Heading out into the heart of a Saturday night may seem overwhelming. If you could use a few tips, we offer "a perfect night on the town," arranged by City Weekly's music critic. You'll just need your ID, some scratch and a sense of adventure (and a local cab company's phone number in your speed dial, in case it comes to that).
The Tin Angel Café
This funky nook across the street from Pioneer Park has high-end, creative culinary flair that, thankfully, lacks any sense of pretentiousness. Opened in 2007 by three self-proclaimed Bohemian weirdos, Tin Angel has a community-based attitude that shows in everything they offer, including local food, art and music. The evening starts with a bottle of red vino from Tin Angel's oenophilic selection, which is paired with a delightful smattering of fearless dishes that include duck, wild boar and artisan cheeses. In the background are some acoustic tunes provided by local singer-songwriters.
365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com
Not just another roadside attraction, this bar on the north edge of town is well worth the drive, although since we're bar hopping, it's a solid idea to get up and back early-ish. This bar/venue has a cozy, arcadian patio, contrasting with the odd backdrop of industrial refineries. Inside, the two hand-built bars and seats, made with reclaimed barn wood, give the place a unique charm. It's no wonder why this out-of-the-way roadhouse is quickly becoming the go-to bar for downtown dwellers.
1199 N. Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
The quest for the perfect libation ends at Bar X. Don't let the glittery signage out front fool you—this oak-y den is a haven for tweedy 20- and 30-somethings who desire handcrafted drinks redolent of yesteryear with the addition of some new, house-invented treats. Getting here just before 10 p.m. usually means you won't have to wait behind the velvet rope on 200 South for a cocktail. The Moscow Mule—vodka, muddled lime, housemade ginger beer—is a favorite, served in a copper mug.
155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287
The Urban Lounge
A bastion for the best live-music shows in town, The Urban Lounge presents a range of styles, from hipster-heavy indie tunes to alt-country to electronic dance. At times, the patrons on the dance floor become a sticky, sweaty, amoeba-like creature. But if dancin' ain't your thing, there's plenty of room on the periphery to sip a cheap brew. There's always a band onstage, and concerts here are geared for party people—they start late and end late.
241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com
Bay Leaf Bar & Grub
This comfort-food establishment is a new mainstay on Main Street and one of the town's few options to sop up a belly full of booze until 1 a.m.—and then sober up on the café's tasty grub as long as it takes. In fact, it's open 24 hours on the weekends. A cafe-turned-bar, it offers the best of two culinary worlds: the South (Alabama) and the East (Philippines). The trash plate, which has literally everything on the breakfast menu piled up and smothered in Southern gravy, is the perfect way to squelch the seeds of a hangover and go comatose after a night out.
159 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8490, BayleafBarAndGrub.com
SLC Bar Guide There's a night on the town with your name on it.
There's a night on the town with your name on it.
By City Weekly Staff
A "night out" in Salt Lake City doesn't have to involve crazy antics with a carrot-studded green Jell-O salad or playing board games with the family. Some imagine our vibrant nightlife is constrained by wacky liquor laws—but how wrong they are. Bars are catching on to the idea of spiked Jell-O salad, and Utah's liquor laws aren't as restrictive as they're made out to be. A night out in Salt Lake City and its surrounding environs can be as elegant or as sassy as any similar-size city, and there are plenty of options, to boot. And the proof's in the pudding (not the Jell-O), so dig in. Bar X
NEIGHBORHOOD & DIVE BARS
A city's bar scene can generally be divided into two camps: One is the set of bars that you only hit once in a while, for a show, a night out dancing or a karaoke excursion. And the other is this group of neighborhood watering holes that welcome regulars with a mix of gritty charm, libations and characters ranging from hipsters to suits, students to professors.
The oldest bar in Salt Lake City is open under new ownership, but the decades of history are easily recognizable in the classic woody decor and wagon-wheel light fixtures. The tankards of yore are still available, as are cans of whatever cheap brew you like, but one new aspect of the place is the specialty cocktails that will take you back to your grandaddy's drinkin' days.
