Best of Utah 2015 | Welcome to Year 26 of Best of Utah | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2015 

Welcome to Year 26 of Best of Utah

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Night Life

Best Soccer Fan Succor
Dick N' Dixie's
A corner bar oozing with neighborhood charm, Dick n' Dixie's is also an Official Real Salt Lake Pub. This means, for home matches, the bar hosts pre-game parties before a bus leaves for Sandy's Rio Tinto Stadium. For away-matches, the bar hosts "watch" parties. So if what we described as a chill neighborhood bar happens to be a boisterous soccer-palooza when you visit, you'll know why. Luckily, bartender Holly Siddoway, pictured, knows how to keep the drinks flowing and the vibe relaxed. And when hunger pangs erupt, there's a food window, so you can order up tasty vittles from Blue Poblano next door.
479 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3556

Best Cocktails
Times may have changed since Prohibition, but don't tell Bar-X. Maintaining its old-timey feel, with back-lit liquor shelves and wagon-wheel chandeliers, it's known for serving Prohibition cocktails like the sidecar, French 75 and the Old Fashioned. It's got that special vibe—as if Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack might stride through the door any minute. Owned by Ty Burrell of ABC's Modern Family and his brother, Duncan, as well as other family members, it's the perfect place for a downtown nightcap.
155 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287,
2. Whiskey Street
3. The Red Door

Best All-Ages Venue
Kilby Court
With 16 years under their belts, Kilby has maintained one of the purest environments for youth to check out new music. Think about that for a moment: In a city filled with bars charging double-digit figures for concerts in rooms where no one will shut up while the music plays, Kilby has focused on younger audiences who don't just want new music, they thrive on it. It remains one of the few music venues in town whose success isn't derived from booking big names or serving big drinks—it comes from giving music lovers what they want: a damned good show.
741 S. 330 West, Salt Lake City, 801-364-3538,
2. The Complex
3. Diabolical Records

Best Dive Bar
Willie's Lounge
Living up to its tag line as "Utah's finest dive bar," we have to agree that Willie's does rock. It rocks hard. And that's not just for its $2 drink specials or 50-plus beer options. There's nothing quite like the outdoor patio Jenga table. If you're tired of hanging around those uptight joints where the bartenders sneer if you order a Bud Light, head down to Willie's, whose management is proud to tout that it does, in fact, have working central AC.
1716 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 760-828-7351,
2. X-Wife's Place
3. Twilite Lounge

Best Dance Club
Area 51
Some go to Area 51 for the techno; others go for the live DJs. Most people probably know this 10-year-old club for its theme nights. Yes, it's got both '80s nights and '90s nights—it runs the gamut—but, truly, Area 51 hosts an array of happenings, including 18-and-over events, catering to just about every taste imaginable. Perhaps the most notorious is the Fetish Ball on the last Saturday of every month, when Area 51's three dance floors, three patios and two full bars are host to fetish vendors, exotic burlesque, cage dancing, sexy bondage and piercing demonstrations. Not for the faint of heart.
451 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-534-0819,
2. The Metro
3. Habits

Best Gay Club
It's not easy to find that perfect balance between edgy and pretentious, wild and out-of-control, but Club Jam, in the heart of the Marmalade District, has pinpointed that sweet spot. Originally just a beer tavern—whose quest to obtain a liquor license reached epic heights, thanks to Utah laws and some authorities who may not have liked the idea of another hot spot for LGBT folks—Jam is fully liquored now, and the rainbow-tinged club is a great place to get your groove on. Welcoming LGBT, straight and cis clientele, Club Jam is spreading the fabulous.
751 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-382-8567,
2. The Sun Trapp
3. Try-Angles


Best Cheap Drinks
Cheers to You
It's getting harder and harder to stretch your dollars in downtown Salt Lake City, so thank goodness for Cheers to You, where $20 goes a long way, and you're pretty much guaranteed to make at least five new friends the first time you show up. This dive bar has that homey feeling, and is a favorite for locals in the mood to enjoy the privacy of its high-back red-and-gold booths, shoot pool in the back room or just belly up to the bar. If you're a well-behaved regular, you may even be asked to be a member of the Mug Club, meaning you will have your own mug hanging on the wall when you come in.
315 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400,
2. Willie's Lounge
3. X-Wife's Place

Best Pool Joint
Fats Grill & Pool
Once again, Fats Grill in Sugar House drops the eight ball on the competition. This local favorite features seven pool tables, and not only a fully stocked bar, but a recently expanded menu with some impressive homemade pizzas (try the tomato, basil and chicken). Fats also hosts a lot of musicians on its stage—but never fear, pool sharks: The layout is specifically designed so patrons rack 'em up and sink 'em without worrying about some errant cue smacking a music lover in the face.
2182 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-484-9467,
2. Johnny's on Second
3. The Canyon Inn


