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UTAH COUNTY — If you are looking to go out to eat and want to try something new this weekend, here's a compilation of small, little known restaurants in Orem and Provo that provide unique dining experiences.
These restaurants serve up authentic, one-of-a-kind food as only hole-in-the-wall places can.
Asa Ramen: 1120 State St., Orem
At this Asian café, the authentic dishes are far from the cheap packaged noodles college students survive off of. The main dish menu items are simple, with only slight variances between broth flavors and noodle thickness.
Each large entrée bowl is filled with rich bone broth, cuts of tender pork belly (also known as chasu), mushrooms, bamboo shoots, green onion, a soft boiled egg, and, of course, lots and lots of wavy noodles. Also available are a variety of starters and Asian Sangria beverages.
Rating: 4.7/5 stars on Google Reviews
Lomito’s: 180 Center St., Orem
Lomito’s serves Chilean, Argentinian and Mexican dishes. Though sandwiches are not typical to Latin American cuisines, they surprisingly comprise a large portion of the menu. The friendly Chilean owner’s recommendation is the sandwich named after himself – The Lomito. This sandwich is one of a kind, served on a round, buttery roll and filled with thin slices of carne asada and ham, fried egg, tomatoes, lettuce, and a creamy sauce.
Other authentic options include cheese empanadas, Inca Cola and other sodas from out of the country, and a whole case filled with dulce de leche desserts.
Rating: 4.9/5 stars on Google Reviews
Joe’s Café: 1126 State St., Orem
The owner of this breakfast café is lovable Joe Hicks, whose southern hospitality and heavy southern food makes for an experience unlike any other in the area. Popular menu items include rich, flavorful grits, towering stacks of buttery mini pancakes, and the most loaded omelets in town.
Lunch options include greasy 1/2-pound burgers. Customers often become quick friends with Joe and end up taking their picture together and having it displayed on the restaurant wall.
Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Google Reviews
El Mexsal: 325 S. 200 West, Provo
Located in downtown Provo, this restaurant provides authentic Mexican and Salvadoran food. Its specialties include pupusas and platanos fritos. For those who are unfamiliar with Salvadoran cuisine, pupusas are a traditional dish consisting of a thick, bready corn tortilla stuffed with a variety of fillings, then topped with a salad of cabbage, carrots, onions, and jalapenos. El Mexsal’s most popular pupusa is stuffed with pork, refried beans and cheese.
Don’t forget to order a side of platanos fritos (sweet fried plantains paired with refried beans and cream) and a cup of cinnamon horchata to wash it all down.
Rating: 4.1/5 stars on Google Reviews
Five Star BBQ: 70 Geneva Road, Orem
This restaurant is all BBQ should ever be: generous portions of tender meat, tasty recipes of classic BBQ sides, and a tip of the hat to southern style in decor. A popular spot for lunch, tables fill up fast on both the ground floor and spacious top floor.
A popular choice among regulars is the slow-cooked smoked brisket, and common side pairings are mac n' cheese and BBQ beans.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars on Google Reviews
Ernie’s Sports Deli: 192 Center St., Orem
While Ernie’s has an extensive menu of meaty sandwich options, its breakfast sandwiches stand as a popular choice among customers — no matter the time of day. The employees say that their most commonly bought sandwich is the “Champ.” This indulgent meal starts with a soft, round Kaiser roll, then layered in between are two eggs, ham, bacon, sausage and American cheese.
Customers can sink their teeth into this breakfast creation while surrounded by sport-themed décor and flat screen TVs continuously streaming sports channels.
Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Google Reviews
McKenna Park is an aspiring journalist and a student at BYU studying Communications. Contact her at email@example.com.