Best of Utah 2017 | Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here! | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah 2017

Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here!


What makes Utah great? No, not in the red baseball cap kind of way, but in its essence?

I recently found myself pondering this when my 21-year-old nephew came to visit. Looking around at the doltish "This establishment is licensed as a ..." signs, and perhaps influenced by a certain Golden State Warrior's comments on local nightlife (or lack thereof), the outlook was grim. Clearly, Vegas we're not, but still, the Beehive has a charm all its own. I quickly found myself in the de facto role of Salt Lake City ambassador. "Do you know SLC has the first KFC?" I boasted. "Oh, and that right there is where they filmed High School Musical," I said as we drove by East High.

Factoids were plentiful, and by Day 2, it became apparent Salt Lake City—and the state as a whole—sells itself.

Maybe it's the all-inclusive weather, which lends itself to everything from rock climbing to hitting up six ski resorts in a single day. Maybe it's the opportunity to travel around the world in 80 plates thanks to the lasting impact of our immigrant communities. Perhaps it's the fact that locals band together at the drop of a hat to help those in need.

As it turns out, it's all that and more.

This issue is a celebration of our state's spirit, and along its pages, you'll find the most staff picks ever in a Best of Utah. You'll read about a certain tireless community advocate championing police accountability; a DIY project aimed at helping trans men pay for top surgery; spot an obscure Coming to America reference; and get up close and personal with a group of volunteers whose common goal is preserving a quirky sculpture garden—the centerpiece of which is a sphinx emblazoned with the likeness of Joseph Smith.

Like always, we also opened up the call lines and culled our readers for their best. We added two new categories this year, A&E and Health & Wellness, and you responded in record numbers. Some 8,000 of you cast 118,516 votes across 136 categories—a new milestone.

It was a herculean effort for sure; one that is a love letter to Utah, and a well-deserved pat on the back to those who truly make it great. Here's hoping that you agree, and the next time you encounter an out-of-state visitor, you spare them the trivia and hand them this magazine instead. Oh, and go Wildcats!

Enrique Limón


Best tireless advocate
Lex Scott

Last September, when United Front Party founder Lex Scott spoke to a group gathered outside the Public Safety Building to demand the body-cam footage from the fatal officer shooting of Patrick Harmon be released, she described the pain stemming from the incident as "a new hurt." Tireless, vocal and passionate, Scott is as much a permanent fixture at Black Lives Matter and Utah Against Police Brutality rallies as she is at regular Community Activist Group meetings with the SLCPD. "We've created a lot of change. We have data collection now, we have de-escalation training now, we have diversity training, diversity hiring," she says of the twice-monthly meetings. "My hope is that the police get the message that we want accountability and transparency." (Enrique Limón)

Best resilient smile on Main and Third
Dennis Gray

We gave a Best of Utah to Dennis Gray several years ago to recognize the glory that is his smile. Three years later, that smile has seen better days. Many of the folks he relied on to buy the copies of Salt Lake Street News he sold on the corner of Main and 300 South each day left, he says, after the landlord upped the rent on nearby offices. He's battling cancer, but such is his grit and determination—not to mention his need—he's out there on Main when he can muster the strength, still doing his little shuffle and smile when he sees someone he knows. Gray is a reminder of the humanity that lies behind the word "homeless." While the city cracks down on panhandling and downtown becomes a playground for Goldman Sachs, Gray asks us to remember those who are far less fortunate than ourselves, and dig a little deeper in our hearts to return that smile. (Stephen Dark)

Best silence on inauguration day
Jan Chamberlin

Rather than sing at Donald Trump's inauguration, five-year-member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Jan Chamberlin quit the band. So what's one less voice? Well, it made a sharp statement that drummed up more attention than the actual performance she skipped out on. Actually, the MoTab sang a mellifluous rendition of "America the Beautiful" and is a deserved point of pride for the state. But so is Chamberlin for opting not to participate in a celebratory concert for a man who proved on the campaign trail to be boarish, shallow and demonstrate a set of values polar opposite to those espoused at Temple Square. Less than a year in, it might be too early to conclude whether Trump will be the discordant, cacophonous, tone deaf—though never silent—president he's shaping up to be, but Chamberlin clearly had her pulse on something. (Dylan Woolf Harris)


Best former Utah congressman who's the doppelganger of a fired White House chief of staff
Jason Chaffetz

One can't help think that as Jason Chaffetz shook Hillary Clinton's hand on inauguration day, he had a heavy lump in his throat. Here, after all, was his favorite punching bag that would have propelled him further into GOP stardom as he launched laborious investigations against the most preeminent Democrat. Instead, Clinton lost the election and left the political arena. Keeping up appearances, Chaffetz knocked down any notion that the cordial handshake meant he wasn't going to keep gunning for her. "So pleased she is not the President," he explained "... Investigation continues." But despite all the posturing, Chaffetz never rose to be her political rival, and Clinton, apparently, didn't even recognize the congressman, she claimed in her new book. The Democratic candidate thought she was engaging with Reince Priebus, who was about to start his short-lived tenure as a top aide to President Trump. (DWH)


Best illustration of the merits of taking the high road
Bad Brad Wheeler

Did your parents or some other older-wiser ever tell you to handle conflicts by being the bigger person? We know it's good advice. But the urge to indulge fantasies of disintegrating the offending individual with heat vision, or mortally wounding their inner child with a page or two of withering prose, is strong. In his exit interview with City Weekly, beloved ex-KRCL personality Bad Brad Wheeler could've been a whistleblowing' Scarface, spraying his former employers with bullets forged from their own alleged misdeeds. Instead, Bad Brad went to a Buddhist Zendo every morning and heeded the gurus there. He meditated and elected to deny himself fury, to refuse to contribute to the chorus of invective directed at station general manager Vicki Mann, vilified as the source of KRCL's turmoil. Days after the article ran, she quit. What does it mean? I dunno. Consult the Zendo. (Randy Harward)

Best preacher for hire
Rev. Bad Brad Wheeler

Weddings can be a real bummer sometimes. Not for those involved, I'm talking about us poor schmucks that have to sit through the evangelical teeth-pulling that goes on before the real party begins. Enter the Rev. Bad Brad Wheeler. This radio personality and blues musician turned part-time accredited vow-enumerator manages to take the occasional jittery and teary bonding ceremony and turn it into the happy gathering all weddings should be. He does it through considerate wit, vague pop-culture references and the occasional amen. (Mike Riedel)


Best Utah tweeter
Evan McMullin

Look, Evan—our man, Egg McMuffin, as it's said colloquially—we owe you an apology. Not many took you seriously. I remember when you visited my university. I laughed and contributed to the chorus of McDonald's breakfast jokes the rest of the more liberal-leaning students made. Now, however, on behalf of myself and the rest of the state, there are two things to say to you: We're sorry and you are the mothereffin' man on Twitter. In a time when a threat to democracy is lit-er-al-ly the President of the United States, and his avenue for debauchery is 140 characters, it's comforting to know there are people like you with experience and political sway fighting back and tweeting like hell. You've got hella clout, as the kids say, which will serve you well, should you ever take another crack at winning the president's seat. (Jordan Floyd)

Best muscle whisperer
Massage therapist Sarah Jensen

You might think of Sarah Jensen as compassionate and kind. You might think of her as professional and well-trained. She is all those things. But once you're on her table, the gloves come off. She might speak pleasantly about the weather, but her hands proceed to show your knots and wayward muscles who is boss. "Resistance is futile," her hands seem to be telling your misaligned fascia and filaments. This is not pampering. This is getting the most for your massage dollar. Seeing Sarah once a week is the best gift you can give your muscles. (Jerre Wroble) Mountain View Physical Therapy, 6770 S. 900 East, Ste. 100, Midvale, 801-996-3626,

Best Utah literary leading lady
Logan Poet Laureate Star Coulbrooke

If there's anyone who could be the face of the grassroots literary culture in Utah, it's Star Coulbrooke. Having been one of the chief editors of the recently published Helicon West Anthology, directing the 10-years-standing, twice-monthly reading series from which the anthology was born, writing her own collection of poetry titled Thin Spines of Memory, and all while serving as the poet laureate of Logan and coordinating the many literary events that come with the ol' title, Star has been busy this past year solidifying herself as an essential piece of Utah's literary scene. Props to you, Star, for rage, raging against the (supposedly) dying light of literature. We love hearing you howl. (JF)

Best Twitter sports fireworks
Gordon Hayward free agency announcement

On an eventful Independence Day for Utah NBA fans, Utah Jazz star forward Gordon Hayward was reportedly going to sign as a free agent with the Boston Celtics. Then he wasn't. Then maybe he was staying. Or then again maybe not. For more than five hours after a noon tweet by an ESPN reporter that Hayward was Boston bound, reports and counter-reports swirled, including a denial by Hayward's agent, Mark Bartelstein, that Hayward had made his final decision. Fans fretted, fumed and speculated wildly on social media, right up to the moment Hayward announced his departure for Boston at 5:48 local time, making for a crazy despair-hope-despair Jazz fan roller-coaster. (Scott Renshaw)

Best LGBTQ elders advocate
Richard Starley, SAGE Utah

Consider the challenges faced by the elderly—housing, health care, socializing, general age discrimination. Now add on the myriad problems that LGBTQ Utahns often experience. These unique barriers can be too much to face on one's own. That's why Richard Starley dedicates so much of his free time to improving life for the aging LGBTQ community as head of SAGE Utah, part of the Utah Pride Center. "When you become ill or vulnerable, you tend to go back in the closet a little bit. You don't let everybody know you're gay," he says. Though SAGE Utah has been inactive over recent years, under Starley's wing the group has seen more events in 2017 than ever before. From organizing events to collaborating with other agencies to visiting local nursing homes, he does it all with unwavering resilience and a humble sense of pride. (Andrea Harvey)


Best end-with-a-whimper trial
John Swallow

For all the millions of taxpayer dollars that went into the federal and state investigations and prosecution of former A.G.s Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, the net result was one dismissal and a trial that seemed to go on forever. So many allegations, so much finger pointing, so much salacious news copy—and all Utah finally had to show for it was a badly besmirched A.G's office and the question of who was going to pick up the legal bills. For those who attended court, it seemed as if the two sides were painfully mismatched, Swallow's phalanx of attorneys again and again enjoying field days with the state's witnesses. At times you almost wished someone would put the state's case out of its misery. And then the jury did just that with a speedy acquittal. Will we ever know the truth behind this convoluted saga? (SD)

Best Republican storming of the Democrat heartland
Speaker of the House Greg Hughes

When you have a power-block of Democrats occupying key positions in both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County, all should be well in our liberal domain. Two mayors, the sheriff and D.A. all recognizing the need of presenting a united front to a Republican Legislature deeply unsympathetic to liberal values. But from when tensions and spats between Mayor Jackie Biskupski, former county sheriff Jim Winder, and the two mayors over the chaos of Rio Grande became public, fellow Dems cringed at the unseemly bickering. Never in their wildest nightmares, however, would they have imagined that Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, the man largely credited with denying Medicaid expansion for the state's poor, would stomp into the heart of the liberal homeland and take charge. While tensions between Biskupski and Hughes boiled over on a Doug Wright KSL radio show, the various parties found a sense of public decorum to present at the Rio Grande press conferences charting the police crackdown on crime. But as the fisticuffs-loving Hughes both drove and shaped Operation Rio Grande, the question might well become at what price to the homeless? (SD)

Best gals you want on your side in a scuffle
Wasatch Roller Derby

Seriously, don't mess with these ladies. Attend one of their bouts and you'll see why. There are bruises and scrapes aplenty as each team's jammer tries to outrace the other and get through the pack to rack up points. Hearing player names like Makillda and Jane Accostin' is just as fun as watching these gals dodge, duck, dip, dive and pummel their way around the track. You yourself can learn the fierce art of roller derby by dropping by a crash course, and there's a league for kids ages 6-17 as well as a men's team. Or you could just sit and enjoy the show from the relative safety of the bleachers. (Sarah Arnoff)

Best NIMBY muscle flex
The hordes of Draper

In a year where neighborhoods uniformly agreed that the homeless need help, sure, just don't put them by me!, you had to dramatically up your NIMBY game to stand out. Cue the City of Draper. In a rancorous explosion, residents of Draper—an affluent city in the south end of the valley that is fixing to see more riches once the prison is relegated to the Salt Lake City hinterlands—responded full force at Mayor Troy Walker's offer to add two Draper sites to the list of possible homeless shelters. City residents showed up at a town hall session and booed their larynxes sore, aiming their ire at Walker, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, and most awkwardly, at a homeless man who bravely asked that folks don't rush to judge those less fortunate. Yeah right, guy! (DWH)

Best geriatric convict-at-large
John Baptiste

As the old saying goes, "You can only rob so many graves before the living try to hang you in Salt Lake Cemetery." This was a lesson that, in 1862, John Baptiste learned the hard way. Because of desperate perversion or miscalculation, Baptiste, the then local gravedigger, began stealing personal effects from the bodies he buried—numbering near 300 individuals. Once in legal custody, Baptiste was shipped off to the Great Salt Lake's Fremont Island, to live in total seclusion. After a six-week incarceration, Baptiste vanished, leaving vague hints of escape—now we are left to wonder, is Baptiste currently in Friendship Manor plotting his next escape? (Zac Smith)

Best awful mic cut
The old straight men who run an Eagle Mountain ward

If you've ever witnessed one, you know that LDS Fast and Testimony meetings inspire as much awkward, rambling, pseudo-religious anecdotes as they do rote drivel. How refreshing, then, to hear last June a 13-year-old step to the mic and bear testimony to her congregation in Eagle Mountain that she knew God loved her and had a plan in store even though she is gay. The taped speech might serve as inspiration for other LGBTQ youth who often struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation with a faith that's been slow to shake off its homophobic past. But listeners can only guess what other meaningful things she had to say because the bishopric cut the sound halfway through her prepared statement, and well before she could gush forth the obligatory name-of-Jesus-Christ-amen. (DWH)

Best sympathy for the Orange Devil
Jeremy Johnson

For a man who had once courted governors and attorneys general, and flown aid into earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the sight of one-time telemarketing multi-millionaire shackled in an orange jumpsuit while attorneys haggled over his right to not incriminate himself in the John Swallow trial, was an oddly maudlin affair. Johnson, after all, was a critical state witness, but he was also the focus of a federal prosecution that was far more troubling in terms of the conduct of the feds and the judge than anything the ridiculously overcharged Johnson was convicted of. As Johnson was repeatedly dragged out into court and asked if he would testify, it was hard not to feel a little sorry for a man who once seemed to have more money than even the devil would view as decent. (SD)

Best Brazilian fisticuff match
The anonymous Mormon pummeler

Let's get this out of the way from the get-go: We are thankful that no one was seriously injured when a bandit pulled a gun in March on a pair of Mormon missionaries in Manaus, Brazil. But this crook stuck up the wrong elder, a young man the LDS Church declined to identify, who, evidently, went to Brazil to chew açaí and kick ass—and he was all out of açaí. Grainy surveillance video footage shows the assailant first rummage through the Mormon pairs' pockets. But then the burlier companion with lightning reflexes snatches the pistol, tosses it into the weeds, and begins hammering the robber with right hooks until the knocked-around man scrambles away, leaving the elder posing in the street with his fists clenched and chest puffed as if he were commander of the Army of Helaman. (DWH)

Best Pint-sized culinary prodigy
Penelope Lorenzana, Park City Culinary Institute

This local culinary rising star with the sobriquet "Chef Moppy" has had cooking segments featured on Fox 13's "The Place" with Big Budah, and "Fresh Living" and "Inside the Story" on CBS affiliate KUTV. She has her own YouTube channel featuring her recipes, travels and interviews with fellow chefs, and has almost 2000 followers on Instagram. The first under-18 applicant accepted into the Park City Culinary Institute program, Chef Lorenzana has developed her own line of chef's knives scaled to fit smaller hands. Oh, and this entrepreneurial prodigy is just 11 years old. Keep an eye out for Chef Moppy's whisk-wielding whirling dervish of fun via all the social media streams and at Park City Culinary Institute events at the Salt Lake academy location. Her motto: "Inspiring junior chefs to create amazing food and memories by cooking with their family." You go, girl! (Darby Doyle) @chefmoppy

Best local music WTF
Mr. Hull

In June, I saw this weird-ass electro-noise duo Mr. Hull at Boing! At least, I think it was Mr. Hull. I can't find them online, aside for something I wrote in this paper. If it weren't for that and the six minutes of video I shot, I'd wonder if it even happened. "It," by the way, was two guys throwing a squelchy-squawky, half-hour tantrum about as musical as modem tones from behind a vanguard of plastic bottles filled with apple juice or something far more acidic and sickeningly yellow. One Hull drank some, then threw the uncapped bottle into the crowd. What was their first band meeting like? Hull 1: "We need a gimmick." Hull 2: "Meet me behind Diabolical Records—and bring all the plastic bottles you can find. We're totally gettin' booked for an NPR Tiny Desk Concert." (RH)


Best former governor to get duped by an internet prankster
Jon Huntsman Jr.

In July, CNN ran a light, inconsequential story about a mischievous Brit who sent out emails to members of President Trump's inner circle pretending to be other members of the Trump team. Huntsman, the newly nominated ambassador to Russia, received an email purporting to be from Trump's least-likely adult son to meet with Russians for dirt on the Clintons—Eric. Huntsman thanked (fake) Eric Trump for his encouraging words (in this exchange, the prankster didn't publish on his Twitter page the fake email he sent, only the response), and then clarified that his father is actually the Jon Huntsman who authored the book Winners Never Cheat. In another entertaining bogus email, this time sent to the shortest-tenured White House communication director Anthony Scaramucci, the prankster, posing as Huntsman, refers to the Trump sons as "dumb and dumber," which seemed to faze Scaramucci not at all. (DWH)

Best display of solidarity
Mexico relief radiotón

Thoughts and prayers can only get you so far. If you're the staff at La Gran D 102.3 FM, Salt Lake's premier Spanish-language radio station, you put your money where your mic is, and organize a radiothon to raise funds for those affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico. Many braved the elements on a rainy Sunday morning and swung by the station's west side HQ to give. I was invited to be on-air that day, and choked up more than once at the selfless displays of solidarity—little kids, lunch money in hand, dropped in; an older gentleman who had undergone heart surgery just a week prior came by, pesos at the ready. Best part is, all the money gathered (more than $8,000 total) is going straight to the hands of those in need. Check out their blog section for the compelling images. (EL)

Best (and only) bards in the West Desert
Grantsville Performing Arts Council

Utah's West Desert is the exclusive home to aliens (probably), three-eyed jack-rabbits and a fabulous group of thespians operating under the moniker Grantsville Performing Arts Council. The group has only been around for a few years, but they've put their shoulders to the performing-arts wheel, so to speak, and have performed a number of shows, most recently, the fab, literally-on-a-farm rendition of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. Perhaps what was most fulfilling at this summer's GPAC show was to see the ol' idea of art bringing a community together animated. If you, dear reader, are looking this coming summer for some theater art, make the jaunt out west on I-80 to Grantsville and see a GPAC show. You'll be pleased to find a beautiful town and a group of people doing something they love simply for the love of it. Oh, and the productions are pretty damned good, too. (JF)


Best volunteer groundskeepers
Friends of Gilgal Garden

Recognized as the must-see destination for Salt Lake City's quirky Mormon-esque sculptures, Gilgal Garden is much more than the rock edifices that distinguish it from other public spaces in the city. The 3-acre park also has a carefully curated garden, the upkeep for which falls on the shoulders of a group of volunteer gardening experts. In the warm months, these do-gooders can be found at Gilgal Garden every Tuesday morning, pulling weeds, pruning trees, spreading mulch or resting in the shade. A few of the gardeners also serve on the Friends of Gilgal Garden board, which guides other park decisions. (DWH)
749 E. 500 South,

Best patron saint of book arts and cussin'
Dana Knight aka Debra Entendre

Maybe you've met Dana Knight before, volunteering at the University of Utah's Book Arts Program or slinging coffee at Publik Coffee Roasters or by way of her devilish Chihuahua-mix pups, Hambone and Biscuit. Knight is a multi-media artist specializing in the use of vintage type fonts, advertising imagery and printmaking as a means to redefine personal narratives concerning gender roles and sexuality. Most recently working on a collection of male pinups, she hopes to re-examine an overtly sexualized art form, creating images that both women and men can admire. Visit the Marriott Library's Special Collections to see her reduction linocut, word-play based cookbook, the Stor-Bot cookbook. With a killer '50s fashion sense and a mouth to beat a sailor, Knight is keeping us humble—and I'm f*cking thankful! (ZS)

Best dedication to Utah's architectural past
Preservation Utah

Formerly the Utah Heritage Foundation, Preservation Utah started its campaign to protect historic buildings statewide in 1966 (the first organization to do so in the western U.S.), after its passionate founding members got sick of seeing beautiful building after building demolished. Their mission to "keep the past alive, not only for preservation, but to inspire and provoke a more creative present and sustainable future" is apparent in buildings across the Salt Lake Valley, including the City & County Building (which they helped restore in 1989), Trolley Square, the McCune Mansion and many more. You can show your support and love of historic architecture by hopping on one of their next Thirst Fursday Historic Pub Crawls. (SA)
375 N. Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-533-0858,

Best photographer of modern-day nostalgia
Lyndi Bone

I'm struggling to find a less creepy way to say this, so I'll just go for it: I am obsessed with this photographer's work. At the Urban Arts Festival this past September, I didn't want to leave her booth—ever. Her shots are such perfect depictions of modern-day nostalgia, exploring the many ways our culture, upbringing and surroundings affect the innocence and curiosity of our youth. The simplicity of each image, though, is the best part. It doesn't necessarily offer an answer, as we have yet to truly find out. She says it best in an online artist statement for her photo series "Robot Friend": "Will children look back on their technology-filled childhood in fondness, the same way we reminisce about ours?" (AH)


Best proponent for Utah's minority entrepreneurs
James Jackson III

In 2009, born-and-raised Utahn James Jackson III founded the Utah African American Chamber of Commerce, a key resource for small businesses owned by minorities. "The first five years were tough because it was just me, but now I have an active board, so that helped a lot," Jackson told City Weekly in an interview in February. The organization has grown exponentially over the past couple years, though, thanks to volunteers like him who've been successful in their mission of fostering accessibility, networking and education. (AH)

Best colon gazer
Dr. Edward Frech

No one likes to ponder the yards of snake-like intestines within one's own gut, and even less when you hit that age of going to a doctor to have it checked out. But when your doc says it's time, finding Dr. Frech waiting for you in the op room as the anaesthesiologist lines up those glorious drugs is as close to a pleasure as this situation allows. He's charm and gentleness itself and makes such a journey—albeit one of which you are blissfully unaware—a more-than-pleasant time. And, for those folks who swear by the "claret and cobalt," he's a diehard Real Salt Lake fan who will happily wax and wane over their ups and downs as you drift off into la-la land. (SD)

Best disappointing "feminist"
Becca Olea, "The Republican Unicorn"

Feminism can often be difficult to define. But one thing's for sure: True feminists are selfless; they support one another, and are proud to do it. So it's more than disappointing to see someone appropriate the movement, using it as personal branding without upholding those values—like Becca Olea, national committeewoman for Utah Young Republicans, who dubs herself as "The Republican Unicorn." From social media and YouTube videos aimed at political recruiting, to the cutesy products she sells on her website that just launched in September, she presents herself as a political enigma: millennial, Latina, "feminist" Republican. Her website claims to "empower women" yet offers only advice on beauty, fashion and health. Among hundreds of selfies, I couldn't find a single one of her supporting recent feminist causes, such as Women's Marches. Perhaps one can be a Republican and a feminist. But not like this. (AH)

Best three-song suckerpunch
Tom Bennett EP

Although his name and face popped up a lot, it took a while to finally listen to local singer-songwriter and one-man-band Tom Bennett. In fact, it wasn't until he sent a download of his new three-song EP, I Am Everywhere that I finally did. It was only a few bars into the first song that I was kickin' myself for waiting so long. The fresh-faced former missionary's songs, voice, guitar, harmonica, story and back catalog pack quite a punch. (RH)

Best verve for your nerves
Craig Campbell Chiropractic

Enter in the inner sanctum of Dr. Campbell's offices and you'll sing the body electric. The communal treatment room buzzes softly with vibrating tables and chairs. Even the kinetic sculptures and playful toys at the doctor's desk attest to the calm but animated atmosphere of his practice. "It's all energy," he says. With more than 40 years under his belt and an arsenal of modalities at his disposal, the doctor is half old-school chiropractor/half intuitive shaman who knows the best approaches to alleviate wrenching nerve and muscle pain. His unique foot neuropathy treatment offers promising results. (JW)
115 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-566-4357,


Best hairstylist to chat existentialism whilst styling a new 'do
Stephen Millis of Lunatic Fringe Holladay

If you're like me—an odd duck with introvert tendencies that dreads idle salon chatter—then you'll love Stephen Millis. As a reformed pre-med major, his love of science, anthropology and general quest for enlightenment make him an absolute delight to chat with. As can be expected from someone who enjoys studying culture and society, Millis is willing to take on trendsetting styles most stylist are not—hence why I was sitting in his chair for the time consuming task of getting a perm. Yep, you read that right. Perms are back bitches and though they still smell like the '80s, they're better than ever! Whether you want to chat about your own existential crisis or existentialism in general, Millis can hang, all whilst making your hair beautiful. (Aspen Perry)
4640 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-432-8533,

Best female-forward political group
Utah Women Unite

Imagine climbing a steep, snowy canyon wall. You've been at it all day. Your knees are trembling, your fingers are numb and you just drank the last of your water, but you're not worried because you can see it now—there's nothing stopping you from reaching the top. You're celebrating prematurely, overwhelmed with joy as you reach for that edge, when suddenly an orange man in a suit and tie appears, tells you you're doing it wrong, stomps on your hand and watches you fall. For so many women in the U.S., that's what the November 2016 election felt like. But the volunteers behind Utah Women Unite didn't waste any time with self-pity. The grassroots organization formed that month and has been working ever since to "protect and advance the rights of all Utah women, girls, marginalized and non-binary people" through education, direct legislative action and community organizing with events such as the Women's March to the Capitol in January. Utah needs more people like them. (AH)

Best book purveyor turned Ghostbuster turned Governor
Peter Marshall

Main Street can be a bit overwhelming, right? Lots of sights and sounds. Luckily, Utah Book & Magazine and owner Peter Marshall provide solace for the weary—just beware the horde of ghouls. "I've got 22 ghosts and one demonic in the basement," Marshall says. Before you ask, yes, he knows each ghost individually—from the mob gooney, to the bride, to his older brother Skip. For the past 31 years, Marshall has opened his doors at 3:30 a.m. to welcome book-lovers and spirits alike—a dedication that has his neighbors calling him the Governor of Main Street. And, just to be clear, Marshall plans to keep his ghosts, "They're good company! I'm tryin' to get them to put the books away." (ZS)
327 S. Main, 801-359-4391

Best nail duo
Tammy and Tony at Radiant Nails

You know the lyrics, "It takes two to make a thing go right"? Nowhere is that more true than at Radiant Nails, where Tammy and Tony team up to make any pedicure a peak experience. Tony does the prep work, soaking and scrubbing your feet to newborn-baby softness. Then Tammy swoops in with her mad nail-polishing skills. You'll strut out the shop with a spring in your step thanks to the impeccable service of this mom-and-pop team. Yes, the salon is clean and tidy, the chairs comfortable and the prices fair, but it's Tammy and Tony's friendly banter that will keep you coming back for more. (JW)
715 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-255-0450

Best canine ski shop greeting
Sonic the border collie at 7even Skis

Alright, alright, we theoretically understand why watershed purists vigilantly cling to limiting canine cohabitation in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. But a ski shop just doesn't feel like a mountain town locals joint without a shop dog, right? Case in point is perennial SLC favorite 7even Skis, where all tasks are performed under the watchful eye of Sonic, owner Todd Herilla's sweet-as-can-be border collie. She's as comfortable greeting groms of all ages as she is dogging Todd's side-country tracks in the shoulder season. That's just one of the many reasons we love buying a custom-made pair of boards or getting our current skis professionally hand tuned by Herilla and his trusty team of edge-sharpening experts. Karma request? In the next life, we'd like to come back as a 7even Skis pro pooch, pretty please. Also, this entry is in the people section, because dogs are people too, mmkay?(DD)
25 W. Louise Ave., 801-856-0291,

Best lavender enchantress out of Cache Valley
Peggy Nelson

"We have a saying—hard things make you strong," says Peggy Nelson, owner of The Lavender Apple. Nelson, along with husband Mike and their children, have weathered the storms of living abroad (spending some time in France) and building a lavender farm from scratch. You might recognize Nelson as the kind, lavender surrounded presence from the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmers Market. By hand harvesting (with a little community help) each and every one of her 80 apple trees and 1,000 lavender plants, Nelson has created some of the most delicious and therapeutic tonics and treats—ranging from lavender apple jellies ($8) to fast-selling lavender soaps ($6) to carefully distilled lavender body oil ($10). Needless to say, by now, the Nelsons are strong indeed. (ZS)
Downtown Farmers Market, Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.,

Best lively group that'll help you with your Linkedin profile
Young Professionals Salt Lake City

Hosting regular mixers where young professionals rub elbows and network with like-minded folks, this group also promotes volunteer opportunities. Even if you have little interest in networking, their get-togethers provide a good opportunity to leave the house and meet new friends. The makeup of the organization is diverse, many of whom are transplants from other states or countries, having moved out West for work. And if you run into the YPSLC crowd on a weekend, make sure to tag along because it's sure to be a fun night. (DWH)


Best middle finger to the Utah delegation
Bears Ears National Monument

Utah's congressional representatives consider President Obama's unilateral declaration of a new national monument in the Beehive State to be a gross offense. The #MidnightMonument, they decried, was created in a cloak of darkness before the outgoing president rode off into political retirement. Of course, there is another version of this story, told from a Native American population in the state that has traditionally been ignored. Importantly in their version, they led the groundswell (not Obama or former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell) and petitioned the government to protect ancestral land that houses artifacts and petroglyphs—sites that have been wantonly looted and vandalized. (DWH)

Best place to see a concert and activate
Boing! Anarchist Collective

Rock 'n' roll is about rebellion. Located in a brick house near Liberty Park, Boing!'s main concern is activism, but they host concerts from time to time. And while local and national acts set up and tear down, there's an abundance of books, pamphlets, zines and other propaganda available to help you learn how to dismantle the machine. There's even a little light reading on hand, like copies of the killer zine PORK out of Oregon, in case you're not sure you wanna join the Weather Underground just yet. (RH)
608 S. 500 East, 801-364-2426

