Welcome to Year 26 of Best of Utah
Best of Utah, 25+1 (we may have miscounted somewhere along the line, but this is what we're going with). In our 26th edition, this is still how we do it: You voted in 100 categories—this time around, your Readers' Choices are clearly marked with a fancy graphic;then staff at City Weekly added 300 or more of their bonehead local favorites, aka Staff Choices.
This year, we decided to have some fun with the Best of Utah cover concept. We split the print run five ways and chose to feature an outstanding representative from each Best of Utah category. As you travel around town, you may see proprietor Valter Nassi, of Valter's Osteria, on the cover. Visit a coffee shop, and it may be KUTV 2's Mary Nickles' radiant face that greets you or Dick N' Dixie bartender Holly Siddoway's mischievious smile. While out and about, you might see Mandate Press owner Ben Webster or Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando on the cover. Each of these five exhibit a passion for what they do, and it's our pleasure to honor them with their individual covers.
Another new twist this year: We ventured outside the 801 and came up with a county-by-county rundown of the Best the land of Zion has to offer. So, next time you're venturing out to explore the wide open spaces and unique sights of the Beehive State, take a copy with you.
Finally, besides being famous for a week while the issue is on newsstands, there are some additional perks to being a winner. For one, you can request a plaque that bears your honor. For another, we will host a fabulous Best of Utah winners party on Thursday, Nov. 12. Contact Jackie Briggs (email@example.com) for more information.
What you're holding is the only real "best of state" compendium there is—read on, and we'll see (some of) you at the party. CW
Media & Politics
Best TV Anchorwoman
Mary Nickles, KUTV 2
2. Hope Woodside, Fox 13
3. Shauna Lake, KUTV 2
Best TV News Station
Best TV Anchorman
Mark Koelbel, KUTV 2
2. Ron Bird, KUTV 2
3. Dan Evans, Fox 13
When a TV station boasts Readers' Choice awards for Best Anchorman (Mark Koelbel), Best Anchorwoman (Mary Nickles) and Best Sports Reporter (David James), it's easy to do the math: City Weekly readers are taken with KUTV Channel 2 news. And KUTV is also the home of Rod Decker who, for decades, has been one of the most reliable veteran reporters to cover Utah news. From 2News This Morning to the 10 o'clock roundup of the day's events, KUTV delivers what you need to know, by people you feel you know.
2. Fox 13
3. ABC 4
Best Public-Radio Station
When it comes to exposing listeners to new music, many commercial radio stations in this market have failed, and they're not champing at the bit to fix that anytime soon. KRCL remains one of the best places to find new tunes throughout the day, whether mornings with Ebay Jamil Hamilton, early evenings with Bad Brad Wheeler, nights with the duo Maximum Distortion or weekends with Courtney Blair. You may not love every show in KRCL's lineup, but when you want to hear something good, something you've never heard before, you know that community radio has got your back.
2. KUER 90.1
3. KCPW 88.3
Best Weather Reporter
Brett Benson, Fox 13
TV news personalities walk a tricky line: Their trustworthiness as professionals must be impeccable; yet they need to be personable enough that viewers want to spend time with them. Utah native and former BYU football player Brett Benson boasts some solid résumé cred that includes a certification in broadcast meteorology and five years working for Weather Central. But he's also a smiling, engaging on-air presence, able to do the nuts & bolts weather prognostication in a way that's both informative and playful—to that end, notice how Fox 13 news anchor Hope Woodside seems to take particular delight in teasing him. Benson's is the kind of reliability that doesn't shift with the weather.
2. Allison Croghan, Fox 13
3. Debbie Worthen, KUTV 2
Best Sports Reporter
David James, KUTV 2
For more than 20 years, Utahns have been getting their sports news from David James, enjoying his genial manner and wide-ranging knowledge. And they've been able to get that news whether watching TV (James anchors KUTV Channel 2's weekend sports reports and hosts Talkin' Sports) or listening to the radio on their morning drive (James also co-hosts with Patrick Kinahan DJ & PK in the Morning on 1280 The Zone). James still reports with the unabashed enthusiasm of a true fan.
2. Wesley Ruff, ABC4
3. Dave Fox, KUTV2
Best podcast VOTED in by SOCIAL MEDIA
Geek Show Podcast
We retired the Best Podcast category this year, but failed to see how many hearts might be broken. Fans let us know—via multiple social-media platforms—that they wanted the category to remain. Now, we know. So, here you go, Geek Show Podcast. You've won every year since 2009, you got the vote out for this year, and we salute you.
Best Radio Station
It's a statistical cinch: If you broke into 10 random cars on Main Street, you'd find at least one radio preset to X96. It's not on the bleeding edge where corporate stations are that are still operated by robots—X96 still mixes alternative music from the '80s and '90s in with today's hits and a sprinkling of rising stars—and that's more than OK. Utah radio's equivalent of comfort food, X96 is the station you turn to when this crazy world spins out of control. It's good to know that, no matter how strange and stupid the world gets, some things never change.
2. 97.1 ZHT
3. The Vibe 94.9
Best TV News Reporter/ BEST Local on Twitter
Ben Winslow, Fox 13
Any budding journalist aspiring to report news in this Digital Age would do well to mirror Ben Winslow's example. Winslow's ability to multi-platform—he live-tweets news events while covering his beat encompassing politics, polygamy, criminal justice for Fox 13—makes him the most recognizable reporter at any news event that counts. (Did we mention that he tweets every step of the way?) The future of the industry belongs to those able to navigate the unavoidable shoals of self-promotion while still producing quality news reporting. If what he does can be taught, it should be a required course at every J-school.
FOX13Now. com; @BenWinslow
Best TV News Reporter:
2. Chris Jones, KUTV 2\
3. Rod Decker, KUTV 2
Best Local on Twitter:
2. Chris Jones, KUTV 2
3. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune
Gov. Gary Herbert
When videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue began to surface online, conservatives freaked out. Planned Parent leadership urged public officials to remain calm, to consider how heavily doctored the videos were, and not to jump to conclusions—but talk had already begun of defunding the reproductive health-care provider. Gov. Gary Herbert jumped right on that bandwagon, demanding that Utah agencies stem the "flow-through" by which the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah receives roughly $200,000 in federal funding. Predictably, Herbert's action triggered a lawsuit, and a federal judge ruled that the funding had to continue. So taxpayers are once again left to pick up the tab for defending another knee-jerk reaction by impulsive and arrogant Utah public officials.
2. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah
3. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah
Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow & Mark Shurtleff
Few political scandals have shaken the Utah Attorney General's Office like those under the leadership of former AGs Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow. For its behind-the-scenes drama that saw both AGs allegedly wheeling and dealing with shady business elements and placing a "For Sale" sign atop the state's AG's office door, this scandal was one for the record books. While the path to justice continues to be tortuously slow and recent court filings suggest a brewing battle with the feds over evidence FBI agents don't want to share with the state, we still wait for the Mark & John Show to reach its judicial climax with the expectation that yet more details may be revealed.
2. Mayor Ralph Becker vs. Police Chief Chris Burbank
3. Defunding Planned Parenthood
Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell, X96
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Radio From Hell has taken top honors in this category for almost two decades. Kerry, Bill and Gina have a winning formula that's made them one of the most talked-about radio shows in the country even though (shockingly) Radio From Hell isn't syndicated. Cheers to them, along with Richie T. in the booth and his gaggle of interns who help this audio train stay on track.
2. The Morning Zoo, 97.1 ZHT
3. RadioWest, KUER 90.1
Best Elected Official
Sen. Jim Dabakis
Never one to avoid the limelight, state Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, continues to be out, loud and proud about both his politics and his orientation. While the days are past when Dabakis and Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, R-Draper, would exchange digs with each other on the radio, some days, it seems, you can't pick up a newspaper or turn on a TV without getting a good dose of Dabakis. One day he's announcing a run for Salt Lake City mayor (which ultimately turned out to be short-lived), while the next, he wants to save The Salt Lake Tribune from a slow death at the hands of its owners. Dabakis' passions span a broad range: Whether he's championing Russian art or railing against Republican lawmakers for their failure to implement Medicaid expansion, he deserves Utah's thanks for all he does on our behalf.
2. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
3. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams
Planned Parenthood of Utah
There is no greater indication of the value Utahns place on women's reproductive health care than the groundswell of support for Planned Parenthood that arose when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert decided to block pass-through federal funding for it. The nonprofit is not an abortion mill, despite how its foes characterize it. When it comes to birth control, contraception and screening, the first place that comes to mind for many women (and men) is Planned Parenthood. So, when director Karrie Galloway announced a lawsuit against Utah, we were cheering in the wings.
2. Best Friends Animal Society
3. Utah Food Bank
Best Night-Time Reporter
Chris Jones, KUTV 2
If you see Chris Jones on TV, it means two things: It's dark and it's time for bed. Jones has won numerous Best of Utah awards in the past, and deservedly so. Jones is a fine reporter, speaking softly each night in his patented style, saying something like, "Behind me is the home in which the tragedy occured." The tragedy could be anything from spousal abuse to an art heist, but the camera lights shine on Jones, and everything else is—just darkness. Nobody ever sees what Jones sees, whether it's the car that was in a collision, or the house where a drug deal went down. Fortunately, Jones is as factually descriptive as they come. And, to tell the truth, if we could see what he sees, it would scare us all.
Best Sight for Sore Eyes
Brimming with colorful sights and characters, our city is a wonderland waiting to be explored. But sometimes these wonders lie beneath the surface, and it takes a special kind of insight and to ferret them out. A one-time City Weekly music editor and current editor of its sister outdoor-recreation magazine, Vamoose, Austen Diamond was inspired by his passion for outdoor photography to create 13% Salt, a photo journal that brings into sharp focus all there is to love about Utah. Diamond has the gut instinct to find the miraculous in the mundane, and the gold among the dross.
Best Old-School Hip-Hop
94.9 The Vibe
Radio stations shuffle formats all the time, but one recent shift gave Utahns something we didn't realize was missing. When Cumulus shifted its modern-rock station to 101.9, its old spot, 94.9, became The Vibe, with a format dedicated to vintage rap, R&B and hip-hop from the '80s, '90s and early 2000s. How long has it been since we could turn on the radio and crank up Snoop, Eminem, Tribe Called Quest, Missy and Dre. At last, an era of citywide deprivation has ended, and Salt Lake City's airwaves are the richer for it.
Today in Utah, the name Derek Kitchen is synonymous with fundamental change; for taking on the establishment and winning; and, specifically, for bringing parity to marriage in the reddest of red states. Kitchen was, along with six others, a named plaintiff in the federal marriage-equality case that was instrumental in toppling anti-marriage laws across the country. These six are emblematic of progressive Utah values (and proof that, yes, there are such things) as well as the changing times that have forever altered life in the Beehive State. Kitchen took the exposure he gained from the case and applied it to a bid for public office this fall, pursuing the District 4 seat on the Salt Lake City Council. He represents Utah's future, and we are nothing but proud.
2. State Sen. Jim Dabakis
3. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
Best Movie Fun on the TV
KJZZ Movie Show
Going to the movies is a whole lot more entertaining now that the offbeat and hilarious crew of the KJZZ Movie Show offers its weekly roundup of cinematic entertainment at Sandy's Megaplex Jordan Commons. Every Sunday evening, host Melanie Nelson—along with critics Steve Salles and Josh Terry—offer takes on current multiplex screenings, with a sense of perspective that dips into movie history to explore particular Hollywood themes, like Coach's big locker-room speech, or the heroic teacher who takes on the failing inner-city schools. The tips are good if you want to decide what movie to see—but it has become compelling television in its own right.
Best Utah News Parody Podcast
Consider Our Knowledge
On Consider Our Knowledge, host, producer and writer Conor Bentley and his team of actors and NPR enthusiasts take on the week's news with a dollop of whimsy and a wallop of bollocks. This group takes parody seriously and employ occasionally recurring fictional personas to playfully punish those voices we all love from public radio. If you are a fan of political snickers, incumbent bumbling, cinematic satire and theatrical phallus humor, give this weekly podcast, nearing its 150th episode, a few minutes minutes of your time. ConsiderOurKnowledge.com
Best return of daddy-o
Steve Williams on KCPW
Longtime radio host Steve "Daddy-O" Williams only thought he retired from broadcasting when he departed KUER 90.1 in June 2015. He even went on an European cruise, just like real retired folks do. Upon his return, however, public-radio station KCPW jumped at the chance to bring Williams and his more than 30 years of jazz-hosting experience back to the airwaves for a weekly four-hour show called Jazz Time With Steve Williams. Not only will Daddy-O be spinning jazz tunes for his show, but he'll also be airing interviews, live performances and a local jazz and musical calendar of events.
Sundays from 6-10 p.m., KCPW, 88.3 & 105.3 FM; streaming live at KCPW.org
Best NEWS TRIBUTE
Nadia Crow, ABC 4
It shouldn't be a big deal in 2015, but Nadia Crow is still known primarily as "Utah's first and only African-American news anchor," not simply as a competent, personable reporter who's one of the brightest stars in ABC 4's impressive, if underrated, bench of talent. But the situation did afford Crow the opportunity to surprise and pay tribute to veteran TV newswoman Tamron Hall on the syndicated Meredith Vieira Show in March 2015. In the touching (and tearful) exchange, Crow thanked Hall for being an inspiration and role model to a young girl growing up in Chicago with dreams of working in TV news: "I remember looking at you and thinking to myself, 'I could actually do this,'" Crow said via satellite. And now she is, nightly in Utah.
ABC 4, weeknights, 4-6:30 p.m., Good4Utah.com, @NadiaNewsNow me
Best Geeks Going Viral
If you ever doubted the true power of Harry Potter, put those doubts to rest once and for all. Consider the fertile minds at KFaceTV. The creators of this YouTube channel had already made some sweet, nerdy music videos when, earlier this year, they collaborated on a Potter-themed parody of Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," titled "Dark Lord Funk." The video features a rapping Voldermort whose O.G. swagger makes He Who Must Not Be Named seem cool in a way he never did before. The video went viral within a few hours, racking up more than 10 million hits, and KFaceTV's status soared. The video even caught author J.K. Rowling's eye. Now that's magic!
Best Independent Radio Station
Let's face it: A lot of local radio sucks, because a lot of it is jaded, repetitive and unimaginative. So leave it to a group of kids to give it a kick in the backside. KOHS is Orem High School's student radio station, a noncommercial educational broadcasting alternative whose day-to-day operations are run by teenagers. Not only do the kids learn awesome skills; they have the opportunity to be expressive over a medium that's heard by thousands. Best yet, the station plays better music than commercial broadcasters with multimillion-dollar budgets, while giving local musicians a home on the dial—how's that for innovative?
175 S. 400 East, Orem, KOHSOrem.com
Best Vigil to Save a Mural
Azteca de Oro Taqueria
In late July, a large mural wrapping around the sides of the Azteca de Oro Taqueria restaurant became a political football. One side of the mural bore the words "Cultural" and "Mana," while the other depicted civil-rights leaders César Chávez and Dolores Huerta. The City of West Jordan, acting on a complaint, wanted the mural downsized or painted over. That didn't sit well with the restaurant's owner, Miguel Dominguez, or the mural's artist, Miguel Galaz, who had enlisted about 100 community volunteers (including youngsters) to paint it. After nearly 200 people showed up to attend a July 23 vigil to save the mural, the city council agreed to postpone action against the building's owner. Since then, Galaz has artistically modified the mural to be more in compliance, while the West Jordan City Council is now working on revamping its code for public murals; a public hearing is set for Nov. 17.
Azteca de Oro Taqueria, 7800 S. 3200 West, West Jordan
Best Visual-Arts Scribe
Shawn Rossiter, 15Bytes
Shawn Rossiter launched Artists of Utah on his basement computer in 2001. It was a struggle, particularly in those early years, but Rossiter stuck it out until Artists of Utah achieved nonprofit status, enabling him to reach out to more sources for funding. The website has a Utah artist directory and information about arts organizations and happenings in the art world. But its premiere endeavor is publishing its online magazine 15Bytes, featuring arts stories, community news, reviews, artist spotlights and events. Published the first Wednesday of each month, Rossiter's well-curated e-zine is read by just about everyone connected to Utah's art scene.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are the first-line responders in rape cases. When a hospital patient shows signs of sexual assault, a SANE nurse is called to assist and to conduct a rape-kit examination if the traumatized victim gives consent. Going through a deeply invasive two- to three-hour examination following the horror of a sexual assault is a challenge, both physically and emotionally. It can, however, provide investigators and prosecutors with valuable evidence to help bring the rapist to justice. The consent of the victim reflects well both on her or his bravery, and on the delicacy, tact and experience of a SANE nurse. Whether advocating for changes in the way sexual assaults are prosecuted—as SANE nurse Julie Valentine has done so powerfully over the past two years—gathering evidence, or simply being a comforting presence for assault survivors, this tiny community of selfless providers merits our respect and gratitude.
Best Storytelling Podcast
Home of the Brave
Scott Carrier is a journalist's journalist. Not only is he a great writer, he also pushes the envelope, going places many reporters avoid. Carrier's storied career goes back to his formative years on Ira Glass' public-radio epic This American Life. After years of freelancing and a teaching stint at Utah Valley University, Carrier has returned to his roots, mixing his old radio work with newly researched and produced stories, presenting them in that trademark gravelly voice which seems to betray eternal optimism and a genuine fondness for the people he meets. A Utah original, his podcasts are gems of voice and drama not to be missed.
Available on iTunes and Stitcher
Best Celluloid Softie
At the opening of this year's Tumbleweeds Film Festival—the fifth time this happy event spotlighting children's films has graced our town—festival founder and artistic director Patrick Hubley introduced the opening film, Oddball, with genuine conviction and emotional vulnerability. He held a prepared statement to read, he said, in case his emotions got the better of him. In the selection of films that make up Tumbleweeds, Hubley and those who help him put together the roster of entertainment for children and adults, reveal a heart that seeks to both celebrate and embrace the eternal child to be found in all parts of the globe, reminding us that in the end, we are all part of one big, messy family.
Best Graph Gaffe
Rep. Jason Chaffetz
Conservatives have been in a tizzy over videos that are purported to show all manner of foul, nefarious dealings by Planned Parenthood with fetal tissue. During congressional hearings over defunding the organization, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, presented a graph that claimed to show an alarming increase in abortions, and a correspondingly steep drop in cancer screenings and other preventive services. Chaffetz claimed that the graph came "straight from [Planned Parenthood's] annual reports," when in fact it was created by an anti-abortion group, and employed a "dual axis" format that deceptively compared the figures. Later, Chaffetz insisted, "I stand by the numbers"—apparently fully trusting that Americans staring at big scary arrows were going to think about the numbers.
Best Biker Club
To the relief of outlaw bikers across the country, the murderous fictional TV saga Sons of Anarchy has seen its final episode. But in its wake, the series left a revived interest in motorcycling, judging from the increased number of hipsters who rip through the Avenues on Harleys. We hope they are safe and abide the rules of the road, but there's another thing they ought to be aware of: There is a legitimate patch-wearing tribe in this town, The Barons, and if you dig the fact that you aren't legally required to wear a helmet in Utah, well, then buy a Baron a beer. Without the club's political brinksmanship in the 1970s—the era of those nasty-loud panheads—you wouldn't be looking so cool with your hair flapping in the wind.
Best Comic-Book Proselytizer
When Stephen Carter isn't editing Sunstone, that bastion of Mormon intellectualism, he's saving valuable time for those of us who, to paraphrase Mark Twain, can't get through the Book of Mormon without feeling chloroformed by all those thees and thous. His two-part comic book, iPlates, tells the dramatic and bloody BoM story, omitting the dense language of the original. It's a lurid, sarcastic and violent affair that brings the scriptures to life. Plus, it allows an unenlightened gentile to nod knowingly next time someone of the dominant faith references some obscure angel or prehistoric military conflict.
Best Progressive Legislation
In February 2015, having suffered from chronic back pain for years, enduring surgeries and popping opiates to gain relief, Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, drove to Colorado and got high. Madsen, a grandson of former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Ezra Taft Benson, said that his back felt better, and he didn't feel like a doped-out scumbag as his childhood DARE classes had promised. Madsen later introduced Senate Bill 259, which cleared a state Senate committee on a 3-2 vote and failed, 14-15, to advance. It was the narrowest of margins—and, on the first try, the bill got a lot farther than anybody would have predicted, leading some to hope that medical pot in Utah might not be that far away.
Sen. Mike Lee
In forcing the federal government to shut down for 16 days in 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took a heavy hit in the polls—along with his faithful sidekick, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee became so unpopular in Utah that Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson urged such Repubs-in-Waiting as Kirk Jowers and Josh Romney to run against him in 2016. But despite his right-wing pedigree and association with the unlikeable Cruz, Lee has managed to worm his way back into favor. His approval rating in Utah has risen to above 50 percent, and a second term is now more likely. Even Anderson has joined Lee's re-election committee. Lee's remarkable rebound is good news for the Tea Party; bad news for moderates and lefties.
Best Revitalized Neighborhood
2nd & 2nd, Salt Lake City
Five years ago, the section of 200 South between State Street and 200 East looked like a ghost town. Except for a gun shop and Johnny's on Second, there was little to draw commercial traffic. Then, Bar X took up residence, triggering a neighborhood cleanup/rehab, and business picked right up. Soon, the neighborhood was home to Este Pizza, Fice, Beer Bar, Copper Palate Press, Oasis Games, CUAC and Taqueria 27. And, of course, neighborhood fixtures such as Guthrie Bicycle, Cedars of Lebanon and Cancun Cafe got a boost, too. Today, the street is a night-life hub, which sees a lot of action without picking up too much traffic congestion.
200 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Best Game Developers' Playground
University Of Utah's EAE
Utah's flagship university aims to provide an education that will equip students not only for the world of today but also for the future. To this end, the U of U helped develop and start the EAE (Entertainment Arts & Engineering) program as a way to turn gaming into a career. The program brings together an array of students in graphic design, fine arts, computer science and other disciplines to create their own video games. Students have gone on to launch their own companies, such as Team Tripleslash, which released "Magnetic by Nature" in 2014; and Retro Yeti, whose "404 Sight" was released summer 2015. This program helps grow Utah's burgeoning gaming industry.
Best Mormon Rebel
Kate Kelly has emerged as one of the key Utahn voices on gender, Mormonism and feminism in recent years. Her one-time involvement in Ordain Women is only part of her contribution to Utah in terms of addressing the rights and power of Mormon women within their own cultural and religious community. Ever the fighter, whether Kelly is attending a rally for transgender rights, signing up with Planned Parenthood to fight Gov. Gary Herbert's decision to partially defund it, or writing a beautiful tribute to her father, "the laundry king," as she calls him, her every act seems to celebrate the very ideal of a united community.
Best ImmigrationActivist Mom
Two years ago, City Weekly told the story of Ana and her family's fight to stay in the United States and avoid deportation to El Salvador. Since then, not only has she become a catalyst for those who oppose deportation, she has fought successfully to remain stateside, and she herself has now become an advocate and activist for immigrant rights. She recently went to Washington, D.C., and did a 100-mile walk with 99 other women to promote the rights of the undocumented. The one-time "Head Start Parent of the Year," Canenguez has the heart of a lion and brings not only diversity and passion to Utah, but also the best homemade pupusas you could hope for.
Best NonBinary Organization
The Medusa Collective
Forged in Provo by a group of musicians looking to bring equality to the music scene, The Medusa Collective has been spending much of 2015 spotlighting acts by women and nonbinary individuals—that is, people whose gender identity is neither fully feminine nor masculine. In its efforts to increase gender diversity on Utah County stages, its members have called out critics, taken stands against high-profile media organizations and even boycotted Provo's Rooftop Concert Series. Change in attitudes and belief systems is slow in coming, but the collective's efforts are starting to work, leaving the group confident its campaign will pay off for future musicians.
Best Ho-Hum Fountain Fix
Abravanel Hall Plaza Remodel
We sat through the oboe solo for this? Anyone attending the symphony during the past year has had to navigate a labyrinth of fencing and "pardon our dust" signage to access Abravanel Hall. The long, narrow fountains on the plaza in front of the hall were broken and required removal. Suspense mounted as the completion of the $1.1 million plaza remodel was delayed for months. After that long wait, the ribbon cutting revealed a rather ordinary plaza with young trees and shrubs in place of the magnificent fountains. Well, at least there are benches for people to sit on during intermissions. And they're well-lit. But not the rousing crescendo we were waiting for.
123 S. Temple, Salt Lake City, 385-468-1010, SLCCFA.org/venues/abravanel-hall
Best Sermon for Trying Times
Dealing with A—Holes
On May 31, the Rev. Tom Goldsmith held forth from the pulpit of the First Unitarian Church with a sermon for our times, if not for the ages. Inspired by Aaron James' best-selling book, Assholes: A Theory, Goldsmith addressed the fundamental moral precept of living cooperatively with others—and pointed out that assholes feel entitled to ignore the rules of social engagement. Given the proliferation of assholes in these latter days, Goldsmith's sermon was a thoughtful and humorous primer for those of us who strive not to be assholes.
First Unitarian Church, 569 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-582-8687, SLCUU.org/news/latest-news/item/146-sermon-video-dealing-with-assholes
Best Friend to Refugees
In Salt Lake City's growing refugee community, he is known as Uncle Ron. "All refugee know Uncle Ron," says one Iraqi woman in halting English, "He gives us smiles." His white Dodge van has logged more than 150,000 miles while helping the thousands of refugees resettled here by the International Rescue Committee in the past 10 years. Uncle Ron delivers secondhand furniture to refugees' apartments, ferries them to job interviews and medical appointments and rescues them in crises. Uncle Ron, 79, says he and the van, 11, are good for a few miles yet, and will continue to help ease the challenges faced by Utah's newest citizens as they forge new lives.
Best Call To Arms IN THE ARTS COMMUNITY
Lynnette Hiskey's forced resignation
In early August 2015, Lynnette Hiskey stepped down as director of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, a position she had held for the previous two years. Her forced resignation sparked upset in the arts community, where many applauded her advocacy for the arts. On Sept. 1, members of the arts community—including artist/arts administrator Frank McEntire, CUAC executive director Adam Bateman, Modern West Fine Art Gallery owner Diane P. Stewart, artist/advocate Crystal Young-Otterstrom—held a press conference at the Capitol, calling out state leaders for "years of neglect, dismal funding and now 'The Last Straw [Hiskey's termination].' " The group demanded Gov. Gary Herbert work more closely with the arts community, stating, in a press release: "We must continue to support the legacy of arts and culture that the pioneers established as an integral part of the state."
Best Beatles' Soundtrack
An "I Need You" from Mia Love enticed Richard Piatt away from Utah to Washington, D.C., where he has been keeping company with the "Fools on the Hill" since January. After working as KSL-TV's political reporter for 16 years, Piatt jumped ship to dispense the "Words of Love" as communications director in the office of the newly elected District 4 congresswoman. Now, nine months later, UtahPolicy.com polling shows 46 percent of her constituents aren't in love with Love. If Piatt can't convince them that "All You Need Is Love," he may be singing "I'm a Loser" after next year's election.
Best Refugees taking root
New Roots Farm
On the edge of Chesterfield, a delightful, small enclave of one-acre farms in West Valley City, stands a small area of rows of planted vegetables with names, both of farmers and produce, in a variety of foreign languages. It's a farm incubator, which means that refugees grow vegetables and work on launching their own farm business. Developing small-scale urban farms is a gift both for the refugees and their families and others who get to enjoy their produce. Watching families working the soil, often in colorful clothing reflecting their culture, is to marvel at the richness of the valley's ethnic mix at its most earthy.
3100 S. Lester St., West Valley City
Best Local Porn Outrage
Maybe the rise of Mormon-themed porn could be seen as a compliment: Mormons are the new sexy! But probably not. The LDS Church is well known for being anti-porn, and the brethren are incensed that their rituals and practices are fodder for religious sexual fantasies. Even more upsetting is the notion that, according to a December 2014 Vice.com article, websites such as MormonBoyz.com and MormonGirlz.com are operated by former church missionaries. But at least, now, just maybe, the Catholic nuns will get some relief.
Best storming of a Cardboard Castle
When Ogden dad Jeremy Trentelman built a cardboard castle in his front yard for his young kids to play in, he had no plans to inspire a political movement. But when city code enforcement told him to remove the "junk" from his yard or face a $125 fine, he complained about the "silly" regulation on social media. As his friends shared, and their friends liked the post, the story went viral, but unfortunately, it became more convoluted and exaggerated with each telling. In the end, a rainstorm turned his cardboard kingdom into pulp, but not before Trentelman and his family were invited to build another cardboard castle in front of Fox News studios in New York City and be interviewed on national TV.
Best Government in Your Pocket
Utah.gov award-winning mobile apps
Red states tend to be places where people think government can't do anything right. But the state of Utah is proving that government can work well, at least when it comes to mobile convenience for its citizens. The state Division of Wildlife Resources' app, Utah Hunting & Fishing, won the Web Marketing Association's 2015 award for Best Government Mobile App, following a 2014 win of the same award for the OnTime public-transportation tracking app. The Hunting & Fishing app was also named among the top 30 finalists in the Igniting Innovation 2015 awards.
Best Animal Saviors
Nuzzles & Co.
Formerly Friends of Animals Utah, this no-kill rescue organization not only provides an adoption center but also runs a rescue ranch in Summit County. What is so admirable about these folks is their dedication to rescuing every dog and cat they can from shelters that still practice euthanasia, and their patience in preparing the animals for adoption. That includes behavior and training work if necessary. Once ready, the animals move to Tanger Outlet Center where caring workers, led by founder Kathleen Toth, make sure that the two-footed humans who are lucky enough to adopt are able to provide the very best homes for their charges.
Adoption Center: 6699 N. Landmark Drive, Suite B-103C, Park City, 435-649-5441; Ranch: 6466 N. Highway Road, Peoa, 435-649-5441, NuzzlesAndCo.org
Best StreetWalker Advocate
Once a week after dusk, Gina Salazar walks State Street between 1300 South and 2100 South, helping her people. Once upon a time, Salazar was a streetwalker—a sex worker in modern parlance—and while she has long since left that world behind, she dedicates 90 minutes each week to checking on women who work that section of State, handing out condoms and connecting them with services. During the day, Salazar is a refugee advocate at the Asian Association, which sometimes works to assist victims of sex trafficking. But once a week in the evening, the work Salazar does is purely her own and speaks to the compassion she brings to those who walk in a world she feels lucky to have escaped.
Best Library Manager
Darin Butler at Sandy Library
There's something of the Dickensian in Sandy Library manager, Darin Butler. Perhaps it's his soft-spoken demeanor, his gentle manner or simply his passion for encouraging everyone, whether young or old, to make the most of his facility, the largest in the county library system. His staff adore him, and more to the point, readers in Sandy have a library that feeds their souls. When one 12-year-old Utah boy's love of reading went viral, leaving him inundated with several thousand books from well-meaning strangers, Butler helped the boy distribute the books to Salt Lake County families who lacked reading material at home. That's Butler for you—always thinking outside the box./
10100 S. Petunia Way, Sandy, SLCOLibrary.org
Best West-Side Advocate
Rep. Angela Romero
With her trademark black helmet haircut, Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, has proved to be a force to be reckoned with at the Utah Legislature, especially when it comes to battling discrimination. First elected in 2012, her hard work and clear voice on issues such as immigration, economic justice and sexual assault have never failed to impress. Of recent note was her controversial bill seeking to define sexual consent, which was met with silence—not one politician in the Utah House of Representatives was willing to speak for or against it. She's also worked to streamline rape-kit processing. Both initiatives have made her a valuable and powerful voice for those who struggle to be heard on Capitol Hill. And she walks the talk, backing up her words with the insight of someone who lives in Glendale and works at the Sorenson Multicultural and Unity Fitness center.
Church of Christ
Two and a half years old, this small pantry in Murray replaced the Murray CAP program after it closed. The Church of Christ provides food through the Utah Food Bank for up to 6,000 families on Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving clients enough on Thursday to get them through the weekend. With five to seven volunteers, what is most striking about the pantry is its accessibility and the warmth of its welcome. While some pantries put up red tape, particularly for those without papers, this pantry a few blocks from State Street is a reflection of the best in nonprofit service organizations that struggle with passion and commitment to put food on the tables of Utahns who would otherwise go hungry.
494 E. 5300 South, Murray, 801-293-7000
Best Stealth Congressman
Rep. Chris Stewart
Maj. Chris Stewart was a distinguished B-1 bomber pilot back in the day. His 14-year career in the U.S. Air Force coincided with the development of stealth technology that enabled B-2s and F-117s to fly mostly undetected into places like Baghdad and Kosovo. That stealth seems to have rubbed off on Stewart, now a two-term congressman representing Utah's District 2. According to a recent poll by UtahPolicy.com, 33 percent of Stewart's constituents, from St. George to Salt Lake City, have never heard of him.
