Well, it’s 2021 and the most exciting travel plans I’ve had in the last year is the daily trek from my bed, to my couch, and to my fridge—with a roundtrip ticket, of course. And while some of the pandemic-induced cultural shifts have grown on me—like working from home and having a dress code of comfy clothes—my love, or my need, to travel has become an itch that’s difficult to appease.
To everyone else who has felt the same way, fear not—I’ve found a local solution fit to tame even the most ardent of wanderlust: restaurant takeout.
Believe it or not, Utah is home to a variety of restaurants with cuisines from all around the world. While most of us might not get the chance to board an airplane any time soon, we can, however, experience the tastes of unique travel destinations in our own state. So next time you’re bitten by the travel bug, try ordering takeout from one of the five “must taste” destinations in this Takeout Travel Guide:
Destination #1: Zaferan Cafe
Location: Cottonwood Heights
Food Type: Persian
When I say that Zaferan Cafe serves authentic Persian food, I mean A-U-T-H-E-N-T-I-C Persian food. When I first looked at the menu, I didn’t even know where to start. But I decided on the Mixed Kabob entrée. And it did not disappoint. In fact, it may have been one of the best meals in my entire life. Persian food is something I hadn’t tried before making the entire meal an exploration of new tastes, textures, and yes, even colors. The chicken and beef kabobs were so tender that the meat almost fell right off of the stick. And to top it off, the service gets a 10/10, and two big thumbs up from me—the owner even took the time to explain the different colorful seasonings on the food, and provided us with extra samples!
Destination #2: Zulu Piri Piri Chicken Grille
Food Type: South African
I first heard about Zulu Piri Piri Chicken Grille from the viral Utah TikTok account, Eat Freaks. When the urge to try something new appeared, I knew I had to go. Now, you might be wondering what Piri Piri chicken is. Well, according to Zulu, it’s fire grilled chicken marinated in “African bird’s eye peppers.” Still not sure what that means? Think tender, grilled chicken, with a deep savory seasoning. Each of the entrées offered at Zulu pairs with the chicken in a different way. I enjoyed the Piri Piri Chicken Salad topped with fresh vegetables, goat cheese, and Piri Piri ranch (it’s so creamy). I genuinely couldn’t get enough of it, and was shocked that I had gone this long without Piri Piri chicken as a staple in my life. And if the idea of delectable food isn’t what gets you to Zulu Piri Piri Chicken Grille, then maybe you’ll go because for every meal purchased, they donate a portion of a meal to a child in Africa.
Destination #3: Lomito’s
Food Type: South American
In my book, if a restaurant can make great fries and great chicken, they automatically sit at the top of my favorites list. Lomito’s (the cutest mom-and-pop South American food restaurant) is the perfect intersection of just that. At Lomito’s you can choose between classic Chilean, Argentine, and Peruvian entrées. I’m a particular fan of their Ave Palta Sandwich (Chilean) and their Pollo Saltado (Peruvian). The Ave Palta is a juicy chicken sandwich on fresh baked bread (yes, they bake their bread fresh every day!), with a thick layer of avocado and tomatoes. And the Pollo Saltado is grilled chicken on top of seasoned rice and a bed of crispy french fries. To be honest, I’m totally guilty of ordering both, and saving half of each for later. It’s just that good.
Destination #4: Sicilia Mia
Food Type: Italian
Up next is a destination I highly recommend visiting in person—but for obvious pandemic-related reasons it’s at least worth getting to-go. Picture this: a giant wheel of cheese with pasta noodles being tossed around in it, coating them in a delicious and rich layer of thick cheese, and then, it’s lit on fire. Yup. That’s what they’ll do at Sicilia Mia when you order their Signature Carbonara. The dish is truly decadent and rich. So much so, that my taste buds were flooded with creamy and cheesy goodness and I couldn’t even finish the serving in one sitting (pro tip: it’s delicious as leftovers too). Sicilia Mia’s food tastes like a portal right into the heart of Italy.
Destination #5: Spicy Thai
Food Type: Thai
I was 19 years old when I finally tried Thai food for the first time, and since then I’ve been completely obsessed with Spicy Thai. I constantly find myself daydreaming about their food during the work day. Lucky for me (but to the detriment of the top button on my jeans), they have a delicious lunch special that you can get to-go. Included in the special is a chicken curry (I highly recommend the yellow curry), soup, and an egg roll or fresh roll. Make sure to save some room for desert and get an order of mango sticky rice. Your taste buds will thank me later. Each bite of your meal will transport you halfway across the world to Thailand—but don’t worry, you’ll be able to make it back before your 2 pm Zoom call. Pro tip: You can order from Spicy Thai on Doordash! You don’t even need to leave your house (Doordash delivery is my love language).
And there you have it. The Takeout Travel Guide. When you’re on your way to pick up the takeout, make sure to buckle your seat belt, and enjoy the flight (well, the drive) to your destination.