Best Karaoke
The Tavernacle
It's hard not to find people singing at Tavernacle, even when it's not karaoke night. The popular 300 South dueling-piano bar with a name that makes locals chuckle is always packed Sundays for karaoke. But this isn't your grandpa's karaoke bar, and something about the place seems to attract many of the best (if slightly tipsy) singers in town. So grab a cocktail, grab the mic and belt it to the rafters!
201 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-519-8900,
2. The Highlander
3. Piper Down

Best Date Night
Red Butte Garden Concert Series
What a beautiful, romantic spot to take your beau: Red Butte Garden is snuggled against the mountains in northeast Salt Lake City, and the view of the valley below is as breathtaking as Red Butte Garden itself. During the summer, it's a primo place for concerts, not only because it's an unbelievably beautiful spot to appreciate music, but because the lineup is curated to appeal to a wide demographic. You can bring outside food & drink, so if your cup of tea is wine and cheese, you're welcome to it. Beer and pasta? That's fine, too. And the garden doesn't just host musical events; movies, games and exhibits are on the schedule.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-585-0556,
2. Brewvies Cinema Pub
3. The Paint Mixer

Best Pub Quiz
Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz
In a city flooded with out-of-state pub quiz nights, one locally made evening stands alone atop the hill of geeky knowledge and empty steins. Every Wednesday night at Lucky 13, Shannon Barnson and Bryan Young put together funny and obnoxious trivia nights, fueled with attitude that it's not whether you win or lose—it's how much you laugh as you quench your thirst. Players face eight rounds of enigmatic brainteasers difficult enough to be genuinely challenging. But to make sure nobody forgets it's all in fun, the hosts lighten the mood with signature mantras such as "you may not know all the answers" and "don't be a dick." Appealing to beer aficionados, burger fans and trivia freaks alike, The Big Shiny Geek Show Pub Quiz has solved that midweek "where should we go tonight?" conundrum.
Lucky 13, 135 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, Wednesday nights, 8:30 p.m.
2. Geeks Who Drink
3. Adult Trivia, Green Pig Pub


Best Live Music Club
The Urban Lounge
Never heard of Zion I, Pearl Charles or Fice Lords? If not, don't worry—you will soon. The Urban Lounge has built an impressive reputation for featuring bands before they make it. It's an impressive space reminiscent of the early Ramones era—that is, if that era had today's cutting-edge sound, lighting, video and production technology. Catch the early show, then run next door to Urban's sister establishment, Rye, for a sandwich. Then head back for the late show.
241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0557,
2. The State Room
3. The Depot


Best Cocktails + Tunes
O.P. Rockwell
Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too—if that "cake" is a world-class craft cocktail and top-flight live music to go with it. Check out the alcoholic alchemy goin' on below ground level on upper Main Street in Park City, led by magician of drinks and revivalist of classic cocktails Christopher Panarelli, bar manager Jacob Hall, and their slate of slingers at O.P. Rockwell. Musical artists like Steve Earle, Tab Benoit, Colin Hay and Justin Townes Earle provide the sonic backdrop to an intimate, friendly setting to create the ideal mise-en-scène for imbibing some killer cocktails.
268 Main, Park City, 435-615-7000,

Best Ogden Club
There's nothing better than a bar with a little history, and you can't top Alleged's honest claim that the building was once a brothel. Ogden natives know all about it, but if you're among the uninitiated, amazing views from the rooftop bar, along with the bar's high-energy vibe, make Alleged a must-go stop whenever you're driving through O-Town (Salt Lakers take note: It's within walking distance of FrontRunner).
201 25th St., Ogden, 801-990-0692,
2. Brewski's
3. Funk 'n Dive


Best Sports Bar
Can't decide between watching the Utes, Real or the Aggies? The answer is Lumpy's. With two locations, downtown and Sugar House, Lumpy's is well known as the best sports bar in the valley. Its multiple massive screens are guaranteed to have every local game on screen. Those who relish the more traditional bar diversions may enjoy free pool and beer pong. A tip for newcomers: If you plan to root for a certain Utah County team, don't expect to make many friends. Drinks have been spilled over less.
145 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-883-8714; 3000 S. Highland Drive, 801-484-5597, Salt Lake City;
2. 'Bout Time
3. Legends Sports Pub