155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287
This hangout has an astonishing selection of beers and tasty Southern grub, along with the frighteningly decadent deep-fried Twinkies on the menu for a closing-time bite.
645 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-961-8400, UtahBayou.com
Another place to find a long list of beers, from Utah's finest to Belgian delights. Its frosty ice bar will keep your beer mug cool all night.
128 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4268
This locale has a long-standing history as a downtown Salt Lake City watering hole. Now, aptly named, the spot offers a huge array of that particular liquor and more, in a comfy setting with lounging couches in one room and tall bar tables in another.
169 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005, BourbonHouseSLC.com
Cheers to You
A comfy sliver of a bar in the heart of downtown, with food from next door's small-plates fave, Eva.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400, CheersToYouSLC.com
Dick N' Dixie's
This buzzing corner-lot bar is home to huge windows, an oak-y interior and the quintessential hipster vibe, which makes it a great spot to hang out in general or to drink and dash before a show at the nearby Urban Lounge.
479 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3556
Here you'll find surprisingly tasty pizza and Old Style signs in the window to let you know this is a Chicago Cubs-friendly joint.
932 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-6401
Fat's Grill & Pool
Come for the slew of pool tables and bevy of sandwiches; stay for the bright atmosphere, where you can actually hold a conversation.
2182 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9467, FatsGrillSLC.com
This bar was built with a craftman's touch and offers cheap brews and excellent grub. It's the place to be for chilling on an excellent patio or to see a live band in an intimate, warm-wood setting.
1199 N. Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
The Green Pig Pub
A brick bar with huge windows and a spacious rooftop patio, this is a prime location for a pre-game drink before all the festivals and parties that fill nearby Washington Square in the summer.
31 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-7441, TheGreenPigPub.com
Here you'll always find screaming cheap drinks and a snowboarding vid at the ready.
372 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-359-8054, Facebook.com/JackalopeLounge
Johnny's on Second
Johnny's is a fine place to start in downtown proper, with pool tables, occasional live tunes and a boisterous patio during warm weather.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334, JohnnysOnSecond.com
One of the friendliest bars in town, Junior's sets the mood with quality recorded jazz, cheap drinks and a fine beer-can collection.
30 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-322-0318, JuniorsTavern.com
Keys on Main
This expansive dueling-pianos bar is the place to see and be seen on a weekend night.
242 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-3638, KeysOnMain.com
Salt Lakers come here for a taste of south-of-the-border nightlife. Karamba offers some spice, with touring bands and DJs from South and Central America, along with regular salsa classes.
1051 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4604
This joint beckons bikers, pre-Salt Lake Bees game imbibers and burger aficionados daring to attempt to eat the joint's fiery Lucky 13 burger—two patties covered with jalapeños and habañeros, squeezed between two grilled-cheese sandwiches serving as the bun.
135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-487-4418, Lucky13SLC.com
Another low-key spot, with some tasty grub and a slew of regulars hunkered down for cheap drinks and football on the telly.
1704 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-467-6289
Maxwell's East Coast Eatery
Look no further for some of the best pizza around. Once you try it, you'll never feel like getting anything else on the menu. But try a mixed drink, too; Maxwell's has a liquor license.
9 Exchange Place (350 South), Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304, MaxwellsECE.com
They purport to be "a step down in social clubs," but the colorful clientele and daily food specials make it a favorite after work and late at night.
160 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-7271, MurphysBarAndGrillUT.com
This bar shares basement space with Ahh Sushi , so you can couple your tankard with sweet deals, subterranean-style. How many sushi joints let you throw peanuts on the floor? And how many peanut joints serve sushi, for that matter?
22 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-8600
Piper purports to be "an olde world pub," but there's a lot that's new about the place, including a spacious new bar area in back, one of the most popular quiz nights in town and all the karaoke anyone can handle.
1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com
Poplar Street Pub
It looks quaint on the outside, but the inside is enormous, with two bar areas and one room dedicated completely to bar games, plus one of the best warm-weather patios in town.
