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Best Northern Lights
Downtown snobs refuse to go past 2100 South, but if there are rules about going north of 600 North, they were made to be broken by The Garage, Salt Lake City’s one-size-fits-all hangout. Its Beck Street location (with its refinery backdrop) technically makes The Garage a roadhouse bar, but it’s more complex than that, offering live music, Southern comfort food, quiet corners for chatting and a huge patio—with its own dedicated bar—that’s big enough to accommodate both rowdy horseshoe players and solitude-seeking smokers.
1199 N. Beck St., Salt Lake City,Â 801-521-3904, GarageOnBeck.com
Best Spot for Burners
Though not necessarily designed with fans of the annual Burning Man festival in mind, Club Mixx is still an ideal candidate for anyone who likes things a little different. On any given night of the week, party-goers can expect scantily clad cabaret dancers, high-flying acrobats and steampunk unicyclists, while a minimal house DJ holds down the soundtrack. The weekly Plush Saturdays are the marquee event, hosted by a rotating roster of local and traveling EDM DJs.
615 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City,Â 801-575-6499, GetMixxed.com
Best Ogden Club
This bar just keeps going and going—literally (it’s huge) and figuratively, dominating the competition in this category every year. Settle in at the massive wooden bar in the front room, check out a band in the cave-like center room, or watch or play a game in the appropriately named game room. There’s a huge selection of beer on tap and by the bottle, and this unpretentious joint is usually packed with down-to-earth Ogdenites of all ages and stripes. Brewskis itself says it best: “If Salt Lake City is the heart of Utah, Ogden is the liver.”
244 25th St., Ogden, 801-394-1713, BrewskisOnline.net
2. The City Club
3. Copper Club
Best Dancing to ’80s Classics
We all know you’re “Working for the Weekend,” and if you haven’t yet checked out The Spazmatics, who play Liquid Joe’s every Saturday, you’re blowin’ it. This ’80s cover band fills up one of the best dance floors by dressing like Revenge of the Nerds, cracking corny jokes and full-on shredding all of your favorite ’80s classics.
1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City,Â 801-467-5637, LiquidJoes.net
Best Tooele Pub Grub
This neighborhood hangout has been around since 1976 and might as well be a Tooele historical landmark. On the surface, it looks like any run-of-the-mill Tooele watering hole. For instance, there are always cheap drinks, pool and a game on the tube. But the real highlight here is the food. Your best bet is the daily specials, which consist of hearty homestyle dinners that will run you about $7. Try the famous—yes, famous—chicken-noodle-topped mashed potatoes.
46 N. Broadway, Tooele, 435-882-7605
Best Gay Club
Club Jam joins the Best of Utah five-timers club this year, continuing its fabulous streak of being voted Best Gay Club. Owners Noni Blake, Todd Crofts and Brian Morris have perfected the art of throwing fiercely gay dance parties Tuesday through Sunday. This LGBT-friendly spot in the Marmalade district also offers up themed parties throughout the week, like Sunday Karaoke, Hip-Hop Thursdays and Five-dollar Fridays.
751 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City,Â 801-891-1162, JamSLC.com
2. The Trapp
3. The Paper Moon
Best No-Judgment Zone
Johnny's On Second
No judgments here, just good old-fashioned drinkin’. Johnny’s on Second is buzzing all day, with college kids taking a break from studying to play pool, worker bees trying to forget the day with some suds out on the patio, and late-night revelers chowing down on pizza and guzzling $1 cans of Busch while keeping an eye out for new friends or maybe more.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334, JohnnysOnSecond.com
Best Horseshoein’ Around
The triangle-shaped entrance of Club Rendezvous should have been shaped like another geometrical object. No, not a rhombus; a horseshoe. OK, we might not be good at geometry, but we sure can throw a ringer or two. The patio in the back is home to several fine horseshoe pits, where bar patrons sip cheap drinks and toss for free. You’ll often hear the clang of metal outside, but if you hear it inside, get excited: It means someone rang the bell above the antique-looking beer-cooler doors—so drinks are on that poor sucker.
1900 W. 4100 South, Taylorsville,Â 801-972-4264
Best Musical Epicenter
Velour Live Music Gallery
It wouldn’t surprise us if Provo’s 100 Block is a nationally known term in a decade—or even five years. The 100 Block is the hip enclave between 100 and 200 North on University Avenue in Provo, and it’s usually referenced in the same breath as successful, ambitious music. Velour owner Corey Fox is mostly responsible for this, as he’s crafted an exciting all-ages venue, where Utah County bands aspire to play in front of supportive audiences. Velour was the starting place for Utah County bands now signed to major record labels such as Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons and Fictionist. It’s a hotbed for an unexpectedly vibrant and robust music scene. Bands play on the weekends, but you might catch Provo’s next big thing at the Tuesday open-mic nights.
135 N. University Ave., Provo,Â 801-818-2263, VelourLive.com
Best Striptease Shuttle
Southern X-posure International
This State Street strip club has a reputation for offering an abundance of scantily clad dancers, but it’s also a place where you can party on the cheap. Every day of the week, the club offers a free stripper shuttle that picks up patrons and drops them off within the downtown area, and there’s a free gourmet lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Most drinks are only $3, and there’s a pool tourney every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for a $300 cash prize.
3420 S. State, South Salt Lake,Â 801-288-1488, MySouthernX.com
Best Place for a Shot Between Classes
We’ll let you in on a little secret—you don’t have to travel blocks from the University of Utah to get a drink. Many students assume that the only place within walking distance to sip a beer is the often-crowded Pie on 200 South or Big Ed’s on 1300 East. But less than a half-mile from the student dorms is a quiet little spot called the Pitchers Lounge, inside the Marriott University Park hotel. It’s technically in Research Park, so students (of the legal age) can enjoy a cocktail while playing pool or watching a game.
Marriott University Park, 480 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-1000, Marriott.com