Here are some local eateries in the downtown area that can feed your flock during general conference weekend, as well as a few suggestions for those who wish to venture farther afield.

Support the home team

If you want to make your general conference day an all-LDS-all-the-time experience, you have four LDS Church-owned options just a hop, skip and jump from the Conference Center. They are not, of course, open on Sunday.

The priciest, for which reservations are recommended, is The Roof (539-1911; 5-10 p.m. Saturday), in the northwest corner of the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, 15 E. South Temple. The advantage of this upscale buffet for conferencegoers is that you can get in and out quickly compared to most fancy restaurants.

But if you want a nice atmosphere that's slightly more budget-friendly, step across the be-fountained atrium to The Garden (539-1911; 5-10 p.m. Saturday). Watch the sun go down over the city as you sample wild boar and chicken quesadillas with roasted corn salsa or, my favorite, slow-cooked tri-tip over crispy beets with potatoes and veggies.

Tucked into yet another corner of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building — this time, the ground floor's southwest corner — is Nauvoo Cafe.

Lion House Pantry, the oldest of the church-owned options listed here, is being remodeled and won't be serving chicken cordon bleu, tapioca pudding and crab-stuffed tomato salad for this conference. We are promised an April 9 re-opening. Ah, well. There's always October.

Venturing out

On the other hand, downtown is sure to be a zoo on conference weekend. You might be better off, even with travel time, to head down the road a piece.

Just a few blocks and a free TRAX ride from Temple Square is The Gateway (400 West between 50 North and 100 South) with its myriad restaurants. Some of my favorites are upscale Italian at Biaggi's (596-7222; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday) or the chorizo-and-pepper-stuffed pork tenderloin medallions in cream sauce at Z Tejas (see www.ztejas.com).

If that's too close, drive down I-215 east for the Cottonwood Corporate Center area (6200 South exit) to enjoy the valley's freshest seafood — and, incidentally, a fantastic kids' menu — at Market Street Grill, 2985 E. Cottonwood Parkway (942-8860, open 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Sunday).

Or hop across the street to enjoy nicely priced Greek favorites and locally produced art at Dasks (6522 S. 3000 East, 733-5010, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays).

Enjoying the evening

Before my husband and I had kids, we liked going out after the Saturday night priesthood session for a late supper. Once in a while, we'd meet other couples and make an evening of it, and one of our favorite stops was Red Iguana, 736 W. North Temple (322-1489; reservations recommended for six or more; Saturday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.).

I can't seem to order anything at Red Iguana but the rich, nutty, chocolate-infused mole poblano or the chili verde burrito, a divine blend of chili verde, beans and cheese that is so delicious it has ruined me for all others of its kind, anywhere.

However, a look through Red Iguana's menu reveals such enticing options as mole verde (green veggies with pumpkin seeds and spices over chicken or turkey) and sopa de queso, a soup with strips of Anaheim and poblano chiles, potatoes, tomatoes and onions, with jack cheese and crema mexicana on top.

I think Red Iguana is a genuine Utah treasure, one of the places that gives us distinction and personality. It's a great place for conferencegoers to get back in touch with the wider world in one of the best ways you can: enjoying some of its wonderfully varied flavors.


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News.E-mail: skratz@desnews.com