There is nothing like The Eklektik in Salt Lake City. Part restaurant, part art space, part store and—the owners hope—part event venue, this little restaurant on 800 South is manifestly a labor of love. Decor is eccentric: The fire extinguisher serves as a 3-D accessory to a painted scuba diver. A bouquet of mannequin legs sprouts from a wall. Chairs are brightly painted and mismatched and It’s hard to know what to expect. In this setting, why would we be surprised by a menu that groups French onion soup (untried), black bean soup (great flavor, needed more cheese), caprese salad (with goat cheese and sadly unripe tomatoes) and patatas bravas`?
The Eklektik labels itself a Latin American restaurant with the tagline “soul kitchen, brews and store” and describes its concept as “based on our own dreams, abilities and expertise.” On our visits, the owner, Sion Croudo, was the server while his wife, Aliza Levy, did the cooking. Most of the dishes are Latin American-based and fairly simple—gaoneras was several thin triangles of seared beef, each on a plain tortilla and garnished with grilled scallions. Add your choice of salsas and roll your own. A dinner entree of shrimp en cazuela, a Spanish-influenced dish of garlic-sauced shrimp and grilled bread was delicious, but the shrimp were too small.
There was a low-budget feel to most of the proteins, but there were flashes of real flavor brilliance: The hibiscus tea is terrific, with a flowery aroma but plenty of tannin on the tongue. A special salsa made of dried chiles was mind- and mouth-blowing—you wouldn’t be surprised to taste this on one of Briar Handly’s menus. And the cumin-scented pickled red onions that came with a pounded chicken breast marinated in orange juice and achiote (another roll your own dish) were addictive.
According to Eklektik’s Facebook page, “the tables, chairs, dishes, silverware and glassware are all made from recycled materials” and The Eklektik has big dreams: “In the near future, energy will be produced by solar panels, solar water heaters and a biodigestor for recycling our own sewer water and kitchen waste. We are taking personal responsibility for our health and environment by sharing a message with our community that we care.” The caring shows.
Eklektik’s whimsically painted walls recall PeeWee’s Playhouse. One is plastered—decoupaged?—with restaurant menus. The front of the space is given over to a shop filled with handmade jewelry, shawls and objets, many adorned with portraits of Frida Kahlo.
60 E. 800 South, SLC, 801-528-3675
See more inside the 2017 May/June Issue.
Photos by: Adam Finkle