Best Bowling in Style
Bowling can sometimes feel like a throwback activity, recalling 1950s leagues in matching shirts, tossing a ball between beers and cigarettes. So how do you bring it into the 21st century? With an entertainment venue like this Park City spot: a sprawling 22,000 square feet that includes 16 bowling lanes, plus pool tables, an arcade, flat-screen TVs for sports viewing, a full bar and a restaurant that serves more than the obligatory cardboard pizza and burgers. Head to Kimball Junction and walk around in those rented shoes before deciding you know what a bowling experience is all about.
1090 Center Drive, Park City, 435-658-2695, JupiterBowl.com
Best Summer Folk-Music Venue
For those gentle folks who recoil from the crowds and decibel levels of the Twilight Concert Series, there is a sanctuary at Anderson-Foothill Library—a small amphitheater under a canopy of trees. There, on eight summer nights, the free Concerts by the Creek series provides an intimate experience with acoustic music. It’s the perfect venue for hearing such local folk favorites as Kate MacLeod and Marv Hamilton, with Emigration Creek providing back-up vocals.
1135 S. 2100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-594-8611, SLCPL.org
Best Beck Street Reclamation Project
Best Fashion Event
Art Meets Fashion
Founded locally by Anne Cummings-Anderson and Heidi Gress of (a)perture Gallery in 2009, the event brought together musicians, artists and fashion designers for an evening of collaborative creation and awareness, with all of 2010's proceeds going to the Human Rights Campaign. 2010 saw the event take over the Salt Lake Art Center, with more than 150 participants and hundreds more as guests, showcasing new designs from locals Jordan Halversen and Krista Nielson, among others. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the biggest fashion event in Utah.
Best Dancing With the Stars (of South Salt Lake)
BallroomUtah Dance Studio
If the mere thought of ballroom and Latin dancing makes you weak in the knees, BallroomUtah is your cure. Here, dances like the waltz, foxtrot, tango, salsa, rumba, cha-cha, mambo, swing, merengue, bolero, polka and the hustle are taught in either private or group lessons at BallroomUtah’s 3,000-square-foot location. This breathtaking studio also serves as Pamela Nielsen’ s Contemporary Art Gallery. Owner Martin Skupinski, a professional dance instructor for 30 years, is committed to expanding studio dance opportunities for both students and instructors, so when it comes time for you to shake that thang, you can be a fearless star—at least of South Salt Lake.
3030 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-916-4716, BallroomUtah.com
Best Dive Bar
Burt’s Tiki Lounge
Burt’s is a repeat winner in this category, and all we can say is, thank God no one’s ever tried to class up the Tiki Lounge. Can you imagine the place without its walls covered with graffiti and band flyers? Without its booze stash in danger of being wiped out by a hard-drinking crowd any night of the week? Without the nonstop nights of blues, rock, metal and punk taking over the stage and forcing the weak-stomached to the back of the room lest their ears get blown out by the night’s entertainment? Burt’s is a dive in the best sense, a place with grit and soul among dozens of generic drinking spots.
726 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-521-0572, MySpace.com/BurtsTikiLounge
2. Twilite Lounge
3. Cheers to You
Best Beach-Side Club
“Sandy” isn’t just the address for this jumpin’ night spot; it’s also a state of mind, and a fitting adjective. While there’s plenty of indoor space for DJ dancing, pool-playing or general weekend socializing, there’s a unique vibe to the venue’s nearly 4,000-square-foot patio, with room for nearly 500 revelers. Gather around a fire pit for a cozy evening or get a little sand between your toes on a sandy strip of “beach” where you can pretend for a little while that there are waves lapping at the shore as you enjoy your favorite libation.
8925 S. 255 West, Sandy, 801-255-2078, AllureSLC.com
Best Hot Latin Moves
DF Latin’ s Salsa Social
Date night just got a whole lot better with DF Latin’ s Salsa Social. Held every other Friday, taking up two dance floors, the salsa social starts with a beginner’ s salsa or bachata class at 9 p.m., followed by games and slow/medium tempo music to practice to at 10 p.m. After 11 p.m., the live music kicks in—conga and timbales—and you can watch the pros dance the cha-cha and rumba. Come single or with a partner; it doesn’t matter—everyone dances with everyone. It’s your chance to wear those seductive dance clothes hanging in the back of your closet.
