You can’t get anything to drink in Utah you to say. Or at least you can’t get a proper drink in Utah. You are actually quite wrong, and the following news today proves it she wrong again. And no, this is not a chatbot driven list, this is serious food industry praise.

Today the grand semi-finalist for the annual James Beard Foundation (JBF) industry awards is announced; the JBF is rumored to be the North American answer to Europe’s revered Michelin awards. Say what you like about contests and pageants – everyone wants to win one. And everyone pulls the trophy on his coat…

Anyway, back to the headline. The Post Office Place in Salt Lake City is among the select few this year for being featured in the Outstanding Bar Program; a collection of the top twenty bars in the United States today, according to the JBF. The post office first opened in 2018, replacing Kristauf’s martini bar in downtown SLC (Market Street). Initially viewed by many as a sort of pre- and post-game meeting place for the adjacent Takashi (which POP owns and operates), the bar is quickly gaining a confidence of its own.

The bar started with a Peruvian-Japanese menu of small bites created by Executive Chef Tommy Nguyen (who now works his special magic at The Pearl with Vietnamese cuisine) and has since evolved. In recent years the bar has become known for its collection of Japanese whiskies. If you’re reading this hot off the press today (Wednesday 25th), get the stats and take advantage of their Whiskey Wednesdays, where all Japanese whiskeys are 20% off.

POP is also joined on the list by a few other big hitters. Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm in Boulder is a semi-finalist for outstanding restaurants for the second year running. Her first nomination in this category last year was a first for the state of Utah. The 2023 award comes on the heels of last year’s crowd-sourcing success, which appears to have secured the popular eatery’s short- to medium-term future.

Manoli Katsanevas at Meet Your Maker 2018 at Roast Lamb

Back in Salt Lake City, Manoli’s, an expert in gourmet Greek cuisine, takes home an award for Hospitality Excellence. Again, a first for Utah as far as I know. Manoli Katsanevas’ must-visit joint has been at the top of many dining lists in the state since it was opened in 2015 by the eponymous Katsanevas (yes, that’s the same name as a certain Crown Burger family).

As we ventured into the mountainous region of top chefs (we were mercifully scooped out of the Southwest a few years ago), Utah earned plaudits for seven other beehive chefs working in four local kitchens. Namely:

  • Paul Chamberlain and Logen Crew, SLC Eatery, Salt Lake City
  • Andrew Fuller, Oquirrh, Salt Lake City
  • Briar Handly, Griff, Park City, UT
  • Young-Ho Kang and Peter Kim, The Angry Korean, South Jordan
  • Ali Sabbah, Mazza, Salt Lake City

One and all excellent restaurants and chefs. The full list of semi-finalists can be found on the JBF website. From here, the crowds will dwindle again in March before a final awards show beckons in Chicago in June (never say the Oscars are being dragged out ;). We hope to see some of the faces listed above at the big summer party.

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