Best of Utah 2018 | An ode to the people, places, products and services that make life the Beehive State exceptional. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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    click to enlarge ROBIN BANKS
    • Robin Banks

    It's been 29 years since City Weekly released its first-ever Best of Utah issue. During that time, and taking into consideration the bevy of imitators that have come and gone, you'd think we'd run out of ideas by now. Think again.

    Showcased once more in a fancy, glossy package (a format we debuted last year), our ragtag team of desperado staffers and contributors have assembled an unabashed love letter to some of the people, places, products and services that truly make Utah special.

    Emblazoned in this publication, you'll find some 200 unique options meant to get you out of the house and into a local boutique, cinema, bar, eatery, park or body-modifying studio just to name a few. Additionally, you'll discover several reasons to become more politically active by attending a march, lending your support to community-action groups, ringing up your elected representatives and, hopefully, vote.

    Throughout these pages, you'll also stumble upon a celebration of the ultimate Utah-centric art exhibit (one revolving around those pesky "This premise is licensed as a restaurant not a bar" signs, no less), an ode to Hot Cheeto-crusted grains and an obscure reference to a 1970s martial arts TV series.

    In the end, we hope you hold onto this magazine and see it as an oracle of things to do in and around the Beehive State between sips of low-point beer and gulping mouthfuls of green Jell-O. How's about catching an experimental theater performance inside a Provo mall, enjoying continental fare in Logan or rocking hoop earrings with no shame at Bryce Canyon National Park? They're all inside.

    Oh, and we haven't forgotten about reader input—a Best-of hallmark since its origins. More than 10,000 of you cast a record 144,873 votes across the seven categories in our readers' section. Thank you all, and props to the steak lover who wrote-in "F*ck if I know" under Best Vegan Restaurant; the eight of you who needed more time to fill out the ballot and responded "Hmmm" in some of our poll's queries; and the disgruntled soul who answered "Holly, my neighbor," in the Worst Utahn category.

    Restaurateurs, students, activists, servers, Utah natives, fresh transplants and everyone in between—this issue is for all of you. Yes, even you, Holly.

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    • Enrique Limón

    Best Fight-Or-Flight LGBTQ Ally

    Terrance Mannery
    Times when we wholeheartedly agree with a statement from Gov. Herbert are few and far between. But we completely endorse his labeling Terrance Mannery as a "local hero." Earlier this summer, Mannery—at the time an employee of a downtown dessert café—came to the defense of four gay men walking back from the Utah Pride Festival, who were being chased by a slur-slinging mob. "Thank you ... for supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community when they were in peril, and for making Utah a better place for everyone," the governor tweeted. The dusted settled, Mannery is still surprised by the national headlines caused by the incident. "I was taken aback by it, because I wasn't expecting that much coverage from it," the technology management student at Neumont College tells City Weekly. "At the end of the night, I kind of was all, like, 'Well, I'm going to go to work tomorrow, and everything's going to be just normal. And then everyone was talking about it." Asked whether he'd do it again, he answers an unflinchingly, "Yeah, definitely." (Enrique Limón)

    click to enlarge RAY HOWZE
    • Ray Howze

    Best Transparency Crusaders

    Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge
    Both formerly devout congregants in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge are spending their adult lives fighting to make the church more transparent, an effort high-ranking Mormons have resisted throughout the faith's history. McKnight and Dodge founded the Truth and Transparency Foundation and FaithLeaks after McKnight's MormonLeaks, broadening their transparency crusade to include more faiths than just the LDS Church. By carefully vetting documents and selectively publishing leaks that align with their mission, the pair are doing their best to keep religious institutions and their leaders honest—one leak at a time. (KL)

    click to enlarge FRENCHIEINPORTLAND
    • Frenchieinportland

    Best Utah Poster Child

    Donovan Mitchell
    Frankly, poster "child" doesn't do the Utah Jazz's Mitchell justice. Sure, he was just a rookie last season, but he made others look on in awe as he made jaw-dropping play after play and announced to the world he deserved a seat at the adults' table. Mitchell helped bring national relevance to the team and put the new-era Jazz on the map. He shows his love for Utah and the team all the time with an infectious grin. It's impossible not to like the guy. He might not have won Best Utahn, but he sure has captured the hearts of many in the state and elsewhere. Here's to continued success and wins! (RH)

    click to enlarge MAKELE WHITE
    • Makele White

    Best Inclusive Feminist Ceramicist

    Makele White
    "I think ceramics teaches you patience, and tells you it's OK to mess up. No matter how many times you mess up, you can always make something again," says Makele White, owner of Little Volcano Ceramics. She hopes that her work—ceramic flower planters ($40), mugs ($30), cups in various sizes, shapes and colors, all depicting feminine torsos and breasts—empowers others to love their bodies in a world where we are often told we shouldn't. "You're worth it to take up space," White says. "Appreciate yourself." White initially began working with ceramics as a mental-health outlet, while fulfilling various roles in Planned Parenthood clinics and pursuing her bachelor's in gender studies at the University of Utah. "My whole life revolved around the female body, in one way or another," White says. Naturally, the female form made its way into her art. Splitting her time—throwing and firing—between her home and Art Haus, White intends to donate a portion of proceeds to breast-cancer research once Little Volcano gets some more traction. Oh, and the name Little Volcano? A friend once told White that her name, Makele, in Hawaiian, means "little volcano"—a happy translation. (ZS)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Business Owner Making CBD And Hemp More Appetizing for the Cannabis-Averse

    Daniella Lucero
    Marguerite Blakey is a 17-year veteran of soap-making, a craft she passed on to her daughter, Daniella Lucero. Gardner Village's M Soaps by Marguerite used to be a mom-and-child shop, but since M retired, Daniella is the sole owner. Although the matriarch is out of the game, Lucero's business continues to sell CBD-infused lotions, bath bombs and oils, making cannabis-based products more palatable to people whose early understandings of marijuana come from Reefer Madness. Picking up where her mom left off, Lucero is keeping up the family tradition of helping people relax by providing them with bath goods that don't get them stoned. (KL)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Comedians

    Our readers
    February 2018 was a simpler time (not really), but smack in the middle of the 63rd state Legislature and with ever-increasing buzz (bud?) that this was medical cannabis' year, we asked our readers to come up with names for Utah-centric marijuana strains. Your answers had us all in stitches (which we promptly treated with some high-octane opioids). Here are some of our faves:

    Trax Wax.
    Nick McConochie
    Via Facebook

    Reffer Society.
    Cindy McBride Gibbs
    Via Facebook

    Funeral POTatoes
    *cue drums*
    Mitch Bragg
    Via Facebook

    Great Salt Bake.
    Via Instagram

    High Sauce!
    Ronette Nelson Knight
    Via Facebook

    Latter-day Strains (but that's more of a brand name. It would have to have sub strains to make any sense).
    Simon Harwood
    Via Facebook

    Diet Coke Smoke.
    Via Instagram

    Federal Highs.
    William Boyd
    Via Twitter

    The other green casserole with crunchy stuff.
    Rob Rodgers
    Via Facebook

    Seagull Diesel, Provo Gold, Kolob Kush.
    Gililland Daymon
    Via Facebook

    Via Instagram

    The Real Housewives of Salt Lake Hash.
    Megan Hansen
    Via Facebook

    Prophet's Private Stash, Temple Hemple, Holy Toke. High-n-Zion.
    Alan Peterson
    Via Facebook

    Bee-high State, Porter Smokewell, Modab.
    Via Instagram

    Seer Stoned.
    Jon Allen
    Via Twitter

    Ashley Jones
    Via Facebook

    Joseph Spliff, Temple Recommend, Bonneville Blunt.
    Dustin Dabb
    Via Facebook

    City-Creek Creeker.
    David Butler
    Via Facebook

    Zion Curtain 3.2.
    Kelly O'Hara
    Via Facebook

    Capitol Reefer, Foot Lucid, Latter-day Dank, Jon Bluntsman Jr., Greatest Grow on Earth, Multi-level Marijuana, Doobie a Favor and Use Your Turn Signal.
    Julie Radle
    Via Facebook

    Inversion Therapy.
    Regie Thompson
    Via Facebook

    Kerry Knowles
    Via Facebook

    Sarahjane Aleta
    Via Facebook

    "God's Will."
    Clinton Reid
    Via Facebook

    Elder Dankerson.
    Rob Rodgers
    Via Facebook

    As long as it's legal ... who cares?
    Scott Meade
    Via Facebook

    click to enlarge SARAH ARNOFF
    • Sarah Arnoff

    Best Sign The Future—and the Present—Are Alright

    March for Our Lives Salt Lake City
    A month after 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Fla., 8,000 students, teachers and parents marched on the Utah Capitol to demand lawmakers pass bills that would decrease instances of gun violence in the Beehive State. Organized by March for Our Lives Salt Lake City, a student-led local chapter of the national movement started by survivors of the Florida shooting, the Utah youth have since held several town halls and public forums, urging citizens to elect lawmakers who will represent their interests, not the National Rifle Association's. In the words of one state legislator quoted in an August City Weekly cover story, "It always amazes me when adults say, 'This is our future.' They're our present." (KL)

    click to enlarge SARAH ARNOFF
    • Sarah Arnoff

    Best Artivist

    Saida Dahir
    She describes Somalia, her home country, as "the land of the poets." A 17-year-old student at the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science in Salt Lake City, Dahir is frequently seen at rallies that underscore the need for gun reform and praise immigrants for their economical, societal and historical contributions to the U.S. and Utah alike. Not content to merely chant or give a speech at these gatherings, Dahir combines her love of activism and art—"artivism," as she describes it—by performing spoken-word poetry. Her blistering polemics suggest a wisdom beyond her years, complementing her peers' fiery passion and adding an artistic flair to protests across the metropolis. (KL)

    Best Proponent of Utah Love
    Dan Reynolds
    In 2018, the Imagine Dragons frontman expanded his LoveLoud Festival, which celebrates Utah's LGBTQ youth and raises awareness about the staggering suicide problem they face. With a new venue (University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium), an attendance that more than doubled (from 17,000 to 42,000 fans) and a fundraising haul 10 times higher than in 2017 ($1,000,000 vs. $100,000), Reynolds made a huge impact on his adopted state. But the money was secondary to LoveLoud's main goal: spreading an inclusive brand of Utah love that treats everyone—gay, straight, religious and not—equal. "Growing up Mormon, you're quick to close your door if you feel like someone's attacking you," Reynolds told City Weekly in June. "If we're going to have this dialogue, it needs to come from within." (NM)

    Best Hollywood First Amendment Proponent
    Jane Fonda
    A headline-grabbing fixture since her 1960 big-screen debut in Tall Story, two-time Oscar-winner Jane Fonda has gone through several reinventions (Spandex-clad workout, anyone?) giving ample material for a documentary based on her life, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, which premiered during the Sundance Film Festival. Apropos of Park City's Respect Rally—a gathering that commemorated one year since national Women's March—the actress took the stage and asked for attendees to support the Freedom of the Press during a passionate speech. "Let's find a way to protect and expand public media, both national and community-based," she told the crowd. We couldn't agree more. (EL)

    Best Conservation Warriors
    Utah Recycling Alliance
    Between Fix-It Clinics, Sustainability Summits and Pop-up CHaRMs (collections of hard-to-recycle materials), the Utah Recycling Alliance is doing its part to keep Utah as green, and habitable, as possible. By encouraging a zero-waste lifestyle, these tree-hugging, earth-loving recyclers are helping people reuse their old and busted keepsakes by giving them the skills they need to make future repairs at home. Embrace your inner "Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor" and learn how to fix broken blenders and messed up bicycle chains at a Fix-It Clinic, or recycle your old tires or DVDs at a Pop-up CHaRM; whatever URA program you do, you'll be giving the earth, and Utah's environment, a much-needed hug (KL)

    Best Nature-Loving Ladies
    Women Who Hike
    Mom always cautioned you to never talk to strangers on the street. But talking to them on the internet and hiking into the wilderness with them is totally fine. I mean, we can't all be axe murderers, right? That's just statistics. Women Who Hike was started as a way to connect women who just want to hang out in nature with each other, and has exploded to chapters all across the U.S. The Utah Facebook group has more than 1,300 members, and state ambassadors familiar with off-the-beaten-path trails lead hikes several times per year. You don't have to be a dedicated backpacker to join—women just getting into the hobby are welcome to post questions and seek beginner hiking buddies. Hiking solo is no excuse to stay off the trail. (SA)

    Best Failled Australian Import
    Great Salt Lake Whales
    Now for some history. Mr. James Wickham, upon first stepping foot onto the Great Salt Lake's banks must have surely—eyes squinting, scanning the watery horizon—said, "Call me Wickham." He, like Melville, had a whale to sale. The story goes, at least according to a June 24, 1890, article in the now-defunct Utah Enquirer, that in 1865 a "scientific English gentleman," Mr. Wickham, got it in his head to launch the Utah whaling industry within the Great Salt Lake's confines. He and a few like-minded men went a whale huntin' off the shores of Australia, plucked two whales from the depths, and brought them to Utah courtesy of a freightliner from Australia to San Francisco, and a train from San Fran to these parts. In a scene straight out of Whaling for Dummies, Wickham made a chicken-wire enclosure for his new pets and casually plopped them in. After about five minutes, the whales saw their chance, burst through the wire, and swam out into the depths. Needless to say, Wickham's Whaling Co. never quite took off, but if you sit along your favorite bank near dusk—eyes squinting, scanning the horizon—you might see a little geyser spout up from a whale descendant, proudly claiming the Great Salt Lake for itself. (ZS)

    click to enlarge CALLISTA PEARSON
    • Callista Pearson

    Best Pet Detectives

    Salt Lake County Animal Services
    Scenario: Your dog manages to wiggle out of his collar and escape your yard when you're not home. Someone finds him and calls animal control. The animal-control officer is unable to retrieve your information because your dog's chip has come out (yes, it's a thing that can happen!). So, it's kennel prison for your pup, right? Not when Salt Lake County Animal Services' sleuths are on duty! Taking the time to knock on doors and peek over fences, putting the empty house, empty doghouse and open gate pieces together, these officers will find a way to contact you, reunite you with your doggo and save the day. (SA)
    511 W. 3900 South,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Playful-Yet-Serious Podcasters

    Trent Morrison and Chris Glaittli
    Masc4Masc started as a passion project for two friends seeking the artistic nourishment that had been missing from their day jobs. After almost a year, co-hosts Trent Morrison and Chris Glaittli have taken their queer-themed podcast to the next level, interviewing local fixtures of LGBTQ communities and interspersing joyous, often hilarious conversations with serious topics and concerns. But you don't have to be a "queerio"—to borrow a word used frequently on their site—to enjoy the show. Some episodes are addressed to straight listeners, humanizing queer issues for the few Utah County listeners who might have never met a real-life gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person. (KL)

    click to enlarge STEVE CONLIN
    • Steve Conlin

    Best Pre-Pride Moment

    E. Cooper Jr.
    Inclusivity and representation was in the air this past summer during the ninth annual Miss City Weekly pageant. All nine contestants across the gender spectrum shone in an elegant display of creativity, self-love and unabashed visibility. But it was one in particular, E. Cooper Jr., who brought the house down during the evening's talent portion. Singing a live version of power anthem "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman, Cooper's spirit, vulnerability and defiance made the venue tremble and the children gag. In a move that upset no one, he also ended up taking home the crown. All hail the queen. (EL)

    Best LGBTQ Advocate From an Institution You Wouldn't Expect
    Richard Ostler
    A faithful Latter-day Saint and former bishop, Richard Ostler encourages fellow devout Mormons to embrace LGBTQ people, groups the LDS church has historically stigmatized and demonized. Ostler hosts a podcast called Listen, Learn & Love and posts respectably trafficked Facebook statuses advocating for Mormons to respect and engage with LGBTQ people. Al though not affiliated with the church in any official capacity, Ostler's advocacy is an encouraging step forward, as it represents a radical set of actions that are all too rare in 2018—ditch your preconceived notions, seek out and talk with people whose experiences are vastly different from your own and, most importantly, listen. (KL)

    click to enlarge BO YORK
    • Bo York

    Most Enigmatic Socks-and-Sandals-Wearing DJ

    Bo York
    No matter where you see him—winning a City Weekly Battle of the DJs contest, gliding effortlessly between crowds at the afterparty or riding his BMX cruiser around town—there's something about Bo York that defies easy categorization. With style for miles, the dude easily slipstreams between fashion sensibilities while seamlessly blending up genres behind the ones and the twos. Trying to understand this enigma wrapped in a mystery (or, more commonly, a towel or a hoodie) is as impossible as capturing lightning in a bottle. But once he starts spinning, it all makes sense: York hits a primal musical nerve that most of us didn't know existed. As local icon Jesse Walker recently said while watching Bo work his magic, "That guy's the coolest person I know." (NM)

    Best Local Duped by Sacha Baron Cohen
    Janalee Tobias
    British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen tricked conservatives and progressives into acting out embarrassing situations while filming his Showtime series Who Is America? Among the group was Utah gun rights activist and Women Against Gun Control founder Janalee Tobias, who fell for Cohen's prank after he told her his son had been killed by a terrorist and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted toddlers to be trained with firearms so they could join the war against terrorism. While singing about killing militants with guns hidden in stuffed animals, Tobias was goaded to endorse using a "Dino gun," "Puppy pistol" and "Uzicorn" to fight the good fight. (KL)

    Best Boneheaded Group Standing up for Their Second Amendment Rights
    Utah Gun Exchange
    Shortly before the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School came to Utah in July, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bryan Melchior, one of the owners of the Utah Gun Exchange, had been following the students around the country in a militaristic armored vehicle. As the school shooting survivors advocated for gun regulations, Melchior held counter-rallies, protecting his civil rights by stalking teenagers. "The hostile environment created toward gun advocates in the Northeast is not unlike the hostile environments a black man would have experienced in the South hundreds of years ago," he told the Trib. Alrighty then. (KL)

    Best New Social Media Follow
    Utah's liquor stores can't advertise what's on sale. That doesn't stop Park City resident Kirsten Park, though, who runs the @utahsidebar account on Facebook and Instagram. Park takes away the pain of navigating the state's inventory online by doing it for you, posting the latest wine or liquor listed at a discount. She also includes a story about each item she posts, such as a $17.99 bottle of Hell-Cat Maggie Whiskey named after a Dead Rabbits gang member in Manhattan in the 1800s. So, not only do you learn about the best deals in Utah, you also read the history and inspiration behind the product—something you won't get from the state. (RH)

