As you might recall from my “Hillbilly Hotdogs” post I tend to be drawn towards patronizing establishments featured in Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It’s not as if I live or die by the words of host Guy Fieri. However, I’ve come to believe that the show is a slice of Americana, highlighting the some of the culinary fair, standards, and expectations in different metro and rural areas of this country. And having visited over 30 locations, I’ve experienced my fair share of food flare. From the good to the meh to the occasional establishment that you realize Fieri was poetically portraying in a positive light while attempting to eat as little food as possible. Not that Fieri’s new restaurant in Time Square is any better than the worst featured on Triple D…well at least not to NY Times critic Pete Wells.
But I digress.
Given the fact that the Glutton’s kitchen is currently being shipped across the country and no food of consequence has been created as of late, I thought that I’d share with you another episode of Glutton Travels. This time a brief write up about our experiences with six of the seven Salt Lake City (SLC) area establishments featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
The hits, the misses, the mehs, and one maybe.
Holy Mole!!! Tops on our list is the legendary local favorite Red Iguana. Serving the good people of Salt Lake City since 1985, there is typically a horde of people around lunch hour attempting to procure a seat inside the original location off of downtown SLC…and with good reason. Red Iguana’s endless menu of blissfulness makes fixating on one or two items to order difficult. Seriously, click here and tell me the foodie in you isn’t excited by the options on this menu.
Any first time visitors must make a point of sampling one of the seven homemade mole sauces that are brilliant concoctions of culinary genius. Other mouth watering items include the Papadzules, Chilaquiles, and my personal favorite the Tacos Don Ramon. The latter are tacos filled with sirloin tip, grilled pork chorizo, topped with shredded lettuce and queso cotija held in corn tortillas that are crisped on the flat top where the chorizo was cooked. They’re Flavortown and Happiness 101 all mixed into one. Bam!
All in all we’ve never has a subpar experience at Red Iguana and the opening of multiple locations around the city has made finding a chair at the table that much easier. Click here figure out which location you’ll be visiting the next time you’re SLC.
Lone Star Cafe
Another must stop Triple D establishment for this native Californian is the Lone Star Taqueria. Located a nominal drive south of central Salt Lake City along the Wasatch Mountains, Lone Star offers up arguably the best taqueria style food in the Salt Lake Valley with a festive metallic setting inside and quirky colorful outside comforts that include a bumper-sticker riddled car that has seen better days. From the burritos to tacos or the fresh fish (yes fresh) to the carne adovada (marinated pork) the offerings are filled with flavor, substance, and a freshness you can taste.
In fact the only thing stopping me from giving Lone Star Cafe a 5 star rating is the fact that they don’t have horchata…you know that most excellent almond, rice, cinnamon milky concoction that makes you forget that cerveza is usually the preferred beverage of choice with your south of the border meal. You can’t be a top dog taqueria without horchata.
Nonetheless, make a point of stopping by Lone Star and supporting Texas independence or whatever. Your palate and stomach will be happy you did.
A Big Miss…Sorta
I want to say just one word to you…just one word: Biscuits. Ruth’s is all about the biscuits, which are provided to every customer as a filling/can stop eating appetizer much like chips and salsa. The flavor and texture of Ruth’s mouth warming biscuits encompasses everything that is right in this world. They alone nearly make the driving up the mountain above SLC worth wild. Almost.
Sure the diner has a quaint history with a peculiar original owner named Ruth who used to sell hot dogs and beers to undergraduate students from the University of Utah. But in this case having history doesn’t equate to the diner serving good diner food. Average to solid at best, the food lacks enthusiasm and achieves only a mediocre comfort level. Ruth’s the classic example of an establishment where people want to believe that the food is better than it is because of a place’s location, history, ambiance, and usually friendly staff. It also doesn’t help that the diner serves the best product on it’s menu to customers first and for free.
Blue Plate Diner
Somewhat of an institution for Salt Lake City residents, as most people will say that they’ve been to the Blue Plate Diner at least once in their lives. Located on the “Benches,” or upper level of the city, the diner serves up solid selection of breakfast favorites from open to close, along with a decent lunch and dinner menu, along with a smattering of healthier dining options like a Vegan Tofu Breakfast Burrito or a Vegetarian Sausage Burger.
Waits can be long on the weekends and the sitting somewhat cramped, but the food is solid to good with breakfast selections being the preferred option. Still we experienced nothing to warrant Blue Plate being featured on a television show. To each their own though.
Moochie’s Meatballs is the creation of a Philadelphia native who couldn’t find her favorite foods from the City of Brotherly Love in good old SLC and decided that the best way to satisfy her cravings was to open a sandwich shop in her husband’s pottery store (seriously). Located off of downtown, Moochie’s attempts to cover all the bases of your deli demands with Italian meatball sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and other hot/cold options.
Having only visited the shop once, I can only say that the meatball and chicken parmigiana sandwiches were good, yet certainly not a replacement for the really thing. The ambiance of an adhocly expanded pottery/sandwich shop is unusual, but not off putting in the least. Though I’m personally never impressed when a Triple D establishment covers multiple walls with banners, signage, pictures, etc reminding everyone that “Guy Was Here.” In the words of Ron Burgundy…Stay classy.
Simply put, Moochies strikes me as exactly what it’s supposed to be…a solid option for those individuals who need their “Philly Fix” and not necessarily anything special for someone visiting from the northeast corridor.
If you’re Driving Through
Located about a 30 minute drive north of SLC is the Burger Bar, an old school walk up burger joint that is a solid expression of the Beehive State. Family owned for multiple generations, Burger Bar has has gradually become a places that local continually patronize simply because they always have.
Like any good Utah establishment, fry sauce is bountiful on the burgers and available for one’s fries. Similarly to how the famous In-and-Out operates, their Big Ben burger can be constructed with as many patties as carnivore’s heart desires. And if your feeling like mixing up the type of meat you eat, buffalo and elk burgers are available.
Overall, Burger Bar isn’t going to blow your mind away with it’s offerings, but nothing you consume should be off putting. It’s a solid burger joint that serves up a slice of Utah’s essence, including those enormous shakes and malts are typical of the area. Worth stopping by if you’re driving through the Roy, Utah area.
Click here to read Burger Bar’s reviews on Yelp.
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