Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones


Who is ready for Water Witch Bar 2.0? The trio behind the 900 south, James Beard-nominated location are expanding downtown. A remarkable location, the hidden and historic Cramer House, part of the recently opened Aster project. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the House was built in 1890 by Christopher Cramer, a Danish immigrant who ran a floral shop. There will be significant upgrades before they’re slinging their spirits. In the meantime, you can anticipate several other developments at The Aster, including a sushi restaurant. 

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Comfortable and cosmopolitan, Cupla Coffee has opened on 200 South next to Homecoming Southern Kitchen–and it is gorgeous! We wandered over on opening day and were greeted like a long-time friend. Cozy furniture, a library wall, great coffee, and genuine, friendly service. What more can you ask for? Yes, we’ll tell you: the two gooey eggs, melty cheese, and smokey bacon on a croissant. 

Doha, Dubai, and Ibiza. Coming soon to Salt Lake, STK, the international celebrity-endorsed steakhouse was teased at the ribbon cutting of phase one of The West Quarter. A clarion call of what Salt Lake residents are thirsty for, The West Quarter opens with Van Ryder, the sexy amber-lit rooftop bar and is complemented by French-themed Adalaide (don’t miss the oysters). 

The “coming soon” sign for LemonShark Poké taunted us for months, then years. We almost gave up hope for the restaurant in The Judge Building, but happy to report the wait is over and reviews are in. The Downtown Ambassadors in the yellow jackets have named it one of their favorite lunch spots and a 4.8 rating on Google Reviews adds to the good publicity. If you’re at Gallivan Plaza, the path to poke is puny. In close proximity is Poke & Sushi Hut, Fresh Fin, and Uncle Shark!

Speaking of The Judge Building, we reported Robin’s Nest had flown the coop at their longtime roost. Thankfully, as the crow flies, they have cracked open in the DP Cheesesteak location on Broadway. People are raven about the new refuge. Don’t miss the turkey and smoked gouda.

Just barely percolating, someone is investing in the Ginger Street location at 324 South State. (Oh, how we miss those chicken tendies). Well-placed sources say it will be an elegant modern Japanese fusion restaurant. Intriguing–we will keep digging. 

Mayor Voss has opened on Edison Street. We’ve loved this airy, light-filled urban gem since Campos Coffee renovated it to rave reviews. Don’t miss the pork belly bao with cucumber and hoisin, hoisted on a soft heated bun.

Speaking of Edison Street and warm buns, HOT BUNS is expected to open in the next month. Ryan Lowder adds to his culinary empire with this walk-up hamburger concept. It is enticing since Copper Onion’s burger is widely regarded as the best in the state. 

Long time readers will surely note this writer’s interest in tiki. (Our previous installment broke the news of Neptune’s Palace coming to The Gateway in June). So, we are delighted to introduce you to Paradise Parlour, a tiki pop-up at Flanker. Renowned, globetrotting mixologist Francesco Lafranconi was commissioned to create the delicate Polynesian libations. These drinks are fun to imbibe, beautiful to look at, and incredibly sophisticated. Stuart at Gastronomic declares, “From the moment you walk through the door, it’s one of the most unique sensory experiences in Utah right now.” High praise!


This week, we plan to check-out French-themed Adelaide at Le Meridien and Homecoming Southern Kitchen on 200 and West Temple. Follow our social media for our reports! In the meantime, here are some exciting openings to look forward to:

We begin where we left off in our last On The Street column: a mysterious bar on 400 South that is promising authentic tiki drinks and animatronics in a whimsically-themed world. Well, we now have a name and date: Neptune’s Palace is working towards an early summer opening (DABS-dependent). The name truly lives up to the Willy Wonka-meets-Hunter S. Thompson vibes that we’ve heard about through the rumor mill. 