    Best Political Brawl
    Mia Love and Ben McAdams
    Arguably the most interesting election in the Utah 2018 midterms, the Mia Love/Ben McAdams race had it all—allegations of both candidates using illegal campaign donations, political operatives masquerading as reporters to spy on the opposition and, of course, the specter of President Donald Trump, who won Love's district in 2016 with a mere 40 percent of votes. Final numbers haven't been tallied at press time, so we'll go ahead and issue two predictions: If McAdams wins, the Democrats gain another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, adding to a potential blue wave that would give the minority party a much-needed boost of political power. If Love wins, her Republican star continues to rise for two more years until she does the same dance in 2020, when both she and Trump would be up for reelection. (KL)

    • Photo Illustration Derek Carlisle

    Best Impression of the Monster From It Follows

    Mitt Romney
    Much like the supernatural beast from David Robert Mitchell's 2014 film, Mitt Romney started slowly but surely slinking his way to political gatherings across the Beehive State since getting overlooked for a cabinet position in the Trump administration. Chances are if you found yourself at an event even loosely related to politics, Romney's ageless mug was there, giving a carefully worded speech that both praised and expressed concern for Trump's policies. Chasing Sen. Orrin Hatch's seat, the Utah transplant was seemingly everywhere leading up to the November midterms, where he faced off against Democratic opponent Jenny Wilson. (KL)

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    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Place To Lunge Your Stress Away

    Social Axe Throwing
    Work got you down? Personal life in shambles? Looking for a way to consume alcohol and legally play with weapons? Channel your inner viking and go drink some beer and throw a few axes at Social Axe Throwing, a bar/warrior training ground with locations in Ogden, Orem and Salt Lake City. Originally conceived as a coffee shop, the owners changed their business' beverage of choice after watching a video of Jason Momoa—Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones and Aquaman in Justice League—drinking a beer and chucking an axe onto a target's bull's-eye. Who knew alcohol and hatchets were a match made in heaven? (KL)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Theater You Can't Believe Is in a Provo Shopping Mall
    An Other Theater Co.
    Edgy, contemporary theater and Provo would seem to fit together about as comfortably as pedestrians and e-scooters. But this innovative company, performing out of a 49-seat space that once was a RadioShack, has been shaking things up with challenging work that in another era might have gotten them shut down by the morals police. They debuted in 2017 with productions of How I Learned to Drive, which touches on pedophilia and incest, and Next Fall, about a gay couple grappling with the constraints of Christianity. But it was their faithful take on Angels in America and its heavy Mormon themes and characters that really cemented An Other on Utah's cultural landscape, fulfilling their vision of bringing diverse voices to a region that's begging more and more for them. And they're not letting up—coming soon is the dragalicious musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the closet-case comedy Perfect Arrangement. (RK)
    Provo Towne Centre, 1200 Towne Centre Blvd., (second floor near Dillard's),

    Best New Theater Home
    Wasatch Theatre Co. at the Gateway
    While Salt Lake County continues the important work of providing theater space for many performing arts companies, there's also a special feeling that comes from a company finding a place to call its own. As The Gateway transitions from a primarily retail space to an entertainment and experiences hub, Wasatch Theatre Co. planted its flag in one of those empty spaces to kick off its 2018 season. In addition to the company's own productions—like the recent You Got Older—the space also allows for collaborations with other, smaller companies. (SR)
    124 S. 400 West, 801-973-2051,

    click to enlarge JASIN RODRIQUEZ
    • Jasin Rodriquez

    Best Gretchen Weiners-Influenced National Park

    Bryce Canyon National Park
    Why should Arches get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under its big sandstone formations? What's so great about Arches, hm? Bryce is just as cute as Arches, OK? Bryce is just as Instagramable as Arches. People totally like Bryce just as much as they like Arches. And when did it become OK for one national park to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that's not what Utah's Big 5 are about. We should totally just stab Arches! OK, don't stab it (how would you, anyway?) just go to Bryce—it's fetch af. (EL)

    click to enlarge COURTESY TUCAHN ORG
    • Courtesy Tucahn org

    Best Natural Beauty as Theatrical Backdrop

    Tuacahn Amphitheatre
    Outdoor theater is a special seasonal delight in Utah, a chance to experience great stories under beautiful skies. Now imagine the boost that comes when your theater's backdrop was built by nature, in the form of stunning red-rock cliffs. The thing is, you don't have to imagine it: You can just visit Ivins, where Tuacahn's season of summer and fall theatrical productions—like this year's Matilda and The Prince of Egypt—offer family-friendly entertainment in a setting that takes your breath away like no other. (SR)
    1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins, 800-746-9882,

    click to enlarge VINCE CORAK
    • Vince Corak

    Best Brutally Punishing Hike

    Jack's Mountain
    You will repeatedly curse, cry and sigh your way through this 2.4-mile loop trail as you climb the AllTrails app-estimated 1,338 feet to its peak. Legs and lungs screaming after dragging yourself up several steep, mountainous inclines, you'll come across two mailboxes filled with notes addressed to Jack Edwards, a 21-month-old boy who passed away in 1995 after battling leukemia. The sobering moment of Zen underscores the fragility of life and its fleeting moments of beauty. Bring a pen so you can sign the journals (and consider bringing tissues if you plan on reading the notes), and then prepare yourself for the descent. (KL)
    1835 Carrigan Canyon Drive

    click to enlarge MATT MURRAY
    • Matt Murray

    Best Place To Warm Your Bones in Winter

    Crystal Hot Springs
    Combining freezing temperatures, black ice and toxic air-sludge, winter in Utah can be a long, Dickensian nightmare. Shuffle your dreary bodies north to Honeyville for slightly cleaner air and pools of rejuvenating elixir. Crystal Hot Springs is home to waters containing a dozen minerals, including lithium, which makes you feel pretty swell. Temperatures range from 120-134 degrees Fahrenheit in the several pools you can rotate through, and there's also a cold pool for a quick dip to reset. Or, in proper hot springs/sauna form, you could roll around in the snow before hopping back in. (SA)
    8215 Utah Highway 38, Honeyville, 435-339-0338,

    Best Place for a Morning Dip
    Fairmont Aquatic Center
    Start your day off right with a few laps at the Fairmont Aquatic Center. Located in the heart of Sugar House, the eight-lane, 25-yard lap pool is perfect for experts and novices, giving swimmers the space they need to do their best Michael Phelps impersonations. There's also a leisure pool that doubles as a children's playground, so drop off the kids to play while you strengthen that heart. The Salt Lake County-owned space is especially great for arthritic and chronic pain sufferers because it offers water aerobics and aqua Zumba classes, as well as a water-filled walkway that's ideal for those with bad knees, ankles and feet. (KL)
    1044 E. Sugarmont Drive, 385-468-1540,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Place To Fish

    Provo River
    Utah is full of lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams where you can fish. The best spot if you're into fly-fishing might be along the Provo River, especially in the fall months. Bring your waders, your fishing license—duh—and anything else you might want for a day on the river and head out to Provo Canyon Road east of Provo. Find a spot to wade in and cast away. If you're up for the drive, head a little farther east to other parts of the Provo for a change in scenery. Chances are you'll encounter a number of trout making their way through the river. It's a great option if you don't have a boat and don't mind swimming with the fish. (RH)

    click to enlarge DAVE BISHOP
    • Dave Bishop

    Best Hike To Brave Solo

    Living Room Trail
    It took me a few weeks after moving to Utah to work up the gusto to hit the trails. I'd have to make my treks alone since I didn't know anyone in town, a frightening prospect because there'd be no one to save me if my travels went awry. I knew there were snakes here, and I'd seen that James Franco movie where he has to cut off his arm because it gets trapped under a boulder. Eventually, I settled on the Living Room Trail, a short, moderately easy climb that ends with a gorgeous view. It was such a well-trafficked route that I didn't even turn around and run home after seeing a rattlesnake. (KL)

    Best Backcountry Drive
    Burr Trail
    Any drive billed as the best in Utah will catch an adventurer's eye. The only passage over a geological formation that vexed pioneers for decades? That puts the Burr Trail into a category all its own. Located in a remote confluence of Capitol Reef National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Burr Trail features 70 miles that cross the contorted and once-impassable Waterpocket Fold. About one-third of that is unpaved, with a one-mile stretch offering up steep 12-percent grade switchbacks. "Spectacular" doesn't begin to do this drive justice, but you have to be prepared: Bring all your own food, water, gas and supplies and don't even think about attempting the Burr Trail if any rain is in the forecast. (NM)

    Best Route to Zion National Park for an Agoraphobe
    U.S. HIGHWAY 89
    As the saying goes for those stricken with wanderlust, "It's about the journey, not the destination." The best way to live out the alleged Emerson quote is the backroads to Utah's Zion National Park. Hate crowds but love Mother Nature? Take the historic U.S. 89 to Mount Carmel Junction, 16 minutes from the east entrance of ZNP. "The west [main] entrance is a zoo," says Marco, a frequent park-goer and resident of Mount Carmel. "It can take you half an hour to get through that entrance." Route 89 stretches from Canada through the U.S. to Mexico. So if you fancy a Thelma & Louise trip—I'm not telling you to go or anything—there's really something for everyone. (RF)

    Best Scenic Drive for Visiting Guests
    Guardsman Pass to Park City
    Beehive State residents face this dilemma all the time: visiting guests who want to see "the real Utah" without driving all the way to Zion or Arches. Try this relatively short summer-only route: Meander up Big Cottonwood Canyon, punctuated with a Donut Falls hike or a stroll around Brighton Lakes. Take your time topping Guardsman Pass, stopping for wildflower selfies, then check on the other half at Deer Valley before hitting Main Street in Park City. Stock up on sundries at Kimball Junction, and if kids are involved, don't miss the Olympic Museum, where admission is free and the 2002 Games go on forever. Best of all? The trip down Parley's Canyon gives your houseguests 30 minutes to snooze before catching their second wind in Salt Lake City. (NM)

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Place To Take Your Tourist Friends on a Day Trip

    Ensign Peak
    Let's say your friend comes to visit Salt Lake City and you need to show them a place that captures the valley. You've tried to explain how the grid system works and how much sense it makes to get around town. However, they just don't get it. You can take them up the popular Living Room Trail, but that still doesn't show them the best perspective of the valley. Instead, head north to Ensign Peak. This is, after all, where Brigham Young and his pioneer faithful surveyed the valley and made plans on how they'd lay out the city—in squares, or a grid—and it makes sense. Really, it does. Show them the lake to the west and the mountains to the east—you can make out State Street to the south and they just might understand. (RH)
    Ensign Vista Drive, Capitol Hill neighborhood

    click to enlarge UTAH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
    • Utah Historical Society

    Best Examination of Manifest Destiny's Ills

    Golden Spike National Historic Site
    A trip to Promontory Summit isn't easy, but it's worth it once you bump into Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869. The knowledgeable and sensitive park rangers celebrate that achievement while also providing a heavy dose of reality on how it transformed the American West. The critical role of Chinese immigrants is celebrated; the horrid conditions for women and nearby Native Americans is deplored; and the near-catastrophic mistakes made by the bumbling white men leading the Union and Central Pacific railroads' efforts are called out without remorse. (Yes, the two work crews laying track passed each other by 250 miles—all to collect more government-subsidy bonds.) It's a fascinating, cringe-worthy tale: kind of like everything in American history. (NM)
    6200 N. 22300 West, Promontory, 435-471-2209, ext. 429,

    Best Place To Take in Utah's Wildlife Before It's Gone
    Northwest Quadrant
    If you fashion yourself an ornithologist, the wetlands around the Great Salt Lake are a great spot to explore Utah's variety of birds. But act quick: The Inland Port—an international trading hub with planes, trains and automobiles—is on its way. The nearly 20,000-acre development will vastly change the area near the airport. Some fear it will have an effect on bird migration patterns. So before they're pushed out by the most invasive species of all—humans—head out to the Northwest Quadrant and savor it while you can. (RH)

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    • Courtesy Replicolor

    Best Mom & Pop Print Shop

    If you think there's no alternative to local photo printing than Costco or Walgreen's, think again. Although it's located in a nondescript building behind the defunct Taffy Town on Richards Street, photography and art pros know Replicolor is the place to go for high-end and museum-quality printing—they've been at it since 1955. You can pick up a few nice 4-by-6 prints of the fam or go big with products like the acrylic sandwich: a photo print sealed between two pieces of acrylic with flame-polished corners. Replicolor even processes film and can scan those old slides you've had stashed in your basement for 30 years. (SA)
    850 S. Richards St., 801-328-0271,

    • Courtesy Copper Palete Press

    Best Place To Make Your Printmaking Dreams Come True
    Copper Palate Press
    If you've got a wild visual hair up your ass, you've got two choices: You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on your own screen-printing equipment, then find the space and the time to operate it. Or head down to Copper Palate Press and watch designs come to life under the careful eye of this creative collective. Specializing in small custom print jobs, Copper Palate's artists have done it all: reinterpreted movie posters for Tower Theatre, tour packages for every local band you can think of, limited-edition T-shirt runs for pop-up shows. Located in the brick garage that once housed DIY concert venue The Moroccan, Copper Palate Press even maintains a community spirit through regular exhibits that bring the printmaking process to life. (NM)
    160 E. 200 South, 801-633-9470,

    Best News for Brews and Views
    Brewvies Ogden
    The downtown Salt Lake City Brewvies has become an institution, providing a place to watch new and classic films while enjoying a frosty adult beverage and hearty meal—even fighting for your First Amendment rights to do so. That opportunity has expanded, with Brewvies opening its second location this year. Dinner and a movie has always been fun, and it's still even more fun to combine the two, and give a kick to the theatrical moviegoing experience. (SR)
    2293 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-392-2012,

    click to enlarge CLIFFORD PEMBROKE
    • Clifford Pembroke

    Best Costume Connoisseurs

    Pib's Exchange
    Whether the occasion is Halloween, a pop-culture convention or a themed party, putting together that perfect costume can be a stressful undertaking. Pib's Exchange offers a huge range of options for men and women, from fully completed ensembles representing beloved characters to that one perfect accessory you need to top off your outfit. And if you feel like being creatively à la carte, Pib's inventory of vintage gently used clothing could provide just the inspiration you're looking for. (SR)
    1147 S. Ashton Ave., 801-484-7996,

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best BYOB Concert Spot
    Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
    "Pack your own picnic and beverages of choice." These eight words of beauty, included in Red Butte Garden's concert FAQs, change the game. In a state with such strict alcohol laws, I have no idea how it's legal to consume your own libations at Utah's official state arboretum. But I'm not asking questions. Instead, I'm carefully curating a cooler for each concert: red wine for Gipsy Kings, Shiner Bock for Shakey Graves, small-batch craft IPA for Dispatch, kombucha cocktails for Indigo Girls, moonshine for Avett Brothers, homemade hurricanes for Trombone Shorty. Yes, the ticket prices for these shows are steep—but when you factor in the savings on those weak 1.5-ounce pours at the bar, a concert under the stars at Red Butte Garden feels like heaven on earth. (NM)
    2155 Red Butte Canyon, 801-585-0556,

    Best Place to Unleash Your Inner Tarantino
    Utah Film Center Artist Foundry
    If you're looking to cast or cut that amazing indie film you've been slaving, sweating and crying over, it's hard to find a better place to do it than the Utah Film Center's Artist Foundry, which had its grand relaunching in September. This is a place for the craft of filmmaking: rehearsal and audition rooms for discovering the next Meryl; open-access editing bays geared up with Final Cut and Adobe Creative Cloud; a screening room to check your film's progress or watch a flick from the Foundry library; a conference room where you can sign that huge Hollywood distribution deal; and a cushy lounge where you can load up with every filmmaker's most important tool—free coffee. The Foundry also has frequent workshops on directing, screenwriting and fundraising, as well as equipment rentals for members, including microphones, tripods and big expensive cameras that you really don't want to drop. (RK)
    320 S. 300 East, 801-509-9747,

    Best Second Chance To Dance
    It's Been a While Dance Co.
    For many who love to dance, there comes a time when life steers you away from the possibility of it being a professional career—but that doesn't mean those folks can't still do what they love. Based out of the South Jordan Rec Center, It's Been a While Dance Co. invites non-professionals to gather and improve their skills at tap, ballet, modern dance and more. And those part-time dancers can even get a chance to perform in front of audiences at the Rose Wagner Center during an annual program, just like the pros. (SR)
    10866 S. Redwood Road, South Jordan, 801-580-2576

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    • Courtesy Fringe

    Best Performance Test Kitchen

    Great Salt Lake Fringe
    Being an artist of any kind is a challenge; for performing artists trying to mount works of theater or dance, it can be even harder trying to get your work in front of viewers, especially when theater space is at a premium and risk-taking work can inherently limit your audience. The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival provides an annual summer showcase of new short works, allowing established companies and eager newcomers to try out stuff that's funky, unconventional or just plain weird. Every act of creation is a risk, but this is just one way of making experimentation possible. (SR)

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    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Park City Entertainment Landmark

    Egyptian Theatre
    Yes, it's been the go-to B-roll image identifying the Sundance Film Festival for more than 20 years, providing a showcase venue in the middle of the Main Street hustle and bustle. But throughout the year, long after the "people in black" have returned to the coasts, Park City's Egyptian Theatre offers one of the most diverse lineups of live entertainment in the state. Whether you fancy the dancing of Odyssey Dance's Thriller, classic rock performers like Judy Collins and Firefall, musical theater or stand-up comedy, the Egyptian fills its calendar year-round with something for everyone. (SR)
    328 Main, Park City, 435-649-9371,

    Best $10 Voucher
    Golden Hills Motel
    Is it a restaurant or is it a motel? The mystery ends here—it's both! The hidden gem that is Golden Hills is the thriftiest motel closest to Zion National Park. Guests get a $10 voucher to—you guessed it—Golden Hill restaurant to load up on housemade blueberry pies and coffee before heading out on the mainy trails of Zion. Golden Hills is the best stay for procrastinators booking last-minute rooms. While there's cable, Wi-Fi is spotty—but, hey, who needs it when you have Utah's kickass southern wilderness? (RF)
    4530 State, Mount Carmel, 435-648-2268,

    click to enlarge SCOTT RENSHAW
    • Scott Renshaw

    Best Immersive World

    Evermore Park
    Utah theme-park fans who have had to visit California to get their fix for losing themselves in fantasy worlds now have something a bit closer to home—in Pleasant Grove. After a long development phase, Evermore Park finally debuted with a special event in September, followed by opening to the public with its "Lore" experience combining role-playing actors in a detailed, beautifully designed Old World hamlet. While more areas remain to be completed, Evermore already has the stuff of a place crafted with love, care and a lot of magic. (SR)
    382 S. Evermore Lane, Pleasant Grove,