Best Multifaceted Sports Writer
Few writers of any ilk come close to the diverse sports coverage as does Amy Donaldson. Now nearing 25 years of writing for the Deseret News, her resume hardly needs buffing. Since she has nothing to prove to anyone, her prose is always clear, concise, and to the point—lacking both the second-guessing angst of wannabe athletes and the "insert something here that is not funny to anyone except me" game analysis that often finds its way into the sports pages. While high school sports coverage is her main beat, Donaldson also covers fitness, running and recreation, plus finds time to write about college sports. For an example of where she beats the big boys at Salt Lake City's other daily paper to the locker room, check out her Oct. 18 counterintuitive analysis of the Utah Utes vs. Arizona State [not the University of Arizona, as an earlier version of this pick indicated]. She pulled a dipsy-doodle Statue of Liberty column out of her vast playbook, leaving other writers in town tugging at their jock straps.
Twitter @adonsports; firstname.lastname@example.org
Best stars in the making
Top professional sports leagues give us the chance to see the best athletes (such as today's star Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, Nick Rimando, pictured) show their stuff—but there was a time when players like Rimando were learning the ropes. It's great fun to be in the stands watching young talent emerge and gain strength and experience. In 2015, United Soccer League affiliate Real Monarchs launched as an affiliate of Real Salt Lake, with a schedule that pit them against affiliates of other MLS teams throughout the West. For fans, it's an inexpensive way to catch a soccer match in Rio Tinto Stadium. For both fans and players, it's just the place to watch stars be born.
Best Golf Course
Mountain Dell GOLF COURSE
The desire to escape everyday stresses with a round of golf can be achieved by taking a trip into Parleys Canyon for one of the most picturesque courses in the entire state. The two 18-hole courses of Mountain Dell—the Lake Course and the Canyon Course—take distinctive but similarly breathtaking tours through the valleys and waterways of their mountain setting, with wildlife such as moose and hawks making dramatic appearances along the way. And regular players rave about the quality with which this public course is maintained.
Interstate 80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812, SLC-golf.com/mountain-dell-golf-course
2. Bonneville Golf Course
3. Old Mill Golf Course
Mill Creek Canyon
Salt Lakers who wish to access the beloved wilderness areas of the Wasatch Range can do so most easily through Mill Creek Canyon, a densely forested canyon on the east side Salt Lake Valley. As such, it's a popular destination for hikers, bikers and nature-lovers. But what truly sets Mill Creek apart is its dog policy. On odd-numbered days, dogs are allowed in much of Mill Creek Canyon without a leash (hiking with Fido, on or off a leash, is a no-no in the Cottonwood Canyons). The canyon's upper reaches are closed to vehicle traffic during the winter months, but for those who are into huffing it, this is more of a bonus than a hindrance.
3800 S. Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, SLCO.org/recreation/parks/millCreekCanyon/
2. Big Cottonwood Canyon
3. Little Cottonwood Canyon
With three ski resorts close to the town's center offering mountain-bike lift service, Park City could take this award without factoring in the array of biking trails not associated with Vail- or Deer Valley-owned properties. While it's easy to focus on the adrenaline-obsessed downhillers, Park City's other meandering trails offer a variety of terrain. And a fine place to start a mellow ride is at the historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, which winds 28 miles from Park City to Echo Reservoir, passing through hamlets like Wanship.
3. Corner Canyon
When the lights are dimmed at Bonwood Bowl, this neighborhood bowling alley is one of the few still-cool places you can see carpet that glows in the dark. Bowling alleys such as Bonwood have a special place in our hearts as a place to celebrate a kid's birthday, go out on a date or have some fun with the family. In addition to low prices on bowling and burgers, beer awaits in the Trophy Room Lounge, which you can frequent even if you haven't won a trophy. And what other bowling alley hosts a Heavy Metal bowling league? This group of metalheads happen to love beer and bowling, and their Black-Sabbath-laden playlists roar while they make their own thunder in the alleys. Of course, Bonneville also has standard leagues you can join, whether you're at the level of just above using bumpers or at the level of sending the ball smoking toward the pins every time.
2500 S. Main, South Salt Lake, 801-487-7758, BonwoodBowl.com
2. Fat Cats
3. Jupiter Bowl
Best Recreation Destination
There really isn't much a recreation-minded human can't do in Moab. The nearby La Salle Range offers a high-Alpine experience in the desert as well as some fine backcountry skiing. The Colorado River passes by gently on the outskirts of town, but Class IV whitewater adventures just east (Westwater Canyon) and west (Cataract Canyon) aren't far away, not to mention mountain & road biking, hiking, canyoneering and, for the fossil-fuel recreation-minded folk, Jeeping and ATVing. If you want it, Moab's got it.
2. Park City
3. Snowbird Resort
Alta SKI AREA
Skiers will flock to Alta to enjoy its ridiculously perfect terrain and its on-average 551 inches of annual snowfall, . Natural amenities aside, one reason avid skiers love Alta—like it or not—is because of the absence of snowboarders on its slopes. This ongoing controversy may need to be resolved in the courtroom. In the meantime, if your car sports an "Alta Is for Skiers" bumper sticker, you might want to catch some of that exclusive Alta pow while it remains exclusive to the folks who prefer two boards to one.
Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-359-1078, Alta.com
2. Snowbird Resort
3. Deer Valley Resort
Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center
The swimming pool at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center is not actually one pool—it's multiple. With outdoor and indoor pools, plus different levels of diving boards, two swirly water slides, a kiddie splash-zone with toys and, of course, space to dry off and soak up sun's rays (after slathering yourself in sunblock), the rec center has enough variety to keep the family entertained—or relaxed—all day. For those who want a little more structure with their water fun, there are water-aerobics classes. Or, take laps in the indoor racing pool.
7500 S. 2700 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-943-3190, CottonwoodHeights.com
2. Salt Lake City Sports Complex
3. Fairmont Aquatic Center
Best Community Event
Utah Arts Festival
For 39 years, the Utah Arts Festival—exploding every June with creative art forms, performances and activities—has been bringing hundreds of artists and thousands of attendees together to spend four days in the summer sun. The spectacle of performing artists—from percussionists, street dancers, local musicians, theatrical performers and story-tellers—is thrilling as is the work of visual artists displayed in dozens of booths. In 2015, crowds were in awe of 3-D pavement artist Kurt Wenner's massive creation that came together over three days' time. A secret to UAF's success is how it creates ways for attendees to participate, from finger-painting on a wall to a 24-hour writing competition. Plus you can learn what the city's various arts organizations, such as Spy Hop, are doing.
2. Utah Beer Festival
3. Craft Lake City
The roughly 1.5-mile loop around Liberty Park is a runner's dream. Not only are there multiple running/walking surfaces (concrete, grass and wood chips) but the park features a water fountain that draws from an underground artesian well that runs all year. The park's size is robust enough to ensure that one doesn't get bored—even if the order of the day is a 10 miler. When the running is done, head to the playground and be that strange, exhausted runner who, as concerned parents look on, hogs the children's water feature to cool off.
600 East and 900 South, Salt Lake City, SLCGOV.com/cityparks/parks-liberty-park
2. City Creek Canyon
3. Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Best Fitness Classes
9th & 9th Pilates
The name is bit of a misnomer now, but don't hold that against Tessa Arneson, owner of 9th & 9th Pilates; the fitness studio started out as pilates-only and over the years, has expanded to include spin classes, yoga, TRX (muscle-suspension training) and cardio-circuit training. There is also a rehabilitation track not only for injuries, but illness, surgery and pregnancy. 9th & 9th Pilates offers classes and tracks, for all fitness levels. The fact that Coffee Garden is nearby means you have everything needed to wake up in the morning on the same block.
854 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-410-4180, 9thAnd9thPilates.com
2. The Bar Method
3. Fitness on 7th
Best Yoga Studio
Centered City Yoga
Whether you're drawn to yoga for religious reasons, for spiritual centering, or simply because you want to get more fit and look fantastic in yoga pants, it doesn't matter. Centered City doesn't judge; it is a welcoming and supportive place for people wanting to practice yoga for whatever reason. The staff knows its stuff—the owner, D'ana Baptiste, even teaches a class herself—and the center trains future yoga teachers in its academy. The center's natural light multiplies the clean, warm energy of the already soothing studio. Utah residents can take their first introductory class for free, so newbies, it's worth a shot; you're hardly likely to get tangled up in a comical pretzel, and you'll feel amazing after.
918 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-9642
2. Bikram Sugar House
3. Salt Lake Power Yoga
It's tough to say how it came to pass that Brighton—more so than any other Utah resort—became a haven for snowboarders. It could be due to its quality riding, its easy-to-access backcountry, its cache of local professional riders who call the mountain home and have showcased its terrain in myriad movies and magazines. Whatever the reason, a day spent at Brighton—even if you're just sunning yourself on the patio as the hours pass by—will confirm that the resort, even without five-star restaurants, fancy cocktails and film festivals—is lousy with guys and gals who know how to rip.
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-532-4731, BrightonResort.com
2. Snowbird Resort
3. Solitude Resort
Best Summer Halloween
Art on You Studios
This tattoo/piercing studio was the first of its kind in Magna. When it opened its doors in October 2009, it was the first licensed tattoo parlor the western Salt Lake County township had ever seen. Since its Halloween-time beginnings, the studio has become a year-round home for all things creepy, mysterious and spooky. It keeps the spirit of Halloween going not just through October, but year round. July marked the studio's "Halloween in Summer" festival, during which time Magna's Main Street was overflowing with zombies, witches and the like. Kudos to Renee and Storm for recognizing that we all need a little scare now and then.
Art on You Studios Tattoos, 8971 W. 2700 South, Magna, 801-981-8180, ArtOnYou.com
Best Drag Show
This is not the kind of drag show that Utah filmmaker Trent Harris would have filmed for his Beaver Trilogy. It's another kind of drag taking place in Price, that bustling coal-and-college town in south-central Utah. You'll find very few wigs at Mud Drags, and not much lip-syncing, either. That's because it's drag racing. In the mud. Sponsored by the Western Mud Racing Association, events include ProMud, Outlaw, Modified, ProStock and SuperStock—you will get muddy! And that's not bad.
Mud Drags, Carbon County Fairgrounds, 450 S. Fairgrounds Road, Price, CastleCountry.com/Fairgrounds
Best Way to Prevent Gay Heatstroke
Provo Pride Festival
Most LGBT pride festivals, including Salt Lake City's, take place in late June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Trouble is, June in Utah is already too hot. Before the parade passes by, spectators and participants alike are swooning from dehydration, and by the time they get to the beer corral, it's nearly too late. Fortunately, Utah County has an answer: Provo Pride is held in the lovely, temperate month of September! Still in its infancy, Provo Pride did not host a parade in 2015 (nor a beer corral)—but they sure demonstrate the fearless spirit of Stonewall by celebrating Pride in über-conservative Happy Valley.
Best Speedo Display
Slide the City
As the old Edgar Leslie/Walter Donaldson song goes: "When it gets too hot for comfort/ And you can't get ice cream cones/ T'aint no sin to take off your skin/ And dance around in your bones." And, by the end of August in Salt Lake City, it gets so scorching those baffling lyrics start to make an odd kind of sense. Fortunately, Sack Lunch Productions has the answer: a 1,000-foot inflatable water slide. "Slide the City" events take place in cities throughout North America, including—thank heavens!—our own. For one moist day, Main Street downtown is transformed into a giant slip-n-slide. It's an innovative—if not slightly insane—way to beat the heat.
Best Old-Timey Jams
Utah Old Time Fiddlers
Bluegrass and Americana music surged back into the public consciousness at the turn of the 21st century, but the appeal is still specialized enough that it takes some dedicated folks to keep the art form alive and thriving. The Utah Old Time Fiddlers is a nonprofit organization set to just that purpose, with six regional chapters in the state, gathering for regular jam sessions. And that means if you're a fiddler, guitarist or player of a similarly traditional instrument, you're welcome to join in playing at various locations, including West Valley City Hall, Orem Senior Center and Weber State University Shepherd Union Building.
Best Way to Skip Town
Rail service in the American West clings to life dealing with stripped-down funding and waning interest from both politicians and the impatient traveling public. Still, those trusty rails remain, and for the traveler who has a bit of time to spare, there's not a seat on any airplane in this world more comfortable than an Amtrak seat. For in-state travel, rail service is an often-overlooked option: For example, from downtown Salt Lake City, Green River is a mere $66 round-trip fare—and it's on a streamliner called the California Zephyr! Go, Go, Go!
Best Dinosaur Bones
Dinosaur National Monument
Reading in a book that dinosaurs like the flesh-eating Allosauras roamed a vast tropical plain 149 million years ago near Vernal, Utah, is food for thought. But if you drive on Highway 40 through Vernal, a monument to these vast numbers exists in the form of the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument. At the Quarry Exhibit Hall, bones from multiple species have been preserved in the condition they were found: imbedded in Morrison Formation rock that dates back more than 100 million years.
Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Exhibit Hall, 11625 E. 1500 South, Jensen, 435-781-7700, NPS.gov/dino
Best Unknown Mormon Gravesite
Mormon Pioneer Memorial
On First Avenue, just a few hundred feet from Temple Square's boundaries, sits the Mormon Pioneer Memorial. Anyone who's ever lived in the Covey or Brigham apartments has seen it—a leafy little zone with an assortment of statues, including one of the Mormon prophet Brigham Young sitting on a bench reading the Book of Mormon to two children. But if you look closely, the space is actually a graveyard where Young, several of his wives and his oldest son are buried. Without some hunting, you may not notice that they are grave markers, unless you see that the dates on the gate, 1801-1877, are Young's birth and death years.
140 E. First Ave., Salt Lake City
Best Steeps for All
There's only one option in Little Cottonwood Canyon for skiers and snowboarders alike: Snowbird. With its wickedly steep slopes, high-reaching tram (just standing at the base of the tram and watching the massive cable wheels turn is a pretty good time) and dozens and dozens of quality runs on the Best Snow on Earth, this resort is one of a kind. Couple these outdoor activities with the resort's spa and myriad restaurant options, and you're going to have yourself a dandy old time in the mountains, even if you don't ski or snowboard.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, 9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, 801-933-2222, Snowbird.com
Best Way to Shred the North
If the hustle & bustle of Park City and the Cottonwood canyons aren't your thing, be soothed by the fact that Snowbasin is a mere 33 miles to the northeast. The 3,000-acre resort is large, with 500 more skiable acres than Snowbird, and the general feel of the place is somehow laid back, while still being ridiculously fancy. The restrooms, ballrooms and cafeterias are opulent—so much so that dirt-bag skiers and snowboarders have been known to actually pick up their empty PBR cans. Oh, and the skiing ain't bad, either. Catch Snowbasin after a fresh snowfall and, aside from the kick-ass view of the Ogden Valley at the top of Allen Peak, you'll swear you're in the Central Wasatch.
3925 E. Snowbasin Road, 801-620-1000, Snowbasin.com
Best New Roller Derby League
Ladies of the Lake
It's an exciting time for women's roller derby with new leagues cropping up all around the state. Salt Lake City-based Ladies of the Lake started as a nonprofit team and held its successful inaugural season in early 2015. The new crew of skaters gave established names a chance to compete against fresh meat, while reinforcing Utah's derby cred: The Beehive State now sports eight derby leagues from Ogden to Moab. As we roll into 2016, here's hoping the expansion of Utah teams will help fuel a new era of state-league play.
Best Excuse To Game Out
Salt Lake Gaming Con
Utah's got more "cons" than you can shake a Klingon bat'leth at, but that didn't stop the gaming community from rising up and forming a convention of its own. After being sorely ignored and shuttled off to dark corners at other conventions, gamers took matters into their own hands and created Salt Lake Gaming Con in August 2015, taking one of the most popular forms of entertainment and putting it front & center at Sandy's South Towne Expo Center. The success of the con's panels and tournaments provide a solid foundation to build upon when it returns June 2016.
Best Adrenaline-Fueled Go-Karts
After its ribbon-cutting this summer, you can now enjoy indoor go-karting at this brand-spanking new facility featuring state-of-the-art equipment. You can breathe easy knowing there's no exhaust in the air: Here, you'll find eco-friendly electric karts, asphalt tracks and shock-absorbing safety barriers around the track. Driving karts that can reach 45 mph, and with up to 12 racers humming around the indoor track at any given time, there's no better thrill. Watch out, you just may get bit by the racing bug. Next stop: Speed Week at the salt flats! Open seven days a week.
725 W. 10600 South, Sandy, 801-758-7228, K1Speed.com
Best Fresh-Water Surprise
Willard Bay State Park
The clueless among us drive north and south along Interstate 15 and hardly realize that Willard Bay is not part of the Great Salt Lake. It is, in fact, a freshwater man-made reservoir that exists on the flood plain of the Great Salt Lake; its purpose is to collect fresh water from the Ogden and Weber rivers to irrigate farms and provide myriad outdoor-recreation opportunities. The fishing here is another bonus. Here you'll find black crappie, walleye, wiper, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill. Keep an eye out for wildlife and migrating birds as well.
900 W. 650 North, Willard, 435-734-9494, StateParks.Utah.gov/parks/willard-bay
Best Flying Fish
Utah Grizzlies Games
Have spectator sports become a bit same-same? Become a fan of the Utah Grizzlies professional ice-hockey team, playing at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, and feel some excitement in your life. An evening spent cheering on the Grizzlies is both rowdy and fun. Young men gracefully gliding across the ice oval, whisking the puck toward the goal is almost a performance art. But when a team is in striking distance, the graceful movements become shoving, checking and even clobbering opponents, to say nothing of players slamming each other into the Plexiglas surrounding the ice. When the Grizz score their first point, prepare yourself for the crowd's deafening roar and witness yet another strange phenomenon: Fans start flinging frozen trout onto the ice oval—they have to feed the hungry bears.
3200 Decker Lake Drive, 801-988-8000, West Valley City, UtahGrizzlies.com
Best Free Party
University of Utah Football Games
Ever since the Utes got baptized into the Pacific-12 Conference, Utah fans have gone a little bit nuts. Where tailgating and boozing were once restricted to a single parking lot, the usually alcohol-free campus now erupts into a beer-pong playing paradise where RVs tricked out with big-screen televisions occupy a good share of campus asphalt, and cops just look the other way. But don't feel bad if you don't have an RV, or a ticket. Buy a 12-pack of beer, take a stroll almost anywhere on campus and enjoy pre-game festivities in front of campus cops who, only a few years ago, would have tossed imbibers in the slammer for such debauchery.
University of Utah campus
Best Pickleball Playground
Holladay Lions Fitness & Recreation Center
It is called the fastest-growing sport you've never heard of. Pickleball, a tennis-like game more fun than anything Ashley Madison has to offer, is flourishing in Utah. Outdoor courts are being built (16 in Bluffdale, six on 11th Avenue), and indoor courts are busy weekday mornings. At Holladay Lions Fitness & Recreation Center, three indoor courts are set aside for beginners at 8:30 a.m. every day but Saturday. Paddles and balls are provided, and the crowd is welcoming. Neither skill nor experience is required—you will be playing doubles on the first day.
1661 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 385-468-1700, SLCO.org/recreation/holladaylions
Best Long-Distance Runner
When we say "long-distance runner," it's because Salt Lake resident Chris Chatzis recently made his mark in Greece, finishing 70th out of the 374 runners from around the world at the historic Spartathlon ultra-marathon. The modern marathon that most train for marks the distance (26.2 miles) from Athens to Marathon, Greece—the site of an Athenian victory over the invading Persians. News of that victory was delivered to the Athenians by messenger/runner Pheidippides. However, just before he made that journey, Pheidippides also had run from Athens to Sparta—153 miles—to enlist additional war troops, run back to Athens, then sped off again to Marathon to witness the battle, finally returning to Athens—where he promptly fell over dead. Today's Spartathlon honors Pheidippides, departing the Acropolis in Athens and finishing in Sparta—a distance the equivalent of more than five consecutive marathons. More than 200 world-class runners were unable to finish in the requisite 36 hours of what many in the running community consider the most demanding of all such races. Chatzis ran the full distance in 33:09:47. If you see someone around town missing a few toenails, say hello and tip your beanie to Chris Chatzis.
Best Adult Recess
Beehive Sport & Social Club
Longing for the days of kickball, flag football, and dodge ball? Sign up with the folks at Beehive Sport and make some new friends. At the end of league games, enjoy a party at a local bar and feel good about the fact that a portion of your registration fees help the kids at the Boys & Girls Club play some games of their own.
Multiple locations, 801-520-0708, BeehiveSports.com
Best New Gym
Orangetheory Fitness offers 60-minute classes split into cardio and strength training. Each client wears a heart-rate monitor so they, and the coaches, can scientifically measure the intensity of their effort—and push themselves further, or slow down, accordingly. After each class, clients are emailed a summary of their workout, including how many minutes they spent in the "orange zone" and how many calories they burned. Orangetheory also offers a huge amount of variety—clients alternate between running, rowing, lifting weights, using suspended TRX bands and more, all under the supervision of a fitness trainer.
602 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-255-9050, OrangeTheoryFitness.com
Best Place to Go Fly a Kite
Dixie Power Kite Festival
It might seem like an activity from a bygone era, but there's still an exhilaration that comes from sending a kite up into the sky and keeping it dipping and soaring. If you're prepared to let the wind carry you, head to St. George in the spring, where the Sun River Golf Course hosts a day-long festival in April with live entertainment and other activities. But the focus is on encouraging participation in this family-friendly outdoor activity—which includes free flying and prizes of free kites for students of Washington County schools who participate in a reading program.
Best Pinball Wonderland
With the advent of computer games, brick-and-mortar arcades have dwindled in number, and classic pinball machines are relegated to a token few in the remaining arcades, or in some bars and bowling alleys. But those who love the tactile joy of banging on those flippers and playing a mean pinball can find their bliss in Springville, where Nickel Mania is home to more than 25 tables, from classic movie-based games like "Terminator 2" and "The Addams Family" to "NASCAR" and "Harley-Davidson." And the newer Murray location comes only slightly less stocked with old-school goodies.
1575 S. 1950 West, Springville, 801-489-8698; 6051 S. State, Murray, 801-685-9229, NickelManiaGames.com
Best Nature Walks
Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter
The beautiful lands of the Wasatch Front are accessible in so many ways, but not all of them allow you to learn as you explore. Swaner Preserve's guided 75-minute Saturday Nature Walks in spring, summer and fall allow visitors to discover facts about local wetlands and the native plant and animal species that call them home. In winter, those walks become snowshoe tours, including identifying animal tracks. The tours are only $5 per person, and are free for members.
1258 Center Drive, Park City, 435-649-1767
Best BIRD connection
Tracy Aviary Pelican Encounter
Every kid who's ever been to a zoo has had to face the disappointment of the "Do Not Feed the Animals" sign. That's why they relish those rare occasions when they can get close enough to the animals to be part of feeding time. Visitors to Tracy Aviary can supplement their general admission with daily Pelican Encounters where they can help with filling the pouches at the pelican pond with fish. It's a special way to be a part of the experience—no extra points for scoring a pouch "basket," though.
589 E. 1300 South, 801-596-8500, TracyAviary.org
Best Ogden Hike
Waterfall Canyon Trail
For many hikers, it's all about the journey; but for reluctant hikers, there needs to be a payoff at the end. This 3-mile round-trip hike with a 1,500-foot elevation-gain begins at the trail head at the top of Ogden's 29th Street. With its rocky terrain, it can be a challenge for novices and younger hikers due to downed branches and, depending on the season, the need for creek wading. But once you reach the top, your payoff is a glorious view of a 200-foot waterfall as well as amazing views of the entire Ogden Valley.
Trailhead and parking lot, top of 29th Street, Ogden
Best Easter Sermon
Arches National Park Sunrise Service
On Easter Sunday at 6 a.m., cars pull up in the base parking lot at Arches National Park, and sleepy Moabians and visitors pile into several buses that head up to La Sal Mountain Viewpoint. As the sun rises, the small crowd sing hymns and listen to readings at the nondenominational service put on by the Association of Christian Churches in Moab. As the shadows of the night recede and desert flowers reawaken in the rising temperatures, sunlight reveals the awesome majesty of an orange-red landscape that lingers in the mind long after you've left the park. If you plan to stay longer than 9 a.m., you have to pay the park entrance fee.
Best Wildflower Hike
Cecret Lake hike
Come summer time, it's hard to find a more glorious vista than the pathway from Cecret Lake down to the Alta Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It's a stunning landscape of wildflowers that, while a little steep at times, never ceases to amaze with its abundance of colors. If you're not feeling ambitious, on the weekends Alta provides a bus up to the Cecret Lake trail head, which puts you in the best of both worlds, allowing you to either hike up to the placid beauty of the Alpine lake or down through the flowers to the lodge. Either is a treat to the senses.
Best Frontier in Miniature
Wild West Jordan Playground
Kids may not even realize they're getting a wonderful dose of state history in this impressively designed playground adjacent to the county library and Viridian Event Center in West Jordan. The 12,000 square foot, fenced-in area offers plenty of climbing, sliding and swinging areas suitable for kids of varying ages. But all that good stuff is tucked into 1800s-style storefronts, a representation of the Bingham Copper Mine and even the meeting of the railroads at Promontory Point. They get their wiggles out; you get to introduce them to Utah's colorful past.
1985 W. 7800 South, West Jordan
Alta Lodge, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 10230 UT-210, Alta, 801-742-3500, DiscoverAlta.com/business/hiking-alta/
Best Red-Rock River Paradise
Yankee Meadow Resevoir
Just east of Parowan in Iron County, Yankee Resevoir sits in 53 splendid acres of meadow, surrounded by mountain ranges. While the lake is popular with fishermen during the spring and summer, and with hunters during the fall, explorers traveling the dirt road that leads up to the reservoir will discover a beautiful creek-fed landscape that is often surprisingly overlooked. There are campgrounds available on a space-available basis and grills awaiting BBQers. While the ATVers rocket up to the reservoir, you can enjoy the tree-shaded tranquility of the creek and the rising red-rock landscape, recalling again why you love Utah so.
Bowery Creek Road, Parowan
Best Slice of Solitude
Solitude Mountain Resort
On any given powder-filled Saturday morning for the past 58 years, chances are good that while countless hordes of skiers and snowboarders stood in lift lines at other canyon resorts, snow fiends of all stripes were busy shredding at Solitude. Whether it is simple perception, or truth, it is difficult to ignore the fact that one tends to feel a bit more lonely at Solitude than at other ski areas in the Cottonwood canyons, and that can be a good thing. It's not that the resort isn't popular, or that it attracts fewer skiers than other resorts. Solitude has simply managed to preserve the feeling that as you slide downhill, the entire Salt Lake Valley—and all of those folks who used to ski in California when it snowed there—aren't in your way.
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-534-1400, SkiSolitude.com
Best Salt Lake Valley PERCH
The Living Room Hike
This 2.7-mile Salt Lake Valley hike takes you to a rock formation of sandstone Flintstones-esque couches—sans TV. But the view from this summit is the entire valley—refinery to Rio Tinto—so who needs a TV? The mountain is one of the closest of all those surrounding the valley, and, even though it's a steep hike—with a 980-foot gain in elevation—it doesn't take as many hours to hike as one of its taller buddies, like Grandeur or Olympus peaks. And it may not be as fast or easy as walking from the bedroom to your own living room, but assuming your apartment isn't 80 stories above the city, the view is remarkably better. Time the hike right, and the sound from Red Butte Garden concerts echoes into the niche between the mountains for some delightful free entertainment.
Trailhead: 383 Colorow Drive, Salt Lake City East Bench
Best Peak Experience
Discrete Peak Series
Runners are flocking to this new trail-running series, seeking to challenge themselves with shorter distances but at maximum gain in altitude. Starting at the base of mountain resorts, runners blast their way to the top of a peak before careening back down to the finish. Runners like the fact the race is just about them and the peak—no gimmicks. Summer 2015 races were held at Alta (from Albion Lodge up Greeley and the High-T trails to Baldy's Peak); Snowbird (to the top of Twin Peaks and finishing at Snowbird's Oktoberfest) and Deer Valley (which toured the Wasatch Back). The operative word here is "up!"
Best Urban Phallic Symbol
The Draw in Sugar House
There aren't many hoodoos north of Bryce Canyon. But there is one: red and phallic, it towers over the Parley's Bike & Pedestrian Trail a stone's throw east of Hidden Hollow. This hoodoo dominates a massive, red-rock sculpture by renowned New York City-based artist Patricia Johanson. Titled "The Draw," the landscape art is meant to evoke some geographical features of the Mormon Trail—as well as the grit of those who walked it.
Best Body Sculpting
THE Bar Method
The Bar Method uses ballet techniques to form long, lean muscle. Every one-hour high-intensity workout starts to strengthen and shape the major muscle groups using isometrics, interval training, dance conditioning and sports rehabilitation—all without impact on your joints. And it isn't an impersonal gym; many clients see the studio as a place to hang out with extended family. So, next time you have the urge to head out to a bar, consider coming here. At least there's no hangover—only sore muscles and a feeling of being on top of the world.
1057 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-4227, SaltLakeCity.BarMethod.com
Best Big Bounce
Wairhouse Trampoline Park
Some parents resist the risk of backyard trampolines—but that doesn't stop kids from loving the thrill of a big bounce. The 15,000-square-feet of jumping space at the WAIRhouse Trampoline Park allows youngsters to tumble, somersault and launch themselves in a safer environment (signed waiver required), including Slam Dunk courts, dodgeball play area, foam pit and a special section for kids 6 and under. Come with a group to rent a party room, or just let the little ones get bouncy.
3653 S. 500 West, 801-266-5867, TheWairhouse.com
Best Climbing Gym
The Front features a spacious indoor rock-climbing area specifically designed for bouldering, with routes for beginners to hard-core competitive climbers—and plenty of space to just hang out. The Front also has rope-climbing walls, a separate area for climbing instruction, a cafe, yoga classes, cardio equipment, a weight room and community spaces. As an added bonus, dog owners can bring their furry friends to The Front's fenced-in dog area while they climb.
1450 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7625, FrontSLC.com
Counties of Utah
WE'RE REACHING OUT
For 25 years, City Weekly's Best of Utah has tended to focus on the people, places and services of those who reside along the Wasatch Front. Some of you called us out for that. We deserved it.
We now introduce our first statewide Best of Utah picks—county by county. Each is special to one particular place, one county, that in sum, help us to expand our selections to all of Utah. Enjoy. Happy trails.
Best New Thrill
Roller-coaster enthusiasts around the country—and even the world—anxiously awaited the 2015 grand opening of Cannibal, Lagoon's new state-of-the-art steel coaster. It was designed primarily in-house, a rarity in the theme-park world, where most big coaster designs are developed by outside design companies. Cannibal turned out an exhilarating 2 1/2 minute experience that starts with a 116-degree beyond-vertical drop, includes an underground tunnel and hits top speeds of 70 mph. You've never experienced anything like it before, and the decision to keep the development mostly local guarantees you never will.
375 N. Lagoon Drive, Farmington, 801-451-8000, LagoonPark.com
Best Really Tough Endurance Race
Crusher in the TushAr
Utahns are mostly Wasatch or Uinta mountain snobs when it comes to appreciating high Alpine beauty. Those same Utahns may never have heard of the gorgeous Tushar Mountains, which they cruise past on any drive along Interstate 15 from Salt Lake City to St. George. The Tushars boast seven peaks over 11,000 feet and thus are the perfect setting for an ass-kicker of a mountain bike race that boils down to one simple path to victory: Only the strongest win. Departing the valley floor in the Utah town of Beaver, riders cover more than 70 miles and climb 10,000 feet (between four and six hours to finish). After traversing the Tushars, they circle back up to finish at Eagle Point Ski & Summer Resort. The Crusher is rapidly becoming known as one of the best riding tests in the country. Held annually each summer.
Best Wood-Fired Pizza
Jack's Wood Fired Oven
By any standard, dining at Jack's Wood Fired Oven is mighty fine. Here you'll find pies some aficionados consider to be the best pizza in Utah. The pizza Margherita—that simple, straightforward combination of tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil—illustrates how amazing Jack's hand-tossed crust is. Did you miss breakfast? Jack's has got you covered with its "Sunnyside" pizza: potatoes, cream sauce, prosciutto, bacon, smoked cheddar and—the best part—two sunny-side-up eggs, finished with maple syrup.
256 N. Main, Logan, 435-754-7523, JacksWoodFiredOven.blogspot.com
Best Scuba Diving in the Desert
Bonneville Sea Base/Blue Lake
The water is murky enough that divers may be disoriented upon descent, but think of Bonneville Sea Base as spooky, and it becomes thrilling. Besides, the water clears a bit toward the bottom to reveal a sunken ship ready to explore. Oh, and the fish! Stingrays and sharks as well as puffer fish and French angel fish go about their business. The Seabase offers three ponds, all geothermally heated. Blue Lake requires a longer drive from Salt Lake City, but that means there are fewer divers to bump into below. Its pools stay warm year round; as such, winter months are prime time—no pesky horseflies plus the water's clarity improves when it's chilly. Treasures in this lake include a praying mantis sculpture, a sunken canoe, a head (don't panic, it's a mannequin), and all throughout, bluegill, bass, tilapia and pacu swim freely.