Best New Downtown Social Spot
The Exchange Place space formerly known as The Lazy Moon sat unoccupied for nearly a decade until summer 2015, when nightclub/restaurant Twist opened in the unique multi-level venue. In addition to fencing off the sizable patio area—much to the chagrin of local wedding photographers—the interior of the former 19th-century boiler room has been given a sleek makeover that is at once classic and modern. Same goes for its specialty drink menu, expansive beer and wine lists and food that has patrons raving. There's no club like this in Utah; you've got to see (and taste) it for yourself.
32 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-322-3200,

Best Park City Club
No Name Saloon
Whether you're fresh off the winter slopes or sunburned from riding the Alpine Slide in summer months, don't forget to drop into the No Name Saloon on Main Street when you're done. Grab a cold pint and an amazing buffalo burger. Then ponder the meaning of the motorcycle and torpedo suspended above your head before heading upstairs to the rooftop patio to watch the mountain sunset. No Name has a big reputation for welcoming all comers, and that's certainly reflected in its eclectic clientele.
447 Main, Park City, 435-649-6667,
2. Park City Live
3. O.P. Rockwell

Best Artisanal Cocktails
The Bourbon House
This modern speakeasy with jazz music and mood lighting is where relaxed, classy people can spend a relaxed, classy, alcohol-filled evening. The atmosphere and decent selection of food bring the sybarites down those Bourbon House steps, but it's the artisanal cocktails that keep them there. The bartenders genuinely love what they do, constantly striving to surprise and delight customers. Try the Blood & Sand, a whiskey cocktail, smoky, bitter and sweet; the Game Changer, a refreshing absinthe cocktail, both sour and minty.
19 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1005,


Best Urban Campsite
Campfire Lounge
Campfire Lounge is a relaxed atmosphere where people can hang out, eat, drink and enjoy a dog-friendly patio with three fire pits. Campfire Lounge offers camping favorites like hot dogs, comfort food like chicken and waffles and three different kind of s'mores: original, peanut butter and Nutella. And of course, there are the famous hobo dinners: chopped sirloin, chicken, bratwurst, grilled trout or tofu, all served with vegetables and wrapped in a charred foil packet. Wash it all down with a s'mores-tini, huckleberry lemonade or Moscow mule.
837 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3325,

Best Special-Occasions Bar
Gracie's Bar
With a relaxing yet convivial atmosphere, professional and friendly servers, and lots of space (the club layout provides spaces for groups of nearly any size on either of two floors), this clean and comfortable downtown gastropub has become a favorite destination for grown-up group outings both large and small. Whether you're having a birthday celebration, bachelorette party or staff soiree, Gracie's will treat you and your guests right. The food is excellent (nearly every group starts of with a plate of Gracie's award-winning nachos, and in good weather, the spacious decks and patios (the largest and busiest in downtown Salt Lake City) are available for a very mirthful, al fresco shindig.
Gracie's Bar, 326 S. West Temple, 801-819-7565,

Best Rock & Jock Bar
The Royal
Local rockers Royal Bliss may not get much respect for their music from Salt Lake City's hipster intelligentsia, but their now 2-year-old Millcreek club, The Royal, deserves props for pulling off the tricky combo of rock nightclub/sports bar without skimping on either—and with a killer menu, to boot. If you rock too hard the night before, come back the next day for the Hangover Cure Burger: 8 ounces of ground sirloin topped with eggs & bacon. These rockers have been touring for years; they know how to rock and rally.
4760 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-590-9940,

Best Moving Dance Party
Provo Yacht Club
In all the communities in all of Utah, it's fitting that Provo is the one known for its underground dance parties—after all, if any town knows how to have a wild time while staying under the radar, it's P-Town. The Provo Yacht Club was founded on the principle of bringing proper dance-club music every month to a random location in Utah County. Shows often highlight up-and-coming local DJs, who bring their own mixes and personal choices to the party—so no two shows are ever the same. You'll want to shine up your dancing shoes.

Best Northern Utah BrewPub
Roosters Brewing Co.
This favorite brew pub has locations in both Layton and O-Town. What is exceptional is Roosters' selection of flavorful ales and brews, as well as its very respectable culinary menu. You'll crow about the jambalaya and the fresh Atlantic salmon rules the roost. In fact, the seafood selection is so tasty, it belies the nature of our landlocked desert state. Both the pepper-jack shrimp and the fish tacos are through the roof. But clearly, beer is at the top of the pecking order here: Try the Hellevation IPA: floral, but not too bitter, it'll make a convert out of the most fervent hoppy-beer naysayer.
Roosters Brewing Co., 253 25th St., Ogden, 801-627-6171; 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9330,


