Salt Lake City is becoming increasingly urbane in many aspects, and local sports fans are enjoying the benefits as much as foodies or fashionistas. From major-league sports to top-tier college athletics to minor-league teams, the Salt Lake Valley has it all. And close to any game, you’ll find great places to party before or after. Here’s a handy guide.
Utah Jazz, Utah Blaze
301 W. South Temple
EnergySolutions Arena is home to two professional sports teams in the NBA’s Utah Jazz and arena football team the Utah Blaze, but you won’t find a lot of crossover fans. Jazz games are notoriously pricey in the lower bowl, and popular with the state’s society types. Arena football? A cheap ticket and far more populist in spirit. Both fan bases benefit from the free TRAX zone in downtown SLC, making most downtown bars and restaurants just minutes away from the arena. On the Main Street stretch of TRAX, pre-game drinks await at dives like Junior’s Tavern (30 E. 300 South, 801-322-0318, JuniorsTavern.com), Cheers to You (315 S. Main, 801-575-6400, CheersToYouSLC.com) and Murphy’s (160 S. Main, 801-359-7271, MurphysBarAndGrillUT.com), while post-game grub is available at small-plates specialists Eva (317 S. Main, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com) and underground sushi spot Ahh Sushi, attached to yet another dive, O’Shucks (22 E. 100 South, 596-8600).
Closer to the ESA, hotspot Pallet (237 S. 400 West, 801-935-4431, EatPallet.com) is within a couple of blocks, and sparked a buzz upon opening in 2012 with a menu full of seasonal American classics. An easy stroll from the arena, Red Rock Brewing (254 S. 200 West, 801-521-7446, RedRockBrewing.com) and Squatters (147 W. 300 South, 801-363-2739, Squatters.com) offer some of Utah’s best microbrews.
Salt Lake Bees
Spring Mobile Ballpark
77 W. 1300 South
Baseball is a love-it-or-hate-it sport, but even the utterly indifferent can appreciate the value of hanging out in the sun with friends and drinking cheap beer in the summertime at one of the most scenic ballparks imaginable. They can also appreciate the proximity of the minor league Salt Lake Bees’ ballpark to a fine array of bars heavy on the dive vibe. You’re easily within stumbling distance of Willie’s Lounge (1716 S. Main, 760-828-7351, WilliesLounge.net) and its pleasingly cheap drinks, or Duffy’s Tavern (932 S. Main, 801-355-6401, DuffysTavernSLC.com) and its surprisingly tasty pizza. You also have some nearby food establishments that will easily convince you to skip the stadium hot dogs. Lucky 13 (135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com) offers what some believe are the best burgers in town. Be forewarned: The Lucky 13 patio is so comfy in the summer, you might not bother giving up your spot to hit the game across the street. Piper Down (1492 S. State, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com) has a wide array of bar-grub options right around the corner on State Street. And if you really want to class up your day at the ballgame, stroll down to Meditrina (1394 S. West Temple, 801-485-2055, MeditrinaSLC.com) for small plates and some house sangria.
University of Utah Utes
Rice-Eccles Stadium (football)
451 S. 1400 East
Huntsman Center (basketball, gymnastics)
1825 E. South Campus Drive
Though the U lacks a bar district near campus, Salt Lake City has advantages that other cities don’t, including access to a vibrant downtown that is a straight light-rail shot from campus. Pre-gaming and public transit: a match made in heaven. Closer to campus, you can hit the swath on 1300 East between 200 South and 400 South for student favorites like The Pie (1320 E. 200 South, 801-582-5700, ThePie.com) for pizza and beer, or Big Ed’s (210 University St., 801-582-9045) for breakfast and, well, beer. Across the street, seafood standard Market Street Broiler (260 S. 1300 East, 801-583-8808, GInc.com/Broiler), stellar Greek place Aristo’s (224 S. 1300 East, 801-581-0888, AristosRestaurant.com) and Indochine (230 S. 1300 East, 801-582-0896, IndochineUtah.com), offering an array of fresh Asian cuisine, all have cocktails on their menus. On the cheaper side, B&D Burgers (222 S. 1300 East, 801-582-7200) and La Frontera (201 S. 1300 East, 801-582-0699, LaFronteraCafe.com) offer burgers and standard-issue Mexican on the same block.
Real Salt Lake
Rio Tinto Stadium
9256 S. State, Sandy
Soccer fans from across the valley and beyond descend on Sandy for home games. Close to Rio Tinto Stadium, you can find some quality grub at nearby Tin Roof Grill (9284 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-566-5226, TinRoofGrill.net), a comfort-food favorite for its sandwiches, pizzas and pasta, and India House (8660 S. State, Sandy, 801-569-0550, IndiaHouseCuisine.com), where the traditional Indian fare offers some bold flavors for a pre-game meal. After the game, sports bar Lumpy’s South (8925 Harrison St., Sandy, 801-255-2078, LumpysSouth.com) offers quality drinks, food, dancing and more sports, if you’re so inclined.
When the team is on the road, you can join fellow fanatics at any number of Real Salt Lake “pub partners,” where every RSL game is on the tube. Current pub partners include Bourbon House (19 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005, BourbonHouseSLC.com), Dick N’ Dixie’s (479 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3556), Piper Down (1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com) and Legends (677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3598, WhyLegends.com) in and around downtown, and The Huddle (2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-438-8300, TheHuddleSportsBar.com) and Maggie McGee’s (6253 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-273-9899, MaggieMcGees.com) a little closer to the stadium itself.