2978 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-577-3648, SalsaInUtah.com
Best Fire-Side Concerts
Best Glamorous Scene
When you live in Salt Lake City, or even the West in general, “glamorous” is not an adjective you often find associated with a city’s nightlife outside of Vegas or Los Angeles. But we do have a little taste of the glamorous life, courtesy of The Hotel/Elevate nightclub. Forget jeans and T-shirts at this place; people dress in their dance-club finest and sexiest when they visit for the always-slamming Saturday-night parties, or for one of the regular visits by top-notch local and touring DJs. The addition of live bands every Wednesday gives club-hoppers another night to glam it up.
155 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-478-4310, TheHotelElevate.com
2. The Red Door
We could have gone with Bar-X here, thanks to the presence of Modern Family actor Ty Burrell as part of the new ownership group, but Danny Masterson’s Park City club attracts a big-name lineup of DJs year-round, from true pioneers like Z-Trip to former Lindsay Lohan flame Samantha Ronson to joke-rapper Dirty Nasty, as well as giving locals like DJ Bentley a residency to spin for tourists and local hip-hop heads.
625 Main, Park City, 435-226-5340, DownstairsPC.com
Best New Neighborhood Joint
Dick N’ Dixie’s
Sometimes you just don’t want to sit through a couple of opening bands to get to the act you bought a ticket to see, making a pre-show stop a must. Now, thanks to the conversion of Andy’s Place tavern into the fully loaded, cocktails-and-all Dick N’ Dixie’s, you can simply stop about 50 yards from Urban Lounge’s front door for a relaxing pint or party-starting shot of your choice. And thanks to the steady stream of regulars who’ve made DND home since it opened in 2010, you won’t be alone.
479 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3556
Dubwise at Urban Lounge
Right before the bass drops, there is an eerie, anticipation-filled silence that sonically scrubs dancers’ inner ears clean, so when it hits, you're lathered in the bass-y bubbles. That’s dubstep. For four years, James Loomis, aka DJ Illoom, has ensured that folks can squeegee their musical souls clean with high-energy electronic sounds at the near-monthly Dubwise concert at The Urban Lounge. The show, booming speakers and all, turns even the most staid crowd into a sweaty, gyrating amoeba of dancing joy.
241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com
Best Chilly Local Music Festival
Salt Lake City’s three-day New Year’s celebration, known as EVE, tries to be all things to all people, from a family-friendly party and fireworks show to an extreme-sports fan’s dream to a hipster hangout, all to varying degrees of success. But there’s no denying that the organizers manage to cram a lot of worthy local talent onto its two music stages; this year, the featured entertainment included local faves Cub Country, Muscle Hawk and The Devil Whale while the huddled, frozen masses waited for the clock to strike midnight.
Best Alley Concerts
Here’s the scene: girls and boys in skinny jeans, knit trapper hats year-round, an unadvertised concert set in a back alley behind FICE Gallery, rooftop perches to watch the show, Copper Palate Press screen printing on the spot, and a beverage in every hand. Now that’s hipster heaven. Bands like Laserfang, the Vile Blue Shades and God’s Revolver have graced the alley behind FICE Gallery after Gallery Stroll. The little shindig makes for a “rad” finish after an evening of perusing gallery walls.
160 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4722, FICEGallery.com
Best Unexpected Pizza
When you walk into Duffy’s Tavern, you notice the stylish pleather booths, the lone pool table, the mugs reserved for regulars behind the bar and the door to the “smoking lounge” out back. But you don’t notice a kitchen because there ain’t one. That doesn’t stop Duffy’s from making some of the tastiest pizzas (bar category) in town with its mini-oven that sits on the counter just a few feet away from the libations. The pizzas take a while (hey, the bartenders have drinks to pour, too, ya know?) but they are totally worth it. And let’s face it, the more you drink, the better the pizza tastes, so that wait is really to your advantage.