Highly-anticipated, The Local Market and Bar opened today! We got a sneak peek of the casual corner food hall with eight concepts at 310 East University Blvd and will be back soon. Highlights? Well, the bar of course, staffed with mixologists that made a fine Moscow Mule. Pop’s Burger served a deliciously moist cheesy burger on a spongy bun, and The Cereal Killerz’ has over 100 cereal styles from around the world, generously served over ice cream.      

We’re excited that the 48-year-old Junior’s Tavern, a venerable drinking hole where denizens of all salaries rub shoulders with one another, has been purchased by Bob McCarthy from longtime owner, Greg Arata. Bob owns two of our other favorite places in town: Garage on Beck and Stoneground. We’ve heard he wants to polish the place but leave the best vestiges like the beer can collection, pool table, and even the film encyclopedia (it's a great way to strike up a conversation).

Hotel Monaco opened in 1999 and it remains near the top in our rolodex of recommendations: consistent quality at Bambara, considerate cocktails at The Vault, quirky and cozy rooms. But nearby competition from newly-opened Hyatt Regency, Element, and Le Meridien have convinced the brass that a full polish is due. Scheduled to begin in April and completed by late summer, the rehaul includes all 225 rooms, Bambara gets a facelift, and (we’re most excited about this) a dramatic and moody update and expansion to The Vault. 

At City Creek Center, Ogden-founded Pearl Milk Tea Club has opened. Located near VRX Pharmacy, they will serve boba smoothies, pearl milk teas, and coffees. Also, another Utah company, Thread who makes slim wallets, will open soon next to Donovan Mitchell’s STANCE.

Brick and Mortar, a fine establishment on Edison Street has decided to cash in its chips and rebrand itself as Mayor Voss. Between the 1880’s and the 1920’s Edison Street was the heart of the Black community. Horace Voss was a influential Republican and served in the state capitol in 1903, his picture still hangs inside the senate chambers. After claiming domestic abuse and filing for divorce, Mayor Voss was murdered and the killer was caught (not his wife). For the full story, check out historian Rachel Quist’s and KUTV’s Jamie McGriff story

Finally, late-breaking news that City Creek Center’s Chick-fil-a will be closed for renovations for a couple weeks. On the day we noticed it boarded up, mourners were discovering other food stalls at the food court, including Bocata, the pizza oven sandwich shop, as well as the venerable Taste of Red Iguana offering a daily special: mango enchiladas with rice and beans for the absurd price of $6.75. Two great local options to explore while the Chick is breaking those eggs.

February 02, 2023


NBA fans and locals riding UTA TRAX downtown during NBA All-Star Weekend will enjoy singers, musicians, comedians, magicians and friendly hosts on downtown trains. 

Downtown Alliance has joined with Salt Lake City and Utah Transit Authority to program live entertainment inside TRAX trains during the NBA All-Star Weekend, February 17-19. TRAX passengers will find the hosts and performers on trains downtown from 6-10 pm, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are also entertaining public events programmed at Gallivan Center, The Salt Palace, and The Gateway during All-Star weekend.  Train hosts with each performer will answer tourist’s questions and direct visitors to nearby destinations, restaurants, and activities. This mass-fun event will coincide with UTA’s zero fare week, February 12-21.

“We are thrilled to provide zero fare for the ten days surrounding the NBA All-Star events and the fun and exciting activities planned for parts of our transit system” UTA Board Chair Carlton Christensen said, “This is part of our efforts to support the community, boost Utah’s economy, and join with our partners in welcoming thousands of visitors to the region and to Utah. ”Downtown Alliance collaborator Bahaa Chmait, director of JOYMOB Events, has assembled a cadre of characters to charm passengers. “We design experiences that leave people feeling happier and more connected to those around them.  We believe in creating community and belonging. That can happen in a boardroom, in a park, or even on a train. We’re thrilled to be part of the All-Star weekend fun,” he said.

