West Jordan, Utah: Our Home, Part 19

See those mountains in the distance? This view is courtesy of a street in West Jordan. Photo credit: saltlakecityhomeforsale.com
See those mountains in the distance? This view is courtesy of a street in West Jordan. Photo credit: saltlakecityhomeforsale.com

Trivia question: Salt Lake County has two airports. Salt Lake City has one, but where is the other? Well, the airport formerly known as Salt Lake City Municipal Airport 2 (the current name is South Valley Regional Airport) is located in the mid-valley suburb of West Jordan. Named for its location related to the Jordan River as it meanders across the Salt Lake valley, West Jordan is the fourth-largest city in Utah. It’s situated south of Taylorsville, west of Midvale, Murray, and Sandy, and east of the Oquirrh Mountain range. As it is part of our home, we at VIP Limousine believe there is good reason for this.

Founded in 1849, and formally incorporated in 1941, West Jordan quickly became a popular residential area, and the proximity to the river (inspired by the River Jordan in Israel) led to the establishment of one well-kept secret: Gardner Village. This unique area is a collection of shops, former homes, and other businesses named after Scottish immigrant and millwright Archibald Gardner. Gardner built a sawmill on the location in 1850 and became a successful businessman known throughout the region. Everything at Gardner Village is locally-owned; no chains or box stores to be found!

Stroll along the cobbled walk in Gardner Village to explore the boutique shops amidst the restored buildings.  It's located just off of the UTA TRAX Red Line at Historic Gardner. Photo credit: visitsaltlake.com
Stroll along the cobbled walk in Gardner Village to explore the boutique shops amidst the restored buildings. It’s located just off of the UTA TRAX Red Line at Historic Gardner. Photo credit: visitsaltlake.com

Due to its middle distance from downtown Salt Lake, but also with its mix of some businesses and neighborhoods, West Jordan, like its nearby neighbor Draper, is a very fast-growing city. While in the 1970s it was home to less than 5,000 people, West Jordan is now burgeoning with more than 100,000 residents. The growth has its downsides, including increased traffic and crowded schools, but the proof that it’s a desirable place to live is exemplified by this trend. In fact, the area is already trying to get ahead of the challenges by working on infrastructure and building up even further to spread the load. The city is now home to two high schools: West Jordan High School, home to High School Musical alumna Olesya Rulin, and Copper Hills High School, which garnered national attention for its prolific charitable donation center.

The striking Student Pavilion at the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College will soon be the center of the entire SLCC system. Photo credit: i.slcc.edu
The striking Student Pavilion at the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College will soon be the center of the entire SLCC system. Photo credit: i.slcc.edu

Bangerter Highway is the main north-south thoroughfare through the city of West Jordan, but to the west is the brand new Mountain View Corridor. West Jordan commuters also have the option of utilizing the UTA TRAX Red Line, which bisects the city and passes near some major points of interest. These include the aforementioned Gardner Village, the city government center of West Jordan, and the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College, which has about 60,000 students enrolled. In the next few years, the Jordan Campus is set to become the main campus for the SLCC system, moving from Taylorsville to down south.

Other developments in the city include the sprawling Jordan Landing Mall, anchored by Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Sears Grand, Lowe’s, and a Marriott hotel. The entire complex stretches for 1 mile along Bangerter Highway and also services the neighboring cities. Besides this development, the city of West Jordan is also the headquarters of some notable regional businesses, including Mountain America Credit Union and Cyprus Credit Union.

With continued growth and local businesses, West Jordan has become “The City of the Good Neighbor,” but also a wonderful place to work and to live. New mixed with old, large combined with small, and opportunities abounding provide for an attractive environment on the edge of Utah’s capital.

