Best of Utah 2010: Night Life | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2010: Night Life



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Best Smoke Rings
Cedars of Lebanon

Enjoy blowing smoke rings on the patio on a warm summer’s night, or, if it gets chilly, servers will often bring throw blankets and crank up the heat lamps. But, you can always go inside to the comfortable and more authentic Casbah room to smoke seated on the floor. The shisha is tobacco-less and nicotine free—all the fun of the real deal, but less harmful. The flavor varieties are too numerous to mention, but you can choose one, mix and match or ask the house to concoct a tasty mix for you. 152 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4096,

Best Neighborhood Bar
The Woodshed

The name alone conjures up images of friends gathering, drinking, telling tall tales, pickin’ and grinnin’. The Woodshed, next to the downtown Taco Time on State Street and (thankfully) no longer a matching neon green, is fun and funky on any given night. Streetside, through the window, you can see musical acts jamming to appreciative crowds, serving up reggae, rock and alt/indie. The Woodshed’s DJs, pool tables, TVs with games, video games, cheap beer and largest smoking patio in the metro area make you ask yourself: Why even go home? 60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0805,

Best Hipster-Spotting
The Urban Lounge

Sure, Salt Lake City’s urban anthropologists can find evidence of hipsterus erectus everywhere, from coffee shops to vegan restaurants to stylish boutiques. But if you want to spot a sampling of the species in their natural habitat, head to The Urban Lounge. Whether the soundtrack is indie-rock, twee-pop or backpack hip-hop, you’ll find hipsters at Urban moving and grooving, Green Levs or PBRs in hand. It’s OK to get close—they’re a friendly lot, for the most part. 241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557,
2. Twilite Lounge
3. W Lounge

Best Never-Ending Club
The Hotel/Elevate

The expansive entertainment complex known collectively as The Hotel/Elevate is the best multi-level venue in town for those with the multiple-personality-disorder-weekend bug. A typical night might have Elevate hosting a huge CD release show through one door, as “SLC Mixtape King” Juggy’s Pierpont Artist Coalition (PAC) DJs spin hip-hop on the ground floor of The Hotel. All of this transpiring as another music venue upstairs, the Mercury Room, hosts an art show, trapeze shenanigans and sets from local bands like The Velvetones. By the time you’ve finished reading this, H/E has probably figured out a way to squeeze even more entertainment into four floors. 155 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-478-4310,

Best Place to Look for Your Dad’s Name
Hog Wallow

While downtown Salt Lake City continues to pile up “dead” clubs (The Zephyr, Dead Goat Saloon, Port O’ Call), outlying areas still boast bars with serious history. The proof at Hog Wallow is written on the walls—literally. Many patrons of the popular Big Cottonwood watering hole can find their parents’ names carved into the wood ceiling—proof that at least two generations tossed back brews at the very same spot. With any luck, your grandchildren will find your name etched up there, too. 3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon, Cottonwood Heights, 801-733-5567,

Best All-Ages Venue
Kilby Court

The Salt Lake City music scene is better because of Kilby Court and current owners, concert-bookers and workhorses Will Sartain and Lance Saunders. The garage-like all-ages venue (the last in Salt Lake City) brings a hodgepodge of international, national and local acts transcending genres as easily as bringing them together. How many national acts played a gig here on their first tour? Lots—that’s how many. Ska, dance, trance, alt-rock, roots-rock—it’s all there, and better still, there’s music most nights of the week, with swagger to spare. 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), Salt Lake City, 801-364-3538,

Best Concert Seating With Kiddies
Red Butte Garden Rose Garden

Opened in 2009 to complement the renovated Red Butte amphitheater, the Rose Garden provides the best of both worlds for parents with children during the always crowded concerts. For the kids, there is room to run and a fish pond very close. For the adults, the stage is actually close enough to clearly hear the music and even see the show from a side angle. 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556,

Best Post-Canyon Drink
The Porcupine Pub & Grille

At the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the Porcupine is the place to be for post-adventure exploits. It has all the local charm you need, but is fine for foreigners, too. Warm up with an Avalanche (Baileys, Kahlua and vodka, topped with whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg, and the straws look like a snow-buried skier) or cool down with a Chasing Tail Golden Ale before trudging back into the humdrum of city-dwelling, continue to relive that hair-raising ride or curse your stubbed toe. Also, they offer more than just libations, such as mounded nachos, burgers and entrees to refuel after-sports masochism. 3698 E. Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-942-5555,

Best Karaoke/Open-Mic Night
Piper Down Pub

Virtually everything the Piper Down does comes with a Celtic slant, from the menu and cocktails to the décor and music. Why should it be any different when the imbibers in the house take the stage at our readers’ favorite karaoke spot in Utah? Only here, it’s called “Kerry O’Kee,” and it packs the joint, especially on Sundays when the heartiest among us can start the day with brunch, play poker through the afternoon and finish the night sloshing and slurring through “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” 1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492,
2. Keys on Main
3. Tavernacle

Best Place to Hook Up
The Sandbar

The Pierpont District’s newest addition is unapologetic in its pursuit of a sexy good time—who else dared stage an un-ironic “Jersey Shore party” without regard to hipster ridicule? The Sandbar’s beach-bar vibe (think Key West, minus the humidity and prices) and rump-thumping DJ nights make it a natural feeding ground for prowling singles, but don’t forget that “Mexican Grill” is part of the deal—the food’s better than what you’ll get at most “hook-up” clubs. The Beautiful People have to eat, too—theoretically. 122 W. Pierpont, Salt Lake City, 801-819-7575,
2. Green Street
3. Area 51

