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Fall dining guide: Utahns call these their favorite restaurants for good reason

Published October 3, 2009 5:55 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You can't call yourself a Utahn unless you've tried these restaurants and appreciated them for their lasting contribution to the state. We picked five we think fit that bill. Did we miss any? Send us your thoughts in an e-mail to food@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">food@sltrib.com.

Lamb's Grill Café

This is the quintessential Main Street restaurant where Salt Lake City movers and shakers have met for decades. Lamb's, which bills itself as Utah's oldest restaurant, started in Logan in 1919 and moved to its present location in 1939, where it has remained largely unchanged. Food items are mostly basic with a good variety of breakfasts, a lunch selection of sandwiches, soups and salads and standard meat and fish fare at night. What makes the experience is the ambience of a place that knows its history and isn't afraid to celebrate it.

Don't miss the » rice pudding, Greek bread, feta cheese Greek omelet and wonderful soups -- the Manhattan clam chowder on Friday might be the best in town, and the lentil soup is great. And, if you're at Lamb's, you might as well try the New Zealand lamb chops.

Lamb's Grill Café, 169 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7166, http://www.lambsgrill.com" Target="_BLANK">http://www.lambsgrill.com.

Maddox Ranch House

For 60 years, this legendary Utah steakhouse just south of Brigham City has delivered homemade, from-scratch food that has been the favorite of senators (including Jake Garn and Bob Bennett), Mormon presidents (it's a favorite of Thomas Monson) and locals everywhere.

At one time, the original owner, Irvin Maddox, raised his own cattle for the restaurant just behind the building. Now, the restaurant buys the best beef in Box Elder County and for the past 10 years has also served bison steaks and burgers. Other original favorites include shrimp steak, turkey steak and seasonal strawberry and peach pies.

Don't miss the » skinless fried chicken and the famous handmade dinner rolls.

1900 S. U.S. Highway 89, Perry; 800-544-5474; http://www.maddoxfinefood.com" Target="_BLANK">http://www.maddoxfinefood.com

Mandarin

This Bountiful restaurant is tucked away in a residential area and is difficult for city dwellers to find, but the search is worth it for some of the area's best Chinese food (and some Mediterranean favorites the Greek-American owners offer with pride). Chefs from Hong Kong and San Francisco prepare more than 100 items, so the variety is phenomenal. The ornate, 200-seat restaurant doesn't take reservations (except for parties of eight or more) and usually includes a long wait, but once seated and served, you will find ample amounts of the freshest local produce included in your favorite dishes. Note: The restaurant will be closed until Oct. 11 for its annual month off for vacations and a deep cleaning of the kitchen. But on weekdays in October (Oct. 12-22), the restaurant will feature "Woktoberfest," featuring half-size plates of over a dozen menu items that will inevitably lead to new favorites.

Don't miss the » beef with green beans or asparagus when each is in season; both are tossed in a black bean sauce that will even make the veggie-averse salivate. Also popular -- and rightly so -- is the five taste shrimp -- succulent shrimp tossed with sugar snap peas in a sweet glaze topped with candied walnuts. The dish will make you want to order a plate just for yourself.

348 E. 900 North, Bountiful; 801-298-2406; http://www.mandarinutah.com" Target="_BLANK">http://www.mandarinutah.com

Ruth's Diner

The irascible Ruth Evans founded the illustrious diner in downtown Salt Lake City in 1930. In 1949, when the building was demolished, she bought a trolley car and reopened the diner in it in Emigration Canyon. She sold the diner in 1977 and died in 1989 at age 94. The current owners, Tracy and Erik Nelson, reopened the diner in June after a million-dollar remodeling, but it maintains the warm appeal of the cute little place you remember (except the bathrooms are bigger). The lunch and dinner menus offer classics -- meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, chicken-fried steak and so on -- as well as burgers, enchiladas and a popular pulled-pork sandwich. Breakfast isn't complete without Ruth's famous mile-high biscuits, giant puffy clouds with a dusting of flour that go great with raspberry jam.

Don't miss the » Sunday brunch, especially when the weather's nice and you can go out on the patio.

2100 Emigration Canyon, Salt Lake City; 801-582-5807; http://www.ruthsdiner.com" Target="_BLANK">http://www.ruthsdiner.com

Squatters

It was here in 1989, years before a wave of brew pubs swept the nation. It will no doubt still be here years after its 20th "annibrewsary" this year. Aside from surviving Utah state restrictions on restaurants serving alcohol and living to tell about it, what makes Squatters uniquely "Utah" is the manner in which it built on a legacy of quality. Patrons through the years know that with every change in menu or microbrewed beer, they can still walk through this brew pub's doors and into its bustling, open-air atmosphere with confidence that everything will be in line, and in quality above the asking price. Like a hike on your favorite Wasatch Front trail, Squatters is a standard folks have relied on for years.

Don't miss the » bourbon burger, an indulgent treat that does amazing things with the time-tested combination of caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and ground beef. This Niman Ranch beef ground chuck burger with onions cooked in bourbon and garlic is unsurpassed when paired with a pint of Full Suspension Pale Ale.

147 W. Broadway (300 South), Salt Lake City; 801-363-2739; http://www.squatters.com" Target="_BLANK">http://www.squatters.com.

David Burger, Ben Fulton, Vince Horiuchi, Sean P. Means and Tom Wharton contributed to this report.