Best Whiskey Bar
Whiskey Street
Home to Salt Lake City's largest selection of bourbon, rye, Scotch, Canadian and American whiskeys, it's no mystery why Whiskey Street is named the city's best whiskey bar. But man cannot live on whiskey alone, so there's also a head-spinning selection of local and imported beers and ciders, an eye-popping cocktail menu (who knew there were 10 different ways to mix a Moscow mule?), a terrific wine list and award-winning food. Still, if it's whiskey you're after, this is the place.
323 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-433-1371,

Best New Concert Series
Ogden Twilight Concert Series
The city of Ogden decided to bank on the success of the Salt Lake City series, when on four consecutive Thursdays in June, it threw a sick party that, in more ways than one, upstaged its older muse. The concerts, held at the great-sounding Ogden Amphitheater, were a cheaper and less chaotic way to spend an evening than the larger iteration in Pioneer Park, and were eerily reminiscent of Salt Lake City's concerts a decade ago. Tickets cost $5, but doubled as a free transit pass on FrontRunner. It helped that Built to Spill (the greatest band on earth), headlined the first show on June 4. Hopefully, Ogden will extend their offerings next year.

Best 20 Images & 20 Seconds
PechaKucha Nights
Started in Tokyo in 2003 as a vehicle for architects, designers and other creative types to exchange information in a short, concise format, PechaKucha (Japanese for "chit chat") nights are now staged in 700+ cities worldwide. Presenters stick to the 20 x 20 format—20 slides shown for 20 seconds—but beyond this constraint, the sky is the limit as participants share their passion. Salt Lake City architects Tristan Shepherd and Nathan Webster founded a "PK" chapter in 2010, and events are held three to five times a year with fascinating locals (chefs, designers, historians, artisans, scientists, musicians, etc.), great food and drinks, all presented at hip venues like Publik Coffee, SLAC and The State Room.

Best New Music Venue in Orem
The Stereo Room
Earlier this year, after a major venue closed and others began scaling back dates, it seemed as if Utah County's music scene was heading toward a drought. Then, The Stereo Room in Orem opened up a fantastic venue—complete with its own recording studio. In short order, the space became a new all-ages hub catering to those disenfranchised by Provo's venue system, and gave Orem its own venue at last. The Utah County music scene thrives because people are willing to cultivate it, and give it space to grow.
521 N. 1200 West, Orem, 714-345-8163,


Best Sugar house Buddy Bar
The Tap Room
They just don't make neighborhood bars like they used to. The Tap Room is so good at being a neighborhood bar that no matter where it might move, the neighborhood moves right along with it. Famously "Making Hangovers Since 1947," this Sugar House icon recently moved to its third location in recent memory. And the Tap Room faithful are following along. Housed in the space once occupied by Este Pizza, Tap Room customers can now enjoy an outdoor patio, so now you can get some fresh air to go along with that fresh and friendly vibe.
2021 S. Windsor St., 801-484-6692

Best Neighorhood Martini Bar
Elixir Lounge
Whoda thunk: Dirty martinis in the squeaky clean suburbs? Well, first of all, let's dispel the notion that you can't get a classy drink in the 'burbs. Holladay is practically bursting at the seams with hip eateries and gathering spots. And not only is Elixir Lounge one of Holladay's friendliest bars, it's also one of the trendiest. Conveniently located next to Trio, you can order a fabulous Trio meal and have it delivered to you at the bar, while you pair it with a lip-smacking martini, or an Asian Pear Cosmopolitan. All while enjoying live music or a football game on TV.
6405 S. 3000 East, Holladay, 801-943-1696,

Best Serendipity
Junior's Tavern
Junior's Tavern is an intimate downtown bar, but more often than not, it is buzzing with an uncanny magnetism bringing together the city's hip, humble, literate, notorious and celebrated. On any given night, you may encounter a TV personality sipping a brew in between news broadcasts, a famous NPR radio journalist holding court and a star of Antiques Roadshow discussing the dire condition of humanity. This unassuming watering hole on 300 South is the perfect hideaway offering cocktails and conversation to those who are on their way to change the world.
30 E. 300 South, 801-322-0318,


the Beerhive PUB
Technically, it's a block away, which makes The Beerhive the nearest Salt Lake City bar from Temple Square—and yet neither local landmark promotes the fact as a selling point. Not that The Beerhive needs much selling: With more than 200 beers from lands far and wide, a classic tavern vibe and, yes, the infamous ice rail, this bar would be a hit anywhere. After a long day of sightseeing at Temple Square, what would hit the spot better than a craft brew?|
128 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-364-4268