    Best Place To Stick it to the Establishment
    Neighbor states
    For months, Utahns have been bombarded with news—and even fake news—about Proposition 2, the ballot initiative that would legalize medical cannabis. The Legislature was virtually silent until fall on making the plant available to those suffering from arthritis, epilepsy and other ailments. So, the public has taken matters into its own hands. But that initiative only covers medical conditions. If you really want to stick it to "the man," why not follow some people's lead and move to Nevada or Colorado? Those states allow medical and recreational use. And you'd be taking your hard-earned tax dollars to states with a little more freedom. How does that sound, Legislature? (RH)

    click to enlarge NICK MORRIS
    • Nick Morris

    Best Super Cheap but Super Awesome Haircut

    The Dollar Barber Shop
    The now decade-long revival of bushy-bearded dudes looking like they've stepped out of the 1880s has directly fed into the rise of overpriced hipster shave-and-a-haircut joints. But why shell out $30 when you can get the same quality chop for a fraction? The Dollar Barber Shop has been cuttin' heads on the cheap for more than 50 years, barely adjusted for inflation (30 years ago, their price for a basic cut was $3). Most short cuts for men and women are just $6, while more styled looks are only $12. And beardos, they'll trim your furry face for that same $6-$12 range too, with never an appointment needed. Just be sure to thank your barber with a generous tip—you'll still be paying less than anywhere else. (RK)
    679 S. 700 East, 801-414-9689,

    click to enlarge JANE GLEESON
    • Jane Gleeson

    Best Place To Get Hair Ripped Out of Your Naughty Bits (and Other Areas)

    Salt Wax Society
    If, like me, your preference is to conform to society's standards of hairless naughty bits, Salt Wax Society is the perfect place to get all that hair torn out. Not only do the waxers pay attention to the most sensitive parts of your body, they also de-hair other places, too. Brows, legs, underarms, asscrack, any place your body grows hair! Amazing! Why shave or let your hair grow when you can be in extreme pain for 30 minutes? Waxing hurts but the results are worth it for the smooth results lasting up to three weeks. Student discounts, memberships and a friendly staff make the experience worth it. (KR)
    464 S. 600 East, 385-528-0798,

    Best Tattoo Shop To Get a Regrettable Neck Tattoo at 18
    Big Deluxe Tattoo
    So, you just turned 18, you can legally vote and mark your body with whatever the hell you want. You want your knuckles tattooed? Your face? Neck? Inner lip? Big Deluxe's talented tattoo artists will get the job done. After going through a military-like apprenticeship that destroys relationships, the artists don't care if you want to get matching tattoos with your girlfriend of a month. Big Deluxe has two locations only a block away from each other, so there's always availability. Tattoos are forever until you can afford laser removal, so, choose Big Deluxe for good-looking ink. (RK)
    662 S. State, 801-595-1186,

    Best Nearby Refuge from the Urban Jungle
    Liberty Park
    I laughed out loud the first time I biked the concrete path around Liberty Park. I'd just moved to Salt Lake City from Texas, a state where voters consider the word "taxes" to be a curse. As I explored the environmental heaven that is Salt Lake's second-biggest park (Sugar House Park is larger), I saw Tracy Aviary, a park-within-a-park at least partially funded by taxpayer dollars. What's more, I later learned, voters have continued to OK funding after the aviary was built. I shudder to think what Texans would have done had that request been on their ballots. They likely would have flipped 'em a bird of their own. (KL)
    600 E. 900 South

    Best Free Parking
    It can be too easy to get a parking ticket downtown these days. Gone are the change-only meters that might let you get away with a few unpaid minutes. Now, everything is electronic, and it can be easier to see who hasn't paid. Not to worry, though. Downtown still has a few free parking spots on the street if you look hard enough. If you're up for a little walking, Japantown, where Nihon Matsuri is held each year just west of the Salt Palace Convention Center, usually has some free two-hour spots you can snag. It's also an easy location if you're going to a concert at Abravanel Hall. (RH)
    100 South between 200 and 300 West

    • Avenging Angel Films and Photography

    Best Tattoo Studio With the Biggest Heart

    Fallen Angel
    Fallen Angel is Utah's only tattoo shop with an all-women staff of artists, which can be beneficial in several ways. No sketchy dudes with needles in their hands regaling customers with tales of how many ladies they had over the weekend, for one. Another is obvious: Tattoo studios can be intimidating for women, especially if they're looking to put a positive spin on a painful past. Fallen Angel takes pride in doing amazing cover-up work, helping women who've had their bodies scarred from breast cancer surgeries, domestic abuse or self-harming. Nothing can make one feel more empowered than replacing awful physical reminders with beautiful flowers, stars, trees or whatever you like. They also host special events where you can get a cat tattoo, with profits going to Salt Lake County Animal Services. (RK)
    1530 S. State, 801-864-6490,

    click to enlarge JOSH WIEBEL
    • Josh Wiebel

    Best Way To Spend a Summer Day

    A Salt Lake Bees game at Smith's Ballpark
    A day savoring America's pastime is a pleasure no matter where you live, but here in Salt Lake City, we're blessed with one of the best parks in the country. Where else can you watch AAA ball with a major mountain range looming in the distance? (Yes, the Colorado Rockies play in Denver, but you can barely glimpse those mountains from Coors Field.) No, the Bees have seen big-league heroes like David Ortiz, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani cranking home runs in front of the snow-capped Wasatch Range while come July, Fireworks Night seems to stretch all month. Spend an afternoon or two at Smith's Ballpark and you'll reach a rare state of baseball nirvana—so rare you'll be searching for next year's season tickets as soon as you get home. (NM)
    77 W. 1300 South,

    Best New Place To Buy Alcohol
    Lee's Discount Liquor
    I know this is the Best of Utah, but there's a store in Mesquite, Nev., that's long been popular with passersby who stop and purchase liquor. Why? Because you'll likely find cheaper prices than at local state-operated outlets. Now, Lee's Discount Liquor has opened a location closer to the Wasatch Front in West Wendover, Nev. Just 90 minutes west of Salt Lake, the town draws thousands from the area to its casinos. With the possibility of approving medical and later recreations cannabis, the town could soon be the closest one-stop shop for all the "sinning" you can't do in Utah. But until then, you can at least find full-strength beer and discounted liquor after you've finished losing your paycheck at the blackjack table. (RH)
    1355 W. Wendover Blvd., West Wendover, Nev., 775-299-3033,

    click to enlarge PAUL HUDSON
    • Paul Hudson

    Best Town That Makes You Realize You Might Have a Drinking Problem

    I moved to Salt Lake City in April. To get here, I had to drive for four days from Texas with my dad. We planned on heading from Roswell to Moab, but the nine-hour haul proved too much for two guys with a bad back and an arthritic knee. Blanding was the first place we stopped in Utah. We got a room at a motel and asked where we could get some beer. "Oh, no, sir, we're a nice Mormon town," one employee told my dad before she made a confession: "Moving back here was the worst mistake of my life." We left as soon as the sun rose the next morning. (KL)

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    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Sugar House Mystery

    The Case of the Cone
    The two-scoop chocolate and strawberry ice cream cone outside the 2100 South's Nestlé Distribution has put the "Sugar" in "Sugar House" since Snelgrove's Ice Cream's 1960s heyday. But last spring, disaster struck—the neighborhood icon stopped spinning. Who or what was behind this dastardly deed? Was it ISIS, climate change, the diabetes lobby? Turns out it was just some faulty, old equipment. "They kind of had to rebuild some parts," Kate Shaw, Nestlé USA's manager of corporate communications, says about the mechanical mystery. Efforts paid off, and last October, just in time for Halloween, the emblematic sign twirled once more. How sweet it is. (KL)

    Best F.U. to the Legislature
    Sign Mocking
    A couple of years ago, Utah's quirky Legislature passed a law requiring bars and restaurants to post signs by their entrances that read, "This premise is licensed as a bar. Not a restaurant" or vice versa. It was meant to avoid confusion, but all it really did was add more to the mix (not to mention, look beyond backwards to outsiders). The signs are now gone, but not forgotten, as their spirit lives on in mocking T-shirts and other wares. Go to a beer festival and you'll likely spot a shirt that reads: "This item of clothing is licensed as a T-shirt, not a shoe," or something similar. But why stop at shirts? How's about a sign that reads "This establishment is licensed as a place of worship, not a policy-making think-tank" or "This number is licensed as a speed limit and not a mere suggestion"? (RH)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Not-Yet Realized Art Project

    Tanner Lenart and Adam Bateman's upcoming collection
    RIP those signs, we hardly knew ye. Against all odds, booze and food enthusiasts have somehow survived without the 8 1/2-by-11-inch guides for the past six months or so, using their context clues to deduce which establishments are bars and which are restaurants. "Liquor lawyer" Tanner Lenart and local artist Adam Bateman have collected a bunch of the anthropological relics, and are using them as a launching pad for an exhibit at Nox Contemporary Gallery. No word yet on whether there will be booze on-hand—if only there were a way to know what kind of license the gallery has. (KL)

    Best Public/Private Public Art
    O1 Walls
    The challenge of "public art" is that there is relatively little public space, and plenty of privately owned territory that could become glorious with an artist's touch. Ogden First has collaborated with businesses in Ogden's downtown core in an effort to transform vertical surfaces with murals. The project launched in September with a 2,000-square-foot work dedicated to the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, located appropriately enough on the Monarch building at 455 25th St. And this is just the start of a project to make art part of the vitality of downtown Ogden every day. (SR)

    click to enlarge STEVE CONLIN
    • Steve Conlin

    Best Festival Glow-Up

    Ogden Twilight
    After an uncertain year leading up to its 30th anniversary, Salt Lake's OG Twilight Concert Series came and went without much hurrah (DJ Snoopadelic's awesome button-pushing skills notwithstanding). All the while, 40 miles north, the series' kissing cousin, Ogden Twilight, was packing them in with a stellar lineup that included The Flaming Lips, Cold War Kids, Thievery Corporation and Chromeo. With a storyline worthy of a samurai film, it swiftly became clear the pupil had outdone the master. Nice going, grasshopper. (EL)

    click to enlarge DREW HOLMES
    • Drew Holmes

    Best Large-Scale Mural That Honors Hard Work, a Conservative Icon and Shark Week

    Shae Petersen's "Atlas"
    Aided by 350 cans of spray paint, local artist Shae Petersen recently left his mark on another building on the Wasatch Front. The nearly 4,000-square foot mural, the largest in the state, depicts a Titan god holding up the world while sharks lurk below the water. The meaning behind "Atlas," a project inspired by conservative goddess Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, aligns closely with his artistic moniker "SRIL": The piece speaks to the years of hard work Petersen had to put in before he could become a full-time aerosol artist. "I never thought I could do this for a living," the surrealist says. (KL)

    Best Penis Envy
    V. Project, Gary Vlasic
    Anyone who's familiar with the internationally acclaimed work of Utah-based multidisciplinary artist and experiential designer Gary Vlasic knows he's practically the Picasso of penises. His newest permanent installation on Market Street is no exception, with the ethereal and edgy human-scaled illuminated panels in the lofty vertical space giving patrons in the know—they're subtle!—a little bit of "Where's Waldo" fun while they're waiting for their hamachi ceviche. Pro tip (see what we did there?): This also gets more entertaining with every Japanese whisky consumed. (DD)
    Post Office Place, 16 W. Market St.

    Best Showcase of Utah to the World
    Westworld and Yellowstone
    Utah's tourism is built around the state's beauty, its expansive landscapes and its recreation. For years, Hollywood has taken note, too. HBO aired its second season of Westworld last spring, and showcased Southern Utah's picturesque features as backdrop to the show's wild "amusement" park. And most recently, Paramount Network aired a nine-episode debut season of Yellowstone featuring Kevin Costner. Yellowstone's story takes place in Montana, where some of the filming is done, but the majority of it is shot near Park City. Like Westworld, the series showcases Utah's natural beauty. And if any Utahn watched the first episode, they'd recognize Rice-Eccles Stadium and Salt Lake's foothills through character Beth Dutton's office window. (RH)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Last Vestiges of the 2002 Winter Olympics

    Trio of stuffed mascots at Eborn Books
    While a few visible reminders of the 2002 Winter Games remain—the arrowhead-shaped countdown clock by The Gateway, Kearns' Olympic Oval, Mitt Romney's tall tales about how Apolo Anton Ohno snatched his rightful spot on Dancing with the Stars—history has all but forgotten the games' true stars: a trio of furry woodland characters. It all started innocently enough: Not one, not two, but three mascots would be designed by Steve Small, who'd been an animator in Disney's Hercules. Then, a public naming contest was held, and the creatures based in Native American lore—a snowshoe hare, a coyote and an American black bear—ended up with the names "Powder" (sure), "Copper" (OK) and "Coal" (the equivalent of currently naming a mascot "Confederate McNazi.") Still, together they remain on display in plush form at downtown's Eborn books, a venerable treasure trove where first-edition books and an array of collectibles rivaled only by the contents of your nana's attic, coexist. Your move, Miraitowa. (EL)
    254 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-0460,

    Best Critically Acclaimed Novel by a Local Author That I Bought at Target and Haven't Read Yet
    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
    A local author made it big, like, Super Target big. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent ( was published this year and has received stellar reviews from The New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Review of Books and many other prestigious journals. Stephen King even dubbed Tallent's debut novel as a "masterpiece." Super Target isn't exactly a book-buying destination; they carry the most popular books everyone is talking about. Seeing the familiar cover of My Absolute Darling on a Target shelf, I grabbed a copy, and was thrilled for Tallent. According to a Salt Lake Tribune article, one of his first gigs was cleaning toilets at Target. It's pretty cool to see a local author going from cleaning toilets at Target to selling his best-selling award-winning book there. (AR)

    Best Way To Watch the Greatest Films From the Greatest Filmmakers
    Salt Lake Film Society's Tower Theatre DVD library
    The streaming media world of the 21st century suggests that it's easy to find any movie any time, but have you tried recently to track down a classic more than a few years old on Netflix or Hulu? Trust old-school physical media, courtesy of the Tower Theatre's expansive collection of vintage films on DVD. Many of them are conveniently grouped by director, so when you're trying to complete your viewing of Kurosawa or Scorsese, you don't need to wonder if your computer will ever serve it up to you. (SR)
    876 E. 900 South, 801-321-0310,

    Best Old Media-to-New Media Transfer
    Preserve the Memories
    Technology changes fast, and for some families, that means precious memories are stuck on viewing formats that aren't supported much anymore. Folks who have videotapes, floppy disks or other obsolete hardware can now transfer those images and home movies into digital formats—and all for free, thanks to equipment available through the Salt Lake County Library System's "Preserve the Memories" program. Based at the West Jordan main branch, it's a way to once again enjoy special times that have been sitting somewhere in a box. (SR)
    8030 S. 1825 West,

    Best Meditations On Solitude
    Jana Richman, Finding Stillness in a Noisy World
    Utah native Jana Richman has written beautiful works of fiction about how people are shaped by the natural landscapes of their lives, but she's just as gifted at exploring that subject through her essays. This slim but potent volume collects reflections by Richman on a variety of subjects all touching on the quest for an internal and external life of balance. From earthy contemplations of the importance of dirt to insights on the experience of walking, Richman tells personal tales that ring with the universality of making peace with a complicated world. (SR)

    Best Cultural Crafts
    Urban Indian Center Art Market
    What started as an opportunity for both experienced and novice Native American artists to share their wares and make a little money, the Urban Indian Center's weekly art market celebrated one year in operation this summer. Each Wednesday, community members are welcome to bring crafts, art or food to share and sell. On some days, only a few tables are scattered around the main hall, but other weeks see a busier crowd, and organizers emphasize that all are encouraged to join in. (SA)
    120 W. 1300 South,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Three-Hour Permanent Smile

    The Viva La Diva show
    It takes a mad man to think, "Hey, I'm going to start a regular drag cabaret in Salt Lake City." Luckily for the local LGBTQ scene (and beyond), the Beehive State has found such an eccentric in prodigal son Jason CoZmo. "I figured it out—straight women in Utah love two things: Hobby Lobby and drag," the Magna native says. Aided by the formidable talents of cast members David Lorence, Cody Scott, Jeremiah Knight, current reigning Miss City Weekly E. Cooper Jr. and others, CoZmo & Co. continually delivers. Be it Halloween, Christmas, Broadway or Disney-themed, Viva La Diva shows no sign of stopping. "Utah, you need this. You may not realize it, but you need it," the host said during a recent performance. "This is not the Davis County Roadshow." Honey, ain't that the truth. (EL)

    Best Poetry Performance
    Salt City Unified Slam Poetry at National Poetry Slam
    Utah-based slam poets have visited national competitions before, but never before have they made quite this big a splash. The five-person Salt City Unified team of Jesse Parent, Jose Soto, Tanesha Nicole, Dorothy McGinnis and RJ Walker took the 2018 National Poetry Slam in Chicago by storm in August, dazzling attendees with a "concept bout" in which everyone created original works around the general theme of The Wizard of Oz. The team's fourth-place finish was the highest ever for an SLC team, and their work was so memorable that they sold more books of their poetry than any other team at the event. (SR)

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    Best Sunday Funday of the Year

    Pride Day
    Utah's Pride Parade and festival are a blast. Perhaps not-so-intentionally, the parade through downtown streets takes place on a Sunday. In Utah, well, that's just about as rebel as you can get. Thanks to our LGBTQ peers, this Sunday has turned into one of the freest and best days of the year. It's an epic Sunday Funday, if you will, with bars throughout downtown throwing parties and people roaming the streets giving a metaphorical rebellious gesture to the often stifling Utah culture. Don't miss this Sunday in June to get out and see some of Utah's finest. (RH)

    Best Way To Get To Know Salt Lake's History
    Salt Lake City's Past Forward Program
    Utah's capital city is full of historic neighborhoods and there might not be any better way to learn about their architecture and history than from the experts in Salt Lake City's Planning Division. As part of its Summer Planning Series, the division invites residents to tour various areas and show examples of how historic buildings have been retrofitted for modern use. Keep an eye out for when the next tour takes place and you'll likely learn something new about your neighborhood you never noticed before. (RH)

    Best Bike-Themed Dance
    Provo Bicycle Collective Sadie Hawkins Dance
    There's no better feeling than joining dozens of cyclists to temporarily block traffic. Feelings of grandeur are further magnified when you're wearing your Sunday best—whether that's a tulle tutu or a color-coordinated tux. Provo Bicycle Collective's take on the classic girls-ask-boys dance starts with a ride that highlights Provo's best bike infrastructure and ends at the dance hall of your high-school dreams, featuring a photo booth, DJ'd dance music and the drink of champions and teetotalers: La Croix. A bonus: all proceeds benefit the Bike Collective's programs. So grab your bike, dust off your prom dress and get ready to bust some sweet moves. (NC)
    397 E. 200 North, Provo, 801-210-9032,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Sunday Church Service Alternative