932 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-6401, SaltLakeCityUtah.org/DuffysTavern.htm
Karaoke is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition for most, but there’s no question about how City Weekly readers feel about it at the Piper Down pub—they love it enough to name it the Best Karaoke spot in Utah once again. Of course, at the Piper Down, it’s “Kerry O’Kee,” because you have to have that Celtic vibe to go along with your Guinness, pub grub and drunken performances of Journey and Bon Jovi tunes.
1492 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com
2. The Tavernacle
Best New Club
Best Keeper of the Jazz Flame
The long-running Jazz at the Sheraton concert series has earned GAM Foundation leader Gordon Hanks respect throughout the jazz community, from the students who benefit from GAM’s charity programs and tickets to the shows to the artists who continually come back to play the hotel ballroom. This year, though, GAM deserves recognition for bringing to Utah some of the best that jazz has to offer, from New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band to a Valentine’s Day weekend show by Stacey Kent to the incomparable Regina Carter closing the season April 25.
Best 50th Birthday
Best Live Music Club
The community of live-music venues continues to grow in Utah; the past year included additions ranging from the multiroom Complex in Salt Lake City to a refurbished Grove Theatre in Pleasant Grove. Still, City Weekly readers gave the 5-year-old Depot their vote as the best live music club again this year, recognizing the venue for its great sound, spacious confines and booking that attracts everyone from hot young acts to long-running jam bands to living legends. Throw in regular Friday-night visits from world-class DJs, and The Depot has a little something for every music fan.
400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5522, DepotSLC.com
2. The Urban Lounge
3. The State Room
Best Jiggly Drink Special
Jell-O Shots at City Limits
If you’re looking to beat the heat and want a treat that will pack a punch, you can order one of the special Jell-O shots at Provo’s City Limits Tavern. These tasty treats are no longer just for summer parties. Why not knock one back at the bar during the lunch break or after work? After you’ve let a Jager or Sex on the Beach Jell-O shot slide into your gullet, you’ll have discovered just one of the reasons why City Limits is one of Utah County’s most appealing bars.
440 W. Center St., Provo, 801-374-2337
Best New Multi-Venue
Last year, we thought The Rail would be the new west-side concert venue to beat. The new quad-room box The Complex popped up seemingly overnight with an impressive amount of bookings and an even more impressive amount of sheer space—42,000 square feet divided up between four different rooms: Rockwell (holds 2,500), the Grand (850), the Vibe (200) and Vertigo (425; home to the City Weekly Music Awards final showcase this year). Beyond live music, The Complex also hosts comedy events (such as the regular Tuesday-night Comedy Roadkill shows), DJ parties (like Lady Starlight’s recent Lady Gaga afterparty) and unclassifiable happenings (The Bad Girls Party), with free summer shows and even sporting events in the planning stages.
536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-997-0490, TheComplexSLC.com
Best Monday Night at the Movies
Brewvies Cinema Pub
Monday is the worst day of the week (ask any cartoon cat), which is why Brewvies’ Film Buff Night is such a humanitarian gesture. Around 10 p.m. every Monday, Salt Lake City’s favorite cinema pub screens a free classic from yesteryear—meaning, the past 20 or so, and not quite your average film snob’s definition of “classic.” For example, here’s April’s lineup: Grumpy Old Men (1993), Anchorman (2004), Mars Attacks (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). All movies go down better with a pitcher of beer and a stack of nachos—why wait for terrible Tuesday at home?
677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5500, Brewvies.com
Best Pool Joint
Fats Grill & Pool
Salt Lake City isn’t exactly awash in pool halls. Yes, most bars have at least one table, but it’s rarely the reason people pick a place to go. That’s not so with Fats Grill & Pool, where the seven tables are always in primo shape. No doubt that’s one reason Fats has dominated this category among City Weekly readers for a decade. Of course, a menu that includes killer burgers, sandwiches and pizza helps, as does a full liquor license. And this year, Fats added yet another reason to visit its Sugar House locale—a new music venue in the basement that features a rotating selection of local bands every weekend.
