Let’s say that you’re on a climbing trip, or maybe you’re a weekend warrior on a brief sojourn, and you are surrounded by a sea of dirtbags whose diet consists of deeply-discounted expired Cliff Bars from Big Lots and dehydrated beans they scored from their wilderness-guide friends. Food on climbing trips doesn’t have to be this way!
No matter where you venture to in and around Utah, there are plenty of options to up your crag cuisine–food that won’t hurt your wallet, is satisfying and filling, and adds a little somethin’ extra to your trip, so you’re not just scrumming it.
This is a two-part blog, starting with Northern Utah (while it is still warm-ish). Later, we’ll investigate food in the southern, warmer regions of the state.
City of Rocks/Ogden:
Rock City Mercantile
This is the ne plus ultra of climber cuisine and supply shops. Rock City Mercantile, located in the big red barn before entering City of Rocks, has everything you will need for camping, from supplies to dry goods and food. But they specialize in pizza, and after a hard day climbing, it sure as hell is nice to let someone else do the cooking–and, mostly, cleaning–for you. Piping hot and melty, the pizza is killer and is nearly as nice as the assortment of full-octane beers RCM carries. Elba-Almo Road at 839E, Albion, ID, open seven days a week.
Nothing about Maddox says, “health food,” but what the hell, you’ve been climbing all weekend. Maddox is perfect for a quick stopover at the drive-in on the way back from the City. The burgers, thick and really (this must not be understated here), really juicy, are the way to go. Be sure to sip on some homemade root beer, or, better yet, down a rootbeer float. 1900 South Highway 89, Brigham City, UT, (435) 723-8545, MaddoxFineFood
The Fruit Highway
Along historic Highway 89, there sure are some beautiful stretches–and, OK, some ugly industrial ones as well. But the 10 miles from Willard to Perry in Utah is probably the sweetest. Coined as “The Fruit Highway,” this stretch hosts more than 10 established (brick & mortar) family fruit stands, and, during high harvest, tons of folks selling out of flatbeds. The fruit comes from the surrounding hills, and this time of year you can load up on apples and pears. If you remember this spot, be sure to check back in 2013 during peach season–Utah’s peaches make Georgia blush.
There’s a word that means when you eat food, you are sometimes transported back in time to where your subconscious has stored the thought of that taste (No, it’s not “tazo”–that means smelling something). Well, maybe if we bit into the word we’d remember. Anyway, munching on Pepe la pesto (pesto, Parmesan cheese, smoked turkey, roasted red peppers) or seventh habit (housemade custard, chocolate sauce, strawberry or banana) crepes at The Crepery will bring you back to those romantic nights walking down the cobbled streets of Paris. Or, at a minimum, will remind how delicious these thin little pancakes are when made on an authentic griddle. 130 N. 100 East, Logan, (435) 787-4080
Torpedoes, Subway sandwiches, fro-yo and greasy assorted processed foods are what normally comes out of gas stations (as a side note, the last thing we saw was an oatmeal dispenser–yeah, how gross is that?). Not in Logan. The Tandoori Oven, located inside a Sinclair (the gas station even sells Indian spices) is, hands down, the best Indian food in Logan, and maybe some of the best we’ve ever had stateside. Try the the Chicken Tikka Masala, the garlic naan and lamb anything. 720 E. 1000 North, Logan, UT, (435) 750-6836, TandooriOvenLogan.com
Samak Smoke House & The Notch Pub
In case you forgot some provisions before venturing up to the Uintas, Samak Smoke House is the place to stock up. They also offer lunch on the go–sammies and such–but the real treat here is all in the name of the place. Samak smokes their own jerky (the best local jerky around), which comes in a variety of flavors and in beef or turkey. They also smoke their own cheddar cheese (to die for), mozzarella, salmon and trout (another favorite). On Sundays, you can smell the barbecue cooking as you head down the mountain–it is not to be missed. The same owners that own the smoke shop also own the nearby pub. And as far as The Notch Pub goes, if this doesn’t make your mouth water, you’re probably a robot: “Dave’s Famous Burger”: Handmade out of ground tri-tip steak, and covered in our signature cherry wood smoked cheddar cheese, served with lettuce, tomato, & onion on a homemade bun. Damn! The Notch is also a great place to get your pitcher-of-beer on, either out on the patio or inside in the oak-y, cozy interior. Samak Smoke House, 1937 E. Mirror Lake Hwy., Kamas, UT, (435) 783-4880, SamakSmokeHouse.com; The Notch Pub, 2392 E. Mirror Lake Hwy., Samak, UT, (435) 783-6244, TheNotchPub.com
Similar to Maddox listed above, Dick’s is all about eating some greasy-ass food because, well, you’ve earned it. If you pass on the food–because you are only 20 minutes away from high-class options in Park City–don’t miss out on the milkshakes: You have to eat them with a spoon. 235 Center St., Kamas, UT, (435) 783-4312
Yolk on Main
Let’s just do everyone a favor and get the one egg pun out of the way: This place is eggstr — I can’t make myself do it. I just can’t. It’s “excellent.” Self restraint, people. But don’t get your hopes up for anything more than diner fare–but with big ol’ ‘Merican-sized portions–and you won’t get let down. If a big egg breakfast with all the fixins and bottomless coffee is your thing–and let’s face it, it is–then check this place out. 35 S Main St., Kamas, UT, (435) 783-9655
More to come…