Editor’s Note: Welcome back husband and wife team Scott Sommerdorf and Lesli Neilson who bring us today’s post from Park City, Utah. Before Scott met Lesli, he was the junk food king. She has since changed his eating habits and fine tuned his palate with her fabulous home cooked meals. They are a busy duo with jobs and kids that keep them running but always find time to enjoy a well made burger. To see more of Lesli’s writing check out the SLC Trib’s website www.sltrib.com/food
It’s only 30 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport to Park City’s rustic-cum-chic Main Street. Look for the cool, old red brick building with a big copper door halfway up the street on the right-hand side. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the sign that proudly says “No Name Saloon & Grill: America’s last authentic miners organization of debauchery.” Originally a power and electric company, the 1903 building was The Alamo bar for 30 years. For the last 10 years, it’s housed No Name, which specializes in buffalo burgers and booze.
The bar’s motto “Helping people forget their name since 1903″ seems fitting since No Name probably has the best-stocked bar in Park City. Bottles of all shapes and sizes line the antique wooden bar’s shelves. Choose from 10 different whiskeys — including three from High West Distillery & Saloon, another Park City business and Utah’s first distiller of whiskey and vodka since the 1870s — along with other liquor and oodles of bottled beer — draft choices like Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale are only $3.50 a pint but only contain 4 percent alcohol. You can get a drink here as early as 10 a.m. or as late as 1 a.m. Despite the fact that it’s against Utah law to smoke indoors, No Name is one of the few places I’ve been to in Utah that still offers matchbooks with its logo on it.
Locals will most likely give you “the look” once you enter the place. But that icy feeling vanishes quickly, thanks to the blazing fireplace near the bar’s entrance, helpful servers and all the Western and snow-themed kitsch methodically placed throughout the bar. There’s an old wooden toboggan, license plates, antique snow shoes — even an old motorcycle — that all hang from the ceiling. There’s shuffleboard, plasma TVs and plenty of conversation to keep you entertained. Moose and buffalo heads greet you downstairs, while upstairs there’s a mounted deer head and an outdoor patio which is open in the summer months. No Name is the kind of place you might see some big-wig Hollywood producer chowing down on a buffalo burger between screenings during the yearly Sundance Film Festival (which is Jan 20-30, 2011), or a bunch of locals enjoying an after-work beer — or during work, for that matter.
No Name’s menu is a mix of the usual bar fare: starters such as wings, chili-cheese fries, jalapeño poppers; salads; wraps; fish tacos; fish ‘n’ chips; and barbecued pork and chicken sandwiches. But No Name’s signature items are its 1/2-pound buffalo burgers. Served in red plastic containers with red-and-white checkered paper, the oval buffalo patties come on custom-shaped oval toasted buns alongside thick-cut potato chips or onion rings.
Buffalo’s caveat is it has 75 percent less fat than beef so pulling off a moist burger with this animal is tricky. In hopes that the added fat from the pork might help the fat quotient, I went for the bacon blue cheeseburger ($10). Sadly, my patty was cooked to well done.The garlic aioli and crumbled blue cheese helped the overall taste of the burger, but I just couldn’t get past the dryness of the meat. What can I say? I like my burgers to practically moo. Uh, maybe snort or grunt in this case.
Scott’s 1/2-pound “saloon” burger ($10) was only slightly better, though the meat was still overcooked. This behemoth of a burger sported grilled onions hidden in a cloak of teeth-clinging melted American cheese with tomatoes, shredded lettuce and mayonnaise. Crispy onion rings and a pot of commercial ranch dressing come alongside. This is definitely a “man’s hands” burger. i.e. only a man could get his hands around a burger this big. If I ordered it, I’d definitely be asking for a knife. But even Scott had a hard time getting his mouth around the “saloon’s” tall bun and all its contents.
But, if you’re in the mood for a cool-looking place to drink a pint, a decent burger and a game of shuffleboard, plop yourself down at one of the worn wooden chairs or the bar and get treated like a local, albeit for the duration of your visit.
Note: When we dined at No Name, burgers cost $10. Expect to pay a couple dollars more when it’s high season in this posh ski resort town, which is November to May.
RATING: 3 out of 5
No Name Saloon & Grill
447 Main Street
Park City, UT 84060
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00AM-12:00AM
21 and older only