2022 Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards: Chef’s Choice

Each year, Salt Lake magazine recognizes the state’s best restaurants in its annual dining awards edition. For 2022, we asked some of the best chefs in Utah and our past honorees “who do you love?” And we got plenty of love in response. The business of making food is a business, of course, but there is a special camaraderie among those who spend their lives creating cuisine, a kinship, rather than rivalry. The 2022 Salt Lake magazine Dining Awards presents 12 chefs, each paired by their mutual admiration for each other, reminding us that we are all stronger together. 

Manoli’s: Elevated Greek

Nominees: Manoli & Katrina Katsanevas of Manoli’s

Manoli’s has been open for six years but Manoli and Katrina Katsanevas have been cooking for more than a decade. Manoli started working in a family restaurant at age 13 and his wife Katrina learned to cook at home. Manoli’s menu takes traditional Greek dishes and adds presentation and influence from France, Spain and Italy to create flavorful Mediterranean cuisine.   

“We’re both Greek, but we didn’t just want to go the traditional Greek route,” Manoli says. “We put the emphasis on local, fresh, simple, healthy, just really good Mediterranean food. One of our biggest inspirations is just seeing how much our customers enjoy our food, and how that can make an impact in their lives and change their day. That’s why you get into the business, to feed and please people.” 

“When people have a really great dining experience, it changes their mood,” Katrina says. “We’re very big about being in the present…we emphasize shared plates, so it’s about being there, in the moment, with each other, with the people that you love.” 

Dishes not to miss

“My favorite is the octopus,” Manoli says. “I love the octopus, and our pilaf—homemade lemon rice—is very comforting. Those are probably two dishes that I could eat every day. The octopus is also my favorite thing to make.”

“My favorite would be our garides—a grilled shrimp served over polenta,” Katrina says. “And I’ve always loved dolmades (grape leaves served with rice, herbs, tomato, house Greek yogurt). I could eat those at 2 a.m. right out of the fridge.”

One cool thing

“We do a killer brunch on the weekend,” Manoli says. “We bring Greek inspiration to traditional brunch dishes.” 

Manoli’s  // 402 E. Harvey Milk Blvd. (900 S.) #2, SLC, 801-532-3760

Nominated by: Mike Blocher of Table X

‘Why I love Manoli’s’

“Manoli introduced himself to me right after we opened Table X. I love that his menu has so much traditional Greek flavor presented in a simple, modern way. It’s a unique concept for Salt Lake. As a chef/owner myself, I wish I could get out more and enjoy Manoli’s food. I always respect, admire and relate to people that not just own their business but also work in their restaurants every night and lead by example.” 

Why does Manoli’s deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“Manoli and Katrina work so hard and have always been gracious and kind in welcoming us to the SLC food scene years ago. We’ve enjoyed doing events, collaboration and charity dinners with them and they set a great example of what local restaurant owners should strive to be.” — Mike Blocher of Table X

Table X  // 1457 E. 3350 South, SLC, 385-528-3712

House smoked salmon, crispy potato feta cake, herbed Greek yogurt, fried capers from Manoli's
House smoked salmon, crispy potato feta cake, herbed Greek yogurt, fried capers from Manoli’s. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Afghan Kitchen: A pandemic discovery 

Nominees: Wali & Mariam Arshad of Afghan Kitchen

Wali Arshad came to the United States from Afghanistan and surprise, surprise discovered that there weren’t any good Afghan restaurants in Utah. He opened a small restaurant with his partner chef Naeem Amel and set out to introduce Utah to the cuisine of his country. 

“I always tell people that our cuisine is in-between Indian and Iranian,” Wali says. “Afghans think Indians use too much spice and Iranians use too little. We are right in the middle.”

“I have learned that preparing food is a work of art,” Wali says. “When a customer leaves happy, it motivates me more. I had never been to culinary school and didn’t know how to cook. My wife trained me and together we built a menu that we love. Hospitality is key in our culture. If you come to my home I’ll give you a feast.”