Best Sunday Brunch Music
Club 90
Club 90 is as big as clubs come in Utah. And on Sunday, just like every other club in town you can count on a room full of noisy sports fans (e.g., the black & yellow-attired Steel City Mafia) cheering on their favorite teams behind any number of Club 90 TVs (and also behind an array of Club 90 food). Oh, and there's live music, too: Each Sunday from noon-3 p.m., Utah's busiest jazz combo, the Mark Chaney Trio, performs for the brunch crowd. Longtime area drummer Chaney performs all over town with an array of talented musicians like Keven Johansen, Walt Gregory, Harold Carr and Michael Case, but his Sunday afternoons belong to Club 90. Later on, there might be a bluegrass session—or maybe a DJ will get the crowd onto the dance floor. It's an unexpected mix—jazz, football, food and bluegrass—but, at Club 90, those four things, taken together, add up to one perfect experience.
9065 S. Monroe St., Sandy, 801-566-3254,

Best Neighborhood Hangout
East Liberty Tap House
This new restaurant and tavern is not to be missed. With upscale comfort food like pastrami burgers and fish tacos, East Liberty Tap House is way more than a sleek atmosphere. It has a beautiful patio for warmer months and an inviting indoor dining area when the temperatures begin to drop. Don't let the small selection of beers fool you—East Liberty Tap House selects their favorite six beers of the season, so even the most discerning drinker can find something he or she loves. You can order a cocktail, too. Be sure to finish everything off with the homemade butterscotch pudding.
850 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City,801-441-2845,

Best Nightclub of the Future
It may feel like a dance club from the set of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but ambitious new entertainment venue Sky is a homegrown Salt Lake City reality today. The 15,000-square-foot Pierpont space features 14 garage doors that open, 20 VIP suites, a retractable roof, and sound and lights that have to be experienced to be believed—and, with its weekly themed dance nights and world-famous DJ sets, Sky offers plenty of opportunities. And to think it was all inspired by a trip to Burning Man.
149 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-883-8714,

Best Customer Specials
The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill
It's not always easy finding good food and drink at a good price. But, at the Huddle, patrons can find over-the-counter savings seven days a week. First, the food: If you're hungry, you can save $2 on entrees each weekday from 11 a.m-2 p.m. And, all week long, there are low-priced specials, such as $5.99 wings on Monday and a $7.99 steak sandwich on Thursday. But the liquid savings are what's really special here. The weekly rundown: Mug Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesday, All's Well Thursday, Absolutely Friday, Saloon Saturday and Sunday Funday. Per Utah laws, there's no such thing as "Happy Hour" and there never was (you must be dreaming of an imaginary land where businesses occasionally set aside certain times for special beverage prices). In Utah, clubs serving specials must keep that special price all day long. So, to use a phrase not often heard: Thanks, Utah liquor laws!
2400 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-438-8300,


Best Family-Friendly Sports Bar
Legends Sports Pub
Everyone loves a sports bar. What's not to like about nachos, messy wings and your favorite team on TV? Unfortunately, most sports bars don't allow minors—a huge disadvantage to a coach thirsty for a beer after his son's game. But Legends is a place where the entire family is warmly welcomed to an authentic pub with a grown-up atmosphere utterly devoid of the annoying phony gimmicks that are the specialty of its national-chain counterparts. Separate rooms are ideal for team dinners, awards parties and banquets. Come to think of it, during the Ohio State vs. Michigan State game Nov. 21, separate rooms might be the best way to maintain peace between Buckeye fans and Spartans.
677 S. 200 West, 801-355-3598,

Best New Ogden Club
Funk 'n Dive
Ogden has one of the most diverse and vibrant nightlife scenes in Utah; it's so cool, it's difficult not to envy the people funky enough to call O-Town their own town. The latest in Ogden cool is the Funk 'n Dive Bar. Just steps from Ogden's famous 25th Street on Washington Boulevard, Funk 'n Dive made a big impression right from the start, thanks in no small part to a partnership between two of Salt Lake City's most respected club proprietors: Bridget Gordon (Green Pig Pub) and David Morris (Piper Down, Ice Haus). That in itself offers a clue to what you can find at Funk 'n Dive: affordable drinks, a cool basement club (formerly the Wine Bar), funky stained-glass, live jazz and "tatchos"—a signature delicacy so tasty, it's a wonder nobody ever thought of serving tater tots topped with nacho cheese, salsa and jalapeño before.
2550 S. Washington Blvd., 801-621- 3483,
Best Theater Makeover

Sugarhouse Movies 10
Plenty of people love the experience of seeing a movie in a theater, but they also prefer the comfort of their own plush chairs and couches at home. Cinemark took the Sugar House location, which, until recently was a second-run theater, and gave it a major renovation, turning it into one of their 17 nationwide "Luxury Lounger" theaters. Now you can sink back into a recliner, lift up the foot rest, tuck a beverage into the cup holder and pretend you're seeing a brand-new release with all the comfort of your living room.
2227 S. Highland, 801-466-3699,