242 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2715, PoplarStreetPub.com
This cement block of a joint has a massive bar, soccer (and only soccer) on the TV screens and a jukebox full of Irish tunes, both traditional and punk-ified.
917 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-595-1916
A great starting point for a Sugar House pub crawl. A recent expansion has made it more spacious, but the friendly bartenders and delicious beers remain.
1992 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-413-2857, Facebook.com/SugarHousePub
The Tap Room is a cozy basement bar that drawers a friendly neighborhood crowd. It somehow manages to have a worthy patio space for the summer months.
2275 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-466-0974, Facebook.com/SLCTapRoom
Twilite has the lounge vibe down, complete with a raging fireplace and free jukebox.
347 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-9400, TwiliteLounge.com
This bar joined forces with the former Graffiti Lounge and now serves hard libations in addition to the cheap cans—of PBR and paint—which gave the original spot its name in recognition of its intricately decorated walls.
342 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2271
A laid-back dive with dirt-cheap beers, karaoke, foosball and the occasional live band.
1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 866-612-2920, WilliesLounge.net
Sure, many touring bands say something like, "[Fill in the blank city] is our favorite place to play." But, we like to think they actually mean it here. With its beautiful mountain backdrop and abundance of clubs, Salt Lake City is a little oasis for bands touring the West. On top of that, the local music scene is burgeoning with renewed support from these clubs—so much so that there's hardly a free night on the calendar for many a music lover.
This Murray space has a little something for everyone, blending dance-oriented nights hosted by some of the valley's best DJs with live music ranging from raging rock to old-school hip-hop.
74 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-1885, 5MonkeysBar.com
The space has changed names many times through the years, but the vibe remains the same: neighborhood bar meets music club. Depending on what night you pop in, you can find reggae bands, psychobilly trios or touring favorites like Mike Watt or the Supersuckers. A heavy dose of local talent assures a regular rotation of Salt Lake City music lovers.
666 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2914, BarDeluxeSLC.com
Burt's Tiki Lounge
A Salt Lake City institution with the best wall art of fliers, graffiti and assorted flotsam to peruse over the course of a night, Burt's hosts a nonstop array of touring and local bands leaning heavily on punk, rockabilly and blues.
726 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-521-0572
The space for 1,200 is one of the best live-music spots around, thanks to great sound, multiple bars and bathrooms that could hold the entire populace of smaller clubs. On any given night, you might find country stars like Dwight Yoakam, hip-hop heroes like Snoop Dogg or rocking artists ranging from young (My Morning Jacket, Michael Franti) to old (Lindsay Buckingham, B.B. King).
400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5522, DepotSLC.com
In The Venue/Club Sound
A mix of live-music venue and dance club, this space boasts an impressive flow of artists coming to grace its two stages, including the likes of Band of Horses, Atmosphere and Janelle Monae. Concerts regularly end early so the place can convert into one of Salt Lake City's most active dance spots, complete with cages.
219 S. 600 West, Salt Lake City, 801-359-3219, InTheVenueSLC.com
A dedicated fan base, savvy management and a never-ending supply of young artists willing to play the garage-turned-venue has helped this all-ages venue outlast similar operations in far larger cities. The place continues to thrive and now has a record label, Kilby Records, to go with it. Early show times mean the kids can be home by 10, as can the fans with early-morning classes or jobs.
741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), Salt Lake City, 801-364-3538, KilbyCourt.com
This long-running mid-valley club might not look like a music club from the outside; its round exterior hints at its former life as a sports bar. Thankfully, a heavy dose of local bands on Wednesdays and Fridays and massively popular tribute bands that play every Thursday and Saturday keep music at the forefront.
1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5637, LiquidJoes.net
The State Room
This 300-seat venue in a former children's theater offers arguably the best sound of any music joint in town—all the better to hear the jazz, blues, rock and jam-band favorites that stop by on a regular basis. The State Room has hosted the diverse likes of John Hiatt, OK Go and Heartless Bastards, and the drink prices won't make you cringe, unlike far too many clubs.
