K and I just got back from a trip to Salt Lake City and let. me. tell. you. THE FOOD! My god! Did you know that there are 10 vegan restaurants in SLC and only 200,000 people? In comparison NYC has 80 spots and over 8,000,000 people. That means that SLC has more vegan places than NYC per capita. Isn’t that insane?!
Ok ok, so maybe “vegan” isn’t your thing. It’s not entirely mine either anymore, I am all about that cheese you know what I’m saying? But when there’s a GOOD vegan restaurant you better bet your ass I’ll be at it! Save the planet and all that.
Our first evening there we ended up at this artfully adorable place called Zest in downtown. Now technically it’s a bar (and no alcohol is not more expensive in SLC) but it hosts a bomb ass vegan menu. I’m not talking about weird fancy things like eating leaves, I’m talking about a spin on classics, like jalapeño poppers, Cuban tacos, and some spicy Thai pizza!
Our server’s name was Bo and he was super friendly and had such charm. He was so knowledgeable and although he’s usually the bartender he was serving tables with all sorts of smiles and advice. Here’s what we ordered and would 100% recommend again:
- The Last Dance drink – made with bourbon and Bo actually home makes the ginger syrup they use!
- Jalapeño Poppers – damn were these good! They weren’t hella spicy, but just the right amount. It tasted cheesy but made with quinoa and jam packed with flavor. I honestly don’t know if the traditional poppers or these are better. TBD.
- Cuban Tacos – I didn’t think I was a big taco person until I ate these guys. They have a nice mango compote on the top that lends to the hit of spice you get as you chow down on jackfruit and guac. Were they still a bit spicy for me? Yes, yes they were.
- Thai Pizza – K’s favorite ever! Strangely good with a “peanut” esque sauce (they don’t use peanut products at Zest) some green onions, kimchee, and cashews. A kick of spice hits your tongue as you bite in and I guarantee you’ll be thinking about it for days.
- Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Tart – The crown jewel in my opinion. I could not even tell that this was vegan. And usually dessert is the type of thing you can JUST TELL. The hazelnut sauce they use is bomb and I could have eaten the whole thing by myself with NO issues. Sorry, K.
10/10 would recommend this being your first stop if in SLC! I mean just check out this delicious food:
But maybe you’re thinking “Ok Alley, this all looks great but I’m still a bit nervous to try all vegan food. I mean what if I hate it? I just like the idea of something that’s a bit more my speed”. Well… Don’t worry. We went somewhere like that too!
It’s called Vertical Diner and it was AMAZING! Imagine all the foods you already like, especially for breakfast. Now make them vegan. That’s what you’re pretty much getting at this glorious place. (If you’re reading this and you own Vertical Diner, please please come to Reno! I’m begging you!)
We got here about 10 in the morning and we weren’t really sure what to expect. It was a bit of a walk from downtown to get there and I wouldn’t say it was the best part of town. We show up to a restaurant that is very clearly following the social distancing and CDC guidelines of 2020. I mean they were wiping down menus, they were seating people far apart. I never felt for one moment worried about catching anything at this place. They Were. Serious. After waiting about 20 minutes we were able to be seated and even though their lunch menu was impressive we both were dying for some killer vegan breakfast items. Here’s the lowdown:
- Iced Almond Milk Latte – I didn’t come here for the coffee and I would say it’s pretty standard diner coffee. But I don’t know, for some reason it tasted like it was made with love or something.
- French Toast & Biscuits and Gravy – Ok sounds like a weird combo, but I haven’t had biscuits and gravy for 6 years. It was a big deal and tasted exactly how I remembered but better! It didn’t taste like I was eating fat and grease. It tasted like I was eating herbs and goodness. The french toast tasted exactly the same as a normal piece of french toast. It wasn’t a shock to the system or obvious in anyway that it was vegan.
- Smothered Breakfast Burrito & Spuds – K says it was “Suuups good” when asked about what he thought of this. It was so good that I only got one small measly bite. That bite though was incredible!
I like to call this sort of place, a vegan restaurant hiding in plain sight. It’s so sleuthy you might not even know it’s vegan until after the fact! If you’re traveling with some picky friends that aren’t down to go full out vegan, I’d absolutely suggest this place:
And that’s a wrap for the most delicious vegan places we ate at while in SLC! There were definitely some others that are worth mentioning like Veggie House and some non-vegan places like Setebello, Darla’s Donuts, and Hamachi. I truly hope you have the opportunity to try them all because they are truly fantastic! For now I leave you to drool over these delicious pictures while thinking of what you might have for your next meal. Maybe it’ll even be vegan!