Draper, Utah: Our Home, Part 18

Occupying the southeastern corner of the Salt Lake valley, much of the residential area of Draper has a fantastic view. Photo credit: sherpasolution.com
Occupying the southeastern corner of the Salt Lake valley, much of the residential area of Draper has a fantastic view. Photo credit: sherpasolution.com

Our tour of Salt Lake City and its suburbs continues moving around the southern valley edge, where the biggest changes to the Wasatch Front are taking place. Utah’s growth is filling the area with people and businesses, but some more than others. One of the more recent population and economic explosions has taken place in the city of Draper, the leafy former home of empty fields, which is now host to the northern end of the Silicon Slopes.

Draper gets is name from a man called William Draper III, who was a local congregational leader of some of the first Pioneers who settled in the area. Unlike Sandy, Draper didn’t have the advantage of being between the Little Cottonwood Canyon and Salt Lake City, hence its historically lesser economic impact and incorporation in only 1978. But the times have changed lately.

An uncommon northeastern-looking view of the Draper Utah Temple. It is one of the easiest temples to spot in the Salt Lake valley. Photo credit: mormonnewsroom.com
An uncommon northeastern-looking view of the Draper Utah Temple. It is one of the easiest temples to spot in the Salt Lake valley. Photo credit: mormonnewsroom.com

The Utah State Prison was constructed in Draper far away from homes and businesses. Nowadays, it is getting squeezed out and ready to be moved next to the Salt Lake City International Airport. Since 1990, the population of Draper has increased more than six-fold. The Canyons School District had to build a beautiful new high school, Corner Canyon High School, less than five years ago. Just up the road is Juan Diego Catholic High School, and both are in great demand to serve the education needs of the area. Not long ago, there were almost no homes down in the Draper area; now they stretch up into the surrounding hillside.

What a beautiful high school! Corner Canyon is tucked inside Draper's residential area. Photo credit: interstatebrick.com
What a beautiful high school! Corner Canyon is tucked inside Draper’s residential area. Photo credit: interstatebrick.com

But nothing in Utah says “population growth” like the presence of a temple constructed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure enough, in 2009 the Draper Utah Temple opened up on the hillside, and defines the city skyline. From a distance, anybody knows where Draper is by finding the temple’s gleaming white structure amidst the houses.

One of the best views in the valley comes from the Draper Castle. Photo credit: californiarich.com
One of the best views in the valley comes from the Draper Castle. Photo credit: californiarich.com

Speaking of houses, Draper is home to some spectacular neighborhoods and architecture. Two of them are not far from the temple. The first one is the Loeffler Mansion, owned by media mogul David Loeffler, which we have featured in some of our photo shoots. The other is its neighbor, the slightly better-known Draper Castle, which appears to have been plucked straight out of a Disney film.

Are we in France? No, still Draper, but the Loeffler Mansion is a beautiful structure. Photo credit: homesoftherich.net
Are we in France? No, still Draper, but the Loeffler Mansion is a beautiful structure. Photo credit: homesoftherich.net

But regardless of wealth or status, Draper is very family-friendly, with many new closely-knit developments and quiet streets. It is also home to the very large Draper City Park, which is not only a welcoming central location for outdoor activities, but also attracts thousands of visitors each winter who are hoping to see the Tree of Life display.

With over 60,000 points of light, the Draper Tree of Life shines brightly every winter in the Draper City Park. Photo credit: YouTube.com
With over 60,000 points of light, the Draper Tree of Life shines brightly every winter in the Draper City Park. Photo credit: YouTube.com

On the western side of the city is where the business end of Draper begins. It plays host to the offices of multiple large companies, including 1-800 Contacts and eBay. Draper is also home to some of the new Utah startups, which has created an incubation chamber for ideas and innovation.

How to experience all of the lively businesses and residential beauty? Draper sits just off of I-15 and has UTA TRAX and FrontRunner service. Sitting on the grid system makes it easy to get around. With the growing economy and an ideal location, the once-overlooked city of Draper is now a thriving VIP Limousine favorite for serving and visiting.