Best nonprofit DIY cemetery
Pleasant Green Cemetery

With graves variously covered by plywood, ornamental cactuses and glowing Kennecott mineral deposits, you might unknowingly start to hum Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" while walking through Pleasant Green Cemetery. Your showtune selection, while dated, is at least fitting. Erected in 1883 to primarily serve the rural LDS farming community, this western spread has, since 1983, been lovingly managed by the nonprofit Pleasant Green Cemetery Preservation and Development Association. And though there is talk of ghosts and the like, PGC is most welcomingly known for its affordable plot packaging ($500 per plot), liberal decoration policy and commitment to keeping sacred the memory of those buried within. (ZS)
9200 W. 3500 South, Magna, 801-860-1124,

Best local Lego Land
BAM! Bricks & More

With a surge in theatrical movies based on the beloved building bricks, Lego are as popular as ever—and real devotees love seeking out special bricks or rare sets. This Ogden-area toy store specializes in hard-to-find items for Lego-lovers, including used and discontinued sets and a huge, ever-changing selection of assorted random bricks available to purchase by the pound. Find distinctive licensed character mini-figures, or build your own characters from scratch. Putting together a combination of pieces that's perfect for you will be a snap. (SR)
539 N. Harrisville Road, Harrisville, 801-918-3972,


Best coffee shop to start your dystopian novel that's chock-full of unmistakable-yet-subtle post-Mormon themes and that you swear is nothing like Brave New World and nothing—oh my God, I mean, gosh, no, God!—nothing like The Hunger Games
City Creek Starbucks

So you're a post-Mormon, and, look, you know there are a lot of you out there, but you've got a voice that's distinct, and if you don't write the next great American dystopian novel about your po-mo experience, who will? Every writer knows the key to good writing, aside from alcohol, which you've now tried—well, it was one Mike's Hard and it got you feeling a little woozy, honestly—is an ideal writing environment. There's a lot of cool coffee shops around town, but you've grown up on gas station Diet Coke and aren't exactly sure if there's a secret password or something you've got to know to get into them, so the safe yet semi-rebellious bet is to go to a Starbucks. There's a million of those capitalist crap holes everywhere. To you, the best and most stick-it-to-the-friggin'-man Starbucks location is the one inside the City Creek shopping mall. That's right—you'll sip on that grande vanilla bean Frappuccino, 'cause you're still really not sure about the health effects of too much caffeine and you better start out slow and devise the most intricate, Nobel-worthy dystopian plot ever thought of. In the menace's incredibly convenient and air-conditioned lair, you begin: "A squat gray building of only 34 stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL UTAH HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTER, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY." That doesn't sound familiar to you, does it? (JF)
80 S. Main, 801-355-3037,

Best place to learn about the advent of punk from someone who was there
Sound & Vision Records

Mike Maccarrone, owner of South Salt Lake's coolest record store, lived in Brooklyn in 1977 and has been pushin' stacks of wax for nearly as long. And '77, as you might know, was the year punk rock was born. So Maccarrone, who also used to kill time at the storied venue Max's Kansas City, had a front-row seat and knows everyone. He also played in a little punk band of his own, and their 7-inch fetches 100 bucks when it pops up on eBay—ask him about that. Mike's lovely wife, Pam, worked at MTV in the '80s, so she has stories to share, too. And those stories greatly enhance the music-buying experience. (RH)
3444 S. Main, 385-229-4165,

Best place to relive your childhood
Atomic Arcade

Visiting Atomic Arcade is the closest you're gonna get to a time machine. Want to relive the decades you spent hanging out in the mall arcade, shooting monsters in Carnevil? Look no further. Atomic Arcade is filled with your favorite retro arcade games, pinball and everything else you'd expect to find. Admission is free; video games cost just 25 cents, pinball and driving games are 50 cents. "I just wanted to have a place to go that was like the places I used to go, instead of the stale, brightly lit ticket farms for babies," owner Chris Wright says. "I missed the dark and sketchy feeling of the arcades from my youth." (Amanda Rock)
3939 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-634-1130

Best TLC for small furry beasts
Posh Paws

When it comes to grooming for your small dog, getting a good trim and cut isn't as easy as you'd think. Most places that cater to all dog breeds are booked weeks in advance and having change from $60 is doubtful. Posh Paws by 9th and 9th, along with offering those to-die-for accessories your small pooch can't live without, also offers an all-round small dog grooming service. Owner Courtney is attentive to dog and owner alike. She arranges her schedule so your pet gets more individual attention and, price wise, comes in competitively with other boutiques. But the ultimate test is how weeks after a visit to Posh Paws, your dog's coat still boosts an elegant, head-turning trim when you take her out for a stroll. (SD)
1005 E. 900 South, 801-671-6020,

Best place to escape the horrors of the real world by delving into the preferable zombie hellscape

You know that disheveled dude who lives at the end of your street, the one you try to avoid on evening walks lest you get caught listening to his soliloquy about which ammo is best to stockpile in preparation for the end times? Well now's the moment to admit that he might be onto something and you, too, are not ruling out a zombie apocalypse. Not only that, but, come on, it's a world that you kinda-sorta eagerly welcome. The VR games at Virtualities at the Gateway jolts you into this milieu where you can practice shooting or slicing up the undead in their tracks without the hassle of waiting around for our civilization to collapse. (DWH)
86 S. Rio Grande St., 385-215-7426,

Best place to try out homelessness for a few nights
The Road Home's emergency Rio Grande shelter

When you ask the question, "What do you know about homelessness?", some of our leaders can attest to firsthand experience. Folks ranging from Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams have spent a night or two at the shelter in order to understand the problems the homeless and the shelter face. Developer Bryson Garbett also spent several nights there, spinning his time into what would finally become a campaign to close the shelter down. While we would never decry trying to understand the highly nuanced, complex nature of homelessness, and indeed several of our reporters have gone down to the shelter in their best grubbies to learn more, perhaps the time for such research is over, to be replaced by more dialogue with the homeless themselves. (SD)
210 S. Rio Grande St., 801-359-4142,

Best place for free downtown parking
200 West between 300 South and 400 South

We don't usually associate the word "free" with downtown parking. Normally, the idea of urban parking provokes feelings similar to a slow death as you circle the city searching for a reasonably priced lot until the inevitable occurs and you realize you won't find anything inexpensive, so you pull into the first lot you originally passed back when you still possessed hope. Well, located on 200 West in between 300 South and 400 South on the west side of the road, are free parking spaces without a time limit. The spots are usually full, but I promise, if you circle the block about three times (it is nearly guaranteed), someone will have left, and your prayers will be answered. (Julia Villar)


Best analog photo stock
Pictureline's Film Fridge

If you didn't know it was there, you'd walk right past it, but photography enthusiasts have been flocking to Pictureline's fridge room for years to stock up on good old-fashioned film. The tiny space tucked away behind the store's entrance is normally stocked with 35mm basics from Kodak, Ilford and Fujifilm, but you can also grab medium- and large-format necessities as well as an array of instant film. If you're not sure what you need, no worries. There's always a helpful staff member on hand to aid in choosing the right roll—and to unlock the fridge doors. (SA)
305 W. 700 South, 801-364-1200,

Best homies in the Sk801
Flatspotter Goods

Fresh on the scene and touting a team of skateboarders with diverse and totally messed up styles of riding, SLC-based skate company Flatspotter Goods (FSG) has quickly become one of the most exciting presences in the sk801. A quick perusal of the company's Instagram (the app where just about everything in skateboarding goes down nowadays) will show FSG team skaters Matt Fisher, Deng Tear and Shylio Sweat are no joke and the company doesn't hold back when it comes to supporting whoever else is shredding in the state. If you're in the market for a new ride, or, hell, maybe if you just want some countercultural wall decor, skip the mall shops (read: Zumiez), and pick up something from FSG at your local skate shop or online. (JF)

Best place to get the DL on your community
City Council Meetings

Depending on where in Utah you reside, your city council might have better attendance than others. As a general rule, though, the audience headcount is likely to be under five. Which is a surprising number given the amount of friends we all have voicing complaints about city decisions via social media. If only there were a place they could go to voice those concerns—oh wait, there is! On any given night, your city council is sure to have time slated for public comments. An ideal moment for moving the rant from deaf ears scrolling on Facebook to the folks who make those decisions based on constituent feedback. (AP)


Best outdoor adventure for newbies
Goblin Valley Slot Canyons

I wouldn't consider myself a super outdoorsy person, but I have many friends who are, so I've had my fair share of Utah adventures. If I had to recommend a single daytime outing to someone from out of town, it would be the slot canyons at Goblin Valley. There are several different hikes you can do, ranging from easy to difficult. The one I did was relatively easy, but it was a total adventure nonetheless. The walls of these canyons are so close together at some points, you have to walk sideways, and sometimes through water up to your hips. Not to mention the giant boulders you have to climb, and the beautiful views of the almost surreal looking red rock formations. Some tips: Wear waterproof shoes, look for the signs telling you which direction to go and don't bring your dog. (AH)

Best hill to roll a rock up and down, up and down, up and down, until you die
Utah State University's Old Main Hill

So you're quasi-fluent in French and a born-again existentialist that's looking for something to consummate your transformation. Don't wait on State Street for an acquaintance named Godot who will never, in fact, arrive, and skip shooting a man for no reason, because, my existentialist, yr. corresp. has the thing for you. One-hundred-something miles north of SLC sits Utah State University's campus, a fabulous locale whose hallmark building sits atop a giant-ass hill. All the campus' beauty aside, the hill is the perfect metaphor for the universe's indifference. The hill is hot-and-heinous in summer, and colder than a banker's heart in winter. Whether traveling up or down, the hill flogs the muscles in your legs. The hill, above all, reminds you, you short-of-breath traveller, that one day you will be absent-of-breath and left to oblivion's will. So grab a boulder, you sad sack of philosophical shit, and roll it up and down, up and down, up and down that existential hill. Do it until you, too, reach your end. Try to smile along the way. After all, this is what Sartre was talking about, right? (JF)


Best in-the-round extemporaneous open-mic and conspiracy theory storytime
Twisted Roots

A few weeks ago, I met a mysterious well-dressed man outside the office. He toted an electric guitar with an American flag strap and was headed to downtown head shop Twisted Roots for an "open-mic." He also let me in on his business ideas and conspiracy theories, and even sent me the details—all 7,000 pages of them. (I'd share, but he made me swear to keep it secret.) It turns out there's a rotating stage in Twisted's storefront window, with instruments for anyone to play without an appointment. Attention local musicians: Pop-up shows before random people who might never see you on your own? Great idea. P.S. Anyone worth more than $20 million is a Satanist. I'm not saying where I heard that. (RH)
156 S. Main, 801-972-1312,

Best border Utah town to gamble in that isn't West Wendover
Franklin, Idaho

If the opulent Montego Bay and Peppermill Casino aren't tickling your gambling fancy anymore, and if spending all night wired on Diet Coke and Slim Jims at the Rainbow Trucker Lounge just isn't hitting the right spot either, get out the hell out of 'Dover and head up north to the humble town of Franklin, Idaho. At the foot of the Bear River mountains, and just minutes away from Logan, Franklin is the perfect place to blow through a pocket full of 20s, all while taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the excellent cuisine its two gambling-friendly gas stations have to offer. Perhaps the best part of Franklin is that it caters to Utah's addiction-conscious, covert gamblers. Selling exclusively lottery and scratch-and-win tickets, Franklin's gas stations provide patrons with the ability to get their gambling fix, but without having to sit at a table or slot machine where they might be seen by an unsuspecting ward member or neighbor. Additionally, having to interact with a clerk, each purchase curtails a gambler's impulse to continue vying for sinful winnings by way of guilt. The next time you hear that still, small and devilish voice whisper in your ear, pack up and make your way to Franklin. (JF)


Best recordings & ephemera
Albatross Recordings & Ephemera

These days you can buy anything you want online, but what about the things you didn't know you wanted? Albatross Recordings & Ephemera has it all. Peruse the record collection and eclectic books and art. You'll find curious and delightful things you didn't know you needed. "Albatross is an ever-growing organism," owner Timo Hatziathanasiou says. "It's a curated record store with a selection of non-musical items for nerds, witches, monster kids or fringe literary enthusiasts. The goal is to share something we appreciate with others—to find joy in the discovery." (AR)
1305 S. 900 East,

Best return of an institution
UMFA re-launch

A year and a half feels like forever in a world where everything moves at a rapid pace, but when the Utah Museum of Fine Arts decided to undertake major renovations on the University of Utah building, they wanted to do it right. The project involved upgrades both structural (improving temperature and humidity control) and conceptual (re-imagining gallery spaces for their focus, and how art would be presented to the public). The grand re-opening in August showed off beautifully re-painted spaces, bilingual curatorial materials and interactive family-friendly exhibits. It was worth the wait. (SR)
410 Campus Center Drive, 801-581-7332,

Best Christmas-spirit recharge carol fest
St. Paul's Christmas Eve service

By the time you hit Christmas Eve—after fighting your way through the shopping, the snow and finally managing to leave work behind—finding bona fide Christmas cheer can be taxing. If you need an injection of old-fashioned yuletide spirit replete with carols and a genuine sense of the magic of the season, then the 10 p.m. Christmas carol service, followed by an 11 p.m. Mass at St. Paul's Episcopal Church is for you. Drenched in seasonal decorations, a talented choir and small group of musicians bring an intimacy to Christmas carol favorites that warms the cockles of the most Scrooge-like heart. The Tudor-revival building is one of the jewels in Salt Lake's mostly cookie-cutter churches, and on Christmas Eve it fills with a bonhomie and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" spirit that can't be beat. (SD)
261 S. 900 East, 801-322-5869,


Best suburban bookstore
Marissa's Books

If you think the only cool bookstores are located downtown, you're so wrong. Marissa's Books, endcapping a Murray strip mall, is a bibliophile's dream. There's 4200 square feet stocked with new, used and gorgeous vintage books with a fantastic selection of children's books. I especially dig the pulp and science fiction paperbacks.The store is named after owner Cindy Dumas' granddaughter, Marissa. "Prior to opening the store, we used to love going to bookstores together and sitting for hours. When I decided to open the store, there was no other name I would even consider," Dumas says. (AR)
5692 S. 900 East, Ste. 10, Murray, 801-262-2873,

Best Noah's Ark library
Sprague Library

Torrential thunderstorms in late July saw Salt Lake City streets dramatically disappear under feet of water and residences, businesses and schools the victims of flash floods. Among the casualties on July 26 was the Sprague Library in Sugar House, which saw its basement-based children's and nonfiction sections flooded. The damage meant the 1928-built, English Tudor style library was closed for three months. Which is a genuine cause to mourn for Sugar House-ites who value it as one of the few remaining places in the 'hood that has not only a sense of history and character, but also a cozy warmth and intimacy that welcomes book-lovers. The city organized a rally for Sprague—a reflection, perhaps, of how valuable, despite the dominance of online culture and instant social media, such community assets are. (SD)
2131 S. 1100 East, 801-594-8640,

Best place to escape the heat after midnight and get an adrenaline rush
Northcrest Swim Club

Hidden in the upper Avenues sits the Northcrest Swim Club: a relatively small pool with a shallow section, deep section, low-diving board and the classic high-diving board. The pool closes at a reasonable hour during the day but, fortunately, the short gate allows locals to sneak into it at night without a struggle. You do not need to be fast nor fit to climb the fence. The pool is perfect for night time dips because you can enjoy the amenities without the scalding sun. However, remember to respect the neighbors and be relatively quiet, but don't refrain from wildly jumping off of the high-diving board. You won't regret it. (JV)
839 Hilltop Road, 801-359-1811,

Best spot to watch tumbling tumbleweeds
The Land Formerly Known as Cottonwood Mall Site

When Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) added the 57-acre lot to their massive portfolio, it was reminiscent of the moment Wu peed on a rug that did not belong to him. Fast forward almost a decade, and the Dudes of Holladay are still looking for someone to populate their lot. While Ivory Homes might be the company to rejuvenate it, just how many ins and outs HHC is going to make Ivory jump through to purchase the land remains to be seen. In the meantime it's a great spot to... "go drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds." (AP)
4835 S. Highland Drive, Holladay


Best Summer Variety Venue
Sandy Amphitheater

Few things say "summer" in Utah quite like outdoor entertainment—and for many, that means concerts. You'll get plenty of those in a Sandy Amphitheater summer season, as 2017 just wrapped with performances by Collective Soul, Air Supply, The Band Perry and many more. But the fresh-air venue also provides a place for even more varied seasonal entertainment, from the classical sounds of the American West Symphony to Sandy Arts Guild theatrical productions to the improv comedy team of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. It's a four-month sampler of the entire performing-arts spectrum. (SR)
1245 E. 9400 South, Sandy,

Best Way to not get a Darwin Award while adventuring in Utah
Utah Department of Natural Resources Map & Bookstore

Don't be that douchecanoe who drives off the edge of Antelope Island because the GPS tells ya to. Step 1: Go to the Utah Department of Natural Resources main office building. Step 2: From the lobby, take a sharp left into the floor-to-ceiling lined book and map shop. Step 3: Tell the ever-helpful and knowledgeable staff where you're headed; they'll immediately locate a real-life paper map of your adventure destination in a multitude of options from general region to minute topographic. Step 4: Might as well pick up some guide books about mammal tracks, geologic history, campfire cast-iron cooking and outdoor survival while you're at it, right? Step 5: Figure out how to read a damned map before you need to use it. Duh. (DD)
1594 W. North Temple, 801-537-3320,


Best place to feel better about your dog
Tanner Park

Sometimes I like to spoil my dog by making her feel like people. That's when I'll take her to Home Depot and she's allowed to think we're this cute couple shopping for a bathroom vanity when I'm really only there to get duct tape for my car. It's an absolute joy for me, then, when I take her to Tanner Park and she thinks we're out for a stroll in some type of dog/human village! Tanner park is more like a small trail and even has a shallow river where your dogs can take a splash. I also like comparing my dog to other's dumpster ghouls. (Rex Magana)
2760 Heritage Way, 385-468-7275,

Best Sunday drive
East Canyon to Echo Reservoir

Alpine Loop and the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway are gorgeous but oh-so crowded during summer and fall weekends. Take a little meandering road away from the crowds during your Sunday afternoon and head up East Canyon for fabulous views of Parleys. Continue down the backside of the mountain into Morgan County and be surrounded by towering aspens and small ranches until you pop out onto sage-covered hills around East Canyon State Park. Head through to Henefer and instead of getting on Interstate 84, take Old Highway 30 through Echo and cross under I-80 to hit the east side of Echo Reservoir. It's a little barren here but gets green again as you pass through the fields of Coalville and meet up with I-80 in Wanship. Take exit 134 for East Canyon again but exit through Emigration Canyon for a little extra view. (SA)

Best wildlife spotting in city limits
Salt Lake City Cemetery

Salt Lake City sexton Mark Smith likes to say that cemeteries are for the living. And that includes non-humans, too. Romping freely around the 150-acre patch of green space in the Avenues, foxes, deer, coyotes and badgers have made living quarters among the dead in the state's largest municipal graveyard. Smith welcomes the public to stroll through and gander at the animals along the way. Folks, however, are asked not to try to corral any wildlife (you're bound to get your face eaten off or toe stomped on), and, as all wildlife experts will advise: Don't try to feed them, dummy. (DWH)
200 N St.,


Best premise licensed as a homebrew store not a bar
The Beer Nut

Homebrewing has been legal in Utah for less than a decade, but that doesn't mean the hobby isn't popular. Quite the contrary, actually. And The Beer Nut has been Salt Lake City's home base for all homebrew needs. Newbies (or "brewbies") can pick up a kit with essential ingredients and step-by-step instructions to get started. The store's got everything the more experienced brewmaster needs as well, including a selection of bulk grain to experiment with as you please. Chat up the expert staff to find the right tools for your perfect brew. (SA)
1200 S. State, 801-531-8182,

Best amplification of local girls' self-worth
Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls

There are tons of music programs for kids—the School of Rock and MusicGarage, for starters, but the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls SLC teaches more than music. It uses rock 'n' roll as a means to empower girls as they get out in the world, armed with the knowledge that they can do anything. Now doing two sessions each summer, the camp is looking to start an after-school program to help these nascent riot grrls' bands to incubate. And some campers have already returned as volunteers, hoping to pay the education and inspiration forward. (RH)

Best movie theater to escape a lazy Sunday's summer heat
Broadway Centre Theatre

Here's a movie idea: guy wakes up among his empties and then heads downtown only to duck away from the muggy Sunday morning at a cool $6.75 matinee. Plot twist: It's autobiographical. So maybe it doesn't make for a riveting narrative on the silver screen, but whatever film being projected undoubtedly will. If you don't know by now, the Broadway (the Tower is the other option) plays one-of-a-kind movies that rarely conform to the tired plotline that filmmakers insist on hammering over and over. (DWH)
111 E. 300 South, 801-321-0310,


Best when it's hot AF slope-style cool down
Utah Olympic Park Fly Freestyle camp

For the #neversummer crowd who can't swing a Southern Hemisphere ski trip come those 100-degree days in July, head up Parleys Canyon to the Utah Olympic Park and cool down in high-flying style. Snowboarders and skiers aged 7 and above launch themselves (under the supervision of world-class coaches) from graduated ramps into the specially designed plunge pool. Half-day and full-day camps cover safety, trampoline practice and ramp jumping skills for athletes just starting out or already sending inverted aerials. The sunny poolside deck makes a pretty nice viewing arena for parental units to ponder Olympic dreams and be really goddamned thankful for helmets. All safety gear, wetsuits and ski/board equipment is provided by the program. The camp runs June-September; rates start at $195. (DD)
3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City, 435-658-4200,

Best place to go streaking because why not?
Bonneville Golf Course

Imagine: the moon is rising, you are alone (or with a friend, probably/preferably), you are barefoot and vulnerable, at an open, endless field. You begin to run, then scream, then smile, because you realize you are absolutely free and safe from the judgement of society. This is a great, but temporary, way to momentarily forget daily anxieties and stresses and return to the natural state of mankind: naked and wild. (JV)
954 Connor St., 801-583-9513,


Best Returned Missionaries
The Book of Mormon at Eccles Theater

The span between The Book of Mormon's button-pushing 2015 local debut and its 2017 return engagement were not the best two years for local theater enthusiasts, as those who missed the original sold-out run awaited the chance to see the cheerful musical skewering of the dominant local religion. However, that wait did mean the second time around could be in the gorgeous new Eccles Theater, offering a magnificent and comfortable setting for the sacrilege. The songs remained the same, and for many locals it was a great chance to say "Hello" to the venue. Next year promises another home run in the form of Hamilton, running April 11-May 6. (SR)
131 S. Main, 385-468-1010,

Best place to hear a story
Clubhouse on South Temple

Once a month, The Bee: Stories from the Hive hosts its wonderful themed storytelling competition, and the event, cofounded by Giuliana Serena, has received Best Of accolades before. So now's a chance to spotlight the storyteller's new home, the Clubhouse. It's an exquisite, historical venue that originally provided space to the Ladies Literary Club. Now, the spot doubles as a host to miscellaneous events and a photography studio. This fall, for example, the Clubhouse screened No Resolution, a film by Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, whose crooning acoustic set reverberated all the way to the back room's open bar. (DWH)
850 E. South Temple, 385-313-8285,

Best quirky roadside pit stop
Escalante Rock Shop

Don't be mislead by the sight of the nondescript turn-off on Route 12 near Escalante. It's the way to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, one of Utah's most scenic natural areas—and the Escalante Rock Shop. Additionally, don't be concerned by the sight of the rock shop itself. It might be tiny and shack-like but inside is packed with archeological and geological wonders like petrified wood, dinosaur bone and minerals. The outside is chock full of goodies, too, with shelves and tables barely visible under their geological bounty. Owner Scott Nelson is a wealth of knowledge on Utah rocks and can help you find that special souvenir to take home. (SA)
475 N. Wide Hollow Reservoir Road, Escalante, 435-826-4796,

Best neighborhood at a tipping point
9th and 9th

If you haven't been to this leafy, toned burg in a while, now's the time to visit. What The Washington Post called the Brooklyn of Salt Lake City is in the midst of a passionate revival. Whether it's the crowd drinking at East Liberty Tap House, the local cognoscenti dining at Mazza, tattooed bicyclists nattering outside Coffee Garden, teenage girls from Rowland Hall picking at their gelato at Dolcetti Gelato or pizza-lovers rushing to wood-fired pizzeria Nono, there's an undeniable energy to the 9th and 9th neighborhood that's second to none. The tree-lined streets echo to buzz and laughter and while the annual street festival is always tinged with the coming of fall, there's also a gratitude that this funky little gathering place has finally found its feet. (SD)


Best place to step on toes
Salt Lake Swing

You'll promptly learn how to not step on your partner's toes under the helpful guidance of Salt Lake Swing's dance instructors, but accidents happen and are quickly forgiven. Join them each Wednesday at Prohibition for free intro lessons and dance the night away to music from locals Hot House West. If you're ready for something more in-depth, sign up for a class or two and prepare to swing it up wherever you might be. (SA)

Best pool fiend expansion
Poco Loco Swim Shop

For more than 20 years, Poco Loco has been serving swimmers in Utah and throughout the West, recognizing that individuals and teams are looking for quality products whether getting in the pool is a hobby or a calling. That success was reinforced in 2017, as Poco Loco acquired Midvale's Aquaholics to offer an additional location for its products and services. Swimsuits, caps, goggles, snorkels and more make every dip into the water a great one, and now it's even easier to get the good stuff. (SR)
1774 N. University Parkway No. 12, Provo, 801-375-3987; 583 E. Fort Union, Midvale, 801-849-0928;


Best place to find the perfect last-minute present
Capital City Antique Mall

We love the people close to us desperately, but everybody can relate to how easy it is to forget our friend's birthday. You've been thinking about their birthday for a month and were planning to buy them the absolute perfect gift: creative, slightly sophisticated and unique. However, the truth is that you kept delaying buying them that perfect present until the day of their birthday, and now you have on hour to find it. Well, the simple solution is to visit the Antique Mall, a large building filled with a variety of interesting items, varying in price range, size and style. You can find anything from 50-cent old photographs and funky jewelry to an old, but slightly functioning, bike. There is something for everybody at the Capital City Antique Mall. (JV)
959 S. West Temple, 801-521-7207,

Best spot for a backseat makeout
Sandy Civic Center Trax Station Parking Lot

On a good night, the Sandy Civic Center Trax Station's parking lot is filled with the perfect amount of cars: not too many, which would ruin the possibility of getting a spot with a standard number of two empty parking spots on either side, and not too few, because a lone car in an empty lot could pique a passerby's interest, and the Lord knows the last thing you want during a backseat makeout is to make an accidental voyeurist of someone. The optimal time for your backseat extravaganza (sorry, you can't exactly be spontaneous here) is between the times of 7 and 11 p.m., depending, of course, upon the seasonal time of the sunset. During this period, Trax-goers are usually at their nightly destination, and are not likely to do anything that would intrude on your backseat ... fun. Bring a sunshade for your front window and a water bottle for hydration, of course. If you don't have tinted windows, it's best to lie prostrate to the backseat. Most of all, have fun, you crazy kids, and thank UTA for providing a backseat makeout haven, something your 17-year-old self could have never dreamed of. (JF)
115 E. Sego Lily Drive, Sandy


Best crowd-funded public service announcement
Cosmopolitan magazine is Porn billboard on I-15

Thanks to the Utah state government, all those who were not already clued-in know that porn is a goddamned health crisis. Certainly, this creates a sort of chicken-and-egg conundrum—I mean, what's the real problem and which came first: naked people in magazines, or the incessant need to flog one's dolphin? My vote is on the dolphin-flogger coming first, but that's neither here nor there, but probably on the ceiling or on the floor. With this new crisis, how are we, the lay people of Utah, to know what porn is? Well, a lot of that knowledge is still pixelated, but thanks to Victoria Hearst and her group's crowdfunded billboard, I-15 travelers now know, specifically, that Cosmopolitan magazine is a pornographic publication. Sure, content like "The STI Crisis Facing Millennial Women," "Life of Kylie Tries and Fails to Make Kylie Jenner Seem Relatable" and "The 10 Best Fall Nail Polish Colors" might not be your usual cup of pornographic tea, but this billboard says it is porn! And, most horrific of all, it hurts kids. Take their word for it. I mean, God forbid your little boy want to know which nail polish colors are going to be hot, hot, hot come summer. (JF)

Best reason to drink at home
The Utah Legislature

Isn't it fitting that Utah became the first state to pass a law lowering its DUI limit from .08 BAC to .05 right after it reported a record profit from its state-run liquor stores? Hmm. The Beehive State is no stranger to strange liquor laws, but there's evidence this new bill is frightening patrons away from bars. Gov. Gary Herbert, who initially intended to call a special session to iron out the details before it goes into effect at the end of 2018, says troopers suspect a decrease in DUIs already. Maybe it's true. But if liquor store sales keep climbing, one has to assume that people are still drinking boatloads of booze, beer and wine that, in turn, feeds the state's bottom line. (DWH)

Best Shakespearean kismet
Utah Shakespeare Festival

Each year, the Cedar City-based Shakespeare festival never ceases to surprise with its out-of-the-box thinking. 2017 was no different with the delightful pairing of the theater version of the hit film Shakespeare in Love with Romeo and Juliet. The movie explored Shakespeare's creative and emotional milieu against a backdrop of writing and staging Romeo. The festival playfully had many of the same actors appear in both plays, most powerfully Betsy Mugavero as Shakespeare's love interest and muse Viola and then as Juliet. Mugavero's Viola and her Juliet were both jewels in solid productions, as well as a reminder that even Shakespeare can be brushed up on once in awhile. (SD)

Best radio censuring device
Doug Fabrizio's bleep button

If you turned on the radio midway through a rebroadcast RadioWest episode in May, you might have thought by the amount of bleeped "f*ck"s and "sh*t"s coming from host Doug Fabrizio's mouth that he had lost his godd*mn mind. But of course, Fabrizio, the incisive yet soft-spoken consummate motherf*ckin' professional was getting to the core of our understanding of curse words during a smart, elucidating interview. A mainstay of Utah public radio, Fabrizio and RadioWest in January moved to a new 9 a.m. time slot. If you can't catch the NPR program at its new hour, quit your b*tching. Episodes are available in podcast form the day of. (DWH)
KUER 90.1,

