Elegant Fruit Tart, Classic French Pastries and a Rainbow Selection of Macarons, The French Spot, Cedar City, Utah, August 19, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Jeremy Beitler, St George News
ST. GEORGE –There was a time when the Taco Bell was the closest thing to international food in southern Utah. No offense to Taco Bell, there’s always a time to “run to the border.” But fortunately, the area is now becoming something of a melting pot, and foodies can find authentic and exotic tastes of Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Central American, and Jamaican cuisines.
Red Fort has been serving in St. George since 2018. Their second location is in Layton.
“Our flavors are simple, bold and very taste-friendly,” said owner and manager Shamsher Singh.
The joy of Indian cuisine is the depth of the spices and sauces mixed with rich flavors of tomato, garlic, onion, ginger and curry, all begging to be drizzled with rice or scooped with a warm piece of naan (flatbread). . Many tend to be intimidated by Indian food, whether it’s the strong scent or the lack of familiarity to know what to order. The Red Fort offers an extensive and traditional menu and relaxation options for those unfamiliar with the cuisine.
“Chicken tikka masala is very popular and we recommend it for first timers or for people worried about too much seasoning,” suggested Singh.
All dishes can be prepared according to the guest’s spice tolerance, in case too much heat is feared. And for those who want a little heat, Singh advises medium.
“Another dish I suggest is the Vegetable Coconut Kurma, our favorite vegetarian dish.”
Like most Indian restaurants, Red Fort does not offer beef as this meat is not kosher in the Hindi diet; However, the Red Fort offers many lamb, seafood, and chicken dishes.
Because all menu items can be made meatless, Red Fort has a cult following of vegetarians and vegans, and options include lentils, chickpeas, spinach, and mushroom dishes. Diners might not consider the vegetable okra a main course, but the daman bhindi is a surprising dark horse.
With over 225 seats, the friendly staff at the Red Fort is busy, because even with a full house there is never a long wait.
- 148 p. 1470 East, St. George 435-574-4050
Ah’sya has been serving Vietnamese to St. George for over 14 years. They offer traditional noodle and stir-fries sprinkled with some Thai flavors of cilantro, basil, lime and peanut. They also have a loyal following for their pho. Pho is pronounced “fa”, think “do-re-me-fa”. Pho is a steaming pot of broth, typically beef broth, with noodles and sliced meat. After serving, it’s common to garnish it with additional lime, basil, or bean sprouts.
While Ah’sya advertises its Monday-Saturday lunch and early dinner hours, closing at 6pm, there are times when it’s a shame it’s not open. While this may be annoying at times, it is forgivable as their dishes are solid. Call ahead to avoid disappointment.
- 929 W. Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-627-1272
37 degree K restaurant
Also around the corner from Ah’sya is the 37 Degree K-Eatery in the Phoenix Plaza. COVID-19 has hit retail spaces in this strip hard. The space that used to house ‘Bout Time and then Sugars now houses 37 Degrees K-Eatery, which offers a classic Korean menu. It is very different from Sugars previous footprint. 37 Degrees has a healthy Korean menu that avoids sugar and genetically modified and frozen ingredients.
Owner Meeyoung Kim has brought her vision of healthy and sustainable cuisine to St. George. Main dishes include bibimbap served with banchan dishes, small-plate appetizers typically made of pickled and fermented vegetables. Ms. Kim sources organic produce when available and serves gluten-free dishes. While traditional Korean dishes are beef-heavy, beef and pork are grass-fed. Kim and her staff also ferment their own soy sauce and kombucha.
- 929 West Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-429-6866
The French spot
Francophiles will love The French Spot in Cedar City. Chef Michael Attali, who grew up in Lyon, France, and his daughter Leah opened the restaurant 7 years ago. This restaurant is their second location at 18 S. Main, alongside their original Outdoor/Order at the Kiosk setting (5 N. Main).
Classically trained and with worldly experience, Chef Michael has created a menu that is a true representative of French cuisine.
“The Gratin Dauphinois is very popular, it comes from the region where my father comes from. It’s a potato dish with Gruyere and crème fraiche,” said Leah Attali.
When asked to describe to diners in Utah, what makes French food uniquely French?
“His technique, which is very traditional and teachable, and also the use of quality products,” she said. “(We) try to source good butter and good cream – it’s actually harder to find than you think.”
Butter and cream are the basic ingredients that make the rich cuisine typically French.
Alongside the menu of eggs, salads, and classic bistro entrees like filet mignon au poivre, there’s a plethora of homemade French pastries, including croissants, sweet-filled crepes, eloquent tarts, and a rainbow selection of macarons (layered cookies). Open 7 days a week from 8am to 10pm for meals, wine or just a sweet treat.
- 18 S. Main Street, Cedar City 435-263-0586
Tia’s Artisan Bakery and Restaurant is a clueless eatery in Sunset Dixie Plaza, flanked by the UPS Store and DUB’s BBQ. Tias is the brainchild of sisters-in-law Corina Velasquez and Ellie Christov after years of discussions about opening a restaurant while enjoying family meals that combine the unique flavors of El Salvador, Mexico and Bulgaria. Since 2020 they have been sharing their dishes with the public.
“Our food is beautiful, tasty and unique because of the combinations we use,” said Christov. “We blend authentic and traditional flavors to create extraordinary taste experiences.”
Although the menu features Mexican food, it is prepared with flavors that are not typically Mexican but Salvadorian. The Bulgarian accents can be seen in the bean and vegetable preparation, which uses whole beans as opposed to chilled ones.
The mainstay of Tias are their pupusas, warm flatbreads often filled with ingredients like cheese, beans, vegetables, shredded chicken, and beef. They also offer a variety of avocado toasts, salads, and soups. Tias is casual with orders at the counter. And because everything is made to order, it’s worth the wait.
For those who don’t know where to start with their enticing menu, Tias makes the decision easy with her record Little Bit of Everything.
- 1812 W. Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-767-7797
Dad has jerk
Cheryl Walker-Ashcraft brought her Jamaican roots and culinary influence to St. George after moving to the area in 2012. Her restaurant Papa’s Got Jerk opened in November 2021 at The Shoppes at Zion Outlet.
“Jamaican cuisine is a blend of cultures fused together with savory spices and natural herbs that awaken the taste buds,” she said.
“Jerk” refers to a mixture of spices and seasons that vulnerable African servants could harvest in the days of colonization. Those new to Jamaican cuisine should order by their spice preference. Not all Jamaican dishes are spicy – really only those dishes with jerk spices have a little more spice. The other entrees are a mix of rich and savory flavors.
Papa’s Got Jerk is bright and cozy for indoor dining and also has some outdoor tables. The menu features Jamaican specialties including jerk chicken, which features the chicken on the bone, jerk seasoned and grilled.
“The most popular are surprisingly the oxtail and the curried goat,” Walker-Ashcroft said
However, like most companies dealing with supply chain issues, they cannot count on daily shipments of these unique ingredients, so despite the high demand, they may not be available every day. So visitors can simply try one of the other delicious options like the curried chicken or the rasta noodles.
Refining their catering experience, Walker-Ashcraft also offers prepared meals that are ready to go. Simply heat and eat to add some variety or spice to everyday household life.
- 250 W Red Cliffs Drive, St George 435-218-7266
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