2182 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9467, FatsGrillSLC.com
2. Johnny’s on Second
3. X-Wifes Place
Best Hidden Concert Series
KRCL Hidden Hollow Concert Series
KRCL 90.9 FM supports local music in myriad ways, from playing Utah artists on its airwaves to hosting in-studio appearances by those same bands. In 2010, the station launched yet another effort to help hype local tunes with the nascent Hidden Hollow Concert Series, a free weekly show in a little-known pocket park on Wilmington Avenue that needed a dose of flavor. The Friday-night shows boasted the likes of La Farsa, Fictionist and S.L.A.J.O. its first season. Here’s hoping there’s a second.
1228 E. Wilmington Ave. (2190 South), Salt Lake City, KRCL.org/Hidden-Hollow
Best In-The-Movie Seats
Megaplex at The District and The Junction “D-Box”
The surge in 3-D theatrical releases has been just one example of how theatrical exhibition has tried to fight back against the growing sense that home viewing of movies may be preferable. But when you add a real sense of motion to the visual and sound experience, you might have something unique. The Megaplex Theatres locations in South Jordan and Ogden became the first movie theaters in the state to feature “D-Box” technology, which, for select films, synchronizes realistic motion effects with the on-screen action. It’s not just a movie; it’s an amusement-park ride with a plot.
3761 W. Parkway Plaza Drive, South Jordan, 801-304-4020; 2351 Kiesel Ave., Ogden, 801-528-5800, MegaplexTheatres.com
Best Place to Hook Up
Best Ogden Club
Ogden’s Historic 25th Street is the home to some of Utah’s oldest and most iconic bars, from the 50-year-old biker haven Kokomo Club to the upscale City Club. But none can match the status of Brewskis as Northern Utah’s go-to live music spot and watering hole. Nightly entertainment ranges from Heavy Metal Karaoke to open mic nights to weekends packed with tribute bands and some of Utah’s best original acts, playing everything from reggae to rock to country. Even before the tunes get going, Brewskis is worth a stop just for the excellent pizza and friendly folks bellied up to the bar.
244 25th St., Ogden, 801-394-1713, BrewskisOnline.net
3. The Wine Cellar
Best Effort at Making Resort-Town Living Livable
Mountain Town Music
For years, Mountain Town Music was known for hosting free summertime shows all over Park City. Now, it’s making life better for the full-time residents year-round, and enticing valley dwellers to drive the run over Parley’s more and more by booking national touring acts like Railroad Earth and the Radiators at venues from Harry O’s to Downstairs to Star Bar.
Best Concerts With Keepsakes
Salt Lake City Library Music at Main
We’ve raved about the downtown library’s Music at Main concert series before, whether it was the summer shows on the plaza or the winter shows inside Salt Lake City’s architectural wonder. In 2010, they documented the summer series with a CD of live recordings called, aptly, Music at Main: Summer 2010. While a live album is tricky business, the collection, which included tunes from the likes of Tolchok Trio, Palace of Buddies, Nolens Volens and 16 more(!), was an unbeatable local compilation.
210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-524-8200, SLCPL.org
Best Park City Club
This Park City mainstay opens every year with a ballroom blitz courtesy of Hollywood’s movers and shakers in town for Sundance, and this year’s January shows included acts ranging from the reclusive Lauryn Hill to the seemingly annual visit from Snoop Dogg. What makes Harry O’s the readers’ favorite on a regular basis, though, is what the club does the rest of the year, giving Salt Lakers and PC locals a massive dance space for its Saturday Night Live throwdowns. The recent weeks have included nights hosted by uber-producer Jermaine Dupri and the Utah Jazz’s C.J. Miles. Harry O’s is also giving Utah bands a chance to play its big stage more and more, and a renewed relationship with Park City’s Mountain Town Stages this year has also added a heavy dose of jam-band shows to the Harry O’s calendar.
427 Main, Park City, 801-652-1939, HarryOs-PC.com
3. The Star Bar
Best Addition to Sugar House
Best Free Flicks on a Friday
Pioneer Park Picture Show
The Salt Lake City Film Center brought some added life to Pioneer Park—and one with a rock & roll soundtrack—on four straight summer Friday nights with free screenings of rock documentaries like The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights and Heavy Metal in Baghdad, accompanying each screening with a local band serving as the opening act. It was an inspired bit of programming we hope gets the OK for a second run.