Best LGBTQ online resource
Queer Friends

Say what you want about social media and its negative effects on our culture. For some people, it's a godsend. For LGBTQ folks in Salt Lake City, one of the most popular online social resources has been Queer Friends on Meetup, currently at 1,384 members and counting. Events are posted weekly, including camping, Oktoberfest outings, movie nights, discussion groups and everything in between. And if you're a Meetup member, you can also join their Facebook group, a great resource for those looking to share stories, get advice or assistance on anything from housing to employment, and generally just stay updated on community happenings. (AH)


Best print magazine to help you weather the end of times
The Friend Magazine

If you aren't one to frequent Mormons' regularly scheduled Sunday sacrament soirée, you might not be aware that the world is ending. I mean, technically it's been ending since it began, so apocalyptic claims shouldn't be terribly weighty, but alas, we will not go there. In such allegedly perilous times, dear reader, we are all truly blessed to have a few beacons of righteousness. Namely, the subject of this prestigious award, The Friend Magazine. For more than 40 years, the children-focused publication has helped Utah's children and others abroad eliminate sacrament meeting boredom and, especially for the girls, quell thoughts of dying in a heavenly, end-of-the-world fire for occasionally wearing tank tops. To boot, the magazine isn't just for children. In such a morally bankrupt epoch, when just about all media for adults contain porn—especially this rancid publication—you can rest easy knowing there is nothing in The Friend Magazine that would raise any theocratic government's eyebrows. (JF)

Best way to get that warm fuzzy feeling
Love Lake City

Once a month, bright-eyed volunteers with Love Lake City gather to make someone's day a little bit better. Whether it's organizing charity motorcycle rides to benefit cancer patients, cleaning up the Wasatch's beloved trails or making sandwiches to hand out to the hungry, each month's activity is an exercise in community togetherness. Anyone can volunteer, and many of the events are kid friendly. Can't make it out to the next project? You can always donate—their annual fundraiser is Nov. 4. (SA)


Best 2016 event that happened too late to include in BoU 2016
Mayan Riders Anniversary at the Mexican Civic Center

The inside of the Mexican Civic Center resembles the social hall of an LDS ward meetinghouse, minus the carpeted basketball court and funeral potatoes. Last November, it was the scene of the Mayan Riders motorcycle club's 12th anniversary. While excellent local Latino rock bands like Cenizas Ajenas, La Calavera, Call Musor and Leyenda Oculta rocked the house, the MC members sold cans of PBR from the kitchen. I wound up in the green room (the men's room) with beers stuffed in every pocket, drunkenly bullshitting with Leyenda's Gabino Ramirez and Angel Martinez, and Mayan Riders Beto and Pelón. They explained that the Mayan Riders would donate the night's proceeds to a local woman for her cancer treatment. Partying with bikers in a place that reminds you of the oppression of your youth, and for charity? Now that's a party. (RH)
2726 S. 2700 West, West Valley City, 801-706-2311

Best concert I didn't get to see
El Tri, et al. at 801 Event Center

Let's give some Trump fans a heart attack: The Mexicans are coming! Every year, more and more rock en Español acts cross our borders and steal our attention with their excellent music. Por ejemplo, the band El Tri—tantamount to the Rolling Stones in Mexico—has made multiple visits to SLC. This includes a Sept. 1 show at the 801 Event Center with Mario Ian, the former singer for noteworthy Mexican power/thrash-metal quintet Rata Blanca, long running rap-rock outfit Kinto Sol, alt-rockers El Sur and cumbia band Los del Kañia. Although we ran a slobbery preview of the show, the promoters couldn't be troubled to return a call for media passes—which would've resulted in more coverage. Come on, dudes. We're just trying to help. (RH)

Best puppet performance
Riley O'Toole, Salt Lake Acting Co.'s Hand to God

Acting is inherently a challenge; taking on the job performing multiple characters in the same play, even more so. Then there's the weird case of Riley O'Toole in Salt Lake Acting Co.'s production of Robert Askins' Hand to God, playing a teenager named Jason who is possessed by "Tyrone," the sock-puppet he creates in a church-sponsored program. The show itself is hilariously, blasphemously profane, but it's O'Toole's terrific lead performance—on in which his hand appears to have taken on a life of its own—that captures a troubled kid's dark heart manifested in a piece of dirty laundry. (SR)

Best bags full of hope
Anne B Designs

The "Anne B" of Anne B Designs is actually a Sarah—Sarah Burroughs—but that's not the only way this business is surprising. Burroughs initially launched a home-based business creating custom handbags while still a student at BYU, but experience volunteering in Uganda gave her a desire to use her business to improve the lives of women. Now, after working in conjunction with leaders of local refugee employment operations, Burroughs trains and employs refugees as seamstresses in her Salt Lake City shop, helping create both beautiful products and new opportunities. (SR)


Best F.U. to the DABC
Brewvies decision

When DABC agents decided to save Salt Lake City from the poisonous ammonia-and-bleach combo of R-rated movies and alcohol, they must've been drunk. 'Cause that was kinda stupid. People all over the valley watch more objectionable content and ingest worse substances at home. Stopping Brewvies from letting people watch Deadpool while drinking rescues no one from nothing. So when the gavel banged to punctuate the exoneration of Brewvies, didn't it make you wanna do the nanny-nanny boo-boo dance? (RH)

Best leather seats from the '20s and Wi-Fi from the '90s
FrontRunner's Comet Cars

If you've ever sat in a comet car while riding FrontRunner, then you know what it's like to be transported back to the 1920s, where all the seats were leather and people avoided eye contact for fear of being called a communist. The car's design is a simple, single-level commuter coach with forward- or backward-facing seats, which means no interlocking knees with strangers like in the newer, two level cars. I admire the comet cars because they feel like "the good ol' days" I've been spoon fed into believing by classic movies. Although I neither drink scotch nor smoke, this car would be a good place to start. (RM)


Best trans pride products

Gender dysphoria is an often crippling feeling of distress experienced by people whose gender identity doesn't match their biology. For many, the solution involves surgery, bills from which can be upward of $6,000. That was the case for Ian Giles, a transgender man in Orem whose company, Genderbands, originally started as a fundraiser for his own double mastectomy in July 2015. Now he sells wristbands and T-shirts—with uplifting, fun phrases like "hearts, not parts" or "pizza rolls, not gender rolls"—to raise awareness and support and help ease the financial burdens of others like him. For every sale, 20 percent of the profits goes toward a top surgery fund for trans men. Giles says his favorite part of the biz has been participating in Pride festivals around the state. "I've had people of all ages come to my booth and share their stories—from shy 12-year-old transguys just coming out, to 40-year-olds exhausted from years of fighting with insurance companies who won't pay for their surgeries," he says. "Sometimes people will just hang out at the booth. I love it." (AH)

Best Tabletop sampling
Salt Lake Gaming Con

Conventions might seem like a place to immerse yourself in the things you already know and love—and in the broadest sense, that's also true of the Salt Lake Gaming Con. But while the summer event offers appeal to those who love all kinds of gaming, from computer to tabletop, it's a great place to try out a game you've never played before. The game library provides a chance to grab something that looks interesting, put up a sign that says you're looking for someone to join you, or get help and tips. Local game-creators are represented as well, making it a great way to experiment before supporting Utah developers. (SR)


Best generic hipster mural
Vexta's "The Nature of Wisdom"

Salt Lake City is in the middle of a historic conservation identity crisis. For every Classic Bowling pin preservation, there are several wrecking balls salivating over the next Granite High School-worthy plot. So it was with great dismay that I joined a collective groan emanating from many a downtown denizen upon noticing the disappearance of the Impact vehicle repair ghost sign on the south side of State Street's Zim's Building. Sure, like many of its former advertisement counterparts, it was faded and had seen its glory days long gone, but it had defiant charm. More charm than a five-story owl furiously salad-shooting Technicolor confetti from its rear, at least. (EL)

Best yard sale for people who can't afford yard sales
SLC Neighborhood Cleanup

SLC Neighborhood Cleanup is better known by those in the know as an "amnesty day for hoarders." Setup by SLCgreen, the program is part of a broader effort to reduce energy consumption, ensure healthy air and slow an eventual doomsday. During your block's designated week, large waste such as mattresses, stumps and refrigerators can be left on the sidewalk and will be picked up by cleanup crews. In the meantime, take advantage of what other people consider garbage and grab yourself some furniture to fill up that storage container of a house you've got. (RM)
Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling, 801-535-6999, April-October,

Best outside-the-box listening party
Winter Grain at Clark Planetarium

You've experienced Laser Floyd. And Laser Zeppelin. And Laser U2. Now comes the next evolution of the every stoner's favorite midnight planetarium attraction. Ladies and gentledudes, please put your hands together for ... Laser Winter Grain! You heard me, motherfolkers—even acoustic music is compatible with technology. You know what else? This was a bid by the band to get people to put their stupid phones away and really listen. And it worked. The Clark Planetarium staff, in conjunction with the band, juxtaposed imagery both appropriate and abstract for a full-immersion multimedia experience that made the music more immediate and present, engaging multiple senses and causing eruptions of gooseflesh. Lucky for us, Winter Grain plans a reprise during Sundance. (RH)
110 S. 400 West, 385-468-7827,

Best outfitter to help you ward off missionaries, intrusive neighbors and your Mormon grandparents

Every non-Mormon Utah-dweller is at most two familial and or friendly relationships away from Mormonism. Them Mormons are unavoidable, and so, too, are the banal queries from the swarming, evangelical mass: So, have you ever thought about coming to church? I've got this book you'd love—would you want to try reading it? When you die, do you, like, believe nothing happens? As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join them—well, maybe trick them into thinking you're one of them by adopting a few key items of their homogenous garb, all of which can be provided by your savior, Ringmasters. Going to a Saturday morning baptism? Try Ringmaster's silver liahona microfiber tie ($16.99). The neighbors invited you to a Monday evening, family "get together"? Throw Ringmaster's spinner universal CTR ring ($21.99), featuring the CTR acronym in multiple languages. Whatever the occasion, Ringmasters has the stuff to help you fit right in and avoid small talk that mutates into a discussion about creating a planet with a Swig on every corner. (JF)

Best diner-related apparel
Order Up Clothing

Is the vintage American diner theme missing from your wardrobe? Slip on one of Order Up Clothing's super soft T-shirts and problem solved. The Lunch Lady is an instant classic and the Neon Sign has nostalgia woven into every thread. If hats are more your thing, they've got those, too, but the best part is the Salt Lake City-based company allocates a portion of each sale to feeding the underprivileged. (SA)

Best coin-operated mural
Liberty Coin Laundry

Nah, you can view this beauty for free. The angelic washers with wings painted dumping (presumably) clean clothes over a pristine landscape on the side of Liberty Coin Laundry makes going to the laundromat almost bearable. It's the closest thing to street art this side of town has, but, hey, we'll take it. (SA)
309 E. 1300 South, 801-487-4016,


Best de facto political farewell
Jason Chaffetz Feb. 9 Town Hall

When Congressman Jason Chaffetz entered the room for a packed town hall in Cottonwood Heights on Feb. 9, he was a rising Republican star and chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee. By the time he left just an hour later, he had been booed, heckled and generally raked over the coals by constituents demanding "do your job" to the man responsible for holding the Trump administration accountable for possible ethical and legal misconduct. It was perhaps the first indication that Chaffetz wasn't prepared for the thornier, less politically showy task of overseeing a president from his own party. Just two months later, Chaffetz had announced his intention to retire, eventually taking a job with Fox News—where he's far less likely to face booing and hecklers. (SR)

Best native plant love fest down south
Coal Creek Trail

Follow this trail up into the canyons above Cedar City and you'll discover a man-made path that celebrates Utah's native plants even as it educates. Plaques before shrubs and trees share a few points about individual species, such as box elder and cottonwood, reminding the walker or jogger of the rich variety of nature that Utah is home to. As you head up the winding path, the burble of a neighboring creek keeps you company, only for low-hanging clouds caught between the red-rock canyons to provide a master lesson in the natural beauty that is the Beehive State. (SD)

Best complaint about a campaign attack ad
John Curtis' unflattering suit

A debate between three 3rd District Republicans turned testy when KSL Radio host Doug Wright broached the subject of negative campaigning. Eventual primary winner and current Provo Mayor John Curtis slammed his opponent Tanner Ainge for sending out mailers that he says contained distortions and half-truths. But what really seemed to stick in Curtis' craw was the image Ainge's campaign had plastered on the fliers. "If you would Photoshop me, the least you could do is put me in a suit that fits," Curtis complained. Ainge should probably step up his Photoshop game, anyway. Then maybe the next time he runs for office, he'll do better than a distant third. (DWH)


Best laidback body mods
Abyss Body Piercing

Courtney McCabe, owner of Abyss Body Piercing, fosters a personal, safe and special environment. Instead of rushing to stick a needle inside of your fragile body in order to maximize the amount of customers she pierces everyday, McCabe and her employees ensure that you have a quality experience at her studio. She spends precious time informing you about the significance of your chosen piercing and making what could be a cold, quick appointment into a comforting and educational experience. Abyss Body Piercing values honesty and safety over profit. (JV)
245 E. 300 South, 801-810-9247,

Best full circle for a sociopath
Dan Wells' John Wayne Cleaver book and film saga

In 2009, local author Dan Wells' I Am Not a Serial Killer introduced a fascinating protagonist in John Wayne Cleaver, a sociopathic mortuary assistant whose self-disciplined quest to avoid hurting people collides with his discovery of actual demons in our world. That story came to the screen in a late 2016 film adaptation starring a creepy Christopher Lloyd, while 2017 found Wells wrapping up the book series with the sixth installment, Nothing Left to Lose. If this is the end for Cleaver, it comes at the end of a year that gave the local author's distinctive vision an even bigger audience. (SR)

Best simple date
SLC Greenbike the city

Judging by your Tinder profiles, the ideal date activity is a combination of yoga, Sunday school, rock climbing and dog petting all while overlooking Horseshoe Bend. But if that's not a feasible option, riding bikes around downtown is a fun alternative. With SLC Greenbike, you or your date don't even have to own a set of wheels. The cost is $7 per bike; you have to return to a check-in station—more than 30 exist, most of which are centered around downtown—every 30 minutes. This gives you a chance to stop in one of Salt Lake City's numerous bars for a quick drink or snack before you get back to pedaling. (DWH)


Best DIY experience at a concert
The Utah Blues Festival's Cigar Box Guitar-Making Workshop

Side attractions at music festivals are nothing new—but how many of them teach you to build an instrument? For $25, Utah Blues Festival organizers provided two dozen attendees with everything needed to make their own fretless, three-string cigar box guitars with piezo pickups. Parallel to this, a free workshop instructed even more fans in the art of making a bottleneck slide from liquor and wine bottles. Fun, instructive and loaded with replay value, it's sure to be a perennial UBF hit. (RH)

Best night ride that is similar in name to a tax plan by a 2012 Republican presidential candidate/pizza expert:
The 999

The cool-kid bike posse that navigates through the city on Thursdays like a swarm of hipster bees, known as the 999, derives its name from Salt Lake's trendiest intersection, 900 South and 900 East, and the hour of the event, 9 p.m. (On at least one occasion, riders milled in front of Coffee Garden, drinking tallboys until closer to 10, but whatever.) Leave your 1040 at home, though; it has nothing to do with Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax proposal. Also don't be intimidated, either. The pack of pedalers embraces newcomers. The ride is breezy, social and accompanied by sick boombox anthems. (DWH)

Best up-close and-personal choreography
Utah Rep's Kiss of the Spider Woman

Smaller theater companies often have to make due with smaller spaces. That's the nature of the business, and sometimes a particular challenge when you're trying to mount a musical. But Utah Repertory Theater Co.'s production of Kiss of the Spider Woman—guided by director Johnny Hebda and choreographer Ashley Gardner-Carlson—made magnificent use of the confines of Sorenson Unity Center's Black Box Theatre. As the dancers in the psychological drama about political prisoners spun and kicked close enough to audience members for bits of feather boas to land in their laps, the show took on an even greater intensity. (SR)

Best monthly event where you can yell the shit outta' your feelings (controlled, poetic yelling, that is)
Salt City/Sugar Slam

Throw on those horn-rimmed glasses you've been wanting to debut, light up a cigarette you rolled yourself, and head on down to the monthly Salt City and Sugar Slam reading put on by the Wasatch Wordsmiths. Seriously, though, Salt City and Sugar Slam are excellent events, wherein attendees, whether virgin-slammers or not, can experience the city's poetic pulse and, trust me, it's a wild one. Yeah, there's some yelling, but it's for a purpose, and if there's anything slam has brought the literary world, it's an extra emphasis on the purpose of a poem's sonic quality. And don't forget while you're there that if you're feeling brave, you can take advantage of the open-mic portion of the slam. Come on, even if you're a regular 9-to-5-er, the Lord knows you've got some stanzas to share. (JF)

Best display of potential moral depravity
U92's Summer Jam, featuring, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN UTAH, Chris Brown

In the nineteen-hundred and ninety-sixth year of our ethnically universal, gender transcendent Lord, Tupac Shakur released a would-be legendary song with an intro that went like this: "Only God can judge me/ Only God can judge me now/ Nobody else/ All you motherf•ckers get out my business/ Only God can judge me now." Our good friends at U92, Utah's only hip-hop (sort-of) radio station, certainly took 'Pac's advice this summer when they featured questionable artist Chris Brown at their annual Summer Jam concert. Now, City Weekly and I are both not God, so there's no room for us to say, definitely, that anything was wrong about this year's Summer Jam. But we can, perhaps, point to the station's shameless promotion of an artist who is seemingly just as shameless about his, well, troubling track record, and say, "This seems ... off." Whatever the case, allowing Utahns—FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER—to see Breezy live was sort of thoughtful, and God is most likely not real anyway. (JF)

Best way to learn about the local LGBTQ community
Equality Utah's QTalks

One of the latest educational efforts to come from Equality Utah is QTalks, a series of hour-long talks featuring four local experts who tell stories or lecture for 15 minutes each on topics related to Utah's LGBTQ community. Though it's billed as a lecture series, it's much more than that. The first time I watched it—via live video, although you can go to the free event at SLC's public library as well—I laughed, I cried and I learned so much because it's impossible not to be enthralled by the passion of each speaker on stage. If you're looking to learn more about the unique issues facing Utah's queer community, this is the way to go. (AH)

Best cross-cultural Exhibition
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art's Cities of Conviction

It's easy for rhetoric to make "others" seem like something completely unknowable; part of the joy of art is the way it can show us how much more alike we are than we ever realized. Curator Jared Steffensen gathered works by Saudi artists in multiple media, in an exhibition that draws compelling parallels between one desert location steeped in a specific religious tradition, and the one in which we live. The result provides both an insight into the unique specifics of Saudi culture, and a recognition of the ways Salt Lake City might face issues and obstacles that these people would also recognize. (SR)
20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201,

Best free concert series for yo' cheap ass
Salt City Sounds

Not including the $5 troop of Keystone Light tall-boys and slices of post-concert Pie Hole pizza during each weekly excursion, I spent a whopping $0 to see four weekly concerts at SLC's Gallivan Center. Yeah, well, what hacks performed at a four-week-long, free concert series, you might ask? Oh, you know, Saint Motel, who are indie-pop's most dance-y-est group out, Diplo-endorsed DJ Party Favor and two acts that are God's akin to Zeus, Hades and Poseidon on the dirty south's Mt. Olympus—Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins. Yes, for literally no money at all, Utahns got crunk wit' it, got loose wit' it and perhaps for those who really follow the letter of the law, like $hort said, let Bruce Bruce hit it, for four splendid weeks. Shouts to you, Broadway Media and the Gallivan Center. You gave the myriad cheap asses of Utah four fabulous nights. (JF)

Best day this year for festival addicts
Sept. 9, 2017

It seems like every year a glut of city events fall on one jam-packed day, and this year it was Sept. 9. Understandable, then, if you weren't sure how to fit in everything. Here was a prospective itinerary that you can use as a model for the future (usually the first weekend in September): Start off the morning taking in a Ferris wheel ride at the Utah State Fair, then measure up the cows and pigs until lunchtime. Next, head up to the Wasatch Community Garden for its annual Tomato Sandwich Party. Enjoy a free open-faced sandwich with a variety of juicy, locally grown tomatoes and a fresh pesto spread. Afterwards, head up to the Avenues Street Fair, listen to karaoke, get a henna tattoo, haggle with a geode vender and cool off with a frozen snack before hitting up SLC VegFest at Library Square for good karma, falafel and a cold beer. At the end of the day, mosey over to the Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Cathedral for some baklava and another brew. (DWH),,,,

Best altruistic music festival

It's not unusual for a music festival to have a charity component, whether it directly benefits an institution, donates a percentage of the proceeds or simply allows altruistic organizations to set up booths promoting their respective causes. Local sandwich shop chain Even Stevens is all about giving, donating the value of one sandwich for every one purchased in its stores. They upped the ante with Givestock, donating two meals for every ticket sold, while offering incredible value to the fans with 10 bands including headliners Dr. Dog and a host of top-shelf locals including Joshua James, Panthermilk, Fictionist and The National Parks. (RH)


Best affordable handmade jewelry
The Bearded Jeweler

I love jewelry. But would you guess that from looking at me? Nope. Not even close. I never wear it, and here is why: I'm hypersensitive to most metals, so I can only wear solid gold or silver, which I rarely can afford. I also detest flashy accessories. To say the least, I was pretty excited to find The Bearded Jeweler at the Downtown Farmers Market recently. Nearly every handmade piece of his is solid sterling silver, and at an unbelievably low price. He makes rings, earrings and pendant necklaces that are so subtly feminine, with beautiful designs mostly geared toward nature—including several Utah-inspired ones. I bought a simple horizontal bar pendant stamped with moon phases for $26, and will definitely buy more soon. (AH)


Best empowering moment for Utah women
Women's March to the Capitol

It's not easy being a woman. Actually, it's pretty miserable sometimes. But despite the fact that everyone has always known this, it's uncommon for the average person to go out of their way in an effort to change that. Protests happen everywhere all the time; I've been to many, and it's almost always smaller than you expect, with the same types of people in attendance. The Women's March to the Capitol on Jan. 23, however, was a completely different experience. Seeing the vast number of people willing to take two hours out of their Monday afternoon to fight for your rights, climbing the long and steep Capitol Hill in the snow with such a diverse crowd—young and old people of all genders and backgrounds, moms and dads with babies, teens with their pets, elderly people with walkers, politicians in suits and more—was emotionally shocking. It was one of the most empowering, uplifting experiences in my life. (AH)

Best punk thing to happen to Utah since the Kennedys played at the fairgrounds in '85
X96's 801PUNX radio show, hosted by former Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert

After a week's worth of Bleachers' "Don't Take the Money," Dreamers' "Sweet Disaster" and New Politics' "One of Us" on repeat every hour, X96 takes a break from crushing its listeners' alt-music-starved souls and does something really, really right. 801PUNX, hosted by former Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert, is a hell ride of an evening radio show, beginning, appropriately, at 8:01 p.m. each Sunday. The segment treats listeners to both classic, more-mainstream punk (an oxymoron, we know) and some of the best and gritty DIY stuff the genre has to offer. Music aside, the hosts of the show, of course, aren't too bad either. Thank you, X96, for throwing us listeners a bone. (JF)
96.3 FM,

Best Sundance replacement
Ogden Film Festival

When the Sundance Film Festival opted not to return to Peery's Egyptian Theater as a venue for 2017, the city of Ogden and its film buffs could have wallowed in their disappointment. Instead, local organizers—in conjunction with the Ogden Arts Festival—decided, despite a tight timetable, to launch a new showcase for filmmakers in June. Several Utah native or Utah-based filmmakers were among the first batch of invitees, ensuring that the Egyptian Theater remained a place to see unique and creative filmmaking—even if it happens to be in summer rather than winter. (SR)

Best joust for fun
Knights of Mayhem

Wearing full suits of armor and being thrown from a horse—it's not just for the 16th century anymore. Led by reigning world jousting champion Charlie Andrews, Knights of Mayhem show their commitment to a centuries-old tradition by employing a full-time armorer for the authentic armor, and going full-contact with 11-foot-long hemlock jousting lances. At the Utah Renaissance Faire and other showcases, you can get a a taste of the bruising reality of the Middle Ages. (SR)

Best literary treasure trove
Central Book Exchange Parking Lot Sale

While perusing Central Book Exchange is always a book scavenger's delight, their annual Parking Lot Sale has many of us word nerds squealing with glee. For one weekend each summer, the big tent goes up and the storage rooms are emptied as flocks of patrons dig through boxes in search of the perfect pages. Stock up your personal library for the year and make sure to hit the sale when they've got the "Fill a Bag for $10" deal going on. (SA)
2017 S. 1100 East, 801-485-3913,


Best way to communicate while driving
Use Your Damn Signals

Ever get stuck behind someone that shoots left across the lanes, as though some giant just used their car to tee off and sliced it? How about the car that slows down two miles before making a right turn, without once signaling their intent? Then there's the car that keeps nudging into your lane. Since this move is minus a flashing light to indicate they are attempting to merge, the best assumption is they are either drunk or crazy. To all these scenarios there is one simple solution: Use. Your. Damn. Signal. Until cars think for us and communicate with each other, it's up to us drivers to go the extra mile by manually flipping on those blinkers to let others know what the hell we're up to. (AP)

Best Ballet Showcase
Ballet West National Choreographic Festival

Never let it be said that Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute doesn't think big. In May, dancers from several national companies—including Sarasota Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theater—visited Salt Lake City for two weekends of world premieres by talented choreographers. Ballet West's own performers got to take the stage as well, of course, allowing audiences to see local dancers not just as the best Utah has to offer, but as part of a national artistic community. Presenting brand-new work and companies new to local audiences provided a reminder that this vital art form isn't all Nutcracker and tutus. (SR)


Best LGBTQ Youth Sanctuary
Provo's Encircle

The fact that Provo had gone so long without an LGBTQ resource center isn't surprising when you consider its overwhelming conservative, religious population. But when you first walk through the doors of the charming little home of Encircle, hear the laughter and enthusiasm echoing through its halls, and meet the countless locals brimming with joy from a newfound sense of community, it's more than surprising. Opened on Valentine's Day 2017, Provo's first organization for LGBTQ youth and families says it perfectly on their website: "Encircle not only provides a physical space for community gathering, skills training, individual counseling, conflict resolution and other resources, but will also serve as a literal example of what a typical Utah home that is inclusive of its LGBTQ members, might look and feel like." (AH)
91 W. 200 South, Provo,

Best Utah Radio Segment
KRCL's 12 o'Clock Women Who Rock

Each day at noon, godsend radio station KRCL graces listeners with a break from the usual male, rock 'n' roll radio monotony (OK, OK—most of what the station plays, whether by males, females or individuals outside the binary, is enjoyable, but you get the idea). The station's 12 o'Clock Women Who Rock segment features music by female artists from all levels of the well-known-ness strata. The segment also offers primers on the day's featured artist and a usual discussion of the artist's life and work, which allows listeners to not only hear music by a great female musician, but also get to know her a little better. Tune in, turn on and drop out ... of the ranks of sad, sad radio listeners who don't listen to the noon-time segment. It certainly speaks for itself. (JF)
90.9 FM,


Best Umami on the go
Onigiri at Japan Sage Market

Listen, I've been to Japan once, so clearly I'm an expert. Along with belly laughs alongside family members and some killer pictures that would make anyone Insta-jealous, indulging in Japanese street food—including most that have inspired their own emoji—are among my most treasured memories. With fillings ranging from salmon to tuna to pickled plum, the simple onigiri, often referred to stateside as "rice balls," are the layman's treat on the go and are sold just about anywhere—from metro stations to ubiquitous 7-Elevens. Feeling the post-travel blues, Sage Market brought me back to Shinjuku with their yummy version. Next on the nostalgia checklist: a local smart-bidet provider. Any leads? (EL)
353 W. 200 South, 801-521-2106,

Best taste bud tease
Bagels and Greens on Main

The coming-soon announcement on the first-floor glass of the U.S. Bank building on 200 South and Main was a cruel, hunger-inducing temptress. This second location to The Bagel Project was under construction for what felt like eons. After it was announced in March, they anticipated a late summer launch. Luckily for downtown dwellers, the shop finally opened its doors in October. One of each, please. (DWH)

Best proof that America and North Korea can still be friends
Bumblebee's BBQ & Grill

The menu at this Korean/American fusion joint is all you really need to realize that America and North Korea can learn to love each other. You'll find KPOP Fries ($6.99), which takes an American staple and makes it better by adding Korean bulgogi, and kimchi fried rice balls ($3) that introduce traditional Korean spicy cabbage to the American process of adding cheese and throwing food in the deep fryer. If only our political leaders would look to the harmonious fusion that Bumblebee's has achieved, the world would be a much better—and tastier—place. (Alex Springer)
7962 S. State, 801-561-0608,

Best long-awaited Hot Fried Chicken fix
Pretty Bird by Chef Viet Pham

The heady anticipation has passed from culinary curiosity into intervention-worthy jones-ing territory. For what, you ask? That crispy, crackly, spicy goodness that's enticed even the most vigilant vegan: Nashville-style hot fried chicken. Former Forage chef and TV star Viet Pham is set to bring his take on the trend to recently rebooted Regent Street adjacent the Eccles Theater and we've been trying to peer into the papered windows of his joint, Pretty Bird, all summer. It's not all hype, by a long shot: Those of us lucky enough to gnaw on some of Pham's fabulously spicy fowl at a recent private event are hooked. Now just open already, Viet. We're twitching for our next hot chix fix. (DD)
146 S. Regent St.,

Best place to impress a first date

Choosing the right restaurant for a first date is tricky. You need a place that isn't part of a chain or franchise—this conveys that you've actually invested some effort in the evening instead of googling the location of the nearest Applebee's. You also need a place that has a casual atmosphere without coming across as a dive. Oh, and the food has to be really, really good, but also really, really accessible—if your date only likes chicken fingers, you need to be able to guide them to something like a shoyu fried chicken sandwich. Rye has all of these things in spades, and its close proximity to Urban Lounge can either be an excuse to make the evening last a bit longer with a concert, or a quick getaway if you need to ditch your date because they turn out to be some kind of shithead. (AS)
239 S. 500 East, 801-364-4655,

Best personal Dessert Room
The Chocolate

All by themselves, the cakes, tarts, cookies and other sweet treats at this charming dessert café are sufficient reason to visit. What makes the experience even more delightful is the chance to find a cozy corner in which to enjoy your selection. From a larger main area with couches to smaller back rooms—perhaps, depending on when you visit—one you can have all to yourself—The Chocolate gives you a variety of ways to make your dessert more of an individualized experience than just a way to feed your sweet tooth. (SR)
9120 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan, 801-566-5330,

