Hotel restaurants are best approached with a degree of prudence. Sometimes they are worth a special visit. Sometimes they are an extension of room service. And sometimes, they are only for the desperate whose flights got in late and don’t have the energy to find anything else.
So I was cautious but curious when I heard the news about the new Mar | Muntanya rooftop restaurant opening as part of the new downtown Salt Lake City Hyatt Regency hotel. On the same block as the Salt Palace Convention Center, it is the latest hotel of note for all the conventioners.
What enticed me is the Spanish-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on shareable tapas, the Spanish gin and tonic cocktails, and the regional specialties with a little Utah twist.
The menu at Mar (meaning ocean) | Muntanya (meaning mountain) is a nice blend of Spanish coastal seafood and mountainous Basque-inspired dishes.
I snuck in a couple of days after they opened to get the lay of the land. And to have a cocktail. Located on the 6th floor, I arrived just in time for sunset and a beautiful view of downtown Salt Lake City during the golden hour. The modern decor has brass touches, wood, velvet, and warm accents. Outside you’ll find a mountainous mural and the obligatory fire pit. The opposite balcony is east-facing and offers a nice view of Downtown.
I returned for a tasting dinner a second night, and the restaurant felt intimate and cozy—perfect for date night.
Don’t Miss The Cocktails
A classic gin and tonic are one of the signatures of Spain, and so Mar | Muntanya went all out with a list of four specialty G&Ts. I’m always a sucker for anything gin. So I did partake. So should you.
On my first visit, I started with the Ma’ Helena Gin and Tonic, made with Empress 1908 Gin, elderflower, and cucumber tonic. It was so good that I had to order it again on my second night. Tinged pinkish/purplish by the Empress Gin, it was floral without being obnoxious due to the balance of the cucumber.
I moved on to the Jardi G&T made with Botanist Gin (one of my faves), Green Chartreuse, and lemon tonic. I desperately wanted it to be summer while sipping on this cocktail. While delicious, it had 85° outside vibes rather than early winter vibes.
Because I’m a fan of the High West Campfire Rye Whiskey AND mezcal, I couldn’t resist the Campfire Old Fashioned. Complete with toasted marshmallow and Oaxaca Espadin Mezcal, this cocktail was perfect with my chocolatey dessert. It made the ideal nightcap for the evening. Though I have to be honest, I don’t think the toasted marshmallow garnish added anything to the cocktail. But between the smoky campfire rye whiskey and the smoky mescal, this cocktail will warm you up and possibly put hair on your chest.
Tapas For The Win
Like any good Spanish restaurant, the small, shareable tapas are plentiful. In addition, there is a mix of vegetal, seafood, and meat tapas.
On my first visit, I had a revelation in the form of the M | M Oysters. Raw oysters + beef tartar served together on the half shell! Where has this been all my life? I ended up hoarding the order of three to myself. This is a must-order dish.
The sherry-glazed mushrooms were another highlight, with butter, tarragon, and a hint of acid. They got polished up quickly.
I wanted to love the funeral croquetas. A. Nod to Utah’s famous funeral potatoes. They tasted like a solid tater tot, but nary a funeral potato casserole was detected. It felt like a bit of a tease. That being said, the pickled Fresno’s and scallion aioli that accompanied it were delicious.
This is the type of place I picture going to for cocktails and appetizers before heading up the street for a show. Other tapas I can recommend are the tomato conserva toast and crispy Brussels sprouts.
To be honest, the oysters, mushrooms, and Brussels were tasty enough that I was trending toward full before the main course came.
I loved the slow-cooked bass, served with sweet potatoes, olives, and a brown butter almond crumb. The fish was glistening and cooked to perfection. Seafood is clearly a forte here.
I found space for the elk tenderloin, and I’m glad I did. Elk is a favorite of mine. Tender without the gaminess of venison, I will always order it if it appears on a menu. The blackberry jus somehow managed to be sweet and savory and was the perfect foil to the elk. I’m not usually a believer in fruity sauces. I may have to reassess. Salty Iberico bacon and a sage crumb rounded out the plate. This would be my second must-order dish off the menu.
The only misstep was the paella. I had the paella both times I visited. The first time, the wait was long, and the bottom of the rice pan was burnt. Not crispy—black. The second time I visited, the paella rice was plump. My only issue was that the seafood was artfully strewn on top rather than cooked in the rice. So, not a proper paella. But the chorizo, chicken confit, rock shrimp, and muscles were well-cooked and tender.
Overall, Mar | Muntanya is worth a visit for the locals, not just out-of-towners staying at the Hyatt. Go for the ambiance, the view, a great cocktail, and the oysters alone. While you’re there, order a second G&T.
Visit Mar | Muntanya
170 S West Temple,
Inside the Salt Lake City Hyatt Regency
- Tuesday – Saturday Open with Cocktail Hour from 4-5 pm + Dinner 5-10 pm.
- Closed on Sunday and Monday.
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