February 6, 2004, Friday Late Edition - Final
Section F Page 3 Column 1 Desk: Escapes Length: 2551words
JOURNEYS; 36 Hours | Salt Lake City
By CHRIS DIXON
DURING the winter, most visitors to Utah come to sample ''theGreatest Snow on Earth,'' and for those people, Utah's capital, SaltLake City, is little more than a convenient way station. But a visitto Utah is really not complete without spending some time in thissprawling historic city. Situated directly below the towering WasatchFront, Salt Lake might have the most spectacular scenery of anymetropolis in the nation. It also has beautiful 1900's neighborhoods,hip restaurants, a large array of antiques shops and is, of course,the spiritual center of the Mormon Church. Nonskiers and those takinga day off from the slopes can spend a fascinating, even otherworldly,weekend in the town that Brigham Young and 147 weary pioneersestablished in 1847. But first some practical advice. The city isbuilt on a grid, and streets radiate outward from Temple Square andare designated by hundreds. For example, 100 South is the firststreet south of the square; 100 East, the first to the east. Localswould call the intersection of 300 East and 300 South ''Third Eastand Third South.'' CHRIS DIXON
1. It's Cold Out; Eat In
While there are plenty of reasons to spend a night at the newlyrenovated Hotel Monaco, the best might be its restaurant, Bambara(202 South Main Street, 801-363-5454). A stylish yet casual bistroand bar, Bambara has quickly established one of the more creativemenus in town. For an appetizer, try the wild mushroom and chevrestrudel with sweet onion jam ($8), followed by corn bread-stuffedchicken breast and roasted-garlic mashed potatoes ($18) or a dish ofpan-seared Maine scallops with celery root purée and leekfondue ($22).
2. Broadway and Opera Go West
Just down the block from the Monaco, the 1,800-seat CapitolTheater (50 West 200 South, 801-355-2787) originally opened as theOrpheum in 1913 and was host to the top entertainers and vaudevilleacts of the day. Now the restored Beaux-Arts theater is home tovisiting Broadway shows, the Utah Opera and local dance companieslike Ririe-Woodbury. Coming soon: ''Oklahoma'' and ''The Girl of theGolden West.''
3. A Browser's Breakfast
On your way to the Oasis Cafe (151 South 500 East, 801-322-0404)for breakfast, take a detour to East South Temple Street and drive afew blocks north into the neighborhoods around E through J Streets.You might just decide that one of the affordable century-old houseswould make a good home. The Oasis is a bustling, wood-grainedestablishment filled with skiers, hippies and intellectuals (the NewAge Golden Braid Bookstore is next door). You could do far worse thanthe cranberry-sourdough French toast ($7.60) or German buttermilkpancakes with fresh blueberries ($7.45).
4. In With the Old
After breakfast, take a three-block walk to 300 East and 300South. Here you'll find antiques dealers jumbled together in 17,000square feet of bygone nirvana at shops like Carmen Miranda's and SaltLake Antiques. Jitterbug Toys (279 East 300 South, 801-537-7038) iscrammed with vintage Hot Wheels, original G.I. Joes (a good one runsabout $125) plus Lionel trains, Tonka trucks and Tinkertoys. KenSanders Rare Books (268 South 200 East, 801-521-3819) has more than200,000 volumes, all chosen by Mr. Sanders. One of his gems: an 1830first edition of ''The Book of Mormon,'' the writings upon whichJoseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
5. Midday, With Cheese
Carlucci's Bakery (314 West 300 South, 801-366-4484) is acharming, quiet little corner cafe in the Pierpont District. Try thetomato basil soup with grilled cheese on nine-grain bread as preparedby the owner and chef Therese Roper ($5.95). Or you might also optfor the portobello on focaccia ($5.95) or the Black Forest ham andbrie sandwich ($5.50). Save room for an arborio rice pudding withdried cherries ($3.50) and grab one of the excellent coffee drinks togo.