Best bucket of fried gold
The Homies Bucket at Homies Burgers & Shakes

If Moses came down from Mount Sinai with a few plates of vegan food, the Homies Buckets at Homies Burgers and Shakes would be the equivalent of his followers' idolatrous golden calf. Where most burger joints treat their deep fryer as a supporting cast member, Homies treats theirs like the blasphemous star it was meant to be. They offer three different Homies Buckets ($12-$13) that combine golden brown staples like onion rings, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers and battered mushrooms into a literal bucket, and bring it all to your table in full view of God Himself—and any State Street passersby that might be judging you from afar. (AS)
329 S. State, 801-363-1977,


Best interpretation of the "This establishment is licensed as a bar not a restaurant" sign, because let's face it, it's a ridiculous ordinance that does nothing but underscore the general perception that Utah is a no-fun zone, and we all know that's not true (well, sometimes ... but not all the times). In any case, all it does is legitimize the Matt Barnesses of the world. The one at the dearly departed Lamb's Grill. (EL)

Best Parking Lot Fry Bread
The Blue Bird Stand at the Native American Trading Post

The Native American Trading Post on Redwood Road provides craft supplies and other Native American goods every day of the week, but Saturdays and Sundays are extra special. That's when you can drop by and gorge on fresh fry bread prepared by The Blue Bird Stand set up in the trading post's parking lot. Sink your teeth into some doughy goodness and also be sure to try one of their other specialties, like mutton stew, when they're available. (SA)
3971 S. Redwood Road, 801-952-0184,

Best Grocery Loaf
Papa's Organic Bread

For more than 30 years, West Jordan-based Papa Pita has been baking up wonderful breads, flatbreads, bagels and more for local consumers. That includes a fantastic line of organic breads, all of which are made with only non-GMO ingredients, zero trans fat and no high-fructose corn syrup. Instead of the texture-less national brand on your grocer's shelf, sample the hearty multigrain with flax seeds, or whole wheat with honey. Your morning toast or lunchtime sandwich just got a heck of a lot healthier. (SR)


Best place for impromptu Bacchanalia on a Sunday
Lucky Slice

In-state road trips on Sundays amount to so much heartbreak when it comes to finding something to eat in Utah's smaller cities and towns. Even Ogden proved kinda tough in that department—until I happened upon Lucky Slice. The New York-style pizzeria lives up to its "All killer, no filler" slogan with excellent pizza by the slice, high-point locally brewed craft beer, absolutely redonk oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, local art displays and a working Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videogame. (RH)
200 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-2229; 1246 S. Legend Hills Drive, Clearfield, 801-820-6992,

Best Coffee House to appreciate Utah's southern landscape
The Rock Stop

Across the street from the Maynard Dixon Museum, just outside the sleepy burg of Orderville, is the most eclectic coffee house down south. The nearly 50-year-old Rock Stop is actually built in the shape of a rock out of chicken wire, paper, plaster and fiberglass. It's owned and run by Mickey and Don Davis, who will happily regale you with their tale of leaving corporate life in Las Vegas for the delights of a quieter existance in southern Utah. While it's main business is selling a vast array of jewelry and local stones—some refined, others just chunks—it's the coffee and location that calls us back. Purchase a latte inside or their specialty, an espresso sundae, and sit in its small, gazebo-like patio, you can take in the marvels of green, rolling hills, red rock and huge skies that inspired Dixon to his great works. What more could you ask? (SD)
385 W. State, Orderville, 435-648-2747,

Best Gas Station Eatery
Tandoori Oven

In the borderlands of Northern Utah, where batshit crazy stuff happens on the daily, incredible Indian food can be found in a little restaurant that sits in the same building as a gas station. As strange as it sounds, at Tandoori Oven patrons can buy a pack of Newports, then pass through an archway and sit down for a splendid lunch buffet, all without having traveled more than 10 feet. Now, the restaurant is undergoing renovations, but it appears as if, for now, the gas pumps are staying out front, and that majority of the odd experience that is eating fabulous Indian food—I cannot stress this enough—in a literal gas station will be preserved for future generations to come. (JF)
720 E. 1000 North, Logan, 435-750-6836,


Best place to get day-drunk, overeat, enjoy good company and the micro-D 500
Lucky 13's Sunday Brunch

The word "brunch" just sounds dumb. It's a fey portmanteau, and the soft consonant followed by "-runch" conjures images of stale chips. Juxtaposed with Sunday, aka Monday Eve, it sounded like a drag until someone explained that it involves day-drinking and pigging out at places like Lucky 13. And so it was that a Sunday-morning hangover became a gorgeous hair-of the dog day, working on a sunny-buzz, eating ridiculously good food and laughing with friends—until some neighboring street racers drowned out the conversation, revving their engines in flailing overcompensation. But don't let that sour you on Sunday brunch. Just order some extra eggs and do what thou wilt—like eat 'em. Or something. (RH)
135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,

Best crispy Garbanzo

In addition to being able to meet friends or family for a killer game night, Spitz has the best crispy garbanzo beans in town. Savor these delights via various menu items such as the döner basket, salads or just go full garbanzo by ordering a side with olives. The crunch-tastic snack is enough to satisfy even the most die-hard chip lover, minus the guilt of greasy fingers and self loathing. Add on some fried pita strips with hummus, a beer and a shot of tequila and, my friend, you have a meal. Best enjoyed while playing the classic version of Guess Who. (AP)
Multiple locations,


Best cold brewing
Kolob Coffee

Yes, there's a bit of a poke at LDS theology in the name of Mike Sumsion's company—especially one that traffics in (gasp!) coffee. But Kolob's products for cold-brewed coffee—"brew tube," "cold classic" carafe and reusable "brew disk"—are no joke. From providing a great option for on-the-go coffee when there's no time for traditional brewing, to allowing the creation of unique flavor combinations, these goodies are a blessing to any coffee drinker. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't enjoy your cold-brew hot. (SR)

Best Spot for contemplative eating
Caffé Molise

Whether you're eating a lunch of gnocchi di patate ($12.95) surrounded by vibrant local art or dining on the decadent Arista ($24.95)—a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with black mission fig compote—while doing some downtown people-watching, Molise is a great place to bring your thoughts on a date. Its prime location next to City Creek Center and the Salt Palace Convention Center make it ideal for simply taking in the beauty of the city while enjoying some expertly crafted Italian dishes. Its wall-to-wall art gallery helps expand the mind as well as the palate. Sure, Caffé Molise lends itself to gatherings and dates, but it's also a singular experience to dine here on your own. (AS)
55 W. 100 South, 801-364-8833,

Best F-you to a corporate chain by a local business
Beans & Brews Sugar House

Usually, the way things work is a corporation opens a franchise near a local competitor to bully 'em outta business. So wasn't it kinda crazy when Beans & Brews opened a new location just east of the longstanding Starbucks on 700 East and 2100 South? Granted, Starbucks isn't wholly evil, but they've pulled that next-door move on at least one local java joint that I know of (Taylorsville around about 5400 South). And that was just sad to watch. So best of luck to B&B in this Sugar House coffeeshop Thunderdome: Two shops battle, one shop leaves! (RH)
719 E. 2100 South, 385-227-8672,


Best Pinterest-worthy Bakery
Tulie Bakery

If Pinterest were a place, it would be called Tulie Bakery—that or bacon-wrapped DIY wedding knits. Tulie Bakery offers pastries, tarts, cookies, cakes and even has a lunch menu of sandwiches and soups. The pastries are a personal favorite, and they always come flaky with extra fat to raise the flavor intensity. The bread pudding ($6.25) and Morning Bun ($4.25) are my two go-tos that are simple and don't involve too much French pronunciation. The place is quite fancy, but during rush hour still prepare to shub your way through what is essentially a den of hipsters to get your order in. (RM)
864 E. 700 South, 801-883-9741; 1510 S. 1500 East, 801-410-4217,

Best PokéMen
Laid Back Poke Shack

Like the Pokémon trend from which I shamefully pilfered this pun, Hawaiian poke has been taking the nation by storm. For those who have not yet experienced this tropical phenomenon, poke consists of sushi-grade fish piled high on a rice bowl with a seaweed salad. The cool thing about Laid Back Poke Shack is that they have caught them all—I counted 15 options during my visit—and they let you sample any of their vast array of seafood before you decide on the poke bowl that best defines you as a person. I'm a fan of the Small Bowl ($11.50) with spicy ginger ahi and the spicy salmon. I have yet to try the Magikarp or Gyarados, though. (AS)
6213 S. Highland Drive, 801-635-8190,


Best Rocky Mountain Oyster Breakfast
Tavaputs Ranch

Perched on a spectacular plateau overlooking Desolation Canyon, Jeanie and Butch Jensen and their extended family run Tavaputs Ranch, a seasonal working cattle operation now going on seven generations in Utah. Guests can consider themselves lucky when Jeanie serves up a Tavaputs early-morning breakfast favorite: Rocky Mountain oysters. As cattle ranchers have done for centuries, each spring the Tavaputs crew brands and castrates the herd, setting aside the steers' testicles as a particular delicacy. Jeanie's recipe is one her grandmother and mother taught her at a very young age, and they are the perfect combination of crunch and slight chew. And, of course, everything is better when fried and served alongside a steaming cup of coffee. Years after our first visit, my kids still talk about trying this ranch specialty with equal parts horror and excitement. (DD)

Best Chicken Tikka Masala for your born-in-Utah, whitebread ass
Bombay House

Thanks to the effects of globalism or imperialism, however you'd like to put it, cuisine in the United States has become awesomely diverse. Utah, of course, is no exception, and of the ethnic food powerhouses people are going wild to try, Indian food is perhaps at the top. If you're like me, who was born in Utah and considers himself whitebread, you might be a bit hesitant to go far from pizza and burgers, but you still want to see what foods like Indian are all about. Look no further than Bombay House, and order their chicken tikka masala right this minute. Other dishes at Bombay House are fabulous and, in my estimation, pretty damn "authentic," but the chicken tikka masala is just the thing to ease yourself into a world of actual flavor and spice. Be careful, though, Indian cuisine is addictive, and it might make you wonder how such incredible food wasn't invented by the people of God's chosen nation. (JF)
Multiple locations,

Best secret menu item you have to keep secret from the restaurant
Mantu Burrito at Curry 'n' Kabobs

Although Curry 'n' Kabobs owner A.J. is a cool, kind and generous man, and despite the Afghan/Indian restaurant serving falafel in something very similar to a tortilla (and definitely not naan—theirs is delicious; everything is at C&K), don't mess with the mantu. Although the spicy minced-beef dumplings with minty yogurt sauce would make sublime burrito innards, the boss and his family, like most chefs, have crafted an experience. They want you to enjoy the explosion of flavor and texture in each dumpling. So try it that way first. Then, another time, order a tortilla-thing on the side, then wrap and eat. While excellent and unforgettable alone, mantu is even better swaddled in a chewy, starchy blanket. A.J., I think we have the makings of a great food truck item. (RH)
268 S. Main, 801-363-0300

Best Business Buffet
Himalayan Kitchen

Got a merger or acquisition to propose? A life insurance policy to hawk? Want to discuss a promotion with your boss? The whole conversation will flow much more smoothly after first filling a plate at Himalayan Kitchen's sumptuous Nepalese buffet. From vindaloos, saag paneer and butter chicken to aloo tama bodi, chicken tandoori and lip-smacking charred naan, the buffet appeals to most every taste—no fretting or mulling over a menu necessary. The inviting downtown location is a magnet for government workers, Matheson Courthouse folks and, of course, City Weekly employees. Not only is the buffet a great place to hobnob, it's gentle on your expense account. (JW)
360 S. State, 801-328-2077; 11521 S. 4000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-0800,

Best Traveling Falafel
Falafel Tree

If you're a newbie or a falafel fanatic, Falafel Tree will satisfy your cravings. These savory fritters are served piping hot, fresh from the deep-fryer à la carte ($5.50) with tasty hummus or tahini sauce or tucked inside a hearty sandwich ($7.95). "The recipes have been passed down in Egypt from generation to generation. Chef Abby's grandmother taught him to cook falafel from the heart," says Janalee Hinkson, who owns the truck with her husband, Tyler, and Chef Abby. Follow Falafel Tree on social media to find your falafel fix. (AR)

Best Ginger Binge
King Buffet

Here is a buffet whose sheer dedication to selection size makes it feel like a transplant from the Vegas Strip. At any given moment during business hours, diners here can sample more than 200 items that range from Chinese to Mongolian to sushi. This is the type of restaurant that challenges diners to try everything, making repeat visits easy to justify. It can get pretty packed during the weekend, Disneyland-worthy lines and all, but for those with a serious craving for the lovely, golden brown, sweet-and-sour Chinese food that calls America home, it's tough to find a place with a heartier selection. It truly is the happiest place in Taylorsville. (AS)
5668 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-969-6666

Best Sushi, Sunset, Cocktail combo
Cliff Dining Lodge

People of the south valley rejoice! One of the sexiest city-view patios in our briny borough has the definitive bonus of Chef Rene Negron bringing a top-notch sushi program to the Cliff's approachable menu. Gold stars go to the gracious west-facing patio with a badass heating system making it a go-to for a romantic sunset sushi date during all but the snowiest months. Even better? A full bar, fabulous wine list and live music on weekends. (DD)
12234 Draper Gate Drive, 801-523-2053,

Best Refreshing Beer
Uinta Brewing's Lime Pilsner

I admit, I was skeptical when someone first recommended it. "Hmm, sounds kind of like a Bud Light Lime and I hate Bud Light Lime," I recall saying. But then I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised. If you like 801 (or pilsners in general) and are a fan of the occasional wedge of fruit on the rim of your glass, give Uinta Brewing's recently released Lime Pilsner a try. With only a hint of citrus, it's light and refreshing—the perfect summertime beer, though it's actually available year-round. And thankfully, you can get it pretty much anywhere in Utah that sells beer. (AH)


Best Brewery Resurrection
A. Fisher Brewing Co.

It's hard enough to putting a brewery together, imagine how hard it is to bring one back from the dead. That's what four friends managed to do with the A. Fisher Brewing Co. Founded by Albert Fisher in 1884, Fisher Beer was a staple throughout Utah until it was bought out in the early 1960s. Tom Riemondy, Steven Brown, Colby Frazier and Tim Dwyer have not only revived the brand but have made it thrive though cozy innovative beers like beet saisons and oyster stouts. Albert would be proud. (MR)
320 W. 800 South, 801-487-2337,

Best place to not make God cry

I was informed that soda fountains are what the LDS kids did to push envelopes. However, after giving Sodalicious in Provo a try, I can safely say that they're the best thing to happen to tiny buildings since the tiny house movement or China. I personally love Sodalicious because they have mixologists who aren't full of themselves. And having sodas mixed there on the spot for you is great, but seeing the names they have for the drinks is worth the drive itself. Besides the ever popular Just Friends, I prefer something true to my hispanic roots such as the El Doctoro, which is made of Dr. Pepper and horchata. (RM)
Multiple locations,

Best Brunch with a Butcher
Saturdays at Beltex Meats

If traditional brunch destinations aren't tough enough for you, then take a trip to Beltex Meats on Saturdays. From 10 a.m. until noon, Philip Grubisa's whole-animal butcher shop serves a rotating menu of meat-centric sandwiches. If you're lucky, you'll even be able to watch as he slices up the shop's fresh, locally sourced ingredients while you wait. Don't be afraid to talk to Grubisa or any of his team about the meat that they're serving—these congenial carnivores are more than happy to chew the fat with their customers. (AS)
511 E. 900 South, 801-532-2641,


Best snack that'll break the bank
Proper Brewing Chips and Salsa

The chips and salsa at Proper Brewing will put you back $200—so think long and hard before you agree to part ways with that much cash for corn chips and tomato paste. It's the only food item on the drink menu, which Proper explains it is obligated by law to include. If that's out of your price range, consider staying and having one (or two or three) of the delicious beers on tap, and don't fret if you start to get hungry. Adjacent Proper Burger offers an array of burgers at a great price—the plain jane vegan burger ($4.49) is delicious. And the food joint will bring the grub over to the bar, so you don't have to leave your stool. (DWH)
857 S. Main, 801-953-1707,

Best Burger inspired by Point Break
The Johnny Utah at Proper Burger Co.
It's comforting to know that the burger meisters at Proper Burger have a profound respect for Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 magnum opus Point Break. From the moment I glanced over their menu and noticed a burger named after the film's cocksure protagonist, I knew that I was in a safe place. And it's a burger worthy of the name. The Johnny Utah ($8.49) is piled high with turkey pastrami, coleslaw, housemade zucchini pickles and slathered in Russian dressing. It'll take you to the edge—and past. On a menu filled with standouts, the Johnny Utah stays true to one of cinema's finest lawmen. Utah! Gimme two! (AS)
865 S. Main, 801-906-8604,

Best Burger Controversy
Apollo's Western Bacon Cheeseburger

Just like McDonalds has the Big Mac and McDowell's has the Big Mick, Carl's Jr. has the Western Bacon Cheeseburger and locals Apollo Burger had the er ... Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Just when you thought Apollo's welcomed expansion into the old Royal Eatery space was going to be the homegrown chain's biggest headline of the year, an all-beef patty collision came into play when Carls' parent company, CKE Restaurants, came a-knockin', grease-stained legal documents in hand. The two settled in February, Apollo re-christened their (superior, imo) quarter-pounder as the Texas Bacon Cheeseburger and all was good in Burgerland once more. Now, pass me a napkin. (EL)


Best Hipster Whisper
3 Cups Baristas

Love your morning coffee, but could do without the barista screaming your name when your cortado is ready? Just hit up 3 Cups, their baristas have perfected the hipster whisper. In fact, their skill is so subtle if you're not paying attention, your hot beverage might be chilled by the time you realized it's up. From time to time on busy weekend mornings, the bravado of their whisper will rise above coffee shop chatter—though this appears to be an inside joke, I'm not cool enough to understand. On the other hand, with coffee and fancy lad grub that legit, who needs to be cool? (AP)
4670 S. 2300 East, Holladay, 385-237-3091,

Best quick and tasty breakfast
Straw Market

Growing in popularity, Straw Market is still the place to grab a quick morning bite at an unbeatable price. Breakfast burritos, which ring up at $3.50 apiece, are packed with egg, cheese and hash, plus your choice of ham, bacon, sausage or veggies—a mix of spinach, green and red peppers, onion and mushroom. Plop down another dollar if your sweet tooth is getting the best of you for a fresh cinnamon roll slathered in white frosting. The small café also offers ham and cheese or veggie quiche ("made when we feel like it," the chalkboard menu reads.) (DWH)
390 Fourth Ave., 801-935-4420,

Best "If we distill it, they will come" crazy like a fox philosophy
Waterpocket Spirits' Notom Amaro

Distillery owners Julia and Alan Scott are bringing some definite diversity to the growing potables profile of our salty city, most notably with their mind blowing Notom amaro released earlier this year. The Scotts' passion for artisan spirits has segued nicely with their love for researching long-lost liqueur and herbal spirits recipes, to immediate acclaim from booze geeks far and wide. Their tag line, "Open Wild," reflects both the breadth and intensity of flavors they're producing, which are unlike anything else currently made in the state. They're original spirits are named for mythological characters and Utah landmarks. You can sample their Oread botanical liqueur, Notom amaro, house-distilled rum and other products during a distillery tour and tasting. (DD)
2084 W. 2200 South, 385-202-5725,


Best place to get your tires rotated and smothered tamales
Victor's Tires

It's just convenient. If you've ever been stuck waiting for your car to be worked on while hunger claws at your belly, Victor's is definitely the place for you. Grab a combo plate, horchata and flan and chow down while Victor's staff takes care of your ride. Just take into account you might have to adjust your seat to accommodate your full belly when you get back in the car. (SA)
1406 S. 700 West, 801-326-6182,

Best other perversion of the burrito
Sweeto Burrito

Lucha Libre-themed Sweeto Burrito franchises are popping up everywhere. The chain was founded in North Dakota by a guy with, the website says, "a crazy obsession for putting random stuff in tortillas." That led to combinations of a bacon cheeseburger, fries and fry sauce (The All-American); over-medium eggs, tater tots, bacon, cilantro ranch and Neato sauce (Break Neck); smoked chicken, bacon, onion rings, cheddar and c-ranch (The Smokehouse). There are more traditional ones, like the White Chick (chicken, rice, beans, pepper jack, lime juice, sour cream, salsa and cilantro ranch), but even that gets weird when you have to choose a size. Sweeto offers two: middleweight and heavyweight. So you might find yourself uttering the words, "Gimme a heavyweight White Chick" in public. But it's totally worth it. (RH)
Multiple locations,

Best healthy "chicken" nuggets
Roasted Cauliflower at Laziz Kitchen

At this point in the lifespan of the chicken nugget, it's safe to say that the dish is more nugget than it is chicken. Despite my efforts to get nuggets recognized as an official food group, I would suggest that those who are looking for a healthier finger food that captures the nostalgia of chicken nuggets should check out the Roasted Cauliflower ($7) at Laziz Kitchen, mainly because cauliflower is one of the most underrated vegetables when it comes to roasting. The cooking process brings out the cruciferous veggie's nutty flavor, but the real treat is how the experts in Middle Eastern cuisine season these little beauties. A few bites of this and you'll forget about all those little chicken bits that you used to be so fond of as a child. (AS)
912 S. Jefferson St., 801-441-1228,

Best Horchata after dark
Mezquite Mexican Grill

I can confidently say that the horchata from Mezquite Mexican Grill, specifically between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., can satisfy your desperate thirst and starvation. I recommend ordering the largest size (32 ounces) for the low price of $2.69. This horchata is not like the "horchata" from Cafe Rio. This horchata is authentic and cold with a strong, unforgettable almond influence. (JV)
Multiple locations


Best recommendation from a City Weekly staffer to a City Weekly staffer
Tacos Mi Caramelo

Out of the blue one day, dining critic Ted Scheffler emailed to share that he'd discovered the best tacos in town—Tacos Mi Caramelo. It's the kind of place you might never hit up without a recommendation. It's maybe a block from my house and I'd never noticed it. So Scheff saved me from never knowing that carne asada street tacos can come with guacamole, or that quesadillas can have less cheese than meat, and that most of that cheese is burnt, but it's not a problem. Or that pig face (buche) is surprisingly good, and that there's a whole host of weird-ass Mexi-meat I've yet to try. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (RH)
1808 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-883-9245,

Best Tacos for a cause

On the one hand, it's not as though you need an excuse to spend a day eating tacos from some of the state's best purveyors of the tortilla-pocket treats. A taco is its own justification for being. Marcelo Bayon, however, saw such a gathering as an opportunity to do some good, and thus did August's inaugural Tacofest—which included awards for Best Veggie Taco and Taco of the Year, among others—become a benefit for Meals on Wheels. More than 3,000 visitors came for the event, and in the process helped raise $7,000 to help the meal-delivery charity. (SR)


Best Meatiest Vegan Burger
Kein Fleisch Burger from Ice Haus

Unhinge your jaw and sink your teeth into the most satisfying veggie burger in Utah. This cow-less burger (kein fleisch is German for "no meat") is a vegan masterpiece that comes with fries and will only set you back $10. It's topped with the finest dairy-free vegan cheese (it actually melts!), caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, a healthy dollop of sauerkraut, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and German mustard. Here's the kicker there's a second layer of meaty goodness with the addition of a sliced vegan brat. Ice Haus owner Dave Morris says, "This burger packs a healthy punch but still has that beefy, meaty taste. Just because one chose the vegan path, doesn't mean they must give up meaty flavors." (AR)
7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127,

Best Dalai Lama-approved Lunch Buffet
Café Shambala

Salt Lake City lacks a strong presence of Tibetan food—at least so you thought. Café Shambala, embedded in the Avenues, offers a stellar lunch buffet. It costs $8.50 for unlimited access to chow mein, lentil soup, momos, spicy tofu, mixed vegetables and other healthy but delicious options. The spicy tofu alone will leave you feeling light, satisfied and longing to return. It will singlehandedly convert avid tofu haters to tofu lovers. Also, the owners and workers at Café Shambala happen to be the friendliest people in Salt Lake City, constantly smiling and happy to share their special food with you. (JV)
382 E. Fourth Ave., 801-364-8558

Best Vegan Jerky
Frisch Vegan Foods

Frisch Compassionate Eatery is one of Salt Lake's most popular vegan restaurants. This year, they launched Frisch Vegan Foods, making and selling delicious vegan jerky for $6 a bag. Teriyaki Sriracha (my fave!), peppered jerky and Zesty Original will knock your socks off with tantalizing flavor and an impressive chew-factor. "After five years of running our butts off with Frisch Eatery, we sat down for a quick snack," says Leigh Kade, who owns the enterprise with his wife, Rachel. "We wanted jerky, and since we didn't have any, we made some. It was really tasty, so we made some more and our friends ate it all ... so we made even more, and pretty soon we'll be the gods of vegan jerky." Find their jerky at Watchtower Café, Jade Market and Frisch Eatery. (AR)
145 E. 1300 South, Ste. 201, 801-906-8277,

Best fast food secret menu item requiring visits to multiple fast-food restaurants
The Del Taco Cookie Frosty

Two guys, one car, two different ideas for dinner. Wendy's is, like, right there. Del Taco isn't that far away. Compromise leads to quite the feast, including two desserts. A thought: These two could be one. In a fit of whimsy, you grab a Del Taco chocolate chip cookie, mash that bad boy into a chunky pile, and shove it deep into that creamy Frosty. Birds sing. The sun shines a little brighter. Your triglycerides skyrocket. You die. You go to the light at the end of the tunnel where Jebus, slowly pulling and upside-down spoon from his mouth, says through a mouthful, "Pretty good, huh?" (RH)

Best world tour for the lazy diner
The Strip Mall on 1300 South and State Street

If you're the type of diner who wants to sample cuisine from all over the world but you don't want to travel more than a block, look no further than this quaint little strip mall. You've got Shanghai Café for Chinese and Vietnamese, whose barbecue pork and egg roll noodle salad ($8.50) is the stuff of legend; there's Korea House, one of Salt Lake's only traditional Korean destinations; House of Tibet, whose lunch buffet ($8.99) is one of the best values in town; Mariscos Mi Lindo Nayarit, home of authentic Mexican seafood; and Frisch Compassionate Eatery, whose vegan nachos ($8) have stolen my meat-loving heart on more than one occasion. (AS)
1300 South and State Street

Best Road Trip Burger Stop
Circle D

You've been on the road for hours taking in Utah's stunning Route 12 and all that dazzling scenery is making you mighty peckish. But where to stop among tiny hamlets dispersed along miles and miles of empty desert? Escalante is your stop, my friend, and Circle D will sustain you for the long road ahead. Their burgers are juicy and fresh—the cow on your plate was raised just around the corner at the Flying V Bar Ranch. With 1/3-pound patties, you'll be set until home, but if you decide on barbecue instead of burgers, you won't be disappointed. Vegetarian road trippers, fear not. A black bean-burger is available, and there are a number of meat-free pastas and salads on the Circle D menu. (SA)
475 W. Main, Escalante, 435-826-4125,


Best Red Rock Shake Shop
Milt's Stop and Eat

Blame Southern Utah's unforgiving sun that fries one's brains into making unchecked claims, but a milkshake is man's greatest invention. And Milt's Stop and Eat is a godsend after a day of adventuring on the otherworldly red rock cliffs surrounding Moab. The place serves burgers, fries and other manna, but don't skip out on a shake. Offering about 15 flavors—strawberry, coffee, Oreo, etc.—the eatery allows you to combine any two for an extra 25 cents. Not only that, but Milt's claims to be the town's oldest restaurant, established in 1954. So: history. (DWH)
356 S. Mill Creek Drive, Moab; 435-259-7424,

Best tenacious adherence to Utah liquor laws
Cotton Bottom Inn

They don't cotton to minors at the Cotton Bottom Inn. No bars do, if they wanna stay in business. The menus, signage and website at this Holladay tavern preemptively state the obvious: They won't serve anyone under 21. They don't even want those little anklebiters in the parking lot waiting in the car for a take-out garlic cheeseburger. You gotta admire them for protecting themselves, but also wonder how their fluffy tail got burned somewhere in the past. They also don't serve fries, which earns 'em a bonus prize: best rejection of traditional burger side dish by a place known for burgers. (RH)
6200 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-273-9830,

Best Bacon-on-the-go
GoBacon Jerky

It seems like a no-brainer combination: the dried meat convenience of jerky with the irresistible smoky flavor of bacon. This Utah County-based operation had the brains to put them together for a small-batch product of uncured bacon made without nitrates or nitrites. And they're spiked with extra flavor in maple and Sriracha versions, making for a snack you can grab any time, delivered right to your door. Subscribe to weekly delivery for special discounts. (SR)

Best Truck Stop all-you-can-eat Chinese
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant

As a child, my mother once took me to Golden Corral, where, after finishing four delicious plates of spaghetti, I felt sick and started throwing up. As tears ran down my cheeks, I remember promising myself then and there how I'd never eat that much again. Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant, otherwise known as "Kong, Breaker of Oaths," is a lovely little overlooked all-you-can-eat buffet in Fillmore. Although it resembles a makeshift food court and primarily serves Chinese tour buses, it's hard not to feel right at home, especially among all the owners' children running around. The reviews are honestly hit and miss for this place, but I'll always have fond memories for it. (RM)
920 state Route 99, Fillmore, 435-743-6668


Best Soup-and-Sandwich Lunch
Eva's Bakery

New to the menu, the grilled cheese sandwich and creamy tomato basil soup ($10) is a must try at this Main Street eatery. A delectable meal, the soup and sandwich are simple yet satisfying. Aged white cheddar, Gruyère and a pinch of Parmesan, the cheeses are melted panini-style on house bread that is a close, light cousin to sourdough. The tomato soup is a blend of roasted tomato, garlic, onions, basil and a splash of cream. The café is modeled on boulangeries (bakeries) that are ubiquitous in Paris. (DWH)
155S. Main, 801-355-3942,

Best creamy westside adventure

What happens when you throw together three graphic/web designers and an affinity for frozen treats? Basically the best damn thing to hit the west side, period. Co-owners Joachim Guanzon, Colman Aliaga and Chris Bambrough have created West Valley's first and only fully customizable Taiwanese shaved ice experience, Shirokuma. Imagine ribbons of shaved iced cream delicately flaked into generously portioned bowls ($3.50-$6.50), with flavors ranging from matcha to honey dew melon to chocolate, and specially curated monthly flavors like watermelon (July), horchata (August) and peach crumble (September), along with a hoard of toppings. And I can't forget to mention my personal favorite menu item, the fun and flavorful bubble waffle ($3.00-$3.75). I'll plan on meeting you there. (ZS)
2843 S. 5600 West, Ste. 120, West Valley City, 801-251-0134,


Best Northern Root Beer
The Beehive Grill

As much as beer-brewing has proliferated in Utah, it's still sometimes hard to wrap your head around Utah as a place for such activity. Root beer brewing? Now that sounds about right. Logan's Beehive Grill is a great dining location for burgers, steaks and sandwiches, but it's also home to daily on-site creation of craft root beer, made the old-fashioned way with cane sugar (no corn syrup) and water before the addition of the flavoring extract. The result is a refreshingly distinctive flavor, representing an all-ages-appropriate brand of craft brewing. (SR)
255 S. Main, Logan, 435-753-2600,

Best Carb-Conscious Snacks
Nush Foods

Ready-to-eat snack foods aren't easy to find if you're trying to avoid tons of carbs and refined sugars. Entrepreneur Muffy Mead-Ferro started with the simple goal of creating tasty recipes that were healthier than what she could find in stores. Protein- and fiber-rich offerings come in four flavors—carrot spice, lemon poppy seed, banana nut and cocoa—in handy bars that make a perfect energizing start to the day as a breakfast bar, or as a smarter solution for a mid-day snack or dessert. (SR)

Best place to get Boba Fat
Gossip Tapioca

By the time I finally got wise to the boba trend, it seemed that the only places I knew about were only offering half-assed attempts to snag some extra business to their already thriving smoothie or tea shops. It wasn't until a friend recommended Gossip Tapioca that I realized boba's true potential. Most places use some kind of shitty powdered drink mix that results in a beverage that drinks like a watery mess filled with congealed boogers—not so with Gossip. They make their smoothies with real fruit, letting the boba function as a supporting textural addition rather than the star of the drink. For best results, try the PMS ($4.25)—peach, mango and strawberry, you perverts—or Da Bomb ($4.25). (AS)
1629 W. 3500 South, 801-886-2868,

Best shake you can drink through a straw
The Pumpkin Biscoff shake at Chom Burger

I feel like I'm in the minority when I say that I prefer a milkshake that I can drink through a straw. There's nothing wrong with a nice, thick, spoon-required milkshake, but Utah has shake places like these in spades. When I'm either in too much of a hurry or feeling too lazy (mostly the latter), I'm in need of a milkshake that requires minimal effort for enjoyment. It's a sentiment that the folks at Chom Burger—founded by Colton Soelberg of Communal and Pizzeria 712 fame—seem to share. Their shakes are thick, flavorful and served with a big ol' fat straw with which to slurp. I recommend getting the pumpkin Biscoff shake ($4) while it's still on their seasonal menu. It's pumpkin-y enough to get your craving for the autumnal gourd out of your system, and the biscoff adds a nice texture to each glug. (AS)
45 W. 300 North, Provo, 385-241-7499,

Best Backwoods Biscuits for your buck
Woodland Biscuit Co.

