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Best Spicy Margarita
Zest Kitchen & Bar
One of the advantages of being an organic vegetarian restaurant that also doubles as a classy nightclub is that your bartenders are more than qualified to whip up creative, tongue-tickling beverages. Zest Kitchen & Bar’s drink menu is expansive, but the refreshing and spicy jalapeño margarita is a standout. Made with fresh cucumber, jalapeños, lime, reposado tequila and citronage liqueur, this treat is a perfect balance of exotic and traditional. And after a couple of these, you’ll more than likely concoct some exotic, spicy dance moves of your own out on the floor.
275 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-433-0589, ZestSLC.com
Best New Music Venue
This back-alley record store had its first iteration in the 2013 Granary Row summer market as a pop-up shop housed in a former shipping container. Diabolical Records and its selection of hard-to-find vinyls soon proved popular enough to warrant a year-round space. Music devotees also flock to the shop for its frequent transformation into an intimate all-ages music venue for shows from both up-and-coming local bands and under-the-radar national touring bands in genres like rock, punk, noise and metal. In the age of MP3s and bit torrents, it seems crazy that anyone would start a brick & mortar record shop, but owners Alana Boscan and Adam Tye have hit on a model that works.
238 S. Edison St., Salt Lake City, 801-792-9204, Facebook.com/DiabolicalRecords
Best Excuse to Drink Daily
Bartenders at X-Wife’s are used to seeing newcomers have the “a-ha” moment of discovering the very economical pricing of the bar’s spirits and beer. Oftentimes, this is also how a newcomer to this neighborhood bar becomes a regular. Top-shelf spirits like High West Whiskey and 12-year Jameson will run you just $5.25. You can get a shot of fancy-sippin’ Jameson Black Barrel Reserve here for $4—probably what you’d pay for regular Jameson elsewhere, and that’s if you’re lucky. Standard whiskey will run you $2 to $3, and anything on tap is going to cost just about $3.50 at the most—and we’re even talking local craft microbrews. X-Wife’s Place is a bar that’s easy on the wallet, whether you stop in for a post-work game of pool or spend a long day hanging out on the massive back patio.
465 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1954
Best Place to Shake Up the Routine
Kristauf’s Martini Bar
Some people’s martini orders are as distinctive and personal as their Twitter handles. It’s the same thing every time; that’s what separates a sophisticated, unique drinker from the common lushes. Best not to approach visits to Kristauf’s like that. From frou-frou to badass, there’s a boatload of drinks suiting every taste. Vanilla Bean is nice and sweet. Kimmie Come Lately will fizz you up, citrus-style. And Razberi Cheesecake is exactly what it sounds like. Those are just three of about 3 billion possible martinis at this downtown spot, with more being added to the menu all the time. It’s time to sip into something comfortable.
16 W. Market St. (340 South), Salt Lake City, 801-366-9490, MartiniBarSLC.com
Best Loud & Local Showcase
SLUG Magazine’s Localized
Time flies when you’re rocking local: Salt Lake Underground turned 25 this year, and the magazine’s monthly Localized showcase for Utah bands has been cranking for—brace yourselves, punks—13 years this May. Give or take some repeats over the years, that’s well over 400 bands that have been given the chance to win over the PBR-sipping music aficionados who read SLUG and frequent host club The Urban Lounge. In 2001, then-writer/organizer Mark Scheering described the new Localized as “a true exposition of some of the best [local] talent, without the downer of competition. Trust me, these shows will not disappoint.” They haven’t yet.
Second weekend of every month at The Urban Lounge, SLUGMag.com
Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz
The Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz has set itself apart from the others by being a loose and goofy night that’s still smart and, naturally, geeky. Each Wednesday, Big Shiny Robot (and City Weekly) writer Bryan Young and Geek Show panelist Shannon Barnson present eight rounds of questions about hard-core nerd-dom and current events laced with foul language and humor. Teams play with the goal of winning cheap prizes and a 4-foot trophy made out of a spittoon and a propane tank welded together. Oh, and you get to write your name on it, too!
Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Lucky 13, 135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418
2. Geeks Who Drink, Piper Down
3. Geeks Who Drink, Gracie’s
Best New Dinner & a Movie
Ogden’s Movie Grille understands how to consolidate the classic meal & a movie date night. Yes, being able to order food with your film isn’t entirely unheard of in Utah, but Ogdenites can now savor a true restaurant experience in conjunction with their flicks thanks to this new theater/restaurant combo. Patrons can enjoy the latest theatrical releases while kicking back in reclining leather seats, and have their grub—whether it’s artisan pizza, burgers or hot, fresh paninis—and drinks (alcoholic or non) delivered right to their seats.
2293 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-621-4738, MovieGrille.com
The Highland Lumpy’s was the first on the scene, Lumpy’s South gives Sandy residents reason to cheer, and the downtown Lumpy’s set the standard for sports bars, with TVs in every booth and in pretty much every direction your eyeballs can rotate, plus three giant projector screens on the main floor. All three Lumpy’s are where fans of NASCAR, UFC, college hoops, NBA, NFL and Extreme Midget Wrestling gather to watch “the” game. When it comes to being a champion for all sports, Lumpy’s is the Bo Jackson of bars.
Multiple locations, LumpysBar.com
2. ‘Bout Time Pub & Grub
Best Place to Meet the Neighbors
The Leprechaun Inn
Truly a neighborhood bar, The Lep can serve as the solution to whatever need you might have—a spot to grab a quiet afternoon drink after a round of errands, or a place to meet new friends while enjoying whiskey around one of the new patio’s fireplaces on a winter day. Whenever you go, you’re sure to hear the sound of laughter, from the pool tables to the crowds gathered around the big-screen TV for football and the group of co-workers meeting for their regular Friday lunch.
4700 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-268-3294, TheLeprechaunInn.com
No matter what music genre was popular at the time, no matter who owned or operated it, and no matter what new venues opened nearby, Kilby Court has always been the best place for music lovers of any age to see rising acts. And playing Kilby has become a rite of passage for local musicians as well. The garage-like space, with its outdoor patio and bonfire hangout, is both one of the most intimate spaces and popular places the city has to offer. As the venue turns 15 this year, it’s safe to say it’s become an institution of local music destined to last another 15.
741 S. Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3538, KilbyCourt.com
2. The Shred Shed
3. In the Venue
Best Nightclub For Adults
Somewhere between amateur night and geezerpalooza lies Habits, a locally unique, classy nightspot where the dress code isn’t just “turn your baseball cap around and pull up your pants,” the atmosphere exudes cool elegance, the drinks are classic, and the menu extends far beyond whatever fits in the deep-fryer. Owners Bill Carter and his wife, Jody, are among the last of a thinning breed of nightclub pros who defined the classy era when going out meant going out dressing to the nines. Now, that’s alternative is this day and age!
832 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-268-2228, ClubHabits.com
Best Drink Challenge
Lonestar Saloon’s Stick Shot Challenge
Drinking games are best when they test one’s skills, mental fortitude and gumption. And The Stick at the Lonestar Saloon is a challenge that tests the skills and coordination of not one but three diminished participants. After the liquor of their choice is poured into three plastic shot glasses attached to the flat side of a hockey stick, three drinkers must then lift the shots to their open, baby-bird-like mouths and gulp. Time it correctly, and eternal glory is yours. If your timing is off by a millisecond, then you and possibly your friends get a burning shot poured all over your faces. Cheers!
