Best of Utah 2019 | Our 30th annual ode to the people, places and businesses that make life in the Beehive State great. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
  • Year

  • Pin It

    Thirty years. Doesn't it go by in a blink? It seems like yesterday when City Weekly unleashed its first-ever Best of Utah issue onto the masses. Publications like it across the country had become famous for their best-of-the-city countdowns, but to celebrate the people, places and everything else that make an entire state great, was quite the undertaking.

    That first go, released back when the Weekly went by Private Eye, was the publication's biggest yet at a whopping 32 pages, and featured an introduction by publisher John Saltas announcing a complete paper redesign (now with color pages!). It also noted how, around issue 16 of the paper's history, the family had grown with the arrival of its first offspring, Pete. Weekly matron Paula Saltas, the boss was quick to point out, returned to work by issue 24.

    The publisher's intro went on to mention how "through thick and thins, [the paper] remains deeply committed to providing alternative views and a quality product for the Wasatch Front." To competitors and detractors, there was also a promise: We still had a "few more punches" up our sleeve.

    Throughout seismic industry changes, that pledge still holds water—and this monster of an issue is proof. Our scrappy Weekly picked up 19 journalism awards this year (including three national ones), Baby Pete now serves as director of operations, Paula is still among the cheeriest faces in the building (especially when bribed with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) and through health concerns and the perils of loving a fickle industry that never quite loved him back as much, John still leads the charge.

    Our maiden Best of Utah issue boasted 350 ballots returned for its Readers' Poll. This time around, some 10,000 of you cast 123,527 unique votes across 150 categories. Best Coffee Shop was our most popular category with 2,231 caffeinated votes, followed by Best Radio Station and Worst Utahn. (Notable entries in the latter include "me," "the person who thought it was a good idea to tear up Utah County I-15" and "My son's wife—yuck."

    In the Best Thing We Forgot category, one voter penciled in "My Boyfriend's Dignity—he lost it at Cheers to You," while another threw "Best Quiet Spot: Brigham Young's grave" into the mix. Midway into the questionnaire, one simply stated "This is tiring." We get it. Patience can run ragged when aiming to be as all-encompassing as possible—just ask our rag-tag team of writers.

    To keep the collective sanity, we let them run wild in the Staff Picks section, where our insightful contributors tipped their hat (216 times over) to some of the Best the Beehive State has to offer. From a nod to a West Valley-based rapper on the brink of stardom to a Close Encounters of the Third Kind-approved Cedar City campground and the most colorfully dressed mayoral candidate Salt Lake City's ever seen.

    In the end, we hope you hold onto this very special issue and recognize the insight, love and defiance that, true to its first iteration, still runs through its pages. Brewers, students, activists, servers, Utah natives, fresh transplants and everyone in between—this issue is for all of you. Yep, even you, yucky daughter-in-law.


    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Fringe-Clad Rapper

    Armed with natural talent and sass for days, self-professed "Queen of Salt Lake," has a message to share—one filled with acceptance, body-positivity and unabashed fierceness. "I want everyone to be aware that although I'm a sweet Southern belle, I will show up and give you hell," the 27-year-old says with his trademark swagger. His latest music video for the poppin' "3, 2, 1, Vogue!" was shot over the summer at Metro Music Hall, a fitting setting as the song was born after a particularly memorable Metro performance. "I was performing there and being shaded by a few queens, because some of them were pressed about me showing up killing the scene," the West Valley-based performer says. All hail the Queen. (Enrique Limón)

    Best Tireless Seeker of Public Office
    Shireen Ghorbani

    More a force of nature than a person, Shireen Ghorbani ran for office three consecutive times after realizing she was mad as hell, and she wasn't going to take it any more. After she lost her battle for U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart's seat, she pivoted and ran for Salt Lake County mayor. Once that didn't pan out, she successfully competed for Salt Lake County councilwoman. She wound up campaigning for a year straight, holding listening sessions and knocking on doors across the state. Not bad for a political neophyte. "You've gotta keep going," she said after winning the county council seat. "Just do absolutely everything that you can to build that future that you want." (Kelan Lyons)

    Best Political "Upset"
    Erin Mendenhall and Luz Escamilla Advancing to General Election

    Calling it an "upset" might not be totally correct. Sure, former Sen. Jim Dabakis appeared to be polling well in the weeks leading to the primary, but he came in third, leaving the door open for Sen. Luz Escamilla and City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall to battle it out in November. That resulted in the first Salt Lake City mayoral election pitting two women against each other. For some, it proved that you can't win an election on name recognition alone and Salt Lake voters were astutely tuning in to what each candidate had planned for when they enter office. (Ray Howze)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Loser
    Jim Dabakis

    From the very beginning of the mayor's race, Salt Lake Democrat Jim Dabakis was trumpeted as the candidate most likely to win—a hypothesis shored up by flawed polls and "conventional wisdom," all of which must've gotten to Dabakis' head when he made a losing bet to hold off on spending his $170,000 in contributions during the final stretch of the primary. He is now out of the race, but here's hoping Dabakis sticks around somehow: Everyone knows this guy's a true character, and his gift of gab on the campaign trail provided much insight and entertainment. (Peter Holslin)

    Best Win
    The People, Dammit

    The people, rightly so, were outraged when the Legislature stepped in following the November 2018 election and put their grimy hands all over the Medicaid expansion and medical cannabis ballot initiatives. Lo and behold, less than a year later, those plans seemingly backfired. In September, the Legislature elected to back off the "central fill pharmacy" idea and wash their hands of the cannabis business, putting the program in the hands of private groups. In July, the Trump administration denied Utah's request for a waiver to partially expand Medicaid—something lawmakers repeatedly said they felt confident would be granted. As a result, the program reverted to a more similar program to what voters passed the previous election. Score 1 for the people! (RH)

    Best Dressed at the SLC Mayoral Forums
    Rainer Huck

    Salt Lake City mayoral hopeful Rainer Huck was noticeably absent at some of the forums where fellow candidates faced off this summer in the lead-up to the primary. But when he did show up—wowza! At a June debate concerning issues on the westside, Huck distinguished himself from the other, formally-dressed candidates by showing up in shorts and a T-shirt. But it's his headgear that really won the show: He wore an earth-tone golf visor with his hair bursting from the top, like Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers. No word yet on whether that was his real hair or a pre-season Halloween wig. (PH)

    Best Dueling Jackies
    Jackie Biskupski and Jackie Beat

    Mayor Jackie Biskupski and drag legend Jackie Beat sharing the stage during the 10th annual Miss City Weekly was definitely a moment; one crowned by a special proclamation at the hands of Biskupski declaring City Weekly a "community asset." The fancy proclamation also invited residents "to celebrate and support the value of the independent and alternative voice" our publication has provided for 35 years. We're not blushing, you're blushing. (EL)

    Best Force Enacting Change at the SLCPD
    Black Lives Matter Utah's Lex Scott

    Lex Scott leads the Utah chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement. "My chapter of BLM is independent because it is a movement, not an organization, and I don't need a certificate to validate my activism," Scott said earlier this year while speaking at Utah State University. Salt Lake City is currently the only Utah police department to have a body camera policy where footage is released to the public and Scott is working to change that. Scott's movement has also helped to get live data available about SLC traffic stops and a complaint button on the department's website. (Erick Graham Wood)

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Friend to Your Lungs
    Rep. Patrice Arent

    Known to her fellow air advocates as "the queen," Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, has been fighting to make our air cleaner since 2011. She founded the bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, bringing into the fold Republican colleagues like Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, and Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton. In the six years since the caucus' formation, lawmakers have passed more clean air legislation than in the state's history. Last legislative session, legislators allocated more than $29 million to improve Utah's air. "We've been doing such constant chipping away for so long," Arent told City Weekly in an April cover story. "It's been building up for years." (KL)

    Best Clean-Air Crusader
    Yoram Bauman and the Clean the Darn Air Act

    It's no secret Wasatch Front residents want to breathe clean air. You don't (hopefully) see people out sucking tailpipes. While the Legislature has made gradual steps each year to promote clean air and energy, some think it hasn't been enough. Enter: economist and stand-up comic Yoram Bauman, who gathered signatures for the Clean the Darn Air citizen initiative to get it on the 2020 ballot. He and his group have to collect more than 115,000 signatures across the state and they lack wealthy backers. But Bauman didn't let that stop him as he showed up at just about every summer event wearing his signature bucket hat and sandwich board roaming for signatures. (RH)

    Best Republican Legislator
    Rep. Paul Ray

    The Clearfield Republican deserves props for teaming up with two sex workers to introduce a state bill in the most recent legislative session providing immunity from prosecution when those in the sex trade report crimes committed against them. HB40 got passed with bipartisan support, and while it's too early to tell what the eventual results will be, at the very least it provides a framework for increased trust between sex workers and the authorities, while encouraging the public to think more critically about decriminalization. Here's hoping Ray's 58 Republican cohorts can learn from his approach. (PH)

    Best Unique Candle-Blower
    Mitt Romney

    While the latter-half of this year's political discussions have been monopolized by a certain whistleblower, back in March, the country zeroed in on a different blower altogether: Mitt Romney. When the freshman Utah senator was surprised by his staff with a cake made out of his favorite snack—Twinkies—the 72-year-old let out a hearty "Holy cow!" That would have been enough to get some aw-shucks Twitter traction. Then came the candle blowing. With the finesse that only a suave multi-millionaire can posses, Romney proceeded to pick up and blow out each candle individually. Myriad headlines later, turns out the joke's on us. "These are all wishes I'm getting," he said. Yup, we've all been doing it wrong this whole time. (EL)

    Best Political Tightrope-Walker
    U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams

    After narrowly beating Mia Love in her re-election for Utah's 4th Congressional District last November, Salt Lake County Mayor-turned U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams got to work balancing on the narrow line that separates his district's Republican and Democratic voters. Since taking office, the state's lone Democrat in Congress has played a classic Utah deep cut by proposing an amendment that would prohibit federal lawmakers from spending more than the country takes in every year; supported shoring up U.S. health care systems, but stopped short of coming out in favor of Medicare for All; and gave just the right amount of pushback to the president for planning on cutting visas for spouses of tech workers. It ain't easy being blue in deep-red Utah. (KL)

    click to enlarge PETER HOLSLIN
    • Peter Holslin

    Best Wielders of Activist Anarchy
    Civil Riot

    Since April, Civil Riot co-founder Ethan Petersen and a consortium of other activists from various age groups and backgrounds have gone to spectacular lengths to disrupt the dealings of the Utah Inland Port Authority, a state board overseeing a development in northwest Salt Lake that they believe poses massive threats to the environment and social justice. A summer of increasingly confrontational protests reached such a fever pitch that Petersen almost got arrested at an inland port-related working group meeting in August just for showing up. The activists' willingness to risk arrest and more underscores the sheer stakes of what's at play in this controversial project. (PH)

    Best Anti-Trump Twitter Rants
    Vince Olson, Kane County Democratic Party Chairman

    Nearly 65% of voters in Kane County swung for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but that hasn't stopped Kane resident Vince Olson from going off about our orange-haired president every day on Twitter. Olson is chair of the Kane County Democratic Party, and online he goes by the cantankerous handle @SteelToeTruth, dropping pithily-worded insult bombs on Trump and his GOP cronies, coining colorful terms like "Trumpolini" and "Ghouliani" in the process. We're a little worried he'll end up with an ulcer from all this righteous rage, but somebody's gotta do it. (PH)

    Best SLC-Based Twitter Follow

    Do you often find yourself needing to take the edge off from reading our president and commander-in-tweet's feed? Than look no further than Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke's Twitter stream. Whether he's suggesting Trump looks as though "he's waiting for the band to play him off" the stage at a news conference, requesting someone nominate him for an honorary degree in dentistry, or claiming he, too, has surfed 115-foot wave, Gehrke's pithy 280-character (or less) take on local and national happenings is a wordsmiths delight in the twittersphere wasteland. #voteGehrke (Aspen Perry)

    Best Inland Port Opponent
    Deeda Seed

    Civil Riot and other radical protesters have definitely stepped up resistance to the inland port, but they also endured a major backlash as a result of a now-infamous protest inside the Salt Lake Chamber offices that spiraled into chaos in July. Meanwhile, Deeda Seed and other members of the Stop the Polluting Port coalition have also carved out a place as major critics of the divisive project. A longtime player in city politics, Seed's eagle eye for details and determination to show up at every inland port-related meeting and event shows just how passionate she is when it comes to making sure the state development doesn't gunk up the future of the city. (PH)

    Best Inland Port Advocate We Love to Annoy
    Jeff Hartley

    An oil and gas lobbyist connected to the inland port's stakeholders and legal team, Hartley for some critics embodies the crony capitalism behind this whole messy undertaking. His DGAF attitude and open disregard not only for inland port opponents but for the reporters who cover them makes Hartley an easy punching bag. But the guy deserves some credit—after all, he still takes our calls, answers our questions and makes his position clear while other embattled inland port proponents have preferred to address media scrutiny and outspoken activists with emailed statements and police backup. (PH)

    Best Equality Crusaders
    Kelly O'Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn

    They're fast. They're strong. They're winners. Oh, and they're women. That's right, three players from the Utah Royals—Kelly O'Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn—starred on the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2019 World Cup in France. The squad went on to win gold for the second-straight World Cup and again showed the world how good they are. Their performance highlighted disparities in pay between the women's and men's teams (which has never won the trophy, cough cough). Upon their return, the three led the local National Women's Soccer League squad and remained strong role models for young female soccer players everywhere. (RH)

    Best SLC Bromance
    Joe McQueen & Brad Wheeler

    The famed bromance of Obama and Biden has nothing on the local dynamic between the legendary sax player, Joe McQueen, and SLC's favorite disc jockey/harmonica player, Bad Brad Wheeler. In fact, the term bromance does not even do justice to a friendship that is sure to transcend all space and time. Alas, in the parlance of our generation, it is the best way I can pay homage to the SLC friendship that brightens my day, not to mention my social media news feed, as I scroll past photos of them off to gigs or simply celebrating each other in their everyday life. (AP)

    Best Podcast Homies
    The New Utah Podcast

    "Buckle up while we tell you about the Utah your mama warned you about," The New Utah Podcast's mission goes. Uncovering the people, places and things that make our state uniquely cool, the crew composed by Chris Burch, Jeremy Gates, Bre Hollingsworth and Jessica Richardson have been doing their thing for the past three years. Episodes usually feature a who's who of guests and current issues rapport, including a recent mention on how Smith's parent company would no longer allow free publications (including City Weekly) inside their stores. Recognizing the "big, negative impact" this has on the little guy, the crew pleaded City Weekly's case and recognized its value in the community. The feeling is mutual, and we're glad to share this media landscape with you. (EL)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Post-Tattoo Care Provider
    Eric Marshall

    It was a little bit of a dream come true last spring, when the BF and I got tattooed by Technicolor goddess Lolli Morlock during a trip to Seattle. Morlock hooked us up with a nifty medical-grade protective cover from a brand called SecondSkin that made our Lisa Frank-approved additions heal in record time. It was as early as the plane ride back, when I wished I would have gotten more SecondSkin products at the shop. Some swift Googling later, I came to find out the company is Salt Lake City-based, with Marshall, a lifelong tattoo collector and enthusiast at its helm. Apply freely and guilt-free, as most products are USDA-certified organic and vegan to boot. (EL)
    On That Note,

    Best Orthopedic Surgeon Who Gets It
    Dr. Benjamin Williams

    In what can best be described as a freak accident, I broke my humerus (that large, Flintstones-like arm bone) over the summer. After a series of painful emergency room X-rays, I was told the on-call orthopedic doctor wouldn't touch me, and that I had to be seen by a hand specialist. Given that I do most of my work over a keyboard, momentary panic ensued. Thankfully, Dr. Williams' calm demeanor set me at ease, though there was still the issue of the aforementioned tattoo—which as fate would have it, was smack in the middle of the surgical line of fire. While I was under, with no guarantees, the good doctor managed to circumvent the artwork while installing a metal plate and a dozen or so screws. "We saved it," the surgical assistant said as I came to, making the ensuing recovery process a tad more tolerable. (EL)

    click to enlarge STEVE CONLIN
    • Steve Conlin

    Best Queen For the People
    Sister Molly Mormon

    All hail Sister Molly Mormon (née Tyler Hillam), who, pretty in flamingo pink, was the victor at the 10th annual Miss City Weekly pageant. "I don't think that competition should ever be something to drive a wedge between our community," Molly said shortly after winning the crown. "I feel very honored to win and I hope that I'm going to be able to carry the crown in a positive way." With a performance-laden schedule, which includes regular shows at Club Try-Angles and Laziz Kitchen's drag brunch, it's clear she has. (EL)

    Best People to Pierce All the Body Parts
    The Folks of Abyss

    Body modification of all sorts can be simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Everyone's heard the horror stories of body art gone wrong, so that's why you need to trust me on this. When you walk into Abyss Body Piercing, you'll feel the calm, quiet energy that'll ease your nervous mind. Staff here is informative before, during and after your piercing. If you're a bit of a hippie (like me) you'll love to hear what chakra your new bling opened up. From your ears and nose, to wherever you like, the folks at Abyss have got your back (and your front, too). (Kara Rhodes) 245 E. 300 South, 801- 810-9247,

    Best Pride Purveyor
    Project Rainbow's Dallas Rivas

    From Provo to Logan and beyond, Project Rainbow has added a vibrant pop of color to yards across the state in the form of rainbow and trans-rights flags. A colective effort between the Utah Pride Center, the state's Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Human Rights Campaign Utah, the volunteer-led project debuted last year with 750 flags. This Pride season, it grew to 1,300. "The biggest reward is watching the volunteers so excited to stake the flags, the connection we all feel and that we're all on the same page with spreading love and spreading visibility for all," Rivas says. "Especially in Utah, where so many gay or trans youth are silenced. With these flags, we are embracing them. Letting them know that we're taking care of them." (EL)

    Best Cast of Characters
    The Viva La Diva Cast

    After residing in California and New York City, Magna native Jason CoZmo returned home with one clear mission: to elevate the Beehive State's drag standard. Be 'em Disney or Broadway themed, his Viva La Diva shows have done just that. They've also been a hotbed of local talent—from backup dancers to production managers to the headlining queens themselves. Do yourself a favor and check out their next Metro Music Hall show. And while you're at it, bust out a couple of singles and tip David Lorence's Cher, Jeremiah Del MarZ' Adele, Cody Rose's Taylor Swift, Jeremy Venuz' Gaga, Ben Morgan's Madonna, and, of course, CoZmo's double-take-worthy Dolly. (EL)

    Best Homegrown Showgirl
    Gia Bianca Stephens

    Clad in feathers, ruffles, rhinestones and sky-high hair, Gia Bianca Stephens exudes top-tier glam. Be it on the Miss City Weekly stage or at an array of drag performances around town, the "Snatch!" songstress knows how to leave a lasting impression. Like your bugle beads with a side of bacon? Stephens is the brains behind the town's latest drag brunch, the aptly named "Quorum" at hotspot Tavernacle Social Club. Preach, sister. (EL)

    click to enlarge JAKE PENROSE
    • Jake Penrose

    Best Pasties-Clad Enlightenment
    Madazon Can-Can

    Madazon Can-Can has a clear mission: To push the envelope and challenge Utah's stodgy laws one pasties-clad performance at a time. Case in point, Genit-Hell Yeah, their one-person show birthed from a master's thesis, which, after being shooed away from The Gateway (booze and even hinted nudity don't mix, kids), found a home at Salt Lake Community College's Black Box Theatre. Starting with a self-birth—and employing miming, burlesque and drag—Can-Can's intimate and interactive staging made good on its promise to "play with everything you knew about gender, sex and being human." (EL)

    Best Half-a-Lifetime Creative Dream-Come-True
    Savannah Ostler's Twice the Dream
    Alpine, Utah, native Savannah Ostler has been performing for more of her life than she hasn't—including beginning the idea for this script, about two sisters trying to fulfill their own artistic dreams, when she was still in high school. But a move to Los Angeles only led to frustration at her attempts to get anyone to take her seriously as the right person to direct her own script. She stood firm, and only after moving back to Utah was she able to put together the financing that saw Twice the Dream finally appear in local theaters. Sometimes, a dream is worth waiting for if you want to do it right. (Scott Renshaw)

    Best One-Man Cast of Dozens
    Austin Archer, Good Standing

    Plan-B Theatre Co.'s world-premiere of Matthew Greene's Good Standing found powerful drama in a gay man being called before a Latter-day Saint "court of love" for possible excommunication after he marries a man. But much of the emotional force comes from the performance by Austin Archer, who plays not only the protagonist, Curt, but all of the various church members sitting in judgment of him. While the text probes into perspectives that show more than one homogenous opinion, Archer gives a remarkable depth of feeling to every one of the characters he portrays, complicating the question of whether following the perceived will of God is worth hurting actual people. (SR)

    Best Band to Score a Midnight Seance
    Choir Boy

    This Salt Lake-based band has been busy touring the U.S. and Europe this year and they put on an amazing show at Gallivan Plaza this summer. Frontman Adam Klopp was trained to sing in his LDS church choir growing up and now he's using his Morrissey-esque, velveteen croon for rituals of another sort, conjuring images of sensitive vampire boys and evoking sensations of earthly transcendence. Next time you find yourself in front of a Ouija board, put on Choir Boy's album Passive with Desire to get the spirits doing the famous "stuck in my coffin" goth dance. (PH)

    Best Repeat Offenders
    Flaming Lips at Ogden Twilight

    It was the performance that earned Ogden Twilight a distinction in last year's Best of Utah as Best Festival Glow-up. Being his Wayne Coyne-iest self, the Flaming Lips frontman came out holding a mylar balloon bouquet spelling out "F*ck Yeah Ogden," and aided by a special prop or 19, (who can forget that gigantic, inflatable hamster ball?) gave Ogdenites a show for the ages. Certainly, it couldn't be topped. Then came the sold-out July 18 show and the magic was relived, alongside a balloon message redux, a lifesize fiberglass horse and an effusive horde 7,500 strong. Here's hoping for an inclusion in the fest's 2020 lineup. Good things come in threes, the old saying goes. (EL)

    Best Curly Hair Guru
    Curly Co. Hair & Beauty Salon's Max Alexander

    Curly-haired brethren, rejoice! Your hair and you have had a lifetime of ups and downs together—from using a straightener for too long to chopping it all off. Then there's the upkeep issue. Enter Curly Co. The salon is beautiful, clean and employs curly hair gurus to boot. These experts have mastered curls of all shapes and sizes and Max Alexander (one of the many gurus there) transforms hair (specifically mine) into twisty poetry. Do your mop a favor and give them a go. (KR) 777 E. 300 South, 801-359-4288,

    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge CARISSA OSCAR
    • Carissa Oscar

    Best Nonprofit Organization
    Best Friends Animal Society

    It's heartwarming when "Scruffy" finds a forever home with a loving family. But Best Friends Animal Society is so much more. Now in its 33rd year, it's been at the forefront worldwide in defending unwanted and abandoned animals. When hurricanes strike, you'll find Best Friends on the front lines, caring for the frightened and vulnerable creatures. If you're driving through Kanab, visit its celebrated sanctuary—home to 1,700 critters. Maybe you'll take home a "Scruffy" of your very own.
    2. Utah Pride Center
    3. Planned Parenthood

    Best Elected Official
    Ben McAdams

    In 1974, French aerialist Phillipe Petit grabbed global headlines when he strung a high wire between the then-standing Twin Towers and performed 1,312 feet above Manhattan streets. Move over, Phillipe. You've nothing over 4th District Congressman Ben McAdams, who's adroitly walking a political tightrope in his freshman term. The delegation's lone Democrat, McAdams has kept his moderate constituents happy with his middle-of-the-road (or rope) posture. Just don't slip, Ben.
    2. Spencer Cox
    3. Mitt Romney

    Best News Station
    Fox 13

    It's been around for 41 years, but Fox 13 is the new kid on the block among Utah's commercial television stations. Over the past four decades, it's built a solid reputation as a source of accurate the unvarnished reporting from the likes of Kerri Cronk, Bob Evans, Dan Evans and Hope Woodside, who left the station last year after 23 years. Her departure ended the longest-tenured anchor team (with Bob Evans) in Utah TV history. And let's not forget the indefatigable Ben Winslow and reporters like Big Budah, the self-described "fat guy with a mic."
    2. KUTV Channel 2
    3. KSL Channel 5

    Best Podcast
    I Am Salt Lake

    This popular podcast (it was last year's Best of Utah winner) just racked up its 400th episode. Hosts Chris and Krissie Holyfield—both originally out-of-staters, incidentally—scour the city to find intriguing folks. "Everyone," Chris says, "should have an opportunity to tell their story." Recent guests have included a retired cop, the general manager of a local Subaru dealership and a recovering addict. Now how's that for eclectic—with a capital "E"?
    2. Geek Show Podcast
    3. Cold

    Best Political Scandal
    Prop 2

    Good God almighty! Can't the GOP-dominated Legislature keep its fingers out of anything? After voters last year OKed by a 53% margin a comprehensive medical cannabis ballot initiative, ever-meddlesome lawmakers couldn't wait to pass their own "compromise" measure. In signing the bill, Gov. Gary Herbert lauded it as "an example of how collaboration makes Utah the best-managed state in the nation." Of course, Gary. But whatever happened to "of the people, by the people and for the people?"
    2. Inland Port
    3. Gerrymandering in San Juan County