Simply thinking about Woodland Biscuit Co.'s sumptuous, handcrafted biscuit-and-gravy variations has me leaving Dear John letters for everyone I know—XOXO, find me in Woodland. Laurel Bartmess, owner and biscuit artisan, began Woodland Biscuit Co. to pursue her growing passion for cooking. "You have to love what you do," Bartmess says. As a self-proclaimed foodie, Bartmess believes that food should bring people together—she hopes that her creations do just that. If you're asking me, I'd suggest The Fat Lefty ($10.50), a big biscuit dish—lovingly named after Bartmess' cat—topped with grilled kielbasa, an over-medium egg, a veggie mixture, house tomato jam and other condiments. Tucked in lush hometown surroundings, Woodland Biscuit Co. is eatery heaven. (ZS)
2734 E. state Route 35, Woodland, 435-783-4202,

Best place to find a FunGuy
The Junction Pizzeria & Grill

This "munch-adelic" eatery caters to the dude (or dudette) in our soul who, on occasion, demands a generous serving of gut-busting burgers, brown-gravy-drenched fries and topping-laden pizza to be washed down by pints of locally brewed beer. The Junction's FunGuy is a tribute to all inner dudes. Grilled to juicy perfection, this burger is stacked high with sautéed mushrooms (you know, fungi?), Swiss cheese, gravy and fried onions. It's fun on the bun—the best 'shroom burger in town. (JW)
740 Blue Vista Lane, Midvale, 385-246-8444; 6546 N. Landmark Drive, Park City, 435-655-3222,


Best One-Stop Diner
Johnny Slice

According to my gastronomic bible—or Gastronomicon, if you will—the holy trinity of diners consists of burger joints, pizza parlors and places that serve breakfast all day. Johnny Slice embodies two pillars of this trio, and, as Meat Loaf's classic ballad indicates, two out of three ain't bad. Slices of freshly made, New York-inspired pizza ($3) are clearly the restaurant's specialty, but if you're hankering for a breakfast sandwich such as the BLT and egg ($5.75) as a pizza chaser, then, by damn, you can make that happen. It's also important to note that they take their breakfast just as seriously as they do their pizza—each sandwich is packed with enough fresh ingredients to trick one into thinking Johnny Slice is a breakfast place that serves pizza instead of a pizza place that serves breakfast. (AS)
12 W. 300 South, 385-415-2924,

Best Gallerestaurant
Tin Angel Café

Many local restaurants create food that's like a work of art on your plate. But Tin Angel matches that aesthetic sensibility by turning the entire restaurant into an art gallery. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2017, Jerry Liedtke Jr.'s eatery has shown a dedication to local roots, continuing a business name launched by his father 50 years ago. That also includes providing a place for local artists to hang their work, adding to a dining experience that's already a feast for the senses. (SR)
365 W. 400 South, 801-328-4155,

Best Hospital Food
Siam Noodle Bar

The exciting cuisine at Siam Noodle Bar is not what comes to mind when someone says "hospital food," even though this restaurant is located at Intermountain Health Care hospital in Murray. Choose from an array of noodles, curries, salads and rice bowls loaded with vibrant flavors. There's also plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. "I wanted to offer fresh, healthy, delicious and affordable food to both hospital employees and visitors," explains Anny Sooksri, who also owns Chabaar Beyond Thai, Tea Rose Diner and Fav Bistro. (AR)
5171 Cottonwood St. Murray, 801-262-1888,


Best Student Fuel
Jafflz Gourmet Toasted Pockets

While most of us recognize the sandwich presses and grills made famous by Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach, they wouldn't be around if it wasn't for an Aussie invention known as the Jaffle, which was used to heat sandwiches over open flames. Park City-based Jafflz has taken this international recipe and made a wide variety of microwaveable toasted sandwiches that can be found at most Salt Lake Harmons locations. As college students are often hard pressed for time, fundage and cooking supplies, stocking up on Jafflz frozen sandwiches is a good way to keep the fridge full while supporting local business. With Jaffles that range from Thai chicken and red curry ($4.25) to s'mores ($4.25), they have enough recipes to keep even the most adventurous college foodie satisfied. (AS)
7182 Silver Creek Road, Park City, 435-333-5322,

Best Hot Sauce Haven
The Grove

It's best known for its massive deli sandwiches, but The Grove's tiny convenient store also houses a number of handy foodstuffs for your lunch—including a whole section dedicated to hot sauce. From staple concoctions like Melinda's and Dave's Gourmet to imports from all over the world, hot sauce connoisseurs have plenty of selections to choose from. Work your way through the impressive inventory and your spice tolerance might even be able to handle the special sauces on the high shelf behind the cash register (with a whopping 800,000 scoville units, Blair's Ultra Death Sauce with Jersey Fury comes in a coffin-shaped box). (SA)
1906 S. Main, 801-467-8860,

Best reason to splatter yourself in pasta sauce
Nonna's Fried Pasta Sandwich

While Magna awaits the impact that having a prison nearby, Main Street grits its teeth and makes the most of what foot traffic it can get. It's a place of characters and feisty spirit and none more so than the family-run pizzeria and Italian restaurant Nonna's. When you walk in, what first catches your eye is the red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, giving it that instant East Coast style. With a bountiful menu, its fried pasta sandwich is a true gem. Frying the spag-bog gives it a delightful, crunchy texture and served steaming in a fresh roll makes it one of those meals where, knowing you're going to end up with pasta sauce somewhere, you just dive in anyway. (SD)
8979 W. Magna Main St., Magna, 385-275-7350


Best boozed-up Milkshakes
Hub & Spoke Diner

If Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace had ventured to Hub & Spoke, they could have had that shake with bourbon. Given inflation since 1994, the $5 shake turned into a $9 shake. But did I mention it has bourbon in it? As well as caramel and sea salt, to be specific. If you're not into bourbon, no worries. There are four other shakes to choose from. There's the hazelnut for tequila lovers, an Irish coffee for whiskey fans, dirty chai for rum drinkers or the grasshopper shake for the crème de menthe/chocolate liqueur crowd. If you prefer your shake non-boozy, Hub & Spoke can do that, too—for the '94 price of around $5. (AP)
1291 S. 1100 East, 801-487-0698,


Best non-college Ramen

If you ever find yourself at a bar hankering for a post-drinking snack, pray that you're at Dick N' Dixie's where the small window up the western stairs is a portal to some of the best bar food in town. Sharing a common wall, new-spot-on-the-block Yoko Ramen keeps its kitchen open until midnight most nights. And unlike the generic college dorm staple, Yoko's ramen is delicious. The veggie option ($9) loads cabbage, green onions and mushrooms into a bowl with noodles—add a poached egg if you're not vegan—that swim in a miso-based broth. Chicken and pork ramen dishes are also popular, as is the Japanese Cubano sandwich. (DWH)
473 E. 300 South, 801-876-5267,

Best cure for the late-night munchies
Chocolate chip cookies from Chip Cookies

I was a little pissed to learn that I could have been having warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies delivered to my house after I moved out of Salt Lake. Since I missed this opportunity, I feel it's my gastronomic duty to let the denizens of downtown Salt Lake and Provo know that, yes, Virginia, you can get gigantic cookies (and milk!) delivered to your home. It's all thanks to Chip Cookies, which has expanded its operation from Provo to Salt Lake. If having homemade slabs of chocolate wonderment ($10) delivered to your home isn't gangster enough for you, the kind souls at Chip deliver their baked goods until 2 a.m. on most nights. Please, for the sake of those who now live outside their delivery boundaries, order some damn cookies and milk already. (AS)
2180 S. 300 West, 801-889-2412; 159 W. 500 North, Provo, 385-225-9888,

Best incredible edible spun sugar sculpture
Lollipuff Cotton Candy Co.

This ain't your typical pre-packaged toothache inducing ball o' gluey glucose only available in faux flavored "pink" or "blue." In the hands of talented sweets superhero Allison Andersen of Lollipuff Cotton Candy Co., fresh, mostly organic ingredients are whipped up with delightful subtle options like lavender, mango with chile and lime, passionfruit, hazelnut or pina colada—to name just a few of the over 40 flavors on rotation. The Provo-based company sells their superlative sweets online, but for the full fluffy Lollipuff experience check their events calendar to find where they're spinning up sweet treats near you. With seriously scrumptious edible sculptures like pineapples, flamingos, octopi and even the "sorting hat" from Harry Potter fame, they're almost too adorable to eat, but we'll do it anyway. (DD)

Best Dentist-Approved Candy
Prime Toffee

It might seem unusual for a retired dentist to get into the candy-making business, but Dr. Ross Cheesman insists that there's no conflict between moderate consumption of sweets and a healthy mouth. And if you're going to indulge (moderately), you might as well enjoy Cheesman's nearly 100-year-old almond toffee recipe of fresh ingredients, offered in chocolate-covered, chunk-style and bite-size varieties. Melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure—just remember to brush and floss afterward. (SR)

Best place to indulge your inner cacao snob
Utah Chocolate Society meetings at Caputo's Downtown Market

Full disclosure: The folks in this group don't just "like" chocolate. They live it, breathe it, and take the nuances of origin, terroir, roasting and processing techniques to the Nth degree. Since 2010, group founder Brian Ruggles preaches the Gospel of the Good Bean Cacao regularly at Caputo's downtown market (which he calls "the chocolate mothership" in homage to chocolate expert Matt Caputo) with hours-long blind tastings to fine tune the group's precocious palates leading up to an annual blind tasting competition. Membership is limited to those who've already attended "Chocolate 101" and "Advanced Chocolate" courses or their equivalent. Although they take their cacao supertaster status seriously, they're a pretty laid back and jovial group. Unless you bring up corporate candy giants like a brand that starts with "H" and rhymes loosely with "mercies." Then the gloves come off. (DD)


Best Nonalcoholic bender
Pizza Benders at The Italian Village

The closest that I've ever come to an actual bender involved buying a bunch of fast-food corn dogs and pouring yellow curry sauce all over them moments before consumption. That being said, bingeing on Pizza Benders ($5.99) at The Italian Village is a great way for those of us who self-medicate with food to abuse ourselves. They're inexpensive, you can get them stuffed with any three pizza toppings you want and it's easy to hold one in each hand. If you're interested in sampling some of the restaurant's pastas, you can also consume all the carbs by getting your bender in an Italian combo meal—not a bad alternative to a booze-fueled bender. Not to mention, the hangovers are much more manageable. (AS)
5370 S. 900 East, 801-266-4182,

Best Secret Dressing

When it comes to wood-fired pizza, Centro is surely in the top three in the state. As great as its pizzas are—try the roasted red pepper with rosemary or the fennel sausage—its simple, summer-flavored salads are their equal. The dressing is creamy without being heavy, tangy without being sour. It's a perfect complement to crisp lettuce and veg and whether it's the house salad or the gorgonzola, you can't help but ask the wait staff what the dressing is made of. The answer is always the same: "We're not allowed to tell." Some secrets are worth keeping. (SD)
50 W. Center St., Cedar City, 435-867-8123,

Best Cosmic Snack
Galactic Fries at Stellar Wings

Buffalo wings have always been a bit of a problem for me. I love Buffalo sauce—the spicy, vinegary flavor is one of my favorite ways to see how much pain my mouth can endure—but I really don't like chicken wings. Several places dish up boneless wings or Buffalo chicken salads, but something gets lost in translation when wing sauce isn't served. Lucky for me, South Salt Lake's Stellar Wings has bridged this gap with a creation known as Galactic Chicken Fries ($7.55). They take a basket of fries, top it with chopped chicken and douse it in one of their broad spectrum of Buffalo sauces. Add a side of blue cheese dressing, and you've got a bit of Buffalo wing innovation worthy of interstellar travel. (AS)
2704 S. State, 801-702-6346

Best flavor blends
Solstice Spices

There's no need to be intimidated by spices; if you don't know what flavors work perfectly together, trust pre-made combinations that can give your cooking a burst of taste. Made with ingredients mostly grown on the owners' own urban farm, the small-batch products are hand created in mixes that can accentuate any dish. Give meat a zing with the spicy Mountain Man blend featuring habanero pepper, onion and garlic, or give your poultry a rubdown with For the Birds' combo of salt, rosemary, sage, dried Utah chiles and more. It's all there to make even the most inexperienced chef feel like a pro. (SR)


Best Butternut Squash Soup
Blue Lemon

Blue Lemon's butternut squash soup can play with your mind. Like most of Blue Lemon's health-conscious offerings, the soup—with its fiber, vitamins and carotenoids—is nourishing. But Blue Lemon's preparation of this lovely orange gourd takes soup-slurping to a new level. It's basically a dreamy, creamy version of pumpkin pie in a bowl. Dunk a bite of buttered bread into the velvety concoction, and you've got the start of a guilty pleasure. (JW)
Multiple locations,

Best cheesy melty goodness for under $10
Raclette Machine pop-ups

Partners in life and business, Raclette Machine's Abbi Pfunder and Zara Ahmed have had a long-lasting love affair with all things cheese-related. They met while working at famed Cowgirl Creamery, and even had a cheese-themed wedding reception. So it's no surprise that their combined delight of dairy also translated into a cheese-based pop-up business. Raclette—the French word for "scraped"—features an entire half-wheel of cheese, the surface of which is toasted until perfectly gooey, then scraped to-order over grilled bread and traditional European accompaniments like cornichons, prosciutto, bitter salad greens and warm potatoes. Pretty much the perfect comfort food pop-up alongside a tall beer at Fisher Brewing, steaming latte at Amour Café or at farmers markets all over the valley. Check out their social media streams to see where they'll be next or book them for your next cheesy (in the best possible way) event. (DD)


Best evolved Fruit Roll-Up
Rolled Ice Cream at Roll With It Creamery

Ice cream is one of those rare foods that can have its flavor altered based on the shape it takes. Rolled ice cream, for example, starts with a dollop of custard or sorbet that is poured into a sub-zero bowl, splattered with sweet mix-ins and then shaved upward so it makes tasty rolls of frozen goodness. The options are plentiful—I went with a vanilla custard base and added raspberries, cheesecake and hot fudge ($5.50). The mix-ins have no choice but to become one with the custard, resulting in a dessert that is familiar and new at the same time. (AS)
63 E. Center St., Provo, 801-669-5300,

Best Sweets for your Hike
Trail Truffles

Active Utahns know that you need to consider the practicality of the snacks you choose to take on the trail—and candy would seem to be a no-no, what with the melty-ness and high sugar content and so forth. Draper's Trail Truffles, scheduled to launch in October, offers scrumptious delicacies that combine the satisfying sense of a dessert on the go with recipes that pack antioxidants and no-sugar-crash energy into a rugged dairy- and wheat-free package that doesn't get crumbly or sticky in a sunny-day-warmed backpack. Try peanut butter cup, mint crème, coconut macadamia or chocolate hazelnut flavors, and enjoy a taste of decadence wherever your wanderings take you. (SR)

Best Café Patio
Ditta Caffé

Whether you're trying to be productive, people watch, meet a date, chill with friends or literally just get coffee and leave, Ditta is the spot. Their locally sourced coffee and food is superb, but the best thing about this place has got to be the insanely huge patio out back. There's shade galore, and about a dozen picnic tables. Plus, the vibe is zen AF. The garden wrapping around the perimeter of the space would make even my mom drool. (AH)
1560 E. 3300 South, 801-410-4696,


Best Fruity Cocktail
Life's a Peach at Copper Common

I'll try pretty much anything, but when it comes to cocktails I often stay in my comfort zone. I hate to admit it because I'm usually adventurous, but I am a total wimp with liquor. When I recently explored several of downtown's best craft cocktail bars with a bartender friend who urged me to expand my horizons, I tried a few drinks that made my cautious tastebuds wince, and some I loved but probably wouldn't order again. That wasn't the case, though, with this aptly named concoction by bartender Giancarlo Farina at Copper Common. With bourbon, rum, herbal liqueur, white peach, pineapple and egg white, Life's a Peach ($10) balances a perfect mix of fresh flavors—you can taste every ingredient but not in an overwhelming way. It's a subtly sweet break from reality without trying to be. (AH)
111 E. 300 South, 801-355-0543,

Best Dinner To-Go
Urban Pioneer Foods

Picking up food from Urban Pioneer Foods is the next best thing to homemade. Actually, it's way better. Working closely with local farmers and food purveyors, Urban Pioneers makes it a cinch be a localvore. "Our food is sustainable, whole, organic and local whenever possible," explains Brooke Woffinden, who owns the catering and specialty food retail company. The storefront is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2-6:30 p.m. You can find everything from housemade soups to prepackaged fully cooked meals—all you have to do is warm them up and enjoy. The menu changes weekly, so be sure to follow on Instagram and Facebook. (AR)
389 W. 1700 South, Ste. A, 801-598-7702,

Best Diner that doesn't feel like a Diner
The Eating Establishment

I often wonder why more restaurants don't just accept the fact that no one is ever going to top diner food as far as comfort and flavor goes, and update their menus accordingly. The Eating Establishment in Park City seems to have accepted this universal truth, and has dedicated themselves to elevating classic diner fare to new levels. The pork hash ($14) is a great breakfast skillet that includes fresh veggies—it's one of the only ways I'll eat kale—and slow-roasted pork shoulder. It's also got a solid craft-cocktail menu for those who crave some expert mixology with their high-end diner food. (AS)
317 Main, Park City, 435-649-8284,


Best Unexpected Entertainment
The eclectic programming at Feldman's Deli

As if the mile-high sandwiches—corned beef, pastrami, Reuben et al.—at Feldman's wasn't attraction enough, the New York-style delicatessen has recently beefed up their entertainment lineup to provide a fuzz-free and truly unique dining experience. How's about a sloppy Joe with a side of Jim Fish's mountain country, or a bagel with lox at the knee-slapping "Old Jews Telling Jokes Night"? "This sandwich has changed people's lives," co-owner Mike Feldman says as I'm about to dislodge my jaw to bite into a hulking, gravy-laden roast beef on rye. The accompanying garlic potato salad made my tastebuds dance. The smooth sounds of Full Circle Jazz Ensemble made them groove. A more authentic East Coast eatery along the Wasatch Front? Fuhgeddaboudit. (EL)
2005 E. 2700 South, 801-906-0369,

Best start for Foodie Initiates
Curry Fried Chicken

There are many people who don't really care what they put in their mouths. I don't understand them at all, but I accept the fact that they exist. I also understand that, every so often, one of these poor bastards decides that they want to start being a little bit more adventurous with their eating habits. When this happens, it's your responsibility to be the Morpheus to their Neo—you need to help them take the red pill. For such an occasion, consider Curry Fried Chicken. Even the most dispassionate food consumer can get behind a plate of fried chicken, but the added spice that the curry adds to this common dish could just be the spark that brings one more food lover into the fold. (AS)
Curry Fried Chicken, 6660 S. State, 801-924-9188,

Best most delightful Fast-Food worker
Christine Parkinson at Subway

Most fast-food workers are overworked and underpaid—and therefore surly and inattentive. That's why they ask, "Anything else?" after every item you order at the drive thru, shove your food at you with a GTFO smile and often screw up your order. If you're as sick of this dance, waltz into the Subway at 3197 S. Redwood Road during the day shift. You'll meet petite Christine, who makes you believe from the get-go that she's not only genuinely happy to see you, but also wants to make the best sandwich you've ever had. Once you experience this sweetie-pie, you'll pass up more proximal Subway locations just to add her particular sunshine to your day. (RH)
3197 S. Redwood Road, 801-975-7338,

Best Spice Cabinet stock-up to support social justice
Penzey's Spices

We're all about putting local producers first on this list of the Beehive's best, but there are some national chains that deserve a hearty "huzzah!" Case in point: Penzey's Spices. The top-quality single origin extracts, herbs, spices and popular blends (Sunny Spain lemon-pepper and Arizona Dreaming chile are fam favorites at our casa) are low- or no-salt and packed with flavor. With an established cult following among serious cooks, the company drew national attention and conservative boycotts after the last election when company owner Bill Penzey publicly and proudly started a "campaign for good," supporting the Women's March, social-justice initiatives protecting immigrants and refugees, marriage equality and calling out the racist foundations of alt-right nationalism. Boycott-schmoycot. Guess where we're getting our next packet o' pink peppercorns? (DD)
280 E. 12300 South, Draper 801-666-7557,

Best Cocktail Bar in a (ground-floor) Basement
The Ruin

In the newly renovated (or gentrified) part of Sugar House, several eateries, specialty shops and watering holes have sprouted up like sweet fruit from barren earth, but none more worthy of praise than Rheda Fouad and Amy Leininger's The Ruin—you might recognize Fouad and Leininger from the Downtown Artist Collective. Under the looming Wilmington Avenue apartment complex is situated The Ruin, a down-to-earth cocktail bar, furnished with sleek wood, stone and leather décor. At once intimate and community-oriented, The Ruin makes it a point to have several local breweries on tap, like Uinta and Proper, and also to substitute name-brand liquors for hometown counterparts, like Beehive and Dented Brick, whenever possible. With a welcoming staff, The Ruin can make a night out quite rightly a night in. (ZS)
1215 Wilmington Ave., Ste. 120, 801-869-3730,

Best $6 off-menu Daiquiri
Wray & Nephew high-proof classic at Water Witch

"A classic Wray-Daq is probably my favorite drink of all time," award-winning Utah bartender Scott Gardner says. "It's the best drink. Ever." And there's a lot to love about this absolutely clean, minimalist take on the classic daiquiri, made with Wray & Nephew overproof white rum, fresh lime juice and just a titch of simple syrup. But word to the wise: You probably won't find the Wray-Daq listed on the ever-changing menu board at Water Witch. Each visit is the absolute best kind of bartender roulette. Just put yourself in the Witch's staff's talented hands, and they'll treat you to whatever boozy genius they've got in mind that day. Case in point is the Wray-Daq, a cocktail Gardner has brought with him to each of the many top bars he's worked at in Utah. He says, "It's a promise I've made people: Scott Gardner will always have a daiquiri," no matter where he's shaking or stirring things up. So far, inflation hasn't crept up on him, either. I got mine for six buckaroos plus tax. (DD)
163 W. 900 South, 801-462-0967,

Best BuzzFeed-approved soft serve
The Dole Whip Vanilla Twist at Auntie Rae's Dessert Island

In July, BuzzFeed conducted a Yelp survey to determine the best place for soft serve ice cream in every state. It's a tough call to make—we Utahns love our soft serve—but the internet aggregates declared Auntie Rae's Dole Whip Vanilla Twist ($1) the finest soft serve in the Beehive State. Dole Whip soft serve is catnip to anyone who has visited the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, and to get it locally for a buck? It practically sells itself. Auntie Rae's also offers several dessert delivery systems—I recommend the cookie sundae ($5)—for your Dole Whip, which gives the eccentric little Holladay shop tremendous repeat value. (AS)
4704 S. Holladay Blvd., 801-679-3925,


Best spot to gorge yourself on food and live music
The Hog Wallow Pub

When a band is really cookin', you can work up quite a hunger on the dance floor. Unfortunately, many clubs are all beats and no eats. And if they do offer edibles, it's microwave and fryer fodder. Enter Hog Wallow, and its full menu of finger foods, sandwiches, pizza, burgers and salads. Sure, most of that's kinda unwieldy while shaking your butt to SuperBubble or Stonefed—so you should probably park it until you're done grubbin'. (RH)
3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-733-5567,

Best place to pretend your friend's dad jokes are landing
Wiseguys Comedy Club

Every Wednesday night, Wiseguys Comedy Club at the Gateway opens its stage to the amateur comedians among us to trial-run their best bits. So while it's true that you're sure to hear a few folks at the mic who will bomb so spectacularly you'll wonder where the jokes were hiding, you'll also hear some side-splitting sets and witty crowd work. The doors open around 7 p.m. and the cover is just $5. Better yet, funny guy, try crafting your gags into a two- to three-minute set and test your delivery on stage. (DWH)
194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233,

Best indication that Utah does have a little bit of a nightlife
Matt Barnes of Bourbon House

Pull up with your crew to the front doors of the Walker Center on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll see a line out of the door that's as long as Trump's presidency has felt. Altogether now, Utah: That's right, I'm looking at you, Golden State Warrior and rider of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry's championship coat-tails Matt "There's no nightlife in Utah" Barnes. We've got a club (OK, Bourbon House calls itself a cocktail emporium and craft kitchen, but still) in Utah that serves alcohol and plays '90s hip-hop hits and even has a line to get in. Barnes' ignorance aside, Bourbon House is a great and rowdy place to dance and drink your little heart out on a weekend. Rumor has it, family man Gordon Hayward left Utah because he couldn't handle knowing that such a crazy place like Bourbon House existed. I mean, come on, who would want to raise a family around that kind of in-your-face nightlife? (JF)
19 E. 200 South, 801-746-1005,

Best Speakeasy to listen to '90s Hip-Hop
The Rest

The walk down to the basement of Bodega gives the authentic feel of a 1920s speakeasy, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll hear Duke Ellington spinning on the record player. Depending on the bartender (and crowd) the night you patron this downtown hide-a-bar, you just might be able to commandeer the turntable and play the TLC classic, "Crazy Sexy Cool." Follow that with Tribe Called Quest or Biggie paired with a few dapper beverages and delish tapas bites and you've got yourself a '20s/'90s kind of a party. (AP)
331 S. Main, 801-532-4452,


Best "all are welcome" Vibe
Metro Music Hall

Newly revamped Metro sees your idea of safespace and raises you. Home to everything from late-'90s alternative shows (Eve 6, you made me swoon) to massive death metal showcases like the recent Bloodletting North America Tour, Metro is truly a representation of SLC's multifarious scene. Avant-garde queer dance parties? Yep, you'll aso find them here. Drag performances that pack the house—from RuPaul's Drag Race superstar Alaska 5000 to local queens vying for the Miss City Weekly crown? Step right up. If that wasn't enough to line 'em out the door, their house specialty drinks, like the lip-smacking Aphrodite, are the glorious, boozy cherry on top. (EL)
615 W. 100 South, 385-528-0952,

Best Big Names in a Small Room
Urban Lounge

Since opening its doors back in 2001, Urban has hosted buzzy ascendant bands (Incubus, The Hold Steady, Red Fang), legendary groups later in their careers (X, Supersuckers, The Afghan Whigs) and cult bands you thought you'd never see in SLC (Guitar Wolf, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Acid Mothers Temple). In a room that holds around 400, with a top-shelf lighting and sound, these are some of the best and most intimate shows in town. Especially when paired with the cream of the local crop. (RH)
241 S. 500 East, 21, 801-746-0557,

Best Downtown Bargain Brews

After a stressful day at work, sometimes you can't wait until the weekend to unwind with a frosty brew and a good time. But if you're strapped for cash like me, you're gonna want to find a good bargain. Tucked away under a string of restaurants downtown, O'Shucks is a fun little Irish bar offering daily deals on drinks and sushi nearly every day of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are the best with $3 schooners, and on Wednesdays it's sushi happy hour all day long with Ahh Sushi's two-piece nigiri or traditional or California rolls for $3 each. (AH)
22 E. 100 South, 801359-6770,

Best place to dip balls in water, then toss them at other people
A Bar Named Sue on Highland

Beer pong is plenty of fun at home, but at A Bar Named Sue on Highland, you can play for free and still win money. On a Wednesday, no less—and aren't arcing ping-pong balls a nice metaphor for hump day? Even better, you don't have to drink when the other team scores, 'cause the cups are full of water. So while you might lose sleep staying out late, you won't have to go to work hungover if you lose. Oh, and the money thing: Sue ponies up 10 bucks for every team that registers, up to a total pot of $100. No-risk midweek stress relief with a chance at an extra payday? Sign me up. (RH)
3928 S. Highland Drive, 801-274-5578,


