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What To Eat and Do In Salt Lake City During AOTA

Written by Nikolai Wedekind, Published on April 18, 2018

The national AOTA conference is in SLC this year, and I couldn't be more excited to share my city with my favorite profession. Some may label SLC as boring . . . like, “hey your night life isn’t that great,” or “there isn’t as much to do downtown as (NYC, LA, San Fran, Des Moines).” Yes, I know. But the thing is, it’s an outdoor state. It will blow your mind, especially if you’ve never had a chance to experience the great outdoors. Get outside if you can over the 4 days of AOTA — or stay longer!

I’ve been living here for a number of years, and am happy to call it home base. If you’re staying in the downtown area, there are plenty of places to get to with a short walk, bike, run, or Uber if you’re tired after logging all the steps at AOTA. I’m going to share a few of my favorite “quick” things to do around the city, mostly which consist of food, if we’re being honest.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorites within walking distance of the convention center. Many of these places offer vegetarian options as well.

My opinions vary widely on day of the week/appetite/energy/mood. Eat at your own risk.

Eat these things:

Close to downtown: all walkable, all yummy!

Red Rock

Another Utah classic: this one’s a local brewery. Stop in for some solid eats and local brew.


Down the block. See description for Red Rock. Also, they do brunch.

Pretty Bird

A chicken shop that will not disappoint. Hot chicken sandwich. Do it.


A great Italian restaurant on Regent street. If you don’t mind spending a little more, this one’s a great option.

Este Pizzeria

All the bizarre pizza toppings you want, including the classics. Just be sure to be in a pizza mood when you go here.


Offers great Italian thin crust pizza along with gelato. You’re walking all the steps at AOTA, so you earned it.

Red Iguana

A Utah classic, always busy, always a line, always yummy. Get the molé sampler, pick a molé, and get wowed.

Blue Iguana

This one is close to the convention center and offers decent Mexican food. Not to be confused with the Red Iguana, which I find to have better molé.

Taqueria 27

Amazing street style tacos — can’t miss on this one. Have yet to order something I didn’t like.


Döner Kebab. Although I usually get the street cart fries when I go here.

Vegan and vegetarian options

I don’t personally eat Vegan very often, so I had to take to the authoritative world of social media to get some opinion. The top choices were definitely Bud’s, Trolley Wing Co, Copper Onion, Omar’s Rawtopia, and Zest.  Here goes, leading off with an opinion from a trusted friend:

“I will say most places have at least a couple veg options. For a less fancy option I really like Zao. Poplar and Proper Burger both have great veggie burgers. Mazza is also a great option for Mediterranean food.”

Buds vegan sandwich shop is good. It's just a shop window with an outdoor eating area so it's a less formal venue.”


“Buds if it's warm and you can eat outside (no indoor seating).”

Trolley Wing Co in Sugarhouse has AMAZING vegan wings. Don't get the vegetarian ones. The vegan ones are better. My fave sauce is Jamaican Honey BBQ.”

Copper Onion - super good. [Friend] is vegetarian and it’s one of her faves.”

Omar’s Rawtopia is amazing - I cannot recommend enough. Omar is one of the the best humans.”

Zest is my fav!”

“I agree with Zest!! Very tasty!”


“@zest is definitely my favorite!”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Veggie House
  • Lil’ Lotus
  • Vertical Diner
  • Seasons Plant Based Bistro
  • Sage’s Cafe
  • Aubergine & Company
  • Poplar Street Pub
  • Lake Effect [/box]

Do these things:

Hike the living room. Yes, it’s a hike, flagstones at the top arranged like couches. There used to be a remote up there. Great view of the city. Great spot for pictures, like this one I snapped last fall. 

AOTA Salt Lake City Living Room

Jog a lap or two at liberty park.

Go skiing. We typically ski through May in this state. 14 resorts. Here’s one of me at Snowbird.

AOTA Salt Lake City skiing

 Visit a national park if you’re around for an extra day or two. We have five.

Walk up to Ensign peak, same reason as #1, except the hike is a little easier. Check it out, I hiked on up there just the other day:

AOTA Salt Lake City Ensign Peak

Take a tour of Temple Square. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is officially headquartered here.

Eating, hiking, skiing, and learning — all great things to do while you're in town for AOTA!

Topics:AOTAAOTA conferenceNew Grad Successsalt lake cityTemporary or Jokes

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