Bonneville Seabase, 1600 UT-138, Grantsville, 435-884-3874, Seabase.net; Blue Lake, 16 miles south of Wendover, 40°30.06 North, 114°02.02 West
Best Blue-Collar Tribute
Western Mining & Railroad Museum
Located on Historic Main Street in the town of Helper, the Western Mining & Railroad Museum is well worth the diversion for any tripper heading to points south along Highway 6 toward Moab country or Lake Powell country. Actually, all of Helper's Main Street is worth a visit (where you can see an old bordello or grab a nice meal at the Balanced Rock Café), but the museum is the main attraction. Once inside the 100-year-old former Old Helper Hotel (and outside, too), visitors get a simulated experience of what it was like for the area's early coal miners and railroaders—many of whom were Italian, Greek and Slavic immigrants—brought here to work for nearly nothing in unsafe conditions, giving rise to the American labor movement. A homage to the lovable bandit, Butch Cassidy, is also found inside, plus tributes to the many men lost in area mine disasters.
294 S. Main, Helper, 435-472-3009, WMRRM.com
Box elder COUNTY
Best 900,000 Pounds of Minerals
Crystal Hot Springs
At Crystal Hot Springs, every five minutes, more than 8,000 gallons of hot-spring water rises to the surface, bringing with it 900,000 pounds of minerals over a 24-hour period. Located just 12 miles north of Brigham City, this year-round resort boasts the highest-mineral content in the United States, if not the world. Enjoy the popular slides (coursing with heated water in the winter) where not only will you land in hot water upon exiting, but you can then cool off in 52-degree cool-water pools. The two spring waters are blended to give bathers the all-natural mineral water experience. It's one of Utah's natural wonders and good, clean fun, at that. 8215 UT-38, Honeyville, 435-279-8104, CrystalHotSprings.net
Best Hot Tubbing
Mystic Hot Springs
No whirlpool jets. No chlorine. No sexy lighting (not counting the moon). That's right, just your standard pools, plus an array of old-fashioned bathtubs—the kind you never see any longer in our plastic-mold world—filled to the brim with the famous mineral waters of Mystic Hot Springs in the heart of central Utah. The hot (168 degrees at the source!), soothing waters (laden with calcium, magnesium and iron) at Mystic have been noted since American Indian times for their healing capabilities, relieving even the sorest bodies in minutes. Early white settlers were quick to build amenities at the site, primarily known only to locals. It has only been in more recent years that Mystic has taken on an entirely new life, recognized not only for its waters, but for its commitment to Mother Nature, too, and all things, well, hippie. That's a good thing—a little more gentleness and peace can't hurt. Watch for the annual Mystic Springs Music Festival, sure, but keep abreast of activities here, as bands and music are common themes at this magical, mystical oasis.
475 E. 100 North, Monroe, 435-527-3286, MysticHotSprings.com
Best Uinta Gateway Getaway
Defa's Dude Ranch
Only 80 miles from Salt Lake City, Defa's Dude Ranch has been hosting campers and fishermen as well as guiding tours into the High Uinta Wilderness area for nearly 70 years. Yet, many have never heard of it, in part, due to the once white-knuckle traipse over Wolf Creek Pass that many traveled to get there. But Wolf Creek Pass is now paved, making the journey to Defa's quick and easy for most Salt Lakers. Nestled in along the beautiful North Fork of the Duchesne River Canyon just north of the Utah town of Hanna, Defa's offers rustic cabins as low as $25 per night. There's also RV and tent camping, a cafe, a saloon, hiking, horseback riding and miles of quiet fishing for rainbow and brook trout in nearby streams, lakes and ponds. Local musicians are known to bust out in song till the wee hours, so take your bluegrass spirit with you. They close during the winter season, but this close-by getaway is open and ready for you May-October.
North of Hanna, off Highway 35, 435-848-5590, Facebook.com/defasduderanch
Best Venue For ... Everything
The Egyptian Theatre
It's a fair question: How did such a beautiful Art Deco-Egyptian Revival-style building come to be such an important part of a once-decaying mining town? Well, for starters, Park City is decades past the days of decay. Secondly, it didn't happen overnight. Today's Egyptian was built in the 1920s on the site of a former theater that collapsed due to heavy snow—a period when all things Tut were at their peak. It was first a movie theater, and when Park City fell into decline during the 1970s and 1980s, the Egyptian could have fallen with it. However, Park City residents' love for the old building won out. After a series of minor renovations, it got a nearly complete facelift in the 1990s, its grand Egyptian façade never looking better. Today, the Egyptian is not only the face of the Sundance Film Festivial and a venue for many of its premieres, it is host to one of the best entertainment lineups in Utah. Be it live music, comedy or live theater, the Egyptian delivers a quality product. Coming: The Drifters, It's a Beautiful Day (with Salt Laker David LaFlamme on violin, old hippies), Gallagher, Macbeth, RDT ... everything.
328 Main, Park City, 435-649-9371, EgyptianTheatreCompany.org
Best Utah Street, Period
Historic 25th Street
One thing Ogden has hands down over that City Down South (Salt Lake City) is a real and distinct historic district of wonderfully preserved 100-year-old buildings, all of which make for nearly perfect locations for funky clubs, eateries and hip retailers. Salt Lake City once had a similar district but lesser minds destroyed the scores of buildings that once stretched for blocks along west 200 South. Not so in Ogden. Extending from Union Station (an easy FrontRunner ride from Salt Lake City) to Washington Boulevard, Historic 25th Street—or Two-Bit Street—spills history at every turn. Once home to railroad workers and laborers of every ethnic stripe, famously including large numbers of segregated black railroad porters, 25th Street earned a reputation as a wild and woolly, anything goes, part of town. Legends abound about the tunnel network that connected various buildings allowing escape routes not only for proprietors engaged in "sinful" arts such as bootlegging, gambling and whoring, but also for their not-so-squeaky-clean customers who could preach by day and play by night. Playing continues to this day in some of Utah's coolest galleries, clubs and eateries stacked one after the other, including some spilling onto neighboring streets. Ogden's 25th Street is in Utah, but it is not of Utah: It's a completely unique district.
25th Street in Ogden, Historic25.com
Best River Runners
Don Hatch River Expeditions
The well-known rivers of the West were largely unexplored in the 1920s when Bus Hatch, with his brothers and cousins from the Vernal area (including flytier extraordinaire, Frank Swain) began floating the Green and Yampa rivers in ever-improving wooden boats. What began as boyhood adventure slowly morphed into one of America's first rafting tour companies in 1929. It grew, in part, due to funding from Dr. Russell Frazier, the company doctor at the Bingham Canyon Mine, who shared the Hatch exploration DNA (Frazier would later visit the South Pole on Admiral Byrd's third expedition). Besides the nearby Green and Yampa (including the notorious Canyon of the Lodore), the Hatches were among the first to successfully raft Cataract Canyon, the Grand Canyon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. After World War II, the wooden craft were gradually replaced by cheap rubber pontoons, and with them, Hatch became a leading force in the newly minted river-exploration tour business. The Bus Hatch legacy lives on today via his son, Don, and a new generation of Hatch family river experts. Nothing beats the thrill of running wild rapids. And no one beats Don Hatch River Expeditions.
221 N. 400 East, Vernal, 435-789-4316, DonHatchRiverTrips.com
Best Tracks of Time
Dinosaur Discovery at Johnson Farm
What will you see here? Jurassic-era dinosaur footprints, and lots of them. What won't you see here? Rooms full of Utahraptor skeletons. You will find best-scientific-guess replicas, but we've been taught that to understand dinosaurs—and to properly frighten our children—we must see their scary ribs, teeth and claws. A walk through the Johnson Farm is more sedate, and more imaginative. Footprints have a different effect on us; one must wonder what caused so many dinosaurs to once walk upon these grounds, and why. And most mysterious of all—how did such a discovery survive the great construction boom of St. George in the first place? Never doubt that more than one construction site has ruined an archeological treasure. Not so with the discovery of dinosaur tracks in 2000 by Dr. Sheldon Johnson who was moving his own dirt on his own property. The good doctor did what others would not have—he contacted dinosaur experts and eventually donated his discovery and land to the city of St. George, which is now caretaker for this delicate, red-desert delight.
2180 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, 435-574-3466, DinoSite.org
Best ECLECTIC crossroads TO ADVENTURE
Like many other historic towns born in the 1800s in central and eastern Utah, Torrey lays claim to being an outpost for the notorious bandit, Butch Cassidy. And that is likely so because even Butch would have admired the perfect location that Torrey occupies. Go one way and you find yourself at Fish Lake hauling in a massive lake trout. Go another, and you climb Boulder Mountain, with its secret lakes full of massive brook trout. Go yet another, and you may find yourself reeling in massive brown or rainbow trout from the Fremont River flowing below those famous red cliffs. And wander just a wee bit east from Torrey itself, and you find yourself in what many Utahns consider the very crown jewel of Utah's national parks, Capitol Reef, offering abundant hiking trails and amazing vistas. No matter the direction you travel along the few roads in this part of Utah, one will pass through Torrey. Stop and linger. And if your belly beckons, do try the Cafe Diablo or join Butch at the Robbers Roost Bookstore and Cafe.
Located on Highway 24 at the edge of Capitol Reef National Park, TorreyUtah.com
San Juan COUNTY
Best High-Elevation Golfing
Hideout Golf Course
At 7,000 feet in elevation, the Hideout Golf Course in Monticello indeed surpasses what are assumed to be the highest in Utah—those in the Park City area. But just because you can gain a few yards off the tee in such rarified air, that's not reason enough to pack your clubs and head down south for a round or two. Yes, you'll want to play here for the incredible scenery, of course, but also because Hideout is one of Utah's best courses—period—any time of year. Built in 2001, it features worthy challenges at every bend on beautifully maintained fairways and greens. Hideout was once considered one of Utah's best-kept secrets. But now, the secret is out and, at $27 for 18 holes, it's a bona-fide bargain. If Hideout is not eye candy enough, Arches and Canyonlands national parks beckon nearby.
648 S. Hideout Way, Monticello, 435-226-1292, HideoutGolf.com
Hell's Backbone Grill
Not surprisingly, given the number of Tibetan prayer flags surrounding it, this Boulder eatery reeks of good vibes. The warmth and comfort that envelops visitors to Hell's Backbone Grill begins with owners Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle, who are the most welcoming hosts anyone could imagine. The food, the drink, the service, the ambience, the music—everything about this place feels both spirited and spiritual, in the most inviting, disarming way possible. It's a place to eat, drink—and breathe.
20 N. Highway 12, Boulder, 435-335-7464, HellsBackboneGrill.com
Best Shakespeare-Worthy Hike
The Coal Creek Parkway Trail
While Iron County lays claim to Utah's Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, it also boasts equally dramatic scenery and hikes. And that's a great bonus for visitors, because after bouncing from one from Shakespeare show to the next and then indulging in Cedar City's fine dining scene, a body simply needs to move! Walking this thoughtfully constructed trail up into Cedar Canyon, you'll find benches, drinking fountains and monuments. But the greatest pleasure of the trail is the embrace of the red rocks while taking in the native shrubs and trees, all to the tune of the gentle rush of creek water nearby. As the Bard himself would say, "Now go we content."
Salt Lake COUNTY
Best Comic Con Anywhere
Salt Lake Comic Con
Salt Lake-area cosplayers, comic-book nerds, Whovians and geeks for either Star franchise—Trek or Wars—rejoice! In just three years, Salt Lake Comic Con has become an institution teeming with more than 100,000 attendees and growing. It's such a big deal that Comic Cons across the country are begging for insights how to improve these populist conventions in their own cities. For a few joyous days each summer, downtown Salt Lake City becomes the playground of Wookies, Daleks, Justice Leaguers and even a few Bronies. Marvel fans co-exist in détente with DC comic fans. Hat's off to the SLCC team.
Best Hometown Music Festival
Keetley Music Festival
Once upon a time—not actually all that long ago—a town called Keetley existed in a spot that is now at the bottom of Jordanelle Reservoir. In the town's honor, the Keetley Music Festival has been held for the past few years at the base of Jordanelle Dam, at River's Edge at Deer Park Resort in Heber. This year, the three-day festival featured beloved local acts Triggers & Slips, Tony Holiday & the Velvetones and that really, really local band, Holy Water Buffalo, who hail from just down the road in Heber City. The festival is low-key, camping is cheap, the vibe welcoming and the music rockin'!
Best Western Kitch
You'd have to travel both far and wide to find a place like Denny's Wigwam—a curio shop, eatery and beer garden (tourist word for patio), all wrapped into one. We'll stick to the curios and beer: OK, grab a beer, find some shade, and if you're lucky, you might hear some local cowboy music or even cowboy poetry. Next up, go shopping for anything from top-drawer boots to tchotchkes depicting the American West. Denny's Wigwam is packed floor to rafter with unique and colorful shop-til-you-drop apparel, art and artifacts. And where else in Southern Utah would you find a stagecoach and polar bear? We don't get the connection, either, but we know it's our kind of perfectly "weird" that makes for a nice stop on the way to Lake Powell.
78 E. Center St., Kanab, 435-644-2452, DennysWigwam.com
Paiute ATV Trail
You know you've been looking for another good reason to stay at Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort (besides the standard excuse that it reminds you of dear Grandma humming along to Burl Ives). So here you go. Spend a night, then rise early, fire up your ATV and take off into what is usually regarded as one the very best ATV rides on the continent. Discover all you can while traversing 280 miles of marked trails (side trails make this the largest ATV trail network anywhere) where you can get on and off whenever you want—no start, no end, just lots of dirt road. Fear you may get lost and not know what to do? No problem: the Bear Grylls Survival Academy has its Utah headquarters at Big Rock Candy Mountain. Ride and survive to ride again. And again. The UTV Jamboree is held every summer in Marysvale.
Exit 23 off Hwy. 89, Marysvale.org/paiute_trail/contents.html
Best Eco-Conscious Bakery
What elevates this culinary gem among the competition in the red rock capital of Moab is its health-conscious attention to not only its customers but also the environment. Among its delicious breakfast menu items are such delights as its Healthy Borders—quinoa mixed with a little cheese, scrambled eggs and brown rice. Divine. But Sweet Cravings is equally conscious of the environment, sourcing its ingredients from local produce and regionally farmed dairy, along with scrumptious breads and pastries all baked from scratch. Throw in its comfortable atmosphere and gracious service, and this is a true southern delight.
397 N. Main, Moab, CraveMoab.com
Sure, you old-schoolers can hike with a heavy backpack, pitch your pup tent and eat freeze-dried gruel in the warm glow of a Bunsen burner. Or you can go glamping with us. Conestoga Ranch, with its views of Bear Lake, offers Utah's best "glamping" ("glamour camping") experience. No need to stumble your way to a primitive outhouse in the middle of the night; most of the accommodations here are akin to those found in luxury hotels. Spend a night in a Conestoga wagon, if that's your groove, and enjoy high-end dining and drinks at the Campfire Grill. Why camp when you can glamp?
427 N. Paradise Pkwy., Garden City, 844-464-5267, ConestogaRanch.com
Best Historical Art Exhibit
The Topaz internment camp—located 16 miles northwest of Delta in central Utah—was of one of 10 such camps nationwide that held Americans of Japanese ancestry from 1942-45 following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. During Topaz's peak operation, 8,300 men, women and children were confined in communal barracks in the desolate desert location. The newly constructed Topaz Museum in Delta opened in January with the inaugural When Words Weren't Enough exhibition, curated by Scotti Hill, and highlighting artists who were interned at the camp. Acknowledging its chilling history, the art of Topaz helps remind us why a similar denial of civil rights should never again happen to Americans.
55 W. Main, Delta, 435-864-2514, TopazMuseum.org
Best Tiny Town
Barely over 1,000 people live in all of Daggett County's 697 square miles—about 5,000 fewer than attended the 2015 Utah Beer Festival in Library Square. So it is hardly surprising that any town in Daggett is a small one. Lucky for Utah, it is also a good one. Manila—very likely the only community in Utah named for a Philippine city—may be small, but it's also home to a large number of transient residents who own cabins here or keep their boats on this scenic entry to the trout-filled waters of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Try a meal at Browning's Corner Cafe, hire a fishing guide who can lead you to lunkers in the cold Flaming Gorge waters, then sit back and enjoy—because one day, Manila is sure to grow out of its tiny pants.
At the intersection of Highway 43 and Flaming Gorge Reservoir, ManilaUtah.com
Best Utah Pioneer Homage
Mormon Miracle Pageant
OK, you can believe this is an accurate depiction of ancient American history, or not. With a story line depicting a resurrected Jesus visiting this continent that was populated by Nephites, Jaredites, Mulekites and Lamanites and which included a cast of Angel Moroni and Mormon himself, you may think the Mormon Miracle Pageant is for true-believing Mormons only. Well, it mostly is. However, if drama and spectacle are among your reasons for visiting theater, and if you've previously set aside bias to watch any other production that is based on a given religion (Last Temptation of Christ or Apocolypto, for example), then you may enjoy this as well. The city of Manti provides a fine backdrop for the beauty of central Utah and is, of course, home to the historic Manti Temple constructed in both Gothic and French revival styles, the grounds of which are the setting and stage for the annual pageant.
Manti Utah Temple, Temple Hill, Manti, 435-835-3000, MormonMiracle.org
Best Desert Disc Golf
Goblin Valley State Park
And you thought disc golf meant patches of suburban greenery. Nah. To take it up a notch, try disc golfing at one of Utah's favorite places, Goblin Valley State Park, once known as Mushroom Valley and home to more hoodoos and weird earthly formations than even Jules Verne could have imagined. Already known as a place of wonder for hikers, night-sky watchers and kids who love to wander the endless mazes of strangeness (plus their parents who enjoy joining them), a lesser known pastime at Goblin is the challenging disc golf course that is easily accessible from the campground—which includes two yurts. Rounds are free, discs can be rented for a dollar. The ninth hole plays into a baby hoodoo enclave. Boo.
On Highway 24 south of Green River, 435-275-4584, StateParks.Utah.gov/parks/goblin-valley/disc-golf/
Best fall-foliage Mountain Drive
Mount Nebo LOOP
The 35-mile Mount Nebo Loop (and the surrounding Mount Nebo Wilderness Area) is easily one of the most scenic drives in all of Utah. Although it's easily accessible to the majority of Utah residents, it's often overlooked when people go looking for fall foliage. Most opt for the easy drive up either of the Cottonwood canyons, the Alpine Loop in American Fork Canyon or the more distant Mirror Lake Highway. But the Mount Nebo drive matches them all: Streams, lakes, waterfalls, elevation (Nebo is the tallest Wasatch Range mountain), wildlife, aspen trees, pine trees, vistas, hairpin turns—all check. And, of course, it's easy to access via Payson or Nephi. Usually open May through November, the loop is best for taking in extraordinary fall colors.
Take the Payson exit off Interstate 15, go to Nebo Loop Road, 801-798-3571, FS.Fed.us/wildflowers/regions/intermountain/MtNebo/
Best Color Transformation
Holi Festival of Colors
With more than 65,000 persons attending annually, the Holi Festival of Colors at the Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork is at least on par with that other Utah County pastime, BYU football, and is one of the largest Holi festivals in the country. Celebrating the arrival of spring (the 2016 event will be held March 26 & 27), participants figuratively and literally dismiss winter's worries while welcoming spring's renewal by tossing bursts of chalky colors into the skies and upon one another. Visit Instagram's "FestivalOfColorsUtah" hashtag for a more perfect look at what it means to enthusiastically live in Technicolor. Billed as The World's Happiest Event, the Utah Valley Holi includes yoga, dancing, music and food. Yet, for all the fun, the festival is rooted in Hindu legend, tradition and love. George Harrison would approve.
311 W. 8500 South, Spanish Fork, 801-798-3559, FestivalOfColorsUSA.com
Best WAY to Get Wet
It's not required you go barefoot—sandals are recommended—but if you have two hours to cruise the Weber River and you're in the mood to cool off, this summer adventure is for you. Barefoot is a short drive from Salt Lake City or Ogden, located in the town of Morgan off Interstate 84. The good folks there will rent you a tube and get you started on the river, where, depending on water flow, you may even encounter some gentle whitewater. You'll exit about 6 miles downstream at Taggert, where you can reward yourself with a beer and jalapeño burger and await your shuttle back to your car. But the rafting! Though not guided, it's safe, so long as you are not stupid. There are riffs and rapids (not Colorado River-style, but this can still be some wild water), and there's lots to see along the way. Just let yourself drift. Alcohol is allowed.
1400 E. Round Valley Way, Morgan, 801-648-8608, BarefootTubing.com
Food & Drink
Best Italian Kisses
Busy and bustling, Valter's Osteria is a spectacular taste of Italy right here in Salt Lake City. Here, you'll experience wait staff tending to your every need, replenishing your bread basket, grinding pepper on your salad, scraping crumbs off the linen tablecloth and bringing you biscotti to nibble on while you pay your bill. These are all the lovely extra touches that accompany Valter Nassi's expressive Italian home-style dinner courses. Here, pastas are fresh and delicious, dabbed in succulent sauces; meat dishes are exquisitely prepared and presented. Desserts are decadent and divine. And then there's that one final touch: that of Valter himself as he brushes patrons' shoulders or hugs and even kisses them. You can't leave without feeling entirely too full yet still smiling about it .
173 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4563, ValtersOsteria.com
Best Atmosphere/Best New Restaurant
Current Fish & Oyster
"Best Transformation" would also be an award deserved by Luna Design Studio and architect Louis Ulrich, who took a deteriorating antique store and turned it into the eye-popping restaurant that is Current Fish & Oyster. The building that houses Current dates back to 1906, when it was a Ford dealership, but now looks like something from Planet Disney. The open kitchen and bustling dining areas just add to the killer atmosphere and superb cuisine.
279 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-326-3474, CurrentFishAndOyster.com
Best Atmosphere: 2. Finca 3. Pallet
Best New Restaurant: 2. Rye 3. Hub & Spoke
Gourmandise the Bakery
It's quite a scene: the lines stretch around the block with folks double-parked on Friday and Saturday nights, when people jockey for position to purchase baked goods for the weekend at Gourmandise. And with a vast selection of pastries, cakes, cookies, tarts, breads and more, if Gourmandise doesn't bake it, you don't need it. The über-chocolaty pailletin is to die for, but that's just one of dozens of decadent possibilities.
250 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-3330, GourmandiseTheBakery.com
2. Eva's Bakery
3. City Cakes
The Sweet Tooth Fairy
The Sweet Tooth Fairy's cakebites are the gateway ganache for complete confectionary addiction, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. In 2012, the gourmet fairy godmother also known as Megan Faulkner Brown won Food Network's Cupcake Wars with her mix of comfort food meets creative flavors, and her candied kingdom quickly spread. If you're craving something sugary, try the cupcakes, cookies, brownies, lollipops, moon pies or schmancy whole cakes for special occasions. The Sweet Tooth Fairy satisfies that delectable jones at nine locations (and growing) statewide.
2. City Cakes
3. Ruby Snap
Blue Plate Diner
"If you're awesome, please apply inside! If you're not, maybe try down the street ..." That "help wanted" sign at Blue Plate Diner sums things up pretty well, because the service, ambience and food here—especially at breakfast—are awesome. It's hard to resist the breakfast chicken tamale with eggs, the chicken-fried steak or the classic corned-beef hash. This terrific neighborhood eatery is also a great place for those with special dietary needs: The menu includes options like the vegan tofu breakfast burrito; spinach, mushroom and avocado omelet; and even vegan pancakes and "burgers."
2041 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1151, TheBluePlateDiner.com
2. Park Cafe
3. Ruth's Diner
Since it opened in 1989, Squatters has been Salt Lake City's go-to brewpub. And, with Squatters green-hued business philosophy and involvement in scads of community-based organizations and charitable causes, lovers of great beer, food and service can enjoy brews and burgers guilt-free. The pub also offers more than burgers and beer: Squatters' eclectic menu ranges from shrimp and ahi ceviche to Thai yellow curry and charbroiled organic tofu. Squatters isn't just the oldest brewpub in town—it's the best.
147 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2739, Squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewery
3. Wasatch Brewery
Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant
Fresh ingredients. That's the secret to Provisions' success and to owner/chef Tyler Stokes' novel approach to modern cuisine. Local, organic seasonal foods are transformed into creations such as chilled corn soup with cherry tomatoes, lime and shiso; taglierini with braised rabbit and speck; and Manjari flourless chocolate cake—just to name a trio of can't-miss items. The restaurant's exuberant décor complements the vibrancy of Stokes' cooking perfectly.
3364 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-410-4046, SLCProvisions.com
2. Fratelli Ristorante
3. Log Haven
Forage restaurant offers the most unique dining experience in Utah—an evening-long, multi-course, $89 tasting menu—among the most unique cuisine in the state. That's quite a coup for owner/chef Bowman Brown, who literally forages for much of the fresh, local food served at Forage. The menu changes frequently, based on what's in season, but don't be surprised to find out-of-the-box dishes like burned eggplant, black-currant leaves with frozen tomato, goat with fava beans, and a decadent duck-egg pierogi. It's dining you won't soon forget.
370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-708-7834, ForageRestaurant.com
Best Cheap Date
Brewvies Cinema Pub
Good food and movies—what's not to like? Brewvies offers showings of the latest blockbusters, independent films and cult classics, which can be enjoyed with your favorite cocktail, cold beer or soda. You can also scarf down orders of nachos, pizza, chicken tenders, or baby-back ribs, while watching your movie. Check Brewvies out for the free Monday film series or organize a party with your closest pals.
677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5500, Brewvies.com
2. Blue Plate Diner
3. Lucky 13
Rye Diner & Drinks
Given that Rye restaurant shares a wall (and owners) with Urban Lounge, it's not too difficult to see how Rye came to cater to a late-night crowd. And thanks to Rye, late-night munchies don't have to be just nachos and pretzels. Get your post-party nosh on with tasty treats like pickled quail eggs, pork-belly lettuce wraps, kimchi quesadilla or truffled mac & cheese. Not a night owl? Don't despair: Rye opens at 8 a.m. for the early crowd.
239 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4655, RyeSLC.com
2. The Pie Hole
3. The Bayou
"Farm-to-table" isn't just a slogan at Aristo's—it's heritage. The family-owned restaurant has its roots in Crete and stays true to that heritage by kneading its own bread, growing its own herbs, butchering its own meat, and importing the finest olive oil from the Grecian isle. Try a flight of gyros (lamb and beef, chicken, or pork) or the kokkinisto (lamb in red wine tomato sauce served with orzo pasta and Myzithra).
224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0888, AristoSLC.com
2. Greek Souvlaki
Since 1978, when Gregory and Jeni Skedros opened the Mandarin, the husband-and-wife team has been dishing up Chinese cuisine that passes the scrutiny of the toughest critics. The Skedroses are a Greek-American family, while the kitchen is staffed with loyal, longtime Chinese cooks versed in creating authentic dishes from the various regions of China. It's no wonder that Travel + Leisure called Mandarin one of the Top 25 Chinese restaurants in the United States. City Weekly readers concur.
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406, MandarinUtah.com
2. Red Maple
Best Japanese/Best Sushi
Takashi isn't just Utah's best Japanese restaurant; it's one of the best in the West. Takashi Gibo's meticulous sushi-making skills are justifiably admired by his sushi chef colleagues and customers alike. And it's not only the sushi and sashimi that makes Takashi the hottest ticket in town: Folks line up for the perfectly executed cooked dishes and desserts, plus one of the area's best wine, cocktail and sake menus. Add impeccable table service to the equation, and it all equals ... Takashi!
18 W. Market St, Salt Lake City, 801-519-9595
Best Japanese: Best Sushi: 2. Kyoto 2. Tsunami
3. Tsunami 3. Sushi Groove
Best Food Truck/Cart
It may have placed second in Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race" this season, but the smiling sweets-slingers that make its Belgian-style waffles are No.1 in Utahns' hearts (and stomachs). Yeah, they've got all the fruity options covered, as well as mounds of clotted cream, ice cream, crunchy cookies and international favorite smears like Nutella and Dulce de Leche. There's a sunny storefront in Provo, and for those on the go, track down one of its five festively frescoed trucks and feel the love. Waffle love, that is.
1796 N. 950 West, Provo, 801-923-3588, WaffLuv.com
3. Chow Truck
Best Coffee House
Whether you take java as black as your soul or give your wickedly complicated order in paragraph format, City Weekly readers take their joe seriously and vote Coffee Garden to the foamy top of the coffeehouse heap time after time. Here's where you'll get your daily pastries, sammies and, of course, beverages served just as the benevolent deity of your caffeinated choice intended it. The baristas will always greet you with a smile. Within a visit or two, they'll know you by drink order, and after a third time, probably by name.
878 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3425; 254 S. Main, Salt Lake City; 801-364-0768
2. Beans & Brews
3. Publik Coffee Roasters
The Paris Bistro
With super-talented Parisian chef Emmanuel Levarek in the kitchen, dining at The Paris Bistro is much like dining in Paris. French classics like confit de canard aux lentilles du Puy, moules marinière and salade d'onglet grille delight the traditionalist; while filet mignon with squash blossoms and zucchini gratin, or lemongrass creme brulee tempt the more contemporary palate. An outstanding wine list perfectly complements the exquisite French cuisine.
1500 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-486-5585, TheParis.net
2. La Caille
Best Wine Selection
BTG Wine Bar
At BTG you can have it your way, as the saying goes. With more than 75 wines to choose from—offered by the 2-ounce taste, 5-ounce glass, by the bottle, or as wine flights—BTG (By The Glass) Wine Bar has something to please the most discriminating wine aficionado. Sommelier Louis Koppel is a treasure trove of wine knowledge and always eager to chat about his favorite discovery or to hear about yours. Whether you're a White Burgundy connoisseur, a fan of high-octane Zinfandel, a lover of sweet Tokaj, or in the mood for a bodacious bottle of bubbly, BTG has the wine bases covered.
63 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2814, BTGWineBar.com
Since 1993, Bombay House owner and co-founder Daniel Shanthakumar has been delivering the goods to Utahns in the hunt for authentic Indian cuisine. Using traditional cooking methods and tools—including its charcoal-fired tandoori oven—Bombay House offers wholesome, delectable fare from an extensive menu. Flavors range from fresh-made naan and roti to house specialties such as Chettinad lamb, Tezpur pineapple shrimp and vegetable-coconut kurma.
2731 Parleys Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-0222, BombayHouse.com
3. Himalayan Kitchen
Best Ogden Restaurant
Tony Chen and Tina Yu's Ogden restaurant is one of the town's hottest eating establishments. Loyal customers return frequently for Chen's excellent sushi and its commitment to the use of sustainable fish and local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. But don't overlook the terrific tapas! Sharable small plates such as shrimp yakitori; yellowtail collar with ponzu soy; seared tuna with pineapple and chili-garlic sauce, grilled mackerel with basil and sweet vinegar-soy and the "Bacon Bubble Gum": Tokyo mochi rice cake with pork belly, grapefruit and sweet soy are perfect for starters.
210 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662, TonaRestaurant.com
2. Roosters Brewing Co.
3. Slackwater Pizza
Holy Mole! We're not surprised that Red Iguana wins Reader's Choice again (and again and again). It's for damned good reasons. Whether you're at the Cardenas family's classic North Temple location, outpost Numero Dos just around the corner, or at the take-out counter at Taste of Red Iguana in City Creek Center, count on this: You'll have bountiful and beautiful plates served with the same character and care that the Red Iguana has been justifiably famous for since 1985. Red Iguana's "Killer Mexican Food" never fails to satisfy.
736 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-322-1489; 866 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-214-6050; RedIguana.com
2. Blue Iguana
3. Frida Bistro
The nearly century-old log mansion in Millcreek Canyon that is home to Log Haven is known for its beautiful locale and fine dining, and as one of Utah's premier destinations for weddings and other special events. While the romantic spirit is always in the air at Log Haven, there may be a few ectoplasmic manifestations hovering there as well. Could be that the staff simply needed some sleep, but a gaggle of Log Haven employees swear they have encountered spirits in their midst, albeit ghosts of a friendly sort. Indeed, owner Margo Provost would like to believe that the apparitions with which she shares her restaurant are there to help protect the place she so lovingly restored. So, next time you see a phantom there, blow it a kiss.
6451 Millcreek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com
2. La Caille
There's more than barbeque offered at this Korean restaurant—dumpling soup, bibimbap (spicy rice and meat dish topped with egg), stir-fried vermicelli noodles, and cucumber kimchi. The atmosphere is relaxed and open with plenty of room for a dinner date or a quick lunch break. At the end of your meal, make sure to order a shaved-ice red-bean sundae to satisfy your sweet tooth.
3353 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, 801-953-0478, Facebook.com/MyunggaUt
2. It's Tofu
3. Korea House
Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
The Copper Onion
We've long been impressed by Colleen and Ryan Lowder's Copper Onion restaurant. It seems as if it's been packed since the day the doors opened. Were the Copper Onion's signature ricotta dumplings or black-pepper mussels ever to leave the menu, there would likely be rioting; the pasta carbonara with flawless house-made fettuccine is the best in town. A casual and hip vibe, open kitchen, terrific wine list and superior service mean the Copper Onion will remain City Weekly readers' favorite for years to come.