“JOYMOB Events is one of many local surprises and delights we have planned for locals and visitors during All-Star weekend,” said Downtown Alliance executive director Dee Brewer. “Bahaa and his crew add magic to the fabric of Salt Lake with flash mobs, dance parties, and a  love letter project that has been written about in The Washington Post.” Brewer added, “we are also grateful to UTA for their willingness to experiment with us in welcoming the world to Salt Lake City.”

Read more about Bahaa and JOYMOB Events at

A celebration of local art, music, and food, CENTRAL will reimagine Gallivan Plaza with a curated three-day experience over All-Star Weekend. Free, and welcoming to all ages, CENTRAL will run 1-10 pm, February 17, 18, and 19. CENTRAL is underwritten by Salt Lake City, Downtown Alliance, The Blocks, and Visit Salt Lake.

Norbert Bueno and his creative team at Bandah designed an immersive installation featuring 25 musicians and upcycled shipping containers with a museum-quality exhibit of local artists. “Our creative team referenced Utah landscapes, music, cultures, downtown’s urban environment and, of course, basketball in creating this experience.” said Bueno. Bueno’s previous collaborations with the Downtown Alliance include pop-up musical performances, roller disco on Main Street, and Groove at Gallivan. “I believe this will be a one-of-a-kind experience that will delight residents and visitors alike,” he said.

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Vishwa Srinivasan of Alleyways Amplified is producing a generative A.I. film with local company Outtakes that tells stories about Salt Lake, to be projected on the Gallivan stage. And, Bahaa Chmait, director JOYMOB Events will sprinkle intriguing surprises, sure to produce wow-moments. Adorning the Gallivan grounds will be larger-than-life sculptures from artist Emily Nicolosi, and a sculpture produced just for this event by Isaac Gonzalez, and Norbert Bueno. 

Some of Utah’s favorite food trucks and carts will serve their specialties during the three day celebration.

“We believe CENTRAL will be among the Salt Lake City  surprises and delights that  locals and visitors discover downtown during All-Star Weekend,” said Downtown Alliance executive director Dee Brewer. 

Check this page for musician line-up, coming soon.

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Did you know more people will watch Sundance premieres in Salt Lake than in Park City this year? Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center and Broadway Centre Cinemas will host dozens of screenings and for the first time, Megaplex at The Gateway joins as an official venue. But where to eat, drink, and party like Park City? We’ve got that covered too, including two official Sundance Lounges as well as swanky bars and restaurants where maybe you’ll get a glimpse of a Streep, Stiller, or Scorsese:

Showing more than 30 films, Broadway will be buzzing. Thankfully, parking will be easy at the multi-story garage just east of the theater. Have some time? Make reservations at Copper Onion–a Salt Lake stalwart that is still consistently delightful. Or, try something new at Franklin Ave like the Mafaldine–a duck ragu with poached egg, grana padano, and gremolata. Both restaurants are decadent, both offer items you’ll crave long after leaving, and both will require a reservation. 

Are you racing from one preview to the next? Try Roctaco on Edison Street. The menu  features unique tacos from around the globe and the flavors are out of this world. The interior is as creative as the ingredients–like the Meow Wolf of the taco world. Don’t fear if the line goes out the door–it moves quickly. 

The new outpost of local’s favorite, Laziz Kitchen is another option for a fast casual bite. On Edison and 200 South, Lebanese food is served in a modern, airy cafe–don’t miss the muhammara and halloumi! And, be sure to discover the tiny speakeasy in the back, appropriately named, Back Door.

After the show, check out the official Sundance Lounge at Copper Common. Grab a cocktail and enjoy live entertainment that starts at 8 and 10 pm every night. A roster of local’s favorites include Michelle Moonshine, Sara Degraw, and Nate Spenser. 

Need a late night nosh and not afraid to mingle with SLC’s late night denizens? Kitty-corner from Broadway is Pie Hole with cheap (and good) pizza-by-the-slice, canned beer, and oodles of personality.  