3153 W. 2100 South, West Valley City, 801-972-0616
The unofficial symbol of Willie’s Lounge is the “Diver Down” flag, which is open to many a clever interpretation. There are plenty of dirtier dumps that would qualify as “true” local dives—Willie’s actually cleans up real nice—but this Main Street hangout embodies the spirit like few others: It’s a true neighborhood bar in a residential area; the drink specials are irrelevant, since everything’s cheap; as much (if not more) attention has been paid to the smoking patio as the inside décor; and the crowd is a diverse mix of youngsters, oldsters and in-between-sters every night of the week. 1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City,
2. Cheers to You
3. Twilite Lounge
Cheers to You
Little is inexpensive in downtown Salt Lake City anymore, which makes a throwback bar like Cheers to You such a sweet deal—a handful of bucks go as far now as they did back when Bob Brown opened his original joint on Main Street in 1997. The drink menu isn’t complicated—draft beer of varying sizes, a few bottles, shots, a Mind Eraser if you’re feeling extravagant—and neither is the math: $20 + some raucous karaoke = a great night out. How could it get any cheaper? Maybe a pal has named you on Cheers’ Buy a Friend a Drink board.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400; 7642 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-0871, CheersToYouSLC.com
3. Willie’s Lounge
Best Rock Reign
When the former owner of Liquid Joe’s and members of local band Royal Bliss joined forces in the name of rock, one of Salt Lake City’s newest and best venues for live music was born. The Royal features a professional sound stage, outdoor seating and a huge sports bar, which makes it the perfect host for local rockers like American Hitmen, King Niko and, of course, Royal Bliss.
4760 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-590-9940, TheRoyalSLC.com
The State Room
The State Room may be a live-music “club,” but the emphasis is definitely more on the live music. It seemed like a crazy (for Utah, anyway) idea when it opened five years ago—an intimate room that captures the upscale, adult vibe of summer venues like Red Butte Garden, and books a year-round roster of artists that reads like a music critic’s bucket list? With a full bar, no less? It was a gamble that paid off not only for the venue, but for Salt Lake City as well: Every major metropolitan city should have a prestige music venue, and we have ours in The State Room.
638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-596-3560, TheStateRoom.com
2. The Urban Lounge
3. The Depot
Best O-Town Rooftop
Alleged, housed in a former brothel, is an exciting new addition to Ogden’s historic 25th Street. The focus is firmly local-first: The interior is dressed with fantastic local art, cover charges are waived if you bring in a receipt from dinner at a local restaurant, and PBR is the only nonlocal beer offered. But the crown jewel of this fine establishment is its modern, multilevel rooftop patio looking out over downtown Ogden.
201 25th St., Ogden, 801-990-0692, Alleged25th.com
Best Night & Day Club
It’s hard to compartmentalize a life, but Gracie’s, with its two levels, three separate rooms and two massive patios, makes it easier. The patio can be the scene of a refined business lunch as you discuss next month’s budget over an arugula & beet salad and glasses of Pinot Grigio. After work, head to the booths upstairs for a round of fancy cocktails and small plates with your girlfriends. On weekends, you can return for curry burgers, beer and sports on Gracie’s giant upstairs projection screen, then transition downstairs to listen to a DJ and meet someone new. Next morning, you’ll be back for a restorative brunch of creme brulee French toast or ancho-cheddar biscuits & gravy—every day at Gracie’s is as good as it gets.
326 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-819-7565, GraciesSLC.com
Best Great Outdoors Indoors
When you don’t have time for a full-blown camping experience, Campfire Lounge can provide a pretty close substitute; it’s the closest thing Sugar House residents have to enjoying a drink in the great outdoors. With a starry indoor mural, dog-friendly patio, camping-inspired grub and cheap drinks, this new Sugar House watering hole is a welcome addition to the revitalized 2100 South area, and it’s certainly better than drinking in your backyard.
837 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3325, CampfireLounge.com
Karaoke is everywhere in Salt Lake City, but few clubs go off like Cruzrs Saloon on a Friday or Saturday night. This Holladay club is one of the few in the valley that dedicates the whole weekend to discovering future American Idols and/or Idiots, inspiring equally vocal crowd participation with the wannabe singers on the stage. It helps that the booze is reasonably priced, the food is tasty and there are TVs everywhere, should you need a distraction from the pop stylings up front.
3939 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-272-1903, Facebook.com/CruzrsSaloon
2. The Tavernacle
3. Piper Down
Best After-Work Refuge
Johnny’s On Second
After a long day of busting your ass, nothing beats Johnny’s on Second when it comes to loosening the tie (or decorative scarf). With free pool every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and cheap drink deals like the $4 shot and beer combo (Canadian Host with your choice of select drafts), plus the super-economical $4 cheesebread, Johnny’s is a never-fail option for kicking your feet up after the 9 to 5 grind.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334, JohnnysOnSecond.com