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Draper • As the Wasatch Front has embraced the "eat local" movement over the past few years, the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley has been slower to adopt the idea as part of daily suburban living. When seeking options for quality, locally owned establishments past 90th South, the list is embarrassingly short.

So when work began on Garage Grill on Draper Parkway, residents took notice. And when muscle and race cars were clearly the theme, the throttle moved again. Fast forward to today, when the restaurant is humming, even on weekdays.

To its credit, Garage Grill serves a multifaceted clientele — as its location demands. It's really one part car museum, one part bar, one part brewery and one part restaurant. Throughout the expansive dining room, you'll find race cars, hot rods and a motorcycle along with lots of racing memorabilia.

Although televisions dot the main dining room, it's no surprise that their presence dominates the bar on the west side of the restaurant and show whatever sporting event might be your pleasure. You'll find bar bites and late-night appetizer selections here to go along with the extensive beer and wine lists and cocktails featuring mainly Utah-made or owned liquor brands.

Grab an order of crispy sweet potato fries ($6), a Bavarian pretzel ($8) or — if you're hungry or with a crowd — the Tater Tot nachos ($10). With this order, get geared up for a dinner plate full of fried tots topped with traditional nacho accompaniments of ground beef, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeños and guacamole and queso.

With all the great craft breweries in Utah, I doubted the veracity of the tiny operation of RPM Brewing near the entrance of the restaurant. I was happily proved wrong. There are six RPM beers on tap and thanks to the 55-cent samplers, we tried them all in turn. Each is car-themed in nature, like Top Gear Ale or Daytona All American IPA. The English mild British Grand Prix Nut Brown paired nicely with the steak Cobb salad entrée ($12) that featured a quality medium-rare steak, generous portions of crumbled gorgonzola, half of a ripe avocado and applewood bacon over fresh greens.

In addition to salads, the main menu yields a classic assortment of brew pub fare in the form of burgers and sandwiches, four pizzas and American-style entrées. The mushroom bacon burger ($11) was of the preformed variety, but it was seasoned well and dressed with enough earthy mushrooms, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and bacon to make the warm brioche bun worthy of its contents.

Entrees include ribs (half rack $16, full rack $26) and grilled salmon ($19) in addition to big bowls of pasta. Our server warned us that the creole chicken fettuccine ($14) was quite spicy when we ordered it and she was correct — particularly after our beer and water glasses had been empty for some time. Despite this, the peppery flavors in the creole cream sauce worked nicely with the mushrooms and tomatoes, while the blackened chicken breast hit the mark on juiciness and taste as well.

Less successful was the stroganoff ($18) that had very little ribeye to speak of and a watery cognac cream sauce that was better as a leftover once it had soaked into the pappardelle pasta overnight.

On Sundays, Garage Grill offers brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. alongside football and $2 mimosas.

Had Garage Grill stopped there, I would have generally deemed the menu a success with options for everyone. But with the addition of a list of 13 sushi rolls and nigiri and sashimi, the bar has been raised. If you sit near the kitchen, you can watch the sushi chef do his work. Most of the rolls have car-themed names and are of the tempura fried variety, and one evening featured both fish and oil long since past their prime. I ordered the Shelby Roll ($8) since I was sitting next to a classic Shelby car in the bar and could hardly stomach the rancid oil taste of the tempura, only partially disguised by the too-generous application of wasabi mayo and sriracha.

Perhaps the biggest question I had after dining at Garage Grill was this: How did this restaurant that meticulously obsessed over décor down to oil rags for napkins, mechanics toolboxes for server stands and bistro tables made out of car rims muck up the menu with bad sushi? Every décor element here screams attention to detail — but less seems to have been paid to the food menu.

Nonetheless, Draper residents now have a uniquely local restaurant in their neighborhood that serves some pretty fine beers.

Heather L. King also writes for and can be found on social media @slclunches —


Garage Grill

Food • HH

Mood • HHhj

Service • HH

Noise • bb

Garage Grill in Draper serves up brew pub fare and RPM Brewery beers alongside race cars and hot rods.

Location • 1122 E. Draper Parkway, Draper; 801-523-3339

Hours • Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Children's menu • Yes

Prices • $$

Liquor • Full bar

Corkage • $10

Reservations • Yes

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • Yes

On-site parking • Yes

Credit cards • Yes