Pretty soon, most of the quick-lunch options for downtown Salt Lake workers (or shoppers) will be rubble.
No more watching March Madness on the big screens at the ZCMI Center food court. No more watching a parade of humanity pass by down in the Richards Street food court at Crossroads Mall. No more quick-and-easy choices between burgers, Chinese, Mexican, pizza or Philly cheesesteaks, all under one roof (at least, not for five more years or so).
But a few eateries will survive the demolition, and the one I'm happiest about is Skool Lunch.
Skool Lunch was never part of any food court, tucked as it is into a corner of the ground floor of the Eagle Gate Tower office building. You can get there from the ZCMI Center, but only by going down a store-free hallway past Deseret Book and around a corner.
Nonetheless, Skool Lunch has never lacked crowds at mealtimes, and here's why: The food is excellent. I'm talking about sandwiches on bread made on site, succulent down-home specials, and soups that taste like your mom makes (assuming your mom makes really, really good soup). Also, the prices are good, the wait is typically short and you can't find a better breakfast sandwich on this planet.
We visited Skool Lunch on a recent weekday, when workers by the dozens moved through the place. We drew order number 44 and, in the fairly short time it took for us to get our food, eat it and leave, the numbers moved briskly from the 40s to the 50s and on up to 100, then went back to one, reaching 22 before we left.
My husband had the special, a sloppy joe on a big, soft, obviously homemade bun. Despite its fresh tenderness, the bun held up well to its filling of tangy, meaty hamburger in sauce. It was served with fresh-dill dip for the accompanying bagged chips.
I had my favorite, the chicken salad on wheat. Like everything else at Skool Lunch, this sandwich shows the delicious results that come when restaurants use simple, absolutely fresh and high-quality ingredients. The salad itself was mainly chicken, lightly sauced and flavored with cashews, and the fresh baby greens that dressed the sandwich.
The kids shared a grilled-cheese sandwich distinguished by its perfect, buttery crispness and the real Cheddar cheese melting inside. We all sampled from two cups of soup, the strong, simple three-cheese, and the chicken noodle, with white chicken pieces, housemade noodles and tiny whole carrots.
For dessert, there are always cookies, bars and other treats. That day, we had a chocolate-chip cookie (buttery and rich, my husband's favorite), a chewy cinnamon-dusted snickerdoodle, a marshmallow crispy and (my favorite) a moist, fat little macaroon with browned-chewy edges and a topping of chocolate and nuts.
They tell me Skool Lunch is moving nearby for the duration of the downtown reconstruction. And I say, thank heaven for that.Breakfast items (served 7-11 a.m.) 75 cents-$4.90, salads $1.80-$6, soups $2-$3.25, sandwiches $2.30-$5.85, desserts 85 cents-$1.35.
Where: 60 E. South Temple (other locations at 405 S. Main, 3981 S. 700 East in Murray and 12244 S. Business Park Drive in Draper)
Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Web site: skoollunch.comWheelchair access: Easy
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org