638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 800-501-2885, TheStateRoomSLC.com
The Urban Lounge
This hipster haven hosts live music virtually every night of the week, from touring big names to local showcases. Whatever your taste—psychedelic rock, hip-hop, acoustic folk and everything in between—you can find it at The Urban Lounge. Just be ready for a late night out; with a restaurant next door, opening acts never start before 9 p.m.
241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com
The patio out back is one of the best in town, and an eclectic mix of local bands and touring acts and some of the city's best street-taco vendors just steps away all make this spot a must-stop.
60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0805, TheWoodshedSLC.com
For some Salt Lakers, donning high-performance outerwear is their version of "dressy" (there's a reason people call Patagonia "PataGucci" here). It doesn't have to be so. The city's swankier establishments invite you to deck out to the nines. With live jazz, oak walls, candlelight and more, these classy joints will give you reason to revel in high fashion.
This bar inside the Hotel Monaco is officially called The Vault, but nobody calls it that; Bambara bar will suffice, and the joint's skilled bartenders make a stop before dinner at the Bambara restaurant or a show at the Capitol Theatre a must.
202 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-363-5454, Bambara-SLC.com
The Circle Lounge
Catering to a young, sophisticated crowd, Circle Lounge features an in-house sushi bar, tasty cocktails and a blend of jazz and house music that keeps the place humming and the dance floor full into the early hours.
328 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-531-5400, MyCircleLounge.com
A swanky midtown bar with sunken dance floor featuring DJ Scotty B's wizardry on sound, light and video. Habits' multiple bars, open space and inviting patio create a VIP atmosphere for special occasions. Lunch and dinner menus include daily specials, appetizers, sushi and steaks. For old-fashioned fun, there's Texas Hold 'Em on Mondays and karaoke on Thursday.
832 E. 3900 South, Murray, 801-268-2228, ClubHabits.com
Kristauf's Martini Bar
Find a fine martini waiting for you either right after work or late in the evening, when DJs fill the room with trance and house music. The proximity to one of Salt Lake City's best Japanese restaurants—Takashi, right next door—is a bonus.
16 W. Market St. (340 South), Salt Lake City, 801-366-9490; 6405 S. 3000 East, Holladay, 801-943-1696, MartiniBarSLC.com
Market Street Oyster Bar
The Oyster Bar fills up for happy hour nightly and gets hopping before most major events downtown, from Jazz games to concerts.
54 W. Market St. (340 South), Salt Lake City, 801-531-6044, MarketStreetOysterBar.com
The Red Door
A large menu of fine scotch and a number of specialty martinis (try the Mescal-ini) make this a fine spot for hipsters and suits alike. There's also a giant Che painted on the wall, chill tunes that let you hear your conversation and a creepy stuffed monkey overlooking the action from his post in the corner.
57 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-6030, BehindTheRedDoor.com
Joining in the camaraderie of prideful sports junkies, along with swilling some cheap brews and eating fried finger munchies, is just better than watching the big game at home. While Ute red is displayed at most every sports bar in town, there is always an array of hi-def TVs to accommodate a fan of any team.
Don't let the windowless barracks exterior fool you. Inside, Batters Up has a ton of screens, pool tables and dirt-cheap breakfast on weekends.
1717 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-463-4996, BattersUpSportsBar.com
'Bout Time Pub & Grub
This sports bar boasts a spacious interior, so you can go wild watching one of the many TVs without bumping elbows with an opposing fan. 'Bout Time has seven locations for downtown and south-valley sports fans to enjoy.
Multiple locations, BoutTimePub.com
The Sugar House institution has every NFL game to go along with one of the best sports-bar brunches around.
1063 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-463-9393, FiddlersElbowSLC.com
The proprietors of Gracie's might balk at seeing their gastropub listed as a "sports bar," but with the array of TV sports packages they offer and a brunch menu full of eggs Benedict variations, we like "getting our sports on" at Gracie's on weekend mornings.