Sandy, Utah: Our Home, Part 17

In search of a big sporting event? Look no further than Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy. Photo credit: riotintostadium.com
In search of a big sporting event? Look no further than Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy. Photo credit: riotintostadium.com

The Salt Lake valley has experienced a great deal of growth within the last several decades, and much of this has occurred within the Salt Lake City suburbs even as the city itself continues to expand its international profile. These suburbs contribute greatly to the expansion of the metro area, and one in particular has quietly grown in business, population, and importance. This would be the City of Sandy, nicknamed the “Heart of the Wasatch.”

The source of the city name is still disputed. One theory relates back to Brigham Young’s description of the area’s soil composition, as it was not great for farming. The other is related to the nickname of an immigrant who built the first railroad line to the area. While these developments did not help Sandy grow, the development of the mining industry in Little Cottonwood Canyon did, as the city became a transport hub for mining materials traveling to other points of the valley and beyond. Eventually the mines ran out, but Sandy’s residents adapted to the changing economic and continued to utilize the rail infrastructure to thrive. It changed from boomtown to peaceful suburb, and was incorporated as a city in 1893, three years prior to Utah gaining statehood.

More recently, Sandy has become home to more service-based industry and quiet residential areas, as well as serving as a skiing gateway. Alta and Snowbird, two of the world’s best ski areas, are mere minutes from the center of Sandy. In fact, it’s the closest city to both of them. Since 1939, prospective skiers have traveled through Sandy to get to Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon; Snowbird opened its doors in 1971. One could say that the city of Sandy is indeed the gateway to The Greatest Snow on Earth.

In fact, sports and Sandy go hand in hand. Besides close access for skiing, the city is also home to Rio Tinto Stadium. Visible from miles away, Rio Tinto hosts games and concerts throughout the year and is a major attraction to the city. The main events are the Major League Soccer games of Real Salt Lake, one of the dominant MLS teams in the nation. The stadium also plays host to the new professional women’s team, Utah Royals FC, beginning their inaugural season in Sandy. Soccer is already a popular sport amongst Utah youth, and the professional teams based in Sandy further its popularity across the Wasatch Front.

Some of Sandy’s best known people, and alumni of Alta High School, are Derek and Julianne Hough, the brother and sister dance duo who have appeared on Dancing with the Stars and various other media over the years. The Hough siblings reflect the dedication to the arts across Utah as well as Sandy in particular. This includes the stunning Mountain America Performing Arts Center of Hale Centre Theatre, a monument to the beauty of stage productions, which is home to family-oriented shows and entertainment portrayed by talented local actors and actresses. Additionally, Sandy is home to its own choir and orchestra, the American West Symphony and Choir, performing a wide variety of classical and contemporary repertoire for the community.

Sports and arts are just the start for the draw to Sandy. It is also home to the expansive Mountain America Expo Center, which hosts the annual Salt Lake Auto Expo and a variety of other events. The South Towne Auto Mall is a large conglomerate of car dealerships which cater to all different brands and vehicle needs. Adjacent to it are The Shops at South Town, the largest mall on the southeastern side of the Salt Lake valley, and a centerpiece of one of Sandy’s newest developments, The Cairns. Even the Larry H. Miller Group has its headquarters here.

If any of the above about the city of Sandy is of any interest, it’s easily accessible from around the rest of the area. The legacy of the aforementioned railroad continues with the installation of Utah Transit Authority (UTA)’s TRAX system, extending north and west to Salt Lake City and the neighboring suburbs. I-15 connects the area by car with the rest of the valley and beyond.

Not that residents seem to be leaving, though. Sandy is a picturesque, growing, and thriving city in Utah, and we at VIP Limousine are happy to serve the area and partake of its various offerings.

