Learn To Love Your Lunch in Utah

Remember lunch? We used to go to it, look forward to it even, but COVID and the grind have diminished our midday repast, making it the most-skipped meal of the day. What did lunch ever do to deserve that?

In the Gilded Age, Diamond Jim Brady’s lunch might start with a couple of dozen oysters, then go on to a brace of lobsters, some deviled crabs and roast beef. And he still had time to become one of the most famous millionaires of his time. One hundred years later, millionaires are a dime a dozen, but lunch is a rarity. Most Americans won’t stop working long enough to eat a real midday meal. The American lunch is shrinking in length, diminishing in importance and nearly bankrupt in imagination. From the luxurious, three-martini events of the ’50s, we devolved to power lunches in the ’80s, to lunch at the keyboard in the ’90s, to a PowerBar and a Zoom meeting in 2023. Even on weekends, it’s rare for us to devote much time to the midday meal. It’s time to take it back.

The Power Lunch

Power lunches are backed by expense accounts and reflect that in the pricing. This is a meal that’s all about Flex, throwing down the Black Amex and sealing the deal. These days, however, the people at the table aren’t just men in suits sporting shiny wingtips. The suits are hoodies and sweats and the wingtips are pristine Jordans. 

Spencer’s for Steaks And Chops

The menu item Millionaire’s bacon says it all, a decadent slab of pork belly, drizzled with honey and fig compote. Plus a gorgeous filet mignon served with a side of seasonal vegetables and frites. Or, if you want to seem submissive, a salad.  255 S. West Temple, SLC, spencersslc.com

Lunch in Utah
Spencer’s wedge salad. Photo courtesy Spencer’s For Steaks and Chops

Takashi 

The Japanese practically invented the high-power, high-stakes lunch meeting with salarymen coolly appraising opponents at the table by how well they can handle their sake (or in your case, chopsticks). So what better place to earn (or lose) face than to boldly dine Takashi’s sushi and sashimi? Protip: Do not dip the Otoro in soy sauce.  18 W. Market Street, SLC, takashisushi.com

The Hole-in-the-Wall Lunch 

One of the main problems at lunch is the time factor: in and out in under an hour is quite a trick. These places are not secret—all the secret places deserve to remain secret, I think. But these spots are a little tucked away or off the beaten track—downstairs, through a hallway, on the other side of the tracks.

Arempas

Lunch in Utah
Chef Tosh Sekikawa. Photo by Adam Finkle

An Arepa is a hand-sized packet of ground maize dough stuffed with a variety of fillings. Think Venezuelan Hot Pocket. It’s the centerpiece of a vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu at Arempa’s. 350 S. State St., SLC, arempas.com

Tosh Ramen

On the vanguard of the Ramen trend, Chef Tosh Sekikawa, formerly of the dearly departed downtown sushi spot Naked Fish, introduced authentic ramen to the city and still packs in the lunch crowds at his original State Street location (and a second in Holladay).  1465 S. State St., SLC and 1963 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay, toshramen.com

The Bar Lunch

There was a time when drinks over lunch were implicit. Nowadays it depends on your particular work culture to determine if that beer you want to order is frowned upon, winked at, or encouraged. Read the room. That said, there are still places in the world that don’t judge a midday tipple, and, in fact, encourage it. 

Duffy’s Tavern

Make no mistake, Duffy’s is a bar, dark and windowless. Basically, a day drinker’s paradise. The standout made-to-order sandwich, however, justifies calling a visit midday “going to lunch.”
932 S. Main St., SLC, Instagram @duffystavernslc

Lunch in Utah
Bewilder Brewing. Photo by Adam Finkle

Garage on Beck

This roadhouse located in the “Historic Refinery District” has a full menu, a sprawling patio, live music, several bar areas that open to the outside and a stellar menu, including fried funeral potatoes. So it’s kind of churchy?  1199 N. Beck St., SLC, garageonbeck.com

Bewilder Brewing Co.

This craft brewery’s excellent menu of housemade sausages practically requires an accompanying beer. You can tell the boss that the sausage made you do it. Also the dart boards are regulation if you feel like a game.  445 S. 400 West, SLC, bewilderbrewing.com

The Food Hall Lunch

Not a food court, which was the grand name that malls in the ’80s dubbed the space where you’d find Sbarro, Hot Dog on a Stick, Orange Julius and Mrs. Fields Cookies. (Whatever happened to Mrs. Fields?) But today the trend is grander, a food “hall.” Here you can hold court properly with your picky-eating coworkers who can get whatever they want. 

Lunch in Utah
Zachary Howa and Ryan Reich at Woodbine. Photo by Adam Finkle

Woodbine Food Hall

A bright, airy space in the Granary with lifted ceilings and skylights, local vendors serving everything from ramen to pizza and (bonus) a rooftop bar. 545 W. 700 South, SLC, woodbineslc.com

The Local Market & Bar

Aiming to put the neighborhood back in the beleaguered, long under-construction “neighborhood” near the SLC Library, Local Market & Bar’s eight vendors were selected by NYC Chef Akhtar Nawab. The centerpiece is the “Good Bar” area at the entrance but the real gem is the back, the excellent sliders from Pop’s Burgers. 310 E. 400 South, SLC, thelocalsaltlakecity.com

Granato’s Block Party 2700

Granato’s, the original specialty grocery in SLC, emerges from wherever it had been with a reinvention of its original space on 2700 East.  4044 S. 2700 East, Holladay, blockparty2700.com  


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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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