Christopher's chefs draw upon an array of fresh seafood flown in daily from locations across the world, organic local produce, and USDA Prime cuts of beef. Epicureans carve heaping plates from corn-fed beef aged for 21 days, but may also choose Snake River Farms American Wagyu beef at the Salt Lake City restaurant or USDA Choice Certified angus beef in Draper. The Salt Lake City menu draws back curtains from mushrooms stuffed with crab and andouille ($12), which wrestle for fork affections before a main act of filet mignon medallions waltz with shrimp scampi ($32). On the Draper menu, chefs pave stomachscapes with beginning bites of spicy plum-glazed tempura chicken and asian cucumber salad ($8), and lure out potato-crusted Alaska halibut using pancetta-scallion butter, wild rice, and spinach ($28). Diners may scale the seasoned peaks of 8-ounce portabella bleu-cheese filet mignon ($41-$44) at either locale before going on to pen meat-inspired folk songs.
The dough-twirling chefs at Nicolitalia Pizza Express handcraft a menu of Boson-style pizza from freshly made dough using Neapolitan family recipes. Take healthy bites of a premeal order of breadsticks or chicken fingers to warm jaw muscles up and provide a good excuse when pals question your malfunctioning Boston accent. A classic margherita pizza satisfies traditional taste buds with a garlicky array of tomatoes, romano cheese, and basil, while the Italian Stallion appeals to untamed tongues with a rowdy amalgamation of spinach, pepperoni, steak, garlic, mozzarella, and parmesan. Decadent mouthfuls of cannoli or the restaurant's special boston-italian cream pie propels the meal to its sweet finale, evoking lingering thoughts of vanilla-infused ricotta and childhood crushes on Cookie Monster.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Ever since Barbacoa Mexican Grill opened in 1998, ordering a meal has turned into a creative pursuit. At the fingertips of everyone who walks in the door is an edible artist's palette that they draw upon as they orchestrate the creation of their dream burrito, burrito bowl, or tacos. Inspiration begins with a foundation: hand-trimmed barbacoa beef slow cooked in a chipotle paste, shredded pork with roasted pineapple and a honey glaze, or even steamed vegetables. Then a rainbow of salsas, a choice of beans, and individually monogrammed grains of rice combine to create a fully personalized meal.
Now spread throughout Utah, Barbacoa Mexican Grill has also branched out beyond its inimitable meals. It strives to establish and strengthen communities by working with local nonprofit and charitable organizations. The primary focus of the restaurants' grassroots endeavors falls on the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles and the support of underserved children—evidenced by their cooperation with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah.
Wasabi Sushi Restaurant whips up an expansive menu of sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, and other authentic Japanese fare. In specialty rolls such as the italian maki, a skilled chef conducts a harmonious orchestra of tempura, shrimp, crab, avocado, Placido Domingo, and cream cheese ($12.95). Meanwhile, the seafood yakisoba ($12.95) swims with stir-fried veggies, noodles, and four different types of seafood, and the beef teriyaki ($7.50/lunch, $12.95/dinner) comes nestled in a bed of rice and served with miso soup.
Stepping into The Sweet Tooth Fairy shop is like walking into another era: round tables and high-backed chairs surround an old-fashioned soda fountain, and oldies music plays softly nearby. Pale-blue walls and white crown molding stand behind a glass case full of sweet treats, which are baked daily and earned proprietor Megan Faulkner Brown two appearances on The Rachael Ray Show—one when she was still baking in her basement kitchen, and the next three years later, when her business had grown to nine locations.
Megan uses the "most ordinary" ingredients to whip up her extraordinary pastries, which include chocolate-chip and iced oatmeal cookies, brownies, lemon bars, and a variety of cupcakes and full-grown cakes. Signature cakebites don coats of chocolate or white chocolate flecked with sprinkles. Flavors of baked goods rotate monthly, with some favorites available on a daily basis. Gluten-free options are available, as are frosting shots designed to save time usually spent licking every drop of frosting off the top of a full-size cake.