Murray, Utah: Our Home, Part 16

With dual mountain backdrops, Murray City sits in the heart of Salt Lake County. Photo credit: utahrealtyplace.com
With dual mountain backdrops, Murray City sits in the heart of Salt Lake County. The Murray City Park, pictured here, is home to a lot of activity for organized sports. Photo credit: utahrealtyplace.com

Salt Lake City is the name most people outside of Utah know when they think of the Wasatch Front, let alone the state itself. Even Salt Lake County shares the name of the city and the mysterious body of water situated to the north. However, Salt Lake is not at the center of activity in the area, and it’s not the only major municipality either. The so-called “Hub of Salt Lake County” is actually Murray. Sometimes known as Murray City (and pronounced “Murr-ee”), it’s at the true heart of the Salt Lake valley, sharing borders with Taylorsville, West Jordan, Holladay, Millcreek, South Salt Lake, Cottonwood Heights, and Midvale.

The city is named for Civil War Veteran, journalist, and notable anti-Mormon Eli Houston Murray, a former territorial governor of the state of Utah. It officially became a city in 1903, and was quickly established as a center of industry. Prior to incorporation, Murray had served as a crossroads for much of the industrial activity related to building Salt Lake City, including as part of the corridor for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. As a result it was also home to many of the first non-Pioneer European immigrants in the region. The Depression served to cripple this part of Murray’s industry, leading to some major economic changes. This has been partly memorialized in the city’s logo, with the smelter stacks developing the trademark “M.”

See if you can spot the smokestacks in the Murray City logo. Photo credit: murray.utah.gov
See if you can spot the smokestacks in the Murray City logo. Photo credit: murray.utah.gov

One of the most notable changes involves transportation. Murray has some of Utah’s most important freeways passing through its borders, notably I-15 and I-215. It has three UTA TRAX stations and one FrontRunner station providing access all across the Wasatch Front. In addition, Murray is also the place where much of Utah goes to buy a car, with the massive Murray Auto Row stretching up and down State Street. Larry H. Miller and his group of companies got started along this very corridor, and now has regional dominance. State Street is also in close proximity to much of the historic parts of Murray City, including but not limited to the old-fashioned movie theatre and original homes from early settlement.

The historic Murray Theater sits prominently along State Street near the heart of the city. Photo credit: By Murray Theater - Murray Theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8271888
The historic Murray Theater sits prominently along State Street near the heart of the city. Photo credit: By Murray Theater – Murray Theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8271888

Fashion Place Mall is another draw to Murray. Opened in the 1970s and extensively redone in recent years, it is one of the dominant shopping centers in the region. It contains unique local stores as well as big brands such as Nordstrom and Macy’s. The central location and modern design makes it an attractive destination for Murrayites and surrounding residents.

Murray’s infrastructure is also unique to a Salt Lake County city outside of Salt Lake City itself: it’s primarily self-governing. It has its own school district, parks, power and utilities, fire department, and law enforcementservices instead of relying on the county or unifying with other municipalities. Murray High School has been used in several movies as well, including parts of High School Musical. With the mountain backdrop and up-to-date construction, the building is in a unique position to feature in film. However, Murray’s most notable landmark is the new Intermountain Medical Center building, which is also home to Intermountain Healthcare, better known as IHC. It’s one of Utah’s largest employers and plays a major role in the health care industry across the west, with dozens of hospitals and clinics providing care for millions.

The people are a lot of what makes a place, and Murray has no shortage of notable residents. Ken Jennings came to fame for his record streak of wins on Jeopardy. And while he may currently live in Nashville, Murray is the hometown of one of the most famous Utahns in pop culture, American Idol Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta.

VIP Limousine has long appreciated Murray’s vibrancy and opportunity as a city and a place to work and play. It’s not a locale we merely pass through. As a company and as individuals, we gladly stop and partake of its businesses and attractions. Strong suburbs like Murray are part of what make our home a great place to live.