The Rose is one of our favorite performing arts spaces in the heart of downtown. Here, you’re in the middle of steak city. Spencer’s For Steaks and Chops inside the Hilton is your classic carnivores castle with voluptuous red booths and mahogany lined walls. Nearby is Ruth’s Chris, but the closest to the theater is locally-owned Christopher’s Prime. Enjoy the filet mignon and amp it up with the bourbon peppercorn sauce. 

Have less time and excited for that bio pic on Michael J. Fox or the doc on Stephen Curry? Head right across the street to the local institution known as Squatter’s; sit at the miles-long bar for friendly and quick service. In January, you can’t go wrong with a Full Suspension Pale Ale and bowl of Buffalo Chili topped with cheddar cheese. 

The Rose is in a great location for after-show cocktails and conversation–especially at Post Office Place on Market Street. They specialize in Japanese Whiskys, but have a full bar. Soak up the martinis with a katsu (fried chicken) slider!


Ready to Sundance in style? Vibrating and reclining electric loungers await festival goers at the newest host venue. Not sure Redford would have ever imagined this 42 years ago! Luxuriate at the brand new Italian Graffiti, seconds from the theater. An ode to Rome, a bacchanal to Bologna, Italian Graffiti is the best the country has to offer in a lavishly modern setting. 

Not in the mood for a meal fit for the Gods? Try Maxwell’s Little Bar, a half block east of The Gateway. It is another new Italian restaurant that lives up to its name–a postage stamp space whipping out moon-sized pizzas and meatballs the diameter of your fist–if your fist is the size of John Goodman.

While at The Gateway, don’t miss the second Sundance Lounge, directly beneath the theater at HallPass. No Sundance credentials are required for the daily acts at 7 pm and 9 pm. Plus, the elevated food hall offers a half dozen eateries and a bar–don’t miss the lobster roll at Colossal Lobster or the bao bun at Graffiti Bao!

Not everyone celebrates New Year's Eve the same way. So, we've got the definitive guide for ringing in 2023 in Downtown--your way. 

Yours Truly, the Downtown Alliance and The Blocks join The Gateway to ring in the New Year in grand fashion! Dress warm and enjoy free, live music from several stages, buskers, popup bars and Utah’s biggest New Year’s firework show. 8-midnight.


A rowdy band of self-described ski bums and hippies brought together by a love of snow have been spreading the gospel of whiskey and chickens in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains. Pixie & The Partygrass Boys headline The Depot with opener Stillhouse Junkies. Doors open at 7pm.

Say goodbye to 2022 at The Leonardo! The Now or Never New Year’s Party promises that you’ll dance the night away and enjoy music and activities with a champagne toast at midnight.

Why, you might ask, would comedian Bill Engvall, who has toured with the likes of Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy and been telling jokes for more than 40 years, perform his VERY last show at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City? Well, the Texas native quietly made Park City his home two decades ago after falling in love with Utah and he wanted to officially retire in his adopted home. Tickets going fast!

Family Friendly Fun ensues at Clark Planetarium at The Gateway 12-4pm. A STEAM challenge includes a ‘make your own disco ball,’ and a ‘light up the night with LED fireworks.’ This event will take your kids to the stars and back!

Thirteen years later, The NYE Masquerade Ball at the City Creek Marriott is bigger than ever. Find or make a mask, slip into some cocktail attire, and get ready for great food, DJs, and dancing!

Want something a little more quiet? Wander into the Gallivan Center for ice skating and participate in GLOW, a free interactive sculpture garden. Ice skating is just $12.



Every few weeks, when we publish an On The Street column, we think, ”Well, that is it. Won’t need to do that for a while.” Yet here we are with a slew of new, exciting F+B concepts in the downtown pipeline.

But first, a moment of silence for the blue cheese and house-made potato chips at Hotel Monaco. Twenty-three years ago you came into our lives and delighted us every time we visited Bambara.  Alas, Chef Patrick LeBeau has reinvigorated the menu with some great fall flavors like scallops ala plancia, quinoa, pomegranate, and mint yogurt. We’ll see you soon Chef!

