Friday 10:50 p.m.
Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery
Spend Your Weekends on the Jersey Shore
Friday night at Maxwell’s, located in the heart of downtown SLC, is the perfect way for a weekend warrior to kick off a two-day binge. From the moment I walk through the door, I feel the East Coast around me—the Jersey Shore in particular—with the music, lights and energy all bouncing off the walls. I order a vodka tonic—the bar service is super speedy—and relax to the sounds of DJ Godina mixing all night as the work week disappears behind me.
9 Exchange Place (350 South), Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304, MaxwellsECE.com
Friday 10:56 p.m.
Enjoying the Band by the Magic Fire Pit
It’s Friday night at this roadhouse bar, and magnificently hatted and bearded Florida blues band Swamp Cabbage is throwing down some tasty tunes on the outdoor stage, prompting rhythmically challenged drunk people to get up and shake their thang. But the chilly evening air has me shivering until I discover the cold person’s Holy Grail: the patio fire pit. But this is no ordinary wood & flames setup for chumps. Somehow, the fire dances above a bed of gravel—is it the work of a sorcerer?—and the pit itself is made of stone, which makes a handy ledge to set my drink and lean on as I warm up my hands. My back to the fire, I have the best seat in the house.
1199 Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
Friday 11:11 p.m.
The Royal ^
Rock Till You Drop
That new bar smell may have worn off, but The Royal is still a shiny, black & chrome monument to rock & roll excess in an otherwise sedate suburban setting. Hometown heroes (and partial club owners) Royal Bliss are tearing through new tunes and old favorites for a shoulder-to-bare-sweaty-shoulder crowd who’ve obviously come to par-tay. And not 10 feet away from the two frenzied levels inside there’s a calming patio overlooking Big Cottonwood Creek—these guys do everything to extremes.
4760 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-590-9940, TheRoyalSLC.com
Friday 11:18 p.m.
Weekend Warriors Unite
No mellow drinkers here—these folks are in it to win it, and party hard. Indoors, a group of women, dressed to the nines, sit and have sushi; next to them, a table of patrons smoke hookah while multiple shots are bought for the birthday boy. The best part of the bar is the large, open patio, which is perfect for warm summer nights in SLC. The majority of the crowd hangs out here, flirting and dancing to a mix of Top 40, hip-hop and house music, spun by various regular Circle Lounge DJs.
328 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-531-5400, Facebook.com/CircleLoungeSLC
Friday 11:20 p.m.
Let the Right Beer In
Known fact: The Bayou occasionally runs out of a handful of the 300-plus beer brands and variations they diligently stock (thanks, DABC). Little-known fact: You can pull up UtahBayou.com on your smartphone and, under “Beers,” browse a real-time menu of what’s in the fridges tonight and avoid the 20-questions game with your waitress (as is happening at a nearby table right now). Less time yakking means more time enjoying bands like The Number Ones, who are ripping it up in the corner, or just more time drinking some new brew from Copenhagen. Win-win.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
Friday 11:27 p.m.
The Redwood Lounge
Where Every (Ute Fan) Is a Local
It’s just shy of midnight, and I’m getting into that fuzzy part of the night where everything is funnier, shouting my jokes to the friends sitting right next to me. It also helps that I’m high on the good locals’ vibe of the Redwood Lounge, a classy west-side neighborhood sports bar that makes all patrons feel like locals—as long as you pay with cash, that is, and are a Utes fan.
502 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-972-9822
Friday 11:30 p.m.
Mixing With the Fixie Kids
It seems like your typical dive bar: a few regulars, a biker-looking guy and a dimly lit section next to the pool tables. The drinks are cheap—nothing too fancy here. Karaoke has just started and I’m enjoying a pint of Coors … when a pack of fixies roll up. Suddenly, the bar is filled with barely legals. It’s an interesting mix, these older regulars with a young, hip crowd, but Willie’s embraces it. And it seems to be working out for everyone—even the karaoke machine.
1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 760-828-7351, WilliesLounge.net
Friday 11:38 p.m.
Cheers To You ^
Nothing Compares 2 Karaoke
A white guy in a T-shirt is singing “Johnny B. Goode” like he wrote the song. His pelvis is pulverizing the air, three girls in front of him are dancing and singing along, and I wonder if my loathing of karaoke is melting. Don’t mistake the Friday-night traffic jam of college students carrying massive steins past the speakeasy-esque booths as poor bar planning; it’s just the queue to add their name to the list of singers. A twosome of women absolutely butchers “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Then, Ransom Wydner—lead singer of King Niko, the 2011 City Weekly Music Awards Band of the Year—takes the mic and sings “Nothing Compares 2 U” with the same two ladies as back-up singers. And, in this moment, I believe in the power of karaoke.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400
Friday 11:45 p.m.
Modest, But Martini
Kristauf’s reputation has preceded it. That’s why my first move is to find a menu and flip to the martinis: Crisp Pear, Sex in the Morning, etc. Sipping my Konsummate Kristauf’s, I survey the space. Half of the crowd is on its feet, shuffle-bouncing to the high-energy dance music from DJ Omar Edison. Next to me, three young men are less into the music than their own conversation. One leans into the group; his shirt sleeve slides up, revealing the bottom edge of a tattoo. Kind of like Kristauf’s, I think: outwardly subdued, but with a hidden wild side.
16 W. Market St., Salt Lake City, 801-943-1696, MartiniBarSLC.com