Millcreek, Utah: Our Home, Part 15

We have great mountain views, but these beauties sit just above Millcreek. Take it all in! Photo credit: saltlakelifestyle.com
We have great mountain views, but these beauties sit just above Millcreek. Take it all in! Photo credit: saltlakelifestyle.com

Our beautiful hometown has undergone some big changes over the years. Some of them involve city boundaries, and not long ago there was an important adjustment with the incorporation of a new city. However, the area had been around already for a long time and is known for the canyon perched above it as well as great neighborhoods and schools. This is Millcreek, and it’s known beyond the locality for great reasons.

The area used to simply exist as a township, but several years ago was incorporated as a city, and is the newest one in Utah as of this writing. There are four areas within Millcreek itself: East Millcreek, Millcreek, Canyon Rim, and Mount Olympus. No longer simply a township of Salt Lake City, Millcreek sits with Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake to the north, West Valley and Taylorsville to the West, and Murray and Holladay to the south. The Wasatch Mountains, including Mount Olympus and Millcreek Canyon, sit to the east.

Millcreek does sit at the axis of a great amount of access around the Wasatch Front. It has three freeways (I-15, I-215, and I-80) which run through its boundaries, and there is a TRAX station near the western side which also provides bus access to the heart of the city itself. For this reason, Millcreek is primarily residential with businesses to the north and the south.

For much of its history, Millcreek was not well-inhabited by Salt Lake valley residents, but after World War II the population shifted south of Salt Lake itself. The views and quieter proximity became a draw, and to this date Millcreek has some of the best sunset vistas around the Wasatch, with homes up on the hills overlooking the valley. The area continues to grow, with census counts showing the population over 60,000 people as of 2010.

It’s not just known as a place to live: Millcreek is also a place to get outside and engage in recreation. At the heart of this is Millcreek Canyon, which is a popular hiking spot in Salt Lake County. Complete with picnic tables, camping, and bike-friendly trails, it’s a little slice of outdoor heaven near Mount Olympus that is easily accessed from the bustling city merely minutes away.

And what about the people? It only takes one resident to make a resounding impact on the world, but Millcreek was home to two. Most have probably never heard of the first, but most everybody in the modern era is familiar with headphones. These devices, as we know them today, stemmed from a kitchen table invention by Nathaniel Baldwin. Today they are plugged into i-everything, but Baldwin’s invention began use with the military. The modern-day variants include not only the Baldwin-styled traditional over-the-ear headphone, but also the smaller and sleeker earbud which tucks into the ear canal.

The other notable Millcreek resident, born and raised on a farm in the East Millcreek portion, was Gordon B. Hinckley, who served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Passing away at the age of 97 in 2008, Hinckley was known as the eldest Church president in its history, who also presided over the LDS Church surpassing its goal of building 100 temples by the end of the 2000s. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Hinckley was known for being warm, funny, and genuine. He attended the University of Utah and received many educational honors from other institutions.

Millcreek is an area which VIP Limousine travels to, and traverses, very often. However, we believe it is an area not to be overlooked, with great natural beauty and a cool history. At the very least, it’s worth checking out the canyon.

Liberty Wells, Utah: Our Home, Part 14

Our blog is returning to focus on some other local entities, namely the areas around our hometown city. Salt Lake itself contains some areas we have yet to explore and which are otherwise overlooked in general. However, these are also reasons for us to love where we live.

Salt Lake City’s best-known neighborhoods include The Avenues, downtown, and Sugarhouse. There’s one, though, which is up-and-coming and deserves a close look for its proximity to great schools and parks, a plethora of local businesses, and unique architecture. This is Liberty Wells, which has become the quiet residential epicenter of the city of Salt Lake.

