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Empty Tables: 5 Salt Lake Restaurants that Need Your Love

Restaurants rely on regulars, but restaurant-goers fall into ruts and the foodscape in Salt Lake City has lost many gems because people who “loved” these restaurants didn’t support them.

Food-lovers: Be aware of the out-of-the-way places. Don’t visit a place just because the parking is easy or free or just because you know how to get there. Blaze some new trails for yourself. Salt Lake’s dining scene needs you. Here are 5 of the best restaurants in town. They need your love.

Fireside on Regent

Fireside on Regent—This is a terrific restaurant, tons of fun and with fantastic food. And it’s not all pizza. Your meal here can be as big or as light as you want. Try the housemade pasta, the inventive salads or make a meal from the “Urban Picnic” list. Start with a craft cocktail and finish with soft serve. Right now, the place is full on show nights at the Eccles, but other nights, there’s plenty of seating. Do not be afraid of parking downtown. It’s not that hard. And Fireside is open on Sunday. Honestly, this is a twice a week kind of place. 126 S. Regent Street, 801- 359-4011

Rico’s

Rico’s Cucina and Tequila Bar—We already lost Frida Bistro because 1) Salt Lakers couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept of sophisticated Mexican food and 2) People are afraid to go to even the slightly west side unless it’s to Red Iguana. Rico’s new menu is more approachable, has a beautiful patio and an awesome tequila bar. 545 W. 700 South, 801-983-6692

J Wong’s—This upscale Chinese/Thai restaurant is one of many whose life blood was the Outdoor Retailers’ twice a year spend-a-thon. The Wong’s are a Thai-Chinese family so both sides of the menu are authentically seasoned but use more and higher quality proteins than many other Chinese restaurants do—the shrimp in the Honey-glazed Walnut Shrimp are succulent two-biters and the beef in the stir-fry is filet mignon. There is a great cocktail list and a good wine list, both rare in local Chinese joints. It’s open on Sunday. And yes, you can order it to go. 163 W. 200 South, 801-350-0888

Martine’s

Martine’s—A favorite of everyone who knows about it, this completely charming brownstone restaurant has suffered for years from City Creek construction, downtown renovations, elimination of convenient parking. All those troubles are over now, but maybe people just got tired of the struggle. The food is still great, the wine list quietly remarkable and the atmosphere is unbeatable. So beat a new path. 22 E. 100 South, 801-363-9328

Aristo’s—Because of a drawn-out conflict over an attempted re-location, the best full-on Greek restaurants in town needs your attention. The food is as wonderful as it always has been—the octopus is a must-try, the lamb and feta tacos are one of the best inventions ever and the wine list features some worthy Greek vintages. The cocktail list is notable and the front patio is a place that inspires the leisurely pace of a Greek taverna. Aristo’s should be overflowing every night. 244 S. 1300 East, 801-581-0888

Mary Brown Malouf :Mary Brown Malouf is the Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.