Dishes not to miss

“The lamb shank, qabili palau, is our most popular dish, but we serve everything family style so everyone can share and try it all.” 

One cool thing

“My vision for this restaurant is that you come here and feel like you are dining in Afghanistan and you get a sense of our cultural sense of hospitality.”  

Afghan Kitchen  // 1465 S. State St., SLC, 801-953-1398. 3142 S. Main St., South Salt Lake, 385-229-4155

Nominated by: Francis Fecteau of Libation Inc.

‘Why I love Afghan Kitchen’ 

“I discovered Afghan Kitchen as just a random quarantine meal choice. I didn’t understand the menu but I thought, ‘what the hell.’ It was a random confluence of hunger and curiosity. My first taste was a party in my mouth! It’s easy for Central Asian cuisine to blur from region to region but this was distinctly different from its regional neighbors. I love the authenticity here. I had never tasted anything like it, there was a depth to the cuisine and it survived the transit of takeout. I eat there three to four times a month and love the mantu dumplings and the borani banjan. It’s as if the eggplant was made into edible silk. Qorma e murgh is a chicken dish many would confuse with indian tikka masala but there’s a fresh gingery lift to it that simply blows my mind!”

Why does Afghan Kitchen deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“The Arshads are wizards who clearly love their native land. Afghan Kitchen brings a new and necessary element to the SLC culinary landscape. It’s like discovering a new color or a new sound.” — Francis Fecteau of Libation Inc.

From Afghan Kitchen, Lamb shank qabili palau — Fall off the bone lamb shank, slow-cooked to perfection and served with seasoned aromatic basmati rice topped with caramelized carrots and raisins.
Lamb shank qabili palau—fall off the bone lamb shank, slow-cooked to perfection and served with seasoned aromatic basmati rice topped with caramelized carrots and raisins from Afghan Kitchen. Qabili palau, also known as kabuli palau, is Afghanistan’s national dish. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Table X: Shows us just how good food can be

Nominee: Mike Blocher of Table X

Table X has evolved over the years. Started by a team of chefs who came from traditional fine dining restaurants on the East Coast, Nick Fahs and Mike Blocher have recently gone to a single tasting menu. While Nick focuses on the restaurant’s bakery (now selling directly to customers), Mike sources food locally, much of it from the restaurant’s own garden. 

“Last summer we started seating in the garden area,” Mike says. “You’re next to the plants you’re enjoying, and in the winter we’re working to preserve the excess of what we grow so you’re always going to get flavors from the garden.”

The duo uses the bakery to experiment with fermentation, pickling and other preservation techniques in the restaurant’s tradition of exploration.

“We try to push the boundaries of the food scene here but we don’t over-manipulate,” Mike says. “We use a small number of ingredients for each dish and present it to catch your eye. There are no parameters except that there is definitely not a burger on our menu.” 

Dishes not to miss

The restaurant’s tasting menu means there isn’t a dish you can miss, although there is both a vegetarian and omnivore lane to choose from. Each evening’s tasting, either five or seven courses, with optional wine pairings, is built with seasonal ingredients in mind designed to create an experience.  

One cool thing

Table X has always had house-made bread and butter on the menu. But during the pandemic, the bread operation has grown. They started making and selling bread wholesale to other restaurants and recently opened a storefront bakery where you can buy loaves and bread-forward pastries directly from the restaurant. 

Table X // 1457 E. 3350 South, SLC, 385-528-3712

Nominated by: Angie Fuller of Oquirrh

‘Why I love Table X’

“I love that they’ve gone to a tasting-menu-only format. Just to be like, ‘this is our menu tonight, let us feed you.’ That’s something this city hasn’t had since (Viet Pham’s) Forage. It opens people’s minds and that’s really important. We share a commonality with Table X in that we want to cook with as many seasonal products as we can. Farm-to-table isn’t anything new, but Table X thinks in terms of putting the best, freshest ingredients on the plate. It takes extra effort but it elevates all of us supporting the local growers that we all use and by showing people just how good food can be.”

