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Mix one part restaurant and one part thrift shop, add in an art gallery and a dash of social experiment and you get an idea of what it's like to dine at The Eklektik in Salt Lake City.

"Eklektik" is the phonetic spelling of "eclectic" and it lives up to Webster's definition — "elements drawn from various sources" — by delivering dishes from Mexico, Europe and South America in an atmosphere studded with whimsy and wonder.

A wall decorated with recycled menus hints at the variety of globe-spanning delicacies found on the restaurant's own menu. The soups, salads, small plates and entrées celebrate the places where the owners have lived and traveled — only reimagined using local ingredients when possible.

Guests will find starters and appetizers on the menu's "First Things First" section. Try the macadamia-nut-crusted calamari ($13) for a slightly sweet twist on the popular appetizer. Crunchy chopped macadamia nuts are sprinkled over fried squid and then tossed in a house sweet-and-sour sauce garnished with sesame seeds.

There are fewer soup options during the warm summer months, but don't pass up Mama's chicken soup ($7), which is easily a meal with plenty of pulled chicken, rice, garbanzo beans and melted Oaxaca cheese in a hearty stock.

Items from the "munchies" section can be shared, with plenty for everyone at the table. Spanish patatas bravas ($12), with a thick tomato and red pepper sauce, could have been delivered warmer, but each bite was packed with a marriage of sweet and acidic flavors. Queso fundido ($9), always a cheesy crowd-pleaser, is served with warm flour tortillas. Add shrimp ($6) or mushrooms ($4).

From the sandwich section, we tried the Juicy Lucy burger ($12) stuffed with bacon and cheese and topped with house-made barbecue sauce. This rich and messy meal came with a side of crispy shoestring fries and plenty of leftovers.

A chicken wing sandwich ($9) with a mixed green salad struck the right balance between decadent and healthy, while the veggie trio ($13) of flautas stuffed with cheese, potatoes and cactus caught our eye for a future visit.

Vegans and vegetarians are welcomed at The Eklektik with items that meat-lovers will find satisfying. Vegan beer-battered artichoke hearts ($9) were prepared as full hearts — with no leaves— like those I encountered on a recent trip to Istanbul. There, market purveyors would clean the artichoke hearts and leave them in water for customers to purchase. At The Eklektik, fried hearts are served with marinated peppers and a tangy mustard dipping sauce that cut through the richness of the beer batter.

Full-sized entrees cover all the proteins — from beef sabana ($23) topped with grilled cheese to crab mac-n-cheese ($14) to Barcelona shrimp cazuela ($18) with plump, grilled garlic shrimp served with a baguette. Our favorite was the black beer bondiolas ($17), pork loin braised in black beer and mustard served with earthy sautéed mushrooms and onions and a creamy white sauce.

For dessert, enjoy a plate of warm, Mexican-inspired cajeta crêpes ($7.50) dotted with crunchy walnuts and drizzled with cajeta — a sweetened and caramelized goat's milk reminiscent of dulce de leche. Chocolate churro madness ($7.50) and Zita's citrus tiramisu ($7) complete the potential sweet endings. Pair any of them with French press coffee ($8) served tableside.

Drinks include natural and craft sodas, house infusions, wine and beer, and specialty offerings including Argentinian clericot ($7.50) in red or white wine varieties and a marginal Spanish sangria ($7).

Food and beverage delivery was on the slow side during all my meals, although we never lacked in personal attention. The additional time allowed us to take in our surroundings, which were filled with tables and chairs made from recycled materials and décor from discarded bottles, lamps, fixtures, planters, shelving and furniture — much of which is available for purchase.

That's all part of the experience at The Eklektik, where the elements fuse to create a dining experience greater than the sum of its parts.

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


The Eklektik

Food • HHH

Mood • HHhj

Service • HHhj

Noise • bb

Globally inspired fusion cuisine mixed with eclectic artwork and thrift-store finds in downtown Salt Lake City.

Location • 60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 385-528-3675

Online •

Hours • Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Children's menu • No

Prices • $-$$

Liquor • Yes

Corkage • $3

Reservations • Yes

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • No

On-site parking • Street parking

Credit cards • All major