Best New Downtown Entertainment Venue
Club at 50 West
For a metropolitan area, downtown Salt Lake City doesn't have much live entertainment. Fortunately, 50 West started filling that void when it opened in 2014. The modern, moderately sized venue showcases the occasional local and touring bands, but it's really made its mark as a room for name stand-up comics who previously wouldn't have had anywhere in the heart of the city to book a set. Bonus: During daylight hours, the adjacent 50 West Cafe is one of downtown's best-kept breakfast and lunch secrets.
50 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-961-1033,

Best Art & Wine
The Paint Mixer
Unleashing your inner artist isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels terribly solitary, and requires a little loosening up before the creative juices flow. The Paint Mixer—with locations in Sugar House and Park City—understands how to make the activity fun and friendly. A two-hour session includes instruction in how to re-create your own version of a classic work (or create your own), combined with music, social time with other attendees and your choice of adult beverage. You walk away with your own work of art, and the feeling that making it was part of a party.
1327 E. 2100 South, 801-484-0282; 738 Main, Park City, 435-604-0820;

Best Surprising Comedy Venue
Feldman's Deli
It may serve as a comedy venue on occasion, but there's nothing funny about the food here. Feldman's Deli is well-known for dishing up Salt Lake City's most authentic, East Coast-style deli fare. The fresh bagels are some of the best in town; and Jewish classics like knishes, gefilte fish, kishka, matzo-ball soup and overstuffed deli sandwiches rule the roost. Every now and then, Feldman's goes from serious to slapstick hosting special evenings of entertainment called, "Old Jews Telling Jokes." Sort of a haimish open-mic night, you don't have to pass an audition (or even be Jewish) to take the stage, tell a joke and get $5 off your meal. Such a deal! Now, did you hear the one about ...
2005 E. 2700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0369,

Best New Slice of Germany
Ice Haus
Previous occupant 5 Monkeys was a fine Murray neighborhood club, but now Piper Down's Dave Morris has done it one better by adding a fantastisch menu of German fare ranging from oversize brats and burgers to wings and poutine fries—and, of course, a whole lotta beers. The Ice Haus also hosts comedy shows and an eclectic mix of live music on the weekends, as well as an on-theme Saturday-Sunday brunch that that can fill up meat-lovers and vegans alike.
7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127,

Best Long-Lived Live Venue
Liquid Joe's
Only a handful of Salt Lake City clubs have been consistently booking live music and retained their names since the early '90s. And this year, valley veteran Liquid Joe's has become even more aggressive in its booking. In addition to the indefatigable Saturday-night '80s act The Spazmatics, along with local hard-rockers to round out the week, Liquid Joe's has snagged a few unexpected touring headliners recently—Macy Gray and The Iron Maidens, to name but two in November. Ask any local music fan who turned 21 during the Age of Grunge: Liquid Joe's was one of the best Utah clubs to catch a band, unknown or not—and it still is today.
1249 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-5637,

Best Dance Lessons
DF Dance Studio
Not even 10 years old, DF Dance Studio has cemented its status as the No. 1 place along the Wasatch Front for dance lessons. Feeling the urge to put the "tang" in tango, or the "hip" in hip-hop? Look no farther than DF Dance Studio, where the variety and style of classes is unmatched. If you're not sure of your step, and not ready for dancing with strangers, try a private lesson. Wanting to get your darling boy off on the right foot? Enroll him in a kids' class. Feeling that not even Dancing With the Stars can trip you up? DF offers competitive dance classes as well. Look for the popular DF dancing nights like the twice-montly Latin and salsa dance socials. Foxtrot, swing, two-step—as they say: If you can walk, you can dance.
2978 S. State, 801-466-0490,

Best Good-Times Time Machine
The Westerner
Opened in 1962, by now the famous Westerner (billed as Utah's Biggest and Baddest Dance Hall & Grill) has served at least three or four generations of Utahns hellbent on having a good time. When it comes to good times, few places deliver the goods like the Westerner. You can choose: sit in a nightclub and drink all night and never meet a soul outside the miserable group you came in with, or get up off your butt and have fun in club that has good times written all over it. The art of dancing (when people talk, touch and move about) is not lost at the Westerner, which boasts Utah's largest dance floor (dance lessons every Wednesday), nor is the art of mechanical bull-riding (Friday nights is bikini bull riding—check!) or the art of live music, with sets played by the area's best country acts, plus occasional concert performances. The Westerner is a genuine throwback to a time when people went out to have a good time, not just to sit around. There's a lot to be said about a bar that has lasted this long. It's not trendy, it's real.
3360 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-972-5447,

Best Alternative Percussion
On the streets of bigger cities, bucket drummers are not an unusual sight as they bang out rhythmic fury for tips. Salt Lake City dips its toes into the street-performer game with Salt Lake Alternative Percussion (or "SLAPercussion" on the streets). They pound out their jungle and hip-hop beats on paint buckets, garbage cans, kitchen pots and lids, PVC pipe and even heating vents. Some say percussion's role is to add danceability to a song—but these dudes prove that a drum fill (even without the benefit of an actual drum) can be played sans melody or harmony, and remain complex enough to stand on its own funky, entertaining feet.