Best Reason to Summer In Ogden
Ogden Music Festival
In just a couple of years, the organizers of the Ogden Music Festival have created a must-go event in the luxurious confines of Fort Buenaventura park. After ditching your car, you hike a short path through the forest to the stage area that sits next to a lake and among the ruins of the old fort. But it’s the tunes that make it what it is; in 2010, they included roots-rock legend Dave Alvin and rising star Eilen Jewell, among a slew of local and regional bluegrass, folk and roots-rock acts. 2011’s festival (June 3-5) looks just as strong, thanks to the likes of Junior Brown and Leslie & The Badgers on the bill.
2450 A Ave., Ogden, OFOAM.org
Best Summertime BYOB
Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
Red Butte isn’t the only outdoor concert spot that allows its patrons to bring their own picnics and beverages, but it’s clearly the best. The size is ideal, making 3,000 people seem like just a few hundred friends. The venue has ideal grades to provide a great spot to see the stage from virtually anywhere, and the permanent bathrooms are obviously a huge step up from the old portable toilets. And in the summer of 2010, Red Butte boasted its biggest lineup ever, including stellar shows by the likes of Steve Martin, Joss Stone and Willie Nelson. Hell, even if you can’t get a ticket, a 12-pack and short walk up the hills overlooking the venue makes for a fine night, too.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556, RedButteGarden.org
Best Food for Thought
Salt Lake City Film Center
Michael Pollan and other sustainable-food pioneers paved the way for change, but sometimes new books and talks in this field are fairly predictable. So for those tired of pedantic, preaching-to-the-choir tales of vegetable villainy and meaty mayhem, the Salt Lake City Film Center offered a fresh perspective on food in 2010. As part of the Food for Thought film series, they showed Food Fight, Ingredients and One Man, One Cow, One Planet. Locavores freaked out over the Utah premiere of Fresh, which ran in conjunction with a bounty of community-oriented events for a week last August. Talk about brain food.
122 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-746-7000, SLCFilmCenter.org
Best Placement of “Dogs Playing Poker”
Shooting Star Saloon
The best spot for this painting is right over the pool table, naturally, at the oldest tavern in the state. The classic tapestry is proudly displayed alongside all manner of dead animal heads hanging from the walls, including the Shooting Star’s mascot, a massive stuffed St. Bernard named Buck. While you tip a few back, listening to the jukebox packed with classic country ranging from Hank to Willie to Johnny C., be sure to sample the Star Burger. But know that some burgers just aren’t complete without a knackwurst involved.
7350 E. 200 South, Huntsville, 801-745-2002
Best Chuckwagon Dinner Show
Bar M Wranglers
Utahns are never far from a connection to their 19th-century legacy, but there are ways beyond Pioneer Day to be smack-dab in the middle of the cowboy experience. April through October, Moab is home to a live Old West dinner and show, a family-friendly entertainment extravaganza that combines stick-to-the-ribs chuckwagon-dinner grub with Western music, comedy and even a shootout. Bring out your own inner cowboy and wear your best Western attire to "town," or outfit yourself in the Western Village gift shop.
7000 N. Highway 191, Moab, 435-259-2276, BarMChuckwagon.com
Best Cheap Drinks
Best Utah County Club
Many Salt Lakers suffer from a misconception that all nightlife south of downtown stops well before Point of the Mountain and Utah County is an utterly dry, boring place. Not so, and ABG’s is proof. Holding down a prominent spot among the various ethnic restaurants lining Provo’s welcoming Center Street, ABG’s has a full liquor license, live music every Friday from Utah County’s and Salt Lake City’s best bands, a surprisingly wide-ranging menu and a welcoming vibe that lets the drinkin’ heathens in Provo for a night (or a lifetime) know that there is an alternative to booze-free dance clubs or dates at the ice cream parlor.
