Big Al's Bites: My 5 favorites of 25th Street

Living in Salt Lake has made me a snob. I feel intrinsically better than many other people, not by merit, but by location. It’s as though, through osmosis, I’ve become more sophisticated, more cosmopolitan than many of my suburban neighbors. This isn’t by any means a confession of supremacy, but instead an acknowledgement of how much where you live affects you.

I know that I’m not more sophisticated, or cosmopolitan, or somehow better than anyone else, but the city makes you stuck in the glory of itself. I can only think that this is part of the reason why New Yorkers are so aggravating.

As much as I love Salt Lake, there is one Ogden gem that can’t be recreated or replaced by any city I know of. That gem is 25th Street. Ogden has a charm that is difficult to describe. Maybe it’s the railroad grafted into the heart of the city. Maybe it’s the no-frills atmosphere. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the wafting perfume of dog food from the west side plants.

For me, Ogden is embodied in 25th Street’s casual sophistication, its eccentricity and its devotion to local business. Over the years, I’ve found a couple of my favorite spots on this iconic street, and because you’re reading this, I’m going to share them with you. Feel fortunate . . . now.

Roosters Brewery is one of the biggest culinary exports of the Ogden community. Boasting in-house microbreweries, they create small-batch artisan beer, the most famous of which is the award-winning Polygamy Pale Ale. While I don’t drink, I have enjoyed the atmosphere that comes with artisan brewing, and the delicious beer-battered fries. One thing that you need to try here — the Naughty Burger. I wrote about this last week in the “best burgers no one knows about” column, but it’s good enough to mention twice. Get it now.

Bistro 258 is an unassuming restaurant that many would pass by. I only happened to wander in looking for lunch, and that fateful afternoon introduced me to my favorite restaurant. From bone-in pork chops to gourmet desserts, this hidden treasure is a culinary force to reckoned with. One thing that you need to try here — Fuzzy Peaches. Peach halves flash-fried with tempura batter, paired with vanilla bean ice cream and mango sorbet, and topped with a caramel and raspberry Melba sauce. It is as complicated, unique and delicious as it sounds.

Tona boasts some impressive sushi. Utah is a state that tends to be confused by seafood, but Tona powers through that landlocked handicap with bold flavors, high-quality ingredients and impressive charm. Claiming a spot as my favorite sushi restaurant is not easy, but they’ve done it well. One thing you need to try here — book a room in the traditional Japanese section. You’ll sit on the ground under hanging lanterns. If sitting cross-legged isn’t comfortable, they’ve hollowed out the floor under the tables, so your feet can rest easy while still looking like a boss.

While this is a food column, I wouldn’t want to skip over two of my other favorite spots on 25th. The Art House Cinema is not your typical movie theater. It’s a small 20-seat theater dedicated to independent film. Sandwiched between two brick walls, it’s as intimate as it gets for cinema. One thing you need to try here — go to one of the free showings. They offer them frequently, and you’ll feel very cultured.

Making Scents is a niche shop that offers customers the ability to create their own cologne, perfume and soaps from hundreds of essential oils, offering timeless scents like sandalwood, vanilla and rose. Customers can try and recreate their favorite fragrances for a fraction of the price, or make something completely unique. For the adventurous, they offer some less-traditional scents, like dirt or Cheez-Its. One thing you need to try here — use their exfoliating scrub. You’ll feel like a new person, and seem a little creepy perpetually wringing your hands. When they feel that good, it’s hard not to.

Historic 25th Street boasts some of the best experiences in town. Whatever you do, take your time and enjoy yourself. This is an experience to be brought in, not checked off a list. The city osmosis might just make you a cooler person. It worked for me, as my wife and I had several dates there before we got hitched. I don’t promise matrimony, but I do promise that you’ll find something new in your exploration.