    Avant Vespers
    So you're strolling around Provo on a Sunday night looking for some entertainment and a way of connecting with your spiritual self. Boy, has your ship come in. Enter Christian Asplund, a BYU music professor (plus viola, harmonium and piano composer-performer), who originated a monthly avant garde performance night inside of, wait for it ... Happy Valley's St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Dubbed "Avant Vespers," each surreal installment consists of the marrying of different musical thoughts—opera and punk trombone one evening; Asplund on violin and Japanese percussionist virtuoso Tatsuya Nakatani coming together during the next—resulting in an unforgettably unique (and secular) religious experience. Do yourself a favor, find deets on the next iteration on Facebook and flock. (EL)

    Best Local Website for Getting Your Kink On
    Perhaps you've heard, but there's a lot of sexual repression in Utah. In the last few years, though, a growing number of new organizations have sprung up that are trying to change that perception. There are groups for leather fetishists, puppy players, bondage and submission fans, and pretty much anything your horny little consenting-adult heart can imagine. The best way to enter these secret realms is to get to know others who share the same kinks as you, and a great place to, umm, bond with them, is by hooking up through, a Utah-only event calendar you can use to meet with like-minded folks. Several of these groups host "munches," which are informal get-togethers in public spaces like coffee houses and IHOPs, where newbies can introduce themselves, members can get to know them, and you can, hopefully, gain a sponsor who will allow you into the more private parties where the clothing-optional action is. The site is an entryway to a side of Utah that will make you think you're definitely not in Utah anymore. (RK)

    Best Way To Help the Environment for $1.50
    Reusable straws at Beans & Brews
    Just when you thought 2018 couldn't get any worse, the case for the vilification of plastic straws was made. Last July, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban single-use plastic straws and utensils. The same month, coffee behemoth Starbucks announced a complete distancing from the devil's cylinders by 2020. Three years ago, plastic consumption worldwide totaled 300 million metric tons, which as Business Insider notes, "essentially means that for each one of the world's 7.6 billion humans, we're making 88 pounds of plastic a year." Utah lawmakers are known for being staunch environmentalists (*inversion cough*), so who knows if such regulations will ever arrive here. Still, if you want to do your karmic part to eliminate waste, local caffeine suppliers Beans & Brews have your back with reusable, logo-branded stainless steel straws ($1.50) either bent or straight. Now, if I could only get over my habit of chewing on straws as I'm about to take my first sip. Don't get me wrong, I love the environment, but no baby tortoise is worth me walking around with a chipped front tooth like some sort of goon. (EL)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Month for Foodies
    Forget about the usual gluttony associated with the winter holiday season. Utah foodies were treated to one helluva month in September 2018. To recap a few of the highlights: the month saw sellout crowds at Local First Utah's Celebrate the Bounty ( premiering the newly renovated Historic Eagle Building, Wasatch Community Gardens Tomato Days events, the extended 6-day/17 Salt Lake Food and Wine Fest by the Salt Lake Restaurant Association (, and month-long Farm-to-Glass Cocktail Competition ( Topping the trend, a handful of happy food journalists also traipsed up to Deer Valley for a delicious preview of dishes that Park City chefs ( presented in New York for a James Beard House Foundation dinner. All hail stretchy pants! (DD)

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    Best WTF Impulse Buy

    Dell Loy Hansen's purchase of a $2.64 million coin
    Dell Loy Hansen is rich—he owns Real Salt Lake for example—and sometimes he needs to find ways to spend that money. Hansen has put millions of dollars into youth sports around the state and also helped inaugurate the new professional women's soccer team, Utah Royals FC. But his purchase of a world-famous 1804 Draped Bust Dollar, also known as the "King of American Coins," might be the most exorbitant. In June, Hansen bought one of only 15 of the coins known to exist. It added to the numismatic enthusiast's already growing and valuable coin collection—something many might not know about the wealthy businessman. (RH)

    Best Way To Evict the Friends Living On Your Head
    The incessant itching, the eerie feeling that something is crawling in your hair and, gross, are those eggs around your ears and neck hairline? It's not in your head, it's on it—you've got lice. Last August, a professor at the University of Utah demoed OneCure, a handheld device you can use at home that allegedly kills lice, super lice and 99.2 percent of eggs in a single one-hour treatment. The small tech uses heated air to smoke the little bastards out, giving you back your hair and piece of mind. Gone are the days of shamefully being sent home from school and waging war on the insects with special shampoo. (KL)

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    • United States Senate

    Best WTF Hypocritical Argument

    Sen. Orrin Hatch during the Supreme Court confirmation process
    Over the summer, Sen. Orrin Hatch came to Salt Lake City just a few months before his retirement to make his case for confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat and cementing the court's rightward tilt. "In a rational world Judge Kavanaugh would be confirmed swiftly and overwhelmingly," Hatch told the reporters and crowd gathered at the Sutherland Institute. "Unfortunately, we don't live in a rational world, at least when it comes to the Supreme Court." Asked what would help the "unfortunate politicization" of the confirmation process, Hatch said "more Republicans" because "we've always been very fair to their side." If you listened close enough, you could hear Merrick Garland groan from Washington. (KL)

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    • Sarah Arnoff

    Best Gender-Equality Development

    Utah Royals FC
    Utah is the second-most sexist state in the U.S., researchers discovered this year. That sounds extreme, and if that makes you upset, just head to Sandy. Joining the men of Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium this year, the new National Women's Soccer League team Utah Royals FC made waves this year as Utah's newest professional women's team. The squad features national stars such as Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez and Kelly O'Hara to name a few. They just missed out on the playoffs in their inaugural season but that doesn't matter as much when you see young aspiring female soccer players at the games watching their heroes put on a show to rival the men. (RH)
    Rio Tinto Stadium, 9256 S. State,

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    Best Shady Political Moves

    Proposition 2—Medical Cannabis
    The debate over medical cannabis—Proposition 2—featured a lot of, well, passionate discourse on both sides. One week, listeners on local radio stations heard an ad against the measure, but some stations pulled it after receiving complaints about incorrect information—a big no-no. Weeks later, a billboard popped up along 600 South encouraging the public to vote yes. One problem: It didn't list who paid for the sign and when it comes to initiatives instead of candidates (where disclosure is required), that's what the Lieutenant Governor's Office called a "loophole." The incident exposed many holes in Utah election law and the shady tactics some people will use to get their message across. (RH)

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    • PX Here

    Best Perk of Raising a Kid In Utah

    School-sanctioned ski lessons
    As a Florida native living in the mountains for the first time ever, I knew it'd take time to warm up to skiing. As for my 7-year-old, well, he was thrown into the mix immediately thanks to winter sports lessons provided through his school. Yes, they cost extra, and yes, I fully acknowledge the First World nature of such a service. But Snowbird Mountain School's five-session program had my boy mastering the magic carpet on his first trip into the powder—and tackling blue runs the next time around. Most importantly, it saved me the excruciating pain of dishing out hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for father-son lessons, only so he could watch me flail. Now if I could just interest him in a 10-mile hike ... (NM)

    Best Young-Person Diss of a Congressional Candidate
    Young Republicans and College Republicans' spoof of Ben McAdams' ad
    Alright, Ben McAdams' shower ad is a little odd. In the 30-second spot, the fully clothed Salt Lake County mayor and Congressional hopeful bathes himself five separate times—in five different outfits—and goes out of his way to say he doesn't support Republicans' favorite bogeywoman, Nancy Pelosi. But the Young Republicans and College Republicans' response is even weirder. In their mock video, four young people step into the shower while wearing their clothes, and (spoiler alert) by the end of the video they all get in at the same time. Even a horse gets in on the scrubbing action. Most disturbing? One guy brushes his teeth while he's in the tub. Who does that? (KL)

    Best Show of Solidarity
    Diabolical Records
    A movie's box office intake after nabbing a Best Picture Oscar; a butt facial's popularity after being tweeted about by Kim K.; the visibility of a local business after it's heralded as a Best of Utah winner. Fine, one of these things is not like the others, but still, you gotta admit that being chosen by your community as a standout in your field is something to beam about. Enter Diabolical Records, which in a move reminiscent of Santa sending moms to buy toys at Gimbels in Miracle on 34th Street, took to social media and urged supporters to not vote for them, but competitor Raunch Records. See, Raunch's owner, Brad Collins, has been battling bladder cancer. Diabolical's Adam Tye and Alana Boscan: You prove that Best of Utah isn't just a yearly issue; it's a frame of mind. (EL)

    Best Follow on Twitter
    Whether you're a Utah Utes, Brigham Young Cougars or Utah State Aggies football fan, following the exuberant and often bleak takes of @thejazzyute on Twitter is a must. Sure, most of the tweets center on Utah football. When the Utes are struggling, sometimes the tweets say what we're all thinking but don't want to admit. It accurately represents the ups and downs football fans have watching their favorite team. And if the tweets aren't about football, you get an occasional take on Utah politics. It might seem gloomy at times, but such is the life of a Utah football fan. (RH)

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    • BLM

    Best Summer Ruiner

    Let's all make a collective pact right here and now to stop lighting things on fire. Sure, lightning is a bitch and can spark all kinds of fire-related nonsense, but according to a study from the National Academy of Sciences, 84 percent of wildfires in the U.S. between 1992 and 2012 were human caused. And, on average, half of all fires in Utah are human caused, according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. We Utahns love us some camping, so let's take a proactive approach in planning for next summer so we can all enjoy open canyon roads and smoke-free valleys. (SA)

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Protest Signage

    Bears Ears Rallies
    Between the fight over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and the March for Our Lives movement, protests and activism weren't hard to find in Utah this year. Perhaps the best part was the plethora of clever signs they inspired. Utahns really outdid themselves with signs poking fun at President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. "Shrinkie Zinke" was a common phrase. When it came to Trump, there was no shortage of orange hot takes and "small hand" mockery. "The only bear's ears that should not have federal protection," read one sign with cute, fuzzy ears plastered on the side of Trump's head. Some consider the practice an art form and should keep it up, because with two more years until 2020, there's bound to me more chances for activism through signage. (RH)

    Best Reminder that Humanity's Existence Is Fleeting
    Yep, it took 29 years to give this bad boy an award. Listen, we're lucky to live in Salt Lake City. In many parts of the U.S., the effects of climate change are so slow-moving that they're intangible, making the calamity a vague threat that will maybe harm us someday. But here, we're blessed every single winter with horrendous air quality that slows down our intellectual capacities and poisons our bodies, reminding us on the reg that climate change will one day kill us all and probably lead to our extinction (hey, at least we have fry sauce, right?). Salt Lakers are ahead of the curve, better able than most to grasp the depressing consequences that the U.S. government's inaction will likely have on the entire world. If nothing else, at least our last words can be, "We told you so." (KL)

    Best Human-Powered Conservation Effort
    Utah Conservation Corps' Bike Crew
    Three times a year, the Utah Conservation Corps takes a bunch of 20-somethings into the woods, outfits them with chaps and helmets, and hands them chainsaws. (Don't worry—training is extensive and meticulous.) But nothing takes the environmental idealism as far as their bike crew, the only vehicle-less conservation corps crew in the nation. This summer, the grungy cyclists powered up mountain highways with eight days' worth of food and supplies, lugged chainsaws to their worksite in bike panniers, chopped down hundreds of invasive trees, and ate way too much dirt. No cars needed. (NC)

    Best Mobile Feminist Collective
    Mobile Moon Co-op
    The folks at Mobile Moon Co-op are really into plants. Like, really into them. Founded by Erika Longino, the collective is based out of a veggie-oil-powered 1980s bus. Its aim: to be a place for women and queer people to gather and learn about the bounties of Mother Earth. This past year, the collective has hosted free community workshops on tea reading, botanical medicine, herbal tinctures and kombucha making. They've also published several educational botanical zines featuring local artists and herbalists. Look for the co-op's distinctive bus throughout Salt Lake Valley, and for empowerment with a side of tea, stop by during their next workshop. (NC)

    click to enlarge JESSICA RICHARDSON
    • Jessica Richardson

    Best Best of Podcast

    The New Utah Podcast
    Putting together this annual issue can be a grueling task. Is anyone out there paying attention or are we just flinging copy and pictures into the void in hopes that some business owner instagrams they won Best Original Welcome Mat? Luckily for us curmudgeonly editorial folks, we know at least four people are paying close attention—Jessica Richardson, Chris Burch, Jeremy Gates and Bre Hollingsworth, who for the past two years have dedicated not one, but two episodes (one for editorial picks and one for readers' choice) to this, the golden plates of Utah awesomeness. Will they agree with this year's pick for Best Utahn? Will they grill us for our selection of Best Penis Envy? Stay tuned to find out. (EL)

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    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Gangster Corn

    Hot Cheeto-dusted elote at Fruta Crush
    Food trends come and go—macarons, ramen, bacon, etc.—but Provo's Fruta Crush is living in the year 3019 thanks to its street-style corn drenched in butter, slathered with mayo and rolled around in Flamin' Hot Cheetos crumbs. The state fair wishes. One bite, and your taste buds will jump, sing, dance the floss, hate you momentarily and then dance again. Just make sure when visiting the Mexican snack eatery, that you are accompanied by understanding friends. Just like a good carnival show, there's a fair chance of a juicy slash-zone perimeter around you. Are you a closet ginger whose freckles just came out? Oh, never mind, that's just Cheeto sprinkles. (EL)
    198 W. Center St., Provo,

    Best Autonomous Unit for Mid-Mall Snacking
    Arancini Snack
    Shopping mall food courts aren't always the best places to look for local flavor, but that's slowly starting to change. Thanks to the Taste for the Space competition at the Shops at South Town just more than a year ago, local shopping meccas are starting to turn their attention toward scrappy underdogs like Arancini Snack. An original competitor in Taste for the Space, Arancini Snack has found a home within Murray's Fashion Place Mall. It's a delightful standout from the food court's usual suspects—it's nearly small enough to be called a kiosk, and it uses every inch to display Sicilian art along with its trademark arancini, a Sicilian snack of rice balls covered in crispy breading and deep fried. Arancini Snack makes a few varieties—some are stuffed with pizza accoutrement, and others packed with seafood and a creamy white sauce. The fist-sized arancini are easy to eat on the go, making them perfect companions for a bit of window shopping. (AS)
    6191 S. State, 801-300-7127,

    click to enlarge COURTESY APOLLO BURGER
    • Courtesy Apollo Burger

    Best Burger Original

    Apollo Burger
    On the scene for more than 30 years in a state that loves its food chains, we're lucky to have a homegrown eatery like Apollo. Throw a dart at the menu; there's no going wrong here. Feast on the signature Apollo Burger—a hulking quarter-pound beast topped with thinly sliced smoked pastrami and American cheese hugged inside a cornmeal-topped bun—the Texas Bacon, Mushroom Swiss or the Athenian, complete with a slab of feta. Craving them for more than lunch? Crown Burger's packed breakfast menu is a homerun. (EL)
    Multiple locations,

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Place for #thursdaythoughts
    Pig and a Jelly Jar
    Even though chicken and waffles has become a bit mainstream—you can get a fried chicken and waffle sandwich at Maverik, I shit you not—it's a dish that remains foundational to the comfort-food pantheon. I've spanned the length and breadth of the Wasatch Front when it comes to variations on this classic piece of Southern cuisine, and the best bang for your buck by far comes from Pig and a Jelly Jar. They've long been worshipers at the altar of Southern comfort food, and they serve up their mammoth portions of chicken and waffles for a paltry five bucks every Thursday. I don't know how many times I've sampled this dish, but I do know I've never been disappointed. Their buttermilk fried chicken is always crunchy and flavorful on the outside and impossibly juicy on the inside, and their waffles are consistently golden browned to perfection. Thanks to Pig and a Jelly Jar, the majority of my #thursdaythoughts are about the flavor alchemy that comes from black pepper and maple syrup. (AS)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Spot for Summer Treats
    The Shack at Jolley's
    When the temperature doesn't drop below 90 degrees until after the sun sets—and the sun doesn't set until after 9 p.m.—there's only one way to fight back: with shaved ice, soft serve and fountain sodas. Luckily, The Shack attached to Jolley's Gift & Floral (which is itself attached to Jolley's Pharmacy—family owned and operated in Salt Lake City since 1954) provides just such a seasonal respite from June through September. Even better than the smorgasbord of flavors (who's up for a garbage pail mix of Tiger's Blood, Wild Poisonberry and cheesecake?) is More Jolley's Mondays, which adds food trucks, extended hours and special deals to the summertime mix. Kid-tested, parent-approved and the perfect way to avoid adult responsibility on a Monday night. (NM)
    1676 E. 1300 South, 801-582-1625,

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    • KS

    Best Taste of the Old World

    Bohemian Brewery
    Sure, there are some fine European restaurants floating around in our wonderful Utah-shaped corner of the world. But how many of those places are devoted to crafting fine lagers the way our Alpen brothers and sisters have done for centuries? None in Utah, I can guarantee that; and very few in the western United States. The beloved Bohemian Brewery has had that rare focus and devotion keeping Old-World traditions alive without caving to trends, peer pressure or biases. For a staycation to the old country or a trip back in the Wayback Machine, the log cabin brewery in the middle on Midvale has no equal. (MR)
    94 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-566-5474,

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    • Niki Chan

    Best Unconventional Brunch

    Fav Bistro
    Nothing quite encapsulates the length and breadth of mediocrity as well as the practice of brunch. It's not exactly going anywhere, however, so it behooves us to make our peace with the gods of eggs Benedict and mimosas. Those who wish to venture outside the brunch box will want to check out Fav Bistro on the weekends. They serve a tasty and soulful variety of traditional breakfast dishes from Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. I'm a fan of their kow tom ($8.95), a heady Thai soup made of rich chicken broth, rice and topped with a silky poached egg. Why eating soup for breakfast hasn't caught on stateside is completely beyond me—this stuff warms you up from the inside out and sticks to your bones well through lunchtime. (AS)
    1984 E. Murray Holladay Road, 801-676-9300,

    Best Fancy Fast-Food Dining Experience
    Crown Burgers by The Gateway
    A Salt Lake institution since 1978, the décor and setting can vary between Crown Burger locations, but the one on 300 West is truly something to be in awe of—stained glass windows, oak paneling, an imposing fireplace, chandeliers, leather chairs, hanging tapestries worthy of a high-born Westerosi castle and gargoyles that stare as you munch down on your souvlaki stick. What's that, Little Finger? You're in the area for a Jazz game or a show at the Depot? Spend $18 on your meal, and they'll let you park there for free. (EL)
    118 N. 300 West, SLC, 801-532-5300,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Breakfast on the Cheap

    Dee's Family Restaurant
    Legend has it that in 1931, Dee Anderson sold hamburgers for a nickel to Salt Lake City residents after borrowing some cash to buy buns, pickles and meat. Almost 90 years later, Anderson's legacy is still standing in multiple locations in Salt Lake City and Taylorsville, providing reliably cheap, quality meals to the hungover and drunk masses. (And also families looking for quick, inexpensive meals. Considering that the glorious establishment is open later than bars, Dee's clientele of choice can be inferred.) Burgers, burritos, buttermilk pancakes—get it all and bask in the glory and ecstasy that is diner food. (KL)
    Multiple locations,

