Going Local: Aristo’s Greek Restaurant and Cafe

Look no further than the close proximity of a university campus to find good food. Photo credit: slmag.com
Look no further than the close proximity of a university campus to find good food. Photo credit: slmag.com

Much of the food scene in Salt Lake is focused on the Americas. This is no bad thing by any means, however it’s also good to mix things up time and again and go across the pond. Going Local has identified some hot spots with Italian specialties like Settebello, but its Mediterranean cousin Greece also has a presence here. This is embodied in a great local spot near the University of Utah, known as Aristo’s. Sitting along a small strip of restaurants just to the west of the campus and the TRAX Red Line, this establishment quietly embodies what is great about Greek cuisine.

Aristo’s has been in business for over 20 years, and during that time it has collected accolades in spades, including an inclusion on the Top 100 Greek Restaurants list in the United States. If anybody ever said that Salt Lake City, let alone Utah, does not have a restaurant scene, this alone shows that such a perception is incorrect.

The facility itself is modest in size and welcoming. A Greek restaurant does not need to scream with the colors of Santorini in order to feel like it belongs. Instead, Aristo’s has warm and soothing tones and simple decor which is a quiet invitation to enjoy. Plus, it also allows patrons to focus on the main raison d’etre of any restaurant: the food. Aristo’s prides itself on as much local and ethical sourcing of food as possible, but when needed, obtaining ingredients straight from Greece itself.

A glance at the menu reveals quickly that this place is serious about the classics. The appetizers include tzatziki and hummus, which are familiar on this side of the Atlantic; these are coupled with others such as the taramosalata and kafteri, which draw inspiration from the region around Greece.

Beyond the apps is the section which, if one wants to find something authentic, they should look to first: the street eats. The classic gyro has been turned into something modern with a variety of sliders containing classic proteins.

If this is not to one’s liking, there’s always the meze section, where the standards continue. Calamari, dolmathes, mousaka, and spanakopita are just some of the favorites here which can be shared around the table or eaten individually. Each of these dishes is part of a particular dining style which can consist of either an entire meal or just enough to stimulate appetites.

The entrees, which are supposed to be the stars, shine brightly. Fish, chicken, pork, and lamb are all prepared carefully. The kotopoulo stuffed chicken cutlet is delicious, as is the brizoles dish of seasoned pork chop. Aristo’s is also able to obtain fresh seafood, including bass and salmon. Other dishes include the myzithra, a pasta dish with a unique cheese that is very difficult to find in the United States, and three different varieties of lamb.

To finish out, the restaurant serves up home-made baklava, the traditional Greek dessert made of phyllo dough, honey, and nuts. Aristo’s rendition is a delicious, savory palate-cleanser, which ends service there on a high note.

What else is there to know about this place? Service is friendly from start to finish without being intrusive, conducted by knowledgeable wait staff. The crowd here is a wide variety but it’s not too noisy, so anything from a casual night out to a formal special event is certainly appropriate here.

At VIP Limousine, local business is something we like to support as much as possible, and Aristo’s is a fantastic restaurant we gladly recommend for a trip to Greece without a passport.

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