Provo offers a diverse range of international cuisine, due to the number of international students and returned missionaries moving to the area.
(4801 N. University Ave., Unit 790)
This Brazillian grill, locally started by a returned missionary, now has nine locations. It features churrasco, a style of grilling meats and vegetables on skewers over an open-fire grill. Unlike many restaurants, the grill is visible to guests, who can watch their food being cooked before it is served. The food is then sliced in front of guests right at their tables. Tucanos also features a different Brazillian-inspired dish each month as part of its Salad Festival.
“The cuisine kind of defines the culture of Brazil,” said Ben Cavender, general manager of the Provo location.
He went on to say that many people come to Tucanos for celebrations such as corporate events, anniversaries and birthdays. Bright colors decorate the walls as friendly servers and upbeat music create a mood of celebration.
Many of the servers are returned missionaries who served in Brazil.
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The Banana Leaf
(409 N. University Ave.)
This restaurant features dishes from Sri Lanka, with a Singaporean influence. The owners are originally from Sri Lanka but also grew up in Singapore. After coming to Utah for school, they started The Banana Leaf three years ago.
The restaurant name comes from a traditional food served on banana leaves. Most of the dishes are unique to Sri Lanka, and the recipes have been handed down through the family.
“The poor people usually cut banana leaves from the tree and use (them) as a way to eat,” said owner Niranjan Selvaritnam. “It got pretty popular, even in the city.”
Selvaritnam said that due to the similarity to Chinese food, they only make dishes from Singapore that are rare to find. While their dishes resemble Indian food, the difference is the way they blend their spices.
“Sri Lanka has its own culture … and their own type of cooking as well,” Selvaritnam said.
The restaurant stands in a historical building built by one of Brigham Young’s sons. The owners were drawn to it because of the resemblance to Sri Lankan architecture.
The family has larger restaurants back home but wanted a smaller, more personal restaurant in Provo.
“This restaurant was open on passion mostly,” Selvaritnam said.
The Banana Leaf has a recognizable gazebo in the front lawn, and inside the restaurant, one can see artwork and décor unique to Sri Lanka.
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(463 N. University Ave.)
Bombay House was started in 1993 by Daniel Shanthakumar, a graduate of BYU—Hawaii. He originally wanted to build it in Hawaii but decided instead on Provo because the cost of opening a restaurant here is less expensive.
Everything made at Bombay House is made from scratch. Workers even grind the spices themselves. All of the owners grew up in India, so they serve traditional recipes from their homeland.
“Anything from appetizers to dessert, even ice cream, is homemade here,” said one of the owners, Daniel Shanthakumar.
The most popular dish, Chicken Tikka Masala, originally came from England but has been changed to include an Indian influence. According to Shanthakumar, it is the most popular Indian dish in the world.
Shanthakumar studied business management and specialized in hotel and restaurant management at BYU—Hawaii. After moving to Provo, he and his partners opened Bombay House.
“We are one of the oldest Indian restaurants in Utah,” Shanthakumar said.
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(3161 N. Canyon Road)
Pantrucas is a Chilean restaurant started by Ricardo Minond and his wife, Margarita, in the early 2000s. They came to Provo from Chile, saw an opportunity and took it.
“We started years ago because we didn’t see many Chilean restaurants around,” Ricardo Minond said.
The restaurant appeals to native Chileans, people wanting to try something new and returned missionaries who served in Chile.
“There are so many returned missionaries from Chile,” Ricardo Minond said. “So we thought, ‘Okay, maybe let’s give it a shot.'”
In this quaint restaurant, sandwiched between a dry cleaner and a pizza place, one can find authentic Chilean food and culture. The owners greet customers as they enter the door and direct them to the menu, handwritten on a chalkboard.
“All of the plates are Chilean,” Ricardo Minond said. “We only have Chilean (food).”
From Chilean drinks and empanadas to the popular churros con palta, steak and avocado sandwich on homemade bread, Pantrucas’ guests can get a true taste of Chile here in Provo.
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