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    • Enrique Limón

    Best Clucking Debut

    Pretty Bird
    I know I wasn't the only one who spent a lot of time last year strolling up and down Regent Street to see if Viet Pham's love letter to Nashville hot chicken had opened. When Pretty Bird finally debuted this spring, it was an event in and of itself. I can't help but think about the Pretty Bird team prepping for the big day. A lot could have gone wrong if Pham's recipe for fried chicken didn't deliver the goods—it's literally the only thing on the menu—but they've been cranking out some of the best fried chicken in the state since Day 1. From the agonizingly tempting Instagram feed Pham carefully curated to a grand opening that knocked it out of the park, Pretty Bird's arrival was one of the most memorable culinary milestones of 2018. (AS)
    146 S. Regent St.,

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    • Brian Lee

    Best Boost for a Groggy Sunday Morning

    Asia Palace
    Hunger drags you out of bed at 11 a.m., but you are in no state to be standing in mile-long Sunday brunch lines at fancy hot spots on the east side. Hit up Asia Palace on State Street or in West Valley to be immediately seated in a plush leather booth. First things first: Order yourself a plate of cream cheese wontons and let their molten inner goodness wake you the hell up. Munch on your appetizer while perusing Asia Palace's extensive menu. The pho is a must but the pad thai and pretty much anything in the Vietnamese and Thai sections are perfect for a recovery-day meal. Slurp your brunch without abandon, keep your eye on whatever cable TV show or infomercial might be playing, and let your Sunday unfold. (SA)
    1446 S. State, 801-485-1646; 1774 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-972-2835

    Best Grocery Store Deli
    Harmons Grocery
    Harmons Grocery deli has solved the conundrum of craving good food, but being too lazy (or busy!) to make it yourself. Stock up on home-cooked goodness like rotisserie chicken, easy entrées and healthy salads for work-week lunches. Whether you're full-on omnivore or prefer vegan fare, Harmons Deli has you covered. They also have a well-stocked salad bar and a variety of hearty soups to go. "Our delicatessens are quite unique from any other grocery store," Andy Walker, Harmons Grocery's senior marketing manager, says. "Every single item we offer in our delicatessen is made from scratch. All of our recipes are made in stores by our chefs. Our salad bars, for example, offer more than 70 different options, all of which are hand-prepared daily—and even our dressings are all made from scratch." (AR)
    Multiple locations,

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    • Jeff Yurik

    Best Store-Bought Pie

    June Pie
    Many times I've driven all the way out to Heber to experience June Pie firsthand only to be thwarted by terrible traffic, highway speed traps or some other cruel twist of fate. Luckily, June Pie has started sourcing their treats to local grocers like The Store (2050 E. 6200 South), which is a bit closer to my neck of the woods. These offerings don't lose their magic when they travel down the mountain—the thick, buttery crust and fresh fillings remain as glorious as ever. As tends to be the case with June Pie, it's a good idea to pick up one (or five) of your favorites early in the day. Even if your slow ass gets denied, as I have often been, any one of their famous pies will make you grateful for your taste buds. (AS)
    133 N. Main, Heber City, 435-503-6950,

    Best Use of Ice Cubes In a Coffee Shop
    Moab Coffee Roasters' iced coffee
    Moab is a hip haven for anyone who likes brunch, brews and beers. The coffee market is pretty saturated in the red-rock city, but don't sleep on Moab Coffee Roasters. This is the first place in Utah I saw stocked copies of City Weekly—almost 250 miles away from SLC! But the real reason it's a gem is its iced coffee. Unlike other shops that load cups to the brim with ice, MCR won't water down your caffeinated nectar of the gods. The brown cubes have coffee in them, ensuring no cup space is wasted. Save the water for the trails. (KL)
    90 N. Main, Moab, 435-259-2725,

    Best Iced Coffee Value
    Caffé Expresso
    Pour overs and drip coffee are great. Chai lattes in the winter are divine. But for at least four months in Utah, iced coffee reigns supreme. Upon arriving as a new resident last summer, my first due diligence involved sampling all the coffee shops in town looking for the perfect combination of taste and value. After much deliberation, the winner is clear: Caffé Expresso, where you can get a 32-ounce iced coffee or iced Americano for just $3.50. With three locations—Highland Drive, 9th and 9th and Sugar House—a swing through the drive-thru is convenient from nearly anywhere in the city. And you can't beat the endlessly positive attitude of Caffé Expresso's employees, who plow through double lines during morning rush hour with impeccable aplomb. (NM)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Down Under Jolt
    Campos Coffee
    Located in an alley between 200 and 300 South, the new Campos Coffee flagship store in Salt Lake City is a caffeine enthusiast's dream. The 4,500-square-foot spot is the first roastery the Australian company opened in the U.S., and the second Campos in Utah (the other is in Park City). The downtown café offers breakfast and lunch, but most important are the baristas who know serving coffee and espresso is more an art than service. The pricey pour-overs are worth the extra dough; the extra few bucks nets you a postcard that tells you exactly where your brew came from, giving you a glimpse of its journey from, say, El Silencio, Palestina, Huila, Colombia to Salt Lake City, Utah. (KL)
    228 Edison St., 801-953-1512; 1385 Lowell Ave., Park City, 435-731-8377,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Finger Food

    Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant
    Entering a restaurant that has no utensils is a strangely liberating feeling. Knowing you're expected to enjoy your food with a tactile intimacy that would get you kicked out of most other places spikes a visit to Mahider with an almost childlike enthusiasm. When you see gigantic plates covered with injera—your new favorite eating utensil—and dolloped with vibrant stews like beef siga wot and puréed lentils, you can't help but think about an edible artist's palette. I strongly suggest rounding up some of your favorite foodie friends and trying out the Taste of Mahider ($39.99 for four). Nothing quite gets a dinner party started like seeing this epic piece of culinary engineering hit the table. (AS)
    1465 S. State, Ste. 7, 801-975-1111,

    click to enlarge COURTESY CROSS E RANCH
    • Courtesy Cross E Ranch

    Best Maize Maze

    Cross E Ranch
    Come late September, the only working ranch left within Salt Lake City limits is a fall-lover's paradise. Cross E's epic pumpkin patch gives you all the gourd you need, while the Hay Rides provide fascinating background on the Hinckley family's history. Mega Slides, a Corn Pit and Mini Train Rides are perfect for the little ones, while adults love Western dancing and live music on weekends. But the real treat at Cross E Ranch is its corn maze, which celebrates 50 years in 2018 with seven miles of trails spread across 14 acres. If you make it out alive (and you're a carnivore), stock up on grass-fed ground beef before leaving. It's affordable ($5-$7 per pound), nothing's fresher than local—and you're contributing to the long-term viability of this SLC institution. (NM)
    3500 N. 2200 West, 801-203-0148,

    Best Taquería That Treats You Like Family
    Taquería Los Lee
    This new joint on 2700 South and 700 East (in the space that used to house Ali Baba Afghani) is a taco-lover's dream—and an honest-to-goodness family-owned restaurant where you're treated like kin, too. With a colorful tile mosaic, framed lotería cards on the wall and kids running around the cozy space, you'll feel like you're in your abuela's living room. The authenticity baked into the carne y papa, puerco rojo and asada tacos is mouth-watering, while new gordita and burrito options pack a flavorful punch. It's the little things that matter, however: the cilantro, onions and salsa separately packed in to-go orders; the evolving daily pozole and enchilada specials; real Mexican sodas with your combo purchase. This is the real deal, people. (NM)
    2646 S. 700 East, 385-259-0764

    click to enlarge SARAH ARNOFF
    • Sarah Arnoff

    Best Feat of Barbecue Engineering

    Jalapeño Popper at Kaiser's BBQ
    Like most everything at Kaiser's BBQ, the jalapeño popper ($1.50) is much more than meets the eye. Far superior than its deep-fried, cream-cheese-stuffed cousin, this little firecracker makes the most of its limited real estate. It starts with a good-sized jalapeño, hollowed out and stuffed with housemade sausage. Then it's capped with a mushroom and wrapped in bacon before heading into the smoker. Once it's ready, it gets a hefty dose of melted cheddar cheese. It's an arrangement that speaks of true artisanship, and it's almost too beautiful to eat—luckily it tastes so damned good. Something about the smoking process ramps up the heat in the jalapeño, and once it all comes together with the sausage and bacon, it's a smoky, spicy achievement in the field of food-based engineering. (AS)
    962 S. 300 West, 801-355-0499,

    Best Beer for National Park Road Trippin'
    Uinta Brewing Co.'s National Park Golden Ale
    Considering Utah has five national parks, it'd be stupid not to have a beer specifically designed for taking into the incredible lands that surround us. Uinta Brewing Co. managed to accomplish this feat with their rotating National Park Golden Ale. This special ale features some of our nation's greatest national parks on each can, with Delicate Arch proudly representing the Beehive State. Brewed with Carapils and Crystal malts and a moderate addition of Willamette and Sterling hops, Uinta's Golden Ale is approachable, refreshing and not to mention, just too damned cool. (MR)
    1722 S. Fremont Drive,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Coffee Joint for Comic Book Geeks

    Watchtower Café
    For young cosplayers looking for love, it's hard to beat Watchtower Café for a first meet-and-greet date. Sure, there's plenty of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, but Watchtower caters to the comic book crowd, so you'll also find specialty coffees with names like Tatooine Sunrise and the Dark Knight, and teas and sodas named Captain Picard and Hello Kitty. The theme doesn't stop at the menu. There are plenty of board and card games to play while you sip, as well as Legos, video games, a gallery of pop-culture villains featuring local artwork, and, of course, comic books and graphic novels galore. It's also a great place to get work done on your laptop, with restaurant-style booths and—this is important—above-the-table power outlets so you don't have to go feeling around for one under your seat. They also have open-mic nights and weekly gatherings for Utah's fabulous furry community. Also, just so you know, the café's name refers to DC Comics' Justice League, not the Jehovah's Witness magazine. (RK)
    1588 S. State, 801-477-7671,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Big-City Foodie Trend

    The Explosion Of Ramen Joints
    The ramen trend has finally taken hold in Salt Lake City. In the past two months, new joints have popped up everywhere: Jinya's much-heralded Sugar House opening, Ramen Bar on Main and Ramen930 near the Gallivan Center. Meanwhile, old staples like Tosh's, Yoko, Koko Kitchen and Tonkotsu Ramen Bar are more popular than ever. Believe it or not, all of these places are within five miles of each other, which makes a week-long walking ramen tour totally viable. Once you hop in your car, the options increase exponentially: a Tosh's outpost in Holladay and another Jinya location in Murray, CY Noodle and One More Noodle House in South Salt Lake ... As City Weekly said last year, if you've got ramen on the mind, "Seek and ye shall find." (NM)

    On That Note, Best Ramen Refills
    Jinya Ramen Bar
    When I visit a ramen place, it's not all that uncommon for me to slurp up all my noodles before finishing my broth, and I imagine most ramen fans are in the same boat. During one of my early visits to Jinya Ramen Bar, I was pleasantly surprised when a waiter noticed that my broth happened to be devoid of noodles and asked if I'd like some more. I had to ask him to repeat himself—did he just offer to refill my noodles? Is that a thing? As it turns out, ramen refills are indeed a thing, both at Jinya and beyond. The practice is called kae-dama, and most ramen shops in Japan offer their dishes with the option. While I'm sure it's possible to get a ramen refill at any place that takes its noodles seriously, this waiter at Jinya—bless his eternal soul—was the first person to open my eyes to this cultural norm, and he will always have my gratitude. (AS)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Neighborhood Pho
    Thai This
    No matter how many times I draft this blurb, no words can properly communicate my love for Thai This. At first, I was going to talk about how my grandma and I visit there when we need a little (or a lot of) comfort food. She orders the chicken pad thai ($7.99)—pulled noodles wok-tossed in a subtly sweet traditional sauce, with shredded chicken and roasted peanuts—and I order the pho gai (or chicken pho) ($7.99)—a sumptuous combination of warming broth, slim rice noodles, shredded chicken and an assortment of herbs and veggies, such as basil and soybean sprouts. Then, I thought about mentioning how the first time I ate here was on a date (which went pretty well), and my date insisted we get the Thai iced tea ($2.50) and the coconut sticky rice with mango ($5.99), both of which are perfectly addicting in their sweetness—as far as I'm concerned, together they constitute a fully balanced meal. Draft after draft, I was eventually left with this: Thai This is damned delicious, damned affordable and, dammit, well worth the drive to West Valley from anywhere in Utah. Tell your neighbors. (ZS)
    2836 S. 5600 West, Ste. 10, 801-967-0949,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Bachelorette-Approved Treat

    The Roll Up Crêpe
    There are many reasons to visit Orem (insert a wink-and-a-nod here, only one other person on Earth besides me will get), but The Roll Up Crêpe definitely takes the cake (or, you know, the crêpe). Shining like a powdered sugar-dusted beacon, the Utah County hotspot's menu is laden with cutesy items like the Awkward First Date (caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream and caramel), the saucy Tinder (vanilla ice cream, brownie, chocolate and caramel sauce), and the Trista Rehn-approved Bachelorette (white chocolate, raspberries and whipped cream). Mmm ... slurp. (EL)
    538 E. University Pkwy., Orem, 801-882-7373,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best It's 1 a.m. and I Need This Now

    Chip Cookies
    "Need" is a subjective word. Do I need a set of novelty margarita glasses or a to-scale model of the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro? Probably not. But late on Saturday (or Tuesday) nights when the munchies hit, by gum, I need me some Chip cookies. I'll most likely only make it through three-quarters of one of their hefty chocolate chip-filled cookie monsters before succumbing to a sugar coma, but it's worth it. Chip delivers until the wee hours of the morning, which is perfect for my dessert emergencies. Plus, their 900 South location is close enough to home that I can walk there and back in the daylight hours to justify the calories. (SA)
    155 E. 900 South, Ste. 101, 801-889-2412; 159 W. 500 North, Provo, 385-225-9888,

    click to enlarge ALEX SPRINGER
    • Alex Springer

    Best Russian Collusion

    The Galley Grill
    If only our president's political ties with Russia were as clear as my deep affection for The Galley Grill. From its inexplicable naval theme to the Eastern European game shows playing on TV, this is one of Utah's most beloved anomalies. Russian cuisine is rich, starch-forward and comforting enough to sustain human life no matter how cold it gets. When Utah's winter descends with its inversion and outside-damning glory, you can bet The Galley Grill will be the place that gets you through. It's owned and operated by people who hail from a land that endures some of the most bitter winters on the planet, so they know how to whip up a plate of vareniki that'll keep your bones warm when the temperature drops. (AS)
    1295 E. Miller Ave., Ste. 1, 801-466-9224,

    Best Southern Utah Oasis
    Zion Brewery
    Surrounded by the deserts of Southern Utah and carefully placed by the beer gods near the gates of one of the most beautiful places on the earth, Zion Brewery has become the beer mecca in Utah's outdoor playground. Under relatively new ownership, Utah's southernmost craft-beer outpost has exploded with purpose and flavor; stunning thirsty northern beer nerds craving innovative session beers. When Zion's strawberry rhubarb gose periodically hits SLC, it's gone in days. Not many breweries in northern or southern Utah can claim beers like that. (MR)
    95 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale,

    Best Cruelty-Free Steak
    Table X
    Meatless substitutes are, more often than not, unholy abominations. Not that there's anything wrong with trying to recreate steak, burgers or bacon in a way that keeps our animal brethren safe, but most attempts at meatless meats don't cut the mustard. It wasn't until I visited Table X that I realized the problem with meatless meats is that most purveyors are so myopic about the process. When I sat down to a plate of intermountain gourmet mushrooms ($20) or their aptly named vegetable steak ($22) and found my brain was triggered in places I typically reserve for medium-rare steaks, I realized that meat isn't an ingredient—it's a state of mind. (AS)
    1457 E. 3350 South, 385-528-3712,

    Best Big Meals in a Bite-Sized Building
    Laan Na Thai
    Chefs and Thai immigrants Yupin and Wichai Charoen have been running their restaurant for just over two years now, and their operation is still going strong. Five people feels like a crowd inside Laan Na's almost-literal-hole-in-the-wall location, but the close quarters are worth squeezing into to get your hands on pad see ew, drunken noodles or any of their slew of curries. If there's room, you can cozy up to the window-side counter to feast, or mosey outside in good weather. Either way, your stomach will be satisfied with the Charoens' homeland cuisine. (SA)
    336 W. 300 South, 801-363-2717,

    Best Lucky Charm
    Talisman Brewing Co.
    A talisman is typically an inscribed ring or stone that is thought to have magic powers and bring good luck. In Utah, Talisman is a brewpub located in the northernmost part of Ogden that cast spells on your tongue and creates a cozy space for thirsty northern folk. Ogden's "other brewery" has raised the craft-beer game in Weber County, creating locally made beer styles our denizens at the top of the compass could previously only get in Salt Lake City. Talisman Brewing Co. is truly a lucky charm. (MR)
    1258 Gibson Ave., Ogden,

    Best Mashed Potato Delivery System
    The New Haven at Nuch's
    Not too long ago, hitting up Nuch's for a New Haven pizza became my go-to birthday tradition. Before I dig into the significance of this particular pizza, and why I only eat it once a year, you first need to understand my relationship with pizza itself. Within a 48-hour period, I have some iteration of pizza coursing through my system. If it's slathered in sauce, cheese and pepperoni and it's within a one-mile radius of my current position, you can bet I'll eat the damned thing. And Nuch's New Haven is not just any ordinary pizza, you see. Instead of sauce, it's spread with a velvety purée of garlicky Yukon Gold potatoes hit with mozzarella, asparagus and bacon. Nuch's favors the New York style, so this party happens on a thin crust and gets fired up in a brick oven. It's a truly transcendent experience, which is why I only reserve it for one night each year. Alas, this night recently passed me by—is it next year yet? (AS)
    2819 S. 2300 East, 801-484-0448,

    Best Edible Safari
    Burger Bar
    Imagine surreptitiously trekking the streets of Roy, bushwhacking a path through dense forestation, all in search of some prized game—lions, tigers, bears ... There's no need to break out the topee and cargo pants. Instead, head to Burger Bar. Established in 1956 by Ben and Rita Fowler, Burger Bar is a time-tested, hometown hangout offering handcrafted burgers ($7), shakes and malts ($3), and an array of deep-fried delectables ($3). But what keeps me coming back, setting out like Teddy Roosevelt on safari, is Burger Bar's Meat of the Month. Each month, the restaurant offers a different exotic meat burger ($11) to any spirited hunter—I've personally eaten camel, ostrich, shark and alligator. If you've got enough grit, I'd suggest ordering your fries old fashioned, getting a peanut butter shake for good measure, and pitting yourself against BB's latest delicacy. (ZS)
    5291 S. 1900 West, Roy, 801-825-8961,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Northern Utah Continental Flair

