My name is Nathaniel Baxter Tomlinson. I am a man of intellectual pursuits and refined taste. My passion for food is exceeded only by my culinary pre-eminence.
Just last night I made a classic meal from my extensive repertoire. It is a simple dish in essence, yet powerfully complex on the palate: One 7.25 oz. serving of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner “The Cheesiest” and two Hillshire Farms Polska Smoked Sausage Links, blended together and seasoned to taste with half a bottle of hot sauce.
Accented by James Beam’s fine Kentucky Bourbon and followed by a seductive chocolate cupcake Snack Pack, this meal is utilitarian, yet complex in flavor. Content with my indelible masterpiece of Polish-American fusion, I eased myself to the couch – another evening of kitchen brilliance in the books.
Inspired by my commitment to fine dining, and accurately predicting my propensity for leading classy and insightful dinner conversations, Jans recently asked me to put my wide-ranging talents to use as a food blogger. So, equipped only with a notepad and my sophisticated palate, I joined my fellow Jans employees on a Park City Food Tour.
From Mining to Dining
Run by 20-year local, Shirin Spangenberg, the Park City Food Tour is billed as “a walking historical tour with a culinary twist.” And if ever a town was tailor-made for just such a combination, it’s Park City.
Formerly a seedy enclave of silver mining, the story of our town is one of deep tunnels, railroads, prostitutes, and fires. Yet the Park City of old is in stark contrast to the current condition of the mountain destination. With the rise of ski tourism, and the subsequent influx of wealth, Park City is a gentrified façade of its former self. And I say that as a compliment.
The old railroad line has been transformed into an eco-friendly bike path. The red light district of Deer Valley Drive now features some of Park City’s choicest real estate. And Historic Main Street has become a haven for world-class restaurants, not drunken miners.
But before I steal too many of Shirin’s historical tidbits, let me share some of the specifics of my experience in the hopes of providing you with a sense of what to expect on a Park City Food Tour.
The Meeting Point
Location: 255 Main Street
Why It’s On the Tour: Conveniently placed at the very top of Main Street, the Treasure Mountain Inn sets the tour up for easy downhill walking on full stomachs. The walls of the inn are also lined with historical photographs and antiques that help provide some initial perspective for the rest of the tour.
Fun Fact: While on the run from the FBI, famed newspaper heiress turned bank robber, Patty Hearst, hid out at the Treasure Mountain Inn.
Location: 250 Main Street
The Food: Hand-breaded shrimp with mango dipping sauce. Paired with a sampling of Apricot Hefeweizen.
Why It’s On the Tour: Started in 1986, the Wasatch Brewery was the first brewery in Utah. The Wasatch Brew Pub, at the top of Main Street in Park City, was opened just two years later and was also a first. In a state famous for its distaste for alcohol, the Wasatch Brewery remains undeterred in its efforts to bring great beer to the masses.
Fun Fact: In protest of a new beer tax a few years ago, founder Greg Schirf led a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party that involved 18th century attire and four kegs of First Amendment Lager dumped into the Great Salt Lake. Greg is also the uncle of professional photographer, Mike Schirf, whose photos you see here.
Location: 412 Main Street
The Food: Wild mushroom sauté served on savory French toast with goat cheese, brandy cream, and balsamic reduction. Paired with samplings of wine.
Why It’s On the Tour: I went to a bistro on the Champs-Elysees in Paris once. The food was delicious, but I know for a fact the waiter was mocking me. Bistro 412, on the other hand, “offers a comfortable American Bistro setting with a French flair.” In other words, this restaurant serves the same delicious food as a classic French bistro without the cruel judgment of your language skills.
Fun Fact: The owners of Bistro 412 make annual trips to France to bring back décor additions that keep things feeling authentically French. Also, the General Manager, William Marcy is the “map guy” from the Wasatch Trails Alliance.
Location: 540 Main Street
The Food: Herbed butter and crusty bread followed by a French onion bite and a blue cornmeal dusted sea bass with a yuzu citrus marmalade accompanied by frisée salad and pickled cucumbers. And while I have no idea what I just said, it was delicious.
Why It’s On the Tour: Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Distinction since 2000, DiRoNA Award since 1995, AAA Four Diamond Award, Vacation Roost’s Top Choice Award. Put in a context that I can understand, Riverhorse on Main is the Wayne Gretzky of Park City restaurants.
Fun Fact: Riverhorse is located in Park City’s renovated Masonic Hall. Constructed in 1908, this building served as the home for the Uintah Lodge No. 7 chapter of the Masons.
Location: 838 Park Avenue
The Food: Tokyo Nachos with chopped tuna, guacamole, funky sauce, tobiko and sesame seeds. Plus Chef Adam’s special “Kitchen Sink” roll – not found on the menu and made especially for each tour.
Why It’s On the Tour: Located at the bottom of Main Street, The Flying Sumo is one of the most respected sushi restaurants in town. Sophisticated, yet with a relaxed atmosphere, The Flying Sumo offers a huge variety of fish that are fresher than anything you’d expect to find in a landlocked state.
Fun Fact: If you’re visiting Park City during the summer, The Flying Sumo offers 50% off all of their rolls and nigiri. Plus, with only an $8.00 corkage fee, you can bring the wine or sake of your choosing. It’s a great way to get some of the best sushi in town without spending a fortune.
Mixed in between the various restaurants were stops at Park City’s historic Egyptian Theatre, the now famous graffiti work of UK-based artist, Banksy, and Mountain Town Olive Oil Co for an extensive taste test. Throughout the tour Shirin provided us with unique insight into the evolution of Park City as we know it today, and the history of the restaurants in which we dined.
More than just a gluttonous walking tour of Main Street, the Park City Food Tour was an informative and sophisticated experience. With so many restaurants to choose from, Shirin’s expert guidance provided the perfect sampling of the diverse dining options that Main Street has to offer.
And while I’m clearly not the food snob I jokingly professed to be, the Park City Food Tour was in no way a pretentious or exclusionary experience. Whether you’re a true foodie looking to sample Park City’s finest restaurants, or simply a hungry history buff, the Park City Food Tour is welcoming to all.
Nate Tomlinson, Senior Content Writer