It's not in the center of the neighborhood, but Liberty Wells is home to Liberty Park, which plays a large part in how it functions. Photo credit: Trover
It’s not in the center of the neighborhood, but Liberty Wells is home to Liberty Park, which plays a large part in how it functions. Photo credit: Trover

This dense area is 56 square blocks between two of the city’s main arteries on the west and east sides, and also between 1300 South and 2100 South, corresponding with two close-by stations on UTA TRAX. It is also served by several bus lines and has the S-Line streetcar just to the south running to Sugarhouse, and the freeway system also wraps around the edges enabling easy access to everything around it and beyond. Founded with more agricultural ideas in mind, Liberty Wells also became a historic district in 2010 per the National Parks Service.

Sitting in the northeastern corner of Liberty Wells is the green oasis of Liberty Park. This city park is one of the best in the area, complete with running trails, a beautiful pond with bridges, and the unique Tracy Aviary. Seeing as it is next to several other neighborhoods, the park is also popular, but it’s not crowded since it’s not in the heart of downtown.

Because Liberty Wells is not downtown, the scene and vibe is quieter and even more local. Most of the buildings here are smaller, which lends to a more intimate feel in restaurants and other businesses. Some of the restaurant highlights include the Park Cafe, Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant and Market, 565 Firehouse, and Siam PT, while smaller establishments include Alchemy Coffee. The neighborhood coffee shop or restaurant is part of what brings a community together.

Even though it is situated on the larger city blocks, Liberty Wells has a smaller feel in part because some of them are divided up by smaller streets and alleys. This makes the area very walkable so residents and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty.

Some of the beauty in Liberty Wells also comes from the homes. Most of these are older, no newer than Great Depression-era construction, with solid foundations and classic details coupled with modern updates. This makes the subdivisions within the neighborhood very pleasing and it attracts a variety of residents, from the young and new to the elderly lifelong residents. Some of the older homes are in tear-down condition, but they’re getting replaced with stylish and modern residences which compliment the older designs, while also making an independent statement.

With beautiful parks and streets, a variety of amenities and restaurants, and a tight-knit residential community, Liberty Wells is the up-and-coming area within Salt Lake City. It’s accessible and classic but, with boutique businesses and the introduction of updated as well as new housing construction, is also quiet and getting on the trendy side. Whether a resident or a visitor to Utah, we recommend checking out this area.

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.

Going Local: Pallet

You can see the roots of Pallet and its namesake in the old creamery building where it's based. Photo credit: cityhomecollective.com
You can see the roots of Pallet and its namesake in the old creamery building where it’s based. Photo credit: cityhomecollective.com

One very cool thing about downtown Salt Lake City is all of the repurposed buildings. It’s in Utah nature to preserve history, physical and intangible, and put it to good use. Much of this surrounds the restaurant industry, making use of what was once used for food…and is now used for food again. This is the case with Pallet, a high-end American bistro near The Gateway Mall near the heart of the city. It is easily accessible just off of I-15 or the TRAX Blue Line at the Planetarium station.

The establishment was founded in Salt Lake’s first creamery, which was built over 100 years ago to ship out milk and other dairy products. With high ceilings, big windows, and recycled wood and metal, it maintains the industrial feel of old, while the chic, dim lighting and custom furnishings carry it into the current century. As a result, the ambiance of the compact dining room is warm and friendly, with a laid-back and cool vibe. Some of the tables have communal place-settings so the patrons and groups of patrons can interact with one another. The restaurant’s name is also no accident, as this creamery used wooden pallets to move and ship out products.

Old, meet new. New, meet old. Become one at Pallet. Photo credit: cityweekly.net
Old, meet new. New, meet old. Become one at Pallet. Photo credit: cityweekly.net

The word-play on the name is not just clever, it also comes to life on the plates at Pallet. Their menu is a fun collection of classics and some modern twists. A great starter is the “Full Board,” a combination of charcuterie, cheese, and vegetables which will delight all at the table with local, regional, and unique varieties. Appetizers include large classic meatballs. And then there are the entrees.