Best Cash Bar
A Bar Named Sue
There was a time when Salt Lake City simply could not have contained more than one whiskey bar with a Johnny Cash bent. Thankfully for residents on the southern edge of the city, that time ain't now. Both the original Highland Drive and newer State Street locations of A Bar Named Sue embody the best traits of neighborhood bars: casual atmosphere, tasty pub grub (including burger dedications to The Man in Black, such as The Highwayman, The San Quentin and The Ring of Fire). They also have a commitment to live music that few clubs exhibit anymore. And, yes, there are plenty of whiskeys to choose from.
3928 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-274-5578; 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222,

Best Music Hall
The Depot
When The Depot opened over a decade ago, it seemed unlikely that Salt Lake City could support such a large hybrid concert venue/nightclub; now, the ever-growing list of bands and artists who've hit the joint's stage rivals or eclipses most every other venue in the state. Give credit to owners/veteran Utah promoters United Concerts for doing it right from the beginning and never letting quality (either in the room or the bookings) slip one iota. If your favorite band ever plays The Depot—and they probably will—don't miss it.
400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5522,

Best Return of Downtown Laughter
Wiseguys at the Gateway
Ever since Wiseguys Comedy Club departed its Trolley Square location, the downtown Salt Lake City area has felt the absence of a venue for regular weekend showcases for local and touring comedians. But the laughs are returning as owner and funnyman himself Keith Stubbs brings the Wiseguys name to a new location at the southeast corner of the Gateway, taking over the spot that most recently was the home of the short-lived Dopo jazz club. It's a welcome shot of live-performance energy for the Gateway and a chance to add some laughs to a night on the town in Salt Lake City.
194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233,

Best Flag Bearer
Chuckle's Lounge
It's just a hole in the wall on 900 South, yet, for many, Chuckle's is an institution. With its collections of flags hanging from the ceiling, pool tables and juke box, it has the slightly dissolute air of a dive—blink and you miss it when you drive by—but its friendly bar staff is keenly aware that some patrons aren't flush with cash. So you get a quick rundown of the canned beer bargains, with emphasis on the bargains. After a couple of cans of PBR and some fries whipped up by the bartender, the world seems a better place—and, when it's time to leave, you look forward to your return.
221 W. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1721

Best Daily Doubles
Johnny's on Second
To clarify, this doesn't mean Johnny's serves double drinks, that's still illegal in Utah—for the time being. Johnny's is on 200 South, that's double. Johnny's also serves its well-known $4 shot and a beer nightly, so that's double, too. Add in that Johnny's is equally well known for reasonably priced drinks across the board, and it's easy to understand why Johnny's goes by the motto "seven days, seven reasons." Its weekly lineup includes live local music and poker nights (Sunday and Thursday), where winners can earn some "Johnny Cash." Johnny's also boasts new bar trends like Breaking Bingo. Stop by for good times, and let their friendly staff double your pleasure. In time, you, too, will become part of the Johnny's family.
165 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 801-746-3334,
Best Rock & Ribs

Devil's Daughter
It's may be a bit hidden, but Devil's Daughter is one of the most spacious nightclubs—patio included—in downtown Salt Lake City, not to mention one of the best-kept BBQ secrets in the state. In addition to karaoke, pub-quiz nights and live rock & roll, Devil's Daughter boasts a full day-and-night menu of killer smoked-meat entrees to rock your taste buds—and it's inexpensive, especially on weekdays ($1 smoked-ribs Mondays, $1.50 Taco Tuesdays, 50-cent-wings Wednesdays, etc.). This is a true rockin' roadhouse.
533 S. 500 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-1610,

Best Votive Candles (Wink, Wink)
An incurious passerby might view the Bodega on Salt Lake City's busy Main Street as a kitschy convenience store dedicated to religious artifacts and knickknacks, and weirdly full of hipster drinkers. That indifferent person would probably just keep walking. But if he stopped, somehow managing to show some cred (like a reservation, or evidence he's damned friggin' cool), he'd be given secret passage (think speakeasy gin joints of the Prohibition era) to a basement dining club like no other in these parts. At The Rest, groovy patrons are treated to some of Salt Lake City's most creatively obscure and tasty dishes (Beer-can Chicken? Really!). Fair-priced craft cocktails abound (The Chiquita? Really!) Just whisper the word.
331 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4452,

