Art and coffee

Explore two Salt Lake City districts, plus the Maynard Dixon show

Virginia Rainey

Sure, it's cold out, but this February there's another reason to stay indoors: A major exhibit of paintings by Maynard Dixon continues at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on the University of Utah campus. Combine a museum visit with an exploration of two nearby pocket-size neighborhoods, and you have the makings of a fun, warm day.

Start at the corner of 900 East and 900 South (known as Ninth and Ninth by locals), with one of the city's best lattes and a fresh-baked pastry in the comfortably funky Coffee Garden  (898 South 900 East; 801/355-3425), a Salt Lake institution. Formica tables, 1950s chairs, chess players, and neighborhood regulars are all part of the scene. At Thin Air Design  (closed Sun; 926 East 900 South; 801/ 533-0234), browse through classic modern and "new modern" home furnishings (think Eames meets Angela Adams) in a two-story glass building that also functions as an art gallery. From here, head east a block to Chameleon  (closed Sun; 1065 East 900 South; 801/363-6463) for Asian and South American jewelry, clothing, consignment furniture, and hot tea in a renovated cottage.

A 10-minute drive northeast, at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Space, Silence, Spirit: Maynard Dixon's West opened last month. The retrospective includes works by photographer Dorothea Lange, Dixon's wife. After perusing the exhibit, enjoy the daily special at Boswell's Café  (inside museum; 801/583-8337).

Due south of the museum, about 10 minutes by car, is 1500 East and 1500 South. Check out the Blue Cockatoo  (1506 South 1500 East; 801/467-4023) for unusual gifts, and Great Garb  (1510 South 1500 East; 801/486-1582) for contemporary fashion. But save browsing time for cozy King's English Bookshop  (1511 South 1500 East; 801/484-9100) and its outstanding fiction and children's sections.

Dine next door in intimate Fresco Italian Café  (1513 South 1500 East; 801/486-1300), where the dinner-only northern Italian menu features organic ingredients. It may be cold when you leave, but the lingering warmth from Fresco's crackling fireplace should be enough to get you home.