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.
At Yogurt Stop, over 70 flavors of frozen yogurt come together with over 50 toppings to make delicious, customized treats. Each day, customers will find a rotation of ten flavors, such as strawberry, chocolate, cupcake, and pineapple. Then, they can coat the low-fat and non-fat treats with fruits and other toppings, or select a fruit smoothie or bubble tea.
A plethora of frozen and baked treats at Scoopology entreats sweet-teethed revelries. Myriad ice-cream concoctions ($2.89–$12.90) arrive mouthside in massive waffle cones available in chocolate-covered or sprinkle-dipped varieties or in a flotilla of scratch-and-sniff bowls made of bionic space clay. Gain sustenance for ocean metaphors with bowls of floating cereals ($1.35–$3.30), refreshing milk soaking the tired bodies of geometrically shaped grains and a lengthy list of toppings. Mounds of cookie dough ($2.25–$7.85) await completion via early consumption or preheated ovens, and preformed cookies ($1.25–$4) knowingly welcome ice cream into a group hug of ice-cream sandwiches.
Nestled within a red-brick family home built in 1893, Smedley Manor slow-cooks meat in the original onsite smokehouse, where flavorful tendrils of smoke ascend from flame-kissed cherry and apple wood. Barbecue masters conduct a daily 14-hour meat-preparation process to yield tender morsels for menu items such as the cheese-filled beef-brisket quesadillas ($5.99) served with sour cream and house-made salsa. Bites of pork ribs ($13.99/half rack; $19.99/full) fall right off the bone without coaxing or court orders and come with homestyle sides such as baked macaroni and cheese. Toothsome rib meat also finds its way into sandwiches ($8.99) assembled from locally made bread and enhanced with sausage and coleslaw and a choice of sauce such as honey barbecue or raspberry chipotle. Swigs of Shock Top ($5) or Mug root beer ($2.25) wash it all down. Smedley Manor's historic interior transports visitors to the 19th century via rich hardwood floors, a Utah-marble fireplace, and napkins made from Mark Twain's trademark white suits.
Thaifoon features an extensive menu of eclectic Asian fare. Start with an order of the crispy crab wontons ($8.25) drizzled with a sweet chili-citrus sauce, or savor podded protein-rich edamame ($4.25) sprinkled with kosher salt. Entrees are grouped by the sea, land, or plant organism from which they were born, and include the signature evil jungle princess shrimp ($14.75), a spicy-hot wok'd medley of veggies in a peanut red-curry sauce, as well as the classic noodle nest of pad thai (regular $14.25, veggie $14). A separate gluten-free menu offers delicious dining options for dissenting digestive systems, complete with dessert. The semi-casual eatery boasts a sunny décor accented by yellow walls, warm wood accents, and a bright, busy carpet to entertain the eyes attached to the soles of the feet.
Wielding knives and sword-like skewers, the servers at Texas de Brazil seem prepared for impromptu duels. However, they only brandish the blades to replenish dinner plates, slicing meat from their spears at the behest of each table. The cuts of steak, lamb, and brazilian sausage are all slow roasted over an open flame in traditional churrascaria fashion—a technique that stems from the campfire meals of Brazilian gauchos, and one that fed the family behind Texas de Brazil during their life in Porto Alegre. In an effort to bring the South American style to the States, they established their first restaurant in Texas, thereby merging down-home charm with Brazilian spice.
Today, Texas de Brazil has expanded to several award-winning locations across the country. Despite the lofty ceilings and chandeliers that characterize their venues, the staff remains rooted in ranchers' habits. They conscientiously grill and season their meat, bake brazilian cheese bread in-house, and pass classic cocktails and loaner saddles over the bar for cowboys who consider chairs unnatural. To complement savory bites, guests can browse more than 50 gourmet sides at the salad bar—a compendium of soups, vegetables, and appetizers such as imported cheeses. They can also ask the resident wine specialist for recommendations on suitable pairings from the cellar.