HOT BUNS! Let’s try to keep this professional, Ok?  Ryan Lowder opens HOT BUNS! on Edison Street–steamed bao buns sold from a walk-up window. Remember Plum Alley–Ryan’s inventive Asian eatery–named one of the top new restaurants by Bon Appétit? We hope that some of our favs from that menu return, certainly the steamy pork bun and illegally rich juicy pork bellies are shoe-in’s… right Ryan? The sign is up, but look for an early spring opening.

Washington State-based Ascend Hospitality knows their way around steak and sushi, so we’ve got our chopsticks and steak knives ready for a VIP reception for Aqua Terra at City Creek Center. They will continue to pay homage to the Pacific Northwest with the freshest fish and aged steaks.

At The Gateway, Chef Marrone’s highly-anticipated Italian Graffitti had a very successful opening on Friday. The space is gorgeous, modern and Chef has publicly stated he wants to be the best Italian restaurant in Utah. Word is they’re already scouting locations in Vegas. 

Lehi-based Wags Cap Foods, owner of 30 restaurants across the country, has HUGE expansion plans for The Gateway’s shuttered Medici space. Electric Fish will be a new sushi/nightclub restaurant, we’re imagining something akin to Vegas’ TAO or Sushisamba. The presser promises a high-end experiential concept unlike anything else in Utah with private poker rooms, card trading, even a candy shop and cryptocurrency ATM. 

With two locations on the west side of the valley, The Break Sports Grill plans to open in the Hyatt House, across from Vivint and the new West Quarter. From chicken tenders to poke bowls, this will be a great place for a group that can’t decide how to please everyone. 

The Local, the food hall on 400 South at 300 East plans to open early January. We’ve been looking forward to this space for over a year and are eagerly anticipating Chef Akhtar Nawab’s culinary collection of offerings over 7,500 sq ft on the ground floor of the Avia.

We like to break ‘scoops’ and fans-of-the-column know our eternal longing for ice cream, so we were surprised when Rockwell Old Fashioned Ice Cream Co. stealthily opened on Regent Street. Now, as a regular, we can direct you to Salted Caramel, S’Mores, and Snicker Doodle as our favs.

The Bagel Project’s Bagel and Greens didn’t last long enough in the US Bank Building on 200 South and Main Street. It's a beautiful, sun-filled space, so we are glad that another local favorite is about to move it. Señor Pollo, a small fast food chain that specializes in Sinoloan-style chicken–imagine, drink in hand, being on a beach in Mexico and the smell of juicy marinated chicken being laid on a charcoal grill… It is coming soon to downtown Salt Lake.

If you’ve made it this far, here is a teaser to whet your thirst… imagine an authentic tiki lounge with interactive animatronic cartoon figurines. The concept, coming downtown, makes our imagination ping pong between Walt Disney and Hunter S. Thompson. More to come!

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.

“Our city has lost a friend. For more than twenty years, Valter Nassi has been a pillar of Downtown Salt Lake City and helped create the culinary scene that exists today. When visiting Valter’s Osteria, guests are transported to another world, a place where you feel loved and cared for, a place that feels like home," said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance.

“People from all over the globe know Utah because they know Valter. They know his name, his exuberance, and his love of life. These qualities are greatly needed at this time. His legacy will be remembered for years to come, and his life serves as a model for all to follow.”

In 2018, Nassi was awarded the New American Dream Award by the Salt Lake Chamber, which honored “new pioneers” and the positive impact of immigrants and how they have helped shape Utah’s history since the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley as refugees in 1847. 

In 2013, Nassi was recognized with a Downtown Achievement Award by the Downtown Alliance for his role in elevating the culinary scene and helping to create a more dynamic and diverse community that is the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment.

Valter Nassi died Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

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