Best Conversation Piece
Good Grammar's Pop Culture Wall

Although it's puzzling why a place named for a word-nerd fetish is decorated with so many portraits of pop culture icons, it is kinda fun to get drunk and try to identify them all. Especially if your companion is the kind of guy who claims to know everything, but thinks Led Zeppelin is a dude, and that "Alex" Cooper rules. Then you can troll him by pointing out Robert's Johnson and Lucille's Balls. In case it's not already clear, this Best of Utah pick is for Good Grammar helping us strengthen friendships. (RH)
69 Gallivan Ave., 385-415-5002,

Best barstool to backseat coach the Utah Jazz
Twilite Lounge

Cheap beer. TVs on either end of the bar. Friendly regulars. Friendlier bartenders. And cheap beer (because you're going to order a second—who're we kidding). The dimly lit cash-only dive is a comfortable place to watch basketball on a spring evening. So even if the hometown team doesn't find the success it did last year (thanks a lot, Hayward), Twilite is the place to hang out for a celebratory—or commiserate—brew, and explain to the other barflies what play you would have called had you been hired as coach. After the game, order your third as you'll want to stick around for a game of pool, a tune on the jukebox or to hear the occasional live band that plays in the back. (DWH)
347 E. 200 South, 801-532-9400,


Best Community Backyard BBQ
Club Rendezvous Horseshoes Night

Lots of bars offers games like beer pong and cornhole, but not many have a horseshoes league. There's simply not space for something like that. Except on the huge backyard patio at West Valley hideaway Club Rendezvous, where "Horseshoe" Charlie Clark runs a Thursday night blind-draw, double-elimination doubles league throughout the summer. It's competitive, but friendly—and with Rendezvous grilling chicken and hotdogs to go with their cold draft beer, it feels more like a backyard cookout. Which, of course, always feels like home. (RH)
1900 W. 4100 South, West Valley City, 801-935-4134

Best Latin club
Club Karamba

I don't like loud music or loud people. Club Karamba offers both. It's really the only time I give myself to leave the ol' comfort zone with the help of a few drinks. The dancing is definitely more involved, so if you get tired, you can also grab a table, get waiter service and just entrance yourself with swaying hips. Be prepared to shell out eight bucks a beer, but otherwise, Club Karamba is a wholly different and exciting experience than what you'd find at other clubs. (RM)
1051 E. 2100 South, 801-696-0639,

Best Bar Staff
Lake Effect

Some of my most memorable nights are the ones that weren't planned, the ones that started kind of shitty but turned out great, thanks to the people I wound up with. That was the case on a recent night at downtown SLC's new bar, Lake Effect. I had planned on writing about their tacos, but arrived a little too late to order them. So I settled for a beer and unleashed my life story on the bartender. Long story short, I made several new friends that night, and even got a ride home from one of them. I'd been there many times before and have yet to be let down. From their craveable late-night food menu (the tacos are a must-try) to their top-notch cocktails, Lake Effect is superb—undoubtedly due to the selfless, talented, dedicated staff. (AH)
155 W. 200 South, 801-532-2068,


Best Inclusive Dance Party
Vibe Events

Hey, deaf people like to party, too. But unfortunately Utah's nightlife scene hasn't been so accommodating. That's something Maclain Drake is changing with his new series of inclusive EDM shows, Vibe Events. Don't be fooled into thinking this is only for deaf people, though. With sound-reactive visuals, smells and a vibrating dance floor (which Maclain built himself), as well as a drink menu inspired by the musicians, this show caters to all five senses, which anyone can appreciate. "All I care about is a live show," Drake told City Weekly in May. "If it's truly a live show and the artist truly wants to get his message across, he can get across all aspects of senses, rather than just one." (AH)

Best Rooting Room
Legends Sports Pub

There are plenty of places to root for your favorite team in your favorite game, whether it's attending in person or sitting in your living room. Then, there are those occasions when you want to gather with a bunch of friends for a game-watching party, or maybe just hang out with dozens of similarly fanatic strangers. The side room at Legends offers giant-screen viewing and the same great pub-food and drinks service as the rest of the place, and it can be reserved for free. If you just want to kick back with an adult beverage and watch sports on a TV in the main room ... well, that's OK, too. (SR)
677 S. 200 West, 801-355-3598,


Best outside-the-box live music event
Ménage à Trois at The State Room

The local music scene, in spite of consistently producing quality acts, still suffers from chronic apathy. So Crook and the Bluff, Pig Eon and Candy's River House—three bands that oughta be packing most of the rooms in town—conceived Ménage à Trois last April. It was no mere triple-bill: The three frontmen opened the show together, then the full bands came out for a meaty second act, a song-for-song rotation where they cheered each other on from couches and jumped up for guest solos. For the big finish, they went full Voltron, assembling into a single band and bringing out dancers and aerialists. The gambit worked—the show sold out. But their real trick was giving Salt Lake City music fans a night to remember. (RH)

Best I-wanna-black-out-for-cheap drink
Cheer to You's Mind Eraser

Sometimes the only solution to a hard week's worth of work is to get blacked out, but not every nightlife-er has the cash to do it at a tap house or pay whatever the hell they charge at other "upscale" bars (nor is it really advisable). Luckily, Main Street's maiden of mercy, Cheers to You, has just the drink for a cheap night out and, you know, maybe a convenient blackout. Served in a multitude of fruity, I-can't-even-taste-the-alcohol flavors, Cheers' Mind Eraser is perfect drink of which to have one—or five. And at $3, you'll be stumbling unknowingly out of the bar having maybe spent $25. (JF)
315 S. Main, 801-575-6400

Best triple blast from the past
Transit Cast, D'Molls, Enuff Z'Nuff at Liquid Joe's

With two '80s major-label bands on the bill, it was already gonna be a memory-lane night. But Transit Cast, featuring Jeff Alleman and Walter James Woods of old-school local bands like Skit Skat, Circus and All Souls Avenue (aka ASA), contributed a double-decade dose of nostalgia with their signature '80s glam/'90s alt-rock sound. Then Desi Rexx and D'Molls made their debut as a local band, with local bass legend Jonni Lightfoot on bass, and demonstrated the swagger and pop smarts that made the band cult favorites in the genre. Headliners, Rexx's Chicago buddy Chip Z'Nuff and his band, capped the night with a 10-song set that merged club intimacy with arena bombast and nightclub comedy. Memories are great and all, but even better is proof that, for all three acts, the magic is intact. (RH)


Best Afterparty
Salad Event Series

As all party people of Utah—especially newcomers—are aware of, the bars just close too damn early here. That might lend a hand to the ever-growing local EDM community, which you can always count on for some sort of afterparty. I've been to many, and my favorites are hosted by Salad Events at artsy downtown venues like Provocateur Studios or Sailor Tailor Tattoo. They generally go from 11 p.m.-5 a.m., are BYOB and cost around $20. You're required to register online beforehand, though, to keep it all kosher regarding the state's senseless liquor laws. Resident DJs Feral Williams, Eights Everywhere and Serge du Preea keep the good vibes flowing all night with house music that's a blast for anyone to dance to. (AH)


Best Elected Official
Jim Dabakis

After the Legislature avowed to lower Utah's drunk-driving threshold to .05 percent, Jim Dabakis jumped on Facebook. Podcasting from a local watering hole, he and two volunteers tried to determine how much booze it would take to break the legal limit. Instead, Dabakis broke the breath monitor (literally)—after using mouthwash and blowing a lethal .5. The stunt was typical of the gregarious state senator who's championed progressive causes for decades. From co-founding Equality Utah to chairing the state Democratic Party, Dabakis makes the word "liberal" almost palatable in the reddest-of-the-red states. (Lance Gudmundsen)
2nd place: Ben McAdams
3rd place: Jackie Biskupski

Best Nonprofit Organization
Best Friends Animal Society

When hurricanes hit, people are frightened and confused. Try to imagine, then, the terror of thousands of helpless animals caught in nature's wrath. Best Friends Animal Society does. And its volunteers even now are comforting these often-forgotten victims of natural disasters. Further inland near Kanab, another 1,600 abandoned, abused or sick animals have a safe harbor at Best Friends' sanctuary—the nation's largest no-kill facility. Looking for furry companionship? The society operates adoption centers, including one in Salt Lake City. (LG)
2. Planned Parenthood
3. Humane Society of Utah

Best Podcast
Geek Show Podcast

It looks like somebody's reworked basement. But the ragtag broadcast studio of the Geek Show Podcast could well be the holodeck of the Starship Enterprise as it transports a legion of devoted fans into the world of All Things Geek. A half-dozen irreverent dudes—encouraged by a shot or two—regularly explore such imponderables as "The Shape of Water" and "Superman's Mustache." Gee, I always thought that was Wonder Woman. (LG)
2. I am Salt Lake
3. RadioWest

Best Political Scandal
Operation Rio Grande

"Operation Rio Grande" has that military ring—like "Desert Storm." Regrettably, it's turning out like Hitler's "Operation Barbarossa," his ill-fated invasion of Russia during WWII. Police cracking down on "the worst of the worst" around the drug-infested Road Home shelter are collaring garden-variety addicts galore (some say at the expense of civil rights), but drug kingpins lurk in the shadows. Rio Grande Street's been closed—but to what good end? Dealers still ply their wares on the peripheries. Legislators are being asked for $67 million for a two-year cleanup. Sadly, though, the homeless remain homeless. And while politicians posture, winter is coming. (LG)
2. Jason Chaffetz resignation
3. Losing Outdoor Retailer

Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell

Did president No. 45—that's The Donald, incidentally—appropriate the mission statement of 96.3 FM's Radio From Hell? Maybe. Among other things, it reminds listeners "that we never lie and we're always right." Sure. First aired 31 years ago, it's one of the nation's longest-running radio shows. Always smart and often sassy, Radio From Hell treats listeners to insights of local sages like The All-Knowing Suit and Sister Dottie S. Dixon. (LG)
2. RadioWest
3. The Morning


Best Social Cause

The homeless might as well be made out of cellophane because we often look right through them. Right now, their plight is a hot-button issue because of the crackdown around Rio Grande Street and the brouhaha over where to locate new shelters. Amid the political posturing and not-in-my-backyard protests, let's try to remember we're talking about human beings—people's sons and daughters; fathers and mothers, and innocent youngsters. There's a $67 million appropriation in the wings to bandage their wounds. To the powers that be: Spend wisely. (LG)
2. Bears Ears
3. LGBTQ Equality

Best Radio Station

If Harland Sanders had grabbed a microphone instead of a pressure cooker, he might have invented X96 instead of KFC. That's because the perennial Best of Utah winner is the local airwaves' equivalent of comfort food—your solace when things go wrong. Mixing alternative music from the '80s and '90s with today's hits, X96 also adds promising up-and-comers to its playlist—a recipe that keeps listeners smiling contentedly. Turning your dial to a corporate station with its computer-generated lineup might be a change—but you'll be risking a case of heartburn. (LG)

Best Sports Reporter
David James

A quarter-century has passed since David James joined KUTV 2 as a fresh-faced
newcomer from Sacramento. Like a good vintage, the genial James has improved with age. His encyclopedic knowledge—combined with a relaxed but authoritative delivery—has made him the go-to guy for all things sports. His two Talkin' Sports weekend shows often spawn surprises, and an occasional scoop. And motorists can catch him on their morning drive at 1280 The Zone. After all these years, he's never lost his love of the game. (LG)
2. Dave Fox
3. Wesley Ruff

Best TV Anchor
Shauna Lake

Schadenfreude was in short supply—at least among her colleagues—after KUTV 2 anchor Shauna Lake was arrested on suspicion of DUI in May. (She later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of impaired driving). "It broke my heart," wrote The Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Kirby. Her resilience and resolve, however, trumped chagrin and shame—and Lake soon was back in her co-anchor seat. Viewers admire her always-affable but no-nonsense approach to the day's events. She also hosts a weekly interview segment, "Person 2 Person." (LG)
2. Hope Woodside
3. Kerri Cronk

Best TV News Reporter
Ben Winslow

On Sept. 12, the last day to vote for Best of Utah, Fox 13's Ben Winslow tweeted an "utterly shameless" request for votes to his nearly 25K followers. Clearly, it worked. Known for having some of the fastest digits in the business, he's über adept at instant-sharing information with his audience while simultaneously reporting on some of the day's biggest stories. His station describes him as a "multi-platform journalist," which sounds about right. In a nearly 20-year career, Winslow's won a plethora of honors—including a national Edward R. Murrow award—proving that underneath that beard and cuddly persona lurks a razor-sharp mind. (LG)
2. Rod Decker
3. Big Budah

Best Weather Reporter
Sterling Poulson

He's not the flashiest weatherman (err, meteorologist) on the block, but KUTV 2's Sterling Poulson knows his stuff. Viewers can count on a thorough and authoritative forecast from the 66-year-old broadcast veteran. He earned his bona fides during a 10-year stint in the U.S. Air Force where he was a forecaster. Among his squadron's clients was Air Force One. Fun fact: Poulson shares his passion for isobars with music bars as director of the 120-voice Choral Society of Utah. (LG)
2. Allison Croghan
3. Kevin Eubank


Best Utahn
Jon M. Huntsman Sr.

He'll cringe at the imagery but earlier in the year, billionaire industrialist and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman Sr. found himself in a royal pissing match with the state's premier center of higher education, the University of Utah. The U, it seems, wanted to take control of the world-class Huntsman Cancer Institute. Not so fast, said Senior. After a couple of acrimonious weeks, the smoke cleared. Among the casualties: The U Health Care's CEO who resigned and U president who announced his retirement. Still standing tall: The octogenarian with deep pockets and a big heart. (LG)
2. Jim Dabakis
3. Gail Miller

Best TV News Station

Let's do the math: Best anchor (Shauna Lake), best sportscaster (David James) and best weatherman (Sterling Poulson) adds up to KUTV 2 walking off as this year's best TV news station in our part of the forest. A fixture on Main Street, it's picture-window studio is a magnet for pedestrians. So what's a little distraction if everyone's taking in some information—and having a bit of fun? (LG)
2. Fox 13
3. KSL 5


Worst Utahn
Jason Chaffetz

Grammarians, take heed: Jason Chaffetz is now a verb. Mother Jones reports that "in the political world, to Chaffetz means to throw a former mentor under the bus in order to get ahead." Such is the reputation of the former five-term Utah congressman who resigned his seat ostensibly to spend more time with his family. Chaffetz bailed just as Democrats were calling for the House Oversight Committee of which he was chairman to probe Trump's Russian shenanigans. If and when he seeks future office, critics hope he might end up as a dangling participle. (LG)
2. Orrin Hatch
3. Gary Herbert


Best DJ
Bad Hair Day

Andre Adams, aka DreRawka (Dre-Rocka), aka Young Chief Chipotle, aka The Shadow of Harambe, aka Bad Hair Day chose the last handle because it was off-the-wall and relatable—not because of his kinky, untamed locks. But isn't that what we want from DJs, something that's at once different and familiar? That's what Adams—who's currently celebrating 10 years in the local party scene—offers, with seamlessly stitched mixes that turn your favorite Top 40, old school R&B and EDM songs inside out. (Randy Harward)
2nd place: Obaÿashi
3rd place: "Bad" Brad Wheeler

Best Concert of the Year
Depeche Mode at Usana Amphitheatre

Not every band can get away with a show that skips some of the most familiar hits. But while Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher brought D-Mode's Global Spirit Tour to Utah last August with a set that bypassed the likes of "Strangelove" and "Just Can't Get Enough," they still dazzled fans with old and new favorites, including an acoustic rendition of "A Question of Lust" and a rollicking finale of "Personal Jesus." (Scott Renshaw)
2. Green Day at Usana Amphitheatre
3. Iron Maiden at Usana Amphitheatre

Best Dance Company
Ballet West

For more than 50 years—founded, like the University of Utah's first-in-America ballet program, by Willam Christensen—Ballet West has given local audiences a chance to watch some of the world's greatest dancers at work. From an annual production of The Nutcracker that has become a multi-generational rite of passage, to the bold new works debuted at Innovations programs, Ballet West offers experiences showcasing the full scope of the art form. (SR)
2. Repertory Dance Theatre
3. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.


Best All-Ages Venue
Kilby Court

There are people enjoying Kilby Court shows now who weren't alive when Kilby Court wasn't yet around to provide a place where they could see those shows. Still going strong after 18 years, Kilby remains a place where the under-21 crowd—and their older cohorts who just know where to go for a great show—can rock out, enjoy a bonfire in the courtyard or generally just bask in the glory of being young. (SR)
741 S. Kilby Court, 800-513-7540,
2. The Complex
3. Red Butte Garden Amphitheater

Best Friend of the Arts
George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation

If you've been to an arts event of any kind in Utah over the past 50 years, you've probably heard this foundation thanked, or seen its name in a program. That's because, according to a June 2017 Deseret News feature, it has bestowed more than $600 million dollars since its inception on performing arts groups like Utah Shakespeare Festival and Ballet West and arts education programs, in addition to its other charitable endeavors. The Eccles name is practically synonymous with Utah philanthropy. (SR)
2. Utah Arts Alliance
3. Cat Palmer

Best Gallery
Urban Arts Gallery

The name isn't just a pose at being "edgier" than the typical gallery; this Utah Arts Alliance venue keeps a spark of the contemporary in fine art. Whether it's the annual exhibit of Star Wars-themed art, the political expression of the 8 O'Clock in the Morning exhibition or the the multimedia pieces in Re (composed of recycled and repurposed materials), Urban Arts Gallery finds an entry point into the art world for those who might not be sure they belong there. (SR)
137 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
2. Phillips Gallery
3. Utah Museum of Fine Art

Best Instagram feed
Sara Day's charming @local_enthusiast_slc

Launched in 2013, @local_enthusiast_slc captures the energy of someone who just adores everything about her home, whether that means a great meal at a local restaurant or an outdoors experience. "I was born and raised here," Day says via email, "and like any good Utahn, I love tasty food, good drinks, arts and crafts—and most importantly, adventuring around this glorious state." Her photos are a way to support the places she loves, and it's hard not to feel that love. (SR)
2. @iconoclad
3. @cityhomecollective

Best Live Music Venue
Red Butte Garden Amphitheater

Summer in Utah means different things to different people, but it certainly means a chance to enjoy great music in a gorgeous outdoor location like this one. Throughout the years, Utahns have been serenaded by acts like Lyle Lovett, Los Lobos, Santana and Haim with a picnic on the lawn in the up-close and personal venue. It's no wonder that the shows regularly sell out; experiences like these are too precious to pass up. (SR)
2155 Red Butte Canyon, 801-585-0556,
2. Usana Amphitheatre
3. The Depot

Best Movie Theater
Broadway Centre Theatre

There are movies that you can see anywhere, and then there are movies that you can only see here. Salt Lake Film Society's downtown anchor location devotes six screens to American independent, foreign and documentary films that help make the local cinephile scene feel like Sundance all year round. Comfortable seats and a concession stand offering more than your typical popcorn and soda make the experience just that much more pleasant. (SR)
111 E. 300 South, 801-321-0310,
2. Sugar House Cinemark Movies 10
3. Brewvies Cinema Pub


Best Museum
Natural History Museum of Utah

It would almost be worth a visit to the NHMU's Rio Tinto Center just to see its beautiful exterior, with its shimmering copper built into the hillside. But then you step inside and realize what you'd be missing: exhibits capturing the natural wonder and history of Utah, from massive reconstructed dinosaur skeletons to the history of ancient Lake Bonneville to the cultures of Utah's indigenous peoples. No matter where you look, there's something to leave you awestruck. (SR)
301 Wakara Way, 801-581-6927,
2nd place: The Leonardo
3rd place: Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Best Music Festival
Das Energi

There might have been a social-media beef between DJs Zedd and Diplo in 2016, but one event managed to bring them together. OK, technically the two dance music superstars headlined two different nights of the August festival at the Great Saltair, where more than 30 other musical acts also got crowds bumping. Then again, that's what a great music festival has the power to do: Create friends out of strangers—or even enemies—united by the power of sick beats. (SR)
2. Twilight Concert Series
3. Bonanza Campout

Best Overall Band/Group
Imagine Dragons

It's been several years since Utah has been home to Imagine Dragons, but when a local music scene gives birth to a band that now headlines arenas, it's OK to feel a bit possessive. Though co-founder Dan Reynolds has moved on from BYU and Provo to Las Vegas and super-stardom, the group that hit it big in 2012 with "It's Time" just keeps getting bigger after the release of its 2017 third album, Evolve, and Utah still loves 'em. (SR)
2. Royal Bliss
3. LHAW (Life Has A Way)


Best Piece of Public Art
Spiral Jetty

For years, Robert Smithson's epic land art creation on the Great Salt Lake was hidden from view by the water level. Now, it's possible for visitors to take in the grandeur of the 1,500-foot coil of basalt rock, and the work has become such a fixture that the Legislature designated it as the official Utah State Work of Art in March 2017. (SR)
2. Joseph Smith Sphinx at Gilgal Sculpture Garden
3. SLC Pepper Mural at 250 S. 400 West

Best Theater Company
Salt Lake Acting Co.

For many Utahns, the company is synonymous with Saturday's Voyeur, the annual musical send-up of our often-confounding local politics, religious institutions and mores. Yet that's only part of the creative picture that SLAC has been painting for nearly 50 years, providing a venue for exciting new works—including regional and world premieres—plus family-friendly holiday shows. "Something for everyone" isn't just a figure of speech here. (SR)
168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522,
2. Pioneer Theatre Co.
3. Hale Centre Theatre

Best Visual Artist
Cat Palmer

A fixture for years in City Weekly's Best of Utah Arts voting, photographer Cat Palmer traverses the worlds of commercial and fine art with unique skill. Sure, she can take a family or wedding portrait with the best of them, but she can also get political with works advocating for reproductive choice, or playful enough to cast a spin on "The Last Supper" with local anti-establishment figures like filmmaker Richard Dutcher, Sister Dottie S. Dixon, comedian Jay Whittaker and X96's Bill Allred. (SR)
2. Jimmi Toro
3. Heather Mahler

Best Record Shop
Randy's Records

Remember when a record store was actually a record store? Vinyl isn't just a hipster fad at Randy's; it's practically the whole gotdarn raison d'etre, with the state's largest selection of new and used albums, plus turntables. Now sneaking up on a 40th anniversary year, Randy's remains the place to feed your need for the needle—the kind that gives you the glorious crackles and pops of physical media music. (SR)
157 E. 900 South, 801-532-4413,
2. Graywhale
3. Raunch Records


Best Gym
Fit to Recover

FTR is not your typical bro-lift-things-up-and-put-them-down gym. It's more of a support group for those in recovery that offers fitness classes. Actually, there are four areas the gym advocates: fitness, creative arts, nutrition and community service, and FTR offers involvement in each of them, all while providing an environment of self-care and encouragement. (Sarah Arnoff)
798 W. 1390 South, 801-410-8988,
2nd place: The Front Climbing Club
3rd place: Age Performance

Best Alternative Medicine
Align Utah

The philosophy here is pretty simple: "We believe you were born to be healthy." Makes sense. For some, their everyday existence is aches, pains and lethargy. But, turns out, that's not how your body is supposed to be, and Align Utah aims to help patients find a way to wellness through nutrition, detox, chiropractic work and functional medicine. Feeling better and healthy isn't out of reach. (SA)
1860 S. 300 West, Building E, Ste. B, 801-467-2851,
2. Cameron Wellness Center
3. Flow Acupuncture & Apothecary

Best Chiropractor
The Joint

Sitting is killing us. Some studies even say that sitting all day is worse for your health than smoking. And posture? There isn't an office worker around who hasn't been burdened with back pain, neck tension or other chair-related spine issues. Lucky for us desk dwellers, there's The Joint, where we can pop in at any time for an adjustment. With package options and no appointments necessary, your back will feel better in no time. (SA)
Multiple locations,
2. Align Utah
3. Aspen Falls Spinal Care Center


Best Dentist
Dr. Jason Lewis, DDS

Many people are filled with dread at the thought of going to the dentist, but shake off those worries because they are unfounded at the office of Dr. Jason Lewis. First off, the "office" is more like walking into someone's comfortably furnished home. Whether you're going in for a routine cleaning or needing some more serious dental work, it's apparent why Dr. Lewis is called a "smile artist." (SA)
11447 S. 700 East, Draper, 801-572-5154,
2. Dr. Joshua Holt, DDS
3. Dr. William Sergakis, DDS

Best Family Practice
Foothill Family Clinic

Whether it's your first yearly checkup or your 80th, Foothill Family Clinic is there to provide quality medical care for every walk of life. Since 1976, each of the clinic's physicians has been committed to their patients well-being. It certainly shows, especially since the clinic has expanded to three office locations. (SA)
Multiple locations,
2. Granger Medical
3. Highland Family Practice

Best Fitness Classes
The Bar Method

Working every section of your body—upper, lower and core—barre workouts at The Bar Method are about balance and strength more than sweat. Don't fret—your heart rate will spike but the precise exercises are followed with stretching to burn calories and help you achieve a dancer-like body. The unique class offerings have something for everyone, no matter their fitness goals. (SA)
1057 E. 2100 South, 801-485-4227,
2. SLC Strength and Conditioning
3. Salt Lake Elevated

Best Massage Therapy
The Kura Door

You can get your basic massage care at The Kura Door, but with nine massage offerings, including Japanese stone and lymphatic, plus skin care, pedicures and manicures, you might as well go all out. The ultimate relaxation day must include a traditional Japanese ofuro bath with custom herb-infused water. (SA)
1136 Third Ave., 801-364-2400,
2. Sego Lily Spa
3. Healing Mountain Massage


Best Psychic
Margaret Ruth

Margaret Ruth's insight and advice has been lauded by clients and media alike. She's been featured everywhere from local publications to the Huffington Post. Not only can you receive a personal reading, but you can learn from Ruth as well. She teaches tarot, palmistry and psychic experiential classes at the University of Utah. Hat's off for winning (though she probably saw it coming). (SA)
2. Cheryl Merz
3. Ross Gigliotti

Best Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Steven Warnock

Plastic surgery can have a stigma attached to it, but Dr. Steven Warnock's office cultivates a judgement-free environment to help you with whatever body struggles might be bothering you. Whether it's purely cosmetic or reconstructive and health-minded, he aims his patients' goals for "realistic expectations of improvement—not outright perfection." (SA)
11762 S. State, Ste. 220, Draper, 801-571-2020,
2. Dr. Renato Saltz
3. Dr. Angela Keen

Best Physical Therapy
The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes—and backs, necks, hips, wrists, hands and elbows. That's what TOSH is for: helping you solve your aches, pains and injuries to some of your body's most vulnerable areas. For 20 years, they've been some of the best in the country at getting you to bounce back. (SA)
5848 S. Fashion Blvd., Ste. 120, Murray, 801-314-4100,
2. University of Utah Orthopedic Center
3. Mountain Land Physical Therapy

Best Pilates Studio
9th & 9th Pilates

Whatever your ideal, 9th & 9th Pilates was there to help achieve your goals using the safe and effective Stott Pilates method. They also offered fitness options beyond Pilates including barre, yoga, circuit training and velo among their 22-class line-up. (SA)
854 E. 900 South, 801-410-4180,
2. Awaken Studios
3. The Point Pilates


Best Yoga Studio
Salt Lake Power Yoga

Get ready to perspire, stretch to your limits and put your mental and physical determination in a whole new place—all with amazing Wasatch Mountain views. With an introductory month of classes priced at just $39, it's easy to see why these yogis keep climbing to the top of this list. (SA)
250 E. 300 South, Ste. 200, 801-468-9642,
2. Centered City Yoga
3. Core Power Yoga

Best Urgent Care
Intermountain Health Care

Remember that time you attempted to build a backyard skate park? Or when you decided to teach yourself how to rewire the house? Or when you found out you were allergic to wasps? Yeah, IHC was there for you. And they'll still be there when the next great idea strikes. (SA)
2. University of Utah Hospital
3. InstaCare


Best Garden Supply
Millcreek Gardens

In 1955, Vernon and Murriel Smith opened their quaint, humble nursery with just a few plants and flowers. Now, the seed they planted back then has grown wild into a 3.5-acre plot considered one of the state's premier nurseries. Whether your personal garden is suited for perennials, conifers, trees or shrubs, Millcreek Gardens has plants that run the gamut to make your garden the envy of the neighborhood. (Mikey Saltas)
3500 S. 900 East, 801-487-4131,
2nd place: Cactus & Tropicals
3rd place: Western Gardens

Best Barber
Nico "Swish" Johnson at Savant Studio

If you're in need of a fresh cut—or if you're like this author, a taper from a one to a three, trim on the top and pulled back into a combover—Nico "Swish" Johnson is your guy. A master of his craft (or a savant, rather), Swish is capable of getting you to look your best for an unbeatable price of $25 for frequent clients. (MS)
2. Dustin George at Liberty Wells Barber Co.
3. Kylee Howell at Friar Tuck's Barbershop

Best Book Store
The King's English Bookshop

Entering its fourth decade of operation, The King's English Bookshop has been matching book-to-reader for generations. They regularly invite local authors and nationally recognized guest speakers to the shop, offering a unique and unparalleled reading experience. Whether you're into fantasy, fiction, horror, sci-fi or any other genre, really, The King's English has an endless array of tomes to satisfy your reading needs. ¡Viva la print! (MS)
1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100,
2. Weller Book Works
3. Ken Sanders Rare Books

Best Boutique
A'La Mode SLC

Tired of trying to keep up with current fashion trends? A'La Mode is here to help. The boutique offers an online service where you submit your measurements, style and budget and they'll send you your very own customized box full of threads. If you don't like it, send it right back. Who said you had to break the bank to live out your fashionista dreams? (MS)
265 E. 900 South,
2. Blue Boutique
3. IconoClad

Best Comic Book Store
Black Cat Comics

Opening its doors in 2004, Black Cat Comics has woven its way into the fabric of the local comic book scene. Founder Greg Gage first discovered his love for comics when he was introduced to X-Men No. 94 in 1974. All these years later, Gage still has a passion for the medium and gives locals—once in his shoes—the chance to consign their work on his shelves. (MS)
2261 S. Highland Drive, 801-461-4228,
2. Dr. Volt's Comic Connection
3. The Nerd Store

Best Gear Store

Like minding after a mogwai, there are certain Best of Utah voting rules set in place by the powers that be. One of them is no national chains are allowed. Still, some of these establishments are so ingrained in the local community they manage to sneak in. Utah is home to some of the biggest and baddest outdoor recreation spots in the world, and REI is the outdoor equipment retailer par excellence. Maybe if Christopher McCandless had shopped at REI, there'd be an Into the Wild sequel. (MS)
3285 E. 3300 South, 801-486-2100; 230 W. 10600 South, Sandy, 801-501-0850;
2. Kirkham's Outdoor Products
3. Recreation Outlet