Ever wanted to try scallops without going to the seaside? Pallet has you covered! Photo credit: www.theslcfoodie.com
Ever wanted to try scallops without going to the seaside? Pallet has you covered! Photo credit: www.theslcfoodie.com

These mainly have protein as the star of the dish, and Pallet’s variety doesn’t disappoint. Seafood lovers are treated to either a delicious bass or a dish of scallops. There’s also chicken, boar, elk, lamb ribs, and–most uniquely–zabuton, a cut off the chuck which is full of surprises and can only be found in certain places around the United States. In particular, the boar is a fun plate, with a bit of a Southwestern/Mexican twist; the zabuton steak is an almost indescribable experience on its own. Theoretically, this cut should be chewy and undesirable, but paired with potatoes and a delicious light sauce, it melts away like the great cuts.

The "zabuton" steak cut gets its name from the flat Japanese sitting pillow. It definitely tastes better. Photo credit: yelp.com
The “zabuton” steak cut gets its name from the flat Japanese sitting pillow. It definitely tastes better. Photo credit: yelp.com

Having been in SLC for 5 years and having already garnered a lot of local praise, Pallet looks to be a great mainstay in the restaurant scene. Whether for lunch or dinner, casual or formal, we at VIP Limousine definitely recommend whetting one’s palate at Pallet.

Going Local: Lucky H Bar & Grille

The Little America Hotel is home to the culinary secret known as Lucky H Bar & Grille. Photo credit: expedia.com
The Little America Hotel is home to the culinary secret known as Lucky H Bar & Grille. Photo credit: expedia.com

As Going Local has previously highlighted, Salt Lake City is home to a variety of restaurants, some more obvious than others. Tucked inside of The Little America Hotel in downtown is a surprise which is open to the public, and not just hotel guests. Lucky H Bar & Grille sits just past the grand lobby of the hotel just off of 500 South and Main Street, easily accessible from the freeway and all three lines of TRAX at the Courthouse station. It may be in the shadow of The Grand America, but it is not short on niceties.

Lucky H has a luxurious atmosphere, but it’s not over the top, with light fabric and paint tones and dark wood. In keeping with the mountain surroundings, there are lodge-style lights and chandeliers, including a large antler ceiling fixture to light the main dining room.

The classic Mountain West dining room welcomes patrons to Lucky H Bar & Grille. Photo credit: utah.com
The classic Mountain West dining room welcomes patrons to Lucky H Bar & Grille. Photo credit: utah.com

But a restaurant is nothing without great service and great food, even if it has a stunning atmosphere. However, Lucky H Bar & Grille has the distinct advantage of being a part of a well-regarded boutique hotel family which is known for their quality of service and attention to detail. This also translates into the restaurant itself, seeing as many of the staff work for both. The wait staff is particularly friendly, and they know the menu and cooking procedures inside and out. This is a massive help if a client has any dietary restrictions and figuring out what ingredients are in each dish, which is helpful when with a large group traveling from out of town who may be unfamiliar with the cuisine and preparation methods.

Our waiter was Exhibit A of these traits. She continually checked in on us without being invasive, and answered all of our questions easily. This alone made the service memorable for all the right reasons.

This quality extends to all operating hours in the restaurant. Lucky H offers a breakfast buffet 7 days a week, a lunch buffet 5 days a week, and dinner service 7 nights a week. The dinner menu is particularly delightful, with seafood starters, a variety of soup and salad, entrees, “Sterling Reef & Range Selections,” specials, and desserts. Many of these items are locally-sourced, contributing to a high degree of freshness which many inland restaurants cannot match.

Lucky H makes fresh bread served at all of the tables; it comes in large, fluffy rolls with butter. The crab cakes made a delightful first impression as a starter. The French onion soup and chowders continue to add to the goodness of the overall meal. Seafood dishes include locally-caught trout, while the halibut is sourced from Alaska. Steaks are premium-sourced and prime, with delicious accompanying side vegetables. Sterling Reef and Range are extra-special entrees combining seafood and steak, and the Lucky H Special proteins are locally-sourced classics.