    Sabores cuisine
    Tucked inside an unassuming location in Logan, Sabores is more than meets the eye. Shaped by the culinary traditions of the Garcia family, the establishment bursts at the colorful seams with a menu chock full of worldly flair. Whether you're craving tres leches pancakes, Argentine empanadas with housemade chimichurri sauce, Bolivian cerdo picante or a bánh mì to rival Oh Mai's, this is definitely the place. (EL)
    255 S. Main, Ste. 300, Logan, 435-750-5555,

    Best Gastronomic Gamble
    Spice to Go at Spice Kitchen Incubator
    Spice Kitchen has always been a flagship for diverse eating in Salt Lake, and its Spice to Go project has provided a way for locals to take some of that diversity home with them. Every week, Spice Kitchen spotlights an up-and-coming chef—typically one of their potential restaurateurs—and lets them cook up take-home meals that curious diners can order in advance. The best way to keep tabs on the rotating menu is via social media—Spice Kitchen announces each week's chef and menu on Sundays, giving customers until Thursday to place their orders. Spice to Go has been up and running for over a year now, and the program has managed to gross over $80,000. Not only is this a great way to explore the international cuisine Spice Kitchen's members are creating, but it helps local entrepreneurs realize their culinary dreams. (AS)
    2180 S. 300 West, 385-229-4484,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Place for Seitan Worshipers

    Made from dense wheat gluten, seitan has quickly become a staple of the meatless kitchen. This hearty, protein-rich meat substitute can hold up to marinades and grills, which makes it an ideal burrito filling for the folks at Boltcutter. They've stolen my carne-asada-loving heart more than once with their flavorful take on this versatile ingredient—their Cali burrito ($8) is a plant-based revelation. Although seitan is the foundation of Boltcutter's menu, they're also quite creative with other meat substitutes like jackfruit and tempeh, which stand in for Barbacoa pork and fried fish, respectively. Much like the demonic panic of the mid 1980s, Boltcutter is a whole lot of fun once you give it a chance. Hail seitan! (AS)
    57 E. Gallivan Ave.,

    Best Re-creation of Childhood Memories
    Kiitos Brewing's Dreamsicle
    It was only around for a brief, summery moment, but if you were lucky enough to sip on the Dreamsicle craft brew on tap at Kiitos Brewing, you likely had a sudden rush of sense-induced childhood memories. Is it strange to capture the exact smell and taste of a Dreamsicle in a glass of beer? Yes. Is it also delicious? Damned straight. We can only hope Kiitos brings this swirling concoction of reminiscence back long-term. (SA)
    608 W. 700 South, 801-215-9165,

    Best Reminder of Philadelphia in a Local Grocery Store
    Soft pretzels at Smith's
    It's difficult for Philadelphians to find reminders of home once they leave the City of Brotherly Love. The stereotypes are largely true—we're a curmudgeonly bunch who as a general rule will never try your "Philly" cheesesteak. And OK, we get it, the Jazz are fine, but they're not the Eagles. Elitism aside, occasionally I get homesick and find myself more willing to try foods made "Phamous" by my hometown. One acceptable substitute is a $1 soft pretzel at Smith's. Even though it's shaped like a traditional German pretzel and not the "s" figure associated with Philadelphia, the salty goodness gets the job done and gives me an emotional hug for a cheap price. (KL)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Sandwich for Five
    The Big John at Grove Market and Deli
    My track record for eating—and finishing—freakishly huge sandwiches is pretty solid. I figured that tackling Grove Market and Deli's Big John ($11.49) on a day when I was equal parts hungry and self-destructive wouldn't be much of a challenge. Boy, was that a mistake. When you order the Big John, you're essentially ordering a personal delicatessen. It's a football-sized hoagie bun stuffed with all seven of Grove's deli meats, topped with Swiss and American cheeses and bedecked with lettuce, tomato and pickles—a sandwich that can easily feed you and four of your friends. I vividly remember standing in the cozy marketplace watching as the woman behind the counter just kept adding meat to the sandwich, every so often fixing me with a look that said, "You have no idea what you're getting into." (AS)
    1906 S. Main, 801-467-8860,

    click to enlarge JOHN TALYOR
    • John Talyor

    Best Quick Bite

    Nomad Eatery
    Nomad Eatery excels at quick and casual fare whether you're tempted by the spicy chicken sandwich served with housemade salt-and-vinegar chips ($11) or you've got a craving for margherita pizza ($12). With a full bar, and innovative ice cream desserts from Normal, Nomad Eatery is the ideal spot for a delightful and quick meal. "Our attention to detail is one of our greatest focuses," owner and chef Justin Soelberg explains. "From the extra zing our pickles give to every dish, to the thoughtfulness of putting chips on sandwiches for that extra crunch, we try and think of anything that helps the food and dining experience—before the customer asks for it." (AR)
    2110 W. North Temple, 801-938-9629,

    Best Doughnut Fusion
    Donut Boy
    In the many visits I've made to West Valley's Donut Boy, I've seen them transmogrify everything from apple pie to Victoria sponge into doughnut form. Lately, their Instagram feed has revealed their bakers are accepting requests, which means it's only a matter of time before I call them up for a doughnut inspired by neon purple Pop Tarts and black coffee, which once came to me in a nightmare. Until then, however, I'm more than satisfied with Donut Boy's flair for the dramatic—for best results, ask them for a mixed dozen and let them pick your lineup. You end up driving home with a cavalcade of deep-fried pastries that look like they came right out of Willy Wonka's factory. (AS)
    2194 W. 3500 South, 385-528-0782,

    Best Tropical Toast
    Matterhorn French Toast
    Maple syrup has been such a staple accompaniment to breakfast baked goods, we sometimes forget that there are other creative options. The Matterhorn food truck serves up innovative, piled-high French toast options like the Switzerland, which finishes off a treat of Nutella, bananas and whipped cream with their own special coconut syrup. The concoction is so popular with guests, you can even buy it by the 12-ounce bottle to take home. (SR)

    Best Understatement
    Normal Ice Cream
    If you've visited Trolley Square in the past year or so, then you might have noticed the disco ball surface of Alexa Norlin's chrome ice cream truck parked conspicuously within the east entrance. If you've had the pleasure of visiting Normal ice cream truck, then you know it's anything but. Norlin's team specializes in housemade soft serve ice cream, or ice cream in its "natural state," as Norlin puts it. On a given day, Normal Ice Cream serves up vanilla bean soft serve topped with olive oil cake, blueberry and brown butter ice cream bars or their own take on Choco Tacos, which are a nostalgic dream come true. I'm always a fan of trying whatever Norlin has on the menu, but I go all Whitney Houston for the vanilla soft serve with Normal's signature dulce de leche dip ($4). (AS)
    602 S. 700 East, 801-521-9877,

    Best Pale Ales
    Desert Edge Brewery
    The English invented the pale ale, but America perfected it. Now, I'm not slamming pals across the pond; they make some great suds. We Americans just happen to be gifted with brilliant indigenous hops. The best local spot for the best examples of American pale ales is Trolley Square's Desert Edge Brewery. Brewmaster Chad Krussel just gets it. His pale-ale game is strong; incorporating the best hops the world has to offer with local and international barley to make basic ales that are stunning in their simplicity and flavor profile. Made you thirsty, didn't I? (MR)
    273 Trolley Square,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Bread On the Rise

    From its entrenched location just off 300 South, Gourmandise The Bakery has waited patiently to further expand its empire. Just this year, the French-inspired bakery opened Gourmandise To Go, and has recently procured the building that used to belong to Bake 360 in Draper for its newest location. Based on my recent visits to Gourmandise To Go, Gourmandise isn't interested in spawning carbon copies of itself like other restaurants do. The original location maintains its European ambiance while Gourmandise To Go caters to the business lunch crowd. It will be interesting to see what direction the bakery's new location takes. Once it opens, I'll make sure to visit at least 17 times to make sure. (AS)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Chimney Sweep
    Sweet Chimneys
    Although chimney cakes have been around for a few hundred years—you might have missed them because they're traditionally called kurtoskalacs and live in Hungary—this street-friendly dessert has started to pop up in certain places around town. Sweet Chimneys is currently the most accessible and arguably most creative of these bakeries. Their operation is mobile, but you can consistently find their food cart at Gardner Village (1100 West 7800 South) on Saturdays where they whip up chimney cakes topped with everything from Fruity Pebbles to toasted coconut. These conical confections are perfect mobile snacks, so it's a wonder they didn't catch on here earlier. Regardless, they're here now, and they're most definitely worth your time. (AS)

    Best Alcoholic Bang for Your Buck
    Squatter's Hop Rising Double IPA
    While not the best beer in the city, Squatter's Hop Rising is an exceptionally drinkable 9-percent ABV double IPA. Prices vary, but the canned or bottled brew seems to go for less at bars than similarly alcoholic crafts. Smooth, malty and exceptionally hoppy, this bad boy is best for those who are morally opposed to the glorified water that is Utah draft beer. Cheers to all those who roll their eyes when they remember they can't buy PBR from the grocery store because it's basically filtered H2O. Who says you should have to drink a dozen pints to get your night going? (KL)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Bake Sale
    Fillings and Emulsions
    Like most Americans, chef Adalberto Diaz was horrified when he heard stories of immigrant families being detained and separated at the U.S. southern border. An immigrant himself, Diaz saw himself reflected in the plights of these families, which inspired him to mobilize. Doing what he does best, he and a few other local bakeries organized an epic bake sale in June. During the bake sale, customers could purchase some tasty baked goods and help generate funds for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Overall, the event was a significant success—the bakers were able to raise more than $14,000 on the first day. It's
    the kind of story that reminds us why we have bakeries in the first place—someone's got to make sure that we get a little sweetness out of life. (AS)
    1475 S. Main, 385-229-4228,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Amazing Array of International Delicacies

    Southeast Market
    Southeast Market exerts a strange sort of gravitational pull. Through its doors, you'll find ramen, udon and soba noodles in a thousand varieties, frozen cuttlefish balls and exotic fresh fruits, sauces you didn't know existed and pickled veggies you wish you'd never smelled. There's also interesting Blue Boy brand sodas and handcrafted teapots, Korean blankets and herbal medicines. On top of all that, the staff offers superb customer service. Recently, a friend was in desperate need of dried banana leaves for a weekend pig roast. After calling every market in Salt Lake Valley with no luck, Southeast was the only one that had what she needed—in three sizes to boot. Moments like that will make you a customer for life. (NM)
    422 E. 900 South, 801-363-5474,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

    Seasons Plant Based Bistro
    Not only is Seasons preternaturally good at what it does—which is French and Italian food without butter, cream or cheese—but the audacity of taking on such dairy-centric cuisine from a plant-based mindset is groundbreaking, inspiring and a little nuts. Or, a lot of nuts. Cashews, to be more specific—that's what they make their vegan cheesecake out of. There are plenty of places that simply offer plant-based versions of food in a half-assed kind of way, but the folks at Seasons aren't here to simply appease local vegans with meatless versions of the same crap they can get anywhere. There's a sense of innovation, provocation and exploration that permeates the menu here, and it's always fun to see what they've got up their sleeve. (AS)
    1370 S. State, 385-267-1922,

    Best Buns
    The Rising Bun
    Taking a cue from the steamed buns that are integral to Chinese cuisine and hitting them with pork belly, pickled mustard seeds and chile-hoisin sauce, Lehi's The Rising Bun has created something special. Although the innards of each bun are tasty, and they come with clever names like Krispie Yum-Aguchi and the Bun-Dance Kid, the reason to visit The Rising Bun is to actually taste the pillow-soft buns they steam day in and day out. They nail the texture, making toppings like curry fried chicken or miso-marinated tofu stand at attention. Should you venture southward to grab a handful of these buns, make sure you also pick up an order of Comrade Fries ($4.95), a fork-able helping of fries topped with kalua pork and chile-hoisin sauce. (AS)
    3725 N. Thanksgiving Way, Ste. A, Lehi, 801-331-8251,

    Best Seafood Subscription
    Seaforth Fish
    Community-supported agriculture has been a successful way to promote seasonable, sustainable eating—but apparently plant products aren't the only way to make the system work. Seaforth Fish Co. applies the same principle to seafood, bringing fresh, sustainable and ethically caught seafood to Utah as part of a subscription service. For $69.95, you can get a monthly 5-pound pickup (in South Jordan) of sockeye salmon, halibut or rockfish in flash-frozen, vacuum-sealed portions. And your commitment helps support practices that ensure future sustainability. (SR)

    Best Sourdough Pancakes With a View
    Silver Fork Lodge
    Since 1947, Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant has been a popular destination to escape the city. It was a brisk morning when my husband and I drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon to visit the rustic restaurant. The patio was cozy; fluffy blankets were given to guests and sheepskin adorned each chair. We settled in, admiring the view of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest with mugs of hot coffee. I ordered their famous sourdough pancakes ($10), made from a starter that's more than 70 years old. These pancakes are the most sourdough-y, tart and scrumptious you'll ever devour. Order the short stack for $6 to accompany your savory breakfast and thank me later. (AR)
    11332 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Brighton, 801-533-9977,

    Best Place To Nosh

    Feldman's Deli
    Feldman's stands alone when it comes to authentic Jewish deli-style sandwiches stacked mile high, gefilte fish, blintzes and dozens more East Coast-influenced items that have turned the establishment into a neighborhood fixture. To sweeten the pot, live musical entertainment and variety nights also call the place home, turning your visits into more than just an opportunity to stuff your face with pastrami and injecting a cool dose of New York chic to the Wasatch Front along the way. (EL)
    2005 E. 2700 South, 801-906-0369,

    click to enlarge NIKI CHAN
    • Niki Chan

    Journalists' Best Friend

    Coffee Garden
    Empathy time. Being a modern-day journalist isn't easy: pressing deadlines, flaky subjects, demanding editors, overzealous publishers, more internet trolls than you can wave an ink-stained stick at, and oh, yeah, the commander-in-chief dubbing you Public Enemy No. 1. Luckily for us here at 248 S. Main, Coffee Garden is a short jaunt away. The fact that our logo is emblazoned on their cup sleeves is no mistake, we really do love the fine folks here. Next time you need a caffeine fix (or a distraction from the 24-hour news cycle), pay either of their locations a visit. They'll give you the royal treatment—regardless of your profession. (EL)
    254 S. Main, 801-364-0768; 878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425

    Best Downhome Breakfast
    Sweet Lake Biscuits & Limeade
    According to a 1980s advertising campaign, the best part of waking up is a cup of instant coffee. Those in the know, know it's a bellyful of Sweet Lake's signature Hoss. Leave your McMuffin expectations at the door; we're talking about a hearty slab of fried chicken breast, topped with egg, cheddar, bacon and gooey sausage all stuffed inside a heavenly biscuit guaranteed to make your tastebuds exclaim, "Yee-haw!" Complete your meal with some freshly squeezed OJ, signature limeade or cup o' joe. No Folgers here though, only organic Caffe Ibis. (EL)
    54 W. 1700 South, 801-953-1978,

    Best Way To Eat Vegetables You Think You Hate
    Crispy Brussels Sprouts at Franck's Restaurant
    If you've got a lingering belief that certain foods are yucky—remnants of a picky-eater childhood, or preparations that rendered those foods borderline inedible—maybe you just need to see what they're like in the hands of a pro. The crispy Brussels sprouts appetizer at Franck's takes those often-misunderstood mini cabbages, roasts them to a delightful texture, and tops them with Parmesan, a vinegar reduction and toasted almonds for a treat that turns your veggies into a comfort food you'll be fighting your table partners to finish. (SR)
    6263 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-274-6264,

    Best Flavors of Nepal in the South Valley
    Himalayan Kitchen
    Some of the more exotic flavors of international cuisine are easy to find in downtown Salt Lake City, but harder to come by in the farther reaches of the valley. Himalayan Kitchen's State Street location serves happy customers downtown, but the South Jordan location offers a convenient way for south-siders to get their fill of dishes with a different kick than traditional Indian cuisine. If you've ever had a hankering for traditional Nepali goat curry or momo dumplings filled with bison, the deliciousness doesn't have to be so far away. (SR)
    11521 S. 4000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-0800,

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    • Randall Snyder

    Best Cinnamon Rolls in the West, and Ain't Nobody Lying

    Parowan Café
    Any Vegas-bound, sin-seeking heathen riding I-15 has no doubt seen a certain billboard stationed near Parowan—"Yummm! 'Best Cinnamon Rolls in the West' Next Exit, Turn Right." But, how many of us have taken that advice, and dared the diners and cafés of Parowan to wow our senses with their cinnamon rolls? I'm here to say, lovers, sinners, road trippers, turn right! And make your way to the Parowan Café, situated on Main Street. Taste the coffee ($1.50), strong enough to wake up even the weariest traveler. Grab a crispy chicken wrap ($9.25), which comes highly recommended from a once-hungry vagabond. And don't you dare leave without buying at least three cinnamon rolls ($2.75)—large, decadently dressed in a thick cream cheese icing, with a satisfying smack of cinnamon. They are the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had—East, West or anywhere, for that matter. (ZS)
    33 N. Main, Parowan, 435-477-3593,

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    • Enrique Limón

    Best Place To Get Chucked Up

    It was my dining review that made a few purist foodies out there clutch their freshwater pearls and other, more daring, ones say "Hell yeah!": Chuck-A-Rama. With the cubed Jell-O settled, I can say there's a subtle art to navigating one of the Beehive staple's many locations. Obeisance must be paid to the salad bar for obligatory veggies, but make sure to eschew any salad containing whipped cream—cruciferous greens look down on such impostors. Once the necessary vegetable matter is in your system, it's time to make for the proteins. Go easy on the starches—I know it's hard to resist the buttery siren song of a fried scone and a heap of mashed potatoes, but that comes later. I recommend hitting the carving table for a few slices of turkey and roast beef. If you happen to go on taco night, don't limit yourself to the toppings in the designated taco section—pot roast, mac and cheese and stuffing fit just as well in a taco shell. The dessert table continues to perplex me, however. Navigate this altar to the sugary pantheon at your own peril. Now go forth and chuck in peace. (AS)
    Multiple awesome locations,

    Best Gas Station Snacks
    Jacksons Food Stores
    If your gas station doesn't offer pebble ice and fresh maraschino cherries for your fountain drink, you deserve better. Add flavor shots and a squeeze of lemon or lime for a DIY dirty soda at half the price of those fancy drive-thru joints. If soda's not your thing, grab a bottle of cold-brew coffee or kombucha. Need a protein boost? Scan the good-for-you snacks for hummus or grass-fed beef jerky. To balance it all out, treat yourself to a fresh sugar cookie, made from scratch for only $1.79 or grab a Krispy Kreme doughnut (or a dozen!). Jacksons also stocks the expected gas station fare like deli sandwiches, warm breakfast sandwiches, nachos and has a grill featuring hot dogs and other good stuff. (AR)
    Multiple locations,