Why does Table X deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“First of all and probably most importantly, the food is good. It’s thoughtfully prepared and served beautifully. But I also see Table X trying to help set apart Salt Lake’s dining scene. They are part of a community of restaurant owners and chefs who are convincing people that there is great food here.” — Angie Fuller of Oquirrh 

Oquirrh // 368 E. 100 South, SLC, 801-359-0426

Farro verde; savoy cabbage, calabrian chili, dried olive, house capicola from Table X
Farro verde; savoy cabbage, calabrian chili, dried olive, house capicola from Table X. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Fav Bistro: Thai food made with love, care

Nominee Anny Sooksri of Tea Rose Diner, Chabaar Beyond Thai & Fav Bistro

In 2006 Anny Sooksri opened Tea Rose Diner in a still, she admits, hard-to-find location in Murray. She says she set out to make the food she grew up with helping her grandmother and aunts cook at home. 

“When I came to Utah, I felt like many ethnic restaurants set out to make food for Americans,” she says. “That’s not what I like. I’m stubborn, so I make food I like for those who like it too.” 

The result is three restaurants, including Chabaar Beyond Thai and Fav Bistro. Everything is made from scratch, the way she learned as a child helping her grandmother. 

“We don’t take any shortcuts,” she says. “Everything is cooked fresh. I come from a country where everything is fresh. When I first came here, I saw broccoli in the freezer and I thought, ‘what is that?’” 

“I used to work at the post office. I worked hard but there was no appreciation. Now, I still work hard but I am a part of a family. My customers and staff are my family. When people eat my food and love it, that is worth more than anything you can pay me.” 

Dishes not to miss

“We make our pad thai in an upscale Thai way and fold the noodles into the egg. It’s kind of like an omelet, very pretty. It’s very hard to do. You have to make it fast enough so it doesn’t stick to the pan but not too fast or it gets too hot and crumbles.”

One cool thing

“We are the hottest Thai food in Utah,” she says. “No joke. I tell people to order the mild spice (level) if you’re not used to very spicy Thai food.” 

Tea Rose Diner // 65 E. 5th Ave., Murray, 801-685-6111
Chabaar Beyond Thai // 87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100
Fav Bistro // 1984 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay, 801-676-9300

Nominated by: Lavanya Mahate of Saffron Valley

‘Why I love Fav Bistro/Chabaar Beyond Thai/Tea Rose Diner’

“Just imagine you are thousands of miles away from your home and decide to make this home yours and then share your home with the people who live here. I can relate to that and I recognize Anny for her work in educating local taste. Every time I eat at one of her restaurants, the food is delicious and you can see that it’s made with pride. (The chicken rice is the best!) She has a good way of introducing new foods to Utah. She showcases Thai cuisine in a way that is not intimidating and I understand what a challenge that is.” 

Why does Anny Sooksri deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“She cooks from her heart and years of experience. She is constantly working and looking for creative ideas to keep everything fresh and innovative. She takes good care of her staff and demonstrates mutual love and respect for everyone.”  — Lavanya Mahate of Saffron Valley

Saffron Valley // Locations around the valley, Visit saffronvalley.com for more info.

Pad thai from Fav Bistro is prepared  by delicately folding the noodles into the eggs
Pad thai from Fav Bistro is prepared by delicately folding the noodles into the eggs. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Oquirrh: Humble ingredients, elevated 

Nominees: Andrew & Angie Fuller of Oquirrh

Andrew and Angie Fuller have always known they wanted to open a restaurant together. Andrew worked in the back and Angie worked out front and where some people use restaurant work on the way to something else, they never wanted to leave. 

“We both were working really hard, long hours and decided we might as well be doing it for ourselves,” Andrew says.

Oquirrh opened in 2019 with Andrew’s artfully nostalgic menu coming out of the kitchen and Angie’s ideas about hospitality and service in the front.

