A Look Back At Dining Reviews From The Past Two Decades


By Mary Crafts

The year 2020 marks the 15th year I’ve been writing restaurant reviews for Utah Valley Magazine. I’ve reviewed 104 restaurants which have ranged from Mexican, to American, to burger joints, to BBQ, to pizza and fine dining.

It has been quite a ride of food, love and fun, so I thought we should take a look back to see the lessons learned and food experiences shared.

Only 5 percent of restaurants that open their doors are still in business after 5 years. It seems to be a good omen to be reviewed by Mary Crafts and published in Utah Valley Magazine because almost 85 percent of our reviewed restaurants are still in business! This speaks volumes to the blossoming food business in Utah County.

When I first started writing reviews I thought I would be hard pressed to find new and creative places to review. I was sure I would have to expand my reviews to include Salt Lake and Park City. Ha! There are always so many choices that it is sometimes hard to choose.

Utah County is no longer known as the wasteland of food chains. Thank you to all the entrepreneurs who took a chance on us and gave birth to a more demanding and sophisticated palette.

It is not surprising the dining establishments that I talked about the most are Sundance Tree Room and all the great restaurants of the Heirloom Food Group such as Communal, Pizzeria 712 and Black Sheep.

However, I also love to review small one-man shops like J. Dawgs when he only had a single shack by BYU, and Waffle Love when they opened the first food truck in Utah County.

I reviewed through the Mexican food craze, the BBQ frenzy, the healthy cuisine takeover, and the explosion of everyone’s version of the best burger. And now the fun food craze of Hot Chicken, which is available at my two new favorite locations in Utah County: Klucks Krispy Chicken and Bok Bok Chicken.

I am thrilled how adventuresome Americans are with food, and it’s always exciting to be setting the trends or finding them.

Over the past 15 years my passion for food and the art of breaking bread has continued to grow. I loved finding restaurants that were serving some of the same food trends we were using at Culinary Crafts. My company was always a source of creativity, craftsmanship, service and joy.

Over a year ago I sold my company to my children, and they have continued our legacy of excellence and service. Even though I have gone on to launch my new company about overcoming fear and finding your inner badass, I still love the experience food brings to my life. It is the center of all our family gatherings, social parties, and exploration around the world.

My personal life has gone through a complete metamorphosis, and I have emerged as a new butterfly just getting ready to explore life from a different point of view. Food continues to be one of my passions and I look forward to the next decade as we discover what’s next for the food scene in Utah County! In the upcoming issues of Utah Valley Magazine, we will also add more fun pieces such as hot new cooking techniques, the spices every kitchen should have, and more fun recipes from my own recipe file. You can always reach out to me with questions or suggestions for articles at marycraftsinc@gmail.com or visit my new website at marycraftsinc.com

Thank you Utah Valley Magazine and Jeanette Bennett for giving space for the foodies of Utah County and believing in me to deliver what’s hot and new in the valley. It has been quite a ride! Until next time, remember to fill your life with joy and scrumptious food!

Mary’s Reviews in Utah Valley

  • 91 editions featuring Mary’s dining reviews
  • 104 restaurants reviewed
  • 84.6 percent of restaurants reviewed are still in business
  • First review: A November 2005 article on the brand-new California Pizza Kitchen
  • Reviews by category:
    • American: 21
    • Mexican: 8
    • BBQ: 6
    • Pizza: 7
    • Dessert: 5
    • Cafe: 5
    • Breakfast: 4
    • Burger: 4
  • Most reviewed:
    • Sundance Tree Room (3)
    • Pizzeria 712 (3)
    • Communal (2)
    • Waffle Love (2)
    • J. Dawgs (2)
    • Aubergine (2)
    • Mo’bettahs (2)
    • Blue Lemon (2)
    • Chef’s Table (2)
    • Clint’s Place/
    • Hickory Kist (2)
    • Station 22 (2)
    • Cubby’s (2)
    • Blue Poblano (2)

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