef Matt Barrigar who was most recently with St. Bernard's at Solitude Mountain Resort. The grand-daddy of Salt Lake power lunching, the venerable Lamb's Grill on Main Street has long been the "place to eat" when in town. At breakfast, lunch or dinner, shoppers mingle with lawyers, bankers and business people. The restaurant has remained essentially unchanged since 1939 with the same booths, tables, wainscot, back-bar, counter, counter stools and steam-table, which are still in use today. New are Chef Barrigar's innovative interpretations of the classic menu of hearty appetizers, healthy salads and soups, intriguing entrees and decadent desserts. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. 169 S. Main; 801.364-7166.

Dojo Asian Inspired Cuisine & Lounge is another new Asian-inspired hotspot in downtown. Truly inspired fresh sushi and sashimi complement mouth-watering dishes like Pork-Belly Ramen in beautifully designed dining areas. The rich broth comes with half of a hard-cooked egg as well as Kamaboko, a Japanese fish cake. From Bento boxes and specialty rolls to noodles, curries and imaginative entrees, the true-to-roots cuisine truly shines. Dojo has a full menu of wine, beer and spirit selections. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. 423 W. 300 S.; 801.328.3333.

Maxwell's East Coast Eatery, a popular dining and drinking spot in Park City, opened a downtown Salt Lake location in 2011. Maxwell's East Coast Eatery delivers "authentic homemade Italian food...just like mom makes." Famous for Fat Kid Pizza, the menu boasts soups; salads; appetizers; fresh pasta; and house specialties which include lasagna, chicken scaloppini, risottos and their famous Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with authentic Amoroso rolls. This downtown location sports a beautiful bar and plentiful broadcasts of sporting events. Open for lunch and dinner daily. 357 S. Main St.; 801.328-0304.

Sala Thai Kitchen opened to wide acclaim of Thai aficionados this summer. The inviting space is very contemporary and bright, the cuisine unmatched for those looking for authentic dishes prepared with great style and true flavors. Make a night of it with dinner at Sala Thai and a movie at nearby Brewvies, where beer on tap is sold with first-run movies. Open for lunch and dinner nightly. 677 S. 200 W., 801-328-2499.

Bars and Nightlife

New Bars in Salt Lake worth visiting vary in themes, offerings and demographics. New watering holes in the downtown area make it easy to get a drink and find entertainment after hours.

Green Pig Pub, a new downtown neighborhood sports bar just a short walk from the Salt Palace and Gallivan Plaza offers downtown's only rooftop patio with a beautiful view of Salt Lake. It's a great place for a game of pool or some lively conversation or dancing. The earlier evening hours gear toward a more mature crowd with acoustic live music; the later the hour, the harder the rock and the younger the crowd. Ample TVs broadcast a wide range of sports. Lunch and dinner is served, and the Pig has award-winning pub food and a great Sunday brunch. Texas hold'em poker is a new addition to its Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 31 E. 400 S.; 801.532.7441.

The Garage, Salt Lake's newest addition to the "refinery" district about 12 blocks north of the Salt Palace, has quickly become one of the city's favorite haunts for food critics, media mavens and Salt Lake's movers and shakers. Featuring live bands, a menu offering delicious comfort food such as fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes and Grandma's Chicken Pot Pie, the Garage is a great place to enjoy an off-beat evening away from the fray of downtown. There's a great patio with "refinery" views. 1199 N. Beck St.; 801.521.3904.

Bourbon House, Salt Lake City's newest bar, is located in the basement of the Walker Center Building in the heart of downtown. A great location for a business lunches, after work drinks or night out of friendly camaraderie, Bourbon House offers pool, karaoke nights, live music and DJs. Formerly housed in the building where Monk's House of Jazz and the infamous D.B. Cooper's resided, Bourbon House has a full bar and drinks are cheap. An extensive selection of bourbons, whiskeys and Scotch are featured, including $4 Jameson or Makers Mark. And it's the only bar in town to carry Hamm's. The menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, a wide range of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, burgers and traditional sandwiches.19 E. 200 S.; 801.746.1005.

Visit Salt Lake is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Visit Salt Lake's mission is to improve the area economy by attracting and providing support to conventions, leisure travelers and visitors while being a leader in environmental responsibility. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown.