It ain't Paris, but more and more, Salt Lake City is looking like the home of the sidewalk cafe. Eating places from McDonald's to the Market Street Broiler are offering outdoor dining this year.
Take Trolley Square.There's the Pub, with its collegiate clientele, Cafe Central and its rendezvous atmosphere, very upbeat E.I.B.O.'s, the wrought-iron works at Green Street; all of them feature tables where diners can enjoy - and contribute to - the bustle of city life.
"A lot of restaurants that have the location for outdoor dining have gone to outside tables now," says Amy Mayne, manager of Market Street Broiler. "People are cooped up all winter and they love to get out. Our busiest time of the year is from May - when we open the patio - until we close the patio in the fall."
A new law in town will allow restaurants to put tables right on the sidewalk (to spiff up the downtown area), but for now here are 10 Salt Lake City eating spots that feature a pleasant, outdoor atmosphere as well as good food and service. If you have a favorite that's not listed, drop us a note:
RUTH'S DINER; Up Emigration Canyon; Phone 582-5807.
To paraphrase a famous Yogi Berra line, "Nobody goes to Ruth's anymore, it's way too crowded." Ruth's is well-known for its inventive menu, its Sunday morning brunch bunch and its outdoor dining area.
In the evenings you can ponder the lofty Wasatch mountains while listening to folksingers sing pleasant songs from the '60s. Many say it's the best outdoor dining in town. Opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast, stays open until 10 p.m.
THE MARKET STREET BROILER; 258 S. 13th East; Phone 583-8808.
Fish city here. And a bustling little patio just off 13th East with umbrellas and sturdy wooden tables. A wonderful spot for people watching. Some types who stroll by make you feel you're in Toon Town.
If you want visitors to see that Salt Lake City's more lively than its lake, this is the place. Open until 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on Saturday, 10 p.m. Sunday. Reasonable and professional.
THE PARK CAFE; 604 E. 13th South; Phone 487-1670.
A favorite lunch spot. For some reason the linen table cloths and flowers on the patio remind me of cruise ship meals. One of the most inventive lunch menus in town, the cranberry/chicken sandwich is first rate. Closes at 3 p.m., then re-opens on Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for dinner.
THE LION HOUSE PANTRY; 63 E. South Temple; Phone 531-2977.
Good, Sunday-dinner-style cooking in a clean, white shirt atmosphere. One of the best kept secrets in town may be the wrought-iron dining tables in the flower garden on the Lion House patio. It's a fine place to have lunch in the open air and have some privacy at the same time.
You need a $12 membership card to dine at the Lion House, but - contrary to what many think - it's a come one, come all policy. The garden dining area is open until 2 p.m.
CROMPTON'S ROADSIDE ATTRACTION; 5195 Emigration Canyon (a couple of miles above Ruth's); Phone 583-1869.
One of my friends eats on Crompton's deck for one reason only: to watch the hummingbirds dart about.
A cool mountain breeze, a view of the peaks and an old-timey roadhouse atmosphere are three other good reasons. The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. (midnight on Friday and Saturday), but the deck usually empties just after sunset. Even in 100-degree Utah it's still possible to get chilly in the evening.
E.I.B.O.'s; In Trolley Square (700 E. Sixth South); Phone 531-7788.
Perhaps 20 times a day people in Salt Lake City say, "Let's meet at `Eye-bows,' or is is `Eee-bows?' "
The definitive feature of the place is the collection of caricatures of local celebrities found on the walls, but the outdoor tables in buoyant Trolley Square rank second.
Open till 10 p.m.
Very solid. A classic place to "do lunch" and "network."
PASTA MULINO; 859 E. Ninth South; Phone 364-8066.
Waking Owl Books is no longer at Ninth East and Ninth South and the trendy 9th and 9th Cafe is gone, but the corner is still a fun little pocket of businesses.
One is Pasta Mulino, a no-nonsense, pared-down Italian restaurant. You'll find outdoor tables and even a large picnic table for groups.
Open for lunch, then closed until 5 p.m. when it opens again for dinner.
Give the Italian sausage spaghetti a go.
MARIE CALLENDER'S; 52 W. Second South; Phone 359-7437.
I'm including a chain restaurant in this overview because this one's shown staying power. A couple of cafes have tried to make a go of it in this downtown spot, but Marie Callender's has made the location work. The reasons are down-to-earth prices and consistent family-style food.
The four outdoor tables haven't hurt a bit either.
Open most nights until 10 or later.
CAFE CENTRAL; Trolley Square; Phone 531-0895.
Part of the appeal of Cafe Central is the decor. It's more entertaining than the musicians other restaurants hire. The decorating scheme has ethnic overtones, but is it Mexican pop, gypsy, Spanish or French avant garde? The menu is just as eclectic, and the piped in music is exotic and generic.
The small outdoor tables are Salt Lake City's best version of a Paris street cafe.
Sunday brunch is especially nice.
THE MYSTERY RESTAURANT; Address withheld, phone withheld, taxes withheld.
Oddly enough, one of the best lunch spots in town refused to speak to us about hours, menu or atmosphere, saying that advertising went against their policy.
The restaurant has a creative kitchen and a cheery, summer atmosphere. Apparently "no advertising" is how "in" spots try to stay in.
At any rate, sorry.
On the bright side, maybe the "no advertising" trend will catch on at fast food outlets.