    Best Ice Cream With a Side of Inclusivity
    Howdy Homemade Ice Cream
    While Howdy Homemade is worth a trip because of their huge repertoire of ice cream flavors that you can't get anywhere else—my love for their Dr. Pepper chocolate chip burns brightly—but it's also an excellent place to participate in a culture of inclusivity and celebrate diversity. A large portion of Howdy Homemade's workforce consists of people with disabilities, which contributes to the unique vibe that emanates from the Millcreek ice cream shop. It's clear this is a place where everyone loves their job, which is why it's so fun to roll in for a frozen treat. Or an ice cream cake. Or a milkshake—honestly, you can't really go wrong here. (AS)
    2670 S. 2000 East, 801-410-4302,

    Best Restaurant Dessert Combo
    Copper Kitchen's brown sugar cake
    Maybe for some, dessert is just a chance for a burst of sugar at the end of a great meal. At Copper Kitchen, the signature dessert delivers a variety of flavors and textures that makes it remarkable. The brown sugar cake itself is a moist, slightly caramelized slice of joy, but the plate also features a delicious coconut ice cream, a sprinkle of toasted cashews and a guava gelée that provides not just a bright burst of color, but a tangy complement to the other flavors. Leave room for this one. (SR)
    4640 S. 2300 East, Ste. 102, Holladay, 385-237-3159,

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    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Edible Art

    Last Course
    Don't let its fast-casual layout fool you—a trip into Last Course is a study of how design elements impact our enjoyment of food. Each dessert dish arrives artfully arranged—the 35 crepe layers of the Lemon Stack evoke the rings of a tree, the 24-Karat Cake is adorned with gold leaf, and the German chocolate cake creates a singular sensory experience as hot caramel sauce melts a perfect chocolate sphere to reveal the cake within. Last Course is an extravagant answer to the fast-casual genre, seamlessly combining a modern spin on dessert with the affordability and familiarity of today's restaurant culture. These places have been popping up all over—the newest location just opened in Farmington's Station Park area. (AS)
    Multiple locations,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Totally Accurate Branding

    The picture is pretty self-explanatory. (EL)

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    • Courtesy Photo Tinwell

    Best Secret Rum-Fueled Hideaway

    TinTiki at Tinwell
    Want to take a quick trip to Havana? Setting aside the political considerations (and Trump's tantrum about relaxed travel rules to Cuba), it's much quicker, easier and cheaper to just ring up a modern twist on the Mai Tai at TinTiki, the hidden cousin of celebrated new bar Tinwell. Catering sometimes to private parties but more often to the intrepid few who scale the stairs, it's the perfect place to fight off the cold in a tropical-themed utopia replete with comfy couches, rickety antiques and vintage maps of the Caribbean. Having an in-depth conversation with your bartender is a major plus to TinTiki, too—and on busy weekend nights, it's the perfect place to catch your breath before you hit the dance floor again. (NM)
    837 S. Main, 801-953-1769,

    Best Place To Feel Like You're in the Big City
    Lake Effect
    You've heard it before: Salt Lake City? More like Small Lake City, am I right? But, damn it, SLC is growing and there are places to experience the big-city vibe. Stroll into Lake Effect on a weekend night and you'll likely catch some live music. The chic interior and skilled bartenders liven up the spot, making you feel like you're in a concrete metropolis, not a town in the Intermountain West. With specialty cocktails and potential sighting of local band Joshy Soul and The Cool, Lake Effect is setting trends downtown—and the scene for your next date. (RH)
    155 W. 200 South, 801-285-6494,

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    • Enrique Limón

    Best (and Most Contentious) Way To Get Around

    Bird and Lime scooters
    Until recently, our choices of how to get around were boring. Trax and Lyft are fine, if you like sitting in a confined space with strangers and playing rideshare Russian Roulette. You could bike, but then you'd have to deal with the anxiety of knowing your ride is getting eyed by thieves while it's locked up outside. Driving is always an option, but then you're killing the environment, and who wants to deal with parking? Screw all that and take a scooter—a cheap, fast and fun way to get from Point A to Point B. Experience the transformative liberation of riding with the wind in your hair while pedestrians and bikers shoot daggers at you with their eyes. (KL)

    Best Blackout on a Budget
    X-Wife's Place
    If you're strapped for cash, a cash-only bar might not be the first place that comes to mind for a night out. But if you can scrounge up a few greenbacks, X-Wife's Place gives you the biggest bang for your buck. The spot, thanks to its proximity to the University of Utah's campus, attracts a young crowd and with that, plenty of well-priced drinks. Try one of their Root Beer Mind Erasers—a drink you're supposed to suck down all at once to get that root beer float taste—and when you're ready for beer, there are plenty of options for a measly couple dollars. Try your hand at a game of cornhole out back or work your way to the pool table and, maybe, you'll win yourself a few more dollars to get you through the next round. (RH)
    465 S. 700 East, 801-532-1954

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    • Party Dot Com

    Best Honky-Tonk To Grind to Ginuwine's "Pony"

    The Westerner Club
    I'm not saying I walked into the Westerner one Thirsty Thursday Night, dressed in my dungarees, leather chaps and cowskin cowboy hat, then later found myself grinding with all my newest friends to Ginuwine's "Pony"... on Utah's largest dance floor... at 1 a.m. But if I had, I would have arrived before the 8 o'clock crowd (skipping the $5 cover on Friday or Saturday nights), shot a few balls at the free pool tables, maybe taken a ride or two (waiver signed) on the mechanical bull, then ordered myself a stein ($4 domestic, $6 other, on Wednesdays and Thursdays) of Guinness as a nod to my Irish Pa. I would have settled down in a booth with a view of the dance floor, and enjoyed a Honky-Tonk Burger ($14.25)—melted pepper jack cheese topping a barbecue sauce-smothered onion ring and bacon burger. Finally, full as a tick, I would have made my way to the floor and given that hardwood hell. No, I'm not saying this exact scenario happened last Thursday night, but I am saying meet me Friday at 7 p.m. for free line-dance lessons. I'll be the rough-looking one with a moustache and a sprig of prairie wheat between my teeth. (ZS)
    3360 S. Redwood Road, 801-972-5447,

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    • Steve Conlin

    Best Spot for Local Live Music Outside Downtown

    The Royal
    Featuring live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, this Murray bar has enough rowdy entertainment to satisfy your live-music needs— from its legendary reggae nights to regular sets by local faves Ginger & the Gents. If that isn't your thing, you can come by on Sundays for football, jersey giveaways, $3 tallboys and mimosas and 50-cent wings. And if you need a breath of fresh air, step out to the patio along the nearby creek for soothing rushing-water sounds. (RH)
    4760 S. 900 East, 801-590-9940,

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    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Inside and Outside Bar Atmosphere
    Hog Wallow Pub
    Tucked away in the Cottonwood Heights neighborhood west of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Hog Wallow has one of the more scenic outdoor patios in Salt Lake. Pair that with a deep lineup of live music acts—often featuring local bands—and the bar turns out to be one popular place. Check out their food menu, pair it with a cocktail and sit back and enjoy the up-close-and-personal tunes at this wildly fun establishment. (RH)
    3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-733-5567,

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    • Darby Doyle

    Best Bar That Feels Like Your Friend's Living Room

    Water Witch
    Drinking at this Central Ninth gem is a discombobulating delight: one part neighborhood dive, one part upscale lounge, one part freewheeling lab. Absent an elaborate menu, let co-owners Matt Pfohl, Scott Gardner and Sean Neves whip you up something nameless yet irresistible. Stumble in on a Tuesday night and discover a hot jazz trio squeezed into the bar's left flank. Do day-drinking right on Tiki Sunday with another daiquiri or three, please. Imbibe on a weekday afternoon and get cast in one of Mike Wright and @luxelother801's hilarious Instagram videos. Like that charisma-drenched friend with the impeccably outfitted living room, Water Witch provides the warmest of welcomes before sending you back into the real world with a dizzying dose of inspiration. (NM)
    163 W. 900 South, 801-462-0967,

    Best Club Culture Booster
    Jesse Walker of New City Movement
    Jesse Walker's brand of cool wraps you in a warm, welcoming embrace—an inclusive characteristic central to his 25-year reign in SLC. Moving from Idaho in 1993 on the tailwind of fashion designer and raconteur Jared Gold, Walker immediately fell into the DJ rotation at Bricks, Club Manhattan, the Holy Cow and a hundred other long-gone but never-forgotten nightclubs. In 1998, he founded New City Movement, a forward-thinking collective that promoted a brighter future through dance music, design, art and culture. As a main incubator of the prodigious local DJ scene we enjoy today, Walker's secret for success is simple: "Never stop being interested in everything and everyone. Also, never quit your day job." (NM)

    Best Place To Drink in Public
    University of Utah tailgates
    This ain't New Orleans or Las Vegas (or anywhere else that's fun), so don't you dare pop open that can of beer on the streets! We're more modest up here—except on Saturdays in the fall. If the University of Utah has a home game, you can bet you're allowed to crack that brew and walk around the tailgate no questions asked. Hell, if you want to pop a hole in the bottom and shotgun it down your throat, be our guest. It's no Southeastern Conference tailgate, but the party is just as fun. Of course, don't do anything too silly and draw attention to yourself. Be patient and wait in line for the port-a-potty—don't relieve yourself outside. But by all means, let the sun's rays warm you while you and your red-clad friends bask in the joy of an outdoor party and revel at the chance to (maybe) win the big one. (RH)
    Tailgate lot at the corner of 500 South and Guardsman Way

    Best Spot To Drink During the Week

    O'Shucks Bar & Grill
    If you find yourself in need of a drink on a Wednesday night, there might not be a better deal in town than O'Shucks' $3 schooners. But the fun doesn't stop there. The basement bar also houses Ahh Sushi, and the friendly wait staff shuffles back and forth to serve your beer and sushi cravings. (RH)
    22 E. 100 South, 801-359-6770

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    • John Taylor

    Best After-Work Downtown Bar

    Let's say you've had a long, stressful day at work, and you want to have a beer or cocktail to unwind before heading home to sleep and restart the whole hellish cycle the next morning. Live music, an expansive drink menu and a divine patio doubling as a perch above a busy city street make Gracie's a prime watering hole after clocking out for the day. If being outside isn't your thing (why do you live in Utah?), there are ample televisions, bars and even a dance floor inside. Whether you're coming for Bingo, booze or blues, Gracie's has you covered. (KL)
    326 S. West Temple, 801-819-7565,

    Best Armchair Quarterback Spot
    Fiddler's Elbow
    With a projection TV, plenty of seats at the bar and a wide selection of food, this Sugar House staple is a great place to get your Sunday afternoon quarterback on. The front dining area includes a couch and lounge chairs where you can backseat coach your favorite team. Whether it's the Jazz, Utes, Cougars (the place is mostly red, though) or your favorite NFL team, you'll find plenty of friends here to weigh in on what play they would have called instead of whatever chicanery just played out on screen. (RH)
    1063 E. 2100 South, 801-463-9393,

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    • Josh Scheureman

    Best Sound in the City

    The State Room
    While live music options continue to multiply across Salt Lake Valley, old standbys are still going strong. Consider The State Room: Open since 2009, this 300-capacity venue works wonders on any touring act. Big jam bands can experiment with a much-needed dose of intimacy; smaller jazz combos can flesh out expanded sonic sensibilities. And that's because the sound is flawless—clean enough to shine a spotlight on individual instruments and voices while rich enough to combine the sum of those parts. Separating the bar from the stage certainly helps, as does the resonance of its open dance floor and old church pews arranged stadium-style. No matter where you stand or sit, you're guaranteed good sight lines and great sound at The State Room. (NM)
    638 S. State, 801-596-3560,

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    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Place To Test Your Knowledge

    Proper Brewing Co.
    Think you know your stuff? Well, you might. But why not prove it to your friends and the public? You can find trivia nights just about any weeknight around Salt Lake City. Hot spots include The Tap Room, The Green Pig and Piper Down Pub, to name a few. Tuesday evenings at Proper Brewing Co., though, might give you the best bang for your buck. Hosted by the Trivia Factory and a brain-busting host, you'll get 20 questions to test your might along with chances to guess 20 music artists for bonus points. Accompany it with a Johnny Utah burger from next door washed down with a pitcher (or two) of the latest Proper brew and you might be on your way to a $30 first-place prize. Just don't get too upset if you can't name what singer the late Sen. John McCain impersonated on Saturday Night Live. Hint: She's still singing about the way we were. (RH)
    857 S. Main, 801-953-1707,

    Best Drink and an Off-the-Beaten Path Bite
    Duffy's Tavern
    Utah might be strict with its liquor laws but that hasn't slowed the rising number of new watering holes around town. In fact, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has multiple bar licenses available—a rarity until this year—so expect more. If you can't keep up, why not slow down and check out some of the city's tried-and-true establishments. Duffy's Tavern doesn't have the shine and new-digs feeling some other places do, but that's what makes it glow. If the baseball diamond is your fancy, this is the place for you, especially if you're from Chicago. Duffy's walls are covered in Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears memorabilia. But it's also a welcoming place for homers if they're looking for fellow Utes fans. Try one of their famous sandwiches, dabble in some pool and cheer on your team while getting cozy at this neighborhood staple. (RH)
    932 S. Main, 801-355-6401

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    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Classy Joint That Makes You Feel Like Part of an Exclusive Club

    The Rest
    Bodega, the upstairs bar that serves as an entrance to its below-ground speakeasy, The Rest, is so trendy that it feels like the pub version of Urban Outfitters. For those seeking a more refined ambience, ask the ID-checker underneath the "RESTroom" sign (get it?) if you can go downstairs. You might have to wait a while, but it's worth it to bask in the hunter's den-esque saloon. Expert bartenders make divine cocktails as you listen to classic and modern records. This not-so-well-kept secret is ideal for anyone who wants to feel like they're in a trendy New York club without leaving Salt Lake City. (KL)
    331 S. Main, 801-532-4452,

    Best Eclectic Programming
    Liquid Joe's
    Consider Millcreek's Liquid Joe's a jack of many nightlife trades. Whatever floats your boat—from a revolving door of metal acts to a residency from beloved SLC party band Spazmatics—can be found here. Is karaoke more your thing? Warm up your vocal chords and head here on Tuesdays. Want to live out your Vegas fantasies? LJ's Monday poker night—boasting a $500 purse—is sure to do the trick. (EL)
    1249 E. 3300 South, 801-467-5637,

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    • Mike Riedel

    Best Spot For a Board Game and Growler Refill

    RoHa Brewing Project
    Looking for something different from your happy hour? How about a board game and a fresh-hopped craft beer at RoHa Brewing Project, where a no-nonsense atmosphere combines with Three Deep American Ale and Thursday IPA to put a little stillness back in your afternoon? The small tap room on Kensington Avenue, one block west of State, is simple and inviting: gray stools, a stainless-steel bar and a few black-and-white brewing diagrams scattered among competition medals. The only pop of color is the Buy a Friend a Beer bulletin board, emphasizing RoHa's community nature. Sure, the crowd ramps up on weekend nights, but a game of chess and a quiet break from the news on a weekday afternoon is perfect in these dizzying, disquieting times. (NM)
    30 E. Kensington Ave., 385-227-8982,

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    • Randy Harward

    Best SLC Bartender

    Metro's Michael Elliot
    At first, it sounds like a misnomer, something like Best Vegan Butcher, but it's really surprising—given Utah's alcohol limitations—what the Metro fixture can do with an empty highball. Always cool and collected, even when lines of thirsty revelers span to a couple dozen, the Ogden native's boozy wizardry is a thing of legend. Whether you're at the venue for a metal show you've been looking forward to or a drag performance, chances are some of the night's best memories will include Elliot. More like him, please. (EL)

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    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Bar-Crawl Neighborhood

    Central Ninth
    SLC's Central Ninth neighborhood isn't what it used to be. There are new restaurants, brewpubs and apartments popping up left and right. As a result, the area has quickly turned into a new nightlife hotspot. If you want to check out the drinking establishments, most are an easy walk (or scooter ride) apart. Start your night off at A. Fisher Brewing Co. (320 W. 800 South, and grab a pint before pairing it with a bite from whatever food truck is parked outside. After getting your fill, head west to Kiitos Brewing (608 W. 700 South, or east to any combination of Water Witch (163 W. 900 South,, The Spot (870 S. Main), Proper Brewing Co. (857 S. Main,, Tinwell (837 S. Main, and Purgatory (62 E. 700 South, If you've made it this far, well, hopefully you don't live too far from this happening neighborhood to make it home. (RH)

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    • Austen Diamond

    Best Place To Run Into an Athlete

    No Name Saloon & Grill
    Park City is the place to spot celebrities during the Sundance Film Festival in January and February, but that's not the only time you might see someone you've watched on TV. With two levels, a superb outdoor deck—heated in the colder months—overlooking Main Street and a famous buffalo burger to boot, the popular Park City pub isn't just frequented by the general public, but local athletes. Real Salt Lake players, for example, have been spotted there many times. Stay late for the rowdy music, eclectic nightlife and diverse drink selection—and who knows, you just might end up with a killer Instagram photo. (RH)
    447 Main, Park City, 435-649-6667,

    Best One Night Only and Encore
    Avant Groove Jazz Club & Martini Bar / Button Down Bar
    Back in April, I wanted to find the type of raw, sweaty Jazz club that Jack Kerouac describes in On the Road—you know, the kind that could get you in trouble with the law. What I found was Avant Groove, the brainchild of Bay Area jazz vet John Vecchi—and though suit-and-tie classy, it did not disappoint. I chatted with Vecchi, drank a Broken Time—Bulleit Bourbon, ginger liqueur, lemon twist and rosemary garnish—and heard the Elastic Jazz Quintet's bone-rattling, lunatic rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."Kerouac would have been proud. Regrettably, Avant Groove permanently closed its doors on June 21, 2018. However, a few months ago, investor and long-time jazz fan Ross East bought the building, and has since created Button Down Bar, a new twist in the same space. Button Down prides itself on its versatility—equal parts sports bar and nightclub—and local ties, screening games and keeping their bars and taps fully stocked with wares from Utah distilleries and breweries—Dented Brick, High West and Wasatch, just to name a few. If you're the drinkin' type, I'd recommend the BDMF ($9), a sour watermelon and cranberry number, or the Heavenly SL,UT ($9), a mixture of Five Wives vodka, egg white and other secret flavors, which tastes like a liquid key lime pie. Or if, like me, you're still itching for a little jazz, you can attend Wine Down Wednesdays, featuring an extended wine list and the Elastic Jazz Quintet, still vamping their sweet madness. (ZS)
    122 W. Pierpont Ave., 385-259-0573,

