As the headquarters of the Mormon Church—with most streets named in relation to their distance from the temple, lest you forget the focus of the city—Salt Lake City has long had trouble shaking its conservative reputation. But with recently relaxed liquor laws, a burgeoning cocktail scene, farm-to-fork dining, and some of the best skiing in North America, this "Crossroads of the West" is a hidden gem for mixing adventure, relaxation, and surprisingly top-notch options for fun.
Powderhounds will feel at home at one of SLC's 14 nearby ski resorts, which get steady snow as late as April, and off-the-slopes diversions abound both in the city center and its neighboring communities. So pack your snow jacket, hop a direct flight from OAK or SFO to Salt Lake in less time than it would take you to drive to Tahoe, and prepare to forget everything you thought you knew about this ideal mountain getaway.
(Courtesy of Finca)
With checkered flooring and delicate chandeliers, Finca may not scream contemporary Spanish tapas with its decor, but each dish manages to combine European-inflected flavors without overwhelming the palate. Nibble from pintxos ranging from a white anchovy boquerone to a smoked trout mousse, or live large and order off the platos grandes menu, where shareable options include a loaded paella and a juicy 24-ounce Niman Ranch bone-in rib-eye. The same restaurant group focuses the same attention to detail at varied restaurants around Salt Lake, including beloved Pago, Trestle Tavern, Hub & Spoke Diner, and East Liberty Tap House. // 327 W. 200 S., fincaslc.com
The Copper Onion
This hip downtown hotspot, helmed by former NYC chef and native Utahn Ryan Lowder, brings Big Apple appeal to Salt Lake in dishes showcasing seasonal ingredients from local purveyors. Highlights of the dinner menu include the wagyu beef stroganoff with housemade pappardelle noodles and shareable ricotta dumplings, which you can also snag during a bustling brunch service that includes a Turkish twist on eggs Benedict and the Bloody Bull cocktail, made with beef stock, horseradish, and house pickle juice. // 111 E. Broadway, thecopperonion.com
Another heavyweight in the hyperlocal, organic dining scene, this brightly wallpapered spot specializes in small plates, so bring an adventurous appetite and prepare to graze. Attentive but never overbearing service complements a seasonally changing menu that includes bites such as Asian-inspired steamed buns, wood-roasted mushrooms dusted with bonito flakes, and fork-tender pork ribs—don't miss the fluffy spiced beignets for dessert. // 3364 S. 2300 E., slcprovisions.com