For the Bryan family, barbecue sauce is in their blood. Their tradition of award-winning barbecue began over a century ago, in 1910, when Elias Bryan's family faithfully followed him from Cincinnati to Dallas, where he opened the original Bryan's Barbeque. The restaurant established a firm following, which led Elias’ son, William, to open his own restaurant. It was there that the third-generation Bryan, William "Sonny" Jennings Bryan Jr., learned how to properly smoke brisket and concoct tangy, spicy sauces. In 1958, on February 13—the exact same date on which Elias and William opened their eateries—Sonny served the first rack of ribs in his newly opened Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse.
The small chain now shares its spin on traditional Texas barbecue across Utah and Dallas. Sonny Bryan's original barbecue sauce spices up its savory pulled meats and ribs, which have been devoured by U.S. presidents, famous entertainers, sports legends, and A-list animated Disney characters alike. Sonny's seasoned chefs also cater heaps of fresh brisket and smoked chicken to parties and events.
Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse has been on the culinary radar since 1989, snapping up awards and publicity from People magazine, Food Network, the Travel Channel, and The Barbecue Bible. The modest barbecue joints have also earned some highbrow epicurean chops through a 2006 Zagat rating and a 2000 James Beard Foundation award for Culinary Excellence and Achievement.
The smell of fresh coffee fills the air inside both locations of BlueStar Juice Bar and Coffee Café, where staffers eschew corporate cups to roast their own beans into three artful coffee blends. Blenders also churn fresh fruit and veggies into juices such as the Cobra, which gives apple and carrot a mild gingery bite, or the Fruit Fusion, which combines fresh, seasonal picks.
BlueStar staff strives to create a genial atmosphere. At the café location on 2795 South 2300 East, customers can submit juice blends or sandwich recipes to add to the menu, and canine companions are welcome indoors or on the patio. Alternately, the downtown drive-thru makes for a quick refueling stop for drowsy commuters and cars that run on eco-friendly caffeine.
You can get a burger almost anywhere. But you couldn't get Ruth. She started flipping burgers in her downtown diner in 1930, by then already having a reputation around Salt Lake City as a cabaret singer and all-around character. She gained an even larger following when she moved up to Emigration Canyon, reopening in a trolley car and moving in behind it with her beloved chihuahuas.
Of course, it takes more than a cheeky proprietor to keep a restaurant afloat. Nearly 15 years after Ruth's passing, crowds still gather for her timeless recipes, including a macaroni and cheese that was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The menu features plenty of her other favorites, such as chicken dijon and a meatloaf burger sweetened with her own barbecue sauce. She also loved the Pink Flamingo, a vodka-pomegranate cocktail that she might still be drinking from time to time?some say Ruth's spirit inhabits the barstool at the end of the counter.
Whispers cafe's crew brews organic coffee and loose-leaf teas and whips up paninis and pastries. Diners can select hot, iced, or blended drinks from a chalkboard menu, which boasts 21 flavors of loose-leaf tea ($2+). Organic ingredients form the building blocks of dulcet brews—such as Milky Way mocha ($4.50+) and raspberry truffle ($4.50+)—to pacify demanding sweet teeth. Take the facemask off your football helmet to nibble a tuna-melt panini, an adhesion of white tuna and cheddar cheese between crisp slices of focaccia bread ($6), or silence vociferous, curmudgeonly bellies with a vegan sausage casserole packed with vegan cheeses, meat-free sausage, and robust seasonings ($6.50).
Delicious homemade food is thriving at the roadside caf?, Rocky Mountain Grill. There, chefs spend their days whipping up diner and breakfast favorites, from chicken noodle soup and fish and chips to over-easy eggs with chicken fried chicken. They hand-cut french fries and hash browns to pair with entrees, and bake up everything from savory biscuits to sweet cakes and pudding. Their true specialty is their pancakes, which they serve in spongy stacks or interlocked to make wiggly replica log cabins. On the weekends, the staff keeps their doors open 24 hours a day so diners can satisfy their comfort food cravings at all hours of the night.
The potation crafters at Beans & Brews Coffee House whip up hot and cold beverages from perk-proffering coffee beans, relaxing tea leaves, and sweet decaf alternatives. Hot coffee drinks, such as the cappuccino ($3.60 for 12 oz.) or eye-opener brew ($2.80 for 12 oz.) gently jolt the brain awake with mountain-roasted goodness, and the dulcet notes of iced chai ($4.10 for 16 oz.) and B&B frappes ($4.05 for 16 oz.) cool off summer-scorched palates with their sweet, icy taste. Roasters get the most out of each coffee bean with Beans & Brews’ trademark high-altitude roasting, which imparts each batch of grounds with a smooth flavor that, like an angst-riddled teddy bear, maintains a high level of complexity.