Salt Lake City’s Nomad Eatery finds a new east-side home, but still looks to the west

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nomad East's chefs and owners Vance Lott and Justin Soelberg, at right. Nomad East is Nomad Eatery's second location, offering modern American cuisine, Sept. 15, 2020. All of the cooking is done in two large wood-fired pizza ovens. This weekend it also will begin offering Sunday brunch.

Veteran chef and restaurant owner Justin Soelberg was brooding, early this week, over the simplest ingredient — eggs.

How should he prepare them for Nomad East’s new Sunday brunch — which starts Sept. 20 — without a stove?

The eatery, which opened in early August, doesn’t have a cooktop or a deep fryer. There are just two wood-burning ovens that pump out perfectly charred Neopolitan-style pizzas and roasted meats.

The egg dilemma is bit ironic, since it was Eggs in the City that had previously operated in the space on the corner of 1300 South and 1700 East.

At the same time Soelberg was opening Nomad East, he closed the original Nomad Eatery on North Temple, near the Salt Lake City International Airport. Since the coronavirus shut down almost all air travel, customer numbers had dwindled, said Soelberg. “There was no point in renewing the lease.”

But he’s not abandoning the westside. He is close to signing a lease on another building not far away. “Our roots are on the westside,” said Soelberg, “and we are going to try and stay there.”

Soelberg, an Idaho native, worked at Salt Lake City’s Avenues Proper and Proper Burger before launching Nomad Eatery in late 2017. The next year, it was awarded the Best New Concept in the casual dining category from the Utah Restaurant Association for its eclectic sandwich, burger, pizza and salad menu that pulled from various cultures and cuisines.

The new westside location will have an almost identical menu, with one exception — no pizza, Soelberg said. For that, customers will have to visit Nomad East, where there are now nine specialty pizzas as well as a “build your own” option. Prices range from $11-$15.

Nomad regulars can still get the Margherita and famed Betty White pizza, the latter with garlic cream, two cheeses and pickled golden raisins. But there are intriguing new offerings, such as Children of the Corn with chorizo, cotija cheese and buttermilk ranch, and the Almond Joy with charred broccolini, almonds and Utah-made feta.

In addition to pizza, Nomad East has steak, a roasted half-chicken, a burger and several salads and sides on the menu.

For the new Sunday brunch, guests can order eggs — baked in the wood ovens — with vegetable hash. The menu also will include — what else? — pizza. Look for the New York bagel option with smoked salmon and the Bloody Mary with pickled asparagus and garlic.

The restaurant’s inside seating has been cut in half to meet social distancing requirements from the state, Soelberg said, but the outside patio has helped make up for the loss. He also has stayed busy with to-go orders.

“Takeout has been 40% of the business,” he said, adding that after the shutdown, “it’s nice to be busy again. To be in a neighborhood and see familiar faces.”

And even though the interactions are behind face coverings and plexiglass, he said, “It feels a tad normal.”

Even if the eggs at brunch are not.

Nomad East • 1675 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-883-9791⁣ or nomad-east.com. Open for dinner every day at 5 p.m.; lunch, Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; and Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.