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Utah's Roadside Eateries

The locals in Utah love the down-home cooking they find in places like Mom's Café and Cowboy's Smokehouse.

Utah Road Food, illus. by Ward Schumaker
Photo caption
If home cooking such as pot roast and fruit pies appeals to you, you'll find plenty to eat in Utah.


The Beehive State may not spring to mind as a hotbed of haute cuisine, but when it comes to home cooking, you can find everything from rugged cowboy barbecues to refined lunchrooms where the specialty is fresh lemonade. These "road food" eateries—where locals are as apt as visitors to sit down and enjoy a meal—are independent, inexpensive, and expressive of the region's soul.

In the old cow town of Salina, go to MOM'S CAFÉ for scones. Unlike its drier British namesake, the Utah scone is a luscious, flaky fritter served hot from the fry kettle with honey butter for drizzling. 10 East Main Street, Salina, (435) 529-3921.

Opened by a former bull rider in amateur rodeos, COWBOY'S SMOKEHOUSE serves slow-smoked meats (try the beef brisket or mesquite-roasted steak) in a dining room wallpapered with the business cards of friends and presided over by the mounted heads of game animals. 95 North Main Street, Panguitch, (435) 676-8030.

The lemon squeezer belongs to IDLE ISLE, a gentle town sanctuary where tables are set with apricot marmalade for spooning onto the homemade dinner rolls that accompany such square meals as pot roast and mountain trout. 24 South Main Street, Brigham City, (435) 734-2468.

HIRES BIG H is a cheerful drive-in where sourdough buns envelop handsome hamburgers paired with chili-cheese fries and frosty mugs of root beer. 425 South 700 East, Salt Lake City, (801) 364-4582.

An eaters' destination since the 1940s, MADDOX RANCH HOUSE serves steaks of bison or beef with corn bread and potatoes and boasts water drawn from its own pure well. 1900 South Highway 89, Perry, (435) 723-8545.

Illustration by Ward Schumaker


This article was first published in July 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.