Salt Lake City, Utah, is a beautiful city nested beneath the Wasatch mountain range in northern Utah. Known mostly for it’s religious ties, SLC has a sense of charm to it if you look hard enough beyond the incredible amount of retail and restaurant chains.
Before school started back up, Sid, her brother Tanner, and I were able to make a trip down to SLC to visit family and explore some places I hadn’t been to before.
The drive from Boise to SLC is about 4.5 hours. We were fortunate enough to be greeted by clear roads the entire way down, which can be an abnormality in early January.
Upon arriving, we stopped at In N Out, naturally. Boise still doesn’t have arguably the best fast food hamburger money can buy, so we’re sure to stop there at least twice each trip to Utah or California.
We then made our way towards City Creek, which is a pseudo-outdoor mall that was funded by the Mormon church. We had one objective, though: the Disney Store. Many of the items in the Disney Store are for children, but, thankfully, Sid’s Tsum Tsum obsession was able to be satiated.
We spent the rest of the evening catching up with Sid’s family.
The next morning brought the cold that’s common for SLC in January. We made our way to a local coffee shop called Publik.
Publik sports an new-age industrial look in a warehouse not far from downtown. They roast their own beans in-house and feature several unique pour overs. I, however, opted for an Americano, which was fine, but not spectacular. I regret not trying a pour over, which is something I’ll change next time we stop there.
Publik also offers specialty toast, which is something you’d assume came straight out of San Francisco (and you’d probably be right). I opted for a piece of the cinnamon sugar toast, complete with whipped butter. It was very, very good.
For lunch, we made a stop at one of Utah’s local breweries: Epic Brewing. Sid has always mentioned how strange Utah’s beer laws are, and we never quite understood them. That changed when we went to Epic.
Firstly, restaurants cannot start pouring beer until 11:30 AM, which is makes sense. However, the saneness ends there. We learned that restaurants can only pour beers on tap that are 3.2% alcohol by volume. If you want (potentially the same) beer with a higher ABV, you have to get it straight from a bottle. Epic Brewing employed something called a “Tapless Tap Room”, where you could order a beer, and they would pour it for you straight from the bottle, resulting in higher ABV pours. There’s one more caveat: you have to order an entrè to be able to purchase beers. This was confusing at first, but makes sense when you consider that food absorbs alcohol. Still, though, it appears that Utah’s religious ties can make it difficult to enjoy good beer, and Epic had very good beer.
I opted to try four once samplers of various beers: the Sage Saison (spiced perfectly with sage), the Big Bad Baptist (a barrel-aged coffee porter that’s 11% ABV), the Smoked and Oaked (a barrel-aged porter with strong whiskey undertones), and a Santa Cruz brown ale (which was good, but not great). For my meal, I opted for the Sage Saison, which was incredibly easy-drinking and paired well with the pulled pork cuban.
The next day we visited Park City, which is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympic games and is located about 30 miles southeast of SLC.
Park City is charming, expensive, and beautiful in the winter. You can literally walk off Main Street onto a ski lift. You can see stars during the Sundance Film Festival, which started the day we were there. There were several enticing places to eat, but we opted for a small pizza joint, which wasn’t anything special, but was good nonetheless. We spent the rest of the day a few miles down the road at Gargoza Park, a commercial sledding hill, and had a blast.
During our last day, we opted to hit two more coffee shops on our way out. First up was Blue Copper coffee, a small joint located near downtown SLC. I had an Ethiopian pour over, which was absolutely fantastic. They brewed the pour over on a machine called the Alpha Dominiche, which employs something called steapunk technology to brew coffee and tea. It’s an incredibly unique way to brew coffee, but I don’t know that it tasted better than other Ethiopian pour overs I’ve had. The great thing about the Alpha Dominiche is that it allows for “automated” pour overs, while maintaining several of the important steps to brewing good coffee, like full immersion, precise temperatures, etc.
The last coffee shop we went to was a tongue-in-cheek shop called Jack Mormon Coffee Company. If you’re unfamiliar, an individual that is a “Jack” Mormon, originally, was someone who was not baptized into the religion, but had an active interest in becoming baptized. The term has since then become to mean someone is Mormon, but has strayed from the teachings of the church and no longer follows their doctrine. Mormons are encouraged to not drink coffee, hence the name Jack Mormon Coffee Company.
Jack Mormon Coffee Company roasts their beans to order, and has many varieties. I opted for a South American coffee that was decent, but a little too bold for my tastes. Sid, however, said their latte was fantastic. Having tried a sip of hers, I concur.
After that, we hit the road back to Idaho, stopping at In N Out once more (naturally). The drive home took significantly longer due to dense fog, which limited my vision to ~10 car lengths ahead of me.
Nearly eight hours later, we were warm in our bed, with our dogs between us, and happy to be home.