Best Salon
Landis Lifestyle Salon

Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you; it's a statement of who you are and an opportunity to make a lasting impression. At Landis Lifestyle Salon, they have an exceptionally supportive and professional staff more than capable of styling your locks exactly how you envisioned. The salon also offers spa treatments such as skin care and body hair removal—gentlemen, it's time to get that back hair under control. (MS)
Multiple locations,
2. Lunatic Fringe
3. Solstice Day Spa

Best Pet Supply Store
The Dog's Meow

Those that aren't privileged enough to live with a furry companion don't truly realize the impact canines and felines can have on our lives. Your furry friend is with you for a part of your life—but you are quite literally their entire life. Make sure to take care of them with proper diets and plentiful exercise. The verdict is in, and The Dog's Meow is the best place in town to make sure your pets are well provided for. (MS)
2047 E. 3300 South, 801-468-0700,
2. Paw Paw's Dog Wash
3. Mark's Ark

Best Piercer/Body Modifier
Dustin Robbins at Enso Piercing + Adornment

Dustin Robbins has been mastering piercing for over 20 years, as well as body scarification for the past 15. As the owner of Enso Piercing + Adornment, Robbins ensures cleanliness and as much comfort as possible when it comes to modifying your body. Along with high-quality piercing, Enso offers custom piercing jewelry, allowing you to express yourself with your own personal touch. (MS)
265 E. 900 South, 801-953-0201,
2. Patrick B at Koi Piercing Studio
3. Chelsie Ross at Iris Piercing Studio

Best Smoke/Vape Shop

The nicotine industry has seen a paradigm shift as people have been putting down archaic, regular cigs and picking up vapes or electronic cigarettes. Perhaps surprisingly, there are hundreds of types of e-cigs and no shortage of flavors to choose from, though iVape's staff is helpful for each step in the process. Just don't record yourself on Snapchat doing amateur smoke tricks with your e-cig. Just don't. (MS)
4523 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-268-8273,
2. Blackhouse Vapor
3. Salt Lake Vapors

Best Tattoo Artist
Austin Jones at Painted Temple

Salt Lake City is becoming one tatted, badass looking community and it's freakin' awesome. Tattoos are with you for life (shocker!), so if you're looking to get inked up, there's no one better in the Beehive than Austin Jones of Painted Temple Tattoo. With myriad years of tattooing experience, Jones' art pops off the skin and is carefully and uniquely designed for each individual. (MS)
2435 S. Highland Drive, 801-428-0687,
2. Sarah de Azevedo at Locust Tattoo
3. Bret Johnson at Sacred Souls


Best Thrift/Consignment Store

IconoClad made thrifting cool well before Macklemore ever did. The downtown Salt Lake City consignment store is chock full of stellar "pre-rocked" clothing and accessories. Always wanting to expand their appeal, IconoClad stocks the shelves with various creative clothes they believe are the next brewing trend. To shoppers, this means the shop has a fantastic array of styles, patterns and sizes for all. Tell Bugsy and Lola the shop cats we said hi. (MS)
414 E. 300 South, 801-833-2272,
2. Uptown Cheapskate
3. Pib's Exchange


Best Recreation Destination

There's practically no slow season anymore for Moab retailers and restaurateurs. Utah's prized desert recreation town is no longer a state secret, and visitors from all over the world flock here to explore the surrounding national parks. And it's easy to see why: Whether it's hiking Arches, biking Canyonlands, rafting the Colorado River or Jeeping the backcountry, Moab has everything you need to create your perfect adventure. (SA)
2nd place: Lake Powell
3rd place: Zion National Park

Best Bike Shop

You will want for nothing when you head to Contender, as all your bike-related needs will be taken care of. Oh, and it's not just bicycles, parts and apparel here. They've also got tune-up and repair services and Biomechanic fit—Contender's method of providing the best bicycle fit based on science. Serious cyclists might want to sign up for Contender Camp, a series of training blocks designed to "turn you into lean, mean, pedaling machines just in time for spring riding." (SA)
989 E. 900 South, 801-364-0344,
2. Guthrie
3. SLC Bicycle Collective

Best Bowling Alley
Bonwood Bowl

Bonwood's 42 lanes offer simple, unencumbered bowling bliss for the whole family. Grab a snack from the Runnin' Café and a beer from the Trophy Room Lounge and you're set for the night. With a pro shop and dozens of leagues, you don't have to be just a casual bowler to enjoy it here, either. Whether you're setting up bumpers for the kiddos or staring down that pesky nine pin on league night, Bonwood's got you covered. (SA)
2500 S. Main, 801-487-7758,
2. All Star Lanes & Entertainment
3. Olympus Hills


Best City Park
Liberty Park

You could easily spend your entire day at Liberty Park, Salt Lake's green-space center. Proposed itinerary: Take an early morning jog on one of the outer running tracks, pick up a coffee or breakfast at a nearby café, pop into Tracy Aviary for some morning bird-watching, peruse the folk art at the Chase Home Museum, take an afternoon swim at the pool followed by a round of tennis, bocce, horse shoes, volleyball or basketball, and round out your evening with a barbecue at one of the pavilions. And that's just some of the stuff the park has to offer on an off day when it's not packed from a festival or community event. (SA)
600 E. 900 South
2. Sugar House Park
3. Murray Park

Best Community Event/Festival
Utah Arts Festival

It's a community staple for a reason. Each year, the Utah Arts Festival gets bigger and better, providing support and exposure to artists of all types. Our state is bursting at the seams with creatives and the fest never fails to shake things up with new faces along with well-loved contributors year after year. Four art-centric days is starting to feel like not enough. (SA)
2. Utah Pride Festival
3. Living Traditions Festival

Best kid-friendly Hiking Trail
Donut Falls

Even the name gets kids excited (bonus points if you bring actual doughnuts and eat them at the falls). This wide trail has minimal elevation gain making the 3.5-mile round-trip journey a breeze, and the only complaint you'll hear from the kids is about who gets the one with sprinkles. (SA)
Mill D Trailhead, Big Cottonwood Canyon
2. Bell's Canyon
3. Living Room

Best overall Hiking Trail
Lake Blanche

This 7-mile out-and-back trail is classic Wasatch beauty: Quaking aspens, tree-less peaks and a pristine glacial lake await those who venture onto its well-worn path. With 2,700 feet of elevation gain, the trail is no joke, but the views of iconic Sundial Peak (you can add an extra few steep miles and summit it if you wish) towering over the lake are definitely worth the burn. Go in the morning and take plenty of water. (SA)
Mill B Trailhead, Big Cottonwood Canyon
2. Bonneville Shoreline Trail
3. Angel's Landing


Best Snowboarding

That little teaser of snow capping the mountains in mid-September always gets us riled up for snowboarding season, and when Brighton opens up, our days will be filled at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Their lift tickets are still some of the best deals in the Wasatch, plus you can get extra discounts by grabbing an online-refillable Go Card. With 66 trails, five terrain parks and night boarding, what more do you need? (SA)
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731,
2. Snowbird
3. Park City

Best Public Golf Course
Mountain Dell

Tucked away in the Wasatch Mountains just off of Interstate 80 is high-altitude golfing at its finest. With two courses and an abundance of natural beauty, you can languish the day away teeing off or practicing your drive among Mountain Dell's scenery. Watch out for wildlife throughout the courses and savor the fresh mountain air. (SA)
I-80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812,
2. Old Mill
3. Bonneville

Best Running Event
Salt Lake City Marathon

Many non-runners think marathons are just for the ultra-fit and super-crazy—I mean, 26.2 miles? In half a day? But the Salt Lake City Marathon incorporates a multitude of race events like the half marathon, 5K and newly added 10K to accommodate a range of runners. You don't even have to run. There's a bike route and skate route, so break out your running shoes or Rollerblades and start prepping for April 21, 2018. (SA)
2. Ragnar Relay
3. Wasatch 100

Best Skate Shop

Forget searching on Amazon or KSL, just go ask the dudes (and dudettes) at Milosport. They'll know what you need and be happy to help customize your ideal skate or snow ride. The iconic Milo logo has been ingrained in Utah shredder culture for 33 years, and, lucky for us, it's not about to disappear anytime soon. (SA)
3119 E. 3300 South, 801-487-8600,
2. Salty Peaks
3. Blindside

Best Ski Resort

We're getting stoked for Nov. 22, Snowbird's opening day. Those steep Little Cottonwood Canyon slopes are calling our name, especially since we are now in the lull between Oktoberfest and winter. Better get your Summit Pass quick, as Snowbird is part of the Mountain Collective, which gets you half off lift tickets to 16 resorts throughout the U.S. and Canada. Powder birds: Take flight! (SA)
9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2122,
2. Alta
3. Brighton


Best Brunch Spot
Ruth's Diner

Now entering it's 87th year in business—making it one of the oldest restaurants in Utah—Ruth's is the definition of a mainstay. Located just a short drive up Emigration Canyon, the diner offers an unbeatable, downhome brunch experience. Take shelter in the colder months indoors, warm up with a cup o' joe and nosh on their famous Mile-High biscuits and gravy. Along with traditional breakfast options, be sure to try contemporary dishes such as Erik's raspberry chicken, a lunch favorite. (MS)
4160 Emigration Canyon Road, 801-582-5807,
2nd place: Roots Café
3rd place: Lucky 13

Best Atmosphere
La Caille

Nestled at the mouth of Little Cottonwood is one of the most elegant and extravagant dining experiences you'll have in your lifetime. Even the commute up the driveway as you pass the gardens and trees is a delight in and of itself, and during the warmer months, musters of peacocks roam freely across the greens. Inside the French restaurant, you'll find an abundance of unparalleled charm. Finally, the menu—laden with items like stuffed Maine lobster, grilled rack of lamb and Halibut Basquaise—seals the deal. (MS)
9565 Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
2. Log Haven
3. The Cliff Dining Pub

Best Breakfast
Penny Ann's Café

The people have spoken: The best breakfast in the 801 is Penny Ann's, a quaint café with SLC, Draper and Taylorsville locations. If you're new to Penny Ann's, be sure to try the famous light and airy Heavenly Hot Cakes, which are prepared with a special ingredient: sour cream. If your palate isn't satisfied by the skillet, Penny Ann's thick and juicy bacon with eggs never disappoints. (MS)
Multiple locations,
2. Ruth's Diner
3. Eggs in the City


Best Desserts
Gourmandise The Bakery

Gourmandise now has back-to-back victories in the dessert category, and it's easy to see why: The bakery has a seemingly endless array of tasty tarts, pastries and cakes that can satisfy any palate. Patience is a sweet virtue here, as it's usually jam-packed full of patrons sinking their teeth into one of many pastries, cakes and and small plates during lunch and dinner times, though the wait is always worth it. (MS)
250 S. 300 East, 801-328-3330,
2. City Cakes Bakery & Café
3. Bake 360

Best Chinese Restaurant

Nearing 40 years of operation, Mandarin has earned its good reputation. The Bountiful establishment has won countless Best of Utah Awards in that time period, as well as other local and national accolades. Not sure where to start? With 100 items on the menu, we don't blame you. Try devouring a plate of the hugely popular honey walnut shrimp, or the Mediterranean lamb (a blend of Greek and Chinese influences)—the epitome of Mandarin. (MS)
348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406,
2. Red Maple
3. Golden Dragon

Best Gluten-Free
Zest Kitchen & Bar

The high-end downtown Salt Lake City vegan eatery is so damned good, you might just consider making the lifestyle change after you leave. Zest is as fresh and organic as it gets. They practice a farm-to-mouth mentality, sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers. Wash your meal down with a refreshing beet sangría or a berry lavender lemonade cocktail. (MS)
275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589,
2. City Cakes Bakery & Café
3. Taste of India—Layton

Best Italian Restaurant
Valter's Osteria

With a menu as delightful as the man running the show, it's easy to see why Valter's Osteria is once again named Best Italian. Owner and namesake Valter Nassi can usually be spotted ushering in diners with welcome hands and a warm heart, and is always ready to assist when it comes to deciding on one of the masterful antipasti, pastas or contorni. The place also boasts a seasonal patio and a fully stocked bar with imported wines, which makes it a stellar date night destination. (MS)
173 W. 300 South, 801-521-4563,
2. Sicilia Mia
3. Fratelli's


Best Indian Restaurant
Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
The Copper Onion

A constant Best of Utah contender, Copper Onion dishes up plates so masterful and artistic, you'll wonder if it's permitted to deconstruct them. The hip and welcoming restaurant serves some of the best small plates in town, such as the ricotta dumplings and patatas bravas. For dinner, the melt-in-your-mouth lamb riblets in a balsamic glaze are to die for. But, really, any decision here is the right one. (MS)
111 E. 300 South, 801-355-3282,
2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
3. Takashi

Best French Restaurant
La Caille

La Caille offers an unrivaled dining experience—from its gorgeous 20-acre plot to the seasoned chefs and staff, you'll believe you've entered the French countryside. Try the bouillabaisse, a collection of lobster, shrimp, scallops, halibut, clams, Mediterranean mussels and a baguette. Now it wouldn't be a French meal without du vin, so take your pick from their extensive selection of reds and whites. (MS)
9565 Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
2. Paris Bistro
3. Franck's


Best Japanese Restaurant

Yep, you guessed it—the reigning champion of the category, Takashi, once again reigns supreme. Over the past decade, Takashi Gibo and his wife, Tamara, have offered not only the best Japanese cuisine in town, but some of the best in the state. If you're a sushi novice, try the simple sunshine roll, a combination of sliced salmon, lemon, cucumber and avocado. (MS)
18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
2. Kyoto
3. Ichiban Sushi

Best Indian Restaurant
Bombay House

Bombay House is usually chock full of customers from open to close, so properly prepare or you'll be outta luck. One way to go about getting a taste of their authentic Indian cuisine is calling in your order for takeout, though you'd be missing out on the bustling and lively ambiance. Whatever route you take, you should try the savory lamb vindaloo. Sop up the remains with an order of garlic naan, and you're in business. (MS)
Multiple locations,
2. Kathmandu
3. Himalayan Kitchen

Best Korean Restaurant

Korean barbecue became an instant hit in Utah due in large part to the wildly successful CupBop. While there are multiple locations along the Wasatch Front and one inside the Vivint Smart Home Arena, CupBop also has a roaming food truck to satiate your Korean food craving. The best part? Their cups are actually low in calories—clocking in at roughly 600 per cup served with a combination of meat, noodles and rice. (MS)
Multiple locations,
2. Myung Ga
3. Korea House

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

This award is Mazza's impressive 16th victory in the category. For nearly two decades, Mazza's 9th & 9th and 15th & 15th locations have been a staple in their respective communities. Looking for an authentic experience? The restaurant dishes up Middle Eastern fare such as shawarma, falafel, kabobs and an assortment of savory dips and salads, and all of their platters are made in house using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, to boot. (MS)
912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572; 1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259,
2. Laziz Kitchen
3. Cedars of Lebanon


Best Mexican Restaurant
Red Iguana

Red Iguana has the category of Best Mexican on lock, and for good reason: The establishment has become a national brand of sorts. TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, as well as countless celebrities, have paid the establishment a visit, as evidenced by the signed pictures that adorn its walls. If you're having trouble choosing from one of the extensive items on the menu, go with the delicious mole poblano, which is dished up with chiles, peanuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, raisins and tossed with turkey. (MS)
736 W. North Temple, 801-322-1489; 866 W. South Temple, 801-214-6050;
2. Blue Iguana
3. Chunga's

Best Greek Restaurant

With Aristo's, owner Aristides Boutsikakis has brought a taste of Greece with him back to Salt Lake City. The mezedakia (Greek small plates) are the way to go—there's the sautéed baby octopus and thick cuts of battered and flash-fried calamari, baked eggplant whipped with olive oil, Greek meatballs, sautéed shrimp in marinara and much more. Not into sharing? The char-broiled lamb chops never disappoint. (MS)
224 S. 1300 East, 801-581-0888,
2. Manoli's
3. The Other Place


Best Patio
The Green Pig Pub

With such a serene and stellar backdrop as the Wasatch mountains, there's a thirst for an outdoor patio in downtown Salt Lake City to take advantage of the view. The Green Pig Pub fills that void with its seasonal rooftop patio. You'd be hardpressed to find a better spot to grub on a burger while sipping on a foamy beer than at the Pig, as well as people-watch from your view atop their upstairs perch. (MS)
31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441,
2. Gracie's
3. Ruth's Diner

Best New Restaurant
The Cliff Dining Pub

Draper's Cliff Dining Pub has burst onto the scene with a simple vision in mind—Jason and Wendy Moler-Lewis, along with their partners Matt and Nikki MacKay, strive to leave their customers as satisfied with their dining experience as they are satiated. The eclectic menu derives from a multitude of global styles. Here you'll see an assortment of wings, nachos, chicken and waffles, as well as masterfully rolled sushi. (MS)
12234 Draper Gate Drive, Draper, 801-523-2053,
2. Tradition
3. Table X

Best Ogden Restaurant
Tona Sushi

Per their website, "delicate, edible art" is how patrons describe Tona Sushi's skillfully crafted dishes and sushi rolls. The eatery has had a stronghold on the Best Ogden Restaurant category for years due to its vigilance in collecting ingredients from around the globe and sourcing fresh fish from the West Coast. Indecisive on what to order? Try the Grinch roll—an assortment of yellowtail and seared albacore tuna, basil and cucumber. (MS)
210 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662,
2. Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria
3. Roosters Brewing

Best Park City Restaurant
Riverhorse on Main

Not only is Riverhorse on Main a distinguished restaurant on Park City's Main Street, but it's also been recognized 16 times on the Forbes Travel Guide among an elite list of national restaurants. Riverhorse boasts a trendy urban vibe, live music and a menu that can leave even the pickiest of palates satisfied. For the adventurous, try the trio of fair game—an assortment of buffalo, venison and elk topped with a port reduction. (MS)
540 Main, Park City, 435-649-3536,
2. Handle
3. Tupelo and Grappa (tie)


Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant

The quaint house-turned-American fine-dining restaurant will make you feel right welcomed with seasonal, organic and local ingredients. The menu here changes with the seasons, though you'd be remiss if you didn't devour the wood-roasted Brussels sprouts, which are prepared with smoked bacon, caramelized onions, bacon dashi and nori crumbles. For an entrée, try the whole fried branzino, topped with butternut squash, herbs and a dash of lime. (MS)
3364 S. 2300 East, 801-410-4046,
2. Braza Grill
3. Copper Kitchen

Best place to take Mom
Ruth's Diner

Take note: Ruth's Diner is a multi-year winner in this category, so be a good son or daughter and treat your mom to one of the prettiest views and delicious meals around town already. It takes little effort to make the quick trip up the beautiful Emigration Canyon with your birthgiver for a meal. Try out the cinnamon roll French toast—a dish perhaps as sweet as she is. (MS)
4160 Emigration Canyon Road, 801-582-5807,
2. Little America Coffee Shop
3. La Caille


Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Oh Mai

Oh Mai has you covered on all things Vietnamese—from delectable pho to the best banh mi this side of Hanoi. The restaurant, which now has three Salt Lake City locations, is a perfect destination for a quick lunch trip or an extensive stay in the waning evening hours. (MS)
Multiple locations,
2. All Chay
3. Somi

Best Utah County Restaurant

Communal boasts in serving its dining guests farm-fresh and in-season cuisine aided by locally sourced and produced ingredients. It's best to go as a group, as the dishes are served family style—hence the name. Dishes like roasted chicken, Utah trout and grilled hangar steak are prepared in a no-nonsense, simple yet sensational style. If there were ever a reason for SLC to be darn jealous of Provo, this would be it. (MS)
102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000,
2. Pizzeria 712
3. Black Sheep Café

Best Vegetarian
Sage's Café

Don't be fooled into thinking Sage's only caters to a niche, meat-free community—the flavors are so good, staunch carnivores won't be able to tell the difference. For brunch, there's the sweet banana chocolate pancakes in classic, whole wheat or gluten-free varieties. The fennel sausage-stuffed Dunked Hipster Burrito is another solid option. (MS)
368 E. 100 South, 801-322-3790,
2. Buds
3. Zest Kitchen & Bar

Best Thai Restaurant

Located on the outskirts of the Avenues, Sawadee offers a genteel paradise for lunch goers in an elegant, peaceful environment. Appetizers at the family owned and operated locale are a must. Try the dumplings—rice-flour packets stuffed with minced shrimp and bamboo shoots with a sensational sesame-oil chili sauce. (MS)
754 E. South Temple, 801-328-8424,
2. Thai Siam
3. Chabaar Beyond Thai


Best Wine List
BTG Wine Bar

By the 2-ounce taste, 5-ounce glass, the bottle or the wine flight, have it your way at BTG (By The Glass) Wine Bar. Enjoy one of the more than 75 wines to choose from in a relaxed, upscale-ambiance bar or elevated booths. Wine aficionados can rest easy knowing that BTG has all the bases covered with a number of domestic and imported reds and whites, as well as a selection of bubbly. Oh, and the full menu from neighboring Caffé Molise is available here, too. (MS)
63 W. 100 South, 801-359-2814,
2. La Caille
3. Pago


Best Food Truck

Putting together these blurbs is hard. You mean I have to track down Cupbop's truck of deliciousness and indulge in one of their near-fabled combo bowls? Fine. Anyone who's ever tried one of their famous Korean BBQ-fusion knows it's love at first bite. Accompanied by rice, noodles and veggies, Cupbop raises barbecued pork, beef and chicken to an art form and keeps locals lining up at street fairs, music festivals and their brick-and-mortar locations begging for more. Now pass the sriracha. (Enrique Limón)
Several permanent and roving locations,
2nd place: Waffle Love
3rd place: The Breakfast Guys

Best Appetizer
Gracie's Nachos

Here's the deal: While they might be considered just an appetizer, anyone who's ever ordered the signature nachos at this downtown hotspot knows the side dish is a meal in and of itself. For the uninitiated, imagine if you will, a heap of house-cut corn tortilla chips with any and all the fixin's you could ever want—tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, black beans, your choice of meat and enough cheese to to make even a Wisconsinite rejoice. (EL)
326 S. West Temple, 801-819-7565,
2. The Garage's funeral potatoes
3. Eva's Brussels sprouts

Best BBQ

Many an aesthetic attraction caused a line to form outside vendor booths this past summer during the 41st annual Urban Arts Festival, but none longer than the one leading up to R&R. The reason? A special fair-only iteration of roasted corn so good it made even the most arrhythmic do a little jig. For the full treatment, one must simply stop by one of R&R's multiple locations (including a recently unveiled one at the Vivint Smart Home Arena) and get your fill of pulled pork, brisket and St. Louis spare ribs by the plate, or how the real gangsters order them—by the pound. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Pat's Barbeque
3. Sugar House BBQ


Best Brew Pub

Every local beer aficionado worth their hops is familiar with Squatters' kilometric, award-winning brew selection. But did you know their food is boss as well? Wash down those celebrated Buffalo wings with a Full Suspension ale or that Niman Ranch top sirloin with a Hop Rising double IPA. Room for dessert? That peanut butter chocolate pie in the corner is calling out your name, big guy. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
3. Wasatch Brew Pub

Best Bakery
Gourmandise The Bakery

It doesn't take much to lure folks into Gourmandise. Here you'll find scrumptious pastries (whipped custard-topped strawberry mille-feuille, anyone?), hearty croissants—like their famous ham-and-cheese one to fuel you on the go—and cakes for which even the word delectable is not an adequate descriptor. The cherry on top is a full lunch and dinner menu flecked with items like a Brie-and-bacon grilled cheese and saumon en croûte. Did we mention they also have a beer and wine menu? Yeah, sold. (EL)
250 S. 300 East, 801-328-3330,
2. Tulie Bakery
3. City Cakes Bakery & Café

Best Burrito
Blue Iguana

With a menu packed with all the essentials—quesadillas, enchiladas, encurtidas and "killer" nachos—Blue Iguana doles out the good stuff seven days a week. The readers have spoken however, and it's their burritos that take the (tres leches) cake. Be 'em stuffed with carne asada, carnitas, chile verde or tinga, these forearm-width babies are top-notch. Either dry or ahogado-style (smothered in chile colorado), these handheld pieces of heaven are hard to beat. (EL)
165 S. West Temple, 801-533-8900; 255 Main, Park City, 435-649-3097,
2. Café Rio
3. Lone Star Taqueria

Best Hard Cider
Mountain West Hard Cider

There's gold in them thar hills. Specifically, golden apple cider sourced from the Mountain West region and made with expert craftsmanship. Light, crisp and naturally gluten-free, even beer loyalists are broadening their horizons and heading to the Light Side to enjoy a Ruby, 7 Mile Session or the slightly bitter Cottonwood Dry-Hopped. For a different twist, their prickly pear purée-infused Desolation hard cider provides an year-round taste of summer no matter the weather—just add a paper umbrella. (EL)
425 N. 400 West, 801-935-4147,
2. The Hive Winery


Best Burgers
Lucky 13

Perhaps it's time to retire this category as Lucky 13 wins year after year—and with an expanding arsenal of juicy burgers, they show no signs of relinquishing the crown. Be it the Bacon Stinky burger featuring blue cheese crumbles, the roasted jalapeño-topped Ring of Fire or the 28-ounce Big Benny, you just can't go wrong here. Want a trophy yourself? If you finish a Benny and the Lucky 13 burger in one sitting in an hour or less, they'll pay your bill and send you home with $200 cash. (EL)
135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
2. Proper Burger Co.
3. Crown Burgers

Best Brewery
Epic Brewing Co.

It seems everyone and their meemaw have gotten into the craft beer business as of late, and with a national market estimated by the Brewers Association to be worth $23.5 billion, it's not hard to figure out why. Still, the State Street OG stands proud as being Utah's first brewery to exclusively produce high-alcohol content beer. Not ones to rest on their laurels, Epic regularly adds creations like their Tart 'n' Juicy and Los Locos Mexican-style lager to the roster. We'll say ¡salúd! to that. (EL)
825 S. State, 801-906-0123,
2. Wasatch Brewery
3. Squatters


Best Doughnuts
Banbury Cross

Banbury's crullers, old-fashioneds, apple fritters and yes, oh yes, maple bars have filled local bellies since 1986 and brought a smile to faces of countless kids, adults and even curmudgeonly journalists. Seriously, drop one of their pastel-yellow-hued boxes inside our newsroom and watch the sweet carnage ensue. It's like Shark Week, only with sprinkles. (EL)
705 S. 700 East, 801-537-1433,
2. The Big O Doughnuts
3. Dunford Bakers

Best Distillery
High West Distillery & Saloon

It was a fortuitous trip to the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., that inspired David Perkins to establish High West in 2006. It turns out the former biochemist was onto something big, and what started as a 250-gallon still-and-saloon housed inside a historic livery stable and garage, soon grew to a globally recognized brand with four locations. Whether you're checking out the tasting room, savoring a five-star meal at Nelson Cottage or grabbing one last signature spiked lemonade before departing at their SLC airport outpost, High West is the embodiment of a Utah success story. We'll drink to that. (EL)
703 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8300,
2. Ogden's Own
3. Sugar House Distillery


Best Ethnic/Specialty Market
Southeast Market

Since opening its doors in 1997 as a specialty Vietnamese grocer, Southeast Market has grown to be one of the Wasatch Front's foremost Asian marts. And they don't sell just Vietnamese fare anymore. Products from across China, Burma, India, South Korea and more now line the shelves. Bogged down by the seemingly never-ending selection? Their blog suggests which ingredients to use for what, as well as provides recipes for spring rolls, pho and other dishes guaranteed to make your next dinner party the stuff of legend. (EL)
422 E. 900 South, 801-363-5474,
2. Tony Caputo's Market & Deli
3. Black Cherry Mediterranean Market


Best Coffee Shop
Beans & Brews

An open-records request on the hand may be quite continental, but coffee is a journalist's best friend. Given the state's reputation, first-time visitors might be surprised to learn about Utah's brewing coffee culture (the same can be said about the micro-brew scene), and Beans & Brews has been there since the beginning. Established in 1993 with a commitment to freshness, quality and integrity, the family-owned business continues to thrive thanks to those values and the cult-like following of their high-altitude roasted coffee. Starbucks, eat your heart out. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Publik Coffee Roasters
3. Coffee Garden and Sugar House Coffee (tie)


Best Gyros
Greek Souvlaki

Utah's culinary scene is peppered by its strong immigrant roots. Enter Lee and Mary Paulos who were the first to bring gyros to the local masses back in 1972. All these years later, the original is still the best, and the Paulos' influence is felt in Greek Souvlaki's six locations. A half a dozen gyros call the menu here home, and they're in good company alongside brown butter and mizithra cheese spaghetti, savory dolmathes and renown pork and chicken souvlaki. Whatever you do, save room for some loukoumades (honey-doused fritter balls) available in half and full orders. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Crown Burgers
3. Greek City Grill

Best French Fries
Lucky 13

You've really achieved master culinary ninja status when you nab the best burger and the best french fries awards in the same year, so hats off, Lucky 13. Available in a basket as an appetizer or as a side on any of the wraps, sandwiches and hamburgers, fries here— sprinkled with finger-licking Cajun or rosemary garlic seasoning—quickly take center stage. (EL)
135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
2. Bruges Waffles & Frites
3. Crown Burgers

Best Pizza
The Pie

Sure, the menu includes pasta, subs and calzones, but as their name indicates, pies here reign supreme. Build your own or try any of their hand-rolled and hand-tossed classics: the sweet balsamic reduction-drizzled Wise Guy, the pineapple-chunk-topped Hawaii Pie-O or the aptly named Holy Shiitake, which is loaded with mushroomy goodness. Looking to mix it up? Their cheese-stuffed pull-a-parts are sure to do the trick. Wash it all down with a micro-brewed root beer made from scratch and served from a keg. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Este
3. Settebello

Best Salads
Café Rio

A Beehive staple in the vein of general niceness and questionable driving, Café Rio has fed Utahns for generations—from Logan to St. George—with their downhome and no-nonsense grub. Calling it "almost too good to be true," their signature 4th South salad comes loaded with cilantro-lime rice, beans, pico de gallo, guac, crumbled cotija cheese and your choice of meat. Oh, and some lettuce, too. The coup de grâce? The whole thing comes served in a tortilla bowl baked with cheese? (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Café Trio
3. Zest Kitchen & Bar


Best Sandwiches
Moochie's Meatballs & More

Just what exactly is the "more" here, you ask? It comes in the form of authentic, Italian-inspired East Coast fare like cheesesteaks, chicken Parm and a sausage-and-peppers hero made with amore. On the hunt for a one-of-a-kind treat? Try their Pizza Steak—a hulking ribeye steak sub embellished with black olives, onions, pepperoni, mozzarella and enough marinara sauce to flood the Hudson. "Tastes like a really great pizza!" the menu boasts. Yep, accurate. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Even Stevens
3. Buds Sandwich Co.