326 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-819-7565, GraciesSLC.com
The strip-mall location might throw you, but once you step inside The Huddle, it's TV sports in every direction you look.
2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-438-8300
The wings are none too shabby, and with nine locations dotting the Wasatch Front, you're rarely far from an Iggy's.
Multiple locations, IggysSportsGrill.com
Legends can be the perfect start or end of a good day downtown, with tasty grub and close proximity to Brewvies and a TRAX stop.
677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-3598, WhyLegends.com
The original Lumpy's is a Ute bar through and through, and the lengthy grub menu, walls covered in Utah memorabilia and two-story-plus patio keep Lumpy's a go-to game stop.
3000 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5597, LumpysBar.com
The TVs at every booth made the downtown Lumpy's an immediate favorite when it opened, and late night, it makes the tricky switch to a DJ-led, dance-fueled hook-up spot.
145 W. Pierpont Ave. (250 South), Salt Lake City, 801-883-8714, LumpysDowntownSLC.com
The south end of the valley has historically been slim pickings for bars, but Oscars has been offering up a worthy sports bar for years. Plus, it offers the area's finest karaoke.
8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222, OscarsUtah.com
|GET OUT OF DOWNTOWN
While the cultural life of Salt Lake City revolves around downtown, there are plenty of spots outside of the city that are worth a jaunt, either via cab or with a designated driver in tow.
A Bar Named Sue
Yeah, it's a basement strip-mall bar, but it also boasts an endless menu of whiskeys and bourbons, plus entertainment ranging from live tunes to free pool to trivia contests.
3928 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-274-5578, A-Bar-Named-Sue.com
A destination designed for the Saturday Night Fever-obsessed, with an interactive dance floor that triggers the kind of light show typically reserved for a Laser Floyd concert.
8925 S. 255 West, Sandy, 801-255-2078, AllureSLC.com
This spot has been supplying the party for Sandy for more than 30 years. Cover bands bring the classic rock and dance music on weekends, and weeknights and weekend days are built for sports, with menus offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
9065 Monroe St. (150 West), Sandy, 801-566-3254, Club90SLC.com
Considered by many of its regulars as a "Cheers with boobs"—the exotic dancers are certainly the main draw, but daily lunch and drink specials and various bar games at this "relaxed gentleman's club" make it a friendly neighborhood stop, as well, even if you aren't paying attention to the action onstage.
2750 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-467-4600, DucesWildSLC.com
The Hog Wallow
This valley favorite hosts rootsy tunes Wednesday through Sunday nights. There's an expansive, wooded patio that stretches up the hill out back. And then there's the tasty grub. Put all that together and you have a place that thrives both in the summer and for the après-ski crowd in the winter.
3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Cottonwood Heights, 801-733-5567, TheHogWallow.com
Huka Bar & Grill
One of the valley's most happening spots, Huka boasts water pipes galore, a bevy of beautiful people and a late-night, all-ages cafe attached for the kids who can't get in to hear some reggae or dance to the regular DJs.
151 E. 6100 South, Murray, 801-281-4852, TheHukaBar.com
The Leprechaun Inn
It might fool you from the outside, where it looks deceptively like a tiny strip-mall bar. Inside, though, it's a spacious spot full of pool tables, TVs for the big game and some of the best bar grub in town.
4700 S. 900 East, Suite 6, Salt Lake City, 801-268-3294, TheLeprechaunInn.com
There's plenty of room to spread out in this Cottonwood-area sports bar. Enjoy a game on one of the TVs in the main room, slide over to the side for a game on one of the six pool tables, or throw some electronic darts. Sunday and Monday Texas Hold 'Em tournaments and post-game karaoke are also part of the entertainment menu.
6253 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-273-9899, MaggieMcGees.com
Live music, dancing and mechanical bull rides beckon the country-inclined, but even folks who don't like their music twangy will find something to love in the enormous Westerner space, either in the kitchen serving an extensive food menu, in the room dedicated to karaoke or on the dance floor, full of cowboys and cowgals.
3360 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-972-5447