190 W. Center St., Provo, 801-373-1200, ABGsBar.com
2. Owl Bar
3. City Limits Tavern
Best Bar to Let Your Hair Down
Best Underage O-Town Headbanging
One of the biggest bummers about living in a small city is that the nightlife, such as it is, is typically reserved for bars. The folks behind The Basement recognized a need for some all-ages music action in Ogden and they delivered, with a calendar that boasts an array of local talent and national touring acts (with an emphasis on the hard and heavy), early show times and cover charges that rarely creep above $5.
329 E. 24th St., Ogden, 801-540-0334, TheBasementMusic.com
Best Dance Competition
The Bboy Federation
The nostalgic return of bboy dancing was bound to influence competitions at some level, but we just never guessed it would grow to the popularity of having organized blowouts for cash prizes. The Bboy Federation held six months of tournaments featuring dozens of fresh crews, along with demos for youth and guest dancers to perform and judge, all in the spirit of supporting the dance movement and getting people out. The finals were held in February, and a new tournament is in the works for the fall.
Best Bowling Alley
Bonwood Bowl is an alley for lovers of the game, league players and all those who hearken to the romantic era of community bowling halls. Classic bowling coupled with cheap beer and tasty burgers, hotdogs and other bowling grub make this a destination for families, date-night couples and 10-pin connoisseurs alike.
2500 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7758, BonwoodBowl.com
2. Fat Cats
3. Jupiter Bowl
Best Christmas Gift
The Broadway Centre’s Free Screening of It’s a Wonderful Life
In the rush and commercial hullabaloo of Christmas, the Broadway’s annual free screenings of Capra’s always-absorbing It’s a Wonderful Life is truly the gift of gifts. Part of the pleasure is running into folks you met in the line snaking around the center of the cinema in previous years. Then there’s the oddly giddy, warmhearted feeling of sitting in a packed cinema knowing that you are part of an act of generosity. Finally, after you’ve yet again devoured Capra’s magical tale of suicide, greed and salvation, you exit to the street and look upon Salt Lake City with, at least for that day, renewed faith in mankind.
111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0288, SaltLakeFilmSociety.org
Best Real-Deal Sports Bar
The Point After
Anyone can slap a few TVs on the wall, buy a package from the satellite TV company and call themselves a sports bar. But only one such place in the Salt Lake Valley actually can boast that they’re attached to a gigantic gym, complete with tennis and volleyball courts, a nutrition center and a huge slate of workout classes. The Point After is a good hang whether you’re enjoying a nip after a nearby workout or if you just show up to enjoy one of its 35 TVs, the DJs or bands on a weekend and the newly installed “exotic dancing pole” that is now part of the dance floor.
5445 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-266-9552, Facebook/ThePointAfter
Best Super-Size Country Bunker
The Westerner isn’t just a giant room set up to accommodate the hundreds of boot scooters who descend on the place every weekend; it takes advantage of every square foot. In one corner, you have the famous mechanical bull, where the Friday night bikini bull-riding competitions go down. Another room is dedicated solely to free karaoke every night, with its own door so you can shut out the DJ’s sounds in favor of the amateur crooners. At the far end is the stage where country bands regularly stop, and several bars line the place. What once was an alley outside has been enclosed to create a massive, heated patio. And somewhere hidden away is a kitchen churning out tasty $3 burgers and fries, along with steaks and pub fare. If they could somehow add barrel racing, they’d really be onto something.
3360 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-972-5447, MySpace.com/ The_Westerner
Best Local Version of American Idol
The Salt City Sound-off at Mo’s Neighborhood Grill
The organizers of the monthly Salt City Sound-off would probably cringe at the comparison to America’s favorite televised “talent” show, but much like the House That Simon Built, the Salt City Sound-off gives local singer/songwriters a stage and a couple of minutes to perform their original material, but they leave the judging to the public occupying Mo’s Neighborhood Grill the third Monday of each month.
