East Meets West at Thai-American Diner Uncle Jeffi’s

Sharing a parking lot with their signature restaurant, FAV Bistro, is Uncle Jeffi’s, the latest concept by Anny Sooksri and Jeff Kelsch. Walking in, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into a classic small-town breakfast joint, with colorful booths, a dash of kitsch, and the smell of pancakes. But look at the menu, and you’ll quickly realize that Uncle Jeffi’s is 100% unique. 

Jeff and Anny, the owners of FAV Bistro, Tea Rose Diner, Chabarr Beyond Thai, and now, Uncle Jeffi’s literally met over breakfast. “When I met Anny at Tea Rose, she was doing breakfast there,” says Jeff. “And that’s what I was there for. Breakfast at Tea Rose.” It was love at first sight for Jeff, combined with a love they both share for food. So when the lease came up at the restaurant pad across the parking lot from FAV Bistro, they decided to open a Thai-inspired restaurant that is only open for breakfast and lunch.

Named after Jeff, he explains, “A lot of our employees in their culture, mostly Thai and Laos, would call someone like me, ‘uncle,’ as part of their family. Most of them call me Pa, or ‘Kumpaw’, which is Dad, but their kids will call me Uncle. That’s actually ‘Lung’ Jeff. So, Anny liked the idea of calling it Uncle Jeffi’s. Because I like breakfast so much, she wanted to name it after me.”

As a fan of breakfast, there is plenty here to love. “I think the best way to describe the uniqueness of Uncle Jeffi’s is we make it so that you can upgrade. You could do a slab of corned beef, you could do a soft shell crab, you could do shrimp, you could do salmon with your hashbrowns and eggs. Things like that, that I don’t think I’ve seen anybody else do.”

Even classic diner fare like an omelet gets a culinary upgrade. The Thai Omelet has coconut milk mixed in with the eggs for extra creaminess. For the ultimate bowl of comfort food, get the Thai Jok (pronounced joke), which is a savory rice porridge made with broth, that comes with chicken, or pork and an egg that gets mixed in. Scallions, ginger, cilantro and carrots make it the most comforting breakfast bowl. Start with Anny’s famous steamed dumplings, or get the Kow Munn Gai Tord with Sweet Chili Sauce. The garlic rice that comes with it is the best-kept secret. While you’re there, get one of Jeff’s house-brewed kombuchas or some Thai coffee or Thai iced tea.  

  • Why Go: The only place in town we know to get a Thai-style breakfast
  • Featuring: Both a classic diner breakfast and Kow Munn Gai
  • What to Expect: Retro colors, breakfast and lunch, sweet and savory with an international bent
  • What to Get: Jok (a hot rice porridge) | Thai Fried Egg | Loaded Tater Tots
  • Hours: Daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

When you Go:

Uncle Jeffi’s
1968 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay

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Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinezhttp://www.saltlakemgazine.com
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to lydia@saltlakemagazine.com

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