Scott and Nancy Litke opened a roadside food shack in partial tribute to Scott’s grandparents, Emmett and Ethel, who have quite a backstory: After a run-in with the law, Emmett disappeared in 1934, and the couple became a local legend. Just for fun, Scott challenges guests to a bounty game: any customer who brings in someone named “Emmett” will be rewarded with free lunch. The Emmett also receives a shirt and a place on the wall of fame. It’s one of a few challenges the restaurant offers to customers—there are also eating contests, including Man v. Emmett’s Burger and Man v. Ethel’s Sundae.
Since its opening, the “shack” has been updated to become a 2,800-square foot restaurant. The ethic is the same, though: Emmett’s and Ethel’s churns out fresh, homemade food, such as gourmet burgers, hot dogs, and baskets piled high with fish and chicken that has been hand-cut in the kitchen. In addition to traditional malts and shakes, guests can savor parlor-style ice cream sundaes with ingredients such as deep fried peach halves, toasted almond ice cream, and brownies.
A waterfall cascades over a towering cliff. A few acres away, hundreds of thousands of tulips sway in the desert breeze where hay and barley once grew. Originally a dairy farm, the 55-acre Thanksgiving Point has bloomed into a museum complex and attraction with one-of-a-kind experiences, shopping, dining, and seasonal festivals. In Thanksgiving Point Gardens, trees and shrubs form divisions between 15 themed gardens modeled after a country estate, 13 acres of turf grass, and a 4,000-seat amphitheater beside a manmade waterfall—all of which flourish under the hands of 26 gardeners. Gardeners feed their plots using an intricate water-reclamation system, which harvests millions of gallons of runoff water and lizards' tears annually to transform the desert landscape into an assembly of global ecosystems.
The outdoor park is also home to Farm Country, a working farm where goats, pigs, and draft horses mingle with peacocks and wildlife photographers disguised as ostriches. Visitors delve into farm culture as they pet and feed the animals, ride ponies, and look in on the process of bottling milk. The Museum of Ancient Life explores life long before agriculture, exhibiting 60 complete dinosaur skeletons to a soundtrack of gurgling steams, insect chirps, and one jazz saxophonist. The museum also contains more than 50 interactive exhibits, including a simulated fossil dig.
East Moon Japanese Restaurant is bedecked with a squad of dangling paper lanterns colored a vibrant red that matches the stools around the sushi bar. There, patrons can watch up close as sushi chefs julienne vegetables and slice pieces of tuna and salmon, rolling the agglomeration inside a sheet of rice-covered seaweed. Chefs add dollops of brightly colored roe or a sprinkling of sesame seeds atop rolls before cutting them into bite-size pieces and tossing each one into diners? mouths. Other Japanese cuisine is offered, such as bento boxes and spring rolls, and American classics like corn dogs, chicken tenders, and fries are featured on a kids' menu. Meals end on a sweet note with hot-fudge sundaes and banana splits.
Located at the official landmark for Famous Porter Rockwell, Porter's Place offers homestyle food with a dose of history. Guests can sip a sarsaparilla, feast on barbecue buffalo bits, or finish off a 20-ounce porterhouse as they learn about Mormon pioneer Orrin Porter Rockwell. While the history of the man understandably snags most of the focus, the building itself has quite a past. It was built in 1915 and was originally heated by two coal and wood stoves and lots of wishful thinking. It includes a bar that dates back to 1881, a beehive clock built for the 1912 opening of Hotel Utah, and fresh food that has barely any history at all.
There's no such thing as a pizza that's ready too soon. That's why Tenney's Pizza keeps ready-to-go pies on hand every day after 4 p.m. Of course, waiting has its own merits, such as fully customized pizzas topped with your choice of 12 ingredients, including everything from peppers to pineapple slices. Other options include gluten-free crusts and seven specialty pies topped with the likes of nacho cheese or spinach and white-cheddar alfredo.
Cafe El Lago's chips and salsa were named the best in Utah County by the Provo Daily-Herald?and once the chips are gone, it's worth sticking around for the sizzling Mexican entrees. The culinary team adds a funky spin to classics, smothering chicken enchiladas and chimichangas in their house sour-cream-and-cream-cheese sauce, and drizzling the hefty burritos, crafted on 12" tortillas, in your choice of red chili or green chili verde.