Finally, the palate-cleansing desserts here finish off a great meal, again with a lot of great classic dishes. Chocolate ganache and creme brulee are both delicious, as are the bread pudding and cheesecakes. Everything has a local flair and tastes great.

Combining Utah hospitality with great food and a soft, relaxing atmosphere is the hallmark of Lucky H. We in Salt Lake and at VIP Limousine look to service as a priority in all that we do, because impressions from local companies matter. This restaurant epitomizes these qualities, and we certainly recommend Lucky H Bar & Grille for a great meal.

Going Local: Current Fish and Oyster Bar

Long before this building became Current, it was a Ford service center. Photo credit: currentfishandoyster.com
Long before this building became Current, it was a Ford service center. Photo credit: currentfishandoyster.com

Even though it is adjacent to a large body of salt water, Salt Lake City is not known as the seafood capital of the Intermountain West. The Great Salt Lake is not a hospitable place for life, edible or otherwise, nor is it closely connected to any oceans or seas. Fortunately, thanks to modern marvels of transportation logistics, it is possible to get fresh seafood here quickly as it was just caught off the coast, and it’s definitely less than a plane ticket to a port city plus the restaurant tab.

This ability to move food inland is evinced in the rise of Salt Lake’s seafood restaurant scene. For years, it was dominated by a few key players, but has expanded to include newcomers. One of these new places is Current, a self-proclaimed fish and oyster bar that is a thoroughly modern restaurant near the heart of downtown.

Situated in an old brick building, Current doesn’t stick out like some of the business district skyscrapers or even the imposing edifices of Ruth’s Chris and the Market Street Grill. However, it makes the place that much more of a gem. The repurposed auto shop has a vastness to its interior, with the original high structure ceilings, big beams, and old-fashioned metal supports, beams, and cross-members. It feels modern, old-fashioned, high-end, and industrial all at the same time, accentuated with unique light fixtures, cozy booths, and large open tables which also include cushioned bench seating.

A combination of contrasts which works wonders. Note the stairs going up to the balcony seating! Photo credit: slmag.com
A combination of contrasts which works wonders. Note the stairs going up to the balcony seating! Photo credit: slmag.com

Current has a feel embodied by a lot of start-up and trendy restaurants, but at the same time it feels more refined and established. Much of this has to do with the menu, which skews towards fine dining but also has some traditional and more rustic favorites. The proprietors know that nothing beats a bowl of fresh clam chowder on a cold night, for example. They also use a local bakery for their bread, and menu items can change based on the season. One could say that it helps them stay current…which, pun not necessarily intended, is true.

The dinner menu (there are five different menus) has a tilt towards seafood as well, which is fitting for the atmosphere and focus of the restaurant. Current serves salmon, crab, lobster, cod, mussels, oysters, scallops, fish stew, fish and chips, calamari, octopus, and prawns. But this is the United States, and we like our proteins, and Current delivers. Not only is there a burger with a seafood and Utah twist (hint: fry sauce), but there are also some dishes which are not as common in the culinary world of Utah. At the top of that list is the Snake River Zabuton, an American Kobe cut of steak from the top of the chuck which resembles a Japanese sitting cushion in terms of shape. And yes, it does come straight from Boise. There are also the Kumamoto Oysters which are sourced directly from the port of Seattle.

This is no longer a Ford dealership, but keeping remnants of the past brings the building into the present day. Photo credit: femalefoodie.com
This is no longer a Ford dealership, but keeping remnants of the past brings the building into the present day. Photo credit: femalefoodie.com

These reasons and more have already led Current to shine locally. It has been around only since 2015 and has already garnered local culinary awards, including City Weekly’s Best Seafood of 2017. Local praise is do or die for a business here in Utah, and on the strength of its formative years, Current is in a great spot. We at VIP Limousine would like to add our approval to this establishment.

Salt Lake City's Premiere Limousine Service