There are many trendy restaurants competing for supremacy in Sugarhouse, that quaint old suburb of Salt Lake City centered on the 21st South Street, but Dees Family Restaurant was here before any of them and will likely outlast them all. There are actually several locations in Salt Lake but my favorite is the one on the corner of 21st South and 7th East on the western edge of the Sugarhouse commercial district.
AMERICANA Dees Family Restaurant, know to locals simply as “Dees” was founded in 1931 by a farm boy from central Utah looking to stake a claim in the big city. It is really classic Americana with a long counter and traditional American food. I took some Japanese friends there after a movie one night and they all agreed that it was the most American experience they had had in America!
OPTIONS To be honest, my vegan friends will not go to Dees with me. I am a carnivorous fool that still loves a Dee Burger Combo. But the Dees menu is broad enough to include a vegetarian sandwich on grilled sourdough bread with fries or the California Salad with chicken and avocado. For dinner I might have a teriyaki Swiss mushroom burger or Salmon dinner with vegetables, potato or rice and choice of soup or salad each for under ten bucks! Breakfast is served all day and the favorite is the Lumberjack; eggs, meat, pancakes and hash browns but it is too large for me so I order off of the senior menu (Shh, I’ve been ordering from this section for years though not a senior yet) the #3 combo with similar items in smaller portions.
There truly are many nice places to eat in the Sugarhouse are. Across the street from Dees you can get great Asian food at a very popular place, but it is not the kind of place to really relax. On the other corner you can get some of that expensive foo-foo coffee but they play loud obnoxious music and don’t serve real breakfast. Most of these trendy places wilt quickly and they don’t reflect the Utah culture the way that Dees does.
UTAH One seemingly insignificant item that says a lot about Dees is that they serve fry sauce! Fry sauce is a Utah specialty, originating in Utah, and found almost exclusively in Utah! It is a creamy sauce made just for French fries. I love it!
I am obviously partial to Dees because I have fond memories of good times there even from my high school days. Any typical day you will find all kinds of returning regulars; the breakfast crowd, business people and families, old friends having lunch, and even the late night eclectic crowd slowing down after the bars have closed. There are significant reasons that the locals return there. I always feel welcome to relax at Dees because their comfortable booths intentionally invite people to stay a while and relax. People may not be aware that many restaurants deliberately make their chairs slightly uncomfortable so that customers will not stay too long. Of course this may seem like good business sense because each seat is potential revenue source and they prefer to fill each seat with a new client as quickly as possible. But the trendy competition should take a lesson from an enduring landmark.
ENDURING QUALITY In the restaurant world there are many niches. Dees does not try to compete with fine dining, nor does it charge the price of fine dining. Dees fills a valuable niche that is being overlooked by many trendy restaurants. It supplies really decent all American food, topped with genuine friendliness, at a fair price. Dees will continue to supply this for a long time to come. You should drop in today.