Kicking off Utah’s summer festival season with some great food

Also from Utah Eats: New menu offerings for late spring, and two clubs for wine lovers.

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A croqueta from the Basque Club of Utah, served at the Living Tradition Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

This article is excerpted from the Utah Eats newsletter, compiled by Kolbie Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune’s food and drink reporter. To get the full newsletter in your inbox every Wednesday, become a subscriber by going to sltrib.com/newsletters.

Hello, Eaters!

Last weekend was the Living Traditions Festival in downtown Salt Lake City — which is not only the kickoff to the city’s summer festival season but also an opportunity to try foods from a lot of different countries.

Walking into the festival’s food market on 200 East, I started in the Basque region of northern Spain and ordered some croquetas (pictured at top) from the Basque Club of Utah. (Side note: Fried foods are the perfect walking-around food. Don’t ask me why.)

These croquetas came fresh out of the fryer, the panko crumbs on the outside perfectly crispy and leaving a sheen of oil on my fingers. On the inside, the croquetas were soft, something like grits or funeral potatoes, with chopped bits of ham scattered throughout.

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) People walk around at the Living Tradition Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

(You can get Basque-style croquetas at Finca, at 1513 S. 1500 East, or at Finca - Pinxtos Bar, at 126 S. Regent St., both in Salt Lake City.)

I didn’t realize I was craving noodles until I saw the sign from the Thai Association of Utah, advertising pad thai. I know pad thai is available at many Thai restaurants in Salt Lake City — such as Laan Na Thai, at 336 W. 300 South, and Sawadee, at 754 E. South Temple — but I was just following my taste buds at that point.

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The pad thai from the Thai Association of Utah, shown at the Living Tradition Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

In the dining tent on Washington Square, my dining companion and I traded bites of pad thai (pictured above) and adobo pork and rice from Kubo Express, a Filipino food vendor. In talking with the man at the booth, we learned that Kubo Express is going to be vending at the 47th annual Utah Asian Festival on June 8 at the Utah State Fairpark — and may even be roasting a whole pig.

After some walking around, we ordered a second lunch from the Italian-American Civic League, which I’ll talk more about below.

To end the day, we got some beignets (pictured above) from Mama Africa, which sells food from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The beignets, also called mikaté, were sprinkled with powdered sugar and tasted like fried clouds. (To have beignets brought to your house, look up “Mama Beignet” on your favorite food-delivery app.)

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Beignets from Mama Africa, shown at the Living Tradition Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

Half of the fun of eating at Living Traditions is doing so in the dining tent, where dozens of people are eating together. You get to people-watch and catch snippets of conversation, and hear what people think about the food.

If you missed the Living Traditions Festival this year, make it a point to attend next year. A lot of these businesses and vendors don’t have their own restaurants or food trucks, so events like this are often people’s only chance to sample their food. And if you like the food from a particular ethnic association or nonprofit, support them on social media.

Live deliciously,


Food News

(Jinya Ramen Bar) The nasu miso, a new menu item from Jinya Ramen Bar.

• Jinya Ramen Bar, which has locations in Salt Lake City (675 E. 2100 South), Lehi (3725 Thanksgiving Way) and Murray (5905 S. State St.), has some new items on its menu, according to a news release.

These include corn tempura, which is ribs of corn fried in a crisp tempura batter; a vegan kids menu, which includes a vegan rice bowl, Impossible Tacos and vegan ramen; and nasu miso (pictured above), an eye-catching dish made with fried eggplant, Brussels sprouts and red bell pepper dressed in spicy miso, served in an eggplant cup and garnished with bok choy and bonito flakes. The nasu miso is available starting Saturday, June 1.

• Mar | Muntanya, at 170 S. West Temple St. on the sixth floor of the Hyatt Regency, has some new menu items for spring. Inspired by the Basque region of northern Spain, like all of Mar | Muntanya’s menu, these new dishes include scallop escabeche with Iberico bacon; octopus asador; albondigas Basquaise, which are Basque-style meatballs made with elk, bison and Wagyu beef; and Iberico pork ribs with sweet and sour sauce. Reservations are available via Tock.

Booze (and Drink!) News

Les Amis du Vin Utah, a nonprofit social club that focuses on the appreciation of food and wine, is welcoming new members, said Jim Van Kovics, chair of the club’s board. Active since 1976, Les Amis du Vin Utah meets every couple of months at different clubs and restaurants in the Salt Lake City area to socialize, dine and sample wine. All levels of wine tasting experience are welcome.

The club’s next event will be held at Kimi’s Chop and Oyster House (4699 S. Highland Drive, Holladay) on Sunday, June 9. The deadline to make a reservation is Saturday, June 1; admission is $95 per person for members, and $102 per person for guests. If you’re interested in learning more about wine and meeting like-minded people, annual club membership dues are $35, which includes a one-year subscription to Wine Enthusiast magazine. For more information, visit ladv-utah.org.

• If you want to learn even more about wine, join Club Veneto, the wine club of Veneto Ristorante Italiano, at 370 E. 900 South in Salt Lake City. For $300 a year, you’ll get access to members-only dinners; Veneto’s “online wine cellar” with interviews, educational content and more; merchandise; vineyard tours; exclusive tasting notes; and live calls with wine experts, plus other perks. Also, Veneto will place special wine orders on your behalf through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services. For more information, visit VenetoSLC.com.

Dish of the Week

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The sausage sandwich from the Italian-American Civic League, shown at the Living Tradition Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

After our first round of lunch at the Living Traditions Festival, we visited the Italian-American Civic League for the second round.

I ordered the sausage sandwich (pictured above) and cannoli (pictured below), and we took them into the dining tent to enjoy at the communal tables.

Made up of a slightly spicy sausage slathered in chunky tomato sauce on a bun and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, this sandwich was meaty and satisfying. I loved it.

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cannoli from the Italian-American Civic League, shown at the Living Traditions Festival on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

The mini cannoli, with the ricotta filling and chocolate chips, ended the meal on a deliciously sweet note.

(There are several good Italian sandwich places around town, but we are fond of Caputo’s Market and Deli — which has locations in downtown Salt Lake City, 15th and 15th, and Holladay. And Carlucci’s Bakery, which is next door to the downtown Caputo’s, has cannoli among its many treats.)