Art: Jan Perkins
Just minutes from Park City, the towns of Wanship and Kamas make charming stops on the way to and from outdoor adventures, or along the route of a scenic drive. But to those of us who are preoccupied with food, they also suggest the opportunity for a certain kind of pleasurable roadside dining—the kind you can enjoy in shorts and hiking boots, usually without reservations.
Stop in at the Spring Chicken Inn on Highway 189 in Wanship toward the end of a bike ride on the Rail Trail or on a Sunday drive when you’re feeling, shall we say, a bit peckish. This fixture of a restaurant sports authentically corny décor (a chicken motif, of course), and plenty of moist, juicy fried chicken. The menu includes a selection of other standard diner items, but why not stick with the specialty of the house? A chicken dinner, with your choice of dark or light meat and excellent fries or a baked potato, comes with an iceberg lettuce salad overflowing in a shallow plastic bowl. It’s all good, including the gooey banana cream pie for dessert. Highway 189, Wanship, 435.336.5334.
In Kamas, you have a few more choices. On the upscale side is the Gateway Grille where chef Sean Wharton’s fresh, seasonal food and flower-lined patio are locally famous. This summer, Wharton plans to feature an abundance of seasonal salads with ingredients fresh from Ranui Gardens in Coalville. Look for lovely greens with pea shoots, watercress, arugula, perhaps with roasted pistachios, cambozola and grilled berry vinaigrette. On Friday and Saturday nights, Wharton features fire roasted buffalo prime rib with roasted corn chile sauce. Or, you can always go lighter with a smoked shredded pork quesadilla. Open Monday-Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a tip from the locals: make reservations for weekend nights. 215 S. Main, Kamas, 435.783.2867.
Just across the street, Pasillas has its own wonderful vibe—super casual, with plenty of spicy personality on the menu and at the tables, frequented by regulars. It’s never easy to decide among all the delectable Mexican style selections, but the Ahi tacos are mighty fine. The chili relleno and grilled shrimp combination with a citrus salad and spicy black beans tastes light but indulgent at the same time with its contrasting flavors and textures. Pasillas also serves a superb tortilla soup as well as several tempting vegetarian options, including a potato-stuffed relleno with grilled polenta, black beans and a salad of baby greens. And don’t forget dessert: think vanilla flan with a dusting of cinnamon, or an espresso fudge brownie. Closed Mondays. 185 S. Main, Kamas, 435.783.6982.
Provisions, as the name implies, makes a good stop for stocking up on sandwiches or wraps in box lunches to go. Crumbly, fresh morning scones are a good on-the-run bet here, too. It’s a funky little spot, nothing fancy, but the food is good and hearty. Look for the building with the mural. Open daily, except holidays. 30 N. Main, Kamas, 435.783.6898.
If it’s a great cup of java or a steamed fresh latté you crave, stop along the Mirror Lake Highway at the clean, compact Samak Store and Smokehouse. Like their brochure says, “It’s a crazy place. You can buy an espresso and get fishing worms.” And, their smoked trout and all natural beef, turkey and buffalo jerky is a must-have for picnics, camping, on the road, or to take home. Open daily; two-and-one-half miles from central Kamas. 1937 Mirror Lake Highway, 435.783.4880.