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!

Page 6 of 15


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)