Elegant fruit tart, classic French pastries and rainbow assortment of macarons, The French Spot, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Jeremy Beitler, St. George News
ST. GEORGE —There was a time when the closest thing to international dining in Southern Utah was Taco Bell. No offense to Taco Bell, there is always a time to “run to the border.” But fortunately, the area is now becoming a melting pot of sorts, and the epicurious can find authentic and exotic tastes of Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Central American and Jamaican.
Red Fort has been dishing it out in St. George since 2018. Their second location is in Layton.
“Our flavors are simple, bold and very friendly to the taste buds,” owner and manager Shamsher Singh said.
The joy of Indian fare is the depth of spices and sauces blended with rich flavors of tomato, garlic, onion, ginger and curry, all of which are begging to be sopped up with rice or shoveled by a warm piece of naan (flat bread). Many tend to be intimidated by Indian food whether it is the strong fragrance or lack of familiarity to know what to order. Red Fort has an expansive and traditional menu and options to ease in, for those not familiar with the cuisine.
“Chicken tikka masala is very popular and what we recommend for first time or people worried about too much spice,“ Singh suggested.
All dishes can be prepared to the diner’s spice tolerance if fear of too much heat. And for those wanting a little heat, Singh advises medium.
“Another dish I suggest is the vegetable coconut kurma, it’s our most popular vegetarian dish.”
Like most Indian restaurants, Red Fort does not offer beef, as this meat is not kosher in the Hindi diet; however, Red Fort has plenty of lamb, seafood, and chicken dishes.
Since any of the menu items can be prepared meatless, Red Fort has a cult following of vegetarians and vegans, and options include lentils, chickpeas, spinach and mushroom dishes. Diners may not consider the vegetable okra as a main course, but the daman bhindi is a surprising dark horse.
With over 225 seats, the friendly staff at Red Fort hustles, as even with a full house there is never a long wait.
- 148 S. 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-fry dishes, 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. Once served, it is common to doctor it up with additional lime, basil or bean sprouts.
While Ah’sya advertises its hours of operation Monday through Saturday for lunch and early dinner, closing at 6 p.m., there are times, to one’s chagrin, it is not open. While this may be aggravating at times, it is forgivable because their dishes are solid. Call ahead to avoid disappointment.
- 929 W. Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-627-1272
37 Degree K-Eatery
Around the corner from Ah’sya, 37 Degree K-Eatery also is in Phoenix Plaza. COVID-19 was hard on the retail space in this strip. The space, previously housing ’Bout Time and then Sugars, now is home to 37 Degrees K-Eatery, which offers a classic Korean menu. It is very different from the previous footprint of Sugars. 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 dining to St. George. Main dishes, include Bibimbap, served with banchan dishes, small plate appetizers, which are typically pickled and fermented vegetables. Ms. Kim procures organic produce when available and serves gluten-free dishes. While traditional Korean dishes are beef-heavy, the beef, as well as pork, are grass-fed. Kim and her staff also ferment their own soy sauces and kombuchas.
- 929 W. Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-429-6866
The French Spot
Francophiles can get their fix at The French Spot in Cedar City. Chef Michael Attali, raised in Lyon, France, and his daughter Leah opened the restaurant 7 years ago. This restaurant is their second location at 18 S. Main), adjacent to their original outdoor/order at the kiosk setting (5 N. Main).
Chef Michael, classically trained with worldly experience, has created a menu that is a true representative of French dining.
“The gratin Dauphinois is really popular, it’s from the region my dad is from. It’s a potato dish with gruyere and crème fraiche,” Leah Attali said.
When asked to describe to Utah diners, what makes French food uniquely French?
“Its technique, which is very traditional and layers of learning, and also using quality products,” she said. “(We) try to source good butter and good cream – is actually harder to find than you think.”
Butter and cream are the fundamental ingredients making the rich cuisine quintessentially French.
In addition to the menu of eggs, salads and classic bistro entrees like filet mignon au poivre, there is an abundance of homemade French pastries including croissants, sweet-filled crepes, eloquent tarts, and a rainbow assortment of macarons (layered cookies). Open 7 days a week, 8 a.m – 10 p.m., for meals, sips of wine or just a sweet treat.
- 18 S. Main Street, Cedar City 435-263-0586
Tias Artisan Bakery and Restaurant is an unsuspecting establishment in the Sunset Dixie Plaza, flanked by the UPS store and D.U.B’s BBQ. Tias is the brainchild of sisters-in-law, Corina Velasquez and Ellie Christov, following years of conversations about opening a restaurant while enjoying family meals that combined the unique notes from El Salvador, Mexico and Bulgaria. They have been sharing their dishes with the public since 2020.
“Our food is beautiful, flavorful and unique because of the combinations we use,” Christov said. “We blend authentic and traditional flavors to create extraordinary experiences through tastes.”
Though the menu has items that are Mexican in presentation, they are prepared with flavors not typically Mexican, but Salvadorian. The Bulgarian touches are seen in the bean and vegetable preparation which use whole beans versus refried.
The mainstay of Tias is their pupusas, which are warm flatbreads often stuffed 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 at-the-counter ordering. And because everything is made to order, it’s worth the wait.
For those not knowing where to start in their enticing menu, Tias makes the decision easy with their “little bit of everything” platter.
- 1812 W. Sunset Boulevard, St. George 435-767-7797
Papa’s Got Jerk
Cheryl Walker-Ashcraft brought her Jamaican roots and cooking influence to St. George after moving to the area in 2012. Her restaurant Papa’s Got Jerk opened in The Shoppes at Zion outlet in November 2021.
“Jamaican food is a combination of different cultures blended into one with savory spices and natural herbs that awaken the tastebuds,” she said.
“Jerk” refers to a blend of spices and seasons African endangered servants could harvest in the days of colonization. Those new to Jamaican cuisine should order based on their spice desire. Not all Jamaican food is spicey – truly only the dishes with jerk spices will have a bit more heat. The other staple dishes are a blend of rich and savory flavors.
Papa’s Got Jerk is bright and cozy for indoor dining and a has few tables outside as well. The menu has Jamaican institutions, including the jerk chicken where the chicken is on the bone, jerk seasoned and grilled.
“The most popular surprisingly are the oxtail and the curry goat,” Walker-Ashcroft said
However, just like most businesses dealing with supply chain issues, they cannot rely on daily deliveries of these unique ingredients, so it might not be available each day despite its popular demand. This just allows visitors to try one of the other delicious options like the curry chicken or Rasta pasta.
Honing into her catering experience, Walker-Ashcraft also provides prepped meals that are ready to go, just heat and eat to add some variety or spice to a household daily routine.
- 250 W. Red Cliffs Drive, St. George 435-218-7266
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