111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com
Frisch Compassionate Eatery
Whether you've been doing a full-Morrissey on the vegan lifestyle for decades or are trying the occasional meatless Monday, you'll find a whole menu to love at Frisch Compassionate Eatery. Frisch has won this Reader's Choice category for three years running. Owners Rachel and Leigh Kade are committed not only to serving delicious 100 percent vegan cuisine, but also to running a completely plant-based business stocked with locally sourced products whenever possible, and all at a friendly price point. Good for the planet, good for your body and good for your (hemp) wallet. Best of all, it tastes good. Really good.
145 E. 1300 South, No. 201, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8277, FrischEats.com
2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
3. Sage's Café
In less than a decade, this family-run Avenues eatery, named after its chef/owner, has garnered "Best Of" awards by the bucketful, in a field packed with top-notch contenders. Sawadee's ever-popular Pad Thai is done so well, once you try it, you may never be tempted to consider any other item on the menu. But Sawadee offers all the Thai must-haves: savory curries, a slew of noodle dishes and finger-licking barbecue—not to mention satays, skewers, soups and more. It's that winning spicy-sour-salty-sweet combination that keeps us coming back to Thai food, and it's superlative Thai food that keeps us coming back to Sawadee. Oh, and the wine list? Solid.
754 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-8424, Sawadee1.com
2. Channon Thai
3. Thai Siam
Savory. Spicy. Salty. Sweet. Sour. These bright, fresh, well-balanced flavors are what Vietnamese food is all about, and Oh Mai's two tidy locations nail it daily. Whether you're in the mood for classic pho with fragrant broth, a bahn mi sandwich made with crusty French bread (order it topped with a sunny side up egg) or any one of its generous vermicelli noodle or rice bowls, you'll leave happy, full and feeling pretty smug. Why? You'll have had that fabulous, fresh and healthy meal for less than $10, including a drink. My, Oh Mai, indeed.
3425 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6882; 6093 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-277-9888; OhMaiSandwich.com
2. Pho Tay Ho
Best Utah Winery
Castle Creek Winery
Given the obstacles to producing wine in Utah, kudos to Moab's Castle Creek Winery for being one of our state's winemaking pioneers. Will Fryer—head winemaker at Castle Creek—produces boutique-style wines at decidedly non-boutique wine prices (most sell for around $12). From Castle Creek's snappy Outlaw Red to the off-dry, aperitif-style Lily Rose White, the little winery that could keeps chuggin' along in Southern Utah.
Highway 128, Moab, 435-259-3332, CastleCreekWinery.com
2. Kiler Grove Winery
3. The Hive Winery
It's a consistent favorite for a reason—The Pie never fails to please. With multiple choices for crust (original, thin, gluten-free and sprouted wheat with ancient grains), there's something for everyone at The Pie. With toppings piled inches high, diners could enjoy the graffiti'd-and-tea-lighted ambience of The Pie's original basement location for hours. Want The Pie's deliciousness in the comfort of your own home? Grab some to-go at the takeout location.
Multiple locations, ThePie.com
2. Este Pizza
3. The Pie Hole
Best Utah County Restaurant
The foodies have spoken: the best Utah County restaurant is Communal, an eatery that serves farm-fresh, in-season cuisine, using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Offering dishes like pork with grilled peaches, sweet corn linguine and cornbread with jalapeño honey-butter on the side, Communal has something for the most discerning diner. Best to go as a group—as dishes are served family-style, it's tempting to try a little bit of everything Communal has on the menu.
102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, CommunalRestaurant.com
2. Black Sheep Café
3. Cubby's Chicago Beef
Fans of R&R Barbecue will be thrilled to hear that the boys, Rod and Roger Livingston, are planning a second R&R location in the south valley. R&R is the busiest barbecue joint in town, thanks to a little smoke, some fire and a lot of patience. The slow-smoked brisket is second to none, and the smoked sausage, pulled pork, barbecue ribs and chicken are equally award-worthy. And don't overlook sensational sides like Aunt Libby's hush puppies, sweet-potato fries and fried okra.
307 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0443, RandRBBQ.net
2. Pat's Barbecue
3. SugarHouse Barbeque
Best Beer Selection
With around 300 different beers typically available, it would take nearly a year (with Sundays off) to sample all of The Bayou's brews at the rate of one per day. And even then, you won't have reached the finish line, since owner Mark Alston is always fiddling with the selection and introducing new brews. Fortunately, Alston has created the Wheel of Beers, an app that will get you out of your beer rut and ready to try something new. But the Bayou isn't just about beer. There's also a great selection of Louisiana-style fare: The po'boy sandwiches and gumbo will make you think you're on the real bayou.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
2. Beer Bar
3. Beehive Pub
Cannella's Restaurant & Lounge
If there were an award for Best Italians, the Cannella family would probably win that, too. Since Joe and Missy Cannella first opened their restaurant in 1978, the Cannella's and their staff have been treating everyone who's stepped through the doors like family. Joe is no longer with us, but Cannella's continues to offer beloved classics like their spaghetti with homemade meatballs, chicken parmesan, braciole, fettuccini Alfredo, and other crowd pleasers, always served with a friendly smile and warm hospitality. Now that's Italian!
204 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-8518, CannellasRestaurant.com
2. Fratellis Ristorante
3. Cucina Toscana
Since it introduced Utahns to the tasty "Greek hamburger" more than 40 years ago, Greek Souvlaki has won our collective hearts. If you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse of someone slicing thin strips of lamb and beef off the rotisserie in back. Perfectly broiled meat is tucked inside warm pita bread, topped with onions, tomatoes and dressed with creamy, cool tzatziki, or rich red sauce. With locations throughout the valley, Greek Souvlaki has conquered our tastebuds.
Multiple locations, GreekSouvlaki.com
3. Mad Greek
Lone Star Taqueria
This colorful, funky taqueria in Cottonwood Heights has served authentic Mexican fare since 1995. The tiny restaurant is usually packed—and for good reason: The burritos there are the ultimate bang for your buck. They're huge, and at $8, a more satisfying meal for would be hard to find. Using homemade tortillas and salsas, the burritos are stuffed with your choice of fillings. For a few bucks extra, have your burrito smothered in chile verde.
2265 E. Fort Union Blvd., 801-944-2300, LoneStarTaqueria.com
2. Red Iguana
3. Blue Iguana
Best Small Plates/ Best Appetizers
Great things sometimes come in small packages, and Eva restaurant excels in producing small plates and appetizers that have gargantuan impact. For example, grilled, Frenched spring lamb chops are lovingly kissed with fragrant lavender sea salt and herbes de provence, while roasted cauliflower is given a Moroccan makeover with Kalamata olives, preserved lemon and cilantro. Even the wood-fired flatbread is elevated with the addition of truffled white beans, arugula pesto, spicy feta cheese and olive tapenade. Sometimes, less is more.
317 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com
Best Small Plates:
2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
3. The Copper Onion
Ask anyone what's the best place in Salt Lake City to get a good burger, and it's a safe bet the answer will be, "Lucky 13." This hip and funky establishment is renowned for its signature burgers—made from quality local meat, cooked to order. Lucky 13 bakes its buns fresh every morning. The burger selection ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. There's even a "Lucky 13 Challenge" requiring contestants to polish off two huge burgers within an hour. Some try, few succeed. Instead, try a healthier option: The Nut Butter Burger and Fungus Amongus Burger are unusual and delicious.
135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com
3. Cotton Bottom Inn
Best Vegan Dishes
Zest Kitchen & Bar
With a refreshing menu of healthy options and a chill atmosphere, Zest Kitchen & Bar is the perfect place for vegans and vegetarians wanting a night out on the town. Omnivores thinking they can't feel satisfied after a vegan dinner? Try the Thai sunrise—a coconut curry with black rice and sesame stir fried vegetables—that never fails to please. And why not add to the incredible cuisine with one of Zest's equally incredible craft cocktails, made with fresh squeezed organic juices and even kombucha.
275 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-433-0589, ZestSLC.com
2. Frisch Compassionate Eatery
3. Vertical Diner
Even Stevens Sandwiches
Delicious sandwiches and a social conscience—what's not to love? Even Stevens uses meat with no preservatives or artificial flavors, fresh produce and local ingredients when possible. With imagination and verve, it offers a new twist on classics like the pot-roast dip, made with turkey, Swiss cheese, jalapeño jelly and a side of au jus; and the sloppy tina, a vegan sloppy joe—it's a savory, filling option, with mushrooms and chickpeas standing in for the meat. The best part? Each time you buy a sandwich, Even Stevens donates another sandwich to one of its nonprofit partners dedicated to ending hunger in Utah—a delectable win-win.
Multiple locations, EvenStevens.com
2. Moochie's Meatballs & More
3. Caputo's Market & Deli
Best French Fries
Bruges Waffles & Frites
The secret to Bruges famous frites is that they are fried not once, but twice. Their first dip in the fryer insures moist, fluffy insides, while the second gives the exterior a crispy crunch. Each bite is a delight to dip; Bruges' in-house sauces come in a variety of unique and lively flavors: lemon-pepper dill is zesty and refreshing; other tasteful options include curry or basil. Bruges even has its own take on Utah fry sauce. With new locations in Sugar House, Draper and Provo, the love for Bruges Waffles & Frites is spreading.
Multiple locations, BrugesWaffles.com
3. Crown Burger
Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
Ali Sabbah's award-winning Middle Eastern eateries have long been a treasured part of our community. We've become accustomed to enjoying Mazza's delectable dishes such as shawarma, kibbeh, fattoosh, sfiha, mutabbak, musakhan and more—almost as though we, like Ali, grew up in Beirut. Aren't we lucky to be able to travel to the Middle East without leaving home!
1515 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9259; 912 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4572, MazzaCafe.com
2. Cedars of Lebanon
Best Utah Brewery
Epic Brewing Co.
In case you've been sleeping under a case of Coors Light and missed the memo, Utah-based Epic Brewing crafts seasonal and amusingly named beers, packaged in 22-ounce bottles and a handful of 12-ounce cans. You won't find these big bruisers at Smith's or Harmons. And, with more than 40 different beers in every style imaginable—from Double Skull Doppelbock Lager and Utah Sage Saison, to Hop Syndrome Pils and Spiral Jetty IPA—plus more beer awards than you could fit into a fermentation tank, Epic has justifiably earned its spot with City Weekly readers as Utah's top brewer.
825 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0123, EpicBrewing.com
2. Uinta Brewing
3. Squatters Craft Beers
Yellowtail Japanese Bistro
For decades, the Shogun restaurant stood as a Main Street original—many Utahns got their first taste of sushi or sashimi there. At one time, it boasted a Benihana-style chef cooking at stovetop tables. Diners could choose to dine on the floor, sitting on pillows in small private rooms. Time came and went for the former Shogun until the major facelift completed this past year. Gone are the private rooms, and expanded is the giant sushi-bar counter. Diners can still get their fill of sushi and tempura dishes plus their favorite soups like miso, noodle udon or rice donburi, but in a much brighter and welcoming environment. Main Street is bustling again, and Yellowtail is an excellent new face.
321 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-7142, YellowTailSLC.com
Best Utah Distillery
High West Distillery
With the recent opening of a big, shiny and new High West Distillery at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, the Park City-based distillery has increased its production capacity by about 24 times what it was. Yep, there's that much demand for Utah's own High West whiskeys and vodkas—both here and abroad—that the sky is the limit for founder David Perkins' award-winning ways. Can we get a booyah for Bourye?
703 Park Ave, Park City, 801-649-8300; 27649 Old Lincoln Hwy, Wanship; HighWest.com
2. Sugar House Distillery
3. Ogden's Own Distillery
Best Park City Restaurant
At Park City's Handle restaurant, chef Briar Handly and his rock-star crew are equipped to bowl you over with their excellent food that runs the gamut from appetizers to dessert. But if you'd just prefer to belly up to the bar for a rattlesnake cocktail or cold brew, Handle's got you covered. Forget pretzels and nachos—these eclectic bar bites include corn on the cob with spicy mayo and prosciutto, homemade tater tots with ranch crème fraîche, fresh oysters with grilled lemon and our fave: beef-cheek sliders on brioche with pimento cheese.
136 Heber Ave., Park City, 435-602-1155, HandleParkCity.com
2. High West Distillery
3. Riverhorse on Main
Maddox Ranch House
Got a hankering for a good steak? Look no farther than Utah's original steakhouse, Maddox Ranch House. The Maddox family has been offering up family-friendly steak dinners in Perry since 1949. The bison chicken-fried steak is made with hormone- and antibiotic-free, pasture-raised bison; while the 32-ounce porterhouse makes for a memorable meal. Steaks are aged in-house for flavor, and each dish comes with a slew of sides—including Maddox's signature house-baked bread with raspberry butter.
1900 S. Highway 89, Perry, 435-723-8545, MaddoxFineFood.com
2. Ruby River Steakhouse
3. Spencer's For Steaks & Chops
Made with freshly chopped veggies, house-made dressings and quality ingredients, Cafe Zupas' salads are popular alternative to fast food. There are 12 different salads to choose from or you can get crafty with your own creation. Options range from the über-healthy vegetarian kale & quinoa salad, to the hearty and meaty California protein Cobb. With 19 locations, you're never far from a quick lunch sure to put some zip in your step.
Multiple locations, CafeZupas.com
3. The Dodo
When sweater weather hits Salt Lake City, thoughts turn to the Soup Kitchen. Since 1979, the Soup Kitchen has served cozy soups with generous helpings of house-made breadsticks. What's it's secret? Everything is made from scratch. Soups such as the classic cream of tomato—made from ripe tomatoes, cream and cheese—have earned cult followings. If you're craving something new, try a combination: the cream of tomato with the cheddar cheese & broccoli is surprisingly delicious! Where else can you can get lunch for less than $5?
Multiple locations, SLCsoup.com
2. Café Zupas
3. Porcupine Pub & Grill
Market Street Grill
Back before most Utahns had ever heard of sushi, Market Street Grill & Market was offering fresh fish and seafood to customers, with fishermens' fresh-catches being flown in daily. And Market Street is still the place to indulge in all things watery, from fresh Blue Point, Kumamoto and Kusshi oysters on the half-shell, to Alaskan halibut, Hawaiian ahi, Maryland crab, Utah rainbow trout and much, much more, including their famous clam chowder. Got fish? Market Street does.
Multiple locations, MarketStreetGrill.com\
2. Current Oyster & Fish
Best Contemporary Mexican
There are oodles of Mexican eateries where you can find the common combo plate loaded with melted cheddar cheese and canned refried beans. But to enjoy upscale, innovative and fresh contemporary Mexican cuisine, you'll want to turn to Jorge Fierro's Frida Bistro. It's in this vibrant Frida Kahlo-inspired setting that you'll find delectable dishes like calamari azul (blue corn-dusted calamari with lemon-roasted jalapeño aioli) and the Bistro's stunning chile en nogada, which is a roasted poblano chile pepper, stuffed with delicious picadillo and topped with walnut-cream sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds. Don't come looking for chimichangas.
545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-983-6692, FridaBistro.com
Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
The Bagel Project
The morning after Robb and Kim Abrams arrived in Salt Lake City in 2010, they went off in search of bagels, the sort that they were accustomed to having in New Jersey. They spent months figuring out how to replicate a genuine East Coast-style bagel. They cracked the code—an old-world preferment—and soon, the they were selling bagels at the Downtown Farmers Market. The bagels grew so popular, the Abramses opened a brick-and-mortar store a few blocks from Liberty Park. Today, The Bagel Project also features the bagel's sister pastry, the bialy (it's baked unboiled and, instead of a hole in the center, it features a little thumbprint or impression). It's bagel science!
The Bagel Project, 779 S. 500 East, 801-906-0698, BagelProject.com
Best Weekend Gourmet
Having recently moved from South Ogden to 25th Street, Zucca restaurant makes weekend meals especially enticing with an array of diverse weekend offerings. Chef Geraldine Sepulveda creates a limited gourmet menu that changes each week and features farm-to-table dishes such as sous vide lamb T-bones, ocean-to-plate items like fresh Hawaiian ono with Marcona-almond vinaigrette, house-made pastas and desserts, plus unique appetizer plates. Look on Zucca's Facebook page each Thursday to preview what the weekend has in store.
225 25th Street, Ogden, 801-475-7077, MyZucca.com
Best Vegan Pho
It's hard to believe this pho is vegan. Without the use of animal bones and meat, the broth is still loaded with savory flavor. Served with tofu, soy meats, vermicelli noodles and the traditional pho accoutrements—sprouts, sprigs of basil, jalapeños and a wedge of lime—this pho is filling and comforting. Check out the banh mi—you'll be glad you did.
1264 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4789
Best Mobile Street Naan
For fans of Indian street food, The Curryer is a dream come true. Its selection includes saag, pumpkin curry and a very tasty tikka masala. But perhaps the most surprising thing is the way its servers prepare genuine naan bread—not that packaged pita flatbread. Of course, it would be impossible to fire up a tandoor oven on the street in time for lunch, but the ingenious hosts toss a ball of dough against a hot, metal chimney-like extrusion, where it bakes to perfection.
The Curryer, on the sidewalk near 300 S. Main, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 801-413-3983, TheCurryerSaltLakeCity.com
Best Park City Icon
Riverhorse on Main
Since 1987, before fine dining became de rigueur in Park City, Riverhorse on Main was a pioneering dining destination—and it still is. While classic dishes like the beloved macadamia-crusted halibut still appear on the Riverhorse menu, chef/owner Seth Adams has brought a contemporary flair to Old Town with offerings like oxtail ravioli and crisp duck breast with creamy foie-gras emulsion, and house-made mushroom pierogis with shallot-bacon jam. Everything old is new again at this classic Park City eatery.
540 Main, Park City, 435-649-3536, RiverhorseParkCity.com
Meditrina Small Plates & Wine Bar
At Jen Gilroy's Meditrina Small Plates and Wine Bar, the tapas are simply terrific. Along with a selection of classic Spanish-style tapas such as albondigas, grilled octopus, patatas bravas and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, you'll also find creative contemporary temptations. We're thinking here of "Southern" falafel with kale and Frank's Red Hot tzadziki; or perhaps ricotta made in-house, with apricot-cherry compote, arugula and Maldon salt. Just match 'em up with Meditrina's excellent selection of wines, beers and sangria and you're in for a hoppin' evening of tapas.
1394 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com
Best in the Bag
Bucket O' Crawfish
Some of us know what it's like to be left holding the bag; at Bucket o' Crawfish, they know how to cook in the bag. Plastic bags of crawfish, crab, shrimp, clams and mussels are sold by the pound, then steamed and finally served in plastic bags. The moment the bag is opened, your senses are overcome with shellfish cooked in sauces ranging from mild Cajun or garlic butter to spicy lemon-pepper or incendiary "crazy hot" Sriracha. Dump the morsels unceremoniously onto your table and prepare to get messy!
1980 W. 3500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-419-0900, BucketOCrawfish.com
Best Contemporary Greek
At Manoli's restaurant, owner/chef Manoli Katsanevas takes traditional Greek dishes and ushers them into the New Millennium with creative, contemporary twists. To wit, a mezze of seared sea scallops (htenia) is elevated from common to killer with micro greens and citrus-ouzo vinaigrette. In the place of souvlaki and gryos, Manoli's offers pork belly sliders with smoked feta spread and Greek coffee barbecue sauce. Even desserts such as the goat cheesecake with black pepper-honey are distinctive. It's Greek fare, disrupted.
402 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-3760, ManolisOn9th.com
Best BrewPub Brunch
Since 2001, Bohemian Brewery in Midvale has been serving up what it terms "Old School food," all the more perfect to match with its locally brewed, Old School Czech Republic-inspired beers. From pierogi to bratwurst, goulash and schnitzel, by now, many are familiar with Bohemian's unique lunch and dinner fare. Those dishes complement its Eastern-European style and selection of small-batch lagers like Cherny Bock Schwarzbier, Bavarian Weisbier and Dortmunder Export Lager. On weekends, Bohemian opens at 10 a.m. for brunch, serving (alongside its regular menu items) a number of hearty meals that include Bohemian eggs Florentine, gypsy hash and breakfast schnitzel. We especially like the grand portions, the delicious peppered bacon, and Bohemian bratwurst gravy, perfect for biscuits and atop eggs and potatoes. When it comes to breakfast at Bohemian, it's all Old School—hearty, filling and flavorful.
94 E. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5474, BohemianBrewery.com
Best Welcome to the Family
When Gabrielle McAfee came to Utah, she brought centuries of Spanish tradition with her. We're not talking about the paella (Spain's national dish), nor the tapas, nor the bota bag of "wine" gleefully squeezed into the wide-open mouth of a birthday celebrant (fruit juice, in this case, due to Utah liquor laws). Everyone knows Café Madrid does a tremendous job with its food—from arty display to subtle flavor— that's a given. What Café Madrid truly excels at is the embodiment of the Spanish way of life. The moment you walk in the door, you feel you've left Utah for the Iberian Peninsula. When you're greeted, you become Gabrielle's guest, not just a customer. So take her lead and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of her native Spain.
5244 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-273-0837, CafeMadrid.net
Best Vegan Omelet
Chabaar Beyond Thai
Chabaar's vegan Thai omelet is one of the most unique vegan dishes in the city. Made from rice flour, this eggless creation is light and fluffy. Filled with sautéed, fried tofu and dressed with fresh sprouts, shredded carrots and chopped peanuts, it has a delightful texture and imparts a complex combination of sweet and savory flavors.
87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100, AnnysTakeOnThai.com
Best All-You-Can-Eat Vegan Pizza
Tuesday evening is the perfect time to stuff your face with vegan pizza. That makes Sage's Cafe popular for its "Pizza Night Rodizio"—seasonal selections of pizza and salad for $12.75. The menu is always changing, but whatever the time of year, you can always count on the cafe's innovative combination of animal-free toppings and award-winning sauces.
234 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3790, SagesCafe.com
Best Unexpected Pesto Encounter
Forget the chain stores—if you want a sandwich, head directly to Toasters Deli in locations throughout the downtown Salt Lake City area. Sandwich combinations are creative, and ingredients are fresh. Once you bite into that ham & cheese, you're greeted with basil-y deliciousness of pesto aioli. This changes lunch forever. Besides, there's a location across the street from the Salt Palace, making it a primo spot to people-watch during various conventions—especially Comic Con.
Toasters Deli, various locations, ToastersDeli.com
Best Homebrew Contest
Hosting a homebrew competition can be a major feat. First off, you have to deal with hundreds and hundreds of bottles of beer that must be savored and judged, not chugged. Second of all, you have to deal with brewers and other beer "experts" to judge those beers, all while keeping people sober enough to fill out the comment cards. Then you have to handle the awards and award ceremonies. Well, thankfully, Jamie Burnham—manager at The Beernut, purveyors of beer-making supplies—takes care of all of these details and then some, to pull off what some believe is the best-run home brew contest in the world.
Festival is in August, BeerNut.com
Best Greasy-Fingers Lunch
The Pie Hole
The Pie Hole's fine assortment of thin-crust creations is a downtown lunchtime staple. With a wide array of specialty pies—including (somehow) vegan options, that vary each day—any day is a good day to dine at the Pie Hole. But if you must pick, then the Monday special—two slices and a fountain drink for $5—is worth the trip. For late lunches, two slices can be had for $3.50 between 3 and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Along with the piles of pizza, the Pie Hole also offers a selection of brews, including $1 cans of PBR—a deal good enough to send the most stodgy banker back to work tipsy.
344 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4653, PieHoleUtah.com
Best Jumbo Fish
Glade's Drive Inn
At the southern tip of Spanish Fork's Main Street, a block away from the city's storied baseball fields and about the same distance from its rodeo arena, is Glade's Drive Inn. This little burger shop pumps out a mean double cheeseburger, crinkled french fries and a fish dish—called the jumbo fish—that is worth having a few times a year. The shakes are killer, as is the house dipping sauce, which one would assume is fry sauce, but at Glade's, it's a thinned-down version of mayonnaise. Sounds nasty, but it's so good!
296 S. Main, Spanish Fork, 801-798-6761
Best FREEDOM FROM Liquor Stores
Sugar house Distillery
Utah's liquor stores can be crowded and lacking in charm. Avoid the whole scene and go straight to the source: Sugar House Distillery is a joy to visit. Pick up locally handcrafted rum, whiskey or vodka. And speaking of vodka, it uses fresh mountain water from the nearby Wasatch Range, for a cool local kick. Ever wonder how the booze gods make that delicious nectar that is so salutary to the soul? Take a tour of the whole setup while you're there and find out.
2212 W. Temple, No. 14, Salt Lake City, 801-726-0403, SugarHouseDistillery.net
Best Vegan Croissant
Passion Flour Patisserie
Jessica Davies is a classically trained pastry chef gone vegan. After spending three years perfecting her vegan croissants, she's come up with perfect flaky, buttery recipe. Passion Flour Patisserie has quickly become a local favorite serving vegan versions of croissants (both plain and filled), macaroons and other tasty treats. Worldwide acclaim is on the horizon for this talented pastry chef.
165 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-242-7040, PassionFlourSLC.com
Best Pioneer Coffee Roaster
Salt Lake Roasting Company
Decades before coffee roasting became the coolest hobby for a dude with a beard in Portland, John Bolton was busy roasting beans at The Salt Lake Roasting Company. And, to the joy of coffee drinkers in Utah, Bolton is still going strong. His shop, perched near the corner of 300 East and 400 South, has stood as a caffeinated light in the darkness since 1981. Rather than rely on an importer's word and a nice-looking stamp that says "organic," Bolton travels the world to visit with the farmers that he directly sources from, ensuring that each bean he roasts is good on the taste buds—and good for the world.
320 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-7572, Roasting.com
Best Indian Food With Morning Joe
Karma Coffee House
This recently built cafe is small, but not without personality. Like any other coffee house, Karma offers coffee in all its myriad forms, along with pastries and fruit smoothies. But how many other coffee houses can you think of that offer coconut-curry chicken? Owner Venkat Subrameni and wife Miriam serve Indian dishes, both vegetarian and otherwise, and the menu changes every day. If you're meeting up for with friends on the weekend, Karma Coffee House's brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and makes for a lovely change of pace.
1751 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 385-214-4323
Best Tequila & Taco Combo
There are those in this world who believe math is never used outside of school. They are fools. Math is everywhere. Here's an example: Tequila + Tacos = A winning duo. Or try this bit of algebra: What is left from four different tacos (say, Citrus Pork Carnita, Flame Grilled Chile Marinated Angus Beef, Roasted Mushroom and a Taco of the Day) divided by a table of three diners? Well there's only two ways to solve that problem equitably, of course, and that's by adding more tacos and more tequila. Taqueria 27's tequila menu, artistically displayed in chalk at each location, features over 40 Silvers, Reposados, Anejos and Ultra Premium tequilas—trust us, you will find your match, and if you don't, just try again. That's how addition works, remember? Just keep adding. Finally, a multiplication equation: One great concept X three locations = No matter where you are, you can quickly find that special taco & tequila combo.
Multiple Locations, Taqueria27.com
Best Feast for the Eyes & Belly
With oil paintings adorning the walls in the dining room—including one of Brigham Young's own personal "avenging angel," Orrin Porter Rockwell—the dining room at Pallet is almost as good as the food. Pallet offers a cozy respite that, despite the usual hipster motifs (fancy-dancy light bulbs and wooden tables that look like they were once the floor of a 400-year-old barn), doesn't seem forced or pretentious. The space—located inside an early 20th century creamery—is just damned nice. Even the bathrooms offer a touch of class unseen in any Utah restaurant: a stainless-steel soap dispenser that proffers powdered Borax. On the way back to your table, pound out a note on the vintage typewriter. Once seated, all attention is on items such as the Morgan Valley lamb with lemon-parsley gremolata.
237 S. 400 West, 801-935-4431, EatPallet.com
Best MEAT-EATING MARATHON
Meat. Some people gotta have it, and if that's you, Rodizio Grill is your kind of place. This Brazilian steakhouse is ideal for special occasions or just a change a pace, as servers laden with skewers of freshly grilled meats and pineapple stop by your table and slice off desired portions right on your plate. Choose from among offerings such as picanha (top sirloin), bife com alho (garlic steak), linguiça (Brazilian sausage), lombo com queijo (tender pork) and frango com bacon (chicken breast wrapped in bacon). But the vegetarians in your party won't be left with an empty plate. Rodizio's salad bar is overflowing with salads and pastas sure to suit their fancy. Or just make a meal of the succulent pineapple slices.
Trolley Square, 600 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-220-0500; The Meadows, 749 W. 100 North, American Fork, 801-763-4946; RodizioGrill.com
Best Two-Bite Snacks
In Spain, people don't sit down for dinner until 9 p.m. or later. How do they fend off "the hangry" until the main event? Pintxos (pn-CH): Hearty two-bite snacks perfect as an appetizer or light meal. Slip into Finca's elegant lounge, order a swanky cocktail, and choose from a selection of $2 pintxos served tableside. The menu changes daily, with classics like Boquerones (crisps with chevre, roasted peppers and white anchovy), pressed mini house-cured ham sandwiches, dates stuffed with Spanish blue cabrales cheese and wrapped in house-smoked bacon, and vegetarian options like pea purée with mint on toast points.
327 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-0699, FincaSLC.com
Best Chinese Noodle Soup
Blue Bay Chinese Cuisine
A lot of deep-fried, Americanized Chinese food is spiked with MSG and drenched in sugary sauces. And truth be told, it's still damned tasty—though probably not healthy. One Chinese dish, however, is about as healthy as they come: Blue Bay's Chinese Noodle Soup. The clear, savory broth is chock full of snap peas, carrots and tender cabbage along with your choice of tender meat or shrimp. Even if you do splurge and order that deep-fried and/or candy-coated entrée you like, at least you can take comfort knowing you first treated yourself, body and soul, to a bowl of Blue Bay's nourishing soup.
1883 Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-4412, BlueBaySaltLakeCity.com
Best Holy Guacamole
For some, locating the Blue Iguana is a bit of an adventure, tucked away as it is off 200 South in a basement in one of the original Arrow Press Square buildings. You enter by walking down a stairway that bisects a colorfully flag-decorated outdoor patio, sort of like climbing down a steep hole. While basement eateries were once quite numerous, there are fewer and fewer left in Salt Lake City. The Blue Iguana is one of them, and it is worth every step down and back up again. From the mood-setting flags that greet you upon entry, to the warm décor of the interior, Blue Iguana (once in a business relationship with the famous Red Iguana) welcomes diners with an array of downtown Salt Lake City's most authentic, yet simple, Mexican food. From openers like the incredible salsa and nachos, through traditional Mexican no-frills specials like chimichangas and enchiladas, the Blue Iguana is priced fairly for either lunch or dinner. Their margaritas alone are worth the side-alley and down-the-stairs experience.
165 S. West Temple, No. 2 (in the alley behind the Capitol Theatre), Salt Lake City, 801-533-8900, BlueIguanaRestaurant.net
Best Coffee Traffic Jam
Java Jo's, Avenues
E Street is a main thoroughfare in the Avenues. It has a double yellow line painted up its mid-section and has several key points of interest along its route—LDS Hospital, Smith's and a school. But the most popular spot, as measured by sheer traffic congestion, is Java Jo's. This little drive-through coffee joint serves up fine beverages—in fact, maybe a little too fine. Before 11 a.m., it is no exaggeration to say that one out of two cars stops here, leaving many vehicles and their Java Jo-addicted drivers in the street with their blinkers on, trying to ignore the horns blaring from the stream of cars backed up behind them.
JavaJos.com, 401 First Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-532-2899
Best Classy Wings
You don't have to stay at the Grand America Hotel to enjoy it, you know. And the enjoyment begins with your first step inside, past the gigantic display of fresh flowers, past the lobby lounge, peering out to the exquisite grounds and down a couple of perfectly carpeted hallways to the entrance of the Gibson Lounge—clearly the best-kept secret in the local craft cocktail community. Every step leading to the lounge and every chair inside screams out that no expense was spared on the Grand America. Each scream reminds the visitor that no one in the United States builds such appointed hotels these days. And in Salt Lake City, no one serves a plate of chicken wings that matches those served at the Gibson Lounge. These are not your girlfriend's wings. Thick and meaty with a perfectly hot, hot sauce, in just one bite, you know you've not had better. They're pricey, though, at $13 a plate, and yeah, and so worth it. The lounge itself is worth it, too—a historic throwback to a more luxurious time, replete with comfortable period furniture. Conversation is foremost, and the Gibson Lounge is as relaxing as they come in Utah. Here's something to talk about: What cocktail pairs best with wings such as these?
Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-258-6000, GrandAmerica.com
Best Korean Fry Toppings
Bumblebee BBQ & Grill
This odd little Korean/American-fusion burger shop on State Street has been all the rage lately. Why? People want to try the signature "KPOP" french fries, topped with either bul-gogi or spicy pork/chicken, along with shredded cheese, green onion, jalapeño mayo, and Sriracha sauce. Even with a drizzle of rooster sauce, it's more zesty than unbearably hot. Plunge your fries into that pink fry sauce Utah is known for, and this might be your first taste of Utah fusion cuisine.
7962 S. State, Midvale, 801-561-0608, BumblebeesBBQ.wix.com/bumblebzbbq
Best Nostalgic Ice Cream
Even though this creamery is in Utah County, it's worth it to travel there from Salt Lake City—or from nearly anywhere else in the state, really—if only for a journey back in time to the malt shops of yesteryear. The flavors don't change often here, so try the Graham Canyon, Bishop's Bash, LaVell's Vanilla and Woosh Cecil (yes, you're really on the BYU campus). But it's sweet nostalgia. The ice cream is frozen here—and so is time.