Best Jersey Boy Pizza
Maxwell's East Coast Eatery
Steve Maxwell's "Joisey" roots are of the same ilk as Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Ray Liotta and Mira Sorvino. Difference is, only Maxwell among them had the a hankering to shred Utah's steep slopes on his trusty snowboard. He came to ski and ended up staying—bringing with him a love for all things Italian, including his grandmother's memorable recipes and a chair from an Italian diner once run by his family. He opened Maxwell's in Kimball Junction, later adding a second location on Main Street in Salt Lake City. Now Utahns can partake of the same style Italian fare made famous by James Gandolfini on The Sopranosmangiare robusto such as hearty East Coast style pizza, chicken & eggplant Parmigiana, lasagna, tortellini and that famous hot meatball sub. May the snow keep him around!
1456 Newpark Blvd., Park City, 435-647-0304; 357 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304,
Best Hump-Day Jams

Open Jam Night at The
"Jam night" at your favorite local bar doesn't always have to mean listening to rockers past their prime: Open Jam Night at The Woodshed has established itself as the weekly musical party in Salt Lake City. Every Wednesday, Jam Night regulars and newbies line up to sign up to hit the stage, exchange licks and simply rock out and explore uncharted sonic territory with new friends (and sometimes, future bandmates). Likewise, a baby band looking for some live experience can try out a couple of songs on Open Jam Night. Bring your guitar (or your instrument of choice) and get down.
60 E. 800 South, 801-364-0805,

Best Jazz Joint
Garage on Beck
It's not easy being a jazz (music) fan in Salt Lake City; there are few places to experience it live and in-person anymore. Fortunately, The Garage on Beck Street has stepped up with the Jazz Joint, a weekly "jazz artist exhibition" that sits in the pocket every Thursday night. The first installment of the month usually features Ogden saxophone legend Joe McQueen, while local artists like Mark Chaney, Alan Michael and others round out the calendar. Some cool blue notes and a helping of The Garage's Mormon Funeral Potatoes sounds like a swank combo.
1199 N. Beck St., Salt Lake City, 801-521-3904,

Best Bar Munchies
Poplar Street Pub
If chowing down is a vital component to your nightclubbing routine, then consider Poplar Street Pub your venue of choice. It's a spacious downtown bar, with three large rooms and a roomy outdoor patio. As such, you can savor your grub wherever you like, at the back bar watching football, in the middle room playing pool, or in the front area grooving to live music. The burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches are made in-house with fresh ingredients—a step above "pub grub." In other words, prepare to be impressed. The appetizers, in particular, strike a chord: Artichoke & arugula dip, pub poppers (made with Medjool dates that are stuffed with almonds, wrapped in bacon and then deep-fried) and the pièce de résistance known as the Scotch egg have been known to jump-start an evening's fun. The question is, which of Poplar Street's cocktails, 30 beers or wines will you wash them down with?
242 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-532-2715,

Best Hideaway
Hog Wallow Pub
Up to the 1990s when housing developments encroached upon it and newcomer NIMBY neighbors nearly had the place shut down, what is now known as The Hog Wallow Pub was most certainly a hideaway—alone as it was, isolated in a little dell along Big Cottonwood Creek near the Old Mill that was thought to be haunted. No longer isolated and nearly surrounded by homes, the Hog Wallow still takes advantage of its surroundings with its famous outdoor patio that climbs a bit into the hillside, offering patrons secluded nooks perfect for an intimate tête-à-tête or a bit of privacy away from the hubbub of the valley. It really is a patio space like no other. But the Hog Wallow is more than a great patio. It also offers simple and tasty pub fare (including pizza), fairly priced cocktails and beer, and remains a key component for Utah's live-music scene with tunes bouncing off the walls four nights a week. This is where we go when we know it's time to unwind.
3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-733-5567,

Best Intimate Concert Venue
The State Room
The seating at The State Room only allows for 300 people per show. While some clubs can seat that many or more, only the State Room (which offers full liquor service and snacks) is built primarily for one thing and one thing only: Music. And they only open when the muse—and the perfect act—suits them, which fortunately for Salt Lake is like Baby Bear's plate of porridge, just right. When that just right musical act comes to town, our city is treated to that special musician or band up-close and personal—the State Room was once a small theater, and its raked seating offers everyone a good view. The stage itself is spaced far enough away from the seating area to allow room for standing, or dancing, without blocking those still seated. A show at The State Room is a show remembered.
638 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-596-3560,

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