6. A Gallery Crawl
Latte in hand, stroll tiny, funky Pierpont Avenue. Art Access (339West Pierpont Avenue, 801-328-0703), specializes in jury shows fordisadvantaged and disabled artists. Just down Pierpont isElementé, with 5,500 square feet of retro furniture (353 WestPierpont Avenue, 801-355-7400). Here, you might find a gooseneckfloor lamp for $38 or a pair of eight-foot 15-paned French doors for$250. A block away, the 4,000-square-foot Artspace Forum (511 West200 South, 801-521-5999) is one of the city's top independentshowcases for Southwest artists.
7. The Celestial Kingdom
The 35-acre Temple Square is Utah's No. 1 tourist attraction, aswell as the epicenter of the Mormon Church. At the South Visitors'Center just off South Temple Street, you can pick up a map of thesquare and take a touch-screen tour showing the construction of themain temple (it took more than 40 years to complete). If you're not aconfirmed Mormon, you won't be allowed inside, but you can get a goodidea of the interior by visiting the smaller Assembly Hall, built in1880 with granite left over from construction of the temple. At theNorth Visitors' Center, biblical events are presented on film, andthere is a 15-minute movie that depicts the creation of the church.After Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 in Illinois, Brigham Youngemerged as the head of the church. His home, Beehive House (67 EastSouth Temple Street), is on the National Register of Historic Places.Because Mormon belief holds that the souls of the dead can be savedby living relatives, the church maintains the Family History Library(35 North West Temple), one of the largest caches of genealogicalrecords in the world. You can research your ancestry until 10 p.m. onSaturdays.
More earthly delights are available around the corner from TempleSquare at the Blue Iguana (165 South West Temple, 801-533-8900). Thechef, Manuel Castillo, offers more than seven types of mole withchicken or steak, rice and peas and tortillas ($14). Combinationplatters run from $9 to $12, and the bar serves a variety of''Iguanaritas'' and Mexican beers.
9. Voices on High
Almost every Sunday morning the 360 volunteer members of theMormon Tabernacle Choir sing at the Tabernacle in Temple Square. Theegg-shaped hall, with its 150-foot roof span is an acoustical marvel(tour guides are found of dropping a pin on the stage to demonstratejust how well sound carries), and the nearly 12,000-pipe organ isamong the largest in the world. Concerts are broadcast from 9:30 to10 a.m., but you need to be in your seat by 9:15. Admission is free.(No one under 6 is allowed.)
10. A Quiet Brunch
The Park Cafe (604 East 1300 South, 801-487-1670) sits on the edgeof 80-acre Liberty Park, a place of towering cottonwoods,cross-country skiers and the seven-acre Tracy Aviary, home of 400birds. Situated in a house at the south entrance of the park, the50-seat cafe's walls are covered with paintings by local artists. TheSunday morning clientele mirrors Salt Lake's diverse population ofskiers, artists, yuppies and churchgoers. The Mexican hash ($6.75) ismade with chorizo, onions, potatoes and eggs with tortillas, whileegg dishes like the fresh herb scramble ($5.95) come with a freshbiscuit and house potatoes.
11. The Downhill Slide
This has been the snowiest Utah winter in decades, and it's ashame to waste all that powder. Nonskiers can pick up a plasticslider at a discount store and make tracks for the 180-acre SugarHouse Park (1300 East 2100 South, 801-483-5473), but they will haveto walk up the 100-yard hill. At Gorgoza Park (3863 West Kilby Road,Parley's Canyon), 20 minutes east of downtown on Interstate 80,there's a lift-served inner-tube sledding hill, with runs of 600 to1000 feet. Two hours is $8 a slider, tube included.
Visiting Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City International Airport is served by most majorairlines and rental-car companies. It is a 10-minute drive fromdowntown.
Built in 1926, the Art Deco Hotel Monaco (15 West 200 South,877-294-9710) is in the heart of downtown. The 225-room hotel allowspets; if you haven't brought your own, the Monaco will supply agoldfish in a bowl. Weekend rates run from $169 to $235.
The Armstrong Mansion Bed and Breakfast (667 East 100 South,800-708-1333) has just 15 rooms and offers skiing and dining weekendpackages for $349, including dinner and a day's lift ticket. Roomsstart at $99, with breakfast.
Images: Photos (Photographs by Tom Smart for The New York Times)
Map of Utah highlighting Salt Lake City and points of interest.(Drawing by Steven Shukow for The New York Times)