    Best Radio Show
    Radio From Hell

    "The darkest places in hell." wrote Dante Alighieri, "are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality ..." In that case, Radio From Hell doesn't qualify for the nether regions. Hosts Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi are anything but neutral. They, along with their guests on the four-hour 96.3 FM show, titillate and bloviate with abandon. A perennial Best of Utah winner, they've been on the air in one iteration or another since 1986.
    2. Frankie and Jess, 97.1 FM
    3. Radioactive

    click to enlarge FRANKIE GRANT
    • Frankie grant

    Best TV News Reporter
    Ben Winslow

    A master of multimedia, Fox 13's Ben Winslow has solid credentials as a purveyor of good, old fashioned, shoe-leather journalism. But he's almost simultaneously peppering the info-sphere with the modern equivalent of news bulletins—tweets—to the delight of a growing bevy of followers. He's won national accolades, too, as recipient of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. Underneath that youthful—and bearded—face is the essence of a grizzled news veteran.
    2. Big Budah
    3. Andrew Reeser

    Best Social Cause
    Banning Conversion Therapy

    Once upon a time, Utah was poised to join 18 other states in banning so-called conversion therapy to change sexual orientation or gender identity among LGBTQ+ youth. A bill in the Legislature even had the tacit approval of the LDS church. Enter Rep. Marianne Lisonbee, R-Syracuse, with her compromise version—and the measure died. Regulators now are trying to craft new rules on banning the widely discredited practice. Contentious hearings are ongoing with no end in sight. Thanks heaps, Marianne.
    2. Clean Air
    3. Medical Cannabis

    Best Radio Station

    Another evergreen inductee. With an eardrum thumping 21,600 watts of raw power, X96 (96.3 FM) is the go-to place on your dial to hear the ultimate in contemporary rock. Rolling Stone, in fact, named it one of the five "awesome radio outlets" in America. Home of the wildly popular Radio From Hell, X96 annually mounts an all-day music festival, the Big Ass Show (BASh) spotlighting nationally touring alternative and punk bands. And they don't forget the plethora of local talent, either. The station's been bringing rock music in all its kaleidoscopic incarnations to Utahns since 1995.
    2. KZHT 97.1 FM
    3. KUER 90.1 FM

    Best Sports Reporter
    David James

    KUTV Channel 2's David James is the go-to guy for all things sports. Since signing on with Channel 2 in 1992, the California native has earned a well-deserved reputation as the authoritative source of sports news. In addition to his two "Talkin' Sports" weekend shows, fans can hear his insights on a morning-drive talk show on 1280 The Zone. Did we mention he was named 1996 "Utah Sportscaster of the Year" by the National Sportscaster and Sportswriter Association?
    2. Dave Fox
    3. Bill Riley

    Best TV Anchor
    Mary Nickles

    In 2012, KUTV Channel 2's Mary Nickles had a routine mammography as part of a story on women's health. Doctors found a malignant tumor. Her subsequent reporting—on the surgery, chemo, radiation (and even wig shopping)—earned an Emmy and endeared her to countless viewers. The plucky Washington state native joined KUTV in 1991 and has become an authoritative but ever-amiable source of news. A former professional volleyball player, she's the mother of twins—a boy and girl.
    2. Shauna Lake
    3. Bob Evans

    Best Weathercaster
    Allison Croghan

    Don't mess with Allison Croghan. That's what a detractor learned this summer when he sent her a Facebook message saying, "You look fat in blue." Further: "You're not married because you're still digging for gold." Unfazed, the Fox 13 meteorologist responded, "Take it to a therapist," as her 10,700 followers applauded. The troll—an independent contractor for a local real estate outfit—lost his job. Hurricane warnings, anyone?
    2, Sterling Poulson
    3. Lindsay Storrs

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Utahn
    Gail Miller

    For decades, she stood in the formidable shadow of her late husband, businessman and Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller. When he died in 2009, Gail Miller emerged as 100% owner of 54 car dealerships, a movie chain and, of course, the Jazz—and Utah's wealthiest person with Forbes estimating her net worth at $1.2 billion. Other sources say $1.75. At 76, she's turned her philanthropic eye toward the Gail Miller Resource Center in South Salt Lake. The 200-bed facility provides a safe haven for homeless men and women. And she's found happiness with now-spouse Kim Wilson. Way to go, Gail!
    2. Spencer Cox
    3. Donovan Mitchell

    Worst Utahn
    Mike Lee

    If you don't believe Utah's senior senator Mike Lee is a "Constitutional expert," just ask the guy. He'll be more than willing to tout his credentials. Ranked by The New York Times as the most conservative U.S. senator, the 48-year-old Lee (in)famously said the answer to climate change is to have more babies—while raking in a cool quarter-million bucks from oil-and-gas interests. He was one of two senators who voted to block a measure extending benefits to 9/11 responders. Hey, Mike, what about the part of the Constitution that talks about "a more perfect union?" Or did it conveniently slip your steel-trap mind?
    2. Gary Herbert
    3. Paul Ray


    click to enlarge FUSE DRAGON
    • Fuse Dragon

    Best Spot to Contemplate World Peace
    International Peace Gardens
    Located alongside the Jordan River, the International Peace Gardens is a monument to unity and hope. The grounds, according to its website, "encourage pleasant wandering and meditation" as visitors take in the symbols, heritage and folklore from more than two-dozen countries. With garden architecture and native plantings in abundance, the space offers an opportunity for somber reflection on the value of international harmony, and a chance to celebrate other cultures with fellow globalists on Norwegian Constitution Day, or for the Swedish summer frolic. And in July, the Utah chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League host a picnic for students from Matsumoto, Salt Lake City's sister city. (KL) 1000 S. 900 West, 801-938-5326,

    Best Lost Piece of SLC Lore
    It was one of those only-in-SLC places. Down to its "Hobbitville" moniker, Allen Park was enveloped in mystery since its creation back in the 1930s. It was a place where Tolkien-approved mythical creatures lived. No, wait, its residents were actually human. More specifically, dwarves who had settled there after retiring from a circus show. In reality, it was an insular mixed-use space—half residential, half bird sanctuary, with a dose of outdoor folk art museum thrown in—conceived by Dr. George Allen along Emigration Creek. As City Weekly first reported back in January, its dwindling tenants were unceremoniously evicted and the property was caught in a probate court web. With interminable construction along 1300 East barring traffic from the park's main entrance, the future remains shrouded for this unique piece of gone-but-not-forgotten local lore. (EL)

    Best Place to Take in the Summer Solstice
    The Sun Tunnels
    The Sun Tunnels in the Great Basin Desert radiates an otherworldly vibe. And perhaps it's fitting they seem out of this world—they're meant to draw attention to the heavens. Created in the 1970s by artist Nancy Holt, the tunnels are sundials, monuments to four constellations, and frames for the summer and winter solstices. If you're up for a drive on the solstice in what feels like the middle of nowhere, you can watch the sun rise and set at one of Utah's most overlooked pieces of land art. (Kylee Ehmann)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Retailer Rebirth
    The Gateway
    A couple of years back, it would have been easy to discount The Gateway as yet another ghostly concrete cathedral whose glory days had come and gone in the age of Amazon. Then, something happened. Pop-up art experiences like Love Letters and the sensorial (and highly Instagrammable) Dreamscapes, new murals aplenty, the arrival of adult playgrounds like Dave & Buster's and Punch Bowl Social and, oh yeah, the cooked-in-record-time Sunday Service staged by Kanye West in October, which drew an estimated 7,000 people to the space. You've got Yeezy's seal of approval, Gateway. And ours, too. (EL) 400 W. 100 South,

    Best Place to Pretend You're Nicolas Cage
    Wendover Airfield
    As part of a classified project dubbed Project W-47, military officers and scientists held practice runs for the Japan atomic bombings at this dusty outpost. Decades later, it was the setting for several scenes from the 1997 Nicolas Cage action flick, Con Air. Today the base houses a quaint museum full of WWII memorabilia, and there's also the rusted-out C-123 transport aircraft that Cage and his convict buddies rode in. It's parked right there on the airfield—anyone can jump into the cockpit and imitate Cage's Alabama accent while dreaming of freedom. (PH) 352 E. Airport Way, Wendover, Utah,

    Best Monstrous
    Multi-Use Trail
    Jordan River Parkway
    Whether you're walking, running or biking, meandering through the Jordan River Parkway is an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday or blow off some steam after work. A 45-mile multiple use trail, the JRP features paved and equestrian trails, as well as connections to several neighborhoods' trails. It links together urban fishing ponds, cultural centers, shopping areas and parks, making it a good option for shoppers and families who want to travel to a nearby mall or play area without driving through the city. The trail is so long that, if you're really into water, you can hike from the Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. (KL)

    Best Place to Get Your Art on Without Emptying Your Wallet
    Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center
    Walking through the doors of the Reuse Center, artists are transported to a magical world where they can find just about anything. A thrift store for arts and crafts supplies, the shop is filled with a diverse variety of reusable materials. From the basics of paint and brushes to hard-to-find items such as vintage material and funky jewelry, there are supplies for artists, teachers and even parents looking for odds and ends. On a mission to send less waste to landfills, the shop encourages visitors to "Create art, waste less and save money." (Colette Finney) 4973 S. State, Murray, 801-441-0866,

    Best Hike to See Ancient Art
    Nine Mile Canyon
    Known colloquially as the "World's Longest Art Gallery," the inexplicably named Nine Mile Canyon has 40 miles of Native American petroglyphs from the Fremont and the Ute peoples, pioneer-era graffiti and a ghost town. Located between Myton and Wellington, visitors can hike up close to see art thousands of years old. Just remember not to touch—the oils on your hands can destroy petroglyphs. The hike is located about halfway through the canyon, but if you don't have the time or inclination to do it, there are many petroglyphs visible from the road. (KE)

    click to enlarge BACKROADSORBUST
    • backroadsorbust

    Best Place for Strolling Troubadours and Steamy Baths
    Mystic Hot Springs
    Off the beaten path in the tiny town of Monroe, travelers can find a funky oasis in the desert. Sink into a vintage tub swathed in overgrown rock formations while watching a sunset or a band perform on the "hill." If tubs aren't your thing, swim in one of two hot spring grottos of varying temperatures. Too relaxed to get back in the car? Overnight stays are welcome in converted school buses, campsites or rustic cabins. As they say at Mystic, "It's funky but functional." Groovy has new meaning as you tour the grounds and pass by a strolling troubadour strumming a guitar and singing. (CF) 475 E. 100 North, Monroe, 435-527-3286,

    Best Hike for Vertically Challenged Outdoor Lovers
    Oquirrh Lake Long Loop
    After being confined indoors for weeks due to broken ankle surgery, it was crucial for this nature lover to find a trail that could be maneuvered on a knee scooter. Discovering the paved Long Loop Trail around Oquirrh Lake in South Jordan is a gift from heaven for anyone with limited mobility. The well maintained trail is perfect for roaming at any pace. Edged with beautiful foliage, this picturesque shoreline is also wonderful for reading, picnicking and bird watching. There are even docks for avid fisherman looking for a bite. Street parking is available on Kestrel Rise Road between South Lake Avenue and 11400 South within the Daybreak neighborhood. (CF)

    Best Spot to Meet Doggy Daddies
    Tanner Park
    Anyone who enjoys men and dogs will want to wander over to Tanner Park. While not an official dog park, doggos are plentiful here. Leave any fancy expectations at the door. Basically, it's a giant dirt-and-gravel walking path that leads to a small swimming area for your furry friends. If you're lucky enough to possess a small or large yippy thing that requires walks, meeting dogs who have cutie men leashed to them isn't too difficult. About the men: If you're not into the "outdoorsy" type, this isn't the park for you. Instead, expect to encounter guys with some scruff and a couple of tattoos Throw in a good lint brush, and it'll be a match made in heaven. (KR) 2740 S. 2700 East, 385-468-7275

    Best Reminder Utahns Don't Forget Their History
    Topaz Museum
    During World War II, Japanese-Americans across the U.S. were taken into custody in fear they might sympathize with their home country and harbor ill will toward the U.S. They were placed in internment camps throughout the country, marking a dark civil rights chapter in U.S. history. One of those camps, Topaz, was located in Utah. In 2017, a museum meant to remind us of those horrors opened in Delta. More than 11,000 people were processed at Topaz. A visit to the museum is a stark reminder of what can happen if we're not mindful of xenophobia. (RH) 55 W. Main, Delta, 435-864-2514,

    Best Place to Experience Nature from Your Car
    Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
    Utah is known for its stunning natural views, but, unfortunately for those of us nature-lovers with bad knees, most require a truly unreasonable amount of walking to see. Enter the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge's 12-mile automobile-only tour. The drive offers stunning views of Utah's wetlands and the literally millions of birds from all over North and South America who make the area their home. There isn't a bad time to visit—spring and fall might have the broadest variety of feathered visitors, but the summer brings baby birds and the winter brings bald eagles and great blue herons. (KE) 2155 W. Forest St., Brigham City, 435-723-5887

    click to enlarge JEFF TURNER
    • Jeff Turner

    Best Ghost Town
    Maybe it's because he undermines Utah's prudish reputation or maybe it's because outlaws are just kind of cool on an aesthetic level, but Utah is populated with markers and monuments associated with the Utah-born outlaw Butch Cassidy. None of these are quite as cinematic as Grafton. Originally a Mormon pioneer settlement, the few remaining buildings were part of the set of the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Visitors can walk through most of the buildings and tour the nearby historic cemetery all while taking in the dramatic red cliffs of the nearby Zion National Park. (KE)

    Best Weird Family Attraction
    Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park
    OK, I know people died terribly in the Jurassic Park movies, but that doesn't erase the fact that I want to pet dinosaurs. Until science can figure out how to let us do this without being eaten, we'll have to make do with Ogden's Dinosaur Park. For $5-$7, you can watch an animatronic T-rex face down a triceratops, climb on prehistoric creatures at the playground, and walk under and around massive dinosaur sculptures. The park also leans hard into spooky season every October with thousands of lights illuminating giant cobweb and silly skeleton décor while kids trick-or-treat. (KE) 1544 E. Park Blvd., Ogden, 801-393-3466,

    Best Place to Avoid Inversions and Smoky Wildfires
    West Jordan Library
    Just one of many in the area, the West Jordan Library provides the perfect place to escape the harmful valley air during the onset of inversions and wildfires by offering an indoor refuse. No matter what your age, the facility is a passport to possibilities with a large variety of entertaining materials, a children's area, book clubs, and arts and crafts. A library card is only necessary to access free Wi-Fi on one of their computers or checking materials out. Connected to the Viridian Event Center which provides free classes, concerts and movies, there are fun activities for anyone in the family. (CF) 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan, 801-943-4636

    Best National Park Field Station
    Capitol Reef Field Station
    There are not many places in Salt Lake where you can get away from the light and air pollution obstructing Utah's scenery and the constellations which always shine bright. Some 200 miles south from the city is the Capitol Reef National Park Field Station (CRFS). The unobstructed view of the sandstone mountains and scenic pastures in the small secluded valley where the field station sits, makes it a phenomenal place. Aside from the unsurpassed views, it offers opportunities to learn about the "natural and cultural legacies of the Colorado Plateau." CRFS is a partnership between Utah Valley University and Capitol Reef National Park, making UVU one of 10 universities in the U.S. to have a field station in a national park. The university utilizes the site's sustainable and environmentally friendly design as a teaching tool. Part of the field station's mission is to "provide its visitors with educational experiences that are as remarkable as the landscape in which they occur," the website says. CRFS site manager Joe Ceradini mans the site and welcomes students to lodge at the site as an opportunity to live feasibly and connect with the landscape. (Erik Hight)

    Best Place to Take a Bathroom Break During a Road Trip
    Cove Fort
    Anyone who has made the drive between St. George and Salt Lake City knows that the long stretches between towns can be hell on your bladder. There often aren't even truck stops to brave going into. Cove Fort is a blessing in this wilderness. Located roughly 20 miles from a town in any direction at the junction of I-15 and I-70, it offers incredibly clean and well-maintained bathrooms and refreshing, cool drinking fountains. Oh, and there's a 152-year-old fort made of volcanic rock across the street. Visitors can take a free tour to walk through this fort that was restored and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (KE) 435-438-5547,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Escape From the City Without Leaving the City Limits
    SLC Main Library
    A reader's paradise notwithstanding, the fifth floor of the library offers a portal to paradise on their rooftop terrace. With 360 degree views of the mountains, it flaunts an open-air respite for those longing to flee the city without spending a dime. Absent the maddening street noise, one can take a seat on the benches or check out the beautiful garden. Better yet, pick up a coffee or lunch from a shop below to pair with your favorite book as you sink into serenity. On a clear night, aim for the bewitching hour of sunset and you won't be disappointed. (CF) 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200,

    Best Real-Life Version of Rainbow Road
    Lehi I-15 construction
    Mama Mia! That's a lot of construction. For those in Utah County, the stretch of freeway between American Fork and Lehi is a thrill-ride to say the least. Who needs Disneyland or Lagoon when just a ride over the bumps and uneven pavement can send cars flying into the air and in typical Utah fashion. See who can go the fastest to get the high score. (EGW)

    Best Nerd's Night Out
    Evermore Park
    Evermore is most accurately described as what would happen if a low-stakes Dungeons & Dragons game came to life. Guests are encouraged to explore, watch performances and go on quests for the fairy, goblin and dragon-trainer characters that roam the vaguely European-village setting. While part of the park is under construction, it is easy to ignore the dust by getting lost in the immersive world of the park. The park is currently entering its fall "Lore" season ($12-$29 a ticket), which serves up a haunted and spooky vibe. The park is open Monday, Friday, Saturday 6-11 p.m. (KE) 382 S. Evermore Lane, Pleasant Grove,

    Best New Ogden Happenings Hub
    The Monarch
    While Salt Lake City gets most of the attention for big arts events in Utah, you shouldn't discount Ogden as a vibrant place for art, dining and all manner of lively happenings. The latest addition to Ogden's 25th Street is an ambitious project that completely renovated the historic Monarch Building, turning it into a combination of event venue, showcase for art installations courtesy O1ARTS, and location for the new WB's Eatery wine bar and coffeehouse. The November grand opening promises to be just the beginning for another exciting place to be reminded that Ogden has a lot to boast about. (SR) 455 25th St., Ogden,

    Best Place to Watch a Show
    Gallivan Center
    I know Ogden Twilight has kind of overshadowed Salt Lake's Twilight Concert Series in terms of popularity, but it's quite lovely watching concerts at the outdoor Gallivan Center. The sun goes down to the soundtrack of rhymes from Vince Staples or the pulsing rock of Courtney Barnett. Off in the distance are the glowing lights from the Walker Center. People are watching across the block from the great height of a parking structure, the sound of music reverberating off city walls. You're right in the center of town, but you may as well be at the center of the universe. (PH) 239 S. Main,

    Best Place to Listen to Music with 20,000 of Your Closest Friends
    Usana Amphitheatre
    There's certainly a value to intimate live music experiences, getting you up close and personal with the performers. But there's something uniquely electrifying about being part of a massive music party, joining with a huge crowd in enjoying the work of some of the most popular and storied music acts in the world. Even if you're far from the stage, you can still feel that, for a summer night, you're in the middle of something special. (SR) 5150 S. 5600 West, West Valley City,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Smelling Street in SLC
    Regent Street
    Between the smells from Pretty Bird's fried chicken and Last Course's fresh-baked waffle cones, Regent Street is by far the best smelling street in all of downtown. If I were on the Downtown Alliance, I would figure out a way to turn that smell into a scented candle and sell it at tourist shops throughout the city. Within no time, Regent Street candles would become so popular they would be named SLC's signature scent (move over, fry sauce air freshener). The city could then use the candle profits to fund a solution for SLC's (otherwise) un-breathable air. (AP)

    Best Place To Catch the STD of the Sea
    Lake Powell
    As popular as mussels are on a restaurant menu, they are significantly less so when it comes to the infestation, and destruction they cause in our lakes. Hence being termed the STD (Skiff-Transmitted Disease) of the sea, with Powell being on the list of afflicted lakes. So if Lake Powell is on your hit-it list for lake hopping, you might want to double bag your boat—or no other lake will have you. In reality, you will be allowed to boat elsewhere, but only after thorough and time-consuming inspections, and a solid scrub down. Allowing your boat a bit of a dry spell before docking from one lake to the next is also highly recommended. (AP)

    Best Place to Pick up Free Furniture
    The Beach in Front of the Great Saltair
    Spent your entire savings securing a new apartment with zero dollars to furnish? Take a drive down to the beach in front of the Great Saltair and you will find a variety of pieces to drag off the lakeshore and into your new abode. If you don't mind the coating of salty sand, these weather-beaten pieces have already been broken in so you don't have to worry about pesky spills or stiffness. No need for furniture? Take a seat and the boats go by or pucker up for a one-of-a-kind selfie. (CF) 12408 W. Saltair Drive, Magna

    Best Place to Attempt a World Record
    Great Salt Lake Marina
    In the summer of 2019, staff at the Great Salt Lake Marina wanted to drum up support and awareness for the unique body of water to Salt Lake City's west. Its wetlands are threatened by development (the inland port, for example) and its salt flats where countless land speed records have been set are shrinking. So what better way than to invite thousands out to the marina in Magna to attempt a world record? In 2017, 1,941 people gathered in Argentina at its Lake Epecuen to set the record for the most people floating in a line, unassisted, at one time. Unfortunately, Salt Lake's attempt fell more than 1,000 people short. Here's to trying that record next year! (RH) 1075 S. 13312 West, Magna, 801-250-1898,

    Best Otherworldly Campground
    Three Peaks Recreation Area
    There's something rather Mars-like about Three Peaks, a high desert getaway located about 10 miles outside Cedar City. The main campground overlooks a mountain range that stands off in the distance, reflecting the rays of sunset like some sort of wild man's mirror. Off-road vehicles and rock-climber cars clamber over giant volcanic stones nearby, and deep in the night you can gaze into the universe, pointing out the planets over the crackles of a campfire. It's also a great place to get abducted by aliens, or just talk about aliens, as I experienced when I went here for this year's Utah UFO Fest. (PH)

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Place To Get Worked
    Rocksteady Bodyworks
    Whether you sign up for a yoga class or strap yourself to one of the pilates torture devices, Rocksteady's classes will sweat out your toxins while building your strength. For the record, I loathe working out, yet regardless of how sore I am the day after, or how many times I promise myself I'll never return. There I am a week later—a once a week workout is sufficient—back at it thinking to myself, "Thank you Ms., may I have another?" (AP) 4689 Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-277-9166,

    Best Way To Stay Off the Needle
    Align Spa
    I'm not really sure how Botox became a thing, but I imagine the inventors often heard their parents say, "Stop, or your face will freeze that way." Regardless, if you find yourself wanting to slow your roll with injectable face poison, Align's Dermasound Ultra Facial just might be the answer to your aging woes. At roughly the same cost of poking your face with a needle, this facial is significantly more relaxing (sans the extractions portion), and will leave your skin with the youthful glow you didn't appreciate naturally having in your 20s. (AP) 1792 Bonanza Drive, Ste. 130, Park City, 435-647-9300,

    Best Place to Camp Within Minutes of the Wasatch Front
    Silver Lake Flat
    Need a quick weekend getaway after leaving the office on Friday? Head up past Mount Timpanogos east of Lehi. The drive isn't far—maybe 30 minutes to an hour depending where you live on the Wasatch Front—and when you get there, you'll find pristine bodies of water, hiking trails and plenty of camping spots. If you're looking to find an even more remote place, head up the dirt road above the Tibble Fork area to find Silver Lake Flat. It might be hard to believe the place is so close to the bustling urban hellscape, but it's a place you can disconnect and feel hours away from your responsibilities. (RH)

    Best Place With a Heart
    The Inn Between
    The not-in-my-backyard folk came out in force this past year dreading the move of a homeless hospice to Salt Lake City's east side. There was the typical fear-mongering of more crime and drugs. But anyone who knows about The Inn Between, knows the people receiving care there just need some compassion and a roof over their head. They're not heading out in search of their next score. These are people suffering from cancer and the like while they face the end of their life. The Inn Between is there to serve, and in this era of over-the-top outrage, we could all use a little more compassion. (RH) 1216 E. 1300 South, 801-410-8314,

    Best Place to Ride the Trails
    Corner Canyon
    The trail system near point-of-the-mountain in Draper was built with accessible outdoor activities, and for many, mountain biking in mind. Before the park was established in 2005, there was potential for the land to be sold to a developer with the intention to build 1,200 homes. But public land advocates and the city came together to secure the land, forego a windfall of property tax revenue and create something accessible for everyone. With more than 30 trails to choose from, the maze of winding trails has options for all skill levels. Try the popular Rush Trail (downhill only) to experience the rush of downhill mountain biking. (RH)

    Best Spa to Treat Yo Self
    The Kura Door
    After the thorough and painstaking research of trying multiple spas in the Salt Lake Valley, I've concluded that no place pampers like The Kura Door. The second you slip off your shoes, and walk through the sliding doors, all stress melts away. From the Ofuro tub soaks ($49 for 45 minutes) to the tiny dishes of dried apricots and almonds, and cozy robes. It is impossible to book a treatment and not leave feeling like a million bucks ... so go on, treat yo self. (AP) 1136 3rd Ave., 801-364-2400,

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Place To Lose Your Child
    Museum of Natural Curiosity
    Not only does this museum conjure curiosity and wonder for young minds, but it often leaves parents wondering. Where in the hell is my child? Tiny human will-power is futile when surrounded by the sound studio, vet shop, puppet theater, Lego room and more. As one kid zags right, the other will zag left, and regardless of the number of years you previously judged parents with a child leashed to a teddy bear backpack, less than five minutes in this museum, and you, too, might find yourself pondering, "I wonder if they make them in blue?" (AP) 3605 Garden Drive, Lehi, 801-768-2300,

    Best Shop for Channelling Your Crunchy Side
    Arts of the World Gallery
    Step inside this shop and it's like you've arrived at a bustling market in a magical port town: The shelves are stocked with rings, necklaces, handbags, bamboo flutes, art pieces and handicrafts from lands far and wide, including Thailand, Indonesia and West Africa. The business first opened as a Renaissance faire booth in 1990 and since then it's established close relationships with artisans and vendors, meaning your dollars spent here will help support the work of non-corporate craftspeople across the globe. (PH) 802 S. 600 East, 801-532-8035,