Best Seafood
Current Fish & Oyster

This summer, the day a new law ending the dreaded Zion curtain took effect, Joel LaSalle, owner of Current, hosted a media event wherein the downtown eatery's bar divide was shattered in a cathartic display. The glass wall reduced to mere pebbles, LaSalle rejoiced that diners would finally be able to get the full Current experience. In the mood to indulge? Try the West Coast kumamotos or the poached tuna melt. Oh, and to celebrate the curtain-less environment, pair it with a Brown Derby or any of the many other drinks poured in their now airy bar. (EL)
279 E. 300 South, 801-326-3474,
2. Market Street Grill
3. Takashi


Best Vegan
Zest Kitchen & Bar

Many national food brands are starting to cater to vegan consumers, tossing that old belief that vegan food is akin to chewing on cardboard out the window. First making a splash on the local dining scene in 2012, Zest has been serving up delicious and outside-the-box dishes like baked zucchini-and-cheese and their mouthwatering enchilada skillet—delighting an underserved chunk of the population and converting even sworn meat-lovers—along the way. (EL)
275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589,
2. Buds
3. Vertical Diner

Best Sushi

Is anyone really surprised? A decade into its run, Takashi has become the gold standard of Beehive sushi bars. Start off with one (or several) small plates from the establishment's surf, turf or earth lists, and make your way through some of the best nigiri, sashimi, maki and signature rolls this side of Tokyo's Tsukiji Market. (EL)
18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
2. Tsunami
3. Sapa

Best Tacos
Taqueria 27

SLC shows no shortage of good Mexican food, so Taqueria 27 should wear this badge of honor with pride. Owner/chef Todd Gardiner has given old classics a new spin, and infused his street-food-inspired menu with items like citrus pork carnitas tacos, caramelized onion guacamole and a clucking good duck confit quesadilla. Jonesing for a new take on weekend brunch? T27's iteration, laden with options like Oaxacan steak-and-eggs tacos, is sure to do the trick. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. Blue Iguana
3. Lone Star Taqueria


Best Wings
Trolley Wing Co.

Leave your expectations at the door. Trolley's twice-baked wings are unparalleled. Pick either traditional or boneless wings and go to town with any of their flavors, like Cajun lemon and Jamaican honey garlic. Are you a non-meat eater shedding a tear right about now? Don't fret, vegetarian and vegan wings paired with their killer signature sauces are also available. (EL)
2148 S. 900 East, 801-538-0745; 736 Blue Vista Lane, Midvale, 801-312-9532,
2. Wing Coop
3. Wing Nutz

Best Soups
The Soup Kitchen

If you're the kind of person who prefers orange-hued leaves, cable-knit sweaters and pumpkin spice everything over sand, tank tops and messy SPF lotion, you know few things can beat a good bowl of soup. Luckily, the Soup Kitchen is here to fill all your chicken noodle, clam chowder or split pea with ham needs. Soups here are made from scratch every day with no added preservatives, and are sold by the quart, cup, bowl and even gallon. We're gonna need a bigger spoon. (EL)
Multiple locations,
2. The Dodo
3. Harmons


Best Bar Menu
Whiskey Street

Don't you loathe a lame menu riddled with spelling errors and a design concept including and definitely limited to a logo and Comic Sans font? Whiskey Street's 16-pager includes Brigham Young's endorsement of profiting from "spirituous liquors," Mark Twain's review of Mo-made Valley Tan whiskey, and much more local historical info re: booze. What's more, it anticipates noob queries with edifying blurbs about types of beer and whiskey, along with food pairing suggestions. Also, it has jokes. (RH)
323 S. Main, 801-433-1371,
2nd place: Piper Down an Olde World Pub
3rd place: The Bayou and Purgatory Bar (tie)

Best Beer Selection
The Bayou

It's easy to be stunned to inaction by the cornucopia of choices on The Bayou's brew menu. The beauty of this place is, if you find yourself in such a dilemma, you can close your eyes, circle your finger and point to anything on the list and pick a winner. And, as a bonus, you'll expand your horizons. (RH)
645 S. State, 801-961-8400,
2. Beer Bar
3. Beerhive Pub

Best Craft Cocktails

"Craft cocktail" is a fancy way of saying you've come up with a fancy way to get drunk. And that's fine, because innovation is awesome—without it, we'd be stuck swillin' jungle juice and Jack-and-Cokes. So high-five, Bar-X, on your crafty signature concoctions made with fresh ingredients and a diabolical mixological mind. (RH)
155 E. 200 South, 801-355-2287,
2. Water Witch
3. Zest Kitchen & Bar


Best Dance Club
Area 51

You can dance anywhere, but go ahead and do it in a club if you've gotta be a vanilla mainstream dial-tone of a person. Area 51 is the Baskin-Robbins of dance clubs. There aren't quite 51 flavors, but on most nights, three rooms pump out everything from Top 40 to retro '80s to EDM and goth-industrial. And when orchestral stoner opera-core becomes a thing, you'll hear that, too. (RH)
451 S. 400 West, 801-534-0819,
2. Sky SLC
3. The Westerner

Best Dive Bar
Cheers to You

Like most dives, there's a strange duality to Cheers. At first, it's a place in which to hide—but soon enough, it's also where everybody knows your name. It's cozy, but not Martha Stewart spotless. But mostly, it's somewhere you don't have to pretend. You can do you and, if the night goes well, maybe somebody else. Failing that, you can get American Idol-drunk and sing karaoke. (RH)
315 S. Main, 801-575-6400
2. Twilite Lounge
3. X-Wifes Place

Best Gentlemen's Club

For Utah's flesh aficionados, your first visit to Trails is a rite of passage. It signals the time when the Legislature—which has already generously bestowed upon Younger You the right to vote, smoke and die for 'Murica—declares you ready to view in real life the bewbs you've already seen unobscured by pasties online. And with the enhancement of alcohol! If Trails had a school song, now would be the time to sing it. (RH)
921 S. 300 West, 801-363-2871,
2. Exotic Kitty
3. Southern X-Posure on Beck

Best LGBTQ Club
The Sun Trapp

Named in honor of the oldest gay club in town, The Sun, and another classic LGBTQ haunt, The Trapp, it's a neighborhood bar in front and a party in the back, with a bumpin' dance floor, great DJs, cold drinks, good food and fun, friendly people. And if the power ever goes out, the party keeps raging (see bartender for story). (RH)
102 S. 600 West, 385-235-6786,
2. Club Jam
3. Club Try-Angles

Best Late-Night Grub
Pie Hole

It's surprising how difficult it can be to find late-night munchies that don't come from diarrhea merchants, convenience stores or strangers. And yet, there's this oasis where you can stuff your hole with all kinds of pie (you know what I mean) until as late as 3 a.m.! Even better: It's damned tasty pizza. (RH)
344 S. State, 801-359-4653,
2. Alberto's and Beto's (tie)
3. Dee's

Best Karaoke
Piper Down

When you're blotto, you can sing. It's true. You can decide that ginger equals Irish. The two together, plus a passing knowledge of music from Eire, can lead to mush-mouthed, often off-key recitations of classic lyrics like, "If I should ever fall from grace," "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral," "Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak" and "Ooooooh Danny Boyyyy, the somethin'-somethin'-sooomethin'." And that's just fun. (RH)
1492 S. State, 801-468-1492,
2. The Tavernacle
3. Highlander Club


Best Neighborhood Bar
A Bar Named Sue

A neighborhood bar doesn't need much beyond a liquor license, refrigeration, ATM, walls, roof, seating and working, semi-clean bathrooms. Sue spoils Millcreek residents with its good eats and cold drinks, plus plenty of stuff to do: pool, foosball, beer pong, trivia, live music and a whole lot more. Plus, you know, all of the staples mentioned above. (RH)
3928 S. Highland Drive, 801-274-5578; 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222,
2. Dick 'N' Dixie's
3. Campfire Lounge

Best New Bar
Lake Effect

When you can name your place after SLC's stankiest stank and still nab the readers' pick for Best New Bar, your place is something special. Or hipsters love irony. 'Cause this Lake Effect smells like a rose, with Mexi Mondays (half-price tacos all day), Tasting Tuesdays (learn while slaying brain cells!), Wine Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays drink specials, live music and DJs on Fridays and Saturdays and food specials all weekend long. Cheers to that. (RH)
155 W. 200 South, 801-532-2068,
2. Water Witch
3. White Horse Spirits & Kitchen

Best Ogden Bar

What makes Alleged the alleged best? It's mainly the classy atmosphere and ambrosial imbibe-ables. And there's that rooftop bar—Ogden's first, where they book local (Night Marcher, Sego) and touring bands (Dead Meadow, The Outer Vibe) for incredible fresh-air shows. It helps that it has historical coolness in its past identity as the best little whorehouse in O-Town. (RH)
201 25th St., Ogden, 801-990-0692,
2. Funk 'n' Dive
3. Brewskis

Best Open Mic

Is there anything better than the randomness of an open-mic night? You can sit in judgment of others and thrill to a rainbow of talent that arcs from hilarious to horrible. On a good night, there's representation from both ends and, hopefully, little from the middle. Because good stand-up comedy is evergreen, and awkward humor is so in right now. (RH)
194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233; 269 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-5588,
2. The Royal
3. Greenhouse Effect

Best Park City bar

Owned by Danny Masterson—aka Hyde from That '70s Show—"Downstairs" might refer to Eric Forman's basement, where the gang got razzle-dazzled on Topher Kush. Now, don't expect to do that here, or the décor to include ugly couches and old Maytags. It does, however, boast a "comfortable and contemporary atmosphere," with a large dance floor and local and touring DJ bookings. And legend has it that Masterson hits the deck on occasion. (RH)
625 Main, Park City, 435-615-7200,
2. Park City Live and OP Rockwell (tie)
3. The Spur Bar & Grill

Best Pool Bar
Big Willies

Nope, it's not a swim-up bar—but there are sharks that can smell green felt, blue chalk and easy money from miles away. Usually, you'll find 'em stalking around Big Willies' seven Diamond pool and snooker tables, doing crazy geometric calculations in their heads, all toward sinking balls and pocketing the money of unsuspecting fish like you. Fancy a game? I'm not very good. (RH)
1717 S. Main, 801-463-4996,
2. Johnny's on Second
3. A Bar Named Sue


Best Sports Bar

The Bible says that, on the annual federal holiday Super Bowl Sunday, "Thou shalt eat the meat of pigs while watching overpaid athletes toss their skins." So thank you, Lumpys, for enabling us to stay faithful to the Holy Trinity: Sports, food and booze. Anyone who's been there knows that, while watching The Game on their gaggle of screens, you can feast and swill like a king on their cheap wings, tacos, pizzas, mimosas, Jameson shots, et cetera, and leave with a burning in your bosom. (RH)
145 W. Pierpont Ave., 801-883-8714; 3000 S. Highland Drive, 801-484-5597,
2. 'Bout Time Pub & Grub
3. Fiddler's Elbow

Best Theme Night
Fetish Ball at Area 51

Dear Lady Marmalade, I would consider it an honor and a privilege if you would accompany me to the fetish ball and dildo cotillion at Lord Roswell's estate. Area's long-running monthly event is all about pretending and playing dress-up, letting your freak flag or stockings fly high. To wit, there's a different theme every time, ranging from all-leather to stuff like health-care professionals. But you don't have to dress up to participate; voyeurism is a fetish, too. So come forth, adult babies and eyeball-lickers! (RH)
451 S. 400 West, 801-534-0819,
2. Reggae Thursdays at The Royal
3. Burlesque & The Beats at Prohibition


Best Dance Classes
DF Dance Studio

Our miscellaneous grab-all category lives to see another year. From Argentine tango to hip-hop, from ballroom to Brazilian zouk, you can get a taste for the way people move in every corner of the world at DF. Take a private lesson if you'd like to keep your inexperience between you and your instructor, or take an adult class that matches your level of experience. With a six-nights-a-week schedule, there's no excuse not to unleash your inner dancer. (SR)
2978 S. State, 801-466-0490,
2. Best swimming—Jewish Community Center
3. Best permanent makeup—Bareface Artistry


Beaver County
Best Secret Fishing Hole
Minersville Reservoir
Just outside of Beaver, this scenic 400-acre body of water is a nice way station for anyone wanting the dual threat of accessibility plus lunker fish. At 5,500 feet in elevation, it's also not too hard on the lungs—unlike some of Utah's high-altitude fishing holes. Minersville is open year-round for all levels of sport fishermen and lovers of water sports, whether they're camping for days, or there just to drop a line in one. 12 miles west of Beaver on Highway 21, 435-438-5472
Aptly Named: The Hog's Breath Bar in Milford—in the heart of Utah's bacon belt.

Box Elder County
Best Space Oddity
ATK Rocket Garden

Yeah, somewhere prides itself on a giant Teflon pan attraction and somewhere else boasts a giant spool of yarn. But Box Elder County shoots the moon with the ATK Rocket Garden at the entry to space-gear manufacturer ATK, familiarly known as Morton Thiokol. Star gazers, imagineers and children all marvel at the various pieces of space rocketry that have Utah origins including a space-shuttle booster. Certainly modest, this attraction scores on making the space experience real, not odd at all. 9160 state Route 83, Corinne, 435-863-3511
Time Machine: From the rocket garden, go north on I-84 to Snowville for a classic burger and Coke on tap at Mollie's Café.

Cache County
Best Oldest Living Tree
Jardine Juniper

Hey, what's a 2,000-foot vertical climb when the reward is a tree that saw its first sun rays the same time as the capstones were being placed on Egypt's pyramids, more than 4,000 years ago? Hikers and mountain bikers consider this easily accessed trail (and mostly intermediate climb) one of the state's "must do" adventures. The payoff at 7,200 feet is the Jardine Juniper—and along the way you'll view some of Northern Utah's most stunning vistas. Trailhead at Woods Camp Campground, 10 miles up Logan Canyon
Wild Things: Logan's Zootah (formerly Willow Park Zoo) is the perfect place to get up close and personal with dozens of exotic species.

Carbon County
Best Accessible Rock Art
Nine Mile Canyon

Given their proximity to highways and towns in central Utah, it remains amazing that the famous petroglyphs of Nine Mile Canyon remain at all. Luckily, these centuries-old messages from the lost Fremont culture remind us still of the human need for expression and self-examination. Always near the top of the list for protectors of the wilderness and environment, Nine Mile Canyon's vast sandstone panel etchings are one of Utah's most inspiring visits. Soldier Creek Road, 20 miles north of Wellington, 435-636-3701,
Italian Stallion: When everyone else abandoned Price, Tony Basso didn't. He invested. Best reason to buy a car, and nearly anything else, in Price.


Daggett County
Best Hideout
Browns Park

Once known as Browns Hole, this piece of 10-scale scenery in remote Daggett County is a fisher's paradise, home to a wonderful bird refuge and, in wilder days, was among the hideouts for the famous Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang. Browns Park precedes the Gates of Lodore and the river-running paradise Lodore Canyon. But at Browns Park, the Green runs crystalline with lurking trophy trout easily spotted and admired, caught and released. Remains of historic ranches can be seen—as well as flora and fauna nearly untouched since white settlers arrived.
Fish Bait: Hire one of the excellent guides at Dutch John and float the Green River below Flaming Gorge. Best. Fishing. Experience. Ever.


Davis County
Best Innovative Auto Dealerships
Young Automotive Group

Most car dealers put out some cheap signage dotted with tired clichés about having the best service, most courteous sales staff or hottest hot rods and call it a day. That's not the case with the Young Automotive Group, who have heavily invested in savvy tech tools that push the tired car-buying and selling experience into the modern era. Some tools you see, some you don't, but not many car dealerships boast coders among their employees. YAG invests equally in its own people with top-tier sales and management training at their own Center of Excellence. The result? YAG is third-largest car seller in the state. Multiple locations,
Mall Time? For an outdoor mall done right, visit Station Park in Farmington. It feels like you've left Utah altogether.

Duchesne County
Best Day-Trip
To Hanna over Wolf Creek Pass

The ride over the old dirt traverse from Woodland to Hanna used to require more than an hour of white knuckled, bouncy, rutty driving. More than one muffler was busted up on Wolf Creek Pass. Today, the entire scenic route is paved. Even cyclists make the haul, plus it's a favorite of bikers, too. Get to the farmstead of Hanna for a sandwich, soda or beer (or to launch into other adventures) or keep going to the historic town of Duchesne. Stop along the West Fork of the Duchesne River to cast some flies in that perfect mountain stream. Highway 35 near Kamas on to Duchesne
Wild Child? Head into the High Uinta Wilderness from multiple entries in the south slope Uinta Mountain canyons in Duchesne County.

Emery County
Best River-Runner Tribute
John Wesley Powell River History Museum

River-running the wild canyons of Utah—Desolation, Gray and Cataract—can be a dicey and dangerous proposition. So when modern recreationists are reminded that the first passage was made by a one-armed Civil War veteran without a map and riding wooden (not inflatable) boats, it seems more than daunting; it seems impossible. But John Wesley Powell and his men did it over three months in 1869—and most survived. Visiting this museum is another good reason to portage in the town of Green River. 1765 Main, Green River, 435-564-3427,
Road Trip: I-70 through Emery County is one of the most scenic and desolate highways in the USA. Bring a camera and a full tank of gas.

Garfield County
Best White-Knuckle Drive
Hell's Backbone Road

OK, most of the drive isn't too white-knuckle, just parts. But, the dirt road—built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (why can't we do that again?)—eventually meets the Hell's Backbone Bridge with its 1,500-foot drops off both sides. After gripping the seats for fear of going over just one cliff, it's a disconcerting reality that on the bridge, you don't want to go off either side of the wooden structure. It's named one of the world's most spectacular roads. Cutoff of Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante
Hasta La Vista: There just isn't a better view in the United States than that looking into Bryce Canyon.


Grand County
Best River Run
Westwater Canyon

Westwater Canyon offers up some of the biggest river-running thrills in the Moab area. Best of all, it's easily accessed and perfect for short-duration trips. While most of the Colorado River cuts through soft red sandstone, Westwater Canyon is comprised of black Precambrian rock. That means all that water that ran slow and wide in sandstone runs narrow, fast and deep in Westwater Canyon. If Mile Long Rapid doesn't wake you up, maybe Skull Rapid will—should you not get trapped in the room of doom.
Artsy Art: The landscape photography of Tom Till in his Moab gallery is unmatched, off-the-charts great.


Iron County
Best Baby Bryce
Cedar Breaks National Monument

Only 20 miles from Cedar City, Cedar Breaks is an easy add-on to any trip to Utah's famous quadrant of wondrous beauty. Thing is, too many people overlook Cedar Breaks as they rush on to Zion or Bryce Canyon. Those who do stop, though, are in for a high-altitude treat—fewer crowds, same great scenery as Bryce (just smaller with a more eroded amphitheater), and the same great hiking adventures as found in better-known parks and monuments.
Home Cooking: Breakfast or lunch at the Parowan Café is the definition of Utah comfort food.

Juab County
Best Unknown Summit
Ibapah Peak

About the only people who venture to the western edge of Utah, into the high Deep Creek mountains above Trout Creek, are those rarities who either live or ranch there, or who are there to complete their bucket list of topping all of the state's 29 highest peaks. At 12,087 feet tall, Ibapah is no cakewalk, but the journey is not only worth it for the stunning views into the Great Basin, but for bragging rights that few others can claim. Best route is via Wendover, Nev. So, why not?
Miss Asphalt? There's a small bit of it in Trout Creek—after that, it's 50 miles of dirt road everywhere.

Kane County
Best Luxury Resort

Like a boat, if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. But maybe you can, and you certainly want to. Part of the exquisite worldwide Aman group of deluxe hotels, Amangiri offers desert serenity, unforgettable spas and personal touches galore. The special pampering lets you know you've been spoiled forever. It's a remote, elegant Western adventure. So if you do just one thing with your savings ... 1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, 435-375-3999,
Hatari: Take a safari tour into the amazing desert country in and around Kanab.


Millard County
Best easy Old West stop
Cove Fort

Before Utah's interstate highways were built, stopping at Cove Fort was pretty much expected of highway travelers. Now, though a short distance from the intersection of I-15 and I-70, today's travelers often just zoom by. They shouldn't. A stop here is a step back in time to when early white settlers sheltered behind sturdy rock walls that protected living and working quarters. Well worth the short diversion, visit the last standing Mormon settler fort for a look at life in 1800s Zion. 2 miles south of Exit 135 off I-15 and 1 mile north of Exit 1 off I-70, 435-438-5547,
ATV Central: Some of the best desert ATV adventures route through the trails and small towns of Millard County.

Morgan County
Best Backyard Remote Park
East Canyon State Park

Utah's Mormon Pioneers (and before them, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party) made passage through this area in the late 1840s. How they did it is a mystery for the ages since even today, it can be a wild traverse getting there from nearby Salt Lake City. At the park, though, you'll find fine fishing, boating and camping, and for those less inclined to rough it, a nice bevy of modern accommodations. Too modern? Well then, try a yurt, cabin or ... the hammock campground. 5535 S. Highway 66, Morgan, 801-829-6866,
Farm Country: Down canyon from East Canyon State Park lies Henefer, a traditional Utah community if there ever was one.

Piute County
Best Small Towns
Any in Piute County

There are high schools in Utah with more students than there are people in the whole of Piute County, Utah's second-least populous. So, it's little wonder that the main towns that comprise this small central Utah county are equally small. But, when traveling Highway 89, loop into Circleville, Marysvale, Junction, Kingston, Pittsburg or Greenwich to tank up, buy a soda, get some snacks or a meal, or to just look around. Say all you want for city-life amenities, but you'll soon admit—the less than 2,000 residents of Piute County have it going pretty good.
ATV: We've crossed this trail before, but some of the best ATV riding in the West is on the Paiute Trail.

Rich County
Best Cold Country

It hardly matters that Randolph—not Utah's highest-elevation town at just over 6,200 feet—is or is not the state's coldest town. It matters only that it is very, very cold there in the winter, often recording some of the coldest temperatures in the lower 48. Utahns often associate Randolph with freezing cold. Randolph looks cold. However, summer beckons and with it highs into the 90s that put the cold days of January into the rear-view mirror. State Route 16 between Bear Lake and Evanston,
Tutti Fruity: Raspberry Days each August at Bear Lake is the best reason to venture north for that special Utah treat—a fresh raspberry shake.


Salt Lake County
Best Mall Makeover
The Gateway

When The Gateway opened nearly two decades ago, it damn near killed Main Street. When City Creek Center opened in the past decade, it almost killed The Gateway. Some called it justice. Others saw a new path—the gradual, but certainly coming, transition of The Gateway from simply a mall to a buzzing downtown destination. This past summer alone saw multiple new events and festivals that attract the young, urban, smooth crowds that other malls have traded in for suburban housewives. A new outdoor stage beckons city musicians, and soon the fun emporium Dave & Buster's will open, too. Gateway is roaring back. 100 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-456-0000,
Political Pie: Mostly Democratic Salt Lake County is so effectively gerrymandered into larger swaths of Utah, the county never will realize true representation in the U.S. Congress.


San Juan County
Best "I was there" photo op
Four Corners

It's pretty much a secret that the Four Corners monument is not in the exact location of where the states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico all touch. So forget all those pictures of you and the family playing some kind of body pretzel bingo, placing one limb into each of the aforementioned states—you haven't actually been to all four at once. You haven't, but you're close. So what? We get the point and we've driven into the desert and we'll take it for the win. A visit here is unique to map, so smile, bend into odd shapes and smile some more for the photo everyone secretly wants.
Aptly Named: The Goosenecks of the San Juan River will leave you marveling at how such a big river made such winding, deep canyons.

Sanpete County
Best Next Hot Spot

Going out on a limb here, but for decades Salt Lake County residents have been taking up second-home or cabin residences in Fairview, and it only seems a matter of time before this town takes off full-tilt. It's not that long of a drive—about 90 minutes, all paved, with no serious climbs or curves. And yet, here you're treated to a historic town—and region, actually—that is also looking to into the future. Yeah, horse county. Yeah, and a keen eye on education and tourism opportunities. Take the drive and see. Highway 89 between Thistle and Ephraim,
Pikes Peak: Yuba Lake is one more place in Utah where anglers can take on the monstrous, ferocious and imported Northern Pike.

Sevier County
Best Big Macks
Fish Lake

Some of the biggest fish caught anywhere in Utah are caught at Fish Lake. Besides the familiar Rainbows, Browns and Splakes (a hybrid of Brook and Lake Trout), anglers are often surprised to learn that Fish Lake is also a fishery for perch and pike. But everyone knows, it's the Lake Trout—the mighty mackinaw—upon which Fish Lake stakes its claim. Though even larger macks are found at Flaming Gorge, monster-sized Lake Trout are the calling card of this gem of a mountain lake. 2 N. state Route 25, 435-638-1000,
Fireworks: The annual July Fourth Parade in Richfield is a perfect slice of Americana.


Summit County
Best Serene Community

At mid-point between Salt Lake City and Evanston, most people just cruise on by. But they miss something special. No doubt the stretch of highway that abuts the Weber River is one of the most tranquil left in Northern Utah, and it reminds that the Coalville area will likely become the next Park City, Heber City or Kamas, so the tranquility won't last forever. Next time you're passing through, get off the freeway and make the short jaunt over to the historic old town itself. It might lack a Tabernacle these days, but it makes up for that in bygone charm. At I-15 at the south end of Echo Reservoir,
Yump For Yoy: Get to the Olympic Ski Park just north of Park City for some serious winter fun—even in the summer.

Tooele County
Best Hairpin Turns
Utah Motorsports Campus

Formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park, this Tooele County racing facility is the place to really let loose with your fastest cars and bikes. With nearly two dozen Grand Prix- and LeMans-type turns spread over a 4.5-mile course, there is plenty of opportunity to either spill or catch the thrill of a lifetime. Most sane people opt for the latter. Not only can users set their own tires ablaze while honing their personal skills, but the entire Utah Motorsports facility is an ideal setting for corporate events and challenges where team-builders race their lieges around those curves to win not a trophy, but a year's worth of coffee-klatch bragging rights. 512 Sheep Lane, Tooele, 435-277-8000,
Salt Art: You can't miss it, you secretly enjoy it and you certainly have to take a picture beside the 87-foot tall Tree of Life along I-15.

Uinta County
Best Bones
Dinosaur National Monument

Perhaps nowhere else in the country can a visitor come within arm's reach of so many dinosaur bones of so many species. Here you can shake hands with Jurassic Park-approved friends like the Allosaurus and Abydosaurus. The sheer number of bones and skeletons found here are prolific and fill museums across the land. It's of course known for its bones, but the area is also a perfect launching point for camping, fishing, hiking, river rafting and horseback riding.
Rock On: In Dry Fork Canyon, just north of Vernal (Hi, Grandma!), you'll find some of Utah's very best (and spookiest) petroglyphs at the McConkie Ranch, right along the road.

Utah County
Best Tech Center
Silicon Slopes

The name Silicon Slopes seemed like just a way to hitch a wagon to the long-established tech mecca of Silicon Valley. And guess what? It worked—probably far better than expected. Of course, companies like Adobe and Boostability set up shop in Lehi. But the correctly named Silicon Slopes now represents a much broader expanse of Utah smarts, innovation and technical chops—and has threaded itself throughout Utah County and into the south end of the valley. Indeed, the name is so embedded that Silicon Slopes can justly be said to extend from Ogden, through Salt Lake City and into the hotbed of Beehive tech talent in Utah County. The latter has definitely set the bar in tech Utah. Hats off.
Best Suds: Strap Tank Brewing Co. in Springville is the first brewery to open in Utah County in more than 100 years.


Wasatch County
Best Train Ride
Heber Valley Railroad

Operating from April through October, the Heber Valley Railroad has transported people across the roughly 16 miles around Heber Valley, down through Provo Canyon, and back, since the line was preserved in the 1990s. Nearly 100,000 visitors hit the rails annually. Not only do the historic cars and vintage steam engine hearken to a simpler time, today's rider can also be treated to special entertainment on Monday nights, plus a partnership with High Country Adventures links river rafters and rail riders for one-of-a-kind fun. 450 S. 600 West, Heber City, 435-654-5601,
Zip Code: Head over to Zipline Utah at Deer Creek State Park for one of the most scenic zip experiences in Utah.

Washington County
Best Red Rock Meal
Painted Pony

It's hard to dispute the Painted Pony's self-described motif as "a culinary island in St. George." So true. For all its development, St. George sorely lacks in great dining experiences except in small pockets—the deepest pocket of which is Painted Pony. We've never once left here disappointed. From sage-smoked quail to rosemary-spiked ribeye steak, dinners are on par with those found along the Wasatch Front's best eateries. Lunch is also very accessible and fairly priced, highlighted by sandwich types that aren't often found in St. George. 2 W. Saint George Blvd., St. George, 435-634-1700,
Get Wet: It's pretty much a rite of passage to hike even a bit of the exciting Zion Narrows. Just don't do it when it's raining up canyon.

Wayne County
Best Pickings
Capitol Reef National Park

The last residents of the historic town of Fruita moved away decades ago, but they left behind one of Utah's most enduring pioneer legacies: the fruit and nut orchards now protected inside Capitol Reef National Park. There you will find several varieties of apples, plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, almonds and pecans. When ripe and when posted, visitors can pay for and harvest fruits for personal use. Some people miss the harvest but never fail to visit when the trees are in bloom.
Agreed: Who doesn't believe Torrey is one of the coolest towns in Utah? No one.


Weber County
Best Spirits
Ogden's Own

What began with a humble (but now renowned and award-winning) Herbal Underground, Ogden's Own now bottles up an equally tasty array of flavored vodkas (Five Wives, named for a once-famous Utah lifestyle) and gin (Madam Pattirini, named for the famous singing, gender-bending son of Brigham Young), plus some tasty, good-for-any occasion line of flavored whiskey: Porter's Fire, Porter's Peach and Porter's Apple (named for Mormon strongarm Porter Rockwell). In under a decade, Ogden's Own has grown into not just a local favorite, but is expanding its national footprint as well, thanks to aggressive marketing at every level. Ogden's Own is also known as a good citizen and is a great supporter of all things art and music. 3075 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-485-1995,
Best Two Bit: I say it often and loud: There is not a better street in Utah than Historic 25th. There you'll find a great aesthetic, plus fantastic food and drink. CW