“We want Oquirrh to be Oquirrh,” Andrew says. “The only way to do that can be having me in the kitchen almost every night and a service experience that comes from having Angie in the building.”

Dishes not to miss

Although Oquirrh’s menu is not fixed, one staple that Andrew and Angie just can’t shake is his elevated take on the chicken pot pie—a delicate puff pastry filled with a decadent confit, fennel mirepoix and mushrooms. It comes and goes on the menu but the restaurant’s loyal following always lobbies for its return. 

One cool thing

A seat at Oquirrh’s small bar up offers a front-row seat to experience the Fuller’s idea of hospitality. Angie is upfront, chatty as she hustles the evening’s service along and Andrew occasionally emerges from the back to wipe his brow and take a break. There’s not a bad seat in the house in this welcoming, living-room vibe restaurant, but if you’re in a small group, grab a seat at the bar and watch the evening unfold.

Oquirrh // 368 E. 100 South, SLC, 801-359-0426

Nominated by: Scott Evans of Pago Group

‘Why I love Oquirrh’

“Drew was the Chef de Cuisine at Pago on 9th & 9th before Oquirrh. The menu at Oquirrh is unique, balanced and well-executed. Drew’s food is creative and playful yet relatable. He has found the balance between plating beautiful dishes and executing the dishes perfectly. Too many up-and-coming chefs rely on plating alone and miss seasoning, texture, temperature. His experience and palate allow Drew to innovate with precision. An example is the milk-braised potatoes. It showcases Drew’s ability to transform humble ingredients into complex, elevated fare.”

Why does Oquirrh deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“The best restaurants and chefs push the market through their creativity and execution. His talent behind the stove is apparent, he has worked in great restaurants in Utah and beyond. The menu offers items not available elsewhere and all are cooked expertly.” — Scott Evans of the Pago Group

Pago 9th & 9th // 878 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-0777

Pago On Main // 341 S. Main St., SLC, 801-441-2955

Casot & Finca // 1508 S. 1500 East, SLC

Cabbage smoked on the Traeger, fermented fall squash “romesco,” squash tear honey  and sage from Oquirrh
Cabbage smoked on the Traeger, fermented fall squash “romesco,” squash tear honey and sage from Oquirrh. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Arlo: An ever-changing concept of cuisine

Nominee: Milo Carrier of Arlo Restaurant

Milo Carrier hasn’t stopped cooking since he was 16 years old, his wife Brooke Doner explains. “His mom was very egalitarian with chores,” she says, chuckling. “If Milo cooked he didn’t have to help clean up.” Their restaurant Arlo opened in the space where Em’s used to be on Capitol Hill and has become a city favorite. 

“I went to college at the U, floundered around there for a while, before I realized I wanted to pursue culinary school,” Milo says. “I moved to San Francisco and worked there for six years but eventually came back to Salt Lake City with the idea that I wanted to open my own restaurant.” 

The couple started in SLC with pop-up events and catering, including a series of “Caterpillar Dinners” in unlikely locations like the foothills of SLC and empty warehouses. At Arlo, Milo gets to explore his ever-changing concept of cuisine, with a seasonal menu that never stays the same from month to month. 

“For me, Arlo is non-linear and not stuck in time,” he says. “We’re always looking for new influences and are open to all cuisines. Arlo is whatever it is today and whatever it will be tomorrow, at the same time.”

Dishes not to miss

“It’s maybe a weird concept but our favorite dishes are what are on the menu now,” Brooke says. “It’s always changing based on what’s available locally and how Milo develops a dish. We’ll start out at the beginning of the week with a dish and by the end, he will have tweaked it into something else. In a month, we’re bored of it and it’s on to something else.”

One cool thing

Arlo expanded its patio and heated dining options in a quick response to the pandemic. They’re continuing to expand the terrace and outdoor dining options. 