    Best Only Semi-Awkward First Date
    Any avid dater would get excited when dates don't start with a genius idea, such as, "let's grab a drink" or "let's hang out." So, grab a bottle of your favorite liquor/wine/whatever drink, do a little "pre-game" and Lyft on over to Nickelcade. Make sure it's later in the evening, so all the kiddos have left the almost-forgotten arcade. When the libations hit, feel free to let your inner-child out. Save your boring work convo for another day and engage in a dance off with your date while playing Dance, Dance Revolution. By night's end, combine your tickets and pick out a piece of memorabilia that'll let you reminisce on that time you met your feature beau (or, you know, added a new name to your block list). (KR) 4160 S. Redwood Road, 801-966-1213,

    Best Bar to Find Refuge From the Mormons on NFL Sundays
    The Green Pig Pub
    There are few things more fulfilling in Salt Lake City than donning an NFL jersey, biking past all the churchgoers and joining your fellow sinners at The Green Pig Pub on Sunday mornings around 11 a.m., just before the first slew of the day's games begin. You can feel the vivacious sense of rebellion as soon as you walk through the doors and order your first PBR pounder, munching on the delicious brunch as you laugh with your friends at the knowledge you'll all be going to hell, but at least you didn't have to spend your earthly Sundays at Mass. (KL)
    31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441,

    Best Late Night with Kids
    Red Butte's Garden After Dark
    SLC is full of family friendly Halloween fun, but Garden After Dark is hands down the best! As an annual tradition, 2019 marked my fams' ninth year attending this spook-tacular event, and the garden has never disappointed. The hot cocoa stations help keep you warm, as you and your littles go from one activity station to the next. This year's Trouble in Oz theme was (as always) on point as we followed the yellow brick road to search for flying monkeys, and stopped in the Ozdust ballroom to meet Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West. If you missed it this year, there's always next. (AP) 300 Wakara Way, 801-585-0556,

    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best All-Ages Venue
    Kilby Court
    Every great music city worth its salt—and not just Salt Lake City—needs a place where those not yet of drinking age can get an indoctrination into the thrill of seeing live performances. The intimate space of Kilby Court, run by Will Sartain (pictured, left) and Lance Saunders (pictured, right), has been providing that place for 20 amazing years, which the venue celebrated this year with a massive block party. That event was like a microcosm of what Kilby has been all about since its inception: a mix of touring and local acts, up close and personal with fans who want to feel the sweat fly, interact with their idols and fall in love with music. 741 S. Kilby Court,
    2. Diabolical Records
    3. Red Butte Garden

    Best Concert of the Year
    It may not be necessary for a great concert experience to be attached to a great cause, but it often doesn't hurt. The sense of shared purpose at the annual LoveLoud concert—created by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to support LGBTQ+ youth in Utah, and which celebrated its third installment in 2019—adds an emotional power to a day of music that also includes speakers and calls to action. As the event has grown from an Orem ballpark to USANA Amphitheater, and attracts headliners like Kesha, it remains a demonstration of what artists can do when they use their celebrity to do good.
    2. Flaming Lips
    3. Death Cab For Cutie

    Best Dance Company
    Ballet West
    For more than 55 years, Ballet West has brought some of the world's most beautiful dancing to downtown Salt Lake City—but it's much more than century-old classics. Although every season offers classic works like the beloved holiday presentation of The Nutcracker or the 2019 production of John Cranko's Onegin, the company shows its commitment to innovative new work annually with world premieres at its spring Choreographic Festival. It's a wonderful place to find both a celebration of the past and a recognition of amazing new works of movement still to come. Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South,
    2. Odyssey Dance Theatre
    3. Repertory Dance Theatre

    Best DJ
    DJ Juggy
    Step aside, kids: There are some things you want a veteran pro to handle. California transplant DJ Juggy (aka Ryan Alfaro) has been spinning in Utah since the 2002 Olympics were in town, and has built his status to the point where he became a regular at Utah Jazz and Salt Lake Bees games. If you want to get moving to his music, check out his regular gigs at SLC's Bourbon House and Park City's Downstairs.
    2. Jimmy Chunga
    3. Brad Wheeler

    Best Drag Entertainer
    Jason CoZmo
    He's graced a City Weekly cover in full Dolly Parton regalia, so it's no surprise that our readers know about Jason. But the Utah native isn't just a pretty face. His versatility is on display in multiple showcases that bring to life not just divas like The Divine Miss Dolly, but a wide range of Disney princesses—cashing in on CoZmo's history as a Disneyland performer—in a show that isn't exactly kid-friendly. The costumes may be part of the fabulousness, but entertaining crowds is all about showing off your big ... talents.
    2. Sister Molly Mormon
    3. Gia Bianca Stephens

    Best Friend of the Arts
    Urban Arts Gallery
    What does it mean to be a "friend of the arts?" In part, maybe it means putting together opportunities for as many people in the community to participate in the arts. That includes the Urban Arts Festival, a free event that places no financial barrier on allowing interested visitors to experience a wide range of arts experiences. And it includes the monthly Connect pop-up exhibitions, which allow artists to bring in two of their works for free, so that they can be seen by the public. Art belongs to all of us, and helping facilitate that ... well, that's what friends are for. 116 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
    2. The Eccles Family
    3. Craft Lake City

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Live Music Venue
    Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
    A live music venue can be spectacular, and still offer nothing you really want to see; a live music venue can offer great music, but be a miserable place to try to enjoy it. What makes Red Butte Garden's amphitheater so special is that it offers the best of both. The 2019 season presented more than 30 live acts, from the 1980s nostalgia of Stray Cats, Howard Jones and the B-52s to contemporary Americana like Mandolin Orange and Shakey Graves. And all of it happens nestled in the Wasatch foothills on glorious summer evenings, where you can enjoy the show with your own picnic and beverages from home. 2155 Red Butte Canyon Road, 801-585-0556,
    2. Usana Amphitheatre
    3. The Depot

    Best Gallery
    Urban Arts Gallery
    Every gallery has its own distinctive sensibility and place in the community, but our readers love the inclusive vibe of Urban Arts Gallery. Its exhibitions incorporate popular culture, like in the fantasy-themed Spellbound show and the annual Star Wars-themed showcase, plus turning practical objects like skateboards into works of visual art, helping feed the idea that creativity isn't just something for a highfalutin crowd. Plus, it's wonderful to get an exhibition dedicated to work by Utah's art teachers and their students. 116 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
    2. Phillips Art Gallery
    3. Modern West

    Best Instagram Feed
    The Salt Project
    In a place as full of families with children as Utah, it's nice to have people pointing you toward the best activities and places to take your little ones. The Salt Project showcases images of interesting, often out-of-the-way places—from public parks, to parades, to outdoor locations—with an emphasis on those that are fun for the whole family. And food, of course; what would Instagram be without it? It's a great resource for anyone who needs a reminder that Utah is a great place to stay-cation.
    2. Iconoclad
    3. Salt Plate City

    Best Local Band/Group
    Royal Bliss
    After more than 20 years, it's easy to take Royal Bliss for granted; media does tend to gravitate toward the young upstarts. But Neal Middleton and company just keep rocking through the years, despite the ups and downs of gaining and losing record contracts, medical crises and just the stuff of growing older. While they're established enough to have their very own home venue at The Royal, they also proved in 2019 that they haven't lost their fire with a crunching new self-titled album. As one of its tunes aptly puts it, "Hard and Loud" is still how they like it.
    2. Zac Ivie
    3. Ginger and the Gents

    Best Museum
    Natural History Museum of Utah
    When you visit the gleaming copper building of the Natural History Museum of Utah's Rio Tinto Center, there's no way to avoid realizing it's absolutely the Natural History Museum of Utah. The exhibits give particular attention and celebration to our state—the people who first called it home, the creatures that have lived (and continue to live) here, its climate and ecosystems. Exhibitions look into the past and toward the future, with interactive opportunities to consider greater sustainability. Through spring of 2020, celebrate the institution's 50th anniversary with Nature All Around Us, a further reminder of the local natural world with which we're all intertwined. 301 Wakara Way, 801-581-4303,
    2. The Leonardo
    3. Utah Museum of Fine Art

    click to enlarge CHRIS MADSEN
    • Chris Madsen

    Best Visual
    Cat Palmer
    Professional photographers occupy a unique artistic place, balancing a commercial market for their work at events like weddings and the opportunity to do weird and creative things. Cat Palmer has always excelled at both. You'll see her work everywhere, from the pictures of your favorite local bands to promotional images for businesses like Ruby Snap cookies. Yet she's also the imagination behind works like the Last Supper-styled "12 Badasses of Salt Lake City," or politically-charged pieces against the backdrop of the Salt Flats or the State Capitol. It's a rare combo to find that mix of absolute professionalism and a real rebel spark.
    2. Sril Art
    3. Josh Scheuerman

    Best Music Festival
    Das Energi
    EDM is all about a pulsing feeling that turns a crowd into a living organism, moving together in euphoric rhythm. Bring some of the genre's biggest names together for a two-day extravaganza, and you've got an experience that's hard to match. The 2019 incarnation of Das Energi turned The Great Saltair into an electronic explosion of acts including Galantis, Above & Beyond, Seven Lions and more than 40 other acts on multiple stages, allowing delighted fans to celebrate into the sweat-soaked wee hours of an August night.
    2. Ogden Twilight
    3. Country Fanfest

    Best Piece of Public Art
    Spiral Jetty
    Even when it was hidden from view by the Great Salt Lake, it was comforting to know that it was there. Robert Smithson's celebrated 1970 work of land art in Box Elder County remains a tourist destination that suggests an almost alien creation, curling its 6,000 tons of basalt rock into the distance as the edges of the stones crust over with salt. Walking its length can become an act of meditation, recognizing both the power of humans to alter the landscape, and the power of the landscape to reclaim and alter the work of humans.
    2. Mural Fest Murals
    3. Harvey Milk Mural

    Best Record Shop
    Randy's Records
    According to Rolling Stone and the Recording Industry Association of America, 2019 will mark the first year in more than three decades that music on vinyl will outsell music on CDs. So what better place to celebrate that resurgence of the classic format than at Utah's oldest independent vinyl retailer? The massive selection of new and used LPs and 45s truly indicates the 40-year history of Randy Stinson's pride and joy, as well as providing turntables and supplies for keeping all of that freshly-popular vinyl clean and in perfect condition. 157 E. 900 South, 801-532-4413,
    2. Graywhale
    3. Diabolical Records

    Best Theater Company
    Salt Lake Acting Co.
    On the doorstep of its 50th season in 2020, Salt Lake Acting Co. continues to be a showcase for risk-taking contemporary theater, whether it originates on New York stages or with playwrights here in our own backyard. And as much as "something for the whole family" seems like a cliche, what other phrase is there for a company that can find a place both for a kid-friendly annual holiday production and the raunchy, taboo-busting, iconoclastic glory of Saturday's Voyeur? We're lucky to have a place that, in reactionary times, isn't afraid to keep pushing the envelope and finding audiences who are excited to ride along with them on that journey. 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522,
    2. Pioneer Theatre Co.
    3. Desert Star


    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Dubious Policy
    No Flags Allowed on Temple Square
    Boasting a yearly visitor rate in the millions, Temple Square's 35-acre grounds are among Salt Lake City's top tourist spots for believers and heathens alike. It's private property, so they can enact rules as they please and signs specify the code of conduct for visitors, including no smoking, cycling and scootering. A new one to add to the list? No flags, a lesson learned over Pride weekend, when City Weekly needed a cover image for a story on the church's "November policy," and the limbo many have found themselves in the aftermath of its reversal. Armed with a postcard-sized rainbow flag, I headed to the square, boyfriend in tow, to get the shot. I was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Love wins" so I wasn't quite flying under the radar. We were swiftly approached by two teens doubling as security guards who were as intimidating as cole slaw and escorted off the premises. "We don't allow flags on church property," one "guard" declared. The same property that has a staff behind the temple flying the American and Utah state flags and is littered with sister missionaries displaying their country-of-origin flags under their name tags. Whateves; you best believe I got the shot. And lo, a new revelation: God hates flags? (EL)
    On That Note,

    Best Totally Awesome Rebranding
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Since its origin story way back in the 1800s, the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been associated with the acronym LDS and terms Mormons, Mormonism, etc. But then ... a revelation! "The Lord impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He decreed for his church," President Russell M. Nelson said, "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Immediately, official communiqués, email addresses for 3,000 leaders and employees, names of 300 web-based apps, even the beloved Mormon Tabernacle Choir were rebranded. Nelson went on to say the move was neither inconsequential, cosmetic or a whim. Whew! Now church brass can finally focus on lesser matters, like women's rights, staying out of state politics and taking care of its LGBTQ+ members. (EL)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Display of Civic Pride
    If you've ever gone on a road trip to Vegas, there's a good chance you've passed through the lovely town of Beaver, Utah—and seen the vast array of "I Love Beaver"-branded memorabilia for sale at the local gas stations. The family-owned business behind this branding campaign has taken its message nationwide with a website called, where clients from across the states can order all the coffee mugs, flasks, lip balm and stuffed beavers they want. You can even request custom-designed, beaver-lovin' swag. We're sure this has nothing to do with a certain sexual euphemism that also involves the beloved woodland creature. (PH)

    Best Herbal Apothecary and Collective
    Mobile Moon Co-op
    In recent years, there's been a trend toward becoming more environmentally conscious, but for grassroots educator Rikki Longino, being eco-friendly and sustainable is not a trend, it is her livelihood. Longino, an urban ecologist, spearheads the Mobile Moon Co-operative in West Valley City. The co-op is not just a center for inclusiveness and education, it is a full-blown herbal apothecary, tea shop and botanical education center on four wheels. A few years ago, Longino bought an old school bus and converted it into an apothecary, which serves as the hub for the activities and ongoings of the Mobile Moon Co-op. The collective has partnered with other entities to stage community workshops. And they've recently partnered with the nonprofit Utah Permaculture Collective. Women, transfolk and femmes assist Longino in running the operation. The all-inclusive apothecary and herb shop studies alternative medicine and offers holistic herbal practices, dedicating their efforts to "preserving communities and ecosystems through education, empowerment and botanical stewardship," the co-op's Facebook page says. (EH)

    Best Deal You Can Feel Good About
    Hive Pass
    Salt Lake City has made it hard to justify not taking advantage of its public transportation system. For just $42 a month, city residents can take unlimited rides on UTA trains and buses. That's a 50% discount from a regular UTA monthly pass, just because you live in Salt Lake City. Plus, the nifty card includes a free one-year GreenBike membership. You know that vehicle you're driving is making Utah's air more toxic. Who needs a car when you can sit in an enclosed space with strangers, smug with the knowledge that you're helping make the Wasatch Front's air more breathable? Here's hoping the push for free transit continues. (KL)

    Best UTA Bus Route
    The Double Deuce. Deuce Truce. Big Twofer. These are just some of the nicknames we've given to the 2 and 220 bus lines. Both routes were adjusted by the UTA in August, as a result of a budget windfall and in collaboration with an initiative from Salt Lake City. Now, these routes work with the conjoined efficiency of trapeze artists or Siamese twins, providing speedy service at double time along 200 South from downtown to the U, with the 220 then taking riders to Sandy. It's just as the Old Testament says, "Two are better than one." (PH)

    Best Thing to Come From the Salt Lake City Council
    Free Feminine Hygiene Products
    The Salt Lake City Council has faced a lot of tough decisions on what to do about affordable housing, homelessness and infrastructure this year. But probably its best no-brainer move was to set aside $20,000 in June to start a one-year pilot program to make feminine hygiene products available for free in some city buildings. The three female councilmembers spearheaded the "menstrual equity" initiative, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, in hopes that it will push state lawmakers to do the same. The products have been available in bathrooms for usually a quarter, but now that will change. (RH)

    click to enlarge PETER HOLSLIN
    • Peter Holslin

    Best Hand-Made Toy
    Level Ledges Bricked Barricade
    I'm too old and out of shape to risk breaking a bone doing kickflips on a skateboard like when I did back when I was 13. But I still have the spirit of skateboarding inside of me so I keep myself occupied with a "fingerboard," a finger-sized skateboard built to resemble the real thing. In Highland, Utah, Jared Ibey gives us fingerboarders an environment to skate on with Level Ledges, a brand of miniature concrete barriers and ramps. I recently got my hands on the "Bricked Barricade" ($20.99) a hand-engraved brick wall perfect for grinds, slides, wallrides and other tricks. I must say I've never encountered a slab of concrete so buttery smooth or carefully crafted. (PH)

    Best Way to Commute, See the City and Exercise, All At Once
    Salt Lake City offers few things as freeing and thrilling as riding a bike on a crowded street, exhilarated but petrified that Ford Focus isn't going to see you in their rear view mirror as they make a right-hand turn into Trader Joe's. Danger be damned, biking on SLC's streets is among the best activities the metropolis offers. Whether you just want to see what the city looks like from two wheels, bike down a mountain trail or take a quick trip to your local coffee shop or farmers market, the city and county's bike map is available online, for all your cycling planning needs. No bike? No problem? The Hive Pass has you covered. (KL)

    Best Utah County Sustainable Garden
    Utah Valley Permaculture Design School
    In the desert climate of Utah, located in the foothills of Orem, is the state's best permaculture garden and design school. Director and designer Denise Devynck has spent the last few years transforming the less-than-an-acre space into a luscious garden designed in a way that models the most environmentally friendly way to cultivate a self-sustainable and regenerative food forest. The garden is home to "59 fruit and nut trees, 34 kinds of berries, and hundreds of roots, herbs and perennials," Devynck says. The nonprofit organization is a multifaceted entity offering a certified Permaculture Design Course, workshops, classes and volunteer work. (EH)

    Best Festival
    Antelope Island Spiderfest
    Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. But before you run away screaming, I beg you to give Spiderfest a chance. It is an annual celebration of the millions of spiders that hit adulthood on Antelope Island and are drawn into the open by the Great Salt Lake's brine flies. And while they feast, entomologists, park rangers and other arachnid-lovers host a variety of crafts, guided walks, and yummy (spider-free) food. Once you get to know these critters, it's easy to lose at least some of your fear and start to love them. Antelope Island State Park entry fees apply, though the festival is free. (KE) 4528 W. 1700 South, Syracuse, 801-725-9263,

    Best Thing To Do Before Football Season
    Speed Week
    It's the dog days of summer. There isn't much sports action going on. When the calendar turns to August, sometimes all we can think about is Week 1 of the college football season. To help pass the time in August, visiting the annual Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats might cure some of that craving for competitive action. Some vehicles are trying to set new land speed records and you can almost assuredly see some regularly approach the 300 mph mark. And if you want to see what makes these speed demons go, take a walk through the pits and strike up a conversation with the newest Evil Kenevil. (RH)

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Local Artist Incubator
    SLFS MAST Program
    Too often, Utah artists in certain media—animation, filmmaking, game design and more—have felt that the only way for them to make it big was to leave Utah. The Salt Lake Film Society's new Media Accelerator Studio (MAST) program looks to stem the artistic brain-drain from our state, and provide a place for local artists to develop and grow. A wide range of workshops and fellowships, with participants drawn from annual competitions, provide the tools required for creators to control not just where and how their work gets out into the world, but where and how they can create it. (SR)

    Best Train Ride
    Heber Valley Railroad's Themed Trains
    Heber Valley Railroad has a train for every occasion. You need a birthday present for your nerdy friend? The Harry Potter Wizard's Train and Star Wars train have you covered. Need something to do in December that doesn't require bundling your child in 12 layers? Try the North Pole Express. Each themed-ride takes place within a historic train and lasts about 90-minutes. Train hosts don costumes and hand out snacks and prizes. It's fun, it's incredibly silly and a one-of-a-kind ride. Fares vary from $3-$15 to $25-$45 depending on the kind of train you board. (KE) 450 S. 6th West, Heber City, 435-654-5601,

    Best Sign We're Living in Utah
    The Ash Wednesday Melee
    In an "Oh gosh, we really do live in Utah" moment, one Davis School District teacher asked her student to remove a black mark—ashes in observance of the religious holiday Ash Wednesday—from his forehead. The teacher, Moana Patterson, claimed ignorance and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, held an odd news conference at the capitol defending the teacher. "This is something that happens when people aren't necessarily exposed to other cultures, other religions," he said. Uhh, ya think? Only in sheltered Utah communities might someone be unfamiliar with a practice of one of the world's largest (and predominantly white) religions. (RH)

    Best Cemetery
    Union Pioneer Memorial Cemetery
    Opened in 1851, this is a quiet, peaceful little cemetery tucked away on a long road next to an LDS church. Dozens of first-generation pioneers who arrived to Salt Lake beginning in 1847 now lay their heads here beneath the ground, and among them are two once-enslaved black men regarded as key figures in Latter-day Saint and Utah history: Green Flake and Hark "Lay" Wales. So lie back, rest up on the grass and take a chance to reflect on the sweep of history in this sanctuary from urban existence. (PH) 1533 E. Creek Road, Cottonwood Heights

    Best Way to Say Goodbye to Your Furry Loved One
    Pet Crossings
    Saying goodbye to a pet is never easy. One local company, though, recognizes that a home can be more peaceful than a veterinarian's office when it comes time for euthanasia. Pet Crossings offers advice and in-home veterinary care when your furry loved one is approaching the end of their life. And when the time comes, they offer an in-home euthanasia service to give you the peace of mind that your dog or cat crosses the rainbow bridge peacefully. (RH) 801-232-1088,

    Best Artistic Memorial
    The nonprofit foundation created in honor of local actor/artist/filmmaker David Ross Fetzer after his death in 2012 has supported a wide range of creative endeavors, from new plays to short films. In 2019, that foundation gave rise to a full-fledged festival of short films, including several films supported by grants from the Davey Foundation. Visiting filmmakers even get a chance to stay together, providing that collegial interaction that can make a festival environment so special. (SR)

    Best Summer Late-Night Indoor Activity
    Tower's Summer Late Nights
    Do you consider film-watching more of a social activity? Summer is a great time to be outside and Salt Lake City summers are second to none. Sometimes, though, a movie theater is the place to be. The Tower Theater in the 9th & 9th neighborhood isn't just any normal theater. It's an old-school movie house with a balcony, and shows all kinds of indie flicks. During the summer months, you can catch late-night showings of cult film classics such as Cannibal: The Musical, Akira, Idiocracy and many, many more. Grab your friends and don't miss out on the rowdy late-night crowd. (RH) 876 E. 900 South, 801-321-0310,

    Best Small-Town Film Festival
    Logan Block Festival
    For the last eight years the Logan Block Festival (formerly the Logan Film Festival) has brought local and national performers, directors and artists to Cache Valley for a two-day multi-venue event. Started by Utah State University professor Alan Hashimoto and some of his students in 2011, the festival takes place the last weekend of September at the Ellen Eccles Theater and the Utah Theater in Logan as well as performances at The Cache and The Crepery. After Hasshimoto's death in 2012, festival organizers decided to to honor his legacy by giving northern Utah an outlet for their art. (EGW)

    Best Hometown Hero With Her Own Netflix Movie
    Amberley Snyder
    After a car crash left her paralyzed from the waist down, Amberley Snyder was determined to ride again. The rodeo star from Logan told her inspiring life story, and earlier this year, saw it shared with the world as a Netflix original movie. Walk. Ride. Rodeo details Snyder's crash in 2010 and subsequent physical therapy. "It took a lot of time to accept that riding wasn't going to be like it was before. It was a challenge both on and off my horse," Snyder said. The biopic is streaming now. (EGW)

    click to enlarge EDEN YOUNG
    • Eden Young

    Best Swan Song
    The Swan Princess Turns 25
    Once upon a time, there was a Utah-based producer named Selden Young, whose transition from selling direct-to-market historical and Biblical animated shorts to a feature film based on Swan Lake seemed to end in box-office catastrophe in 1994. But 25 years and seven-going-on-eight sequels later, The Swan Princess remains a viable and beloved franchise, as Young and the artistic team picked up the pieces and found a way to turn disappointment into profitability, all based on the tale of a princess who wanted a prince to think more of her than that she was beautiful. (SR)

    Best New and Super Secret Record Store
    Peasantries & Pleasantries
    I don't know how many people love their business enough to also live in it, but owner of Peasantries & Pleasantries Parker Yates does just that. Zoned residentially, by law one must make an appointment with Yates via Instagram DM or text to visit the shop, but it's well worth it if you want to find something you love in one short dig. Seminal albums join rare gems in his well-curated crates, which sit across the minimally-furnished space from a weighted shelf of Yates' private collection. I've found special records there myself, and either recognized, already loved or was intrigued by the rest I flicked through. So if you're going to slide into anyone's DMs, make it Parker Yates'. (Erin Moore)

    click to enlarge SUNI GUGLIOTTI
    • Suni Gugliotti

    Best Step on the Road to Broadway
    A Wall Apart Premiere
    Creating an original musical theater production is a longer, more drawn-out process than most people could ever imagine, requiring years of development and millions of dollars. So it was a long-awaited key part of that process for the Utah creative team of Sam Goldstein, Craig Clyde and Air Supply songwriter Graham Russell when A Wall Apart—their epic romantic drama set in Berlin Wall-era Germany—made its full-production premiere at the Grand Theatre. The powerful, intimate production design offered a terrific "proof of concept" that should help any potential investor see a future on the Great White Way. (SR)

    Best Fairytale Interpretation
    SB Dance's Sleeping Beauty
    Using minimalist set design and costuming, a dance company would have to rely on an outrageously talented troupe to tell a story with precision and creativity. With SB's version of Sleeping Beauty, the production could get away with a bare stage and dancers in straitjackets and their interpretation would still be the best one ever. Through an adventurous entanglement of dance and theater, SB's unconventional fairytale is far from any virtuous version with a clever assemblage of innovative artists. When it returns in January 2020, don't waste any time getting tickets as they will quickly sell out. (CF)

