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A plate of nachos and a beer.

By Mitchell Reber

Hike + Dine: #SupportLocal in Salt Lake City

Caught between outdoor adventure and a rich, metropolitan culture — experience some of Salt Lake’s best hike and dine pairings.

Photography by Kerri-Fukui, Haley Rodgers and Porcupine Pub and Grille

Seldom can you experience rugged hikes with sweeping panoramas of pristine wilderness and 15 minutes later enjoy a play in a renowned theater. In Salt Lake City, you can. 

Placed against the Wasatch Mountain Range, Salt Lake City neatly tucks travelers between outdoor adventure and a rich, metropolitan culture. 

Spend your days galavanting in the mountains and evenings in THE BLOCKS district, Salt Lake’s cultural core. Spanning most of downtown, THE BLOCKS represents the highest concentration of arts, culture, events, activities and entertainment in Utah. Catch a Ballet West show at the Capitol Theater. Explore peak-fashion at City Creek Center. Savor the culinary creations at Current Fish & Oyster. Or pump your fist at The Depot, one of the city’s most popular music venues.  

On a budget? Wander around THE BLOCKS and experience a kaleidoscope of public art installations, murals and live street-corner music. Traverse Regent Street and take in the city’s largest piece of public art — the seven-story installation “Pages of Salt” — a wind sculpture comprised of stainless steel rods and Teflon flags that cover the entire north facade of the Walker Center Garage. Then do an about-face, walk 50 yards and taste the epitome of Nashville-style hot chicken from a famed chef at Pretty Bird. 

Experience some of Salt Lake’s best with the hike and dine pairings:

Memory Grove: A proper downtown excursion 

Hike: For urbanites preferring not to venture far from downtown, or for those who want an outing that doesn’t require a car, check out Memory Grove Trail. Positioned at the start of City Creek Canyon between two charming, historic neighborhoods — Capitol Hill and The Avenues — this two-mile out and back trail is more nature walk with a good amount of uphill than a rigorous hike. Beginning at the east end of Memory Grove Park, the trail follows the City Creek stream beneath the shade of tall trees. Consider extending your excursion at the end of Memory Grove trail with a longer, more remote hike up City Creek Canyon.

Eat: Take a 15-minute walk to round off your stroll through Memory Grove with a proper drink at Avenues Proper Restaurant and Publick House. An industrial-chic gastropub with an on-site brewery, Avenues Proper serves up contemporary American cuisine along with a rotating selection of house-brewed beers. Take a seat on the patio and snack on some duck fat, fennel-pollen popcorn while the kitchen whips up one of their pub favorites like Chicken and Waffles or the House Veggie Burger made with a black bean and sweet potato patty, ghost pepper cheese, pickled red onion and poblano crema on a potato bun. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

Fall foliage along Memory Grove trail.

Memory Grove Trail's fall foliage. Photo: Haley Rodgers

Experience a full heart at Jack’s Mountain 

Hike: Seldom can a hike offer beauty as well as poignancy. Jack’s Mountain — also known as Jack’s Peak —  is a short, but challenging 2.4 mile-loop near Salt Lake City’s East Bench. At its summit, visitors are rewarded with a gorgeous view of the valley, and an opportunity for reflection. The mountain is named after Jack Edwards, a young boy who passed away from leukemia in 1995. After scattering his ashes at the mountain’s peak, Jack’s parents placed two mailboxes at the summit with a notebook that reads, “Please take a moment to say hello to Jackie Jack and write a little (or long) note.” Participate in a 15-year memorial and etch a note to Jack alongside hundreds of other visitors.

A latte.

A cup of warmth at Emigration Brewing Company. Photo: Kerri Fukui

Urban interior.

A cozy place to sip at Emigration Brewing Company. Photo: Kerri Fukui

Eat: There are many ways to pay homage to the past. Emigration Brewing Company chooses to celebrate its location’s history with beer. In 1865, Utah’s first brewery was founded at the mouth of Emigration Canyon by pioneer Henry Wagener — the biggest brewery west of the Mississippi. Honoring the canyon’s brewing history, Emigration Brewing Co. emphasizes small-batch European style beers. Pair a Roadhouse Pilsner with one of their house-made German-style pretzels. Or savor their Beehive Pizza made with tomato, mozzarella, pickled jalapeno, calabrese and honey while sipping on a Bohemian Brewery Viennese Lager. History never tasted so good. 

Pristine lakes and porcupines 

Hike: If you’re looking for an iconic Utah wilderness trek, Lake Blanche Trail is a must. A classic hiking destination in the Twin Peaks Wilderness area, this seven mile out-and-back trail includes numerous flowing creeks, waterfalls, dramatic views of the Salt Lake Valley, and a picturesque lake that belongs on the back of a postcard. As you meander through the scrub oaks and aspens of the Wasatch Mountains, deer, moose, and a variety of birds and other wildlife are common sightings. Lake Blanche itself is surrounded by the rugged summits Monte Cristo, Dromedary Peak and Sunrise Peak. Keep in mind this is a longer, more strenuous hike, so come prepared! 

Eat: If you didn’t peep a porcupine during your Lake Blanche excursion, how about a Chocolate Porcupine for desert? Located at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Porcupine Pub and Grille is positioned near numerous trails, campgrounds and several ski resorts. Look around Porcupine’s lodgelike setting and you’ll see groups of skiers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Porcupine’s impressive and varied pub fare includes dishes like Tequila Lime Pasta, Grilled Wahoo Tacos, Cherry BBQ Salmon, and Chocolate Porcupine cake made with chocolate ganache, almond quills and vanilla bean ice cream and dozens of others. Stop by for brunch on the weekend and order a serving of Chilaquiles and wash it down with a BV Coffee — Jameson Irish Whiskey, sugar, black coffee, and Bailey’s Irish Cream.

About the author: Mitchell Reber is a southern Utah native and desert rat. After a heartfelt but failed attempt at opening and running an all ages music venue in St. George, he moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah where he is currently finishing his Master’s in Communication.

The Hazelnut Chocolate Torte at Porcupine Pub and Grille.

The Hazelnut Chocolate Torte at Porcupine Pub and Grille.

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