Brigham Young University, 1209 N. 900 East, Provo, 801-422-2663, BYU.edu/creamery
Del Mar al Lago
Since opening in 2012, this eatery has become not just one of Utah's best South American-style restaurants—it's a great Utah restaurant, period. With Del Mar al Lago's arrival came our eye-opening introduction to the tart, refreshing pisco sour cocktail, the anticuchos ("beef heart") appetizer, and some of the most colorful soups and main-course dishes Utah has ever seen. Center stage on the Del Mar al Lago menu is ceviche—seafood drenched in an acid bath of lime juice and spices that at once tells your tongue you've been eating fish the wrong way your whole life. Just about every type of seafood imaginable—including shrimp, scallops, halibut, squid and grouper—finds its way into the restaurant's delicious ceviche dishes.
310 W. 2270 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2890, DelMarAlLago.co
Best Mom & Pop Drive-Ins
Ab's Drive In
It's good to know that, in an era of booming fast food and national chain restaurants, a couple of locally owned drive-ins still serve their communities well. If you're from West Jordan or West Valley City, you know Ab's, and their sister drive-in, Riley's. Both have been serving up traditional, signature hand-cut fries, juicy burgers and hearty sandwiches for decades. Ab's is known for its award-winning Fat Boy Burger while Riley's is noted for its great shakes and malts. Next time you go out for a bite, keep this local, family-owned operation in mind.
Ab's Drive In: 4591 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-968-2130, AbsDriveIn.com; Riley's: 7903 Airport Road, West Jordan, 801-566-1190, RileysSandwiches.com
Best Asian Buffet
Look, we're not out counting the individual items at every buffet line in town, but with more than 200 items to choose from—not even considering all the options in the Mongolian barbecue centerpiece—King Buffet in Taylorsville takes the crown. At 12,000 square feet, the place is huge—and also hugely popular. No one goes away hungry. Buffets can be hit-or-miss. But King Buffet—with offerings from seafood to sushi, plus some American choices, as well as salads and desserts—meets the challenge that faces all buffets: to keep items fresh at all times. We recommend an early start to get a jump on freshness, and also to beat the crowds.
5668 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville,
Best Secret Cafeteria on Main
JC Penney Cafe
If you work downtown, sometimes, the urge for a hot breakfast can get the better of you. But, where can you get an order of freshly grilled eggs & bacon to-go and take it back to your desk? That's when you'll be glad you learned about the JC Penney Café. It is a delightful old-school cafeteria that serves made-to-order breakfast & lunch items, including omelets, pancakes, waffles, chili verde burritos, fish & chips baskets, soup and sandwiches. It's an oasis of comfort food at reasonable prices, all with a fourth-floor view of downtown. Consider it our little secret. Open Monday through Friday.
310 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-350-2262, JCPenneyCafeSLC.catertrax.com
Best Morning Sugar Rush
This four-decades-young downtown eatery—residing in the JVDGE Building, one of Salt Lake City's legendary old buildings—has a long history of pleasing the lunch crowd. From Day 1, its opening heralded what Salt Lake City could be—a city that takes pride in its old spaces and in which innovative businesses can make a go of it. In that regard, the Judge Café is a true pioneer, building up a clientele that remained loyal through ever-changing fortunes of downtown Salt Lake City. One reason for that loyalty is the assortment of fine baked goods and desserts —crafted in-house, daily—that set the Judge apart. And simplest among those are the Judge Café cookies—the best around. Frosted sugar, white macadamia and chocolate chip; whatever your urge, you will simply enjoy a Judge Cafe cookie. The Judge is open for breakfast, too, so cookies are perfect for dunking or for sugar-rushing before that early office meeting.
8 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-0917, JudgeCafe.com
Best Crepes, FroYo & Boba
Lunaberry's success is based on its healthy variety of food offerings. If it served only crepes or only frozen yogurt or only boba tea, it might have been a different story. But all three (and more) make for an unbeatable combination. The crepe shells are made fresh daily and are then filled with either savory (i.e., salmon, chicken pesto or turkey cranberry) or sweet ingredients (berries, fruit and/or Nutella). Add a bodacious frozen yogurt or a boba tea beverage, and honestly, you'll become a Lunaberry lunatic.
358 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0427, Lunaberry.com
Best Eggplant-Parmigiana Sandwich
Moochie's Meatballs & More
Well, who would think of eggplant when first encountering the meaty menu at a place named Moochie's Meatballs? Actually, everyone should. Sure, you've likely had Moochie's award-winning Philly or meatball sandwiches, but do yourself a favor and slip over to the veggie aisle for your next Moochie's mouthful. No less an expert than Guy Fieri (of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives fame) proclaimed of his visit to Moochie's: "If you think you don't like eggplant, this will change your mind." It should be no surprise, really, since most items at Moochie's have a decidedly Italian flair. Have yours as a sandwich or served over pasta. Either way wins. By the way, Fieri also endorsed the Moochie's meatball sandwich—as have most sandwich-eating Salt Lakers.
Multiple locations, MoochiesMeatballs.com
Best Morning Bun
The Tulie morning bun is an unpretentious pastry even though it is made with croissant dough. Its pleasure lies in understatement—a whisper of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar, a deft touch of orange—expressed in a coil of buttery pastry. For lovers of grocery-store cinnamon rolls (or even Leslie's toothsome Danish pastries), the morning bun represents a less-is-more departure. It may be the best pastry in town. Lots of people think so. But beware, night owls: There's a reason the luscious treats are called "morning buns"—they fly off the shelf and are gone before noon.
863 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-883-9741, TulieBakery.com
Best South-of-the-Border Shrimp
El Paisa Grill
El Paisa's seafood menu touts more than two dozen shrimp dishes—that's not even counting the several plates accented with Camarones. El Paisa provides more variety revolving around a single item than many restaurants prepare in total. For those snobby city dwellers who don't like to venture too far to the west side for some solid Mexican fare, El Paisa Grill is just a few blocks north of Highway 201 at 3200 West. (Its sister restaurant, El Paisa Taqueria, is at 919 W. 2100 South). El Paisa has also been awarded Best Molcajete in past years by our readers and staff—so get your shrimp on.
2126 S. 3200 West, West Valley City, 801-973-6680, ElPaisaGrill.com
Best Downtown Slurping
Fans of the Soup Kitchen, here's your new downtown soupery. One of the founders of the Soup Kitchen chain has opened a cousin of the local franchise right off Main Street on 300 South. Here you'll find a rotating menu of wholesome home-style soups, grilled sandwiches, salads and breakfast offerings. Don't forget about the complimentary tasty bread sticks—perfect to dunk in your soups. The soup & sandwich combo is so tasty, you'll be back within days for more soup upliftment.
14 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 385-242-7640
Best Original Philly
Aboard the Wayback Machine, Grinders 13 on State was once a beacon for anyone with a yen for exotic food—and East Coast-style sandwiches were once considered exotic around here. Depending on where you're eating it, a grinder is like a hoagie, sub or po'boy—but not exactly. At its core, however, it is a nice, long piece of bread, halved, then filled with tasty hot or cold fillings like meatballs, turkey, salami, pastrami and roast beef. Get yours here the old-fashioned and inexpensive way.
1618 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3676, Grinders13.com;
2125 S. 3200 West, West Valley City, 801-973-6489, Grinders13Subs.com
Hearth on 25th
Exotic eats are a mainstay of Hearth on 25th's eclectic menu. Where else could you find dishes ranging from yak tartare, espresso elk & waffles, curry-masala lamb chops, and quail with blue-cheese dumplings; to pizzas, calamari, French dip sandwiches and shrimp scampi? The rich, dark and decadent roasted beef marrow bones are a particular favorite. Sometimes called "poor man's foie gras," this marvelous marrow comes with thick slices of toasted sourdough bread, heirloom-pepper relish, apricot mostardo and caramelized onions.
195 25th Street, No. 6, Ogden, 801-399-0088, Hearth25.com
Best Lamb Ribs
MacCool's Public House
What usually comes to mind when talking about Irish food is a proper Irish stew or shepherd's pie. Both are often served with beef, not lamb. Yet, Ireland has been known for its lamb, and it's about time diners got some genuine lamb love. At MacCool's, you will surely fall hard for lamb ribs worthy of an Irish proverb such as this one: "The skin of the old sheep is on the rafter no sooner than the skin of the young sheep." Whatever that means. But here's what it means at MacCools: Char-grilled lamb, herb-roasted, marinated in a house-made barbecue sauce, then topped with a buttermilk blue cheese, with each rib then stacked like the chimney of an old Irish cottage. These lamb ribs make for a bone-picking, delicious meal.
Best Asian Eye Candy
There are a lot of sushi places in town. There are a lot of Asian restaurants as well. However, it takes a special eye to infuse the food you serve with all the artistic nature of Asian culture. In this Snapchat and Instagram era, pictures of food are everywhere on the Internet—but how many of them, really, do you want to see? Rice Basil's dishes, however, are actually worthy of that constant snapping. They are works of art: You could easily take a photo of Rice Basil's oyster poppers, lollipop veggie rolls or udon soup to the next level by framing it. Yes, they're that pretty. Just remember to enjoy your meal when you put that camera-phone back in your pocket.
2335 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 801-278-8682, RiceBasil.com
Best Foodies Coffee Shop
THE Rose Establishment
Located in an almost 100-year-old restored building, The Rose Establishment is a pristine, light-filled coffee shop perfect for a first date or working on your novel. A wifi-free zone, The Rose Establishment is the place to go for a rotating selection of coffee, organic loose-leaf teas and an eclectic menu filled with exotic tartines, fruity porridges and lunch items such as tangerine parsnip salad, paneer on toasted-walnut bread or organic tofu on a baguette. Committed to excellence, The Rose rocks.
235 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-990-6270, TheRoseEstb.com
Best Mainline Mexican Food
Rio Grande Cafe
Its own logo, easily recognized by all Salt Lakers, beckons patronage to the Rio Grand Café with the phrase, "Mainline to Mexico," beneath a streamlined railroad locomotive passing a grand cactus. Over 30 years now, the Rio Grande Café—situated in the north wing of the historic Rio Grande Railway Station has been serving plate after plate of traditional Mexican fare: tacos, flautas, burritos, a trio of fine steaks and their famously large enchiladas. Remember their notable ads with the buxomy waitress boasting the "Best Enchiladas in Town"? We do, and yes, the Rio's famous enchilada remains one sexy plate of beef, chicken, pork, rice or shrimp wrapped in a 10-inch tortilla and topped with green or red chile. In many ways, the Rio Grande Café is a pioneer, locating as it did on Salt Lake City's near west side decades before others dared. On your next visit, be sure to fully engage in the history of the cafe and environs. And do it as you should, with a Rio Margarita in hand.
270 S. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City, 801-364-3302, RioGrandeSLC.myshopify.com
Best Taco Night
Tacos are great. Jam-packed with your protein of choice, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, salsa and any number of variations, tacos offer reasonable portion control for any level of hunger you may experience. Want one? Two? Ten? That's on you, buddy. As versatile as they are, why do tacos receive, via various marketing schemes, only one day of recognition per week is a mystery. (Why not "Tacos Any Day?") However, if it is a Tuesday and you have the hankering, Taco Tuesday at Salsa Leedos offers all-you-can-eat carne asada tacos for $10.89. But, do keep in mind: They serve them all week!
3956 W. 13400 South, Riverton, 801-565-8818, SalsaLeedos.net
Best SMOTHERED WAFFLES
Saturday's Waffle sells build-your-own waffles with more than a dozen possible toppings, including jalapeño-infused maple syrup, coconut whipped cream and vanilla-bean salted-caramel sauce, alongside traditional items like raspberries, strawberries and bananas. There are also special waffles like the Urban Lumberjack (waffle smothered in a sausage gravy with rosemary and thyme) and The Benny (waffle with a soft-cooked egg covered in fresh hollandaise and bacon). Breakfast never had it so good.
Multiple locations, SaturdaysWaffle.com
Best Traditional Mexican Food
One can debate all day what it means to serve "traditional" fare of any stripe—and in Utah, with so many Mexican food offerings, it's hard to say what really is traditional and what is not. In this case, the definition of traditional is this: That style of Mexican food which has been longest served in Utah. It's the Mexican food our parents grew up loving. You can't go wrong at La Puente, noted for platter-style servings of enchiladas, fajitas, tacos and burritos, each served with the customary rice and refried beans, and often ordered smothered in chile verde, with or without cheese and onion. It's good, home-style food, and lots of it. La Puente is also noted for menudo, reputed to be the hangover cure to beat all hangover cures. Gracias, Viola.
Multiple locations include 3540 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-281-3272, LaPuenteMexicanRestaurant.com
Best House-Made Ice Cream
Hatch Family Chocolates
A staple in the community long before the 2009 TV show Little Chocolatiers, Hatch Family Chocolates took on a new location and new look in 2013, but still offer familiar treats along with a smattering of delicious new ones. But its best new adventure has to be house-made small-batch ice creams that incorporate the shop's favorite chocolates. There's Salted Caramel, with its thick and creamy vanilla base and buttery salty goodness, and Apricot Cream, which are bits of chocolate and apricot mixed with a thick cream base. There is also the subtle and heavenly Almond Honey Blossom as well as Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Maple Pecan and Peppermint Joe-Joe. They're made by hand—some only rarely or seasonally—so sample them all when you come in and take home a quart for the family (or hide it and keep it to yourself).
376 E. Eighth Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-532-4912, HatchFamilyChocolates.com
Best Ogden Greek Food
Andy's has a comfortable neighborhood vibe and some of the best—and biggest—souvlaki in the state. Its gyros come on soft, warm pita bread, its lemon rice will melt in your mouth and its salads are crisp and enormous. Seriously—don't overdo it: Plates at Andy's Lounge are not messing around. They are just gigantic, so pace yourself. While you're working your way through your Greek food and cold beer, play a game of pool.
501 N. Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-782-9972
Best Alternative-Caffeinated Beverage
Looking for a little nutrition with your caffeine jolt? Try Kindred's yerba mate. Mate is jam-packed with nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants and more caffeine than green tea. Kindred, a locally owned and operated company that sources its mate from farmers in Argentina, offers mate in original, cacao, lemon and mint flavors. But more importantly, Kindred offers Utahns a chance to enjoy an authentic South American experience—yes, drinking mate is indeed a social ritual. So gather your friends, grab a gourd and feel good about getting your caffeine fix.
248 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-971-2115, KindredLeaf.com
Best Biscuits & Gravy to Go
Dottie's Biscuit Barn
Comfort food: The phrase suggests those things that make us want to cuddle up with memories of childhood meals and special places. If only making some of those things wasn't so time-consuming. But there's always Dottie's, a food booth that sets up shop at local farmers markets to provide fried chicken, fruit pies and, yes, flaky, freshly made biscuits, smothered in specialty gravies (like heirloom tomato) or perhaps adorned with seasonal jams. You'll wish this mobile barn were your home-style home away from home.
Best TEA HOUSE
Tea Zaanti tea house is the perfect place to head on a rainy day. Enjoy freshly baked scones and a warm cup of tea while you read. Not sure what to order? Check out the TeaZer Wall, a collection of color-coded sample tins of tea on a magnetic framework. Tea Zaanti also has a beautiful "CommuniTea" room for small groups of people and charities, and donates a portion of profits to local and international charities.
1324 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-906-8132, TeaZaanti.com
Best Sugar Fix
When you've got a sugar craving that just won't quit, check out The Fix, a specialty soda shop that sells the best cookies in the valley. "Fixed" drinks include soda, coffee, hot chocolate, steamers, or milk to which other ingredients will be added, creating such beverages as the Twix soda (cola, caramel, chocolate and vanilla) and the Detox (Sierra Mist, coconut, kiwi and fresh lime). But whatever you do, don't leave without a cookie—original sugar, cinnamon roll, coconut crème or chocolate chip. Be careful—it just takes one bite before you'll be regularly craving a fix.
1302 E. Draper Parkway, Draper, 801-553-0912, FixHitsTheSpot.com
Best Food Bender
Celebrating its 40th year in business, Italian Village has pretty much exceeded the standard shelf life for restaurants. One could find 40 reasons why Italian Village has outlasted most of the rest, but they've never strayed from this winning concept: Good food and great prices, served by a friendly staff. One menu item that has been a key component to the success of Italian Village is its ever-popular Pizza Bender—basically a calzone, but without needing a definition of what's inside. Stuffed with a variety of meats and cheeses (you can also build your own) and coming in under $6, families (especially families!) can go on a nice bender without busting their wallet. Happy anniversary, Italian Village, here's to another 40!
5370 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-266-4182, ItalianVillageSLC.com
Best Random Acts of Piano
At the bottom of steps just off of Main Street at the entrance to Exchange Place, Boston Deli has long been known as a solid, reliable lunch venue for sandwiches, salads and wraps. In one corner sits an old piano, looking rather forlorn when no one pays it attention. But if you're lucky, as we have been on several occasions, a deli employee with a talent for banging out a little classical music will fill the eatery with tasty notes that will bring you Bach again and again.
9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2146, BostonDeli.com
Best Local Feta
Feta may be most closely associated with Greece, but that doesn't mean the deliciously salty cheese can't be found—and created—right in our own backyard. Vaughn Oborn's Shepherds Dairy uses its own goats and traditional recipes to create its distinctive brine-cured products. Try a variety of flavors, including sun-dried tomato with basil, cracked peppercorn and roasted garlic, either on your favorite bread or to top your salad.
Best Motorhead Meal
Park City restaurateur Bill White—whose establishments include Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Ghidotti's, Windy Ridge Cafe and Sushi Blue—hails originally from the Detroit area, so he's a bit of a motorhead. If you are, too—or if you're simply hankering for a great meal—Billy Blanco's Motor City Mexican Burger & Taco Garage is the place to park for a while. Only a gearhead like White would purchase Ducati racing bikes, tricked-out Harley-Davidsons, a brand-new Shelby GT and vintage cars like a mint Dodge Charger for "décor." The bar stools are fashioned from sports car seats, and the entire base and coolers of the centerpiece bar are constructed from heavy-duty, high-end, chrome-plated tool boxes. Vroom!
8208 Gorgoza Pines Road, Park City, 435-575-0846, BillyBlancos.com
Herbs and spices don't have to be exotic flavors that come from faraway places; you can give your food a boost of amazing taste that's locally sourced. One Utah family decided to take some of its own urban-farm products—combined with some grown by other local farmers—and create unique recipes after the products are air-dried and ground in-house. Sample the hot, bold Mountain Man blend with habanero chilies, garlic, onion and herbs. Or try the complex smoked sweet pepper paprika.
Best Flavor Rainbow
It can be initially overwhelming the first time you step into Taffy Town's retail store and glimpse the flavor options for the locally made salt-water taffy. The bins on the wall hold every imaginable taste: tropical fruits, cinnamon, licorice and classic combinations like root beer float and mint chocolate. More than 70 flavors fill wall-mounted containers of sweet, chewy goodness, with new ones appearing on a regular basis. Bet you never imagined "chicken and waffles" as a taffy flavor?
55 W. 800 South, Salt Lake City,
Best Pie Bargain
There really isn't a bad day of the week for a meal at The Dodo, considering the menu of delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. But if you're looking to get a little extra sweet bang for your buck, consider a mid-week visit. Every Tuesday, desserts are two for the price of one (dine-in only, with purchase of meal). And you never know exactly what you might be able to get, considering the made-fresh-daily menu of treats like their amazing pies.
1355 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-2473, TheDodoRestaurant.com
Best Mormon Muffins
The Greenery Restaurant
Utah's peculiar cultural delicacies—from Jell-O with carrots to funeral potatoes—are the stuff of gentle local self-mockery. Yet there are some local food traditions that can stand tall. For nearly 40 years, The Greenery Restaurant in Ogden has been serving up hearty bran-based baked goods, both to sit-down customers and those who can't resist taking a box to-go. What the recipe may lack in pioneer authenticity—it does include Kellogg's All-Bran Cereal—it more than makes up for in comfort-food pleasure.
1875 Valley Drive, Ogden, 801-392-1777, RainbowGardens.com/Greenery.html
Best Geek Sweets
The Truffle Cottage
When you want your sweet tooth to connect with pop culture, look for these specialty treats created by Pleasant Grove chocolatier The Truffle Cottage. Deliver a milk-chocolate wand to the Harry Potter fan on your gift list, or gather truffles in shapes like Iron Man's mask or Doctor Who's Daleks. And if you're going to snap into a thin mint, why not have it look like Han Solo trapped in carbonite? Order online, or find products at specialty retail stores like Hastur Games & Hobbies or Game Haven.
Best Emigration Excursion
Even though it's just a short jaunt up Emigration Canyon, Ruth's Diner has an otherworldly vibe. Dining on the sprawling patio in warm weather, you might imagine you're in Sonoma. Indoors, remnants of the nearly 90-year-old original diner remain. But one thing that never changes is friendly service and can't-miss dishes such as Ruth's famous mile-high biscuits & country gravy for breakfast and Erik's raspberry chicken at dinnertime.
4160 Emigration Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-582-5807, RuthsDiner.com
Best Customized Ice Cream
Tropical Dreams Hawaiian Creamery
Everyone has a favorite ice cream flavor. Or maybe the favorite ice cream flavor you would have hasn't been created yet, because it's inside your head. Tropical Dreams features a delicious regular line up of ice creams, gelatos and sorbets in flavors from sources both local and shipped in from Hawaii. But you can be part of the creativity with "Custom Customer Creations," whenever Tropical Dreams invites its patrons to provide suggestions via social media, with a quart of the newly invented recipe as a prize.\
928 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0986, TropicalDreamsUtah.com
Best NEED FOR SEEDS
Some snacks become as much an activity as a treat, like popping sunflower seeds into your mouth one after the other. It'll be awfully hard to stop that activity if the seeds in question are more than just a delivery system for salt. Zotes' products—including corn nuts in addition to sunflower seeds—pack huge taste into their adorable tiny bottles, with flavors including blue cheese, hot wings, Jamaican jerk, roasted garlic, jalapeño and dill pickle. You'll buy 'em, shell 'em and be ready to buy 'em again as soon as possible.
Best Do-Wop Soundtrack
Coachman's DINNER & PANCAKE HOUSE
One of the oldest anchors of the Salt Lake City dining scene, Coachman's Dinner & Pancake House is a colorful, character-driven experience. Its menu hasn't changed much for decades—still the same classic eggs and pancake selection—but the unheralded pleasure of Coachman's is its soundtrack, an eternal loop of 1950s pop-song classics. Such a generational throwback adds to the gentle disconnect of dining in a place that seems to have forgotten what decade it's in. And, just like the olden days, it's cash or check only.
1301 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-486-3579
Best Gastro Pub Fish & Chips
A gastro pub is a British term for public houses that also serve slightly more ambitious food than a packet of crisps (potato chips to you Americans). Molly's, an Irish pub nestled in one corner of Kimball Junction, claims just such a title and, to our mind, rightly so. It boasts an ample beer list and a food menu with an emphasis on classic dishes from the Emerald Isle. The menu's top star, though, is the more British fare, fish & chips. The beer batter is crunchy and flavorful, and the cod firm and delicious. With a sprinkle of malt vinegar, you could be in a fish & chip shop in old Blighty.
1680 Ute Boulevard, Park City,
Best Coffee for Car Lovers
Fill'er Up Coffee Station
Set in the glories of the Heber Valley, one of this coffee house's greatest assets is the beautiful way it's turned an old garage into a great place to enjoy coffee, cakes and a breakfast burrito. Wall-to-wall car memorabilia keeps you entertained while you line up to order from friendly staff. There's an inventiveness to the eclectic selection of old vehicle ads, pictures and gas signs that gives the cafe a genial energy all its own.
201 Main St., Midway, 435-657-2700
Laid Back Poke Shack
If you think Hawaiian-style poke is always made with raw tuna, think again. At the Laid Back Poke Shack, you'll discover a dozen or so different poke options. Choices vary from day to day, but often include shoyu, ginger, spicy, oyster and California spicy ahi; shoyu salmon; sesame calamari; kimchi tako; sweet-chili shrimp; kimchi mussels; taegu (Korean seasoned cod); and spicy snow crab. Whew! Thankfully, the servers are super-helpful, and there's a tasting station where diners may sample as many styles of poke as they like.
6213 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-635-8190
Best SPICE IN A CUP
The Cupbop food truck menu is simple—choose from beef, spicy pork, chicken, noodles, tofu and kimchi, or a combination. Let the crew know how spicy you want your sauces, and enjoy. Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong—and the enthusiastic servers in the truck are happy to offer their recommendations. But make sure you come early to wherever the Cupbop truck sets up; lines will soon be wrapping around the truck, or the block.
As much as we love Salt Lake City's taco stands, sometimes it seems like there's little difference between the many carts that festoon our street corners. What makes Tacos Real stand out is not just the quality and freshness of its ingredients, but an authentic quality that's hard to find elsewhere. Take its torta, for instance. Essentially a sandwich, stuffed with carnitas, carne asada or lengua (tongue). It is then layered by the customer with salsas from the bar. Real Tacos fare tastes as good as if you eating at a tortas restaurant in Chihuahua. The staff are friendly and the prices, reasonable. Here's hoping they'll stick around through the winter as it's becoming a go-to for downtowners craving a burrito or torta for lunch.
115 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Best Retro Ice Cream Parlor
Scoops From the Past
Compared to many other small towns in central and southern Utah, Panguitch appears to be booming, at least judging by the open stores, restaurants and fresh licks of paint on the walls of its motels. One of the centerpieces of its continued good health is the restored Historic Gem Theatre and Scoops From the Past ice cream parlor, which, with its colorful, playful décor, all but shouts the 1950s. Rather than rush through Panguitch en route to Zion or Bryce, pull over, grab a sandwich and order an old-fashioned sundae at Scoops. Go ahead, savor Panguitch's charm.
105 N. Main, Panguitch, 435-676-8885, ScoopsFromThePast.com
Best Bar Bites
Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House
Avenues Proper serves up truly small-batch, craft beers, all brewed on premises. But, man can't live on beer alone so there's also an eclectic selection of bar bites. Enjoy an order of its "obligatory" bar snack: salted popcorn for $1. But we recommend spending another $2 for the Spicy Prop-corn with locally made chili oil and lime salt. House pickles and pommes frites (very good ones) are an option, as is healthy hummus or kale Caesar salad. To go whole-hog, order the rarebit: house beer & cheese béchamel, bacon, cherry tomato, diced red onion and frites. Now that's bar food!
376 Eighth Ave., Salt Lake City, 385-227-8628, AvenuesProper.com
Doubling as both a market and a restaurant, the greatest pleasure of Shadrazad is the freshness of its food and the vibrancy of its flavor. The baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves ready your palate for the pleasures to come. The falafel and beef shawarma are wrapped in bread made on site that heightens the delicious crispness and eruption of flavors the sandwiches offer. The service is warm and friendly and there's free coffee and cardomon tea to pick you up afterward while you browse the shelves of Middle Eastern goodness.
2100 S. 1615 West, Salt Lake City, Shahrazad1001.com
Best BOLLYWOOD Breakfast
Stepping into this Indo/Persian restaurant feels a little like bathing in warm Indian winds, with its tasteful décor and aromatic scents. Long a staple for the lunch and dinner crowd, Good Karma broke into the breakfast and brunch market recently, and its offerings are simply divine. While the breakfast menu sides substantially with American tastes, brunch features such intriguing fare as the Bollywood burrito, a spinach tortilla with eggs and cheese with a vindaloo sauce, and Punjabi eggs masala, featuring green chili, ginger, garlic and onions with scrambled eggs and lentils. While the standards of its dinner fare remains as high as ever, it's a pleasure to know you can turn to Good Karma for brunch and embark on a whole new gastronomical adventure.
1782 Prospector Ave., Park City, 435-658-0958, GoodKarmaRestaurants.com
Best Not Portland Cafe
Avenues Bistro on Third
The welcoming, über-friendly vibe that emanates from Avenues Bistro on Third (and from owner Kathie Chadbourne) might cause you to think you've been teleported to Portlandia. But, no, you are still in Utah. As at so many cafes in Portland, Ore., Avenues Bistro seems to be designed for table hopping (it is cozy)—and customers, more often than not, all seem to know one another. It's got that neighborhood feel and friendliness that just can't be faked. With great food, great service and a great ambience, we're happy to say that Avenues Bistro on Third is all Salt Lake, through and through.
564 E. Third Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-831-5409, AvenuesBistroOnThird.com
Best Sandwich Bonanza
The Robin's Nest
There's a reason busy downtowners strapped for time are still willing to take an extra few minutes for lunch and squeeze themselves into the midday mob that always forms on Main Street. Well, actually, there are two reasons: 1. Quality: The Robin's Nest makes some of the tastiest fare on a block overflowing with sandwich shops; and, 2. Sheer quantity: The Robin'sNest features more than 25 signature sandwiches. The only problem? How to choose among meaty offerings like The Roobin, The Cowboy and The Aloha Oink; or vegan-friendly wonders such as The Flower Child and the Yummy Hummy, when each one is better than the last? It's not easy. But it's worth arriving late back to the office.
311 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-466-6378, RobinsNestSLC.com
Best Shopping Diversion
Nordstrom CafÉ Bistro
I'll bet you didn't know there's a department store in Utah that sells beer and wine—even on Sunday. Yep, it's Nordstrom Cafe Bistro in Fashion Place Mall, and it's one of this town's best-kept secrets. After you've shopped and are ready to drop, tuck into some of the fine fare at Nordstrom. Chef Jeremy Matthews' menu includes enticing items like cilantro-lime shrimp salad, a killer prime rib French dip, brick-oven pizzas and flatbread, risotto with roasted salmon and herbed mushrooms, crab bisque and plenty of options for the kids.
6191 S. State, Fashion Place, Salt Lake City, 801-261-4402
Best French Sammich
The French know a thing or two about food, so kudos to Bambara executive chef Nathan Powers for taking a French classic and kicking it up a notch. At brunch, Bambara offers its decadent take on an already decidedly decadent breakfast sandwich: the croquet madame. It's split-and-toasted muffin-style bread with grilled ham, melted Gruyere cheese, a silky béchamel sauce, stoneground mustard and—here's the kicker—a sunny-side-up egg perched on top. Bonus: the croquet madame also comes with a side of Powers' fantastic herb-spiked frites.
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
Best Worth the Wait
Gabor Bros. Main Street Grill & Pizzeria
The small dining room and even smaller bar area at Layton's popular Gabor Brothers Main Street Grill & Pizzeria is almost always mobbed. But, if there's an eatery in Layton that's more worth the wait for a table, we haven't found it. The service is so friendly, you'd think you were part of the Gabor family: The food is delicious, and the portions are huge. The garlicky homemade breadsticks are legendary, as are the pizzas, calzones and pasta dishes. But don't overlook the equally awesome Royale with cheese or the killer Italian subs.
197 N. Main, Layton, 801-544-4344
As any craft cocktail aficionado knows, bitters—an infusion of herbs, spices, fruits, barks, roots and botanicals preserved in grain alcohol—are an essential component to many delectable drinks. So, if you're looking to elevate your libations, try boosting them with bitters from Bitters Lab. Flavors include aromatic, charred cedar, currant and even habanero-lime.
Best Ethnic-Supermarket cafe
Ocean City opened in late 2014 and offers an admirable range of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai products. There's also a wide range of frozen fish from Southeast Asian waters, but what makes the market particularly intriguing is a tiny Thai restaurant at the back of the market. There are only seven tables, and they quickly fill up. Once you taste the fish-cake appetizers, the papaya salad or one of its excellent curries, you'll see why this inexpensive, simple and delicious Thai food is so popular.
872 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-953-1916
Best Bar Bargain
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
You might rationally think of Fleming's as an expensive steakhouse, which it is. But it's a steakhouse with a secret: the "5-6-7" option in Fleming's lounge. From opening until 7 p.m., the lounge offers a special menu of five dishes, each priced at $6. These are no paltry "bar bites," either. For example, you can make a hearty meal out of the 1/2-pound prime-beef burger. Made with peppered bacon, it comes with blue, Swiss or cheddar cheese on a fluffy, glistening challah bun—and fries, to boot. Other offerings include salt & pepper shrimp, pan-crisped pork belly and other enticements.
20 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3704, FlemingsSteakhouse.com
La Bonne Vie
Walking into La Bonne Vie, a pastry shop in the opulent Grand America hotel, is a transformative experience—as though you've turned into a decorative character on a very elaborate wedding cake. This eye-popping, Willy Wonka-esque shop is filled with world-class pastries, cookies, cakes, macaroons and baguettes, prepared by the hotel's superb executive pastry chef Xavier Baudinet. The chocolate, whether in cupcake form, on dipped strawberries, or in tarts or truffles, is irresistible—as is this sweet, sweet place!