    Best Paper Walls
    Pygmalion Theatre Co.'s Sweetheart Come
    A theatrical set is, generally, a temporary thing, built only to be dismantled at the end of its run. But for Pygmalion Theatre Co.'s production of Melissa Leilani Larsen's Sweetheart Come, disposability turned into a wonderful asset for the psychological drama. As the story begins to explore the mental illness of its main character, the walls of the set—made from butcher paper—evolve from a place for notes about the story's time frame to a representation of the protagonist's fragile psyche, and eventually a place for things to burst through into her reality. (SR)

    Best Family History with an Edge
    Katharine Coles' Look Both Ways
    When former Utah Poet Laureate Katharine Coles undertook the task of turning correspondence and journals from her grandmother into literary form, she really didn't know what she was getting herself into. Over the course of 20 years of stops and starts, Coles ultimately took long-buried family secrets and combined them with stories of her own travels to places where her grandparents lived and worked. The result was a fascinating mix of memoir and family history, which ultimately comes together as a chronicle of gender roles over the years, considering both how much has changed with regard to women's opportunities and limitations, and how much remains the same. (SR)

    Best Community Resource for Exploring Printmaking and Collaborating with Other Artists
    Saltgrass Printmakers
    Allowing open access for key holders, Saltgrass Printmaker's workspace is packed with equipment and supplies for artists to expand their knowledge of printmaking. An incredible educational resource in SLC, they also provide numerous workshops throughout the year for newbies looking to explore this exciting medium. Endlessly supportive of established and emerging artists, they are a creative conduit in connection and collaboration with other artists from near and far. The nonprofit organization works hard to promote and nurture the art community by hosting open press times, studio events and gallery exhibits. (CF) 412 S. 700 West,

    click to enlarge COLETTE FINNEY
    • Colette Finney

    Best Themed Benefit Bash to Let Your Diversity Flag Fly
    Utah Arts Alliance's White Party
    With a theme open to interpretation, SLC's annual White Party has only one rule, "wear white with flair." Abiding by this will lead to an exciting den of peculiarity featuring jaw-dropping entertainment in many forms, delicious food and special cocktails. Glowing manically under black lights, partygoers are immersed into a whimsical world overflowing with fantasy while playing dress-up takes on a whole other meaning. The chill environment unabashedly embraces individual expression, even those in sloppy costumes like me. This bash is the best place to just let loose and have an unforgettable time. (CF)

    Best Support for a First-Generation Artist
    Pilar Pobil Legacy Foundation Scholarship
    Everyone understands the daunting prospect of emerging from a university education with mountains of student debt; now compound that anxiety with the financial uncertainty of pursuing a career in the humanities, and compound it further with coming from a family without many financial resources. The Pilar Pobil Legacy Foundation—named in honor of the celebrated local writer, painter and sculptor—has dedicated a full scholarship to help alleviate those anxieties. Its annual recipient will be a first-generation college student, transferring from Salt Lake Community College to the writing and rhetoric studies program at the University of Utah's College of Humanities. (SR)

    Best Playful Pairs
    Salt Lake DuoFest Improv Comedy
    Improvisational comedy, in any form, is a tightwire act of trust, as stage partners spin on-the-spot concepts into skits, sketches and bizarre anecdotes. The inaugural DuoFest, held in April, looked to hone in on that need for a trusting relationship by focusing on two-person comedy teams creating off-the-cuff entertainment. "For me, improv is really about human connection and emotion," founder Danielle Susi-Dittmore told City Weekly, and her Sugar Space showcase offered that opportunity in a way that doubled down on DIY. (SR)

    Best Crystal Balls
    Treasures 'N' Creations
    The "crystal guardians" who run this shop will not blink if you ask them to direct you to seer stones that you'd like to use to look into the future. They'll be happy to explain how to program a stone according to your emotional or physical needs. Since opening in June, the shop has boasted an impressive selection of crystals said to offer various healing properties, according to traditions that have ancient roots in various cultures. To gain extra clarity, spring for the quartz crystal—whose white streak and translucent qualities make it ideal for clairvoyants and scryers. (PH) 3419 S. State, 801-679-1717,

    Best Hand-Made Flutes
    The Wowflute is a pocket-sized ocarina made of clay, reminiscent of the one Zelda plays in the Nintendo 64 game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The handy little flutes, ranging in price from $9.95 to $349.95, are made by Utah UFO Festival co-founder Joseph Cowlishaw, who does them up in a range of delightful swirl colors and tunes them so you can teach yourself to play songs like "Oh! Susanna" and the X-Files theme. It's just the tool you need to serenade a fellow geek, or woo a beautiful being from outer space. (PH)

    Best Non-apology
    Alex Jamison
    So, you're the co-owner of a trio of successful vegan eateries who really wants to get his name out there. What do you do? If you're Alex Jamison of Monkeywrench, Buds and Boltcutter fame, you spray a dude in the face with a fire extinguisher, naturally. The incident, recorded on video, featuring Jamison spraying a smoker at point blank, spread like wildfire across broadcast news, and Jamison did a public about-face on one of his restaurant's social media channels as a way to diffuse the "toxic hate, negativity and threats," he said his staff were facing. He then referred to his personal Facebook page for further updates. There, in a since-deleted post, he went on several tangents, including an "I'll show them"-style rant on coming back like a phoenix rising. Sure, Jan. More like a plucked chicken (or, you, know, seitan). (EL)

    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Boutique
    The Stockist
    Located near 9th & 9th, this modern boutique chooses products that are made to last. You'll find items for the home, women, men and kids and it's stock-full of brands you'd find in high-end stores in SoHo. Their clean and industrial style storefront full of helpful employees is sure to make shoppers feel welcome. Timeless textiles and fashion will have you coming back for more. 875 E. 900 South, 801-532-3458,
    2. Iconoclad
    3. A La Mode

    Best Barber Shop
    Ray's Barber Shop
    With two different locations and more than 45 barbers, Ray's Barber Shop is sure to get you looking sharp. Ray's offers cuts for all as well as beard trimming, razor lineup and the classic barber shop shave. Walking into Ray's you'll feel a sense of nostalgia and tradition while leaving with a fresh cut. 154 S. Main, 801-359-7297; 1330 S. 2100 East, 801-583-7297,
    2. Jed's
    3. Liberty Wells

    Best Bookstore
    The King's English Bookshop
    Books, books galore! The King's English Bookshop has everything a bookworm could want and more. Book groups, author appearances and, of course, a plethora of books. This whimsical bookshop has been serving readers of all ages since 1977. Stop by to search for your perfect read or go to their website for e-books. 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100,
    2. Weller's Bookworks
    3. Ken Sanders Rare Books

    Best CBD for Pets
    Koi Pets
    Um, CBD for pets? Yep. Koi Pets offers CBD soft chews and CBD oil spray for your fur babies. These products give your furry-friend the same benefits it gives humans. These full spectrum CBD items are veterain formulated and non-GMO. They are made to restore your pets' diet or just to improve their overall health.
    2. Roxy Pets
    3. Healthy Hemp Pet Co.

    Best CBD Product
    "Experience Life Again" is Hemplucid's vision. Oil, muscle rub, gummies and more are what you can find on its website. And it even has products for your pets, too. Hemplucid offers full-spectrum CBD products and raves about their quality and purity. They share their test results with the public to show how their products perform. 4844 N. 300 West, Ste. 202, Orem, 385-203-8556,
    2. Muscle MX
    3. PhatLeaf

    Best CBD Retailer
    When it opened in 2015, Koodegras was SLC's only CBD shop. With the rising popularity of CBD, Koodegras stands its ground as the city's best. Koodegras wants to help people live cleaner and healthier lives. Their CBD specialists will help you meet your goals with the right education and products. Multiple locations,
    2. Blackhouse

    Best Comic Book Store
    Dr. Volt's
    Calling all comics! Dr. Volt's Comic Connection offers more than just collectables. They carry comics, card games and action figures. For 30 years and counting, this has been the go-to for the comic cravers. Their knowledgeable staff will happily help you navigate their extensive collection. You won't miss any issues as they offer a hold service. 2043 E. 3300 South, 801-485-6114,
    2. The Nerd Store
    3. Hastur Games

    Best Garden Supply Store
    Cactus & Tropicals
    Walking into a Cactus & Tropicals store you're transported to a jungle of sorts. They offer indoor and outdoor plants as well as a divine cut floral service. Events like weddings, receptions or a corporate dinner can be held at either location for a unique setting. Their experienced staff will help fulfil any home or office decor fantasy. 2735 S. 2000 East, 801-485-2542; 12252 Draper Gate Drive, Draper, 801-676-0935,
    2. Millcreek Gardens
    3. Glover Nursery

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Tattoo Artist
    Luke Jensen
    Luke Jensen is a newbie in the tattoo bizz but his talent would make you think differently. He currently practices his artistry at Aloha Salt Lake Tattoos, which he co-owns, and hopes to one day travel the world creating long-lasting work. He can do anything from black and grey realism to new school style ink. Watch this young, passionate artist become a SLC favorite. 6657 S. State, Ste. 4, 801-609-8288,
    2. Mason Atlas
    3. Sarah de Azevedo

    Best Pet Supply Store
    Paw Paws
    Paw Paws is a self-serve dog wash and pet boutique. Their washing area has a tub for every size of doggo. They carry premium, organic, grain free and raw dog or cat food. Healthy and yummy treats for your furry pal also are found here. And they carry West Paw Design beds and toys along with local brands. 624 S. 300 West, 801-531-4200,
    2. Dog's Meow
    3. Rockstar Pets

    Best Piercer
    Enso's Dustin Robbins
    Dustin Robbins, owner of Enso Piercing + Adornment, has been piercing the good people of SLC for over 20 years. Robbins builds relationships with each client and creates a clean, comfortable experience. Utah's winning piercer is not only a quality professional but a family man, a dog lover and occasional gamer. 265 E. 900 South, 801-953-0201,
    2. Courtney Marriott—Abyss
    3. Patrick Bogdanich—Koi

    Best Piercing Studio
    Getting a new piercing can be intimidating—but with the right studio behind you, it's cake. Iris' piercing studio is a treat because it also doubles as a jewelry gallery. It's full of astounding pieces along with a helpful, kind staff. You can make an appointment for your new modification or just walk in. 2431 S. Highland Drive, 801-486-0112,
    2. Enso
    3. Koi

    Best Salon
    Lunatic Fringe
    Racking up awards since '04, Lunatic Fringe can make your dream hair come true. This salon prides itself in educating clients—and in making sure they can create their in-salon hairstyle at home. With multiple locations, anyone can book an appointment at a Lunatic Fringe. Their modern salon will draw you in, but their gorgeous styles will keep you coming back. Multiple locations,
    2. Landis
    3. Troubadour

    Best Smoke/ Vape Shop
    Vape shops are plentiful with the new rise in e-cigarette use. But not all vape shops are like iVape with amazing customer reviews, quality e-juice and hardware. This shop also offers an outdoor "flavor bar." Education matters to the iVape staff so they are happy to help customers learn the basics before venturing into the vape life. 4523 S. Redwood Road, 801-268-8273; 6657 S. State, 801-290-2605, Ste. 5,
    2. Blackhouse Vapors
    3. Peak Vapor

    Best Tattoo Shop
    Friendly, clean, professional with the "spirit of Aloha" is the atmosphere this shop creates. Aloha is new to the SLC tattoo scene, but nonetheless, a fantastic one—staffed by diverse, talented and friendly artists who can tattoo anything. Aloha also offers a financing and a loyalty rewards program, a first for Utah. 6657 S. State, Ste. 4, 801-609-8288,
    2. Yellow Rose
    3. The Hive

    Best Thrift/Consignment Store
    Iconoclad is an SLC staple and favorite. This thrift/consignment store offers new and "previously rocked" clothing. Selling your own clothing couldn't be easier. Sellers get 50% of what Iconoclad makes on your clothing (and you can watch the action online). Don't forget to say hello to the shop cat. 414 E. 300 South, 801-833-2272,
    2. Pib's Exchange
    3. Decades Vintage Clothing

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Bike Shop
    Bingham Cyclery
    For more than 50 years, Bingham Cyclery has helped riders throughout the Wasatch Front get tuned up on two wheels for the trail or the road. If you're looking to get that perfect bike fit, you can schedule an appointment at one of their four locations to meet with a specialist who'll analyze every part of your body to be sure you're riding efficiently. Multiple locations, 1-888-611-2453,
    2. Saturday Cycles
    3. Highland Cyclery

    Best Public Golf Course
    With plentiful views of the Salt Lake Valley, Bonneville Golf Course is situated in one of the best spots around to play 18 holes. Located on the East Bench above Foothill Drive, Bonneville has a driving range and an expansive course. If you're planning to walk 18 holes, be prepared for a workout because the course changes in elevation. Or you know, rent a golf cart. 954 Connor St., 801-583-9513,
    2. Mountain Dell
    3. Eagle Wood

    Best Bike Path
    Jordan River Parkway
    Sure, Salt Lake City is looking more like a concrete jungle every day, but there are still spots you can take in its scenic green spaces and waterways. Start by hopping on your bike and riding part of the more than 40-mile urban trail known as the Jordan River Parkway. It stretches from Utah County north to Davis County and will leave you savoring what green we have left.
    2. Parley's Trail
    3. Bonneville Shoreline Trail

    Best Bowling Alley
    Bonwood Bowling
    There's a reason Bonwood Bowling has been around since the 1950s: Its 42-lane alley takes pride in hosting experienced bowlers or walk-in customers. Whether you're rolling a 300 or gutter balls, there's no judgment from the folks at Bonwood. Check out their league options and stop by the pro shop to find all your bowling alley needs. 2500 S. Main, 801-487-7758,
    2. All Star Lanes
    3. Olympus Lanes

    Best Hike Path
    Donut Falls
    This 3 ½-mile trail up Big Cottonwood Canyon is a great idea for a quick getaway during the warmer months. You've probably heard people mention the hike before and it's for good reason. The trek features a picturesque waterfall that you'll certainly want to photograph on your phone—no Instagram filters needed. It's also a trail friendly for all hiking abilities. Mill D Trailhead, Big Cottonwood Canyon
    2. Ensign Peak
    3. Bells Canyon

    Best Local Gear Brand
    Black Diamond
    If you're looking for quality back-country skiing or climbing gear, Black Diamond is the place to go. The company has been serving outdoor enthusiasts along the Wasatch Front since 1992, and since then, they've only built one of the most trusted outdoor gear brands. Stop by their Salt Lake City location for your Black Diamond needs as well as a selection of complementary brands. 2092 E. 3900 South, 801-278-0233,
    2. Cotopaxi
    3. Klymit

    Best Recreational Sports Store
    Recreation Outlet
    State Street's Recreation Outlet gives you a chance to get outdoors without making a serious dent in your wallet. The reasonable prices and knowledgeable and experienced staff help you select what's trending in the outdoors world and what equipment can keep you safe. Be sure to keep this place on your short list before you head out into Utah's backcountry. 3160 S. State, 801-484-4800,
    2. Level 9
    3. Milosport

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Skate Shop
    Forget those corporate chain outlets and let the local experts at Milosport help you with all your shredding needs. The shop has been a go-to location for skaters and boarders alike on Salt Lake City's eastside for 35 years thanks to their friendly staff, product selection and quality gear. Don't miss this shop next time you plan to hit the skate park. 3119 E. 3300 South, 801-487-8600,
    2. Modern Monark
    3. Raunch

    Best Running Event
    Salt Lake City Marathon
    The annual Salt Lake City marathon is truly a high-altitude event. Starting at 4,835 feet above sea level, the course is a gentle downhill run through Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood, Memory Grove, downtown and Sugar House and Liberty parks. The course ends at Library Square where you can celebrate with hundreds of others after 26.2 grueling miles.
    2. Ogden Marathon
    3. St. George Marathon

    Best Ski/Snowboard Shop
    Level 9
    Located in an old warehouse in Salt Lake City's Granary District, Level 9 boasts some of the best selection of ski gear at "rock-bottom prices" so you and your family can afford to get outside without busting the budget, according to the shop's website. Make sure you have enough time to check out their 12,000 square feet of retail space and think about coming back with your bike in the warmer months. 625 S. 600 West, 801-973-7350,
    2. Milosport
    3. Ski 'N See

    Best Ski Resort
    Deer Valley
    It might be a ski-only resort, but that doesn't stop Deer Valley from consistently being ranked as one of the top destinations in North America. By limiting its ticket sales to 7,500 per day, it's never too crowded. Enjoy Utah's snow with this resort's high-end amenities and you'll be feeling high class in no time. 2250 Deer Valley Drive, 435-649-1000,
    2. Snowbird
    3. Brighton

    Best Snowboarding
    If you're looking to get on the board, Brighton's the spot for you. The resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon gets plenty of powder and features more than 1,000 acres of terrain as well as multiple terrain parks to get your shred on. Check out their night skiing option, too, if you're looking to save a few bucks. 8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-532-4731,
    2. Canyons
    3. Solitude

    Best State Park
    Goblin Valley
    Ditch the crowds at Utah's national parks and spend some time in state parks like Goblin Valley. Millions of years of sandstone erosion have created magnificent mushroom-shaped rock formations, known as hoodoos or "goblins." Explore the park via hiking, biking or even the 9-hole disc golf course near the campground. Goblin Valley Road, Green River, 435-275-4584
    2. Antelope Island
    3. Dead Horse Point


    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Food Pairing Options
    Proper Brewing Group

    There are quite a few brewery-based restaurant groups out there, but Proper Brewing Group continues to set the bar. At the center of the operation is Proper Brewing Co., providing the base that all of the others feed upon. Add in Avenues Proper, a gastro brewpub; Proper Burger; the Stratford Proper Restaurant; dessert shop Sweet Sundaes; and the all-local craft beer pub Craft by Proper and you get the idea that this isn't your standard restaurant group. (Mike Riedel) Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House, 376 E. 8th Ave. 385-227-8628; Proper Burger Co., 865 S. Main, 801-906-8604; Craft by Proper, 1053 E. 2100 South, 385-242-7186; Stratford Proper, 1588 E. Stratford Ave., 385-522-2637; Sweet Sundaes, 1594 E. Stratford Ave.,

    Best Dinner With a Dragster
    Garage Grill

    Even from the street, you can see that this Draper eatery is something a little different; it seems more like a place you pull into for an oil change than for a meal. But that's just part of the presentation for a place that showcases a rotating collection of amazing vehicles—muscle cars, NASCAR and Indycar racers, vintage cars and more—in a way that gives it the vibe of an automotive museum. And in case you think an interest in big engines and top speeds means the food is an afterthought, fancy burgers share the menu with gorgeous salads, pasta, seafood and much more. (SR) 1122 E. Draper Parkway, Draper, 801-523-3339,

    Best Former Neighbors
    Coffee Garden

    While we're happy that our friends at Coffee Garden are thriving in the 9th & 9th area, we do miss having them as neighbors to the City Weekly offices. Who knows how many stories they helped break, deadlines they helped meet and reviews they helped fuel with their arsenal of tasty caffeinated beverages? It's nice to know that we can still get their particular brand of coffee when we're checking out movies at The Tower or doing some 9th & 9th shopping. We miss you, Coffee Garden, but we're glad that you didn't move too far away. We also hope it wasn't our fault you left ... (Alex Springer) 878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425,

    Best Coffee Shop Music
    The Rose Establishment

    The Rose Establishment offers more than just creative foodstuffs, coffee and alcoholic bevs. Depending on who's staffed up, the music is always in interesting rotation. Former manager Cody Kirkland recalls a range of Yo La Tengo to LCD Soundsystem to Carly Rae Jepson to Kendrick Lamar. It hasn't changed much since he passed on the reins. I've recently heard Joy Division, standard indie fare like The Cleaners From Venus, whatever tear-jerking album Mitski or Angel Olsen just released, and even pop heavy-hitters like Ariana Grande. It's a background selection that is charismatic and listenable, even as it is smirkable. There's a self-aware humor in the air that—I think—diffuses any charge of lofty hipsterism The Rose could face. (EM)

    Friendliest Coffee House
    Coffee & Cocoa

    Every coffee house has a vibe, coupled with some type of persona they're trying to emulate, but the crew at Coffee & Cocoa are a hodgepodge crew (meant as a compliment) of authentic individuals simply serving up some great brews with an unforced smile. Whether you're the type of coffee house-goer that likes to gab about what's in the news or simply grab your drink and get to work, the staff is game for either, making their service the right blend for introverts and extroverts alike. Their outdoor "office" space doesn't suck either. (AP) 6556 S. Big Cottonwood Road, Ste. 100, Cottonwood Heights, 801-947-0848

    Best Place to Get Your Creative Groove Back
    The Coffee Shop in Riverton

    More than just proficient brewmasters, the baristas at The Coffee Shop in Riverton are also gifted in making all visitors feel like VIPs. But for writers, the ambiance is especially extraordinary for those needing to bust through creative blocks. Tucked into a comfy couch, you sip a latte so tasty it is even named "The Delicious," while engrossed in the eclectic music and assortment of communal art journals. Groove resuscitated, you tap away for hours on a laptop coddling a coffee and muffin, barely aware of the hustle around you. (CF) 12571 S. Pasture Road, Ste. A, Riverton, 801-403-5588,

    Best Group Effort
    Watchtower Café Kickstarter

    Watchtower Café is one of the most beloved hangouts of our local geek community, and earlier this year the owners launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their relocation. The crowd-funding campaign started slowly, but it was a blast to see locals rally to meet their financial goal before its deadline. It was one of those efforts that I knew would get funded, but the drama of those final moments made participating in the process all the more entertaining. To add even more romance to this story, owners Mike Tuiasoa and Cori Christine were married soon after reaching their goal, so heart emojis all around. (AS) 1588 S. State, 801-477-7671,

    Best Pastries With a View
    Beaumont Bakery & Café

    Beaumont Bakery serves the best French pastries ever. Made in-house daily, delicacies such as croissants, crullers, cruffins and kouign amann are browned to a deep golden and elegantly flaky. The truffle bun, filled with fluffy scrambled eggs and garnished with watercress, is a sumptuous and satisfying breakfast entrée. The avocado toast, topped with tangy aioli and a coating of cotija cheese along with mixed greens and roasted corn on the freshly made seeded bread, is a very flavorful combination. The "in-house, roasted on the bone" turkey sandwich with purple onion, cucumber and horseradish mayo on cranberry spice bread is a delectable flavor favorite. The sugar cookie texture offers an ingenious combination of chewy and soft deliciousness. It's all housed in a classy, inviting setting that encourages conversation—there's even several green upholstered couches to sit on and a majestic mountain view. (Carolyn Campbell) 3979 Wasatch Blvd., Millcreek, 801-676-9340,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Sourdough
    Finn's Café

    While the friendly service, welcoming environment and Scandinavian-inspired menu are what has made Finn's Café an institution, their sourdough recipe is what makes them a fascination. When a baker decides to add sourdough to their menu, it's a bit like throwing down a gauntlet and daring customers to try it out—and Finn's gets double reputation points for using their sourdough recipe for pancakes. Both Finn's original sourdough and their sourdough pancakes are delightful, and it's hard for me to choose which iteration is their finest. You'll just have to try both and see what you think for yourself. (AS) 1624 S. 1100 East, 801-467-4000,

    Best Middle Eastern Bakery
    Karim Bakery

    Along with bags of freshly-baked flatbread, cases full of baklava and shawarma wraps and takeaway containers of homemade hummus and baba ghanoush, Karim Bakery also boasts the pastry delights of Syria with trays of knafe ($13), a sweet-and-savory, soft-but-crispy treat that's a fixture of bakeries and sweets shops across the Eastern Mediterrenean. Made with noodle-thin pieces of pastry dough, syrup and cheese, knafe is best eaten fresh out of the oven, and here you can indulge at one of the shop's tables, or take the tray home to heat up for dessert. (PH) 2575 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-645-4533

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Edible Engineering
    Big Tortas

    In my travels, I have seen many sandwiches that I would classify as gonzo, depraved or straight up profane. The Sur 39 at Big Tortas is all of that and more. I often revisit my experiences here to see if I can figure out how they manage to fit nearly an entire cow and pig on one sandwich and still have enough room for cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato. The bread never breaks apart mid-bite, and the innards never slide out the back during a bite. I don't know how the team at Big Tortas is able to do this, but it's nothing short of engineering magic. (AS) Multiple locations,

    Best Garlic Delivery System
    Grandma Sandino's Sauces & Bread Mixes

    The correct answer to "how much garlic is too much garlic" is "there's no such thing." For anyone who agrees with that sentiment, and just can't get enough of the "stinking rose," there's an array of Grandma Sandino's products—developed over the course of 30 years—that's just right for you. From bottles of vegetarian Sicilian Garlic Sauce to herb rubs and garlic bread mix, you'll find a kindred spirit who knows that clove is a many-splendored thing. (SR)

    Best Off-The-Beaten-Path Mexican Restaurant
    Salt Flats Café

    When someone thinks of Wendover, they probably think of casinos with their glitzy signs and slot machines. Eventually, they'll think of Wendover for its marijuana store, too, perhaps. But on the Utah side (where no sinning is allowed), you can find a surprisingly tasty spot for Mexican food. The place is packed during the Bonneville Salt Flats' infamous speed week, but that doesn't mean that's the only time you should go here for a cheesy burrito and horchata. Stop by for breakfast as well before you drive back across the border to win your next fortune. (RH) 85 Skyhawk Drive, Wendover, Utah, 435-665-7550

