October 27, 2022 Written by

During the last two and a half years, the metamorphic effect of administrators and white collar workers changing into sweats and pajamas wearers had a devastating impact on downtown restaurants–especially their lunch business. However, as the community of 20,000 commuters begin to flow back downtown, restaurants are boldly betting on the decadent business lunch. 

We’re reminded that it is illegal to not take lunch in France–a languorous 90-minute lunch, in fact! So, whether you’re Ladies who Lunch, or looking for a Two Martini Lunch, here are our favorite downtown places to eat–no, enjoy–lunch with a fork and knife.

The newest restaurant goes first: Franklin Ave on Edison Street has wonderful sandwiches, but we said decadent, so flip the menu page and get the duck ragu or the black cod with miso-soy dashi broth–it might be the best fish we’ve ever eaten, period. 

A year ago, Scott Evans opened the cosmopolitan Pago on Main that gambled on lunch and hit the jackpot.  In the open kitchen, chefs meticulously tweeze the strawberry and beet salad and fire the burners for the flavorful crab cakes–you’ll feel pretty, pretty urban.

It was Ryan Lowder’s announcement that Copper Onion would resume lunch service just last week that was the impetus for this article. We simply cannot get enough of those ricotta dumplings, but the star on the menu–humbly–is the Rainbow Trout. The perfectly pan-seared skin envelops a delicate, flaky fish with a dollop of greek yogurt over curried lentils.  

Ivy & Varley courageously opened during a bleak time for downtown. Luckily, they never hit a road bump–in fact, late at night they get bumpin’. (Did we just age ourselves?) We’re not sure how much longer the patio will be open for lunch, but it is a delightful space to spend a Friday afternoon over a bowl of cheesy grits and shrimp–and maybe two martinis. 

Have an expense account? Bring clients along and feel like Caesar at Spencer’s inside the Hilton or The Capital Grill at City Creek Center. The dark wood, the cushy seats, the bespoke service, the Wagyu beef. Secrets spill easily in haunts like these. 

Consistently rated one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake–maybe Utah–is Takashi. Yes, Takashi is open for lunch, and we selfishly fear broadcasting this since getting a table at night means quite a wait. Don’t judge us for eyeing the Tanka, basically a spicy California roll, or devouring the grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce… you won’t find them made better anywhere else.

And, when talking about fine dining downtown, in-particular, an over-the-top lunch, let’s not forget The Oyster Bar. Step into a sophisticated seaside clubhouse 700 miles from the ocean and snack on Seafood Louie before tucking into the famous clam chowder served with hot sourdough. 

We just realized there is a lot of seafood on this list–way to go Salt Lake! One more: Current Fish and Oyster. We love this light-filled room at lunch, and if a $30 seafood cobb doesn’t say decadent, what does? Maybe the Fish Stew? With prawns, mussels, Thai basil peanuts, and bonito flakes in a serrano pistou coconut lemongrass broth… Oomph.

Let me remind everyone that our opinions are our own. Admittedly, this isn’t a comprehensive list, but the clock is getting close to noon, so feel free to add your favorites. We’re going to seize the day with a lunch filled with joie de vivre.