555 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-258-6554, GrandAmerica.com
Best Chinese Wine List
When we say that Hot Dynasty restaurant has the best Chinese wine list in town, we aren't talking about Chinese wine. No, this excellent eatery has the best wine list of any Chinese restaurant. Frankly, we don't normally expect to find Dom Perignon Champagne or Stag's Leap Chardonnay at a Chinese restaurant. But this terrific list offers those plus La Marca Prosecco, Sauvion Sancerre, Whispering Angel Rosé, M. Chapoutier Ciboise Rouge, Moët Imperial Champagne, and more. There's nothing quite like vintage bubbly with your Kung Pao!
3390 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-809-3229, HotDynasty.com
Best Old School Sub/Hero/Grinder
We praise the name of the Earl of Sandwich himself for the sandwiches that have graced our city with Grove Market. Its well-made, reasonably priced options are a big draw: A "half" Big John sandwich is only $6.99—and we defy you to eat it in one sitting. The Big John features seven deli meats—salami, ham, corned beef, pastrami, bologna, turkey and roast beef—piled 3- to 4-inches high, then topped with Swiss and American cheese, plus mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle and pepperoncinis on rye, French, sourdough or wheat bread, or a thick, airy ambassador roll. It takes a village ... to eat one.
1906 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8860, GroveMarketDeli.com
Best Combo Plates
This family-owned Mexican eatery is well-known for authentic South-of-the-Border flavors and dishes such as pollo asado, beefsteak ranchero, chiles poblanos and the like. But if you like to mix and match, this really is the place. Most combo dinners at La Hacienda run a mere $8-$10 and typically include three items, in every possible permutation: Create your own Mexican meal from a combo list that includes burritos, tacos, rice & beans, enchiladas, chalupas, tamales, tostadas and chile rellenos.
1248 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-973-0738,
Best Old School Burger
Milts Stop n' Eat
Milt's Stop n' Eat is Moab's oldest restaurant. It opened in 1954, and it's said to look much the same today as it did then. The vinyl-topped stools and Formica counters are all original. And, hey—remember when burgers used to taste like meat? Well, at Milt's, food is prepared fresh to order; and the awesome burgers are made from locally raised, hormone-free, grass-fed beef. The french fries (also awesome) are cut by hand from russet potatoes and fried in peanut oil. There is only one way to improve on a Milt's hamburger: wash it down with a fresh-fruit shake.
356 Millcreek Drive, Moab, 435-259-7424, MiltsStopandEast.com
Best Draper Meal
Oak Wood Fired Kitchen
The pizzas that emerge from the wood-fired oven at Oak Wood Fired Kitchen in Draper are excellent. But pizza isn't the only food done well here. The spaghetti and meatballs is fantastic. Even something as seemingly simple as a seared-salmon Caesar salad is sensational in the hands of the Oak Wood Fired Kitchen crew. Add terrific service, a vibrant ambience and a nice selection of beer, wine and cocktails, and you've got the recipe for Draper's best dining.
715 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-996-8155, OakWoodFireKitchen.com
Best House-made Meats
Salt & Smoke
Is there a meat lover in town who doesn't know Frody Volgger? We doubt it. For decades now, the Austrian transplant has been satisfying our need for bratwurst, weisswurst, speck, bacon, salami, pastrami, andouille sausage, ham, bündnerfleish, pancetta, copa and dozens of other meaty marvels. The magic Volgger creates in his Salt & Smoke meat shop using organic Berkshire pork from Christiansen Family Farm in Vernon, makes him Salt Lake City's hands-down best butcher.
155 W. Malvern Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-680-8529, SaltandSmokeMeats.com
Best DRINKS WITH FREE NUTS
O'Shucks Bar & Grill
A throwback to the days of the Wild West saloon, the folks at O'Shucks Bar & Grill don't care if you make a mess. O'Shucks provides free peanuts, salted in the shell—and, if you choose to drop the shells onto the floor, you won't be collared for littering. "Free" and "No Clean Up Required" are enough of an enticement, but don't overlook the 32-ounce beer schooners, excellent cocktails, burgers, meatloaf and—at the Salt Lake City and Pinebrook locations—even sushi.
Multiple locations, OShucksUT.com
Best on a Baguette
Pierre's Country Bakery
Pierre's Country Bakery, established in 1897, has been part of our landscape for so long, it might be all too easy to overlook. That is, until you become familiar with its crusty baguettes and other bodacious baked goods. The authentic, open-face croque monsieur sandwich is one of Pierre's most enticing items: a mountain of bubbly, browned Gruyere cheese on toasted baguette slices with high-quality Black Forest ham. Pierre's brilliant baguettes also provide the foundation for some terrific vegetarian sandwiches.
3239 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-0900, PierreCountryBakery.com
Since 1971, Salt Lakers have relied on Siegfried's Delicatessen for all things Bavarian. Whether it's a German soccer shirt, a flag or foodstuffs imported from Deutschland, this is the place. The mind reels at the sheer variety of wursts on offer—with all the accompanying mustards, pickles, sauerkraut, cured meats, cheeses, breads, desserts and much more. While you shop, enjoy the best German food in town from the cafeteria-style deli. The schnitzel is sehr fantastisch!
20 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 385-355-1912, SeigfriedsDelicatessen.com
Best Pigging Out
Pig & A Jelly Jar
Amy Britt's aptly named Pig & a Jelly Jar is pork lovers' heaven. Offering plenty of opportunities to pig out, the menu tempts diners with offerings like Creole pork-belly Benedict, Heritage ham hash, bacon & blue-cheese scramble, pulled-pork sandwiches, pork-belly BLT, pork & beans and artisan breakfast sausage. Even the three-bean salad is served with bacon vinaigrette.
401 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-202-7366, PigAndAJellyJar.com
Best Crusty Bakery
Red Bicycle Breadworks
If you've ever met Brent Whitford, you know he's a salt-of-the-earth guy, with not a bit of cantankerous crust about him. However, the affable chef/baker Whitford's primary goal is to "Keep Park City Crusty"—and that's the motivation behind his starting Red Bicycle Breadworks with friend and business partner Brad Hart. Whitford's infamous "stick" bread sells out almost as quickly as it reaches shelves at The Market in Park City, where the bakery makes its home. The power bread, peasant bread and sprouted quinoa honey-wheat are snapped up quickly, too—as are the take-and-bake artisan pizzas. Now that's some crust!
1500 Snow Creek Drive, Park City, 435-602-9026, Facebook.com/RedBicycleBread
Alamexo Mexican Kitchen
For Alamexo Mexican Kitchen executive chef Matthew Lake, fresh ingredients and classic Mexican cooking techniques are essential. That's the reason that his tamales de elote, like everything else on the Alamexo menu, are so satisfying. These corn tamales are made with fresh corn kernels, freshly minced white onion and jalapeño, roasted plum tomatoes and garlic, freshly seared shrimp, queso fresco and a fresh-made heavy-cream-and-chipotle adobo. You get the idea: This is one fresh-tasting tamale.
268 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-779-4747, Alamexo.com
Best Diner with Diversity
Tea Rose Diner
There are diners, and then there are diners. Tea Rose Diner is unlike any other we've ever encountered. Picture a mom & pop joint with an American diner look and feel, with menu items such as pancakes, hash browns, garlic burgers, Reuben sandwiches, macaroni & cheese, PB&J and tuna melt. Then add killer Thai food, plus 70 varieties of tea. That's Tea Rose Diner, where for breakfast your mate can enjoy banana pancakes while you dig into a Thai omelet. It's an eclectic diner with a difference.
65 E. Fifth Ave. (4880 South), Murray, 801-685-6111, TeaRoseDiner.net
Best Park City Patio
One of the best spots in Park City to dine and drink al fresco is the patio deck at Terrace Café, St. Regis in Deer Valley. In winter, it's the perfect place for après-ski cocktails. In summer, gourmet soups, salads, sandwiches, signature cocktails, brews, and a terrific wine list accompany breathtaking mountain views. Year round, don't miss the dramatic Garden of Fire, or the saber-shearing demonstration—you'll wonder why you ever bothered opening a Champagne bottle any other way. Weekends, enjoy the magical voice of Joy Tlou as the duo Joy & Eric perform in the afternoons.
2300 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, 435-940-5700, StRegisDeerValley.com/terrace-cafe
Best Local Food Service
Nicholas & Co.
When Nicholas Mouskondis founded what would become Nicholas & Co.—selling produce and canned goods from the back of a truck—he couldn't possibly have envisioned how what he planted in 1939 would bear fruit in 2015. Today, the Salt Lake City-based food distribution company has grown to the point that it is opening a second distribution center in Las Vegas. But what keeps local chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and others returning to Nicholas & Co. decade after decade is the love and care with which the Mouskondises operate their business. If you only knew how many local eateries might have perished were it not for the generosity of the Nicholas & Co.! It is a Utah treasure.
Best Eclectic Apps
Caught in an appetizer rut? The place to go is Ogden's Two-Bit Street restaurant—it's got appetizers with attitude. Take, for example, Bill's Scotch eggs, named for owner Penny Allred's notorious brother Bill, of X96's Radio From Hell fame: hard-boiled eggs fried in a sausage-breadcrumb casing, served with a variety of mustards. And who wouldn't love the ploughman's lunch, a nifty cheese selection served with crackers and breads, chutney, fruit and a Branston pickle. Hummus, smoked salmon crostini, steamed clams, wild lump-crab cakes and souvlaki are just a few of the unusual apps at Two-Bit Street.
126 25th Street, Ogden, 801-393-1225, TwoBitStreet.com
Best Oven Cookery
The Brass Tag
At Deer Valley's Brass Tag, virtually everything is cooked in the restaurant's big brick oven, at temperatures on average ranging from 500 degrees to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. From that oven come dishes as varied as oven-roasted whole quail rubbed with Indian-style tandoori spices; cast-iron shrimp skillets with tail-on shrimp and a choice of sauces; steamed clams served in a Portuguese cataplana; and a warm, chewy, chocolate-chip cookie, which arrives in its own iron skillet with a side of ice cream. Now that's making good use of an oven!
2900 Deer Valley Drive, Park City, 435-615-2410, DeerValley.com
Best Chocoholic Spree
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
Tony Caputo's Market & Deli has long been known as a purveyor of fine imported and local artisan cheeses and meats with a spectacular selection of olive oils and vinegars, pastas, fresh deli meals and much more. Caputo's also offers one of the largest selections of premium chocolate in the country. Ranging from locally produced Amano, Solstice and Ritual chocolates to world-renowned makers such as Blanxart, Michel Cluizel, Domori, Amedei, Francois Pralus and Chocolatier Blue, Caputo's selection makes it a must-stop shop for every chocoholic.
314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com
Best Whiskey Ginger Beer
It's not exactly a secret, but it's not an official drink on the menu. No matter—it's made with Fever Tree ginger beer and one of Piper's more than 45 types of whiskey. Served in a copper mug like the traditional Moscow Mule, this refreshing and tantalizing drink packs the sharp punch of ginger. For extra credit, go on Wednesday or Sunday for karaoke or Geeks Who Drink, an unholy evening of pub trivia. Other events include Texas Hold'em Poker on Monday and Breaking Bingo on Thursday.
1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com
Best Local Disney Treat
Dole Whip at Megaplex Jordan Commons
Disneyland regulars crave their favorite park snacks, from churros to smoked turkey legs. And then there's Dole Whip soft-serve. Guests line up at the park's Enchanted Tiki Room just for a taste of pineapple goodness, but you don't have to book a flight to Anaheim to enjoy them. The snack bar at the Megaplex Jordan Commons movie theaters in Sandy proffers the treat, making the time between vacations a little more bearable—and making Sandy perhaps the second happiest place on earth.
9400 S. State, Sandy, MegaplexTheatres.com
Best Dim Sum
Red Maple Chinese Restaurant
It is said that, when it comes to dim sum—that small-bites style of Chinese dining—"You win some; you lose some." But there's no losing at Red Maple, which has an eye-popping array of dim sum delights on weekends, and an "anytime" menu of popular dim sum items that are available throughout the week. Authentic items like beef tripe and chicken feet are available, but those who are not so adventurous can play it safe with delectable tidbits such as beef chow fun, steamed barbecue pork buns, shrimp dumplings, siu mai and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. And, even if you're not in a dim sum frame of mind, there's always General Tso's chicken.
2882 W. 4700 South, Taylorsville, 801-747-2888, RedMapleChinese.com
Kimi's Chop & Oyster House
At the gorgeous Kimi's Chop & Oyster House in Sugar House, one of the main attractions—in addition to excellent food and drink—is Kimi herself. Owner Kimi Eklund treats every customer like a VIP and roams her restaurant spreading hospitality and warmth throughout it. Whether you've just dropped in for a lingonberry poached-pear salad or you're celebrating by going whole hog at dinner, you can count on Kimi to make sure your visit is memorable.
2155 S. Highland Dr., Salt Lake City, 801-946-2079, KimisHouse.com
Best ON-THE-GO Party BBQ
Pat Barber is one of the more highly regarded pit masters in Utah—and maybe the nation, considering that Pat's Barbecue appeared on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Most everyone by now has opted for a meal of Pat's brisket, pork ribs or chicken. And nearly as many have eaten that meal while listening to some great porch music offered by a bevy of local, eclectic bands and musicians, especially of the old-timey country kind. But, if you can't make it to Pat's or if you simply want to impress everyone at the next tailgate party, go for Pat's Barbecue in a Box. Just fill out an order form selecting from the full array of Pat's offerings (remember to allow at least 48 hours advance time), and you can satisfy any size party, side dishes and cutlery included. No fuss, no Muss—except at Ute games.
155 W. Commonwealth Ave. (2125 South), Salt Lake City, 801-484-5963, PatsBBQ.com
Best Scratch Bakery
By now, everybody knows about the incredible pizzas, burgers, and desserts like the wood-fired bread pudding at From Scratch. And, we know that virtually everything here is made from scratch, including the burger buns, ketchup and pizza dough. The flour is even milled right in-house. But did you know From Scratch also has a new Bake Shop? Yep. Now we can enjoy old-fashioned donuts, sandwich cookies, scones, mini-pies and decadent brioche cinnamon rolls with brown butter frosting ... all made from scratch!
62 E. Gallivan Ave. Salt Lake City, 801-961-9000, FromScratchSLC.com
Best Tri Tips
Bandits' American Grill
Not everyone prepares tri-tip steak to perfection. Indeed, most places just crank out some chewy protein resembling shoe leather, and call it a day. Not so at Bandits American Grill in Cottonwood Heights where the staff takes particular pride in its tri tip, among many excellent menu options. While locals are already keen to the grill's seriously good tri-tip sandwich and tri-tip salad, locals also know that winter is coming. That means Bandits' will soon be headquarters for serious chili eaters. The tri-tip steak at Bandits' (served seasonally) is second to none, but the chili is, perhaps, the best served anywhere.
3176 E. 6200 South, Cottonwood Heights, 801-944-0505, BanditsBBQ.com
Sichuan cooking is a delicate balance between salty, fiery, garlicky and slightly sweet flavors, and nobody in town does that balancing act better than Red House Chinese. Offsetting the heat of the chilies in Red House' crispy, spicy wok-fried pork ribs are fragrant ginger and Sichuan peppercorns—the latter imparting a subtle, lavender-like flavor. And, if you're searching for hard-to-find Sichuan dishes like Chongqing chicken with green onion, you've come to the right place.
1465 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-821-3622, RedHouseSLC.com
Best Of The Baltic Sea
Long ago, the original Finn's sat along Parley's way, high up 2100 South. The better access to skiing, you know, the favorite pastime of founder Finn Gurholt. Gurholt gave Utahns their first taste of Scandanavian fare. Today, Finn's (now relocated in the Sugar House core and operated by Finn, Jr), remains true to to the original in every way as Nordic touches dot his eclectic menu. A favorite for those wanting something a bit special for breakfast, try some of Finn's fine baked items after a plate of pittipanna hash--unique to Finn's.. From poached fish to fried chicken and back again, Finn's has been a Utah mainstay for decades and will be for decades more. 1624 S. 1100 East, 801-467-4000, FinnsCafe.net
Best Downtown Lunch Specials
The Green Pig Pub
A good, cheap lunch is hard to come by in downtown Salt Lake City—but the Green Pig Pub serves up tasty options every day of the week. Ranging from light $5 fare (BLTs, hot dogs, grilled-cheese sandwich & tomato soup combos, etc.) to heartier $10 items like the Sancho Burger (a substantial patty with pepper-jack cheese, chipotle aioli, bacon and grilled lime on the side), you'd be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck in the metro Salt Lake City area. The weekend breakfast buffet ($10-$12) is a huge draw as well.
31 E. 40 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-7441, TheGreenPigPub.com
Best Soccer Fan Succor
Dick N' Dixie's
A corner bar oozing with neighborhood charm, Dick n' Dixie's is also an Official Real Salt Lake Pub. This means, for home matches, the bar hosts pre-game parties before a bus leaves for Sandy's Rio Tinto Stadium. For away-matches, the bar hosts "watch" parties. So if what we described as a chill neighborhood bar happens to be a boisterous soccer-palooza when you visit, you'll know why. Luckily, bartender Holly Siddoway, pictured, knows how to keep the drinks flowing and the vibe relaxed. And when hunger pangs erupt, there's a food window, so you can order up tasty vittles from Blue Poblano next door.
479 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3556
Times may have changed since Prohibition, but don't tell Bar-X. Maintaining its old-timey feel, with back-lit liquor shelves and wagon-wheel chandeliers, it's known for serving Prohibition cocktails like the sidecar, French 75 and the Old Fashioned. It's got that special vibe—as if Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack might stride through the door any minute. Owned by Ty Burrell of ABC's Modern Family and his brother, Duncan, as well as other family members, it's the perfect place for a downtown nightcap.
155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287, BarXSaltLake.com
2. Whiskey Street
3. The Red Door
Best All-Ages Venue
With 16 years under their belts, Kilby has maintained one of the purest environments for youth to check out new music. Think about that for a moment: In a city filled with bars charging double-digit figures for concerts in rooms where no one will shut up while the music plays, Kilby has focused on younger audiences who don't just want new music, they thrive on it. It remains one of the few music venues in town whose success isn't derived from booking big names or serving big drinks—it comes from giving music lovers what they want: a damned good show.
741 S. 330 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3538, KilbyCourt.com
2. The Complex
3. Diabolical Records
Best Dive Bar
Living up to its tag line as "Utah's finest dive bar," we have to agree that Willie's does rock. It rocks hard. And that's not just for its $2 drink specials or 50-plus beer options. There's nothing quite like the outdoor patio Jenga table. If you're tired of hanging around those uptight joints where the bartenders sneer if you order a Bud Light, head down to Willie's, whose management is proud to tout that it does, in fact, have working central AC.
1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 760-828-7351, WilliesLounge.com
2. X-Wife's Place
3. Twilite Lounge
Best Dance Club
Some go to Area 51 for the techno; others go for the live DJs. Most people probably know this 10-year-old club for its theme nights. Yes, it's got both '80s nights and '90s nights—it runs the gamut—but, truly, Area 51 hosts an array of happenings, including 18-and-over events, catering to just about every taste imaginable. Perhaps the most notorious is the Fetish Ball on the last Saturday of every month, when Area 51's three dance floors, three patios and two full bars are host to fetish vendors, exotic burlesque, cage dancing, sexy bondage and piercing demonstrations. Not for the faint of heart.
451 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-534-0819, Area51SLC.com
2. The Metro
Best Gay Club
It's not easy to find that perfect balance between edgy and pretentious, wild and out-of-control, but Club Jam, in the heart of the Marmalade District, has pinpointed that sweet spot. Originally just a beer tavern—whose quest to obtain a liquor license reached epic heights, thanks to Utah laws and some authorities who may not have liked the idea of another hot spot for LGBT folks—Jam is fully liquored now, and the rainbow-tinged club is a great place to get your groove on. Welcoming LGBT, straight and cis clientele, Club Jam is spreading the fabulous.
751 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-382-8567, JamSLC.com
2. The Sun Trapp
Best Cheap Drinks
Cheers to You
It's getting harder and harder to stretch your dollars in downtown Salt Lake City, so thank goodness for Cheers to You, where $20 goes a long way, and you're pretty much guaranteed to make at least five new friends the first time you show up. This dive bar has that homey feeling, and is a favorite for locals in the mood to enjoy the privacy of its high-back red-and-gold booths, shoot pool in the back room or just belly up to the bar. If you're a well-behaved regular, you may even be asked to be a member of the Mug Club, meaning you will have your own mug hanging on the wall when you come in.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400, CheersToYouSLC.com
2. Willie's Lounge
3. X-Wife's Place
Best Pool Joint
Fats Grill & Pool
Once again, Fats Grill in Sugar House drops the eight ball on the competition. This local favorite features seven pool tables, and not only a fully stocked bar, but a recently expanded menu with some impressive homemade pizzas (try the tomato, basil and chicken). Fats also hosts a lot of musicians on its stage—but never fear, pool sharks: The layout is specifically designed so patrons rack 'em up and sink 'em without worrying about some errant cue smacking a music lover in the face.
2182 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9467, FatsGrillSLC.com
2. Johnny's on Second
3. The Canyon Inn
It's hard not to find people singing at Tavernacle, even when it's not karaoke night. The popular 300 South dueling-piano bar with a name that makes locals chuckle is always packed Sundays for karaoke. But this isn't your grandpa's karaoke bar, and something about the place seems to attract many of the best (if slightly tipsy) singers in town. So grab a cocktail, grab the mic and belt it to the rafters!
201 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-519-8900, Tavernacle.com
2. The Highlander
3. Piper Down
Best Date Night
Red Butte Garden Concert Series
What a beautiful, romantic spot to take your beau: Red Butte Garden is snuggled against the mountains in northeast Salt Lake City, and the view of the valley below is as breathtaking as Red Butte Garden itself. During the summer, it's a primo place for concerts, not only because it's an unbelievably beautiful spot to appreciate music, but because the lineup is curated to appeal to a wide demographic. You can bring outside food & drink, so if your cup of tea is wine and cheese, you're welcome to it. Beer and pasta? That's fine, too. And the garden doesn't just host musical events; movies, games and exhibits are on the schedule.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556, RedButteGarden.org
2. Brewvies Cinema Pub
3. The Paint Mixer
Best Pub Quiz
Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz
In a city flooded with out-of-state pub quiz nights, one locally made evening stands alone atop the hill of geeky knowledge and empty steins. Every Wednesday night at Lucky 13, Shannon Barnson and Bryan Young put together funny and obnoxious trivia nights, fueled with attitude that it's not whether you win or lose—it's how much you laugh as you quench your thirst. Players face eight rounds of enigmatic brainteasers difficult enough to be genuinely challenging. But to make sure nobody forgets it's all in fun, the hosts lighten the mood with signature mantras such as "you may not know all the answers" and "don't be a dick." Appealing to beer aficionados, burger fans and trivia freaks alike, The Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz has solved that midweek "where should we go tonight?" conundrum.
Lucky 13, 135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, Wednesday nights, 8:30 p.m.
2. Geeks Who Drink
3. Adult Trivia, Green Pig Pub
Best Live Music Club
The Urban Lounge
Never heard of Zion I, Pearl Charles or Fice Lords? If not, don't worry—you will soon. The Urban Lounge has built an impressive reputation for featuring bands before they make it. It's an impressive space reminiscent of the early Ramones era—that is, if that era had today's cutting-edge sound, lighting, video and production technology. Catch the early show, then run next door to Urban's sister establishment, Rye, for a sandwich. Then head back for the late show.
241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com
2. The State Room
3. The Depot
Best Cocktails + Tunes
Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too—if that "cake" is a world-class craft cocktail and top-flight live music to go with it. Check out the alcoholic alchemy goin' on below ground level on upper Main Street in Park City, led by magician of drinks and revivalist of classic cocktails Christopher Panarelli, bar manager Jacob Hall, and their slate of slingers at O.P. Rockwell. Musical artists like Steve Earle, Tab Benoit, Colin Hay and Justin Townes Earle provide the sonic backdrop to an intimate, friendly setting to create the ideal mise-en-scène for imbibing some killer cocktails.
268 Main, Park City, 435-615-7000, OPRockwell.com
Best Ogden Club
There's nothing better than a bar with a little history, and you can't top Alleged's honest claim that the building was once a brothel. Ogden natives know all about it, but if you're among the uninitiated, amazing views from the rooftop bar, along with the bar's high-energy vibe, make Alleged a must-go stop whenever you're driving through O-Town (Salt Lakers take note: It's within walking distance of FrontRunner).
201 25th St., Ogden, 801-990-0692, Alleged25th.com
3. Funk 'n Dive
Best Sports Bar
Can't decide between watching the Utes, Real or the Aggies? The answer is Lumpy's. With two locations, downtown and Sugar House, Lumpy's is well known as the best sports bar in the valley. Its multiple massive screens are guaranteed to have every local game on screen. Those who relish the more traditional bar diversions may enjoy free pool and beer pong. A tip for newcomers: If you plan to root for a certain Utah County team, don't expect to make many friends. Drinks have been spilled over less.
145 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-883-8714; 3000 S. Highland Drive, 801-484-5597, Salt Lake City; LumpysBar.com
2. 'Bout Time
3. Legends Sports Pub
Best New Downtown Social Spot
The Exchange Place space formerly known as The Lazy Moon sat unoccupied for nearly a decade until summer 2015, when nightclub/restaurant Twist opened in the unique multi-level venue. In addition to fencing off the sizable patio area—much to the chagrin of local wedding photographers—the interior of the former 19th-century boiler room has been given a sleek makeover that is at once classic and modern. Same goes for its specialty drink menu, expansive beer and wine lists and food that has patrons raving. There's no club like this in Utah; you've got to see (and taste) it for yourself.
32 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3200, TwistSLC.com
Best Park City Club
No Name Saloon
Whether you're fresh off the winter slopes or sunburned from riding the Alpine Slide in summer months, don't forget to drop into the No Name Saloon on Main Street when you're done. Grab a cold pint and an amazing buffalo burger. Then ponder the meaning of the motorcycle and torpedo suspended above your head before heading upstairs to the rooftop patio to watch the mountain sunset. No Name has a big reputation for welcoming all comers, and that's certainly reflected in its eclectic clientele.
447 Main, Park City, 435-649-6667, NoNameSaloon.net
2. Park City Live
3. O.P. Rockwell
Best Artisanal Cocktails
The Bourbon House
This modern speakeasy with jazz music and mood lighting is where relaxed, classy people can spend a relaxed, classy, alcohol-filled evening. The atmosphere and decent selection of food bring the sybarites down those Bourbon House steps, but it's the artisanal cocktails that keep them there. The bartenders genuinely love what they do, constantly striving to surprise and delight customers. Try the Blood & Sand, a whiskey cocktail, smoky, bitter and sweet; the Game Changer, a refreshing absinthe cocktail, both sour and minty.
19 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005, BourbonHouseSLC.com
Best Urban Campsite
Campfire Lounge is a relaxed atmosphere where people can hang out, eat, drink and enjoy a dog-friendly patio with three fire pits. Campfire Lounge offers camping favorites like hot dogs, comfort food like chicken and waffles and three different kind of s'mores: original, peanut butter and Nutella. And of course, there are the famous hobo dinners: chopped sirloin, chicken, bratwurst, grilled trout or tofu, all served with vegetables and wrapped in a charred foil packet. Wash it all down with a s'mores-tini, huckleberry lemonade or Moscow mule.
837 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3325, CampfireLounge.com
Best Special-Occasions Bar
With a relaxing yet convivial atmosphere, professional and friendly servers, and lots of space (the club layout provides spaces for groups of nearly any size on either of two floors), this clean and comfortable downtown gastropub has become a favorite destination for grown-up group outings both large and small. Whether you're having a birthday celebration, bachelorette party or staff soiree, Gracie's will treat you and your guests right. The food is excellent (nearly every group starts of with a plate of Gracie's award-winning nachos, and in good weather, the spacious decks and patios (the largest and busiest in downtown Salt Lake City) are available for a very mirthful, al fresco shindig.
Gracie's Bar, 326 S. West Temple, 801-819-7565, GraciesSLC.com
Best Rock & Jock Bar
Local rockers Royal Bliss may not get much respect for their music from Salt Lake City's hipster intelligentsia, but their now 2-year-old Millcreek club, The Royal, deserves props for pulling off the tricky combo of rock nightclub/sports bar without skimping on either—and with a killer menu, to boot. If you rock too hard the night before, come back the next day for the Hangover Cure Burger: 8 ounces of ground sirloin topped with eggs & bacon. These rockers have been touring for years; they know how to rock and rally.
4760 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-590-9940, TheRoyalSLC.com
Best Moving Dance Party
Provo Yacht Club
In all the communities in all of Utah, it's fitting that Provo is the one known for its underground dance parties—after all, if any town knows how to have a wild time while staying under the radar, it's P-Town. The Provo Yacht Club was founded on the principle of bringing proper dance-club music every month to a random location in Utah County. Shows often highlight up-and-coming local DJs, who bring their own mixes and personal choices to the party—so no two shows are ever the same. You'll want to shine up your dancing shoes.
Best Northern Utah BrewPub
Roosters Brewing Co.
This favorite brew pub has locations in both Layton and O-Town. What is exceptional is Roosters' selection of flavorful ales and brews, as well as its very respectable culinary menu. You'll crow about the jambalaya and the fresh Atlantic salmon rules the roost. In fact, the seafood selection is so tasty, it belies the nature of our landlocked desert state. Both the pepper-jack shrimp and the fish tacos are through the roof. But clearly, beer is at the top of the pecking order here: Try the Hellevation IPA: floral, but not too bitter, it'll make a convert out of the most fervent hoppy-beer naysayer.
Roosters Brewing Co., 253 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171; 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9330, RoostersBrewingCo.com
Best Whiskey Bar
Home to Salt Lake City's largest selection of bourbon, rye, Scotch, Canadian and American whiskeys, it's no mystery why Whiskey Street is named the city's best whiskey bar. But man cannot live on whiskey alone, so there's also a head-spinning selection of local and imported beers and ciders, an eye-popping cocktail menu (who knew there were 10 different ways to mix a Moscow mule?), a terrific wine list and award-winning food. Still, if it's whiskey you're after, this is the place.
323 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1371, WhiskeyStreet.com
Best New Concert Series
Ogden Twilight Concert Series
The city of Ogden decided to bank on the success of the Salt Lake City series, when on four consecutive Thursdays in June, it threw a sick party that, in more ways than one, upstaged its older muse. The concerts, held at the great-sounding Ogden Amphitheater, were a cheaper and less chaotic way to spend an evening than the larger iteration in Pioneer Park, and were eerily reminiscent of Salt Lake City's concerts a decade ago. Tickets cost $5, but doubled as a free transit pass on FrontRunner. It helped that Built to Spill (the greatest band on earth), headlined the first show on June 4. Hopefully, Ogden will extend their offerings next year.
Best 20 Images & 20 Seconds
Started in Tokyo in 2003 as a vehicle for architects, designers and other creative types to exchange information in a short, concise format, PechaKucha (Japanese for "chit chat") nights are now staged in 700+ cities worldwide. Presenters stick to the 20 x 20 format—20 slides shown for 20 seconds—but beyond this constraint, the sky is the limit as participants share their passion. Salt Lake City architects Tristan Shepherd and Nathan Webster founded a "PK" chapter in 2010, and events are held three to five times a year with fascinating locals (chefs, designers, historians, artisans, scientists, musicians, etc.), great food and drinks, all presented at hip venues like Publik Coffee, SLAC and The State Room.
Best New Music Venue in Orem
The Stereo Room
Earlier this year, after a major venue closed and others began scaling back dates, it seemed as if Utah County's music scene was heading toward a drought. Then, The Stereo Room in Orem opened up a fantastic venue—complete with its own recording studio. In short order, the space became a new all-ages hub catering to those disenfranchised by Provo's venue system, and gave Orem its own venue at last. The Utah County music scene thrives because people are willing to cultivate it, and give it space to grow.
521 N. 1200 West, Orem, 714-345-8163, TheStereoRoom.com
Best Sugar house Buddy Bar
The Tap Room
They just don't make neighborhood bars like they used to. The Tap Room is so good at being a neighborhood bar that no matter where it might move, the neighborhood moves right along with it. Famously "Making Hangovers Since 1947," this Sugar House icon recently moved to its third location in recent memory. And the Tap Room faithful are following along. Housed in the space once occupied by Este Pizza, Tap Room customers can now enjoy an outdoor patio, so now you can get some fresh air to go along with that fresh and friendly vibe.
2021 S. Windsor St., 801-484-6692
Best Neighorhood Martini Bar
Whoda thunk: Dirty martinis in the squeaky clean suburbs? Well, first of all, let's dispel the notion that you can't get a classy drink in the 'burbs. Holladay is practically bursting at the seams with hip eateries and gathering spots. And not only is Elixir Lounge one of Holladay's friendliest bars, it's also one of the trendiest. Conveniently located next to Trio, you can order a fabulous Trio meal and have it delivered to you at the bar, while you pair it with a lip-smacking martini, or an Asian Pear Cosmopolitan. All while enjoying live music or a football game on TV.
