2024 Best Restaurant: Hell’s Backbone

Every year, Hell’s Backbone has earned a nod from Salt Lake magazine. Our late editor Mary Brown Malouf long championed this experiment in sustainability, kindness and destination dining in Southern Utah. That’s a story you know. Here’s one few do. Mary lobbied tirelessly for the James Beard Foundation to create a new region for its annual national restaurant awards to bust out Utah (also Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) restaurants from under the shadow of California. Beard Judges in the newly created Mountain Region, gave Hell’s Backbone the nod in 2022. The tale, however, takes a frustrating turn. The Foundation, facing criticism about the lack of diversity and inclusion among its honorees (boxes Hell’s Backbone easily ticks) scuttled its awards that year. Hell’s Backbone’s richly deserved honor became collateral damage. But Blake and Jen aren’t ones to mope on the sidelines. The considerable slight became a rallying cry for the little restaurant in Boulder. With the addition of Chef Tamara Stanger. Blake, Jen and Tamara are still at it, this year again earning a nod from Beard. And us.

20 Utah Highway 12, Boulder | hellsbackbonegrill.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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