    Best Mexican With a Twist
    Maria's Mexican Grill

    Maria Castillo was a server when she met Sergio Vazquez, a cook, at the restaurant where they both worked. They married and each worked for 20 years in the restaurant industry before founding Maria's Mexican Grill on Salt Lake City's 3300 South. Maria's ambitious menu offers dishes ranging from street tacos to Mexican steak to super nachos. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients which combine to make every plate's presentation a visual delight. Even the rice is made fresh daily. An original recipe, the Puntas de Filete features top sirloin sautéed with bacon, jalapeno, green onions and tomatoes, then topped with Monterey jack cheese. Another popular dish, the Holy Mole enchiladas includes three chicken enchiladas, each with a different housemade mole—green, white and red. The enchiladas Suizas includes two enchiladas stuffed with creamy chicken, smothered with green tomatillo sauce and accompanied by sour cream, avocado and queso. Maria's salads, which include your meat of choice grilled to perfection and served on a bed of romaine lettuce, and seafood entrées, such as shrimp fajitas and crab enchiladas are also to die for. (CC) 3336 S. 2300 East, 801-883-9774,

    Best Taco Cart That's Not a Taco Cart
    Santo Taco

    Those who maintain a distant curiosity with the taco carts that sporadically dot our metropolitan intersections will be interested in Santo Taco. Its menu boasts many of the same options at roughly the same price—which is a pretty big deal for a place that has overhead costs to think of. Santo also boasts a hip street corner vibe on the inside, so the only thing that really separates it from being a taco cart is the fact that it's not a taco cart. Their tacos al pastor are a masterclass in Mexican street food, and they make pretty decent beef tongue and beef head tacos as well. (AS) 910 N. 900 West, 801-893-4000,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Westside Goat Meat Fix
    El Cabrito

    Although Americans have been feeding off pro-beef propaganda for years now, the rest of the world caught on long ago that goat is the better red meat. If you're hankering for a taste, this humble Mexican eatery in Rose Park delivers a slow-roasted barbacoa de chivo that's less bone-y than other preparations and so tender that it induces an almost narcotic bliss in the eater. First-timers might want to start with a generously sized taco de chivo ($2.50) but the real move is going for the full platter ($10.49), with meat piled high next to rice, beans and a side of fluffy yet slightly crisped tortillas. (PH) 956 W. 1000 North, 801-363-2645

    Best Carne Asada Fries Burrito

    I'm originally from San Diego, where we call the carne asada fries burrito a "California burrito." Where I come from, people take this burrito seriously, and clearly they do at Beto's as well. Monterey cheese is laid along the surface of the humongous flour tortilla, providing great taste but also an adhesive to maintain the structural integrity of a densely-packed combo of grilled beef, sour cream, guacamole and piping-hot fries. The result is like a carefully choreographed ballet, every part playing its role to send the consumer into higher planes of emotional rapture. I don't live in California anymore, but with one of these in my hands, I feel right at home. (PH) Multiple locations,

    Best Pocket Full of Sunshine
    RicArepa Xpress

    The arepas from RicArepa Xpress are, simply put, milestone moments. There's your life before trying these Venezuelan sandwiches, ignorant of their existence and not knowing what you're missing, and then there's your life after. I'm honestly not sure which is better—not knowing about them and being unaware of such a beautiful composition or knowing about them and craving them every other day. Arepas are where the textures of crisp and soft intersect with the flavors of sweet and savory—otherwise known as the nexus of the universe. If you're a sandwich completionist and haven't tried this place out, get here quick—but I take no responsibility for your subsequent cravings. (AS) 4616 S. 4000 West, West Valley City, 801-966-9393,

    Best Sliced Meats For Your Sandwich
    Caputo's Market & Deli

    Caputo's Market & Deli has been slinging fine Italian goods for decades. Their lifespan is a testament to their quality of food, namely the meats. You can be sure to find designer chocolates, olive oils and other goods at Caputo's, but if you need that quick hunger fix, you'll want to head to the deli. The menu is full of worthwhile sandwiches featuring salami, prosciutto, ham, pastrami, well, you get the idea. Pair it with a pasta or salad and you'll be coming back in no time. (RH) Multiple locations,

    Best Aggressive Expansion
    The Store

    For years, this local grocery store hung out on the fringes of Millcreek, appeasing the neighbors with its locally-sourced products and quaint vibes. Then 2019 hits and the place locks down two highly strategic locations, one in Central Ninth, and the other in The Gateway. While many might see The Store as just another market, let me take a moment and remind you that when The Store is nearby, it also means great products from June Pie, Abigail's Oven and Leatherby's are also nearby, so show some goddamn respect. (AS) Multiple locations,

    click to enlarge KELSEY LEE
    • Kelsey Lee

    Best Way to Kill a Saturday Summer Morning
    Pioneer Park Farmers Market

    The Pioneer Park Farmers Market is a true summertime gem. You can buy anything—fresh fruit and veggies, bread, BBQ sauce, art, coffee, souvenirs. One of the first times I went, there was a guy showing off an owl in an attempt to raise some cash, which officially makes the market far cooler than other, owl-less outdoor bazaars. There's even a bike valet, for those interested in combining their shopping with a little exercise. The big emporium runs from June to October, but there's also a Tuesday night market from August to November, and a Rio Grande winter farmers market that stretches from November to April. (KL) 300 W. 300 South,

    Best Sunday Study Spot
    Lin's Market

    You wouldn't think a supermarket would be an ideal place to buckle down for an hours-long study sesh, but this is where a taxi driver took me when I had to get work done on a Sunday morning in Cedar City this summer, and I gotta say, it was just the place I needed. Chairs and tables were all set up in a little cafeteria room. There was fast and reliable Wi-Fi. Best of all, I was able to help along my study efforts by purchasing a giant rack of ribs from the deli counter, devouring it with glee in between edits on an article. (PH) 150 N. Main, Cedar City, 435-586-3346,

    Best Produce Pals
    Harmons Neighborhood Grocer

    It was the corporate decision that left many scratching their heads: Determining that City Weekly didn't align with their customer base, Smith's parent company, Kroger, yanked our humble publication from its stores. Accounting for about a quarter of our total distribution, it was quite a blow. Customers took notice, and channeling their inner Karen, have talked to Smith's managers hoping to get us back. In the meantime, Harmons stood up, allowing our scrappy weekly inside their stores. Whether you're visiting to pick up some gourmet cheese, take part in one of their stellar cooking classes or to pick us up, Harmons has your back—just like they did ours. (EL)

    Best Supermarket With Flair
    Rancho Market

    Where can you get Mexican pan dulce, Yemeni tea, Central Asian-style lavash bread, halloumi cheese and goat meat all in one place? Here, and only here. First opening as a Mexican-focused grocery in 2006, Rancho Market has since expanded to stock foods and ingredients for a variety of Middle Eastern and African cuisines, reflecting Salt Lake's increasingly diverse population. Mexican food is still the specialty, and management keeps it legit with panaderias where you can select baked goods with tongs and a tray, as well as Nuestra Cocina in-store restaurants featuring delicious, bubbling molcajetes. Truly a Utah treasure. (PH) Multiple locations,

    Best Bulk Shopping Spree
    Cache Valley Outlets
    Pepperidge Farm, Creamies, Fat Boys and Gossner's cheese, oh my! Cache Valley is home to multiple outlet stores and factory rejects that are sold for low prices. Logan is also home to All About Socks, a sock outlet store, and Logan Outlet, a store that sells discounted goods from big chain retail stores like Walmart and Target. It's easy to fill up your carts (and freezers) on a budget. From Providence to Preston, take the outlet tour and experience the backroad beauty of Utah the freeway doesn't let you see. (EGW) 1300 Main, Logan,

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Tea Party
    The Grand America Hotel

    During the afternoon, the lobby of the Grand America Hotel is transformed into a social occasion right out of a regency drama. Layered serving dishes of cucumber sandwiches and other finger foods are carried out like exotic birds, and a wide variety of imported teas are daintily poured into fine china teacups. The posh décor of the Grand America is a fine backdrop for such a sophisticated event, and it's a must for anyone who wishes they could be in a Jane Austen novel. As someone who rarely gets the chance to try scones with clotted cream, I appreciated how finely this event attuned me to my more cultured side. (AS) 555 S. Main, 801-258-6707,

    Best DIY Tea Party
    Shahrazad Market and Restaurant

    This humble Middle Eastern market has a restaurant in the back, serving up a wonderful range of Arabic, Somali and Iranian dishes. But Shahrazad's grocery selection is just as enticing, especially if you're planning an upcoming dinner party with sweets and tea. The shop has a whole aisle dedicated to different types of teas, and there's also plenty of spices on sale that you can use to spruce up your cup—cardamom and cloves are a must, but also consider a bottle of rose water or orange blossom water to make any hot drink or dessert sing. (PH) 1615 W. 2100 South, 801-975-9977,

    Best International Snack Selection
    Chinatown Supermarket

    Looking for cuttlefish snacks from Korea? Or maybe some four-layer Orion turtle chips? How about Filipino-style banana ketchup to put on your hot dogs and cheeseburgers? Find all of this and more within the aisles of the Chinatown Supermarket. Along with staples like produce and meat, this massive grocery outlet also boasts a dazzling selection of Chinese baked goods, Korean snacks, Japanese candy and Southeast Asian holiday treats. There's also adjoining restaurants selling chicken and rice dishes and Korean pastries, ensuring customers will never go hungry. (PH) 3390 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-906-8788,

    Best Customized Healthy Meals
    Fueled Fresh Kitchen

    National chains and supermarkets have been all over the trend of ready-made meals for busy lives. So maybe you'd like an option with a genuinely healthy focus, served up locally? Draper's Fueled Fresh Kitchen not only offers terrific breakfasts, smoothies, salads, wraps and more in their restaurant—all with options for special dietary needs from vegetarian to gluten-free—but allows guests to build their own bowls for take out, to be ready for your week. Pick a bowl, wrap, burger or salad, pick your preferred ingredients, and let them put it all together in a way that makes eating healthy delicious and easy. (SR) 12259 S. 450 East, Ste. B, Draper,

    Best Deal On a Vegetarian Buffet
    Govinda's Buffet

    Off a side road on the outskirts of Spanish Fork, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple offers up a daily buffet from 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. It only costs $6, and it's a fairly simple setup with metal buffet warmers and cafeteria table seating. Road-trippers cruising I-15 or anyone else who happens to find themselves with a growling stomach in Spanish Fork would be hard-pressed to find a healthier or more satisfying all-you-can-eat deal. Feast on vegetarian curry, basmati rice, lentil soup, salad and mango juice until your chakras are aligned. (PH) 311 W. 8500 South, Spanish Fork, 801-798-3559,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Cultural Exchange
    King Buffet

    Mixing the all-you-can-eat method with Chinese food is one of the best examples we have of cross-cultural cooperation, and no dish on the King Buffet menu exemplifies that cooperation more than the cheesy crab casserole. This casserole is a Chinese buffet staple, but it has a particular poignancy when you think about the barrage of casseroles that assail Utah dinner tables every Sunday—there's something inherently homey about a casserole, good or bad. Although I grew up with both imitation crab and casseroles, only the mad geniuses behind a Chinese buffet would think to combine the two without knowing the harmony it would represent. (AS) Multiple locations,

    Best Noodle Joint
    One More Noodle House

    We have no shortage of noodle shops in our fair state, but this is the one that always gets me through the winter. Their menu is vast, and it maintains fair representation from every major area of the flavor spectrum. Everything from spicy to sour can be found in the heady broths that are brewed within, and their housemade noodles strike a perfect balance between soft and toothsome. The more I want to branch out, the more my affection for the numbing spicy beef noodle soup calls out to me. Is it weird that I'm actually looking forward to winter now? (AS) 3370 S. State, Ste. N5, 801-906-8992,

    Best Momos
    Himalayan Kitchen

    Although Himalayan Kitchen has a great menu of Indian and Nepalese cuisine, they first won my heart with their traditional momos. They were one of the first things that I tried during my inaugural trip to Salt Lake's Living Traditions Festival, and they've since come to embody everything I love about festival street food. These fist-sized dumplings are flavorful and satisfying whether they're stuffed with veggies or spiced bison, and their portability makes them ideal for eating while exploring. I'm a longtime fan of any food that consists of dough stuffed with meat, but I'll always be a bit nostalgic about the momos from Himalayan Kitchen. (AS) 360 S. State, 801-328-2077,

    Best Pockmarked Granny Tofu
    Szechuan Garden

    When you hear that something is called Pockmarked Granny Tofu, your first instinct might be to run away—those are a lot of fearsome words in one dish. Dubious as the dish's literal translation is—it goes by mapo doufu in its native tongue—it's not to be missed. For my money, I think Sandy's Szechuan Garden is the best place to give these silken tofu cubes tossed in a blend of numbing Sichuan spices and ground pork a try. After the tofu has soaked up all that spicy flavor, you get these silky little fireworks of Sichuan magic. (AS) 1275 E. 8600 South, 801-233-0027,

    Best Dinner and a Show
    Mark of the Beastro

    While the main draw of visiting 666 S. State is to partake in some tasty plant-based comfort food—vegan chicken and waffles anyone?—the space is so much more. Mark of the Beastro is part of The Beehive, an artistic collective that also happens to include a venue space for art shows, concerts and other forms of esoteric performing arts. For example, The Beehive screens one horror movie per night for the entire month of October. Let the tasty food at Mark of the Beastro lure you in, then stay for some performances you won't get anywhere else. (AS) 666 S. State, 385-202-7386,

    Best Gourmet Vinegar
    Redstone Olive Oil

    Dedicated foodies have long been devotees of great extra-virgin olive oil, and the name of Redstone Olive Oil should clue you in that they've got you covered there with delicious imported offerings. But if you want to combine that oil with dazzlingly different vinegar to dress your salad, it's one-stop shopping. Try Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar, or Cascadian White Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. And if your tastes run to the darker old-school balsamic, sample one that's been aged 18 years. Generic brands just won't be an option after this. (SR) Store locations in St. George, Draper and Farmington,

    click to enlarge MEGAN WAGSTAFF
    • Megan Wagstaff

    Best Smoothie Splurge
    Just Organic Juice

    Located in the heart of Sugar House (as well as Draper), JOJ offers an array of organic beverage items. Juices and smoothies are plentiful and are on board to help replenish the damage you did over the weekend (or over the years). You might experience momentary sticker shock when you dish out $8 for a smoothie, but it's a huge, organic smoothie that you'll finish to the last drop. Looking to shed a few pounds? Ask about their cleanse packages, available from easy to extreme. (KR) 2030 S. 900 East, 801-953-0112; 438 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-613-9287,

    Best Balls
    Quickly Utah

    During my visit to Quicky Utah, I couldn't help but notice how spherical most everything on the menu was. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Quickly specializes in boba tea, fried octopus balls known as takoyaki and other spherical street foods. There's no harm in serving up ball-shaped street foods, but I can't help but think the innuendo gets stretched a bit thin when you have to ask for a chubby to upgrade the size of your boba tea. There's nothing wrong with phallic food, but you should probably know what you're getting into with a trip to Quickly. (AS) 3521 W. 3500 South, 385-274-4938,

    Best Breakfast Treat Ready to Go
    City Cakes Donuts

    As more and more Americans switch to specialized diets, whether for health or social consciousness reasons, they also look for ways not to miss out on the wonderful things they've always enjoyed. Utahns have a special friend in that respect in City Cakes, where their brick-and-mortar stores offer vegan and gluten-free options for cakes, cookies and much more. But if you can't make it to their stores, you can still grab their delicious chocolate glazed donuts packaged and ready-to-go at grocery stores like Harmons. (SR) 1860 S. 300 West, Ste. D, Salt Lake City, 801-359-2239; 192 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-572-5500,

    Best Breakfast Fare With a Flair
    The Cotton Kitchen

    Let's face it: As delicious and comforting as breakfast food is, there's a sameness to it. I mean, how many ways can you offer eggs, pancakes or potatoes? The folks at Cotton Kitchen are determined to find out, it seems. Instead of scrambled eggs, how about lox benedict, where the poached eggs are accompanied by cured salmon, chipotle hollandaise and microgreens? Or a breakfast platter where your everyday hash browns become a potato hash with quinoa? Even the breakfast sandwich puts your eggs and bacon or sausage on a brioche with dijon aioli. The most important meal of the day just became the most interesting one, too. (SR) 3158 E. 6200 South, Holladay, 385-274-4749,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Local Chicken Sandwich Throwdown
    Pretty Bird vs. Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers

    It doesn't take a Twitter war to know that the real battle for fried chicken supremacy should be fought by Pretty Bird and Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers. The hot behind chicken sandwich at Pretty Bird is a smokin' blast of Nashville attitude and the chicken finger sandwich at Mr. Charlie's is a classic example of exceptional simplicity. This battle is so close in my mind that the winner changes daily, but both of these tasty testaments to fried chicken are worth your time. If you are planning to conduct a throwdown of your own, just remember one simple guideline—don't be a dick to the people who make these. (AS) Pretty Bird, 146 S. Regent St.,; Mr. Charlie's, 554 W. 4500 South, 801-803-9486,

    Best Southern Comfort
    Sauce Boss

    This place started out as a local food truck that made a name for itself cooking up Southern-inspired soul food. Not long ago, owner and executive chef Julius Thompson opened a brick and mortar store in Draper, and I've become quite a fan—they serve housemade pork rinds and housemade Awesome Sauce as a pre-meal snack, for hell's sake. Sauce Boss is one of the few local places that isn't serving up some repurposed version of Southern food—this is the good stuff. Deep fried catfish, pork neck bones and maple hot sauce await you at this welcoming testament to the simple elegance of Southern comfort food. (AS) 877 E. 12300 South, 385-434-2433,

    Best All-American Meatloaf
    Union Grill

    This is a beautiful bistro with an Old West feel and a modern, family-friendly flair. Their "Momma's Meatloaf" ($14.95 for dinner) is the perfect thing to indulge on a long day, cold night or after a marathon round of Red Dead Redemption II. Big slices of spiced beef loaf are covered in a thick gravy, served with a seemingly never-ending pile of mashed potatoes coming out of every nook and cranny of the plate. It's home-cooked ecstasy away from home, and if you're really feeling like a cowboy then take it with a side of French onion soup for an extra $1.50. (PH) 315 24th St., Ogden, 801-621-2830,

    Best Upgraded Classic
    Impossible Burger at Apollo

    While they're known for their house classics—the signature Apollo served on a cornmeal-topped bun, the Athenian topped with a feta slab and the Utah burger piled high with pastrami—there's always room for improvement, and Apollo knows this. Enter their take on the oh-so-buzzy Impossible burger. Many national retailers have jumped on the plant-based patty with varying levels of success. Here, it was fast-tracked to fit right in with the established eaterie's tried-and-true menu. Smothered with a generous helping of their top-secret Apollo sauce, Apollo's iteration is a true thing of beauty. Burger King wishes. (EL) Multiple locations,

    Best Chomp Champ
    Poplar Street Pub

    What does it take to be a champion? Pastrami and chorizo. On a burger. That's what. Although Poplar Street Pub has a well-rounded menu of pub-friendly staples, their champion series burgers are known for pushing the burger bun to its limits. Champions of note include the Cuban burger, which combines the world's greatest sandwich—the Cubano—with a cheeseburger. Their pastrami and chorizo burgers are nothing to scoff at either. In a state where pastrami burger empires rise and fall, the iteration at Poplar Street remains stoic and unafraid. Poplar Street isn't afraid to share this sensibility with their vegetarian customers—their veggie burgers are equally worthy of the championship title. (AS) 242 S. 200 West, 801-532-2715,

    Best Reader Recommendation
    Doc Brundy's

    Every so often I'll get lucky enough to have someone recommend a place that I'd have never found in a million years, and Doc Brundy's is one such recommendation. It's part restaurant, part arcade and part duckpin bowling alley, and it's one of Spanish Fork's best kept secrets. The décor and vintage arcade games are enough reason to pay the place a visit, but they've got an all-American menu that features meatloaf, bison quinoa meatballs and crispy buffalo cauliflower wings, all made from scratch. A big thank you to Evie for the recommendation. (AS) 260 N. Main, Spanish Fork, 801-804-3029,

    Best Fancy Offal
    Post Office Place

    Despite offal's recent reinvention as haute cuisine, it can be a tough sell if you don't know what you're doing. Luckily, the tongue carpaccio, crispy pig ears and grilled beef heart at Post Office Place have been developed with no small amount of care—if you're in the market for such rough cuts, you could do a hell of a lot worse. I prefer the tongue carpaccio of the three, but I have yet to meet an unconventional meat that Post Office Place can make into a work of art. If you happen to need a few drinks before you take the offal plunge, they've got an extensive craft cocktail menu to keep you covered. (AS) 16 W. Market St.,

    Best Shawarma
    Ishtar Grill

    You know you're in a legit Middle Eastern restaurant when most of your fellow diners on a recent visit are speaking Arabic. Ishtar's shining star is the shawarma—there's beef and lamb and chicken to choose from, and both are wonderfully flavorful and juicy, served with either fresh bread or atop magically soft piles of spiced basmati rice. There are also plenty of other specialty dishes that would be rare to find anywhere else in Utah, the most impressive of which are Gulf staples like chicken mandi and lamb qoozzy—both baked in a special way and served with rice, platters fit for a feast. (PH) 725 E. 3300 South, Millcreek, 801-803-9434,

    Best Old World Pretzels
    Petra's Backstubchen

    There are the things you buy from the grocery store freezer, and then there are real pretzels, the way they were designed to be so that they became the very symbol of bakers' guilds in Germany. Petra's Backstubchen represents the history of its namesake—yep, there's an actual Petra, a German native transplanted to Utah—who brings family recipes to our shores for cakes, strudels, cookies and, yes, amazing pretzels you can't wait to pair with your favorite brew. Find them online, or in Lee's Marketplace and The Store locations, in case you just can't wait for a delivery. (SR)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Spaetzle Seduction
    Siegfried's Delicatessen

    You never forget your first spaetzle. Mine happened to take place at Siegfried's Delicatessen while working a college job at ArtTix. I was already a fan of their bratwursts and pretzels, but one day when I was feeling especially peckish, I asked for a helping of their homemade spaetzle. Ever since, it's been a mainstay—whenever I go in to Siegfried's, I can't leave without taking some of this stuff with me. It's borderline perfection as a side dish to one of their famous bratwursts, but there's also something starchy and satisfying about ordering a pretzel, dipping it in some of that spaetzle gravy and thoroughly enjoying those tasty net carbs. (AS) 20 W. 200 South, 801-355-3891,

    Best Corn Dog Mavericks
    The Corn Dog Co.

    Corn dogs have been a part of my diet since forever, and I've seen many talented folks reinvent, reboot, deconstruct, reconstruct and psychoanalyze corn dogs over the years. It wasn't until I tried out the Honeydog at a food truck called The Corndog Co. that I felt like corn dogs could be classy. This St. George-based food truck changes the corn dog DNA simply by throwing some honey in the mix. It's already in their corn dog batter, but then they drizzle a bit of local honey on the dog once it comes out of the fryer for an extra burst of golden sweetness. (AS)

    click to enlarge SARAH ARNOFF
    • Sarah Arnoff

    Best Surf and Turf
    Harbor Seafood & Steak Co.