6405 S. 3000 East, Holladay, 801-943-1696, ElixirLoungeSLC.com
Junior's Tavern is an intimate downtown bar, but more often than not, it is buzzing with an uncanny magnetism bringing together the city's hip, humble, literate, notorious and celebrated. On any given night, you may encounter a TV personality sipping a brew in between news broadcasts, a famous NPR radio journalist holding court and a star of Antiques Roadshow discussing the dire condition of humanity. This unassuming watering hole on 300 South is the perfect hideaway offering cocktails and conversation to those who are on their way to change the world.
30 E. 300 South, 801-322-0318, JuniorsTavern.com
Best BEERS AT TEMPLE SQUARE
the Beerhive PUB
Technically, it's a block away, which makes The Beerhive the nearest Salt Lake City bar from Temple Square—and yet neither local landmark promotes the fact as a selling point. Not that The Beerhive needs much selling: With more than 200 beers from lands far and wide, a classic tavern vibe and, yes, the infamous ice rail, this bar would be a hit anywhere. After a long day of sightseeing at Temple Square, what would hit the spot better than a craft brew?|
128 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4268
Best Sunday Brunch Music
Club 90 is as big as clubs come in Utah. And on Sunday, just like every other club in town you can count on a room full of noisy sports fans (e.g., the black & yellow-attired Steel City Mafia) cheering on their favorite teams behind any number of Club 90 TVs (and also behind an array of Club 90 food). Oh, and there's live music, too: Each Sunday from noon-3 p.m., Utah's busiest jazz combo, the Mark Chaney Trio, performs for the brunch crowd. Longtime area drummer Chaney performs all over town with an array of talented musicians like Keven Johansen, Walt Gregory, Harold Carr and Michael Case, but his Sunday afternoons belong to Club 90. Later on, there might be a bluegrass session—or maybe a DJ will get the crowd onto the dance floor. It's an unexpected mix—jazz, football, food and bluegrass—but, at Club 90, those four things, taken together, add up to one perfect experience.
9065 S. Monroe St., Sandy, 801-566-3254, Club90SLC.com
Best Neighborhood Hangout
East Liberty Tap House
This new restaurant and tavern is not to be missed. With upscale comfort food like pastrami burgers and fish tacos, East Liberty Tap House is way more than a sleek atmosphere. It has a beautiful patio for warmer months and an inviting indoor dining area when the temperatures begin to drop. Don't let the small selection of beers fool you—East Liberty Tap House selects their favorite six beers of the season, so even the most discerning drinker can find something he or she loves. You can order a cocktail, too. Be sure to finish everything off with the homemade butterscotch pudding.
850 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City,801-441-2845, EastLibertyTaphouse.com
Best Nightclub of the Future
It may feel like a dance club from the set of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but ambitious new entertainment venue Sky is a homegrown Salt Lake City reality today. The 15,000-square-foot Pierpont space features 14 garage doors that open, 20 VIP suites, a retractable roof, and sound and lights that have to be experienced to be believed—and, with its weekly themed dance nights and world-famous DJ sets, Sky offers plenty of opportunities. And to think it was all inspired by a trip to Burning Man.
149 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-883-8714, SkySLC.com
Best Customer Specials
The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill
It's not always easy finding good food and drink at a good price. But, at the Huddle, patrons can find over-the-counter savings seven days a week. First, the food: If you're hungry, you can save $2 on entrees each weekday from 11 a.m-2 p.m. And, all week long, there are low-priced specials, such as $5.99 wings on Monday and a $7.99 steak sandwich on Thursday. But the liquid savings are what's really special here. The weekly rundown: Mug Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesday, All's Well Thursday, Absolutely Friday, Saloon Saturday and Sunday Funday. Per Utah laws, there's no such thing as "Happy Hour" and there never was (you must be dreaming of an imaginary land where businesses occasionally set aside certain times for special beverage prices). In Utah, clubs serving specials must keep that special price all day long. So, to use a phrase not often heard: Thanks, Utah liquor laws!
2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-438-8300, TheHuddleSportsBar.com
Best Family-Friendly Sports Bar
Legends Sports Pub
Everyone loves a sports bar. What's not to like about nachos, messy wings and your favorite team on TV? Unfortunately, most sports bars don't allow minors—a huge disadvantage to a coach thirsty for a beer after his son's game. But Legends is a place where the entire family is warmly welcomed to an authentic pub with a grown-up atmosphere utterly devoid of the annoying phony gimmicks that are the specialty of its national-chain counterparts. Separate rooms are ideal for team dinners, awards parties and banquets. Come to think of it, during the Ohio State vs. Michigan State game Nov. 21, separate rooms might be the best way to maintain peace between Buckeye fans and Spartans.
677 S. 200 West, 801-355-3598, WhyLegends.com
Best New Ogden Club
Funk 'n Dive
Ogden has one of the most diverse and vibrant nightlife scenes in Utah; it's so cool, it's difficult not to envy the people funky enough to call O-Town their own town. The latest in Ogden cool is the Funk 'n Dive Bar. Just steps from Ogden's famous 25th Street on Washington Boulevard, Funk 'n Dive made a big impression right from the start, thanks in no small part to a partnership between two of Salt Lake City's most respected club proprietors: Bridget Gordon (Green Pig Pub) and David Morris (Piper Down, Ice Haus). That in itself offers a clue to what you can find at Funk 'n Dive: affordable drinks, a cool basement club (formerly the Wine Bar), funky stained-glass, live jazz and "tatchos"—a signature delicacy so tasty, it's a wonder nobody ever thought of serving tater tots topped with nacho cheese, salsa and jalapeño before.
2550 S. Washington Blvd., 801-621- 3483, FunkAndDive.com
Best Theater Makeover
Sugarhouse Movies 10
Plenty of people love the experience of seeing a movie in a theater, but they also prefer the comfort of their own plush chairs and couches at home. Cinemark took the Sugar House location, which, until recently was a second-run theater, and gave it a major renovation, turning it into one of their 17 nationwide "Luxury Lounger" theaters. Now you can sink back into a recliner, lift up the foot rest, tuck a beverage into the cup holder and pretend you're seeing a brand-new release with all the comfort of your living room.
2227 S. Highland, 801-466-3699, Cinemark.com
Best New Downtown Entertainment Venue
Club at 50 West
For a metropolitan area, downtown Salt Lake City doesn't have much live entertainment. Fortunately, 50 West started filling that void when it opened in 2014. The modern, moderately sized venue showcases the occasional local and touring bands, but it's really made its mark as a room for name stand-up comics who previously wouldn't have had anywhere in the heart of the city to book a set. Bonus: During daylight hours, the adjacent 50 West Cafe is one of downtown's best-kept breakfast and lunch secrets.
50 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-961-1033, 50WestSLC.com
Best Art & Wine
The Paint Mixer
Unleashing your inner artist isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels terribly solitary, and requires a little loosening up before the creative juices flow. The Paint Mixer—with locations in Sugar House and Park City—understands how to make the activity fun and friendly. A two-hour session includes instruction in how to re-create your own version of a classic work (or create your own), combined with music, social time with other attendees and your choice of adult beverage. You walk away with your own work of art, and the feeling that making it was part of a party.
1327 E. 2100 South, 801-484-0282; 738 Main, Park City, 435-604-0820;
Best Surprising Comedy Venue
It may serve as a comedy venue on occasion, but there's nothing funny about the food here. Feldman's Deli is well-known for dishing up Salt Lake City's most authentic, East Coast-style deli fare. The fresh bagels are some of the best in town; and Jewish classics like knishes, gefilte fish, kishka, matzo-ball soup and overstuffed deli sandwiches rule the roost. Every now and then, Feldman's goes from serious to slapstick hosting special evenings of entertainment called, "Old Jews Telling Jokes." Sort of a haimish open-mic night, you don't have to pass an audition (or even be Jewish) to take the stage, tell a joke and get $5 off your meal. Such a deal! Now, did you hear the one about ...
2005 E. 2700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0369, FeldmansDeli.com
Best New Slice of Germany
Previous occupant 5 Monkeys was a fine Murray neighborhood club, but now Piper Down's Dave Morris has done it one better by adding a fantastisch menu of German fare ranging from oversize brats and burgers to wings and poutine fries—and, of course, a whole lotta beers. The Ice Haus also hosts comedy shows and an eclectic mix of live music on the weekends, as well as an on-theme Saturday-Sunday brunch that that can fill up meat-lovers and vegans alike.
7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127, IceHausBar.com
Best Long-Lived Live Venue
Only a handful of Salt Lake City clubs have been consistently booking live music and retained their names since the early '90s. And this year, valley veteran Liquid Joe's has become even more aggressive in its booking. In addition to the indefatigable Saturday-night '80s act The Spazmatics, along with local hard-rockers to round out the week, Liquid Joe's has snagged a few unexpected touring headliners recently—Macy Gray and The Iron Maidens, to name but two in November. Ask any local music fan who turned 21 during the Age of Grunge: Liquid Joe's was one of the best Utah clubs to catch a band, unknown or not—and it still is today.
1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5637, LiquidJoes.net
Best Dance Lessons
DF Dance Studio
Not even 10 years old, DF Dance Studio has cemented its status as the No. 1 place along the Wasatch Front for dance lessons. Feeling the urge to put the "tang" in tango, or the "hip" in hip-hop? Look no farther than DF Dance Studio, where the variety and style of classes is unmatched. If you're not sure of your step, and not ready for dancing with strangers, try a private lesson. Wanting to get your darling boy off on the right foot? Enroll him in a kids' class. Feeling that not even Dancing With the Stars can trip you up? DF offers competitive dance classes as well. Look for the popular DF dancing nights like the twice-montly Latin and salsa dance socials. Foxtrot, swing, two-step—as they say: If you can walk, you can dance.
2978 S. State, 801-466-0490, DFDanceStudio.com
Best Good-Times Time Machine
Opened in 1962, by now the famous Westerner (billed as Utah's Biggest and Baddest Dance Hall & Grill) has served at least three or four generations of Utahns hellbent on having a good time. When it comes to good times, few places deliver the goods like the Westerner. You can choose: sit in a nightclub and drink all night and never meet a soul outside the miserable group you came in with, or get up off your butt and have fun in club that has good times written all over it. The art of dancing (when people talk, touch and move about) is not lost at the Westerner, which boasts Utah's largest dance floor (dance lessons every Wednesday), nor is the art of mechanical bull-riding (Friday nights is bikini bull riding—check!) or the art of live music, with sets played by the area's best country acts, plus occasional concert performances. The Westerner is a genuine throwback to a time when people went out to have a good time, not just to sit around. There's a lot to be said about a bar that has lasted this long. It's not trendy, it's real.
3360 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-972-5447, WesternerSLC.com
Best Alternative Percussion
On the streets of bigger cities, bucket drummers are not an unusual sight as they bang out rhythmic fury for tips. Salt Lake City dips its toes into the street-performer game with Salt Lake Alternative Percussion (or "SLAPercussion" on the streets). They pound out their jungle and hip-hop beats on paint buckets, garbage cans, kitchen pots and lids, PVC pipe and even heating vents. Some say percussion's role is to add danceability to a song—but these dudes prove that a drum fill (even without the benefit of an actual drum) can be played sans melody or harmony, and remain complex enough to stand on its own funky, entertaining feet.
Best Cash Bar
A Bar Named Sue
There was a time when Salt Lake City simply could not have contained more than one whiskey bar with a Johnny Cash bent. Thankfully for residents on the southern edge of the city, that time ain't now. Both the original Highland Drive and newer State Street locations of A Bar Named Sue embody the best traits of neighborhood bars: casual atmosphere, tasty pub grub (including burger dedications to The Man in Black, such as The Highwayman, The San Quentin and The Ring of Fire). They also have a commitment to live music that few clubs exhibit anymore. And, yes, there are plenty of whiskeys to choose from.
3928 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-274-5578; 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222, ABarNamedSue.net
Best Music Hall
When The Depot opened over a decade ago, it seemed unlikely that Salt Lake City could support such a large hybrid concert venue/nightclub; now, the ever-growing list of bands and artists who've hit the joint's stage rivals or eclipses most every other venue in the state. Give credit to owners/veteran Utah promoters United Concerts for doing it right from the beginning and never letting quality (either in the room or the bookings) slip one iota. If your favorite band ever plays The Depot—and they probably will—don't miss it.
400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5522, DepotSLC.com
Best Return of Downtown Laughter
Wiseguys at the Gateway
Ever since Wiseguys Comedy Club departed its Trolley Square location, the downtown Salt Lake City area has felt the absence of a venue for regular weekend showcases for local and touring comedians. But the laughs are returning as owner and funnyman himself Keith Stubbs brings the Wiseguys name to a new location at the southeast corner of the Gateway, taking over the spot that most recently was the home of the short-lived Dopo jazz club. It's a welcome shot of live-performance energy for the Gateway and a chance to add some laughs to a night on the town in Salt Lake City.
194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, WiseguysComedy.com
Best Flag Bearer
It's just a hole in the wall on 900 South, yet, for many, Chuckle's is an institution. With its collections of flags hanging from the ceiling, pool tables and juke box, it has the slightly dissolute air of a dive—blink and you miss it when you drive by—but its friendly bar staff is keenly aware that some patrons aren't flush with cash. So you get a quick rundown of the canned beer bargains, with emphasis on the bargains. After a couple of cans of PBR and some fries whipped up by the bartender, the world seems a better place—and, when it's time to leave, you look forward to your return.
221 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1721
Best Daily Doubles
Johnny's on Second
To clarify, this doesn't mean Johnny's serves double drinks, that's still illegal in Utah—for the time being. Johnny's is on 200 South, that's double. Johnny's also serves its well-known $4 shot and a beer nightly, so that's double, too. Add in that Johnny's is equally well known for reasonably priced drinks across the board, and it's easy to understand why Johnny's goes by the motto "seven days, seven reasons." Its weekly lineup includes live local music and poker nights (Sunday and Thursday), where winners can earn some "Johnny Cash." Johnny's also boasts new bar trends like Breaking Bingo. Stop by for good times, and let their friendly staff double your pleasure. In time, you, too, will become part of the Johnny's family.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334, JohnnysOnSecond.com
Best Rock & Ribs
It's may be a bit hidden, but Devil's Daughter is one of the most spacious nightclubs—patio included—in downtown Salt Lake City, not to mention one of the best-kept BBQ secrets in the state. In addition to karaoke, pub-quiz nights and live rock & roll, Devil's Daughter boasts a full day-and-night menu of killer smoked-meat entrees to rock your taste buds—and it's inexpensive, especially on weekdays ($1 smoked-ribs Mondays, $1.50 Taco Tuesdays, 50-cent-wings Wednesdays, etc.). This is a true rockin' roadhouse.
533 S. 500 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1610, DevilsDaughterSLC.com
Best Votive Candles (Wink, Wink)
An incurious passerby might view the Bodega on Salt Lake City's busy Main Street as a kitschy convenience store dedicated to religious artifacts and knickknacks, and weirdly full of hipster drinkers. That indifferent person would probably just keep walking. But if he stopped, somehow managing to show some cred (like a reservation, or evidence he's damned friggin' cool), he'd be given secret passage (think speakeasy gin joints of the Prohibition era) to a basement dining club like no other in these parts. At The Rest, groovy patrons are treated to some of Salt Lake City's most creatively obscure and tasty dishes (Beer-can Chicken? Really!). Fair-priced craft cocktails abound (The Chiquita? Really!) Just whisper the word.
331 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4452, Bodega331.com
Best Jersey Boy Pizza
Maxwell's East Coast Eatery
Steve Maxwell's "Joisey" roots are of the same ilk as Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Ray Liotta and Mira Sorvino. Difference is, only Maxwell among them had the a hankering to shred Utah's steep slopes on his trusty snowboard. He came to ski and ended up staying—bringing with him a love for all things Italian, including his grandmother's memorable recipes and a chair from an Italian diner once run by his family. He opened Maxwell's in Kimball Junction, later adding a second location on Main Street in Salt Lake City. Now Utahns can partake of the same style Italian fare made famous by James Gandolfini on The Sopranos—mangiare robusto such as hearty East Coast style pizza, chicken & eggplant Parmigiana, lasagna, tortellini and that famous hot meatball sub. May the snow keep him around!
1456 Newpark Blvd., Park City, 435-647-0304; 357 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304, MaxwellsECE.com
Best Hump-Day Jams
Open Jam Night at The
"Jam night" at your favorite local bar doesn't always have to mean listening to rockers past their prime: Open Jam Night at The Woodshed has established itself as the weekly musical party in Salt Lake City. Every Wednesday, Jam Night regulars and newbies line up to sign up to hit the stage, exchange licks and simply rock out and explore uncharted sonic territory with new friends (and sometimes, future bandmates). Likewise, a baby band looking for some live experience can try out a couple of songs on Open Jam Night. Bring your guitar (or your instrument of choice) and get down.
60 E. 800 South, 801-364-0805, TheWoodshedSLC.com
Best Jazz Joint
Garage on Beck
It's not easy being a jazz (music) fan in Salt Lake City; there are few places to experience it live and in-person anymore. Fortunately, The Garage on Beck Street has stepped up with the Jazz Joint, a weekly "jazz artist exhibition" that sits in the pocket every Thursday night. The first installment of the month usually features Ogden saxophone legend Joe McQueen, while local artists like Mark Chaney, Alan Michael and others round out the calendar. Some cool blue notes and a helping of The Garage's Mormon Funeral Potatoes sounds like a swank combo.
1199 N. Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
Best Bar Munchies
Poplar Street Pub
If chowing down is a vital component to your nightclubbing routine, then consider Poplar Street Pub your venue of choice. It's a spacious downtown bar, with three large rooms and a roomy outdoor patio. As such, you can savor your grub wherever you like, at the back bar watching football, in the middle room playing pool, or in the front area grooving to live music. The burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches are made in-house with fresh ingredients—a step above "pub grub." In other words, prepare to be impressed. The appetizers, in particular, strike a chord: Artichoke & arugula dip, pub poppers (made with Medjool dates that are stuffed with almonds, wrapped in bacon and then deep-fried) and the pièce de résistance known as the Scotch egg have been known to jump-start an evening's fun. The question is, which of Poplar Street's cocktails, 30 beers or wines will you wash them down with?
242 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2715, PoplarStreetPub.com
Hog Wallow Pub
Up to the 1990s when housing developments encroached upon it and newcomer NIMBY neighbors nearly had the place shut down, what is now known as The Hog Wallow Pub was most certainly a hideaway—alone as it was, isolated in a little dell along Big Cottonwood Creek near the Old Mill that was thought to be haunted. No longer isolated and nearly surrounded by homes, the Hog Wallow still takes advantage of its surroundings with its famous outdoor patio that climbs a bit into the hillside, offering patrons secluded nooks perfect for an intimate tête-à-tête or a bit of privacy away from the hubbub of the valley. It really is a patio space like no other. But the Hog Wallow is more than a great patio. It also offers simple and tasty pub fare (including pizza), fairly priced cocktails and beer, and remains a key component for Utah's live-music scene with tunes bouncing off the walls four nights a week. This is where we go when we know it's time to unwind.
3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-733-5567, TheHogWallow.com
Best Intimate Concert Venue
The State Room
The seating at The State Room only allows for 300 people per show. While some clubs can seat that many or more, only the State Room (which offers full liquor service and snacks) is built primarily for one thing and one thing only: Music. And they only open when the muse—and the perfect act—suits them, which fortunately for Salt Lake is like Baby Bear's plate of porridge, just right. When that just right musical act comes to town, our city is treated to that special musician or band up-close and personal—the State Room was once a small theater, and its raked seating offers everyone a good view. The stage itself is spaced far enough away from the seating area to allow room for standing, or dancing, without blocking those still seated. A show at The State Room is a show remembered.
638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-596-3560, TheStateRoom.com
Goods & Services
Best Passive-Aggressive Greetings
The Mandate Press
Business cards are fine for business, but handing them around at social occasions is gauche. In eras past, people of good breeding used calling cards. The Mandate Press, owned by Ben Webster (pictured), has brought back this time-honored convention, adding a snarky twist: Sometimes an insult is just what is needed. Available in sets of 25, insult cards are printed on Crane's Lettra 110-pound stock in letterpress black ink impugning the recipient's parking skills or suggesting an anatomically unlikely act. Offend someone in style! Compliment cards ("You kick ass!") and pickup cards ("Breakfast?") are also available.
1077 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4868, TheMandatepress.com
Best Adult Store
The Blue Boutique
At The Blue Boutique, love is love—no one is hung up on orientation, race, kink or fetish. Whatever scene you're into, be it classy, furry, superhero, mega-racy or just about anything imaginable, Blue Boutique strives to meet your needs. Blue Boutique does piercings, too. But even if you're as vanilla as the cake at an Osmond birthday party, this friendly shop is a great place to suit up for a costume party, Valentine's Day or a bachelor/bachelorette bash. Of course, once you try on your gear in private, you might look so good, you'll want to take it for a night on the town at Area 51.
Multiple locations, BlueBoutique.com
2. The Dahlia Room
3. Cahoots Cards & Gifts
Capital City Antique Mall
One of the best things to come out of the Granary District's gradual revitalization is the Capital City Antique Mall, a corner shop full of oddities and random treasures you just know will make some lucky soul very happy. Read the shop's blog beforehand for a thoughtful perspective on seemingly any item that happened to inspire the owners' imaginations. You might not realize how much you need a porcelain chef spice rack or a Bakelite-handle umbrella until you see one—then you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
959 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-521-7207, CapitalCityAntique.com
2. Now & Again
3. The Green Ant
Best Bike Shop
The Bicycle Collective
As cities all along the Wasatch Front transform themselves into bicycle communities, bike shops are more than happy to sell a new set of wheels to anyone who walks through the door. But how many take the time to teach customers how to care for their bikes properly? The Bicycle Collective has led the charge to build a biking community that is not just bigger, but better and more resourceful. The wisdom of this strategy stands to reason: Cyclists educated about maintenance and safety are customers who remain healthy and stay on the road.
Multiple locations, BicycleCollective.org
2. Contender Bicycles
3. Saturday Cycles
Best Clothing Boutique
Everything about The Stockist is thought-out and stylish, with something for everybody: The women's selection is well curated, up-to-date and stylish, and it's men's department is redolent with a manly fragrance of pine and leather-bound books. The Stockist sells cosmetics for both ladies and gents, along with a surprising selection of accessories: watches, boots ... even motorcycle helmets. Whether the look you seek is hipster or woodsy, badass or Bohemian, The Stockist can help you out with brands like Iron & Resin Outpost, Scotch & Soda and dRA.
875 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-3458, TheStockistShop.com
2. Apt. 202
Best Vinyl/CD Shop
It's tough being a music lover these days—everywhere you go, the record labels seem to dictate our nation's increasingly narrow (and shallow) musical tastes. That's why independent record stores are still the way to go. Graywhale offers new and used CDs and vinyl, as well as "offload" music—those gems customers listened to in their misspent youths, and later cleared off the shelves to make room for more grown-up selections (which explains the existence of that curiously large Limp Bizkit section). Every life has a soundtrack and, with its vast selection and knowledgable staff, Graywhale can help you choose the best possible soundtrack for your life.
Multiple locations, FatFin.com
2. Randy's Record Shop
3. Diabolical Records
Best Comic Book Store
Black Cat Comics
For the comic-savvy, Black Cat has the largest selection of back issues in the valley. Monday through Saturday, the store is busy keeping a well-rounded collection of both popular and independent materials fully stocked. With its friendly, knowledgeable staff, you'll feel right at home. And, who knows? Those hours you spent poring over every detail of the Fall of Cthulhu or Sensation Comics No. 1 Featuring Wonder Woman may pay off should you strike up conversations with Black Cat clientele. Some of the world's best-loved graphic-novelists come here for signings, including DC Comics' Chad Hardin and Ben Templesmith of Dagon fame. Locals such as Ryan Ottley (Haunt, Image Comics) might show up, too.
Sugar House Shopping Center, 2261 S. Highland Drive, 801-461-4228, BlackCat-Comics.com
2. Dr. Volt's Comic Connection
3. The Nerd Store
Best Smoke Shop
Smoke Break Huka Outlet
Are you confused by diffusers? Mixed-up about Medwakhs? Don't know your dokha from your shisha? Talk to the folks at Smoke Break Huka Outlet—they'll set you aright without judgment or ridicule. If hookahs aren't your thing, incense sticks, beeswax candles and hand-blown glass items are on offer. Much of the glass is made locally, blown using lungfuls of that Salt Lake City air. Other locally made items include hemp wick—a sustainable alternative to cigar and cigarette lighters. It's easy to find: Just look for a larger-than-life mural depicting the hookah-smoking caterpillar from the 1951 Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
418 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 854 S. State, Salt Lake City; 801-532-9000
2. Borosyndicate Productions
3. Jeannie's Smoke Shop
Best Pet Store
The Dog's Meow
Expert staffers at The Dog's Meow know pet food. And, with such an extensive store inventory and just about every variety imaginable on the shelves, they've got to know their stuff. Pets with special dietary needs might benefit from corn-free, gluten-free or other options for pets with food sensitivities. Pick up some herbal supplements to put the pep in your pooch; and, if you and your cat are more apt to hug trees than climb them, why not try some environmentally friendly litter? The selection of pet toys and treats is fully stocked—who's a good boy?!—and the shop even offers a range of candles and gift items for the two-legged set. You're a good boy! 2047 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-468-0700; 866 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-501-0818; DogsMeow.com
2. Paw Paw's Dog Wash & Boutique
3. Mark's Ark Pet Store
Best Swimwear Label
Sapphire Coast Swim
Nyssa Pack had a dream to create swimwear that is fashionable and made with expert craftsmanship to stand the test of time. So, in 2012, Pack and her mother created Sapphire Coast Swim. Pack's designs run the gamut from modest to flashy, from sporty to chic. So, whether it's a red-white-and-blue two-piece, or a single in sea-foam with black highlights, you're sure to find a Sapphire Coast swimsuit that will fit both your personality and your smokin' swimmer's bod. You'll look so good, you may never want to go back to dry land.
The King's English Bookshop
Spending a quiet afternoon browsing bookshelves and leafing through the pages of a likely-looking volume is an activity ideally suited to a cool and comfortable bookstore. And The King's English Bookshop is Salt Lake City's bookstore par excellence. From outside, it resembles a cottage residence, and in this case, appearances do not deceive: Once inside, you find the shop divided into rooms stacked floor-to-ceiling with books. And what an extensive selection of books it is! New releases rub spines with classics, while a robust selection of nonfiction keeps good company with early-edition and antique gems. The shop's domestic coziness lends an air of intimacy to book signings and author appearances—it's the next-best thing to attending a private soirée with your favorite author.
1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9100, KingsEnglish.com
2. Weller Bookworks
3. Ken Sanders Rare Books
Best Consignment/Thrift Store
Sensing a void aching to be filled downtown, IconoClad transformed a wasted strip-mall space on 300 South into one of the hottest consignment shops in Salt Lake City. Always looking to expand its appeal, store buyers often look to local creators to discover what new trends might be brewing. To shoppers, this means IconoClad has a fantastic selection of men's and women's clothing in unique styles and patterns, and a wide range of sizes. In cold weather, the shop also helps the lung-conscious public breathe easier with its line of respirator masks—the sort used by cyclists and graffiti artists—to help make winter inversions a bit more bearable.
414 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-833-2272, IconoClad.com
2. Pib's Exchange
Best Myron Floren Incarnation
Paul Pasquali, Accordions International
Among the best accordion stores anywhere is Accordions International, operated by Paul Pasquali, co-founder of the Las Vegas International Accordion Convention. Pasquali, plus Larry Pino and John Tibolla, are a trio of Italian accordionists with Bingham Canyon roots. At age 8, in the early 1960s, Pasquali began performing for his Copperton Elementary schoolmates. And he kept it up, performing in every talent assembly at West Jordan Junior High and Bingham High School. While attending BYU, he began performing professionally. Later, he opened his own store, selling not just accordions and accessories, but a world-class, handcrafted digital/acoustic accordion—the Concerto—developed by Pasquali himself. Too few people still play this most expressive of instruments. But if you feel a polka or serenade moment coming on, Pasquali is there for you.
1760 S. 450 West, Salt Lake City, 801-485-5840, AccordionFactory.com
Best motorcycles With Soul
Salt City Builds
Created by brothers Seth and Jason "Rev" Clark, this South Salt Lake motorcycle shop has been building some of the finest cycles you'll find anywhere. The Clarks have the passion and single-minded drive of true motorheads, painstakingly crafting the parts they need to put together their sweet custom builds. At the shop, experienced riders can find plenty that will enhance the ride, while new owners can get a better idea of what a bike can become under the hands of inspired craftsmen. From the dirtiest dirt bike to the flashiest Harley, the Clarks work wonders on every beast that rolls through their garage.
2212 S. West Temple, No. 17, Salt Lake City, 801-810-9794, SaltCityBuilds.com
Best Relief Society
The Matrons of Mayhem
It's hard to believe, but there was a time when people played church bingo and no drag queens were involved. In those days, bingo was a tedious game all about letters and numbers and cards and prizes. Yawn. Fortunately, in recent decades, the Matrons of Mayhem have rescued that pastime from its own inertia. Now it's about the wigs and the balls and, especially, the "party fouls!" Third Friday Bingo at First Baptist Church is a monthly charitable event that goes to help all sorts of worthy causes—and, even though it's a fundraiser, the Matrons are on hand to ensure that everybody has a fabulous time. So forget everything you thought you knew about bingo. That was "B-4."
First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, 777 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City, held the third Friday of each month, 7 p.m.
Best Punk Records
Raunch Records is known for its broad selection of gritty punk, as well as dub and reggae, recordings. All the accoutrements you need to maintain your rock & roll lifestyle—posters, hoodies, stickers, skateboards—are on offer. You'll need to devote at least an hour to browse through the records and admire the vintage '80s vinyl covering an interior wall. But when owner Brad Collins gets to talking, it's easy to lose track of time. Friendly and well-informed, with a long history in the record business (in 1983, he began selling records out of his apartment, and opened his first official store in 1998), Collins can enlighten you on just about any music-related topic.
1119 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6077
Best CURE FOR THE PARKING BLUES
The ParkSLC app
OK, now that those parking monoliths have been around for a while, and the city got most of the bugs pretty much worked out, the mere sight of a blue kiosk doesn't automatically propel the average Salt Lakers into a state of blind rage anymore. But, admit it: Every time you plug coins or slide a card into one of those slots, you die a little bit inside, right? Fortunately, there's an app for that. ParkSLC streamlines pay-parking downtown and makes life a little bit more convenient. The app is available for iPhone from the App Store, and from Google Play for Android, once you download the app and authorize a payment method, you'll never have to touch one of those infernal blue things again.
Best Spun Wonderment
Sure, you want a wool Pendleton sweater as much as the next lumberjack, but it will run you a couple bills—and $200 can buy a lot of beer, aka "the lumberjack's friend." But what alternative is there to plunking down that kind of cash? You can either call Grandma or knit your own. However, if you're more comfortable wielding an ax than a pair of needles or a crochet hook, Blazing Needles provides free beginning knitting classes on Saturday mornings. Once you get the hang of "knit one, purl two," check out the store's wide selection of fibers, particularly wool and wool blends. There's just something about rows upon rows of yarn that warms a lumberjack's heart.
1365 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-487-5648, Blazing-Needles.com
Best Homegrown Backpacks
Velo City Bags
That North Face backpack you just dropped $180 on? Sad to say, it's not the coolest thing in town, despite what the sales rep told you. No, that honor goes to Velo City Bags, a homegrown messenger-bag and backpack shop. Ranging in price from $150 to $200, Velo City Bags are a gear junkie's dream come true. Made from damned tough Cordura fabric and lined with waterproof vinyl, the bags can stand up to the harshest elements. Custom colors and designs are available—options that founder, designer and bagmaker Nathan Larsen can provide—because, well, he's that good.
341 W. Pierpont Ave. Ste. 2, Salt Lake City, 385-202-4181, VeloCityBags.com
Best Bookstore for Dissent
Ken Sanders Rare Books
The shelves at Ken Sanders Rare Books—packed with historic tomes and hidden gems—would never be mistaken for the stacks at an ordinary, run-of-the-mill bookstore. Lifesize cardboard cutouts of George Washington Hayduke, Bonnie Abbzug, "Seldom Seen" Smith and Doc Sarvis stand guard in a mezzanine, while monkey wrenches placed near the Edward Abbey section lend the place an air of dissent. That feeling was reinforced this fall when a mural commemorating the 1915 execution of labor organizer Joe Hill appeared on the building. From the Wobblies to the Monkey Wrench Gang, Sanders has everything a dissident could want to read.
268 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3819, KenSandersBooks.com
Best Park City Boutique Lodging
Washington School House Hotel
During the Sundance Film Festival, area hotels and glam resorts are always booked to the brim. But the hardest room in town to rent is at a place you've probably never heard of: Washington School House Hotel. Return clients book rooms here years in advance because they appreciate the ultra-classy, very private boutique hotel and its 12 luxurious rooms. Care for a glass of wine? Just ask; it's gratis. Need to borrow an iPad? They've got you covered. The service here is as spectacular as the view. The only drawback? You'll want to live here, not just lodge here.