358 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0586, MosBarAndGrill.com
Best Strip Club
City Weekly readers are adamant about wishing happy trails to all those in search of Utah’s best strip club. For the ninth year in a row, this strip club has clinched the award for Best Strip Club—and not just because of the beautiful women likely to make male patrons “harder than Chinese algebra,” as Tom Waits once put it. There’s also excellent pub fare like steak lunch deals, cool beverages, pool tables, plenty of plasma TVs to overload the senses with sports. You can even buy a calendar featuring the Trails eye candy.
921 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-363-2871, TrailsClub.com
2. Southern Xposure
3. The American Bush
Best Bar for Bibliophiles
Literature and libations are natural bedfellows, yet few of our local watering holes cater to the bookish. The Woodshed does. Yes, The Woodshed has arguably the best patio in town for warm-weather lounging, along with regular evenings dedicated to reggae, DJs, karaoke and local original music. But how many bars boast a weekly book club, where you can enjoy a round of trenchant literary criticism and discussion along with your rounds of cocktails?
60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0805, MySpace.com/TheWoodshedSLC
Best All-Inclusive Bar
It’s hard to put a label on Habits. When you’re digging through a basket of cheap hot wings and watching the game, it’s got the sports-bar vibe. When you’re downing tasty cocktails, it’s suddenly a classy martini bar. When you’re dining on sushi or steak, it’s an upscale supper club. And when you’re grooving to the latest hits on the dance floor packed with gyrating bodies, you have one of the city’s best dance clubs. Put it all together, and Habits has a little something for everyone.
832 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-268-2228, ClubHabits.com
Best Change of Venue
Twilight Concert Series
After the uber-crush of the opening Modest Mouse concert, we didn’t think Pioneer Park was such a hot choice for the Twilight Concert Series’ new home. But as the weeks passed and the number of attendees dropped from that insane first week of 40,000 to a more manageable 20,000 or so, the benefits of the new home became clear. Trees provide ample shade. The stage is up in the air instead of at ground level, making sightlines far better than the old Gallivan Center home. And Pioneer Park has plenty of space to sprawl, whether you’re manning a concession booth, taking advantage of the bicycle valet or spreading out a blanket to relax during the show.
300 S. 350 West, Salt Lake City, SLCGov.com/Arts
The Red Door
Not many bars in Utah think much about principles of mixology, the art of making a great cocktail. Though some competition for the crown is popping up, The Red Door has been setting the standard for cosmopolitan cocktails for years, having won this award every year since 2005. With its chic and comfortable atmosphere, The Red Door feels out of place in Salt Lake City—in all the right ways.
57 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-6030, BehindTheRedDoor.com
2. Piper Down
Best Utah County Hole in the Wall
Wee Blu Inn
Yes, there is a bar in Payson. And, as the locals know, it’s a damned good one! If you’re headed through the area, the Wee Blu Inn has got cheap drinks and tasty pub grub. Friendly and colorful, it’s always good for a game of darts or pool. On the weekends, the place rocks with live music acts from throughout the region. The rest of the week is filled out with decent karaoke contests, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Wee Blu Inn, 39 N. Main, Payson, 801-465-9071, MySpace.com/WeeBluInn
Best Dance Club
Area 51 is a world of its own, not just because of its many bars, dance floors and all-ages sections but because they “refuse to get stuck in” pop culture. Mixing fetish nights with techno, industrial, dark ‘80s, and more, Area 51 is often a Salt Lake City club-goer’s first club night with enduring appeal.
451 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-534-0819, Area51SLC.com
2. W Lounge
Best Spot for a Shot & a Beer
Johnny’s on Second
This friendly watering hole prides itself on having something to offer discerning bar hoppers every night of the week. Wednesdays are Irish Night, with specials on Irish whiskey and beer—at least until the new no-drink-specials law kicks in July 1—and Saturdays you can play poker all afternoon. The best deal, though, isn't a drink special at all, but something Johnny's offers every day: $4 for a beer and a shot.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334, JohnnysOnSecond.com
Best Sandy Staple
For those city-centric folks who wouldn't go to Sandy to bar hop, but Club 90 might make you think again. The food menu is no less than seven pages on Club 90’s Website, ranging from cheap breakfasts to swanky steaks and seafood. The club features live tunes on the weekends, and when it’s game day, the massive space becomes home to hordes of rootin’-tootin’ sports junkies. And while fans of all stripes are welcome, you’ll have a warmer greeting if you’re there to join the Steel City Mafia who gather every time the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing.
