Salt Lake City west-side neighborhoods have a rich history and many unique points of interest. Many businesses are small Mom & Pops trying to make it in a corporate world. I’ve navigated the sidewalks, back streets and alleys to find some of the coolest hidden gems.
Extending below prestigious Capitol Hill is one of the oldest and most charming parts of town: the Marmalade. Below the fancy houses and cozy streets is the slightly rougher ’round the edges but still safe Marmalade Adjacent. This neighborhood is next up for redevelopment—and leave it to the gay community to start its gentrification. Here you’ll find a new watering hole, Jam (750 N. 300 West), which takes its name from the area’s history of fruit trees and preserve manufacturing. Discrimination-free, it’s fast becoming a favorite hangout for people of all walks of life. For lovers of Sugarhouse Coffee, Marmalade Coffee (361 N. 300 West) is its sister shop with the same owner, menu and shared employees. It features a quite substantial book collection and, of course, free wireless Internet.
The northwest corner of the city seems to have blossomed during the 1950s. And there is more to this garden district than simply housing the Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West). Many of the city’s retail chains have overlooked this land that time forgot. But not the Blue Boutique which located one of its three adult gift and novelty stores at 780 W. North Temple. For you thrift-store junkies, Deseret Industries, 743 W. 700 South, is off the beaten path so you’re destined to find more merchandise and shorter lines. The International Peace Gardens, 1000 S. 900 West, is a real treasure for those with a green thumb as well as a great way to spend an afternoon with a picnic. This park was pivotal when I moved to the city in finding out what flora was possible to grow in this climate. In the summer, it houses a more intimate and grass-roots Sunday farmers market. Continuing on the peaceful path, be sure to check out the Buddhist temple incongruously set in the middle of a residential street.
Rose Park houses a large slice of our Latino community. While checking out eating options, I found so many to be exciting that I can’t pick just one. I suggest trying a new one at every chance: Mayan, El Salvadorian, Mexican—you won’t be disappointed. Nightlife is sparse to nonexistent here, so if you’re considering opening such an establishment, remember that young people are moving in this area by the droves.
Glendale/West Valley City
You’ll need a car for two of my favorite shopping places in this area: NPS Market Square and Industrial, 1600 S. Empire Road, is a magical warehouse of discount shopping. It’s one-third grocery store (my vegan friends love its selection), one-third clothing store (I found a Versace bikini for $40 last summer in the designer section), and one-third home & garden center (on my last trip, I bought all my planting roses at half price, as well as a huge electric teal flokoti rug for under $100. If you’re the early-to-rise set, then don’t miss the good old-fashioned Swap Meet, 3688 S. Redwood Road, Saturday and Sunday, from 6 a.m. till 2 p.m. This is the place to “get your bargain on” for literally anything and everything you can think of. Pay no mind to the early hour as vendors will have coffee and breakfast options waiting when you get there.
The Gateway Mall is one thing, but the outlying area is fantastic. As you travel south away from the mall, you’re in what “the kids” call SOGA (South of Gateway Area). This warehouse district is booming with art-loft construction, and crawling with young artists of all mediums. Starting at 351 W. Pierpont Ave. you have local celeb designer Keith Bryce (Project Runway) and his ultra clothing boutique Filthy Gorgeous, a one-stop shop for original creations and funky silk-screened graphic Ts and accessories. Next door at 353 West is my all-time favorite upscale retro furniture store Elemente. This immaculate stockpile is well organized and has amazing eclectic selections at fab prices. Are you missing a grouse, warthog or zebra in your life? Then skip down to Euro Treasures, 470 W. 600 South, for the city’s largest collection of taxidermy.
If something modern is more your bag, then just a block up the street is Kendall’s Fine Furniture, 701 S. 300 West. It reminds me of a San Francisco-style store with its overstuffed purple club chairs, lip-shaped love seats and faux-leopard-printed chaise lounges. Across the street is a point of interest (to me, anyway): The Red Lotus building, 740 S. 300 West, is an old Mormon church built in 1910. In the ’80s, it was turned into Salt Lake’s first goth club The Saint. It was fun!
Traveling down the road to 900 South between 200 and 300 West is the hub of this soon-to-be art district. Just west of the TRAX stop is an already bustling scene. For food you have the long time established Jade Cafe, 234 W. 900 South. If you like down-home comfort food that was fusion way before there was fusion, then give this greasy chopstick a try. Next door is Johnny Kolache, 248 W. 900 South, a much-needed coffee-and-sandwich shop in the growing area.
Across the street at 251 W. 900 South is Club Try-Angles (it’s a gay club, get it?). They advertise as an open-minded club with dancing, food and great summer barbecues. Finally, The Cell Block, 1051 S. 300 West: Moving from their old location of 3300 South and Highland Drive to the old Broken Record, they’ve done a great job at making a silk purse out of sow’s ear. Establishing a client base from the surrounding locals, with a full menu/bar and sports on the TV. It’s on the verge of becoming a true neighborhood bar
Go west, I say, for adventure and excitement. Don’t be afraid to stray off the byway of these and your own stomping grounds. You might be shocked to find a new favorite shop, restaurant or venue. What you will find are the locals in the area that you should be supporting and passing their business on to your friends.
Princess Kennedy is a Salt Lake City freelance writer.