Exploring Plant-Based Fare in Utah’s Capital
Maybe surprisingly, given so many Utahns’ love of meat, the Wasatch Front is riddled with vegan and vegetarian fare from around the globe. What started as a micro trend in dining has now expanded to a vast network of local restaurant owners who believe in inspirational plant-based entrées. For carnivores and herbivores alike, the breadth of options in and around Salt Lake City is exciting, tantalizing and mouth-watering.
When Ian and Kelsey Brandt decided to open an exclusively vegetarian restaurant in 1998, they had their passion and community to drive them. Almost 20 years later, the duo has expanded their expertise from gourmet vegetarian fare to down-home comfort food (Vertical Diner) and vegan pizza (Vertical Pizza). At Sage’s, they’ve perfected the farm-to-table feel, with each dish crafted without friers, microwaves or heat lamps. Their small and predominately organic menu features seasonal, local and preservative-free produce. Try the Magical Wok Curry Bowl to delight your palate with waves of ginger, coconut and toasted cashews.
368 E. 100 South, SLC
In terms of simplicity, Buds does it best. The small, walk-up sandwich shop offers the gold standard in vegan sandwiches. While the indoor space is reserved for sandwich-makers only, patrons can enjoy the ambiance of downtown Salt Lake in the enclosed picnic area in front of the shop. My personal favorite is The Pesto Sub, but if you’re looking for something more zingy, The Buffalo will satisfy every vegan’s long-lost Buffalo wing craving. Hand-crafted sauces are made in-house daily, and the zucchini chocolate chip cookie will nip your sweet tooth in the, well, bud.
509 E. 300 South, SLC
Nobody does meat-free pub fare better than Ice Haüs. Nearly every item on their German-inspired menu can not only be made vegetarian, but also vegan. This new-and-improved dive bar (renovated in March of this year) is ideal for savoring poutine fries as your friends garner enough liquid courage to perform during comedy open-mic night on Mondays. Treat yourself to the Kein Fleisch Bürger, an overloaded delight complete with caramelized beer onions, sauerkraut and a sliced vegan brat.
7 E. 4800 South, Murray
All Chay has redefined Vietnamese cuisine to include their oft-forgotten herbivore friends. While the interior is long overdue for an update, it’s what’s inside the kitchen that counts. The brother and sister owners brought their vegan Vietnamese fare to the valley in 2015, and locals have been lapping up the pho broth and praising it ever since. Start off with the Four Seasons Rolls, a combination of all four spring rolls offered on their menu. Follow that with the lemon grass tofu noddle salad: It’s marinated and fried tofu, coupled with aromatic and fresh lemongrass—a perfect flavor and texture combination. Finish the event with a serving of traditional Vietnamese coffee.
1264 W. 500 North, SLC
Passion Flour Patisserie
If there’s one thing missing in vegan establishments nationwide, it’s crispy, yet fluffy, all-around mouth-watering croissants. Thankfully, when Passion Flour Patisserie opened their doors in 2015, vegans and non-vegans alike rejoiced. The quaint locale, replete with European décor, is ideal for breakfast, catching up with friends or simply enjoying a latte. The Smoked Benedict, made with vegan Canadian bacon and tofu, is an overture of paprika, charcoal notes and plant-based cheese. Make sure to grab any one (or five) of their organic, non-GMO pastries. My personal favorite is the pain au chocolat.
165 E. 900 South, SLC
Casey Staker founded Zest to create a space that focused on “organic and healthy foods.” A 21-plus establishment with a modern interior, Zest is choice for post-work drinks that are full of fresh, local flavor. Order the beet sangria for sweet, earthy tones, or the berry lavender lemonade cocktail for a floral and fruity refreshment. With unparalleled service, knowledgeable staff and raw takes on classic dishes, Zest raises the bar for healthy, filling meals. Try the Southwest Skillet or the popular Thai Sunrise, a rich and flavorful coconut curry. Make sure to save room for the Raw Tiramisu, which gets its creamy texture from cashew custard and coconut cream.
275 S. 200 West, SLC
Daniel Shanthakumar grew up in Chennai, India, studied hotel and restaurant management at BYU Hawaii, and then brought his talents and culture to co-found this restaurant, which has since expanded from its original Salt Lake City location to West Jordan and Provo. Bombay House is an experience for the senses. After waiting in line for a table, guests are invited into the heavily decorated dining area, guided and welcomed by demure, kind servers. When it comes to the menu, you can’t go wrong. Every vegetarian entrée can be made vegan, and one of the many highlights is the vegan naan. The vegetable coconut kurma and the paneer masala are two can’t-miss favorites.
City Cakes Bakery and Café
Tucked away on Main Street, you’ll find a bakery dedicated to creating flavorful cupcakes, savory scones and a Vegan Mac’N’Cheeze that makes it necessary to indulge in the largest portion offered. Along with a case of decadent treats, you can order café items, such as their Vegan Sausage and Cheezy Potato Wrap, a combination of rosemary potatoes and housemade vegan cheese sauce that will likely convince you this vegan counterpart can be as tasty, if not better than, the meat-inspired original. Wander over to the south wall to watch bakers hard at work crafting specialty cakes and all other goodies sold in-house, as well as across the Wasatch Front.
1000 S. Main, SLC