Frugal Nosh is finally proud to be a Salt Laker

by Kelsey

Copper Onion Burger

Copper Onion Burger, Photo Credit: Kelsey Conroy

 I’ll admit it took me awhile to embrace Salt Lake City after we moved here from Los Angeles nearly four years ago.

I quickly learned to appreciate the amazing access to the mountains, the killer outdoor recreation (yes, I now am an avid skier, cyclist, runner, and climber), and the family-friendliness that you rarely see in California. Only one thing held me back from loving the city and the state fully: the food. Or, dare I say, lack thereof.

I tried to be optimistic about it:

We loved Red Iguana’s flavorful, complex mole dishes, but couldn’t find a simple Mexican restaurant that had solid rice and beans.

We have always enjoyed a simple pub burger and fries with low expectations but somehow were still disappointed with lackluster, under-seasoned beef and bland buns.

We like Cafe Rio as much as the next person, but where were the family-owned hole-in-the-walls that just have great, affordable food?

It was a dilemma. I was tired of restaurants where you had to “order the right thing” or else you’d be disappointed. But then it all changed.

We started hearing beautiful, exotic names like Copper Onion and Eva. I went running one day and stumbled past Per Noi Trattoria right in the middle of a neighborhood. And we stopped in to chat with a man working hard on a new restaurant going up in another little residential business park that he said was going to be a Jewish deli – with high-quality meat imported from the East coast and house-made pickles. It was the start of a food revolution.

I can now get one of the best burgers I’ve ever had from Copper Onion. It’s nothing special, but has Niman Ranch beef, a house bun, aioli, and carmelized onions. Oh, those carmelized onions. The perfectly-seasoned beef. Even the bun, which looks like nothing fancy, is perfect. It’s a lesson in understated perfection.

The Jewish deli, Feldman’s, serves a Sloppy Joe sandwich (a 1/2 pound double-decker roast beef and pastrami on perfectly soft rye bread) with amazing coleslaw (I don’t even like coleslaw!), the perfect amount of Thousand Island and house-cut fries. Though I’m full-blooded Korean, it makes me feel like I’m in my Jewish grandmother’s kitchen and she’s about to wipe the schmutz off my face and ask me too-personal questions about my boyfriend. It’s that good.

We’ve had killer tapas at Eva, and Italian food at Per Noi Trattoria so authentic and divine I half-expected to start speaking Italian after eating it. These places were a total game-changer.

My list of restaurants to try in Salt Lake is now much longer than my list for California. I’m discovering new bakeries, small-plates fine dining, and noodle houses every day that tout chefs and restauranteurs with resumes and experience rivaling the big cities’.

In short, I’m back in the food business, people. And I’m so glad I’m doing it in Salt Lake.

You may also like