Arlo Restaurant // 271 N. North Center St., SLC, 385-266-8845

Nominated by: Steven Rosenberg of Liberty Heights Fresh 

‘Why I love Arlo Restaurant’

“I had heard that Em’s on Capitol Hill had been re-envisioned and opened as Arlo. I was impressed to see the creativity of each dish is exceptional. Ingredients are carefully sourced, of high integrity, and possess flavor and texture that are superb. There is so much thought in each and every plated dish. Now, I eat there two to three times each month. The Cuban pork shoulder on the brunch menu blows me away. I feel like I’m in Miami at a Cuban friend’s house.” 

Why does Arlo deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“Milo has been developing and growing his repertoire for this opportunity for many years—working in SLC, San Francisco, and many other places to hone his skills. Chef Milo is attentive to every detail in the dining room and terrace. When out of town guests arrive in Utah, we dine at Arlo.” — Steven Rosenberg of Liberty Heights Fresh

Liberty Heights Fresh // 1290 S. 1100 East, SLC, 801-583-7374

Pacifico sea bass with new potatoes, piperade with Castelvetrano olives and refried peas winter citrus, safflower petals, herbs and lemon fish broth from Arlo
Pacifico sea bass with new potatoes, piperade with Castelvetrano olives and refried peas winter citrus, safflower petals, herbs and lemon fish broth from Arlo. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Nohm: Rare and risky 

Nominee: David Chon of Nohm

David Chon, the owner of Nohm, started working in restaurants when he was 16 because he discovered he could make money at a young age. He also discovered food. He went to the University of Utah and studied architecture but kept coming back to restaurants. He joined a family friend in the business and then, as he says, “it all clicked.” 

“From there I decided I wanted to own a restaurant and started focusing on techniques. I went back to Korea and Japan and worked at restaurants. I would come back and go again, perfecting my knowledge of these two cuisines.”

Nohm, a Korean word that means people, is not, however, a Japanese-Korean restaurant. It is both, concurrently. 

“We do either this or that,” he says. “We serve Korean dishes and Japanese dishes but we don’t try to combine them.”   

Dishes not to miss

Nohm is emphatically not a “fusion” restaurant. This means your tabletop could see a steaming hot bowl of Japanese oden, a brothy stew of fish cakes, stuffed shiitake, marinated egg and braised daikon, alongside a selection of meats on skewers prepared the traditional Korean way. 

One cool thing

Nohm’s menu is succinct and to the point, like its chef-owner. David challenges diners with simple, exacting preparations of food that may sound unfamiliar but rewards the curious with the pleasing sensation of discovering something new.  

Nohm // 165 W. 900 South, SLC, 801-917-3812

Nominated by: Ryan Lowder of The Copper Onion

‘Why I love Nohm’

“David is doing something that’s needed in this town. He has a hand in everything in the kitchen and you can tell. It’s one of the best restaurants in the state. Hands down. He’s doing something that people aren’t familiar with here. He could easily take his concept and American-ize it, but he’s hell-bent on what he’s doing. I lived in the East Village in New York when David Chang opened Momofuku and it took a while to get traction. Nohm reads like that to me. With David Chom, you have a guy with a vision and he’s not changing it. You gotta admire it. Because that’s the way the food culture here is going to change.”

Why does Nohm deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?

“Because his food is really good, and he’s not adjusting for Utah’s midwestern tastes. That’s rare and risky. He’s willing to wait it out and get traction. People need to discover Nohm and David’s dedication.” — Ryan Lowder of The Copper Onion

The Copper Onion // 111 E. Broadway, SLC, 801-355-3282

Copper Common // 111 E. Broadway, SLC, 801-355-0543

The Daily // 222 S. Main St., Ste. 140, SLC, 801-297-1660

Oden, a brothy stew of fish cakes, stuffed shiitake, marinated egg and braised daikon served steaming from Nohm
Oden, a brothy stew of fish cakes, stuffed shiitake, marinated egg and braised daikon served steaming from Nohm. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

The 2022 Dining Awards are featured on the cover of the March/April 2022 issue of Salt Lake. Subscribe to Salt Lake. Read past Dining Award winners.

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pughhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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