    Those looking for an old-school surf and turf place with a mind toward locally-sourced ingredients and sustainability have hit paydirt with Harbor. All the Wagyu beef they use for their filet mignon, sirloin and ribeye is sourced from our very own Snake River Farms, and they're committed to serving only the freshest of sockeye salmon and Maine scallops. We've got our share of steak and seafood joints, but Harbor is among a select few locally-owned and locally-sourced destinations. With a cocktail menu that complements their luxurious entrees, Harbor has something for every fan of a traditional surf and turf restaurant. (AS) 2302 E. Parleys Way, 801-466-9827,

    Best Food Court Renaissance
    The Gateway

    The best thing The Gateway did for itself was to get rid of its traditional food court. Now it seems like every time I visit, they have some newfangled eatery that I have to check out. The investment in creative places like Punch Bowl Social and Dave & Buster's were the big fish that the outdoor mall needed to usher in local establishments like The Store ( and Momi Donuts ( We're getting an opportunity to see a culinary and commercial ecosystem develop at The Gateway, and it's exciting to see what new place will pop up next. (AS) 400 W. 100 South,

    Best Oyster Initiation
    Kimi's Chop & Oyster House

    There's a right and wrong way to try oysters for the first time. I made the mistake of getting oysters in a po' boy sandwich from a no-name beachside seafood shack in San Diego and I never really got over it. Learn from my mistake, dear reader. Whether you're a newcomer or an oyster-eating veteran, the best way to eat oysters is on the half-shell with some lemon and housemade cocktail sauce, and the best place for such a delicacy is Kimi's. They're $4 apiece, but $19 for a half-dozen isn't a bad deal for some fresh oyster goodness. Whether you're ordering them as an appetizer or getting a whole dozen for a meal, this is the way oysters were meant to be consumed. (AS) 2155 S. Highland Drive, 801-946-2079,

    Best Pie, Meat Category
    Sagato Bakery

    This Midvale bakery takes its inspiration from a combination of New Zealand, Australian and Polynesian cuisine, and it's awesome. I can't avoid picking up one of their lamington cakes when I go in, but lately I've been enamored with their mince meat and cheese pie. It's the right mix between a pot pie and a pastry—hearty enough for a meal, but easy to carry around with you. They also have chicken and steak meat pies, but the ground beef of the mince meat lends itself to the flaky crust and melty cheese just a tad more assertively. (AS) 44 W. 7200 South, 385-557-1728,

    Best Pie, Sweet Category

    Much like pizza, breakfast burritos and poutine, it's hard to make cherry pie taste bad. But that blessing can also be a curse—it's just as hard to make a cherry pie stand out from its cloying pedigree. Not so at Tradition, where their spiced cherry pie is doing fantastic, innovative and shocking new things. Most cherry pies wash out the natural tartness of their cherries with all that bright red goop, but the pie at Tradition lets you actually taste its star ingredient. It accomplishes this by mixing up some cayenne and black pepper to ratchet the filling's natural flavors to a dangerous degree. It's the kind of flavor that perfectly balances sweet, sour and spicy, giving your taste buds one helluva post-meal workout. (AS) 501 E. 900 South, 385-202-7167,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Sweet Spot
    Maven District

    While the plant-based French bakery Passion Flour ( might have gotten there first, the Maven District has blossomed to include brick-and-mortar stores for Chip Cookies ( and Normal Ice Cream ( I'm sure we've broken some kind of cosmic law in having such sinful talent within such close proximity, but whatever barrage of green kale and wheatgrass smoothie shops we have to endure elsewhere to tip the balance back to normal will be worth it. With its vegan-friendly options, Maven District has become a gathering place for sugar lovers of all walks of life. (AS) 200 East and 900 South,

    Best Dessert Bromance
    Penguin Brothers

    The team at Penguin Brothers has worked tirelessly to perfect cookie ice cream sandwiches that are worth naming after some of our greatest cultural icons. You can't really go wrong if you let your inner nerd guide you through the clever monikers assigned to the menu items. The Rong Burgundy, for example, smushes strawberry Nutella ice cream between two cinnamon and sugar snickerdoodles, and the Inception puts cookie monster ice cream between a chocolate chip and double fudge cookie—if you weren't thinking of cookies, you've officially been incepted. Although their signature menu is great, don't underestimate the power of making your own combo. (AS) Multiple locations,

    Best Pockets of Deliciousness

    In a fast-moving world, we crave the convenience of food we can take on the go—but it's really not worth the artificiality of familiar frozen food pockets. Fortunately, there's a healthier, tastier alternative in Jafflz, the Park City-based operation founded by a one-time private chef from South Africa. These made-from-scratch gourmet stuffed rounds offer something perfect for literally any meal, from ham-and-egg pockets for breakfast, to enchilada or vegetarian curry for lunch or dinner, to cinnamon apple pie pockets for dessert. A simple, scrumptious, self-contained treat is as close as the palm of your hand (and some local grocers). (SR)

    Best New Dessert
    Jala Ice Cream Sundae at Afghan Kitchen

    The food at Afghan Kitchen is scrumptious. That isn't much of a secret anymore. Whether it's the chicken korma, the lamb shank kabuli, or the Afghan shami kabob, the owners of the joint on Main Street know how to make a dish flavorful. But one of their desserts stands out—the Jala, or Afghan ice cream sundae. This isn't any normal ice cream sundae. It comes with housemade rosewater flavored ice cream served on top of shaved ice, banana and glass noodles. That's right, noodles. It might sound strange, but the various textures between the ice cream, shaved ice and noodles lend themselves to a stellar dessert option. (RH) 3142 S. Main, 385-229-4155,

    Best Dessert That Looks Like an Entrée
    Oma & Opa's Spaghettieis

    Found in Germany and at Provo's Farmers Market, Oma and Opa's Spaghetti Ice Cream is a delectable frozen treat with strawberry "marinara" sauce and noodles made of delicious vanilla ice cream. The treat can be found Saturdays throughout the season at the Provo Farmers Market as well as spiced apple juice and roasted nuts. (EGW) Center Street, Provo, 417-812-6280,

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Chocolate Concoctions
    C. Kay Cummings Candies

    A rare breed in 2019, Cummings chocolates continues their 80-year family tradition of hand-dipping caramels, richly flavored cream centers and whole roasted nuts in heavenly milk and dark chocolate coatings. They pay individual attention to each single piece, making every milk chocolate almond cluster or three-flavor Neapolitan or salted caramel truly a gourmet delight. Available year-round, the layered gourmet caramel apples are a singular delicacy where the tart Granny Smith apple flesh is a delectable complement to the smooth, rich made-from-scratch caramel and other delicious toppings. The apples are available in an assortment of flavors ranging from Butterfinger to cinnamon and sugar to toffee, chocolate or Oreo. And there are even black "poison" apples (fashioned from licorice caramel drizzled with delectable red candy "blood") offered during the month of October. (CC) 2057 E. 3300 South, 801-485-1031,

    Best Tiki Room-Approved Treat
    Dole Whip at Tracy Aviary

    Call me a stickler for nostalgia, but the Enchanted Tiki Room remains one of my favorite Disneyland attractions. Overseen by Uncle Walt himself, the South Seas musical romp became the park's first audio-animatronics show back in 1963. Pair it with a Dole Whip soft-serve, and you've got yourself a truly evocative experience. Those looking for something similar close to home needn't hop on a plane to Anaheim. Instead, you can head over to Tracy Aviary's Bird Feeder Café, where along with sandwiches and wraps you'll find the mythical frozen concoction. Order one up and tour the grounds for an upgraded Tiki Room feel—the birds here are 100% real. (EL) 589 E. 1300 South, 801-596-8500,

    Best Microwaveable Bakery
    Kodiak Cups

    Park City-based Kodiak Cakes serves up a wide range of baking mixes, oatmeal packets and crackers packed with whole grains and protein. But if you want something to give an extra boost to your work day, bring along a Kodiak Cup, where all you need is water and a microwave oven to let you enjoy a portable, delectable muffin, brownie or even s'mores. Gluten-free options are also available, so that even more folks can know what it's like to have a day that gets a boost from fresh "baked" goods that you can gobble down with a spoon. (SR)

    Best Custards With a Cause
    Fillings & Emulsions

    Whether you're lured in by macarons (offered in unique flavors like blueberry mojito) or by the selection of Cuban meat pies (an homage to chef and owner Adalberto Diaz' roots), an array of Willy Wonka-approved treats call Fillings & Emulsions home. It'd be easy for Diaz to rest on his laurels, but recognizing the devastation caused by children being separated from their families along the U.S./Mexico border, his crew held a benefit bake sale over the summer. Dubbed "Families Belong Together," it yielded $45,000 destined to RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. Delectable treats with a hearty side of good karma? It doesn't get any sweeter than this. (EL) 1475 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 385-229-4228; 326 W. Center St., Provo, 801-607-1593,

    Best Dessert You Can Pretend Is Breakfast
    Crumbl Cookies Waffle

    The rotating menu of specialty cookies at Crumbl is always a delight, giving customers a reason to come back every week just to see what new concoctions they've developed. But keep an eye on those weekly specials for the return of the waffle cookie—a typically decadent offering that combines a waffle flavor with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of butter cream frosting. Look, plenty of breakfast options are basically desserts—you're not fooling anyone, muffins and donuts—so why not dig in to something that's honest about what it is? (SR) Various locations,

    Best Donut Enticement
    Fry Me to the Moon Food Truck

    When you're talking about the comforting appeal of fried food, it isn't hard to get people interested. Fry Me to the Moon presents fried delights from corn dogs to loaded French fries, but folks can't get enough of their signature donuts. And they know it, too, which is why the truck is emblazoned with the slogan "Home of the Free Donut"—because once you've tried one, good luck saying no to even more. (SR)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Drink Deal
    The Pie Pizzeria

    Two words: Dollar PBR. Yes of course, the pizza here is awesome, and it's a rad place to hang out (even when it's totally packed and there's 10 kids clambering around stuffing their faces at a family-sized table crammed right next to yours). But what really blows me away are the $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon pints. The PBR flows from the tap, nice and refreshing, all a drinker could ask for after a long day's work. Did I mention it only costs $1? Yep, that's right. Another round, barkeep! (PH) 1320 E. 200 South, 801-582-5700,

    Best Reason to Learn How to Snowshoe
    The Yurt at Solitude

    Last winter, I learned that you can get me to snowshoe up a mountain pretty damn quick if you tell me the destination is a four-course meal cooked up by professional chefs. The Yurt at Solitude is a fantastic opportunity for food lovers to try some high-end food and wine pairings, but it's the guided hike through the woods around the resort that makes this evening memorable—there's nothing quite like a spirited Alpine romp through the mountains to work up an appetite. For maximum effectiveness, book this little dinner date as part of an extended ski trip. (AS) 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon,

    Best Out-of-the-Way Beer and a Bite
    Ray's Tavern in Green River

    If you're travelling through southeastern Utah and need a bite, look no further than Ray's Tavern off of Interstate 70 in Green River. The quaint local pub offers typical bar fare with burgers, fries, steaks, housemade apple pie and a selection of wine and beer. Yes, finding places in Southern Utah that offer wine and beer can be difficult, but Ray's Tavern has you covered. And the food is just what you need before your next exploration among Utah's red rocks. (RH) 25 S. 150 West, Green River, 435-564-3511

    Best Lunchtime Cocktail
    Mojito at Black Sheep Café

    Not all of us will find ourselves at the tail end of a two-day PTA convention questioning our life choices. But if you do, and you're also an SLC native, you'll likely be wondering where one might find a drink in Happy Valley. Well, you're in luck! The full bar and cocktail menu at Black Sheep Café might seem like a mirage when you're standing in the world of Stepford-esque PTA moms. But if you keep walking, two blocks east of the convention center, their refreshing beverages are sure to melt away the stress of the day. I mean, if you can find a good mojito in Provo, you can do anything, right? (AP) 191 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-607-2485

    Best Place For That Sunday Mimosa
    London Belle Supper Club

    Everyone loves brunch. It's an experience, not just a meal. But you know that. So now you need to find a spot with a hangover curing mimosa. Look no further than one of Main Street's newest establishments known as London Belle—named after one of Utah's most infamous madams in the early 1900s, Belle London. There are extravagant bloody mary bars you can go to, but London Belle's various mimosa flavors offer a nice change of pace. There's kiwi, strawberry, passion fruit, rose ... you name it, you can try it. (RH) 321 S. Main, 801-363-8888,

    Best Bloody Mary on a Budget
    Red Rock Brewing's $2 Bloodys

    So you've spent all your hard-earned money on mimosas. Well, Red Rock Brewing has just the thing: $2 bloody marys. They're not big bloody marys—they are just $2 after all. But while at brunch with your friends, you'll be feeling better in no time if you ask your server to keep 'em coming. If you are there for brunch, try the Eggs in Purgatory or the pulled pork huevos rancheros and wash it down with a few bloody marys. And if you get tired of those, yes, they do have $2 mimosas. (RH) Multiple locations,

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Grub and a Tune
    Garage on Beck

    Garage on Beck might be unassuming to passersby. Heck, it's located right next to one of the Salt Lake Valley's polluting refineries. But once you're inside, you're in for a treat. The place features frequent live music on its indoor stage and out back, you'll find plenty of seating and chances to play games such as cornhole. Stop by on a Wednesday for half-priced burgers after 5 p.m. and $3 whiskey shots or come by for Taco Tuesday. Don't worry about the refinery to the west, because once you've loaded up on booze and tasty burgers, you're heart might be telling you, "Only in moderation, please." (RH) 1199 Beck St., 801-521-3904,

    Best Place to Drink on the Cheap on a Weekday
    O'Shucks Bar & Grill

    Who says drinking on weekdays is inappropriate? You don't have to just be a weekend warrior to enjoy downtown. Tuesdays at O'Shucks is where it's at. Think $3 goblets (known as schooners) of beer. How many of those you need to feel you got the best bang for your buck is up to you. But this bar, paired with a sushi bar across the way, can be your one-stop shop to make you feel like Tuesday is the new Friday. If you didn't get enough on Tuesday, come by for Wine-Down Thursday and throw back a $3 glass of wine. (RH) 22 E. 100 South, 801-596-8600

    Best New Pub Crawl District
    Sugar House/Ballpark Neighborhoods

    The brewery business is booming. Don't blink because if you do, there might be another brewery opening shop in the Sugar House and Ballpark neighborhoods. What makes this even more convenient? UTA's S-line and those pesky scooters that make it easy to get around. So if you're thinking of checking out some of the Beehive State's newest brews, don't miss stopping by the likes of SaltFire Brewing Co., Level Crossing Brewing Co., Wasatch Brewery, Roha Brewing Project, Kiitos Brewing and Shades Brewing. And that just scratches the surface. (RH)

    Best Locals-Only Beer Garden
    Craft by Proper

    It wasn't always easy to find a great craft beer in Salt Lake City. You really had to dig through dozens of bar menus to find the right pint. Nowadays, you can't walk into a pub without tripping over a craft brew, but there's one place that specializes in tripping you up with locals only options. Craft by Proper's hyper-localized concept was conceived by the boys and girls at Proper Brewing Co. themselves, these folks want to spread the love of Utah's beer no matter who makes it. If it's made here, it's welcome there and so are you. (MR) 1053 E. 2100 South, 385-242-7186,

    Best Environmentally Friendly Beers
    Uinta Brewing Co.

    Beer, in general, is a pretty environmentally friendly way to make a living. From grain to glass the process of making beer takes little from the environment that it doesn't give back in some regard. Uinta Brewing Co. has been dedicated to taking on the task being environmentally friendly for well over 10 years. Besides donating their spent grains to local farmers, the brewery operates on wind-generated power and solar panels on the brewey's roof cut its electrical costs even further. Now that's green beer! (MR) 1722 S. Fremont Drive, 801-467-0228,

    Best Adult Beverage Neighbors
    Red Rock Brewing/Mountain West Hard Cider

    When you have two different companies that are chasing the same customers, you're bound to run into a few problems in the pursuit of those customers. Now place those competitors side by side on the same street; you can almost smell the impending dysfunction. Luckily that's not the case at all. Red Rock Brewing and Mountain West Cider have one of the most refreshingly cordial relationships in the state. While these two entities compete for your hard-earned adult beverage dollars, they've managed to strike a personal relationship that often makes customers think that they're all one big happy family. (MR) Red Rock Beer Store, 443 N. 400 West, 801-214-3386,; Mountain West Hard Cider, 425 N. 400 West, 801-935-4147,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Pub to Pay it Forward
    The Buy a Beer Board at RoHa Brewing Project

    As you walk into the pub located at the RoHa Brewing Project you can't help but notice the rainbow peppered board at the back of the bar. It's been there since Day 1; names and brief messages left on colored Post-it Notes for the lucky individuals that have anonymously purchased beers waiting for them. "When people spy their name, they're quick to collect the beer and just as quick adding another name to fill its spot," co-owner Rob Phillips says. "It keeps the pub's atmosphere friendly and light." Is there a beer waiting for you? (MR) 30 E. Kensington Ave., 385-227-8982,

    Best Boozy Reminder of the Northeast
    SaltFire Brewing Co.'s Big in Japan New England IPA
    If you're like me and from the northeastern U.S., sometimes you get tired of sipping on lagers and pale ales. The bland blondes and substantial stouts leave you wanting something hazy and juicy. Enter SaltFire Brewing Co.'s Big in Japan, a New England IPA packed with tangerine, berries and hints of herbal and pine notes. Bring your own speaker and play the Alphaville classic song of the same name as you try the brewery's other members of its NEIPA line. Just be wary of your ability to accurately compare—these bad boys are all high-point, 7.1% ABV brews. Puny draft beers, they are not. When it's in stock, be sure to get your hands on one. (KL) 2199 S. West Temple, South Salt Lake, 385 955-0504,

    Best Beer Missionary
    Epic Brewing Co.
    Spreading the love of Utah suds throughout the world is no easy task, but Epic Brewing Co. seems to be up to the challenge. After starting up Utah's only strong beer brewery in Utah, Epic's owners expanded the brewery's reach to Denver, Colo., after a few years, then bought Telegraph Brewing in Santa Barbara, Calif. All of this extra brew space has allowed Epic to expand into half of the U.S. and has also taken them international; adding Mexico, South America, Europe, Japan and parts of Asia to the Utah brewery's reach. Those are missionaries I can get behind! (MR) 825 S. State, 801-906-0123,

    Best Bizarre Beer Concoctions
    Firkin Fridays at the Bayou

    What the firk is a firkin? It's a small beer cask that holds about 7 gallons of suds. That in and of itself isn't too impressive, it's what's going on inside the barrel that brings the fun. Brewers over the years have found that these compact barrels are perfect for experimenting with. No matter if they're filled with simple beers or insane beer hybrids, the firkin is never boring. The Bayou has embraced the firkin concept, contracting with a dozen breweries from around the area to provide a unique beer drinking experience every Friday. Does cardamom work in an IPA? Or raspberries in a stout? Head to the Bayou to find out. (MR) 645 S. State, 801-961-8400,

    Best Taste of the Grill in Your Cocktail
    Traeger Smoked Simple Syrup

    Utah-based Traeger is perhaps best-known for its wood pellet grills—an innovative backyard system for grilling, roasting, smoking and more—plus a variety of ready-made sauces. But what if you want the perfect adult beverage to complement whatever you've got cooking up on your Traeger grill? Local grocers offer a chance to pick up this unique simple syrup, which lends drinks a hint of smokiness in addition to the vanilla and clove flavors with which it's infused. You'll wonder if you'll ever go back to a simpler simple syrup. (SR)

    Best Vodka Controversy
    Five Husbands

    Five Wives vodka has become as much of a Utah Pride staple as excessive body glitter and dubious sunburns. Wanting to up the rainbow ante this year, Steve Conlin and the rest of Ogden's Own Distillery's misfits unleashed a limited-edition Five Husbands iteration, complete with a hunky rendition of Conlin and crew on its label. Provoking some expected pearl-clutching, the product made national headlines, provided a stellar Pride float theme and buzz around it ensured all 3,000 or so bottles available at DABC stores sold out. Cheers to that. (EL)

    Best Way to Vent Your Frustration with the DABC
    DABC Online Feedback

    We've all been there. You know, when you can't find your favorite spirit at a local liquor store and you have to go out of our way to find a store, or you're fed up with Utah's wacky liquor laws. Well, now you have a way to let someone know instead of screaming into the void. Last year, the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control unveiled an online response system so you can let them know your frustrations. Hours too short? Not enough staff? Get online and fill out a survey. It might not change much, but at least you'll feel better about yourself. (RH)

    Best Brewery That Puts the Happy in Happy Valley
    Strap Tank Brewing

    With nearly 90% of its residents adhering to the state's predominant faith, it almost seems like a fool's game to open up a brewery in Utah County. Luckily, the masterminds behind Strap Tank knew better, and have brought their Flathead American Lager and Laser Shark Haze Pale Ale—as well as their stellar pub grub—to a recently opened second location in Lehi. Beer Nerd columnist Mike Riedel put it best when he said Strap Tank "reawakened a passion for craft beer that Utah County hasn't seen since the pre-Prohibition era." We'll drink to that. (EL) 596 S. 1750 West, Springville, 385-325-0262; 3661 Outlet Parkway, Lehi, 385-352-8194,

    Best Home State Pride
    Shades Brewing

    If you haven't signed onto the local microbrew revolution, it's time to wake up, smell the hops and head to your nearest tasting room. Need a little more convincing? Chances are good that acclaimed, award-winning beers can be found in your own backyard. Beehive brewers brought home six medals—including one shiny gold for Shades's Brewing's kveik—last October during the annual Great American Beer Festival. "Our beers give customers what they didn't know they were missing," Shades' mission statement goes. The brand-spanking new blue ribbon on their sour Kveik Thai Tom Kha is definitely a testament to that. (EL) 154 W. Utopia Ave., South Salt Lake, 435-200-3009,

    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Bakery
    Fillings & Emulsions

    Adalberto Diaz has long been considered one of the best pastry chefs in all the land. In 2012, he was named the American Culinary Federation Pastry Chef of the Year. He's also frequented Food Network's baking competitions and was the runner-up for Best Baker in America. Perhaps his most distinguished award is being honored with City Weekly's Best Bakery—or so we'd like to believe. At Fillings & Emulsions, you'll find stashes of delicious cakes, tarts, pies and other baked treats. 1475 S. Main, 385-229-4228,
    2. Eva's Bakery
    3. Tulie Bakery

    Best Atmosphere
    La Caille

    The Starz hit drama Outlander follows the story of a World War II nurse, Claire Randall, who inadvertently travels back in time to the mid-1700s. Claire acclimates to the gorgeous landscapes, high-class society dinners, and even to wearing a corset. When patrons step foot in La Caille, they are similarly transplanted from suburban Sandy to an entirely distinct era. La Caille's castle dining experience is unlike any other Utah has to offer—you'll even find peacocks ambling the grounds. 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
    2. Tuscany
    3. Log Haven

    Best Breakfast
    Penny Ann's Café

    In 2011, the doors opened at Penny Ann's Café—or PAC for short, a nod to the University of Utah entering the Pac-12 athletics conference in the same year. Owner Penny Ann, the café's namesake, and her sister, Cindy, have been dishing up countless heaps of the infamous, impossibly thick "Heavenly Hot Cakes" made with housemade sour cream. Their pancakes have become so popular that two additional locations have been added in the last half decade. Multiple locations,
    2. Ruth's Diner
    3. Pig & a Jelly Jar

    Best Brunch
    Ruth's Diner

    When a diner has been around nearly three-quarters as long as Utah has been a state, you know they mean business. For 89 years, Ruth's Diner—nestled inside Emigration Canyon on a trolley dining car—has become a local haven for weekend brunch. Where else can you find a decent cinnamon roll these days? The traditional breakfast item forgotten among newer breakfast joints is a staple at Ruth's, where they prepare it with delectable lemon cream cheese and warm maple syrup. 4160 Emigration Canyon Road, 801-582-5807,
    2. Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade
    3. Roots Café

    Best Chinese Restaurant

    The dynasty created by Gregory Skedros, his daughter, Angel, and son-in-law, Paul, has given Mandarin a stronghold on this Best Of category for years. While of Greek origin, the Skedros family is diligent about bringing in seasoned Chinese chefs, all the while mastering the complicated recipes themselves. If you're a newbie at the Bountiful establishment, try the Mediterranean lamb—a blend of Greek and Chinese influences, and the epitome of Mandarin. 348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406,
    2. Red Maple
    3. Shanghai Café

    Best Coffee Shop
    Beans & Brews

    More than 11,000 Dunkin' Donuts pepper the globe, making it one of the nation's largest coffee house chains. Less than a handful are in Utah. If there's one thing we take pride in, it's our loving fealty to local businesses, especially our homegrown coffee chains. Beans & Brews first opened in 1993 near Liberty Park and has since permeated the community like milk poured into a latte. Multiple locations,
    2. Coffee Garden
    3. 3 Cups

    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
    Copper Onion

    Copper Onion, named after two major exports found in Utah, is the all-occasion spot. Want to impress your dinner date? Have an important business lunch? Just want a quick cocktail at the bar? Copper Onion's your place. The shared plates are the way to go—sauteed mushrooms, patatas bravas, ricotta dumplings and crispy goat cheese salad. 111 E. 300 South, 801-355-3282,
    2. Takashi
    3. HSL

    Best Desserts

    Gourmandise's spectacular showcase has patrons salivating like Augustus Gloop when he laid his eyes on Willy Wonka's chocolate river. "This stuff is fabulous ... I need a bucket to drink it properly!" The Gourmandise oompa loompas—uhh, staff—is well equipped to fulfill every craving with an assortment of individual sweets, soft cookies, tasty cakes and other mouth-watering pastries. Multiple locations,
    2. Fillings & Emulsions
    3. Last Course

    Best French Restaurant
    La Caille

    La Caille est le meilleur restaurant français dans l'état. Read by a French beau or belle, those words from the language of love—even if you don't understand them—are reason enough to book a reservation to La Caille. Its cuisine speaks for itself, especially their delicious filet mignon which is prepared with a potato puree, Brussels sprouts, broccolini and foraged mushrooms. La Caille also has just about the most diverse du vin options in their wine cellar in Utah. 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
    2. Franck's
    3. Eva's Bakery

    Best Gluten-Free
    City Cakes

    Specializing in gluten-free and vegan baked goods, City Cakes is the one-stop shop for all of your baking needs—dietary restrictions or not. Owner Nanette Wessels' creations are plentiful with a selection of cookies, cupcakes, donuts, scones, brownies and cinnamon rolls. City Cakes also prepares incredible wedding cakes, ranging from simple to extravagant. 1860 S. 300 West, 801-359-2239,
    2. Good Food Gluten Free Bakery

    Best Greek Restaurant

    Manoli Katsanevas essentially grew up in the kitchen, starting in the back-of-house at his family-owned Crown Burger age 13. His dream of restaurateuring was realized in 2015 when he opened Manoli's with his partner, Katrina Cutrubus. Katsanevas has assembled an eclectic seasonal menu featuring traditional Greek mezes (shared plates) headlined by sensational grilled lamb riblets. Cutrubus' housemade loukoumades (Greek donuts) and soft-serve ice cream are treasures, too. 402 E. 900 South, 801-532-3760,
    2. The Other Place
    3. Greek Souvlaki

    Best Indian Restaurant
    Bombay House

    From open to close, day after day, you'll find a line out the door for a precious table (there are no reservations, so come early), and just as many customers picking up to-go orders. It's mayhem, but Bombay House's staff is accustomed to the organized chaos required to fulfill their customers' demand. What is all the hubbub about? Bombay's traditional tandoori oven is a well-oiled, finely-tuned Indian cuisine machine that churns out fresh naan, lamb, chicken and shrimp like no other. Multiple locations,
    2. Kathmandu
    3. Himalayan Kitchen

    click to enlarge CLAIR MCARTHUR
    • Clair McArthur

    Best New Restaurant

    How much more Utah can you get by naming your restaurant Oquirrh? The idea of community was paramount for the new Salt Lake City eatery operated by Andrew and Angelena Fuller. Ingredients are locally sourced to bring together an eclectic, innovative menu, and dishes are presented as beautifully as they are delicious. For a first-time visit, the confit chicken pot pie prepared with winter mushrooms and mirepoix will get you hooked. 368 E. 100 South, 801-359-0426,
    2. Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers
    3. Ginger Street