543 Park Ave., Park City, 800-824-1672, WashingtonSchoolHouse.com
There's no need to fear the pain at LunchBox, a waxing salon that specializes in quick and painless hair removal. LunchBox's estheticians are friendly and professional, disarming even the most nervous client with charm and humor. A split-second of stinging is absolutely worth that smooth skin reward. LunchBox also makes its own products, including waxes, body scrubs, ingrown-hair tonic and hygiene wipes.
1135 E. Wilmington Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-485-9299, LunchBoxWax.com
Best Downtown Car Wash
A Car Wash on Broadway
When mud and road salt threaten to corrode your ride's paint job, there's only one thing to do: Wash that sucker. But—unlike the proliferation of fancy shops, restaurants, bike lanes and condos—we don't see a whole lot of DIY car washes in downtown Salt Lake City these days. But there's one: Named, descriptively, "A Car Wash," it's easy to find: Just look for the corner sign bearing an iconic American Indian and the words "Super Pressure." Just bring a pocketful of quarters.
301 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City
Best Local Loaves
Prairie Grain Bread Co.
To Omar Khayyam, "a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou" was paradise enough—but it wouldn't have been had he been eating the insubstantial, fluffy bread that's all too common these days. In fact, bread might be losing all credibility as the staff of life were it not for Prairie Grain Bread Co. Throughout the past two decades, Prairie Grain has been baking artisan loaves of every style and with every hearty grain imaginable. Its bakers stone-grind wheat daily in the shop, and never add chemical preservatives. Man may not live by bread alone—but once you try Prairie Grain's honey & whole-wheat loaf, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
211 W. 3680 South, South Salt Lake, 801-281-4076, PrairieGrainBread.com
Best Neighborhood Ski Shop
Back before many of the present-day generation of skiers and snowboarders was born, a crew of local snow experts was fixating on all things rad at the Sports Den. Aside from the skyrocketing prices of lift ticket and measurably less snow, nothing much has changed. Diehards and beginners alike still entrust their boots, bindings and skis to the crew at Sports Den. And more than one person has remarked over the years that they trust a single authority on snow conditions in the Cottonwood Canyons: The first-hand word from anyone employed at Sports Den.
1350 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-582-5611, SportsDen.com
Best Mormon Figurine Waystation
The Corner Station, Fairview
Next time you're speeding south on Highway 89 through the Sanpete Valley, hellbound for anyplace but Salt Lake City, slow down a bit and keep an eye out for the town of Fairview, where you'll find this charming gift shop located in a former service station. The shop has any number of interesting items on offer, including wooden toys for the kids, typewriter ribbons and Book of Mormon figurines—including Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, Capt. Moroni and a stripling warrior.
CornerStation.blogspot.com, 111 S. State (Highway 89), Fairview, 435-427-5500
Best Aurolite Crystals
First off, you should know the women at Turiya's Gifts are serious about crystals. They are regulars at the famed Tucson gem show, and each year they bring home some of Arizona's finest crystals and minerals. One of Turiya's newer offerings is the Auralite crystal, which could be mistaken for an amethyst at first glance. But upon closer inspection, these raw, natural crystals start to look and feel like they came from another dimension. Formed more than 1 billion years ago during the Mesoproterozoic Era, Auralite is hand-mined from northern Ontario's Cave of Wonder. Its crystal matrix contains up to 23 distinct minerals. Because of this, it is thought to generate a unique energetic vibration. Check out the vibes for yourself.
1569 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7823, Turiyas.com
Best Fancy Paper
Tabula Rasa Social Stationers
From fine leather-bound diaries and journals to Christmas cards, stationery and elegant writing implements, Tabula Rasa offers everything the discriminating scribe might need. The entire Trolley Square shop is an ode writ large to the act of putting pen to page. In the era of touch pads and finger-swiping, the art of fine penmanship is in danger of dying out, and not many people will grieve its passing. But setting words down on paper is an act that defines us uniquely as human. So, in a very real way, Tabula Rasa remains so that we may maintain a vital connection to our own history, and to humanity's collective soul.
330 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, 801-575-5043, TabulaRasaStationers.com
Best Sandy Time Warp
Sandy Antique Mall
You're adrift in Sandy, when all of a sudden, you see a polar bear! And then—phew!—you realize you're at that treasure trove of nuance and wonder, the Sandy Antique Mall. Home to more than 5,000 square-feet of gorgeous antiques and collectibles on three floors, even the speediest of adventurers would need at least two hours to sift through it all and contemplate how much dough they were willing to blow to turn their home into a wondrous curio cabinet. But after only five minutes, you realize you are better off buying the rare 1980s plush Moishe monster for that certain someone who likes your apartment just the way it is—and you also know such a gift is all that's needed to entice that significant individual into a return trip, where together, you will dive the depths of thrift heaven, home of divine dust and mesmerizing mementos.
8672 S. State, Sandy, 801-568-984, SandyAntiqueMall.com
Best Meridian Magic
Kris Justesen, O.M.D., L.Ac.
Never underestimate how much electricity flows through your body's meridians. When "Dr. Kris" inserts an acupuncture needle into the right spot (really, it doesn't hurt), you often feel an electrical jolt. Then she leaves you alone for a few minutes during the treatment to relax and let the needles do their magic. It's hard to say why it is, but you can almost feel your body saying, "Thanks, I needed that." Dr. Kris is a Utah native who has received advanced training from Chinese doctors. She brings her nearly 30 years of acupuncture experience to bear to help manage pain, heal injuries and improve overall health. Her alternative treatments (among them trigger-point and cold-laser therapies, cupping, gwa sha, moxa and herbal medicine) are a fascinating departure from conventional Western treatments. Plus, her location in the south valley is a boon for canyon recreationists whose strains, bumps and owies often require immediate meridian magic.
Alpine Wellness Center, 1664 Dawn Drive, Cottonwood Heights, 801-263-9380, AlpineWellnessCenter.com
Best DIY Auto Parts
All you need at this sprawling auto recycler is a wrench, some elbow grease and little bit of time. Next thing you know, you're walking off with that hard-to-find carburetor or like-new bumper. Need to replace a transmission, but don't want to pay new-transmission prices? Just tear one out of the thousands of neatly aligned autos in the Tear-A-Part yard. Used to be that auto-recycling yards were called junk yards (with the obligatory big guy in bib overalls and even bigger German shepherd). Tear-A-Part is an environmentally sound and sustainable operation, especially when it comes to all those potentially unsafe auto fluids, since Tear-A-Part boasts its own award-winning fluid-extraction system. Its employees are dedicated to sharing their know-how with buyers, sellers and hobbyists alike. Pass the WD-40, please.
652 S. Redwood Road, 801-886-2345, Salt Lake City; 763 W. 12th St., Ogden, 801-564-6960; TearApart.com
Best Ninja Hoodie
Hoodlands & Co.
For those of us who live in environs where the weather stays cold half the year, hoodies are more than functional garments—they're practically a necessity. Utah's icy-cold winters have helped Simone Gordon turn her small enterprise into a thriving clothing line. Whether you need a standard ninja hoodie for your everyday walk in the park, a cowl-hooded hoodie for those discreet moments when you'd prefer to pass unnoticed, or an upscale, custom-designed original to wear at the swankest hoodie occasions, Hoodlands will protect not just your head and face—it'll protect your cred.
Best Women's Gnar Shredding Gear
The brainchild of outdoor-sports enthusiast Gina Duffy, She Shreds bridges the clothing gap for the woman seeking warm winter wear that just fits—both when she's on the slopes, and later when she's hanging out in the lodge. Rather than trying to conform to a one-size-fits-all world, Duffy's designs are tried and tested specifically for active women. Both badass and stylish, Duffy's casual wear blows mainstream designers out of the water. Don't go for what's around; go for what really works.
Best Bull-Penis Putters
Ross Taylor Originals
If you're looking for that special penis present—and who isn't?—look no more. Ross Taylor Originals in West Jordan can fashion your penis—well, of course it's not really your penis; it's the penis of a bull who, for whatever reason, no longer needs it—into a putter, a customized walking cane, a shoehorn, or a hiking staff, plus other specialty products. Ross Taylor can put a sizzle in your pizzle with custom accoutrements such as elk-horn handles, gold and silver coins, arrowheads, American flag emblems and rattlesnake rattles. Each piece is uniquely distinct from all others covered in shiny marine varnish and guaranteed to be sterilized and rock hard stable. Just visit the website and specify the size and measurement that suits your purpose. And you'll be doing it in the knowledge that you're not alone: Jack Nicklaus, David Letterman, Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney are all said to own Ross Taylor Originals.
Best Original Eyewear
For the past 30 years, John Cottam has been selling all manner of eyewear out of his small shop in Trolley Square. His stock of Ray-Bans was impressive long before the pop singer Taylor Swift turned them into hipster eye candy. The shop has something for everybody, though: In addition to killer sunglasses, Cottam also keeps a range of prescription eyewear in stock. The Spectacle's fine cache of vintage and antique frames and related optical treasures is something to behold. Cottam also does repairs, so if you ever do have an eyewear accident, consult him before purchasing a replacement—oftentimes, he can work wonders, even in cases where the damage appears irreparable.
456 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2020, TheSpectacle.com
Best Movie Rentals
OK, we get it: Technology is our friend—the key to solving all the world's problems and ushering in a new, better age. But what happens when technological innovation kills off institutions that exist to make life better—for instance, video stores? With all your RedBoxes and Netflixes, you may be able to find entertainment at the drop of a hat, with little effort, but that gaggle of on-demand stuff has no soul. For that, you have to go to the Tower Theatre. With its lobby walls stocked with DVD titles by offbeat, foreign or just plain weird directors—and a staff who are all movie buffs happy to share their knowledge—this venerable old theater remains an archeological time capsule of human interaction and browsing.
876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-321-0310, SaltLakeFilmSociety.org
Best Pet Massage
Loving Your Pets Health Coach
Stroll through the booths at a local pet festival or fair, and it's obvious that dog-walking and pet-sitting have become viable career paths. While many folks now offer those services, one woman, in particular, is ahead of the pack: A decade ago, Aimee Hetzel began working as a veterinary tech when pet owners, sensing the connection that Hetzel had with animals being treated by the vet, began asking her to care for their pets while they were away. She soon got a business license, became insured and bonded, and her pet business was born. Now, in addition to offering traditional pet services—neighborhood hikes, home visits, pet taxi, overnight stays, training and socialization—she works as a health coach for pets, extolling the benefits of pet massage. Just as with humans, massage helps animals relax, heal and more easily cope with life's inevitable aches and pains.
Best Way to Get Cracking
When your back starts aching, most often you're told to rest, use ice and take pain pills. Surgery might be recommended in extreme cases. Little wonder so many seek chiropractic adjustments. With two locations, in Sugar House and Cottonwood Heights, The Joint can help—you only need drop in—no appointment needed. After a few good cracks, courtesy of a qualified and capable chiropractor, you may find it's easier to get crackin' yourself. Easy freeway access to both locations and affordable prices, too (only $19 for the first visit), make it easy to get back on track.
6910 S. Highland Drive, Cottonwood Heights, 801-943-3163; 1126 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8683; SaltLakeCityChiropractor-TheJoint.com
Best VIP Pet Package
Your four-legged furry friends deserve the best, but you can't take them with you on every vacation and business trip. So why not send Fido on his own glamour getaway? At Brickyard Kennel, canine clients receive cageless day care and private play sessions. Does your Very Important Pup appreciate extra pampering? VIP packages include luxury dog beds, TV or radio noise and additional one-on-one attention. And that very special cat, bird or ferret in your life doesn't have to miss out—Brickyard can board almost any pet.
1221 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6007, BrickyardKennels.com
Best Shop for Vinyl Collectors
Randy's Record Shop
Old-time party people remember Randy from halcyon days of Sunday parties at the Bongo Lounge. While remaining at home, Randy spun oldies from the '50s, '60s and early '70s, transmitting the mix via telephone. Bongo patrons sung along with wild abandon. Eventually, those patrons grew old, but the music didn't. Over the past 45 years, Randy has developed what started as his own record collection into a grand tribute to all things vinyl. With tens of thousands of LPs and 45-rpms, it's certainly the most impressive collection in Salt Lake City, if not the West. Serious collectors have Randy on speed-dial. So, if you wake up in a sweat 'cuz your collection lacks the 1969 Led Zeppelin debut album with turquoise lettering (a $5,000 or so value), you'll know Randy's the man to call.
Randy's Record Shop, 157 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4413, RandysRecords.com
Best Leather Love
G's Sole Express
This family-owned shoe-repair shop has been in the business for more than 30 years—getting its start working at the old Broadway Shoe Repair. Ever willing to help those with shoe challenges, G's has been known to stay late to ensure that a desperate customer is properly shod, or to fix a broken heel on the spot. G's repairs handbags as well, and offers a wide selection of shoe polishes, laces and insoles. You'll find a smile here and a "sole mate," to boot.
2239 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Salt Lake City, 801-424-3551
Best Advocate For LGBT Families
Chris Wharton Law
Whether you're LGBT or you put the A in "ally," Chris Wharton wants to give you affordable help with your legal problems. Wharton helps members of the gay community negotiate child-custody arrangements, get birth certificates that reflect their accurate gender, finalize adoptions and fight discrimination. In 2013, he helped lead the team of attorneys that filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for the equal treatment of LGBT families. So when you need someone who understands not only your legal issues, but the value you place on human dignity and respect, Chris Wharton is your man.
10 W. 300 South , Suite 500, Salt Lake City, 801-649-3529, ChrisWhartonLaw.com
Best for Bookaholics
Weller Book Works
If you're in an argument over the exact number of wins the Utes football program had in 1976, Google will settle your hash quickly and efficiently. But the Internet doesn't always offer instant gratification. Order a book online, and it could take several days to arrive. Even if you're willing to pay for overnight shipping, you have to wait a whole day. But Weller Book Works will place a book in your hot little hands right now, when you want it. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool bibliophile, there's no sweeter sensation. Bookseller Tony Weller stocks top-notch new and used books, including a large children's selection. Weller also maintains a comprehensive rare-book collection that includes LDS relics, such as a first-edition Book of Mormon.
607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2586, WellerBookWorks.com
Best Hobnobbing on the Job
Salt Lake City recently opened one of now 73 worldwide Impact Hubs. These communal office spaces offer collaborative workspaces as well as a venue for events. In 2015, Salt Lake City's Impact Hub relocated from a temporary site to a new 13,000-square-foot space on State Street. Here, you'll find entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders as well as state workers, lawyers, freelancers and designers mingling, coaching and shoulder-rubbing. Members pay a monthly fee to access the building and have their enterprises housed in the large open space. They can also utilize private offices and conference rooms as needed. The vision, developed locally by Dustin Haggett and former Salt Lake City Councilman Søren Simonsen, was to provide a flexible space for co-working and networking, while incubating new ideas and innovations—yep, some of the best hobnobbing on the job.
150 S. State, Salt Lake City, SaltLake.ImpactHub.net
Best Boozy Bric-a-brac
In a state where alcohol consumption isn't exactly a mainstay of the dominant culture, you gotta give the folks at Boozetique a big huzzah! for their chutzpah. This cheeky little shop at E3 Modern is a booze-imbiber's delight, with every imaginable item a wine or cocktail connoisseur could need. From standard required equipment like cocktail shakers, wine keys, aerators, wine bags and such, to luxury items such as a gold-plated flask, Boozetique has the booze bases covered. Let's just keep it between us about the flask disguised as a tube of sunscreen ...
315 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-3939, Boozetique.biz
Best RECORD-STORE Concerts
Sometimes, you meet someone who has a dream; sometimes, that dream is to own a record store; and sometimes, that someone is cool enough to make the dream a reality. Diabolical Records was the dream for its owners, Adam Tye and Alana Boscan. Since opening its doors in July 2013, Diabolical Records has found a place in many a music-lover's heart, hosting more than 200 intimate concerts, featuring local and touring artists spanning multiple genres. This record store/venue brings an energy and opportunity to Salt Lake City that's worth supporting, even if it means having to curtail the party until after the show. It's just doing our part to respect the dream. Meanwhile, enjoy the music!
238 S. Edison St., Salt Lake City, 801-792-9204, DiabolicalRecords.com
There's something to be said about having a board that feels just right. But boards break or wear out, and a skateboarder might go through dozens in a lifetime. That's why Goldcoast works hard to craft boards that are sleek and stylish for those just looking to cruise around, while tough enough to withstand punishment from heavy grinders. The style of the boards has garnered national recognition, and Goldcoast's longboards have become a highly desirable commodity among skaters who want that something extra.
150 W. Commonwealth Ave., No. 2, Salt Lake City, 801-521-2480, SkateGoldcoast.com
Best Hip Replacement
Benjamin Hansen MD
Mick Jagger once sang: "What a drag it is getting old." And "Mother's Little Helpers" can only dull the pain of hip and knee joints that are past their prime. For a permanent fix, you need a talented orthopedic surgeon such as Dr. Benjamin Hansen. He and his team at Salt Lake Orthopedic Clinic have the laser focus to perform what looks to be a grisly procedure (power saws, metal parts and hammers are involved). Yet, they're so skilled that most patients are walking out the hospital doors within days of the operation, blissfully unaware of the training and feats of engineering that made such modern miracles possible. Walk tall, my friend. You just got your stride back, thanks to Dr. Hansen.
Salt Lake Orthopaedic Clinic, St. Mark's Hospital, 1160 East 3900 South, No. 5000, Salt Lake City, 801-262-8486, SaltLakeOrthopaedics.com
Best Photo Resource
The Photo Collective's interactive photo booths add fun at social events and help create lasting memories. And after five years on the scene, it's expanded into a full-service photo studio and a resource for amateur and professional photographers alike. The new 6,000-square-foot creative space is a fully equipped production studio and is available for social and educational events. With its film- and digital-printing facilities, Photo Collective serves as home studio for its resident photographers. With so much going on at the Photo Collective, we'll just have to watch to see what develops next.
561 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0104, PhotoCollectiveStudios.com
Best Herbs in the Burbs
In 1998, Merry Lycett Harrison established Millcreek Herbs, a resource for those wanting to know how to use herbs. A trained herbalist, Harrison maintains an herbal practice, has written for the Catalyst magazine, and teaches how to grow and use medicinal and culinary herbs. She also leads summertime herb trips in the wild. Her business, Millcreek Herbs, sells botanical tonics such as Thrive. As Harrison goes out in the world, she says she always notices plants growing around town and knows how they can be used to promote health and well-being. The rest of us may be oblivious about such things. Maybe it's time to think green and learn about herbs from a teacher par excellence.
P.O. Box 9534, Salt Lake City, 801-466-1632, MillcreekHerbs.com
Best Heirloom Tomatoes
Traces Organic Garden
This charming garden center is located in a stately old house on 1100 East, and it hasn't lost its air of domesticity. Here—while shopping for garden implements or organic heirloom seeds, soil, fertilizer, pest control and compost—customers might lose sight of the fact they're in the city, as cats emerge from the bushes to greet them, honeybees buzz among the flowers and birds chatter in the trees. As you wander your way through different paths and shelters, you begin to realize the one-acre garden out back is extensive and full of more organically grown flowers and vegetables than you thought. Next time you're back by the grape arbor, perhaps you'll reach down and give one of the cats a comforting little scratch.
Traces Organic Garden, 1432 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-9544, TracesGarden.com
Best Auto Shop
Clark's Auto & TIRE
Everyone with a car and an eco-conscience should check out Clark's Auto & Tire, a full-service auto-repair and maintenance shop. Owner Alan Boyer has long been interested in sustainable business practices, ever since his days in the Peace Corps in the 1990s, when he witnessed the devastation wrought by commercial deforestation. That experience inspired his passion about sustainable conservation. Clark's Auto & Tire recycles most of its materials—including batteries, tires and metal—and all products sold are ecologically sound. Customers concerned about air quality will find it's easy to talk to the staff at Clark's—they're always willing to spend time and share expertise with customers.
506 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2858, ClarksAutoFix.com
Best Gourmet Crunch
Rooster's Gourmet Popcorn
Locally owned Rooster's Gourmet Popcorn sells more than 50 mind-boggling, scrumptious flavors of popcorn at any given time. Order a custom tin or box of popcorn to ship as a gift for a faraway loved one—and, while you're at it, take a bag home with you to munch on when no one is looking (it's yours; you don't have to share!). Flavored blends such as Brittany's, aka the Chicago mix—a mixture of caramel and cheddar-cheese popcorn—prove that sweet and salty combinations rock! Then there is the truly decadent Rooster's Crunch: caramel popcorn with layers of white and milk chocolate. No wonder these are handed out to celebrities when they attend Sundance or Comic Con. Try Rooster's "flavor boosters" to bring that delicious cheese flavor to your home-popped corn. Go ahead, pop until you drop.
11560 S. District Drive. No. 100, South Jordan, 801-495-4505, RoostersPopcorn.com
Best Local Athletic Wear
There's something about looking good that makes heading to the gym a little easier. For unique styles and locally designed athletic wear, check out Albion Fit. Albion produces high-quality swimwear, active wear, lounge wear and children's clothing. Patterns and styles change frequently, and clothes are designed with comfort and durability in mind—so you'll look stylish while you get your sweat on.
50 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3365, AlbionFit.com
Best Handmade Dog Collars
Functional is fine, but there's also something within us that responds to flair—that unique individual and personal touch—even when purchasing something as mundane as a dog collar and leash. WoofWare's handmade specialties incorporate colorful, woven nylon, ribbons and all manner of other materials, set up with durable rings and buckles, and in a wide range of sizes. There's even a unique collar made from a recycled (and up-cycled) bicycle inner tube.
The Hive on Main
Nothing matches the beauty and glamour of upstyle hair. And if you want to pull it off right, see the artists at The Hive on Main. They'll tease your hair until it whimpers, until Joan from Mad Men turns green with envy. Founded by Dacia Peterson, an esthetician with more than 13 years of hairstyling experience, The Hive is the place to go when you need a special look for a wedding, party or prom.
2150 S. Main, No. 107, Salt Lake City, 801-651-5199, TheHiveOnMain.com
Best Eclectic Sugar House Bookstore
Central Book Exchange
Old books, new books, cult classics, instruction manuals from the 1960s, Central Book Exchange has it, but you'll have to dig for it. This charming shop has a system of organization all its own. Categories can be oddly specific: "Antiques & Collectibles: Clocks & Watches," "Unexplained Phenomena" and "Veterinarian Medicine" are all in evidence, and for those hard-to-classify titles, you might search through "Miscellaneous." The shop is so magnificently stuffed that it's like navigating a particularly good antique store—and, since it's an exchange, it's constantly bringing in additional titles rescued from attics, garrets and hoarder apartments. Watch for its parking-lot sales, held at regular intervals whenever inventory reaches the bursting point. Bring your own bag, fill it with books, and take it home for $5.
2017 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-485-3913, Central-BookExchange.com
Avenues Day Spa
Avenues Day Spa is a charming, full-service spa in a remodeled Victorian residence, surrounded by beautiful xeriscaping and red stone steps. Upon stepping through the front door, clients are immediately ensconced in a peaceful, comfortable waiting area before being led to a private spa-treatment room. The spa offers a wide range of facials: European, hot stone, glycolic, peptide peels and more. Services of 30-, 60- and 90-minutes are available—so prepare to be pampered.
455 Seventh Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-519-8181, AvenuesDaySpa.com
Best Eyelash Extensions
When you need to look extra glam, visit Sarah Schissler at S3 Salon. Schissler can apply eyelash extensions that are so realistic, no one will be able to guess they're synthetic. A stylist for more than six years, Schissler worked at several salons and taught cosmetology at the Paul Mitchell School before opening her own Salt Lake City salon. You'll be able to bat those baby blues (or browns, greens or hazels) with confidence, knowing that Schissler gave you the most gorgeous lashes nature never made.2006 S. 900 East, Suite 112, Salt Lake City, 801-510-3116, s3salon.com
Best Rolling Stones|
Rockpick Legend Co.
Some wrongly imagine they need to be on a road trip to seek out a rock shop. Little do they know how close at hand those rocks really are—and they don't even have to leave Salt Lake City to visit a legendary lapidary. On its Facebook page, Rockpick Legends describes itself as a convenience store offering geologic services and arts & craft supplies. But Rockpick is really just a great place for rock hounds and mineral collectors. Owners Rick & Anita share their love of lapidary work; custom bead work; appraisal and identification; and offering classes, presentations and tours for students and other groups. They also create custom jewelry using sturdy rocks and minerals that you dig up. All you crystal swingers out there, get in here to renew your vibratory forces.
1017 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-7952, Rocks4u.com
Best "Eat Local" Twofer
East African Refugee Goat Project of Utah
Attention gardeners: You can say goodbye to snarled weed trimmers, poison herbicides, ineffective grub hoes and controlled burns apt to turn to conflagrations. When it comes to clearing out brush, poison ivy and pesky invasive plants, nothing works like a goat. Coming soon: A rent-a-goat service, courtesy of the East African Refugee Goat Project. Located west of the Salt Lake City International Airport and sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, this microenterprise is run by refugees from Burundi and Somalia. In addition to providing rental income, the goats can also be butchered and sold for meat.
IRC, 221 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-328-1091, Rescue.org/us-program/us-salt-lake-city-ut
Best Refuge for Flower Children
Calling all unrepentant New Agers: This family-owned wonder is a sanctuary of healing, a shrine to creativity and a celebration of art and culture. Uplift the vibes in your home by shopping Dancing Crane's selection of tapestries, wall hangings, ethnic fabrics, yard ornaments, wind chimes and housewares. Its selection of imports from around the globe will match any taste. And, of course, there are crystals, stones, jewelry, musical whimsies, essential oils, trinket boxes, books, incense, calendars, greeting cards tie-dye and batik goods, and sling bags. And best of all, you can top off your fabulous shopping excursion with a bountiful and healthy meal at Solstice Café. Namaste, baby!
673 E. Simpson Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-486-1129, DancingCranesImports.com
Best Little Black Dress
Katie Walkman has long been known for her handmade wedding-day jewelry and bridal gifts, but venture into her store at 9th & 9th, and you discover a vision of clothing that is the height of elegance with a touch of European grace. The store opened in May 2013, and makes extraordinary use of the small space to create an intimate and pleasurable shopping experience. Walkman's take on printed blouses and little black dresses is exquisite, mixing simplicity with gorgeous lines. Unlike other stores in the neighborhood, her prices won't chase you out the door. There's also a location in Provo at the Shops at Riverwoods.
962 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 385-227-8977; 4801 N. University Ave., No. 460, Provo, 801-981-4639; KatieWaltman.com
Best Doggie Sleepover
Desert Dog Daycare
Getting your mutt into Desert Dog Daycare is a little like getting your kid into a private school. You need to demonstrate that little Fido or Fifi doesn't bite, has up-to-date shots and socializes well with others. For mutts who pass the entrance exam, this is one of the best-run dog daycare and boarding facilities in town. It's a 9,000 square-foot doggie getaway where pets can run, play, wrestle and relax, all under professional supervision. Having separation anxiety? There's a "dogcam" app available, which streams a live-image feed of that beloved pup to your computer, tablet or smartphone. Hey, even if you don't have a dog at Desert Dog Daycare, it's fun to watch!
1765 S. 900 West, Suite 77, Salt Lake City, 801-886-0364, DesertDogDaycare.com
Best Eccentric Nostalgia
Albatross Recordings & Ephemera
Buying music on vinyl is on the rise among trendy audiophiles, but in today's digital world, it's not always easy to satisfy one's vinyl urge. Albatross offers a funky selection of music in a broad range of categories, in a setting filled with quirky art and trinkets of all kinds. Collections of old books and movies are sure to grab your attention. It's a little corner of analog individuality in a morass of digital conformity.
870 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, Twitter.com/AlbatrossRecSLC
Best Female Support
Tucked away in the Foothill Village, the family-owned-and-operated BraBar Boutique helps you on your intimate foray into the brassiere revolution. BraBar's mantra is this: You're wearing the wrong bra. Forget about letters and numbers; what really matters is comfort. We admire the boutique for its inventive cheekiness and the pleasure its experts take their jobs. And, if you're looking for an unusual spot for a birthday party, think how surprising a lingerie shop would be! BraBar is truly a breath of fresh air.
1352 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-582-2727, EstiloLingerie.com
For those of us who never got the appropriate Girl Scout training, starting a fire—whether in a fireplace, a backyard pit or on a camping trip—can seem like it requires an engineering degree. Wouldn't it be much simpler if you could simply drop a match onto a stack of firewood, without the need of crumpled-up newspapers and mountains of kindling? That's what the resourceful people at Holladay-based EZ Fire thought, too—and now we can all live the dream. EZ'a top-lighting firestarter creates a cascade of flame that flows down the firewood, safely igniting everything that should be ignited. Now you can keep your cool while getting warm.
Best Kayak Shop
The Wasatch Front may be well-known for its myriad outdoor sports, but abundant whitewater is not among them. There are plenty of whitewater junkies who reside along the Wasatch Front, though, and anyone itching to drop $1,000 on a spanking-new Jackson Rockstar (you know what I'm talking about),$250 on that sick Astral Greenjacket PFD or $7 on a pair of nose plugs, need not turn to the Internet because Wasatch Touring has, for decades, kindly stocked a clutch selection of paddling gear, despite our high, dry location in the West.
702 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-359-9361, WasatchTouring.com
Best Marrakesh Market
Stephanie Panos and Allison Navar decided to take the idea of selling imports in a unique direction: by traveling to international destinations, selecting one-of-a-kind items, and providing those items online during limited-time "flash sales" while they were in those cities. In September, they journeyed to three cities in Morocco and offered artisan merchandise that would be impossible to find elsewhere. And as they traveled, they gathered the stories of the local craftsmen and women for their travel blog, adding a human touch to beautiful work from half-way around the world.
Best T-Shirt Slogan
Bone'n Five Wives
Start with a glass of ice and pour in oodles of Ogden's Own Distillery's award-winning Five Wives Vodka. Fill nearly to the brim with original or spicy Boneyard's Bloody Blend, and you have three things: 1. A helluva cocktail; 2. A bit of ribald fun saying its name aloud; and, 3. A marketing coup for two of Utah's favorite local companies—which is clever enough to stand on its own merits here.
Boneyard's Bloody Blend, 1933 W. 2425 South, No. 25, Woods Cross, 385-777-5425, BoneYardBloody.com; Ogden's Own Distillery, 3075 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-485-1995, OgdensOwn.com
Best Throwback Gifts
Shoppers are bound to find something extra special at Retro Betty—a Boston terrier-print dress, a plaid bow tie, vintage cameras, glittery birthday candles, pastel cake pans, pineapple-print sneakers, lighted marquee signs and more. Featuring both fashions and home items that hail from a bygone era, Retro Betty provides customers with a singular shopping experience. The shop features items for both women and men, with a huge selection of classic men's shirts, fedoras and cufflinks alongside the racks of vintage dresses with a rockabilly edge. Retro Betty's clothing sizes run from extra small to double extra large, so there's something special there for everyone.
2821 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2222, RetroBettySLC.com
Best One-Stop Chinese Shopping
The largest Asian market in Utah, Chinatown in a Chinese-dedicated plaza in South Salt Lake, offers a wealth of Asian products, jewelry, cooking implements and fresh produce. Along with Chinese food, it can satisfy cravings for Korean and Japanese specialties as well. Surrounding the market is a shopping center where you can also find a tea stand and the Szechwan-style Hot Dynasty restaurant, whose sumptuously long menu includes hot pots and dim sum. With the potential for hours upon hours of dining and shopping pleasure, South Salt Lake's Chinatown is an exotic treasure waiting to be discovered.
3390 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-906-8788, ChinatownSupermarkets.com
Beyond Coastal Sun Care
Utah's high altitudes and Utahns' active lifestyles make sunscreen a highly valued commodity in the Beehive State. Not all sunscreens are created equal, however. Noting that many inactive ingredients in most commercial sunscreens are not beneficial (and may even be harmful), Shawn Biega upgraded that formula using clean, natural ingredients that are less likely to irritate skin or trigger allergic reactions. Beyond Coastal products still offer that crucial, water-resistant UVA and UVB protection, but it also contains extracts and oils not found in major brands. Plus, it's never tested on animals.
Best Friendly Bicycle Shop
Most cyclists will tell you that all they want from a bike repair shop is to get in and out and back on the road as quickly as possible. Not only do they seek efficiency, but customers also want to feel like they matter. When Crank opened up its location on State Street earlier this year, the shop made a point to get to know its customers and help them out in any way possible. That Crank SLC is a partner in the Green Bike plan also gave the shop the opportunity to introduce the its services to new customers who were just discovering the shop. It's an awesome mentality to have in a growing cycling community.
749 S. State, Salt Lake City, 385-528-1158, CrankSLC.com
Best All-Encompassing Geekery
End Zone Hobby Center
There are places for people to gather over all kinds of obsessions: comic books, games, sports, toys and more. There are, however, few places where people who love all these things can be satisfied under one roof. That's the allure of End Zone Hobby Center in Clearfield. It gives customers a chance to play new games and even refamiliarize themselves with complicated classic games like Settlers of Catan. End Zone also offers sports cards and sporting memorabilia, as well as vintage collectibles. That LEGO Star Wars set you've been dreaming about? Yeah, they've got it. Think of End Zone as Utah's nerd-vana.
133 S. State, Clearfield, 801-774-5050, EndZoneFunCity.com