Best Mochas & Open Mic
Mestizo Coffeehouse

Recently, the two evenings of open mic at Mestizo have been consolidated into one. So, unsegregated, every Wednesday from 7 p.m. until close, poets, singer/songwriters and performing artists come to share and self-indulge. Not only does Mestizo draw an eclectic crowd, but it draws together east and west Salt Lake City, blurring divides and transcending stereotypes. Mestizo’s artistic atmosphere and vibrant decor make a perfect setting. Sip on a bowl of soul—a spicy mocha-spreso—while you’re being entertained or to squelch the pre-performance butterflies. 641 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-596-0500,

Best Glamorous Scene
Circle Lounge

The West Coast has long been known for its classy innovations in club life. The Circle Lounge in Utah has taken more than a few tips from one of the most nightclub-obsessed cities in the world, combining two Los Angeles staples—glamorous patrons and sushi—into one tasty treat. DJs like Heavy Grinder, Micro and Diamond get flown into the city for performances, adding even more exotic flare to the Lounge, as hip patrons munch on Cali rolls and puff on imported hookah tobaccos. It doesn’t get much more glam than this on State Street—or anywhere else in the 801 or 435. 328 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-531-5400,
2. Hotel/Elevate
3. Keys on Main

Best Slam
Mo’s Neighborhood Grill

On the last Monday of each month, poets gather for the “Put Your Money Where the Word Is” cash-prize slam. The dough has helped up the ante for wordsmiths’ works at the mic each month. But that’s not the only reason they perform. In a sense, they see themselves as philanthropists, giving the audience the gift of bringing life to the complexities of ink and pen and light to this human experience. Performance poetry is a vessel for artistic expression, along with, of course, cadence, candor and word-sorcery. 358 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0586,

Best Thoughtful Dive
Junior’s Tavern

A small, duck-in bar downtown for a lively post-five o’ clock work crowd, pundits, unsung heros and thinking men and women (aka cynics), Junior’s Tavern owner Greg Arrata delivers—simply. Expect cold pints sweating on your coaster, ranging from Cutthroat to PBR for blue-collar quaffers. Local microbrews are about as fancy as it gets, so don’t expect chic or frilly drinks. This dimly lit bar just off Main gives folks a place to unwind and mingle with friends. The dark wood, plus a soundtrack of continuous jazz, add to this dive’s ambiance. 30 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0318,

Best Live Music Club
The Depot

Excellent sound. Good sightlines. Plentiful bars and bathrooms big enough to handle a crowd—these are things we’d like to see at everyCity Weekly’s readers, who love the classy joint adjacent to the Gateway. If there’s a beef to be had, it’s that The Depot doesn’t book more shows—but maybe they just like to leave us wanting more. 400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5522,
2. The Urban Lounge
3. Liquid Joe’s

Best Ogden Club

This 25th Street roadhouse is rock & roll to its core—even when the bands aren’t necessarily “rock.” The music happens in Brewskis’ center room, where locals and the occasional touring act throw down everything from hip-hop to reggae to rockabilly to metal to garage-rock and more every weekend. In the two bars on either side, crowds (and there’s always a crowd) from every demographic imaginable congregate for drinks, pool and killer pizza. Salt Lake City has plenty of clubs that do it all collectively, but Brewskis has it all in one place. Lucky Ogden. 244 25th Street, Ogden, 801-394-1713,
2. Teazers
3. Wine Cellar

Best New Club

Gracie’s probably had this category wrapped up as soon City Weekly readers got a look at the two levels of patio space offering some of the best views of downtown of any SLC watering hole. The selections of various benedicts are hard to beat for brunch, and a top-notch dinner menu devised by chef Sean Wilde raises Gracie’s grub far beyond the typical bar. A sizable game room, tasteful décor and enough TVs to satisfy sports fans (without making it feel like you’re in a sports bar) make Gracie’s the best bar addition of the year. 326 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-819-7565,
2. Lucky 13
3. Green Pig Pub

Best Gay/Straight Night
Club Edge

While the state government clings to outdated prejudices against the LGBT community, local clubs like Edge celebrate diversity with all-inclusive dance parties—too bad the cool kids don’t determine marriage laws. When the Trapp Door closed shop, Edge adopted its popular Dance Evolution night with DJ/DC playing a mix of hip-hop, ’80s, pop, electro and indie-rock—an eclectic sonic blend that mirrors the venue’s melting-pot clientele. Stop in and share a hookah with your neighbor. Go home with whomever you please. 615 N. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-755-6389,

Best Pool Joint
Fats Grill & Pool

Stepping into Fats in Sugar House isn’t exactly like reliving a scene from The Hustler; as pool joints go, it’s remarkably bright and airy inside, the complete opposite of the dingy, smoke-filled, shark-infested billiards halls of yesteryear. Add a menu of pub fare that satisfies on the cheap, a large selection of booze and brews and free pool for early arrivals (before 6 p.m.), and it’s clear why this is our readers’ choice when they want to shoot some stick. 2182 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9467
2. Johnny’s on Second
3. A Bar Named Sue

Best Grown-Up Venue
The State Room

At The State Room, staff members actually hold open the door for guests. A subtle courtesy, but for the average Utah concertgoer, it’s a welcome break from the snarling bouncers manning entrances to local bars. Well-mannered employees are just the tip of the iceberg at this downtown venue owned and operated by veteran promoters Chris Mautz and Darin Piccoli. Performer highlights from their 2009-10 season include Fanfarlo, Justin Townes Earle and Aimee Mann. 638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 800-501-2885,