    Best Innovative Menu
    Table X

    Chefs Nick Fahs, David Barboza and Mike Blocher are alumni of Culinary Institute of America in New York City. There, they learned teamwork and cohesion, and together they continually push the envelope in creating an ever-changing and improving menu. Every appetizer and entrée is a work of art, but if you want to really be impressed, give the Chef's Tasting a go—it's a chef-selected five-course meal and includes a beverage to boot. 1457 E. 3350 South, 385-528-3712,
    2. SLC Eatery
    3. Zest

    Best Italian Restaurant
    Sicilia Mia

    Immigrating to Utah in 2013, Sicilia Mia founder Francesco Mirenda and his family quickly established themselves as the premier purveyor of Italian fare in town. Since the first location opened in Holladay, four additional iterations of Sicilia Mia have joined the fold. Want an age-old Sicilian dish? The cacio y pepe is simply cheese and pepper with spaghetti, yet spectacular. What makes it extra special is the server serenading diners with an Italian folk song as they mix the ingredients in a melted cheese wheel. Multiple locations,
    2. Celeste Ristorante
    3. Carmine's

    Best Japanese Restaurant

    When people from Monterey or San Francisco come to Salt Lake and praise Takashi as the best sushi restaurant they've ever encountered, you know there's something special going on. Takashi and Tamara Gibo's restaurant focuses on the minute details—you'll often find Takashi during lunch teaching his sushi chefs creative and tactful tricks, if he's not preparing dishes himself. For a dish outside of the box, the Barracuda along with subtle spices offer a powerful, smoky flavor. 15 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
    2. Kyoto
    3. Sapa

    Best Mexican Restaurant
    Red Iguana

    Why would you locate a second restaurant a block away from the first? Lucy Cardenas and her husband, Bill Coker, took a gamble when they opened restaurant No. 2 a hop, skip and a jump away from the original Red Iguana, which was famously documented by The New York Times in 2011. Their roll of the dice certainly paid off—Red Iguana swelled to more than 150 employees to meet demand. The recipes draw inspiration from various regions of Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. and are prepared with fresh chilies, cinnamon, garlic, cumin, onions, cilantro, dried fruit and vegetables (their famous mole alone boasts more than 70 ingredients). Multiple locations,
    2. Blue Iguana
    3. El Chihuahua

    Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    At Mazza, they believe that excellence in cuisine can only be achieved by using the highest quality, freshest ingredients and cutting no corners. That might be why they've owned the Best Middle-Eastern category for 18 years running with exquisite dishes such as falafel, shawarma, kebobs, dips and salads. Mazza's 9th & 9th and 15th & 15th locations also dish up no-hormone, no-antibiotics, no-funny-business lamb, beef and chicken. 912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572; 1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259,
    2. Laziz Kitchen
    3. O'Falafel Etc.

    click to enlarge SAMANTHA ADAMS
    • Samantha Adams

    Best Ogden Restaurant
    Tona Sushi

    Historic 25th Street is home to not only the best restaurant in Ogden, but arguably the state of Utah, as well. Tona's masterful sushi creations are as much an art piece as anything else—from the inside out, every layer of their rolls are thoughtfully prepared to give your taste buds a delectable jolt. If raw fish isn't your thing, Tona has plentiful options of udon noodles, bento boxes, soups and salads. 210 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662,
    2. Slackwater
    3. Roosters Brewing

    Best Park City Restaurant
    Riverhorse on Main

    In the culinary hotbed of Park City, Riverhorse is recognized as the creme de la creme. It's known for pushing the boundaries on creativity, style, flavor and class. Riverhorse has also expanded on Main Street with the recent addition of Park City Provisions—a café, deli and specialty market with many of the same treats and ingredients you'll find in their flagship restaurant. 540 Main, Park City, 435-649-3536,
    2. Handle
    3. Hearth and Hill

    Best Restaurant Patio
    Cliff Dining Pub

    The past two years, Cliff Dining Pub has won awards for Best New Restaurant and Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant. Voters agree that the contemporary American menu is exceptional. They also unanimously agree Cliff's amazing patio is the best in town—the Draper eatery is perfectly situated with a spectacular view of Salt Lake Valley's sublime sunsets. 12234 Draper Gate Drive, Draper, 801-523-2053,
    2. Ruth's Diner
    3. East Liberty Tap House

    Best Restaurant to Impress Newcomers
    Red Iguana

    Want your out-of-town friends or family to recognize the Utah dining scene for something other than Jell-o and funeral potatoes? The place to razzle and dazzle visitors is only a five-minute drive from the airport to North Temple, where Red Iguana has been dishing up the finest Mexican food in town since the 1980s. While any dish is sure to impress, the signature moles are a knockout. Multiple locations,
    2. Takashi
    3. Valter's

    Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant

    Utah born and bred Scott Evans is the founder and president of Pago Restaurant Group, which includes Pago, Bar George, East Liberty Tap House, Hub and Spoke and Trestle Tavern. If you've dined at most or all of those establishments, you'll find some common themes—all emphasize sourcing local, ever-changing and innovating menus, and high-quality products. Pago, now in its 10th year, sets the example for its sister restaurants. 878 S. 900 East, 801-532-0777,
    2. Provisions
    3. Copper Onion

    Best Thai Restaurant

    A Thailand native, Anny Sooksri grew up feasting on Thai street food and enjoyed the colorful ways vendors interpreted their offerings. Sooksri drew that inspiration when she created a sisterhood of Thai restaurants—Siam Noodle Bar, Tea Rose Diner, Fav Bistro and Chabaar Beyond Thai. Each has their own personality, though Chabaar is lauded for its broad-based, Thai-fusion menu that respects the classics while building upon modern tastes. 87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100,
    2. Sawadee
    3. Tea Rose Diner

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Vietnamese Restaurant
    Oh Mai

    Crispy exterior. Juicy and savory interior. That's how a banh mi should be, and that's what Oh Mai does oh so well. They pride themselves on their exceptional, affordable sandwiches such as The Sinner, a blend of braised pork belly, black pepper, lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, soy sprouts and jalapeño. Their pho is a knockout, too. Multiple locations,
    2. All Chay
    3. Little Saigon

    Best Utah County Restaurant

    At Communal, they don't just preach family-style eating, they live it. It's evident in their community tables, their commitment to working with local purveyors, farmers and artisans and a menu dedicated to groups, not just individuals. Parties at Communal have the option of two starters, two proteins, three sides and a dessert—the way eating with friends and family should be. Shared. 102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000,
    2. Black Sheep
    3. Strap Tank Brewery

    Best Vegetarian Restaurant
    Vertical Diner

    There's nothing bland about the quirky and festive Vertical Diner that puts the fun in vegetarianism and veganism. Their vegan "wings" and "chicken sandwiches" are beloved items on an exceptional menu that focuses solely on organic products. For a morning treat, the gluten-free banana pancakes are a delight, and the lunch tacos are great as well—they're assembled with jackfruit, fresh vegetables, kimchi, guacamole, garlic aioli and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. 234 W. 900 South, 801-484-8378,
    2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
    3. Bolt Cutter

    Best Wine List
    BTG Wine Bar

    After years across from the Salt Palace, BTG Wine Bar is settling into their new location in the Eagle Building on 400 South. Patrons can still sample all 75 of their wines (in 2 ounce tasters or ... by the glass) and order in bites from their amiable neighbor Caffé Molise. That much is the same. But BTG's new digs offer a more spacious, modern and somehow classier experience than ever before. 404 S. West Temple, 801-359-2814,
    2. La Caille
    3. Current Fish and Oyster

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Brew Pub
    Squatters Pub

    Just like the Best of Utah, Squatters is turning the ripe age of 30 this year. Their secret to success? Not resting on their laurels and always finding room for innovation (their Hop Rising tropical double IPA is a testament to this), expanding their impressive beer line and pairing the brews with some of the best pub grub around. Think: their famous blackened tilapia salad, house specialty "Black & Blue" burger and thick jambalaya. Multiple locations,
    2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
    3. Wasatch Brewery

    Best Appetizers

    Eva bills itself as a "small restaurant with big flavors," and boy do they deliver. Striking the perfect balance between cozy and downtown chic, the eatery is known for its small plates like the phyllo-wrapped greek mac and cheese, harissa carrots with black sesame dukkah, (non suffering) succotash and some of the best crispy calamari in the land. The secret for the latter is in the housemade pepperoncini aioli, I'm told. 317 S. Main, 801-359-8447,
    2. Cliff Dining Pub
    3. Blue Iguana

    Best BBQ
    R&R BBQ

    From their outpost at the Vivint Smart Home Arena to their Provo location, R&R has taken a smoky grip on the BBQ scene, leaving locals with sauce-stained ear-to-ear grins. Whether it's their pulled pork, delectable brisket or spicy andouille sausage, you really can't go wrong here. Also of note, their sides—ranging from BBQ baked beans to potato salad and hush puppies—are strong enough to take center stage. Multiple locations,
    2. Benji's BBQ Shack
    3. Pat's BBQ

    Best Brewery
    Fisher Brewing Co.

    Building on the legacy of the OG A. Fisher Brewing Co., and following a 50 year hiatus, Fisher Brewing Co. has emerged as a sudsy phoenix rising. Their Granary District brewhouse is the definition of cool, with its selection of craft ales and lagers, a revolving door of local food trucks and sweet branded merch. On the move? Fisher offers their best beers to-go in growler and crowler form. 320 W. 800 South, 801-487-2337,
    2. Kiitos Brewing
    3. Uinta Brewing Co.

    Best Burgers
    Lucky 13

    No surprise here. The ballpark-area eatery has been raking Best of Utah awards ever since its inception a decade ago. Overwhelmed with menu choices? Take a step back and eenie meenie miney mo it. Lucky 13's Celestial burger with its grilled onions and house-smoked bacon is the stuff of legend; you can never go wrong with the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Pigpen; and their garlic-infused Breath Enhancer will fill you up and ward off vampires at the same time—win win! Throw in a basket of Cajun fries, and you'll truly be in hog heaven. 135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
    2. Proper Burger
    3. Crown Burger

    Best Burrito
    Blue Iguana

    A highly contested category year after year, our readers have spoken and named downtown eatery Blue Iguana the best burrito purveyors in all the state. Just what makes these burros best? They're filled to the rafters with housemade proteins like carnitas, tinga and charbroiled carne asada. Those wanting to channel their inner Takeru Kobayashi can give Blue Iguana's 5-pound burrito challenge a go. Along with infinite bragging rights, if you manage to finish this monster, dessert is on the house. 165 S. West Temple, 801-533-8900,
    2. Lone Star Taquería
    3. Sweeto Burrito

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Chicken Item
    Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers

    With a menu boasting Alabama-style fried chicken stemming from antibiotic- and cage-free chickens, it's easy to see why this Murray eatery took the top spot this year. A favorite of rapper Post Malone, Mr. Charlie's 5-finger plate (five chicken fingers accompanied by slaw, toast and two sauces) is the epitome of downhome comfort food. Party packs of 25-100 chicken fingers are also available for those looking to go cluckin'crazy. 554 W. 4500 South, Murray, 801-803-9486,
    2. Curry Fried Chicken
    3. Pretty Bird

    Best Cookies
    Ruby Snap

    Any which way you toss it—the chocolate-cinnamon Margo, blueberry-lemon Zoe or the seasonal roasted butternut squash—you can't go wrong at Ruby Snap. Serving up the good stuff for more than a decade, owner Tami Steggell has perfected the art of delightful cookie making. Looking for an after-hours fix? Ruby's cookie dough is available in the freezer section of all Harmons, Lee's and Smith's. 770 S. 300 West, 801-834-6111,
    2. Crumbl
    3. Chip

    Best Culinary School
    Park City Culinary Institute

    Whether it's community cooking classes, a mixology certification or a complete career move you're after, you're sure to find a solid foundation at Park City Culinary Institute. Best part is, students can choose to go at their own pace, be it a few hours a week or the 9-hours-a-day accelerated program. Along with the educational programs, the institute offers chef's demonstrations and tasting dinners, hands-on workshops and team-building competitions. 201 Heber Ave., Park City; 1484 S. State, SLC, 801-413-2800,
    2. Salt Lake Institute of Culinary Education
    3. SLCC Culinary School

    Best Distillery
    High West

    After drawing parallels between distilling and the fermentation process, biochemist David Perkins got a boozy lightbulb over his head—and backed by his wife, Jane—packed up, moved to Park City and started High West. From that first humble 250-gallon still, a Utah success story was born, and the distillery is now responsible for signature products like Rendezvous Rye and High West 7000' vodka. Pay their flagship Park Avenue saloon a visit (or their SLC International Airport location for that matter) and experience Western hospitality for yourself. Multiple locations,
    2. Ogden's Own Distillery
    3. Dented Brick Distillery

    Best Doughnuts
    Banbury Cross

    Cake, glazed, frosted and sprinkled—any which way you toss 'em, Banbury Cross has perfected them and offered them to the sweet-toothed masses since 1986. Whether you're visiting the store or grabbing a to-go baker's dozen from the drive-thru window, you're sure to be a hit at your next office meeting, family gathering or, you know, just by yourself. No judgement here. Their maple bars are the stuff of legend. 705 S. 700 East, 801-537-1433
    2. The Big O Doughnuts
    3. Daylight Donuts

    Best Ethnic/Specialty Market
    Caputo's Market & Deli

    It would be easy for Matt Caputo to rest on the laurels of products offered at the family namesake's market—Old World cheeses, fine chocolate, freshly baked breads, etc. Instead, he's building upon the legacy of father Tony, and increased Caputo's imprint by transforming it into a one-stop shop of food (and foodie culture) goodness. Add some attainable sophistication to your life by attending one of their many classes, like Craft Chocolate 101, Tour of Italy or Intro to Salumi. [Insert chefs kiss here] Multiple locations,
    2. Ocean Mart
    3. Black Cherry

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Local Spirit
    Five Wives Vodka

    From supporting a bevvy of community events (their yearly Pride float is a mobile party like no other) to breaking ground on a new 30,000-square-foot facility, it's no surprise Five Wives reigns supreme in this category. So, just what makes their vodka so special? It's handcrafted with a blend of Wasatch Mountain spring water gathered five gallons at a time from a spring in Ogden canyon. Cheers to fun times with the Five Wives crew—and the memorable inaugural rager their new building's opening is sure to usher.
    2. Dented Brick Vodka
    3. High West Campfire

    Best Food Truck

    Kudos to the food truck that's graduated to an impressive seven brick-and-mortar locations. Still paying homage to their mobile roots, Cupbop's Korean BBQ in a cup goodness can be found on wheels at regular food truck events across the city, like the Gallivan Center's Food Truck Thursdays. Give their Hot Bop bowl a go and toss in a couple of mandoo (Korean-style potstickers for good measure). You can thank me later. Multiple locations,
    2. Waffle Love
    3. Cluck Truck

    Best French Fries
    Bruges Waffles & Frites

    Hand-peeled and cut daily from fresh Idaho potatoes, Bruges' frites are to die for. Try them with any of the housemade dipping sauces or go heartier with a selection of Old World faves, like the curry ketchup-topped Belgian dog or beer-braised Flemish stew. Just make sure to leave room for dessert, as their waffles are no joke. Multiple locations,
    2. Lucky 13
    3. Crown Burger

    Best Gyro
    Greek Souvlaki

    Given City Weekly's Greek ownership, this category is one that gets in-house attention year after year. Our readers have spoken, and it turns out nothing beats the original. Established in 1972, legend says Greek Souvlaki was the first restaurant to bring gyros to the Beehive State. With five locales under their zóni—and multiple other eateries that followed suit—it's clear they were onto something. Try their Philly gyro. Your tastebuds will thank you. Multiple locations,
    2. Crown Burger
    3. Yanni's Greek Express

    Best Hard Cider
    Mountain West

    The cheese stands alone in this category. One sip of Mountain West's Ruby or Desolation Prickly Pear hard ciders, and it's easy to see why they're the undisputed champs. Made using ingredients sourced from the Mountain West region, the resulting sips are crisp, refreshing and naturally gluten-free. Check out their tasting room and give one of their cider cocktails—like the Waterpocket Blanco Rum-infused No. 1—a go. 425 N. 400 West, 801-935-4147,

    Best Local Beer
    Kiitos Coffee Cream Ale

    It's impressive to see the growth of Utah's craft beer scene and Beehive-bred brewers' presence during the Utah Beer Festival's 10 years (and running), so in true Oprah spirit, if you are involved in the local brewing scene, you get an award! You get an award! You all get an award! That being said, our readers have spoken and voted Kiitos best of the best. So raise a pint (preferably filled with Belgian Wit, Fruit Milkshake Ale or any of Kiitos' fine brews) and say, cheers! 608 W. 700 South, 801-215-9165,
    2. Red Rock's Elephino
    3. Wasatch Apricot Hefeweizen

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best New Food Trend
    Curry Pizza

    A few years ago, it was doughnuts, then bacon on literally everything followed by the ramen explosion. Now, our ever-intrepid readers determine it's the reign of curry pizza. Call it the ultimate comfort fusion—a variety of curries, seemingly limitless toppings all on salty dough. The a-ha moment came when a small Southern Utah restaurant decided to put their 15 curries to good use and diversified a little. The experience resulted in Curry Pizza's glazed paneer, mushroom goat curry and chicken tikka-topped Bhinda special. 2927 S. 5600 West, West Valley City, 801-890-0415; 125 N. State Road 24, Bicknell, 435-425-2500,
    2. Cookie home delivery
    3. Poke

    Best Pizza
    The Pie Pizzeria

    Another highly contested food category. At the end of the day, what's not to love about pizza? Whether its thin-crust, deep-dish, by the slice or a whole pie, it's hard to mess it up. Within that nuance, certain eateries just get it right and manage to strike an immediate chord with local diners. Enter The Pie, the OG eatery that's been serving up the tasty triangular stuff since 1980. House specialties that sure know how to satisfy include the cheeky "Holy shitake," the "Xtreme veggie" and the aptly named "Mountain of meat." Multiple locations,
    2. Lucky Slice
    3. Nomad Eatery

    Best Ramen

    Ladies and gentleman, we have reached ramen bubble. Utah diners are fortunate enough to have witnessed the Japanese noodle explosion, and the local culinary scene is all the better for it. Priding itself on serving "unfussy Japanese," this Los Angeles transplant has quickly taken a hold and lived up to its motto with a menu filled with comfort items like tonkotsu red, spicy umami miso and the self-explanatory "slurp-up cilantro." 675 E. 2100 South, 801-883-9466; 5905 S. State, Murray, 385-474-6818,
    2. Tosh's Ramen
    3. Yoko Ramen

    Best Salads
    Aubergine & Co.

    Yawn, right? Not here. Since its founding in 2014, Aubergine & Co. has found a way to reinvent the green stuff and present it in innovative (and filling) ways. Kale, Romaine, quinoa, goat cheese, blueberries and green apple coexist in the "Very Berry," while red cabbage, almond wild rice, raising and grilled chicken compose the "Warm Rainbow"and honor the establishment's mantra, "eat better, feel different." Multiple locations,
    2. Mollie & Ollies
    3. Café Rio

    Best Sandwiches

    No surprise here. Across its four locations, Moochies is known for serving the best meatball sandwich in the vicinity, which comes topped with ooey gooey provolone; the ribeye monster known as the house Philly cheesesteak; and a nostalgically delicious hot pastrami and Swiss. Their cold sandwiches, like the Italian deli and the veggie feta and tomato, ain't half bad either. Multiple locations,
    2. Feldman's Deli
    3. Grove Market

    Best Seafood
    Current Fish & Oyster

    Contemporary and innovative, it's no surprise Current took the fishy top spot again this year. Be it their East Coast oysters or West Coast Kumamotos, yummy poached tuna melt or elevated ale-battered fish and chips, lunch here is a true experience. Later in the day, a delectable caramelized organic salmon, pan-roasted scallops and wild-caught Pacific halibut take center stage during dinner under executive chef Alan Brines' watchful eye. For those looking for an end-of-week treat, their prix fixe Sunday suppers are sure to satisfy. 279 E. 300 South, 801-326-3474,
    2. Harbor Seafood & Steak Co.
    3. Market Street Grill

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Vegan
    Zest Kitchen & Bar

    If your mental image of a decent vegetarian dish is bagged salad, you need to get with the times. Enter Zest with its black bean and chia seed sliders, buckwheat pancakes with fruit compote and tasty hummus of the day. Their daily brunch is also of note, laden with a totally organic 100% plant-based items. Wash your meal down with a cold-pressed mimosa or, yes, a vegan bloody mary. 275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589,
    2. Bolt Cutter
    3. Bud's

    Best Soups
    Soup Kitchen

    A local staple since 1974, Soup Kitchen has set the warm and hearty soup standard across the land. Order yourself an 8-ounce portion (or a 128-ounce if you plan on throwing a soup rager), and leave some room for a half sandwich or salad (the chicken breast avocado is a standout). As the weather turns, Soup Kitchen's tried-and-true staples, like cheese broccoli, cream of tomato and split pea and ham just scream comfort food. Best part is, all soups are preservative free and made fresh daily. Multiple locations,
    2. Porcupine Pub & Grille
    3. Feldman's Deli

    Best Sushi

    Another evergreen champ. What's not to love about the downtown eatery? The brainchild of namesake Takashi and his wife, Tamara Gibo, the always-crowded space has been serving up the good stuff for 15 years. If you're a regular, this distinction comes as no surprise. If you're a newbie overwhelmed by the array of mouth-watering options, just drop your finger anywhere on the menu and be sure a memorable dining experience is guaranteed. Room for dessert? Their renown panna cotta is City Weekly den mother Paula Saltas' favorite. 18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
    2. Sapa
    3. Tsunami

    Best Tacos
    Taqueria 27

    Owned by husband and wife team, Todd and Kristin Gardiner, T27 has set the taco standard across its five locations. Whether you're there for brunch (give the turkey chorizo and eggs tacos a go) or late-night dinner, you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong here. T27 invites you to think outside the prefab taco shell, and venture into exciting culinary territory. One laden with pork belly, grilled pear and duck confit taco iterations. Multiple locations,
    2. Taco Taco
    3. Lone Star Taquería

    Best Use of Bacon
    Lucky 13

    There are a few Best of Utah categories that seem to have found an evergreen champion—and this is one of them. What's not to love about bacon? Specifically, what's not to love about adding bacon to any of Lucky 13's mouthwatering dishes? Be it the house-smoked BLT, the blue cheese-topped bacon stinky burger or the true pièce de résistance, the behemoth Pigpen, this right here is the ultimate foodie marriage. 135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
    2. Garage on Beck
    3. White Horse

    Best Wings
    Trolley Wing Co.

