It’s time, spring is really here and that means we can eat in the best dining room of all, the great outdoors.
This long-time Salt Lake classic had a million-dollar makeup and most of it
shows. The front has been landscaped and offers drink service to ease the
inevitable waits for a table. The dining room has been extended, so maybe
the waits won’t be quite as long, and the back patio has been expanded.
Good, because, really, unless it’s midwinter, the patio is where you want to
be at Ruth’s. Shady, and further cooled by the sound of Emigration Creek,
this laid-back place makes you feel like you’re always on vacation. 2100
Emigration Canyon, SLC, 801-582-5807
The sizeable upstairs and downstairs patios just about double the size of this
sleek bar-cum-eatery downtown. Owned by the folks who had Port-O-Call,
Gracie’s is considerably more ambitious—really more a restaurant than
drinking establishment. The menu ranges from wings and nachos up into the
headier areas of halibut and steak. The upstairs patio has a great view of
downtown, and catches a breeze even on warm summer nights. (Gracie’s is
open until 2 a.m.) 326 W. Temple, SLC, 801-819-7565
Tuscany/Franck’s, Salt Lake City
These sister restaurants share a shady, secluded patio with lots of little
nooks for privacy. Somehow the timeless atmosphere of the flagstone patio
segues perfectly from the Old World Italian cuisine and ambiance of
traditional Tuscany to the highly personal modern cuisine created by Franck
Peissel. Tuscany, 2832 E. 6200 South, SLC, 801-277-9919; Franck’s, 6263
S. Holladay Blvd,, SLC, 801-274-6264
Painted Pony, St. George
The star of St. George dining takes advantage of its southern clime with an
outdoor dining patio. Here you can enjoy the restaurant’s white tablecloth
service and the tree-shaded ambiance of Ancestor Square at the same time.
Trestle Tavern , Salt Lake City
This is the best-hidden restaurant treasure in town— a charmingly, cozily
small space behind King’s English bookstore now called Trestle Tavern and
featuring Eastern European food. This remains one of the best outdoor
dining areas in town. Come for snacks or a full meal and plan to linger. 1513
S. 1500 East, SLC, 801-486-1300.
Caffe Molise, Salt Lake City
Caffe Molise offers classic Italian fare-like polenta with sausage, chicken
Marsala and pasta, orecchiette with sausage, penne in a rich beef and pork
ragu and ricotta-filled lasagna-with house-made desserts and a nice wine list
in a sleek downtown dining room. But this uber-urban café gains a whole
new dimension when the patio opens and the live music starts in the spring.
55 W. 100 South SLC, 801-364-8833
Silver Fork Lodge, Brighton
The back deck at this rustic lodge looks directly out on the Wasatch
Mountains. It’s one of the originals—part of the log building dates back to old
mining camp days and the menu claims that the sourdough starter used for
the breakfast pancakes dates back 50 years. But the Western lodge’s
hospitality and hefty food is pleasingly authentic any time. Don’t miss the
generously sized smoked trout and brie appetizer. Canyon pepper steak,
smothered with gravy, could have served two. 11332 E. Big Cottonwood
Canyon, Brighton, 888-649-9551.
Log Haven, Salt Lake City
This lovely hideaway comes complete with gorgeous canyon views, a (real)
waterfall and a seriously romantic vibe. The playful menu changes with the
seasons— Annatto Brined Duroc Loin Chop with jalapeno mac & cheese, apple salad and smoked chile broth. The wine list is epic, but knowledgeable servers make selection painless.
6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, SLC, 801-272-8255.
Stoneground Italian Kitchen, Salt Lake City
A lot of brilliant thinking was behind the transformation of the old
Stoneground Pizza into a chic, full-on Italian restaurant, but one of the most
brilliant ideas was the upstairs deck, a lovely place to linger in any weather
except the snowiest. This is an ingenious design for an upstairs urban
restaurant with no street frontage and a parking lot in back. Somehow, this
now adds up to charm. 249 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-364-1368.
Stanza Italian Bistro
This contemporary Italian restaurant redesigned the space that was Faustina
and the beloved patio space has only been improved and expanded.
Shielded from the street and the driveway, the tables also have umbrellas if
the day heats up. And there’s a great beverage menu. 454 E. 300 South,