9065 S. 150 West, Sandy, 801-566-3254, Club90SLC.com
Best Place to Rock Out
You can find various tribute and cover bands playing across Utah on any given night, but none have the hard-core following of the two weekly mainstays at Liquid Joe’s: the cock-rock-loving Metal Gods on Thursdays and ‘80s-obsessed Spazmatics on Saturdays. Why listen to people caterwauling through “You Give Love a Bad Name” at a karaoke joint when you can hear professional musicians replicate the original?
1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5637, LiquidJoes.net
Best Reason to Visit a Strip Mall
You just got done with a day of spring skiing and you’re desperate to get to a sports bar for a dose of March Madness to see how your brackets are working out. The Huddle is the spot, less than two miles from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and featuring multiple TVs and an array of tasty bar grub—be sure to get the sweet potato fries.
2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-438-8300, Huddle-Sportsbar.com
Best Provo All-Ages Venue
Corey Fox has built an oasis for music lovers in the heart of Utah County, and more impressive than the cool décor or the combination of national and local acts that play there is the fact Velour reached its 5th birthday this year—a real trick for an all-ages venue, no matter what town it’s in. That’s a testament to Fox’s vision of a venue focused on music, not moving drinks.
135 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-818-2263, VelourLive.com
Best Sports-Bar Twosome
Lumpy’s Downtown/Lumpy’s on Highland
There’s only one place to take a long lunch for downtown worker bees who need a mid-day sports fix, and Lumpy’s Downtown has plenty of TVs to go around. The original Lumpy’s on Highland is still a must-go spot for Utes fans, as it’s decked out in Utah paraphernalia and offers rides to the stadium on game days. Both have better-than-average bar grub, too.
145 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-938-3070, LumpysDowntownSLC.com; 3000 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5597, LumpysBar.com
Best Irie Spot on State Street
Bar Deluxe & Babylon Down Sound System
We miss the Catch a Vibe sessions that once dominated Monday nights courtesy of the Babylon Down Sound System crew, but Bar Deluxe hasn't abandoned reggae. Instead, concert-goers can get an irie vibe going several times a month, through live shows and DJ showcases, alongside touring national bands and local indie-rock talent that makes Bar Deluxe a vital part of the Salt Lake City music scene.
666 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2914, BarDeluxeSLC.com, BabylonDown.com
Best Spray Paint & Suds
Best Music Venue for Grown-Ups
The State Room
The former children’s theater on State doesn’t deserve this award merely for scheduling show times at hours that assure that a working stiff can enjoy a gig and still function from 9 to 5 the next day, even though that is a major plus. No, The State Room deserves this for treating its concert attendees like adults, from the classy doormen who greet the public without molesting them with unnecessary pat-downs to drink prices that aren’t designed to gouge, but instead enhance the visitors’ experience.
638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-878-0530, TheStateRoomSLC.com
Best Gay Club
There’s a trick to winning a reader’s choice Best of Utah award: After you’ve helped build and given back to a neighborhood community, intoxicate it with deep beats, friendly vibes and good drinks. Jam executes this formula flawlessly, straddling a line between being Marmalade’s neighborhood bar and also a destination club that attracts mostly gay men and their entourages from all over Utah. Jam is not just a bar—it’s a community center emotionally bonded to its clientele.
751 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-891-1162, JamSLC.com
2. The Trapp
3. Paper Moon
Best Pub Grub Lucky Find
The Leprechaun Inn
Sure and begorrah, don't ye be looking for shepherd's pie here. Here, it's more about how much gold you'll find at the end of the rainbow after watching college basketball on TV. The nachos, chili poppers and deep fried zucchini are a good match for a pint of Guinness or to start a hearty meal of gourmet bacon burgers and barbecued wings. And the Sunday-morning brunch with a mimosa or Bloody Mary is another lucky and undiscovered charm.
4700 S. 900 East, No. 6, Salt Lake City, 801-268-3294
Best Sports Bar