    Twice baked and all-around delicious, wings here are elevated to art. Start with your choice of wing, choose from nine classic flavors (the jamaican honey garlic is to die for) or create your own and go to town (sriracha Carolina Parm? Yes, please). Traditional wings not your thing? Trolley Wing Co.'s vegan iterations are top notch and indistinguishable from their animal protein counterparts. 2148 S. 900 East, Ste. 5; 736 Blue Vista Lane, Ste. 200, Midvale, 801-312-9532,
    2. Wing Nutz
    3. Wing Coop


    click to enlarge Left to Right (Top): Jason LeCates, Bourbon Group; Taylor Richards, Royal Bliss; Deno Dakis, Gracie’s; Tyson Enniss, A Bar Named Sue; Rob Dutton, Lucky 13 - Left to Right (Bottom): Bridget Gordon, Green Pig Pub; Shawn Frehner, Gracie’s; Kelly Petersen, The Royal - JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor
    • Left to Right (Top): Jason LeCates, Bourbon Group; Taylor Richards, Royal Bliss; Deno Dakis, Gracie’s; Tyson Enniss, A Bar Named Sue; Rob Dutton, Lucky 13Left to Right (Bottom): Bridget Gordon, Green Pig Pub; Shawn Frehner, Gracie’s; Kelly Petersen, The Royal

    Best Double Dose of Comedy Sausage-Making
    Wiseguys Open Mic

    Comedy open mic nights are one of the truly fascinating experiences in the arts—a chance to watch people either try out a creative endeavor for the first time, or try new material with no idea what will work. It used to be that the downtown Wiseguys location at The Gateway could only set aside Wednesday nights for such experimentation, but with the new expansion of The Lounge—adjacent to the existing location—there's even more opportunity to see artists at work with their Tuesday showcases. Pull up a chair, enjoy some food and a beverage, and get a chance to see what might be the next big headliner get their start. (SR) 194 S. 400 West,

    Best Bars to Actually Listen to Jazz, or Ignore it (Quietly) for Booze
    Lake Effect

    Upon journeying down the steps to Lake Effect's basement bar, Rabbit Hole, for the first time, I called out to my bartender friend DuJuan Mitchell, who quickly shushed me. This was how I found out that early Wednesday evenings at the Rabbit Hole are reserved for quiet "jazz room" nights, featuring some of the best local and touring jazz acts around. It's intimate under the low ceiling, but the length of the room makes it easy to slip away from the cluster of listeners to order a drink—though I just let DuJuan make me whatever he felt like. Turns out, quietly abiding by the jazz artists with a sweet cocktail in hand is an easy thing to do. (EM) 125 W. 200 South, 801-285-6494,

    click to enlarge STEVE CONLIN
    • Steve Conlin

    Best New LGBTQ+ Night
    Bottoms Up
    With the mantra "come as you are, everyone is welcome," Bottoms Up has breathed new life into a tried-and-true downtown SLC venue. Tarot card readings, paint nights ... who knows what inclusive fun you might stumble into. Saturdays, however, are a night for some of the best classic and experimental drag around. Led by local misfit Marrlo Suzanne, recent theme nights include Zombie Prom, Night of the Living Red and the self-explanatory Asstrology: Libra. (EL) 579 W. 200 South, 435-749-1517,

    Best Place to Get Your Cocktail On
    The Rest
    Ever had an aviator? Or a proper old-fashioned? Or do you just crave a mint julep or sazerac? Make sure you get a reservation at The Rest. It's a speakeasy, but it's now probably Salt Lake's best known speakeasy these days. Don't let the Bodega sign out front fool you. It's all part of owner Sara Lund's popular Main Street dining spot. Bodega is the lounge area up top where some wait for their table to open up downstairs. Visit their website for reservation details. (RH) 331 S. Main, 801-532-4452,

    Best Drag Show Theme
    Those Bitches' Saturday Morning Cartoons
    Just when I thought drag shows could not get any better, Those Bitches lured SLCers out to the bar in their pajamas for a Saturday morning cartoon theme on a late summer evening, where I proceeded to geek out more than Screech at the sight of Miss City Weekly, Sister Molly Mormon, dressed as Ms. Frizzle. Regardless of theme, the creativity and talent of Those Bitches troupe knows no bounds. So buckle up kids and check out their shows the last Wednesday of every month. (AP) Club Try Angles, 251 W. 900 South, 801-364-3203,

    Best Drunken Divas
    The Divine Sister-Misters
    Serving face, body and talent, The Divine Sister-Misters is a bi-weekly drag show showcasing talent from Happy Valley and beyond. After six years of Provo Pride, the Sister-Misters now sponsor a yearly Pride Pageant with this year's winners being Anna L'Beads, Kolumbia Monroe and Lizzie McQueen. Taking hold of Friday nights at City Limits Tavern, this is a can't-miss show that brings a little color to Utah County. (EGW) 440 W. Center St., Provo, 801-374-2337

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Surround Sound
    The State Room
    There's no reason to believe that a smaller live-music venue skimps on the high-quality sonic experience for visitors. The State Room might only hold as many as 300 spectators for any given show—and a regularly killer lineup it is—but every one of those 300 people has every reason to believe they've got the best seat in the house for seeing and listening to the performers. That's why concert-goers at The State Room so predictably praise the way they feel they've gotten their money's worth, because there's hearing the music, and then there's really hearing the music. (SR) 638 S. State,

    Best Venue to Remember Small Cities Get the Best Shows
    Urban Lounge
    The longer I lived in SLC, the more conversations I've had with folks in the music scene where we both express our gratitude toward living in a city where you can catch a very established touring act at a venue as intimate as the Urban Lounge. The midsize downtown venue is comfortably close to bars, and the perfect size for our community of concert-goers. Friends who've lived in bigger cities (and moved back here) have lamented times seeing beloved acts at large, sound-swallowing venues, losing out on the immediacy that comes from standing right in front of the artist like you can at Urban. SLC is truly blessed with one thing: its accessibility to great acts, at no great distance from the stage. (EM) 241 S. 500 East, 801-746-0557,

    Best Venue to Get Lost In
    The Depot
    No matter how many times I've visited the place, I get lost—stairs leading to all sorts of random places, balconies all around. The multi-tiered-ness of it reminds me of bigger venues I went to while living in Minneapolis, reaffirming my belief that The Depot is our true Big City Music Venue. The climb up the stairs to the venue is exciting, and going back down after a packed show is like rush-hour traffic. It's kind of nice, in a way, to never feel familiar with its breadth; it always feels like the first time. (EM) 13 N. 400 West, 801-456-2800,

    Best Place to Twist and Shout
    It isn't called Twist for no reason. This two-story downtown bar located in a 19th-century boiler room was given a makeover in 2015 to turn into a happening bistro by day and hopping bar by night. Now, you can be sure to find plenty of friends on a weekend night ordering drinks at one of their many bars and getting their groove on to one of the DJs. If you stop by for lunch, start with an order of queso dip and follow it up with one of their burgers or sandwiches to give you that 2 p.m. food hangover. (RH) 32 Exchange Place, 801-322-3200,

    Best Venue to Feel Like You're in an '80s Movie
    Liquid Joe's
    The '80s ruled for many reasons, and one can credit Liquid Joe's with keeping it very much alive. The distinctive, pool-colored building features rounded architecture and glowing neon, with an interior paneled in diamond plate steel panels. On their stage, you can dependably see local hair acts, but also any other genre that deals even remotely in glam or shock, such as the '80s cult goth act The Chameleons. With pool tables and darts around the bend of the rounded bar, Liquid Joe's is for the dive-minded just as much as it's for the nostalgic time-traveler who longs for contact with an older, grittier, more neon-lit SLC—bygone, but not really. (EM) 1249 E. 3300 South, 801-467-5637,

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Place to Get to Know Your Bartender/Bouncer
    Johnny's On Second
    Ah, Johnny's. This joint is a general first stop with friends, even a meet-up spot for dates and a solid start to any bar crawl. Boasting a dive-bar atmosphere—and dive-bar drink prices, like their signature $4 shot and a beer—Johnny's is truly one of SLC's unique watering holes. Whether you're playing pool with pals, crying at the bar because your date bailed or hanging out on the patio, you're likely to feel welcomed by Johnny's employees. On a good night, you might get to hear bartender Vic sing a ditty while he pours you a stiff one. (KR) 165 E. 200 South, 801-746-3334,

    Best Bar to Catch an Experimental Lounge Set
    Twilite Lounge
    Although vintage signs label it "Smoker's Paradise," Twilite is more-so a music-lover's, being the best place to indulge in unpretentious, rough-around-the-edges, welcoming, innovative and truly special local music. The Jazz Jags are the epicenter of Wednesday nights, filling the dark, red-lit grotto of the back bar with the warm, invigorating thrush of wire brush on snare by drummer Nora Price and the wandering guitar plucks that loosely track the distinctive, musing voice of David Payne, who helps bring in other locals for lounge sets. On Sunday Doom Lounge nights, more electronically inclined artists fill the space, most notably Josh Stippich, whose haunting, steely trumpet work is one of my favorite sounds—one I'm spoiled to hear any Sunday I choose. (EM) 347 E. 200 South, 801-532-9400,

    Best Place to Drink and Catch the Game
    Dick 'N Dixie's
    Whether it's the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake, the Utes or whatever team you happen to be cheering for, Dick 'N Dixie's cozy corner bar can be just the place to saddle up. For its size, the bar has plenty of TVs tuned to almost any sports channel. And when a local team is playing, you can count on fellow fans showing up, too. Oh, and did we mention the drink prices? Chances are you can stay for the whole game, get a good buzz and still leave with a check less than $50. If you get the munchies, walk up to the neighboring window to order some ramen and gyoza from Yoko Ramen. (RH) 479 E. 300 South, 801-994-6919

    Best Bar to Always Hear Good Music
    Alibi Bar & Place
    Alibi seems to be something of a home base for all of the best record spinners in SLC. I've never been into the bar when something infectious and foreign to me wasn't spinning in the corner. Besides the well-crafted ambiance of the lush space draped in hanging plants, the little bar works just as well for weeknight hangs as it does for its notoriously cramped and sexy weekend dance nights. The DJ sets are a key part of that. Monday nights are home to the loose-edged collective of vinyl-loving DJs Caviar Club, who also often participate in the international tradition that is Motown on Mondays. DJs Sneeky Long, Chaseone2, Flash & Flare, Concise Kilgore and Bo York are just a few among those who spin the best of the best vintage funk, soul, psych, rap ... I think you get it. They do it all, and they never, ever disappoint. (EM) 369 S. Main, 385-259-0616

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Mustachioed Pub
    The sign out front has a caricature wearing a bike hat and sporting an oversized mustache. His eyes are actually bicycle wheels. "Now serving thirsty cyclists and anyone who appreciates a thick, twisting mustache," their website says. They're not wrong. The bar at the north end of 300 West is a great spot to bike to and enjoy a meal and brew on their patio. It still has that new establishment feel, so stop by to break in your new mustache. (RH) 751 N. 300 West, 801-953-0588,

    Best Place to Get Into a Bar Fight
    Quarters Arcade Bar
    If you're itching to get some aggression out, but you don't want to actually break a bottle over someone's head, then 801 Bar Fights at Quarters Arcade Bar is for you. On the third Thursday of every month, street fighters, mortal kombatants and smash brothers are welcome to test their might in a fighting game of the house's choice. The folks who gather at Quarters for game tournaments are a surprisingly welcoming bunch, and digitized combat is a great spectator sport for those not after an evening of shooting ha-do-kens at strangers. (AS) 5 E. 400 South,

    Best Icy Welcome
    Beerhive Pub
    Generally, an icy welcome isn't the preferred way to welcome any visitor into your establishment, but the Beerhive's owner, Del Vance doesn't quite see it that way. When you enter the Beerhive Pub, one of the first things to grab your attention (apart from the classic decor) is the massive L-shaped bar that inhabits most of the pub's real estate. Embedded in the bar is a 4-inch wide ice sheet that spans the entire length of the bar. It's a built in drink chiller that's unique in this part of the West and even has the ability to get people to put down their phones for a few minutes. (MR) 128 S. Main, 801-364-4268

    Best Actual Dive Bar to See Live Sets
    ABG's in Provo
    ABG's—short for the delightfully Victorian A. Beauford Gifford's Libation Emporium—is as divey as dive bars get, and for me at least, calls to mind what dive bars that doubled as venues must have been like back in the '80s and '90s. The decor harkens to that time, and there's even a smell in the air that just beckons you to stay for several drinks—especially if there's a band playing. A tall stage is at the very back, in front of a wall of mirrors that make the bar feel even more cave-like. Here, AGB's hosts shows with locals and touring acts alike about once a week. And since it's a bar, whether you know or like the band or not, there's always libation to be had while you make up your mind. (EM) 190 W. Center St., Provo, 801-373-1200,

    Best Fact-Checker Approved Watering Hole
    The Ice Haüs
    The life of a newsroom fact-checker can be trying. Filled with meticulous cross-referencing and attention to detail, it's no surprise these unsung newsroom heroes need to let their hair down once the clock strikes 5. Ask City Weekly's own Lance Gudmundsen what his favorite post-deadline tavern is—along with his drink of choice there—and his face lights up. "I trek over to the Ice Haüs and order a bloody mary from barkeep Andrew Burt. Served with pickled asparagus spears (and bacon, if you request it), olives and a lemon wedge and, of course, 1 ½ ounces of Tito's vodka—the headache-banishing beverage isn't too bland or too spicy ... it's just right." Need some added punch? "If you need more zest, Andrew's always sassy commentary fills the bill. Did I mention the bar's open at 10 a.m. on weekends?" Gudmundsen concludes. (EL) 7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127,

    Best Eclectic Programming

    Try to peg down the downtown SLC venue and you might be in a pickle. Taking over the space formerly occupied by Elevate, Soundwell keeps upping the ante with its varied programming. Living up to its "Best of" designation, live music events ranging from the recent Slap Lake City Hiphop Showcase to British electronica duo Bondax and a two-night residency from Matisyahu, have all called the place home. (EL) 149 W. 200 South, 801-290-1001,

    Readers' Choice
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Bar Patio

    Gracie's has long been heralded as one of Utah's best bars, much of it due to their intimate and welcoming pair of patios. The upstairs patio is private with spectacular views of the Wasatch Mountains, while the downstairs keeps it fresh with weekly jazz sessions, bluegrass jams and local bands. It's the perfect spot to sip on a spirit, feast on a meal (we recommend the buttermilk battered chicken strips) and enjoy the fresh air. 326. S. West Temple, 801-819-7565,
    2. Green Pig
    3. Hog Wallow Pub

    Best Bar Menu
    White Horse

    Just 10 or 15 years ago, downtown Salt Lake's food and bar scene was decrepit and sparse. Today, Main Street's nightlife renaissance has taken shape with the help of places like White Horse. The ambiance rivals that of a chic SoHo joint, while White Horse's kitchen offerings surpasses it. The menu is ambitious and creative such as the egg and chips, a blend of house potato chips, 63-degree egg, malt vinegar powder and truffle. 325 S. Main, 801-363-0137,
    2. Ice Haüs
    3. Gracie's

    Best Beer Selection
    The Bayou

    Over the last decade, Utah's craft beer scene has seen a hockey stick spike in popularity. There's only one place where you can sample just about every brand offered by Utah's 30-plus breweries and countless others: The Bayou. Since 2002, owners Mark and Kileen Alston have grown their modest selection of brews into a reserve of over 500 beers. Can't decide which one is for you? The Bayou has an app that randomly selects brews so you don't have to. 645 S. State, 801-961-8400,
    2. Beerhive
    3. Beer Bar

    Best Craft Cocktails
    Water Witch

    Hip, minimalist, retro and innovative. All apt words to describe the neighborhood bar Water Witch, operated by barmen Matthew Pfohl, Scott Gardner and Sean Neves. The trio's shelves are stocked with local and imported spirits, and the craft cocktail menu shifts constantly to support their imaginative spirits. The watering hole also features a stunning copy of the 1883 oil-on-canvas "Cliffs of Promontory" by Alfred Lambourne above their seats. It's the perfect setting for sipping excellent craft cocktails. 163 W. 900 South, 801-462-0967,
    2. Lake Effect
    3. Bar X

    Best Dance Club

    Pierpont Avenue's Sky nightclub is a vast three-floor, 15,000 square foot expanse unlike any other club in Utah. The state-of-the-art sound system allows clubbers to feel the music in their bones. The performance lighting, retractable roof, 300-inch video screen, 20 VIP suites and 14 garage doors only add to the experience. Sky is the premier location for wedding parties, corporate get-togethers, a friends night out or for anyone who wants to let loose and live. 149 W. Pierpont Ave., 801-702-9014,
    2. Area 51
    3. The Sun Trapp

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Karaoke
    Piper Down

    As Utah's premier Irish pub, it's only fitting that there's a round-the-clock countdown to St. Patrick's Day at Piper Down an Olde World Pub. But you'd be remiss in thinking the March holiday is the only time there's fun. Paint nights, bingo, trivia and regular karaoke, to name just a few events, ensure that Piper Down is one of the biggest parties in town. 1492 S. State, 801-468-1492,
    2. The Highlander
    3. A Bar Named Sue

    Best Dive Bar
    Johnny's on Second

    Johnny Dale, the proprietor of Johnny's on Second, emphasizes daily fun and entertainment. He offers patrons a myriad of activities—rounds of pool, Thursday Texas Hold 'em games, and sports watch parties that keep them coming back. Johnny's on Second is also home to the $4 shot and a beer. Who else can beat that price in downtown Salt Lake? 165 E. 200 South, 801-746-3334,
    2. Twilite Lounge
    3. Duffy's Tavern

    Best Gentlemen's Club

    Welcome to the great state of Utah where lawmakers believe that when males mix alcohol with the sight of scantly clad women, they'll mutate into ravenous beasts foaming at the mouth. Thus, full nudity is verboten here. However, if you like great food with even better company, Trails is the place for you. 921 S. 300 West, 801-363-2871,
    2. Southern Xposure
    3. American Bush

    Best Late Night Grub
    Pie Hole

    The perfect antidote to a belly full of booze is a belly full of pizza. That's why Pie Hole remains open well past the time last drinks are poured at nearby bars—2 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Week after week, a line of revelers forms out the door to sober up on slices (or full pies) of pizza. 344 S. State, 801-359-4653,
    2. Benji's BBQ Shack
    3. Hector's

    Best LGBTQ+ Bar
    The Sun Trapp

    The LGBTQ+ community in Utah is vibrant, growing and thriving. Places like The Sun Trapp attest to that spirit by promoting a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ and all others who enjoy a cold beer and fun vibes. The bar also boasts an incredible patio, live music and friendly waitstaff and bartenders. 102 S. 600 West, 385-235-6786,
    2. Tri-Angles
    3. Metro Music Hall

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Live Music
    The Royal

    Every Thursday to Saturday, local bands take the center stage and jam out to raucous crowds at The Royal. Hit groups such as Royal Bliss and Jagertown are frequent acts. When your ears need a rest, the bar has an incredible, winding patio situated next to Big Cottonwood Creek. It's so peaceful, you'd have no idea that the next up-and-coming group is performing right inside. 4760 S. 900 East, 801-590-9940,
    2. Hog Wallow Pub
    3. Garage on Beck

    Best Liquor Selection
    Whiskey Street

    Before its name was changed to Main Street in 1906, a stretch of downtown—housing distilleries, bars and brothels—was called Whiskey Street by none other than Brigham Young himself (a distiller, among other professions). Today, individuals rub shoulders at the expansive bar to enjoy the hundreds of local and imported bourbons, ryes, American, Irish and Scotch whiskeys shelved before them. 323 S. Main, 801-433-1371,
    2. Lake Effect
    3. White Horse

    Best Neighborhood Bar
    A Bar Named Sue

    The Johnny Cash-inspired A Bar Named Sue is chock-full of free activities such as billiards, darts, poker tours, video games and live music that welcomes regulars and newcomers alike. That emphasis on fun and customer care is how a boy named Tyson Enniss has sustained two thriving neighborhood favorites, one in Midvale and another on Highland Drive. 3928 S. Highland Drive, 801-274-5578; 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222,
    2. Dick 'N Dixies
    3. East Liberty Tap House

    Best New Bar

    The compact Alibi is nestled in a nook along Main Street, and as such, the vibes change with the crowd—it can be predominantly hipster or mellow, older folk or youthful, or a hodgepodge all in one night. The variety adds to the atmosphere and makes Alibi truly unique. The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly, and the small bites are neat, too. 369 S. Main, 385-259-0616,
    2. HandleBar
    3. Legends Southtown

    Best Non-Downtown Bar
    Hog Wallow Pub

    Situated at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon and secluded in the pine trees, Hog Wallow is the perfect watering hole to get away from life's noise and hubub. The Hog is also an exceptional live music venue, and the patio is ideal for serious lounging. For eats, it doesn't get any better than The Hog burger, a hefty helping of bacon, pepperjack, onion, barbecue sauce and chipotle ranch. 3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-733-5567,
    2. A Bar Named Sue
    3. Ice Haüs

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Salt Lake City Bar
    Green Pig

    Rooftop patio. More than a dozen TV screens for watching sports. Trivia nights. What's not to love about Green Pig? Their menu includes a delectable smoked buffalo chicken salad, prepared with fresh romaine lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese. Green Pig also has killer drink deals such as $4 tallboys and margaritas and $3 whiskey and tequila shots. 31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441,
    2. Gracie's
    3. Piper Down

    Best Ogden Bar
    Funk 'n' Dive

    Longtime friends and partners Dave Morris and Bridget Gordon have been in the Utah bar industry for decades with portfolios including Piper Down, Ice Haüs and Green Pig, to name a few. Morris and Gordon teamed up to create Funk 'n' Dive, a bar renowned for its affordable drinks, friendly staff and charming atmosphere. The basement bar shares a menu with the upstairs Harp and Hound—another Morris and Gordon collaboration. 2550 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-621-3483,
    2. Alleged
    3. Brewskis

    Best Park City Bar
    The Cabin

    After five years, The Cabin is moving on up—on Park City's Main Street, that is. Now occupying the space of the former Rock and Reilly's, The Cabin resides in a renovated 6,000 square foot space. It's the ideal spot for listening to live music and enjoying a drink without breaking the bank—a difficult task at some bars in these parts. 427 Main, Park City, 435-565-2337,
    2. No Name Saloon
    3. The Spur

    Best Sports Bar

    There's much to be excited about Utah sports. The Utes football team is a constant threat, while the Utah Jazz made big splashes adding Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanović. Utahns take their sports—and drinking—seriously, and there's no better place to do both than Legends Sports Pub. They've recently added a second location in Sandy so you'll never miss the action. 10631 Holiday Park Drive, Sandy, 801-647-2027; 677 S. 200 West, 801-355-3598,
    2. Big Willie's
    3. The Break

    Best Theme Night

    At this speakeasy-influenced bar, every night is theme night. Waitstaff and bartenders are fitted in Roaring '20s attire, while swing music blares from the loudspeakers. The fare fits the theme, too, such as the Tommy Gun Tacos, Moonshine Cherry Wagyu Steak and Bootlegger Nachos. All draught beers are sourced locally, and the specialty cocktails are as creative as any around town. 151 E. 6100 South, Murray, 801-281-4852,
    2. Area 51's Fetish Night
    3. Viva La Diva at Metro Music Hall


    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Family-Owned Business
    Harmons Grocery
    In 1932, Jake and Irene Harmon opened up a fruit stand in West Valley City. Fast forward nearly nine decades and that market has grown into a chain of 20 Harmons Grocery stores across the state run by the founders' grandsons, Bob and Randy Harmon. Although the size has changed, the values have remained the same: a commitment to family, freshness and quality local goods. Multiple locations,
    2. Utah Jazz
    3. Young Automotive Group

    Best Bank for Small Businesses
    First Utah Bank
    First Utah has been serving the Salt Lake City community since 1978 when it opened its first office on the Wasatch Front. Now with six branches across the valley, First Utah Bank continues to help its community with everything from opening a checking account to expanding a business. The locally owned and operated bank prides itself on knowing its customers and putting their success first. Multiple locations, 801-308-2265,
    2. University Federal Credit Union
    3. Mountain America Credit Union

    Best Business School
    David Eccles School of Business
    Founded in 1917, the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah is home to 12 centers and institutes that foster an experiential learning ecosystem based on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. Shaping a community of "doers," the school has helped further some of the brightest minds in business through its comprehensive undergraduate, MBA and specialized master's programs—all supported by career coaches and over 40 student organizations. Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building, 1655 E. Campus Center Drive, 801-581-7676,
    2. Marriott School of Business
    3. Westminster College

    Best Company to Work For
    University of Utah Health
    With a health care system supported by more than 1,400 board certified physicians and 5,000 professionals, University of Utah Health combines top-tier patient care with the latest in medical research and teaching. The system's five hospitals and 12 community clinics not only provide competent and compassionate care (consistently ranking in the top 10 for quality and accountability among academic medical centers), but also a supportive environment for employees. 50 N. Medical Drive, 801-581-2121,
    2. University Federal Credit Union
    3. Intermountain Health Care

    Best Company that Gives Back
    Mountain America Credit Union
    It was founded in 1936 with the goal of helping guide people to financial success. In addition to a full suite of services, the not-for-profit financial institution has extended its commitment through higher-education scholarships and grants to support learning-based projects in K-12 classrooms. Mountain America is also dedicated to an array of charities and nonprofits, especially those aimed at improving financial literacy for all. Multiple locations, 1-800-748-4302,
    2. Cotopaxi
    3. Mark Miller Subaru

    Best Made-in-Utah Product
    Beehive Cheese
    Brothers-in-law Tim Welsh and Pat Ford launched Beehive Cheese in 2005 with a combined eight days of cheesemaking experience between the two of them. Using high-quality milk from Ogden's Wadeland Dairy Farm, the duo locked in their base cheese, Promontory, before experimenting with external rubs on their fromage. The first of many creative concoctions, Barely Buzzed, features a rub of coffee grounds and lavender. It went on to win the Best Flavored Cheddar in America. 2440 E. 6600 South, Ste. 8, Uintah, 801-476-0900,
    2. Cox Honey
    3. Five Wives Vodka

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Local Manufacturer
    Black Diamond
    Black Diamond moved from Ventura, Calif., to Salt Lake City in 1991—just three years after its founding—to get closer to the recreational opportunities in the Wasatch Mountains. It was at its Utah-based headquarters that the gear company produced its carabiners—one of the products that helped launch its success. 2084 E. 3900 South, 801-278-5533,
    2. Huge Brands
    3. Klymit

    Best Minority-Owned Business
    Laziz Kitchen
    From moving from Lebanon to Utah in 2006, to becoming a catalyst for marriage equality and now debuting a fresh chapter in his life, Moudi Sbeity, the self-professed "hummus-sexual" co-owner of Laziz Kitchen, knows a thing or two about reinvention. Look no further than the Central 9th haunt for proof. Since its inception, Sbeity has considered Laziz a "gathering space of acceptance, good food and love." The recent addition of drag brunch not only seals the deal, but also transforms the eatery to a fun-filled safe space for diversity and glam. 912 S. Jefferson St., 801-441-1228,
    2. Fillings & Emulsions
    3. Benji's BBQ Shack

    Best Tech Company Instructure
    Instructure was created in 2008 to disrupt the current approach to learning management systems, which focused more on administrators than cultivating connections between students and teachers. Its learning management system, Canvas, has become the most widely adopted platform of its kind in North America and is used in more than 70 countries. The creation of Bridge in 2015 launched Instructure into the employee development market. As of 2019, Instructure celebrated capturing more than 30 million global users. 6330 S. 3000 East, Ste. 700, 1-800-203-6755,
    2. Domo
    3. Pluralsight

    Best Trade School
    Taylor Andrews Academy
    Larry and Sherri Curtis opened their Dallas Roberts Salons in 1987. After growing their small business to three salons, Larry found himself continually disappointed with the quality of new applicants. Taking matters into his own hands, he opened the award-winning Taylor Andrews Academy of Hair Design—named for his younger son—and in 15 years grew his student base to more than 400, spanning West Jordan, Provo and St. George. Multiple locations,
    2. Davis Applied Technology College
    3. Mountainland Applied Technology College

    Best Utah Retailer
    Cotopaxi is named for the active stratovolcano in Ecuador, where founder Davis Smith spent many years growing up. Smith eventually moved to the U.S., where he graduated from Brigham Young University and the Wharton School. He went on to found his outdoor gear and apparel company that not only crafts colorful quality goods, but puts 1% of its profits to help fight poverty and promote community development. To date, Cotopaxi has given 42 grants in six countries. Cotopaxi has two retail locations in Salt Lake City and Murray. 74 S. Main, 385-528-0855; 6191 S. Main, Ste. 1480, Murray, 801-406-7919,
    2. Black Diamond
    3. Black Cat Comics

    © 2024 Salt Lake City Weekly

    Website powered by Foundation