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

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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, wiseguyscomedy.com

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, lakeeffectslc.com

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, bottomsupslc.com

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, bodega331.com

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, facebook.com/those-bitches

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

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, thestateroompresents.com

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, theurbanloungeslc.com

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, thedepotslc.com

Best Place to Twist and Shout
Twist
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, twistslc.com

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, liquidjoes.net

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, johnnysonsecond.com

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, twilitelounge.com

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

DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Mustachioed Pub
HandleBar
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, handlebarslc.com

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, quartersslc.com

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, abgsbar.com

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, icehausbar.com

Best Eclectic Programming
Soundwell

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, soundwellslc.com


Readers' Choice
DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Bar Patio
Gracie's

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, graciesslc.com
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, whitehorseslc.com
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, utahbayou.com
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, waterwitchbar.com
2. Lake Effect
3. Bar X

Best Dance Club
Sky

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, skyslc.com
2. Area 51
3. The Sun Trapp

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, piperdownpub.com
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, johnnysonsecond.com
2. Twilite Lounge
3. Duffy's Tavern

Best Gentlemen's Club
Trails

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, trailsmensclub.com
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, pieholeutah.com
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, thesuntrapp.com
2. Tri-Angles
3. Metro Music Hall

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, theroyalslc.com
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, whiskeystreet.com
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, abarnamedsue.net
2. Dick 'N Dixies
3. East Liberty Tap House

Best New Bar
Alibi

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, facebook.com/alibislc
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, thehogwallow.com
2. A Bar Named Sue
3. Ice Haüs

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, thegreenpigpub.com
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, funkanddive.com
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, thecabinparkcity.com
2. No Name Saloon
3. The Spur

Best Sports Bar
Legends

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, whylegends.com
2. Big Willie's
3. The Break

Best Theme Night
Prohibition

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, prohibitiontah.com
2. Area 51's Fetish Night
3. Viva La Diva at Metro Music Hall


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