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    Best Spot To Drink in Protest

    Your Couch
    One of the plaintiffs in Church and State—the documentary about the legal battle to overturn Utah's same-sex marriage ban—said it best: She likes living here because you can protest from your couch. Sure, you could protest the state's stringent rules on liquor from the comfort of your own home (and we wouldn't necessarily blame you), but once the angry wrist-shaking has subsided, or you've imbibed the last Lime-A-Rita in the box, we hope this guide has inspired you to go out, sip on a microbrew, enjoy a craft cocktail, rage, partake in a little line dancing, test your nerd knowledge skills and rub elbows with some of the area's standout drink slingers. You've hung out with the rest, now it's time to party with the state's bonafide best. (RH & EL)

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    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Sugar House Watering Hole

    The Ruin
    Adhering to the motto "Working is the curse of the drinking class," this place's intention is not, in fact, to ruin you, but enrich your imbibing knowledge with a series of top-notch cocktails guaranteed to wet your whistle. In the mood for a Utah-centric sip? The Bumble and Fizz, with its Beehive Barrel-aged Gin, honey, lemon and a touch of sparkling wine is sure to do the trick. More of an adventurous type? The Antelope Island Rum-infused 120 Daiquiri will leave you feeling like a regular Hemingway. (EL)
    1215 Wilmington Ave., Ste. 120, 801-869-3730,

    Best Night Out
    Looking for a unique dinner and drinks one-two punch? This place has you covered with its combo Italian restaurant/lounge. Bloody mary piled to the sky accompanied by some pork tenderloin? You got it. Asian pear martini and a hand-tossed pizza? Step right up. Regardless if your mood is downtown cool or uptown swank, Elixir always delivers to the masses of thirsty and hungry denizens far and wide. (EL)
    6405 S. 3000 East, Ste. 101, Holladay, 801-943-1696,

    Best Pampered Concert Experience
    Premium Seating at The Depot
    Sometimes you want a live-music experience that's all about being in the middle of a pulsing crowd; sometimes, you just want to enjoy your favorite artist with a bit less stress. The Depot offers an upgrade option from the standing-room-only general admission, with premium seats that include a separate entrance, in-seat service, private bar and access to an open-air patio when you need to get a bit of fresh air. You never have to feel like you're too old to rock 'n' roll. (SR)
    13 N. 400 West, 801-355-5522,

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    • Enrique Limón

    Best Utahn

    Spencer J. Cox
    As Utah's eighth lieutenant governor, Spencer J. Cox is a heartbeat away from the Governor's Mansion. That's appropriate, because the 43-year-old Sanpete County native, indeed, has a generous and expansive heart. Earlier this year, he spent a sleepless night pondering the plight of immigrant children separated from their families. "I hate what we've become," he tweeted. "I want to punch someone." Of course, the tweet went viral. During a local vigil for victims of the 2016 Pulse Orlando nightclub shooting, Cox apologized for not standing up for fellow classmates who were taunted for being gay. In addition, he's prodded employers to hire refugees and helped coordinate Operation Rio Grande. And did we mention he was the first Utah House member to call for the impeachment of disgraced Attorney General John Swallow?
    2. Donovan Mitchell
    3. Gail Miller

    Best Elected Official
    Ben McAdams
    At press time, Ben McAdams is crisscrossing Utah's 4th Congressional District in an outrageously orange school bus—perhaps a nod to his first job as pumpkin picker when he was 12—to unseat Rep. Mia Love. Pollsters predict a squeaker. Even his critics, however, grudgingly admit during his six years as Salt Lake County mayor, the 43-year-old Democrat has reached across the aisle to get things done. CNN calls his style "pragmatic, wonky and slightly quirky." Well, wonky's OK if you can juggle a $1.3-billion budget—with no property-tax increase. And who can forget McAdams' foray onto the mean streets in the Rio Grande district to experience homelessness first-hand?
    2. Spencer Cox
    3. Derek Kitchen

    Best Podcast
    I Am Salt Lake
    People over a certain age recall with fondness the "Golden Age" of television, when shows were broadcast live and Americans welcomed the likes of Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason into their living rooms. Well, history might be repeating itself. Podcasts now are the rage, and none is more well crafted than the popular weekly I Am Salt Lake. For the past five years, hosts Chris and Krissie Holifield have prowled the streets, seeking interesting folks in business, art, music, film, food "or anything else [Chris] finds intriguing." So far, they've interviewed more than 300 people, and show no signs slowing down. Who knows? I Am Salt Lake might someday be in the same entertainment pantheon as I Love Lucy.
    2. Geek Show Podcast
    3. Radio West

    Best Nonprofit Organization
    Best Friends Animal Society
    For 32 years, Best Friends Animal Society has been a global leader in the no-kill movement to protect unwanted and abandoned animals. When it began, some 17 million animals annually were "put to sleep"—one of society's most monstrous euphemisms. Today, the figure is down to four million. But that's not enough, says Best Friends, whose ambitious goal is to "Save Them All." From sponsoring trap-neuter-return programs for feral cats to combatting puppy mills, it's been on the forefront of animal protection. And don't forget the society's crown jewel: The sprawling Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah's red-rock country near Kanab—home to some 1,700 rescued critters.
    2. Planned Parenthood
    3. Utah Pride Center

    Best Political Scandal
    Inland Port Authority
    It's been called Utah's largest economic-development project—ever. Yet the bill creating the Utah Inland Port Authority was introduced, re-written and ramrodded through the 2018 Legislature on the second-to-last night of the session with no time for scrutiny or debate. Even its sponsors weren't exactly sure what it said. Called back into a special session, lawmakers tweaked the law, but not everyone's happy—especially Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski who fears the state is trampling on the city's taxing and zoning turf. After all, the 38 square miles are within SLC's boundaries. Then, outgoing House Speaker and land developer Greg Hughes raised some eyebrows when he appointed himself to the authority board, but soon stepped down. It turns out—surprise!—he owns property nearby.
    2. Bears Ears
    3. UTA

    • John Taylor

    Best Radio Show
    Radio From Hell
    "Nothing is certain except death and taxes" ... and that City Weekly readers will overwhelmingly vote Radio From Hell as their favorite show. For the umpteenth year (we've lost count, really), the early morning, four-hour show on 96.3 FM has swept the field. Over the years, hosts Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi (with producer Richard T. Steadman in the booth) have become old friends to countless fans. There's never a dull moment with recurring features like "Big Boy News & Opinnuendo" and "Boner of the Day," and Sister Dottie S. Dixon occasionally dropping by the studio. It all began, incidentally, as The Fun Pigs on Ogden's KJQ in 1986, making it one of the country's longest-running shows.
    2. Radio West
    3. Dave & Deb

    Best Radio Station
    It's a well-documented fact that Donald Trump isn't a fan of reading—though he has an impressive array of flat-screen TVs in his bedroom. But what about radio? It's a pretty sure bet that he wouldn't listen to KRCL 90.9 FM. It's too damned informative. Shows like the thoughtful and sometimes-provocative Democracy Now! just wouldn't turn his crank (or his dial). That's not to say the nonprofit, listener-supported station is overly cerebral. Far from it. Throughout the day and night, DJs entertain with music from their own playlists: Vintage rock to new wave; forgotten favorites to music from around the world. KRCL next year marks 40 years on the air—and here's to 40 more.
    2. X96
    3. KUER

    Best Social Cause
    The homeless. Most mornings, you see them sleeping on the edge of Main Street planter boxes or huddled in abandoned storefronts. But for every "vagrant" we encounter, there are dozens more hidden in the dark and desperate shadows of homelessness—including families, children and veterans. In less than 18 months, the county will open three new shelters/resource centers with a capacity of 700. But simultaneously, the 1,100-bed Road Home will close its doors—leaving a 400-bed deficit. The city, meanwhile, has allocated $21 million to subsidize low-income housing construction. Until officials can come to grips with the influx of people pouring into the valley and rising rents, homelessness is going to be a Gordian Knot.
    2. Medical cannabis
    3. Suicide prevention

    Best Sports Reporter
    David James
    Any die-hard fan can spout statistics and sometimes obscure facts about their favorite sport. But it takes years of up-close observation and interaction to know the real stories behind them. That's why Utahns rely on David James for all things sports-related. He signed on with KUTV Channel 2 in 1992, and in the quarter-century since has built a solid reputation as an authoritative—but never strident—source of sports news. James anchors the station's two "Talkin' Sports" weekend shows, and can be heard on a morning-drive talk show on 1280 The Zone. Even when he disagrees with callers, the genial James is always amiable ... and usually right.
    2. Dave Fox
    3. Wesley Ruff

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    Best TV Anchor

    Shauna Lake
    For the second year running, Utah media's own iteration of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" walks off with Best Anchor honors. While Shauna Lake didn't hit an iceberg—as did Margaret Brown's ship, the HMS Titanic—the veteran KUTV Channel 2 anchor overcame some formidable obstacles last year, and came back swinging. Since then, she's dusted herself off and moved on—much to the relief of fans who've come to appreciate her insight and considerable journalistic credentials. Lake, who joined KUTV 2 in 1994, also hosts the weekly "Person 2 Person" and has been honored by broadcast colleagues for her "Wednesday's Child" segment, focusing on adoptable children in the area.
    2. Hope Woodside
    3. Mary Nickles

    Best TV News Reporter
    Ben Winslow
    If Nike or Adidas were ever to seek endorsements from journalists instead of athletes, they'd be in hot pursuit of Fox 13's Ben Winslow. The bearded dynamo literally sprints from assignment to assignment—tweeting all the way to a growing cadre of followers. While it's all so cutting edge, he churns out old-fashioned solid journalism, too. Since joining the station nearly two decades ago, Winslow has collected scads of accolades, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award, and another from the Religion Newswriters Association. On his Facebook page, he simply says: "I'm a reporter ... covering a lot of politics, courts and polygamy." Then, he adds wryly, "Sometimes those intersect."
    2. Chris Jones
    3. Morgan Saxton

    Best TV News Station
    Fox 13
    When it entered the Utah television market as KSTU in 1978, Fox 13 initially was regarded as the poor cousin among the local network affiliates. All that changed when it hooked up with Fox, and took off like an Atlas rocket—including its news department. In a few short years, Bob Evans, Hope Woodside (who recently left after 23 years), Dan Evans and crew have earned a reputation for rock-solid reporting. Did we mention Big Budah? Add to that May's announcement that Fox 13 had inked a "new, expansive content-sharing agreement" with news powerhouse, The Salt Lake Tribune. A poor cousin? No longer.
    2. KUTV Channel 2
    3. ABC Channel 4

    Best Weathercaster
    Sterling Poulson
    For 33 years, Sterling Poulson has been telling local television audiences what Mother Nature has in store. After a stint at KSL Channel 5, he moved to KUTV Channel 2 in 1989 where viewers have come to expect detailed—but understandable—explanations of Utah's notoriously mercurial weather patterns. He cut his earned as a forecaster during a 10-year hitch in the Air Force, including a tour of duty in Vietnam (where the weather is wild, too). Paulson's all-time favorite story was the freak tornado that hit the capital city in 1999. The 67-year-old finds time, too, to direct the 120-voice Choral Society of Utah.
    2. Allison Croghan
    3. Kevin Eubank

    Worst Utahn
    Jason Chaffetz
    Call him what you may, but former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (last year's Worst Utahn winner) is no shrinking violet. No sooner had he abruptly resigned his House seat last year, the four-term right-wing darling had settled into a comfy commentator booth at Fox News. The ambitious and often abrasive Chaffetz is rumored to have his sights on Gov. Gary Herbert's desk—but "Available Jones" is being coy on seeking a third term. While he ruminates, the 51-year-old has found time to pen a new book on the sinister The Deep State. In it, he writes of scoundrels who "brazenly abuse their power—spying, manipulating and misleading." Yes, Jason, it sounds all too familiar.
    2. Mike Lee
    3. Mitt Romney

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    • Loveloud Foundation

    Best Concert of the Year
    Being part of a great show is one thing; being a part of a movement is something else entirely. For the second year, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds brought together a great lineup of music—including his own band, Neon Trees' Tyler Glenn and Grace VanderWaal—for a full day that also featured speakers addressing the challenges faced by LGBTQ youth. The result was a spectacular event that raised more than $1 million for nonprofits like the Trevor Project.
    2. Chris Stapleton
    3. Pink

    Best All-Ages Venue
    Kilby Court
    Over the past 15 years, the fine folks at Kilby Court have worked hard to turn a small converted garage into a cherished fixture of Salt Lake City's music scene. From local upstarts to touring indie darlings and everything in between, Kilby gives music fans of all ages and of all stripes a chance to see their favorite artists up-close and personal.
    748 W. Kilby Court, 800-513-7540,
    2. The Complex
    3. Diabolical Records

    Best Dance Company
    Ballet West
    Generations of family members have shared the holiday magic of Ballet West's distinctive annual performance of The Nutcracker—but if your familiarity with the company ends there, you've got some wonderful discovery ahead of you. From revitalized versions of classic pieces to the opportunity to experience the best new works from around the country at the National Choreographic Festival, Ballet West offers experiences that allow your spirit to soar right along with the dancers.
    2. Repertory Dance Theatre
    3. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.

    Best DJ
    DJ Bad Hair Day
    Defending his 2017 win in this category is only the latest achievement for the artist born Andre Adams, who has spent the past decade building a résumé that has taken him from hosting rap battles at U92's Summer Jam to DJing for Salt Lake Screaming Eagles professional football and opening for acts like Pitbull, T-Pain, De La Soul and TechN9ne. And his talents expand to writing and producing his own music, making him a truly multi-threat entertainer.
    2. John Florence
    3. Brad Wheeler

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    Best Drag Entertainer

    Jason CoZmo
    He's brought a personality bigger than Dolly Parton's ... um ... hair to his Salt Lake City drag shows, and even to the cover of this very publication. The Utah native not only performs—from risqué takes on Disney characters to his trademark Dolly—but produces and stages the Viva La Diva shows he created after returning to the Beehive State from the East Coast, proving you can come home again, fabulously.
    2. Gia Bianca Stephens
    3. Denali

    Best Friend of the Arts
    Utah Arts Alliance
    There should never be a barrier to creative people finding a way to bring their work to the world—at least that's the principle behind this wide-ranging organization. From creating the Connect program to offering a showcase for new artists, to staging the free Urban Arts Festival annually, to providing studio and creative workspace, UAA and executive director Derek Dyer keep expanding the boundaries of who can be an artist.
    2. Dina Krikova
    3. Cat Palmer

    Best Gallery
    Urban Arts Gallery
    The location moved down the block at The Gateway recently, but it's still the place for a uniquely egalitarian take on visual arts showcases. Annual events like the Skate Deck Show, or exhibitions centered around pop-culture pillars like Star Wars and video games invite every kind of creator and every kind of spectator to be part of the experience of what a gallery can offer.
    116 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
    2. Phillips Gallery
    3. 15th Street Gallery

    Best Instagram Feed
    The stalwart downtown second-hand store is more than just a great place to pick up vintage clothing, or hang out with the resident cats. The shop keeps its Instagram followers in the loop on the latest new arrivals with regular posts, or showing customers selfie-modeling a perfect find. It's also a great way to find out when they're having a clearance sale.
    2. @UtahGrubs
    3. @IndieOgdenUtah

    Best Live Music Venue
    Usana Amphitheatre
    Every place has its downside, and while some of the logistics of getting into and out of Usana continue to prove challenging, it's hard to argue with the experience patrons have when they're at the show. The 20,000-capacity amphitheater continues to be the state's main summer showcase for some of the world's biggest musical acts, bringing classic-rock icons and modern superstars from every genre to adoring crowds.
    5150 Upper Ridge Road, West Valley City
    2. Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
    3. The Depot

    Best Local Band/Group
    Royal Bliss
    Few bands exemplify resilience like this quartet, as they soldier into their third decade. Neither landing, then losing, a major record deal, nor vocalist Neal Middleton's brush with paralysis after falling from a balcony, nor drummer Jake Smith's 2003 car accident has kept them from an impressive output of earthy hard-rocking music, and from playing to packed houses throughout the state and around the country.
    2. Imagine Dragons
    3. Pixie and the Partygrass Boys

    Best Museum
    Natural History Museum of Utah
    The stunning Rio Tinto Center welcomes guests to a place that feels distinctively Utah inside and out. Permanent exhibitions showcase the history of the region's Indigenous peoples and prehistoric inhabitants (with complete life-sized skeletons), teach about local ecosystems and highlight geology with dazzling gemstones, all in a hands-on way that welcomes learning experiences for every age.
    301 Wakara Way, 801-581-4303,
    2. Utah Museum of Fine Arts
    3. The Leonardo

    Best Music Festival
    The potentially high-stress environment of a massive music festival can't help but feel more laid back when the attendees get to sleep where they're partying. The edge of the river in Heber City turned into a mini-city this June, where more than 30 acts—including headliners like Wiz Khalifa and Halsey—provided the musical energy, and the beautiful setting provided the incentive to camp out and make it a wild three-day weekend.
    2. Das Energi
    3. Reggae Rise Up

    Best Piece of Public Art
    Spiral Jetty
    It's kind of an unfair fight, since Robert Smithson's 1970 work—a 1,500-foot coil of basalt and salt on the shore of the Great Salt Lake—is a landmark not just in the sense of its familiarity, but in its place in the history of environmental art. While the drought-reduced level of the lake might be alarming for many reasons, it has offered visitors a chance to experience a unique and fascinating piece of Utah art history.
    2. SLC Pepper
    3. Banksy in Park City

    Best Theater Company
    Salt Lake Acting Co.
    For 48 years, Salt Lake Acting Co. has built a history of inspiring and entertaining audiences with a unique mix of locally created world-premieres, cutting-edge new works and even Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals. With the annual season finale of Saturday's Voyeur exploding Utah's sacred cows with its satirical bite, the company proves over and over again that this can indeed be the place for risk-taking theater that's not afraid to get its hands dirty.
    168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522,
    2. Hale Centre Theatre
    3. Pioneer Theatre Co.
    Honorable mention: Viva La Diva

    Best Visual Artist
    Cat Palmer
    Year-in and year-out, City Weekly readers share their love of Palmer's photographic artistry, which can find her everywhere from a wedding to a booth at the Utah Arts Festival to shooting protesters at the Capitol spelling out "Go Home Trump" with their bodies. As she told CW in a 2018 interview, "I have the portraiture work, and I have my art work. ... For one, I'm being commissioned by people, and for the other, I'm coming up with my own ideas, where I can get angry, get rowdy, get loud."
    2. Sril Art
    3. Daniel Overstreet

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    Best Record Shop
    Randy's Record Shop
    In an age where physical media seems on the verge of extinction, there are still places that celebrate discovering music by picking it up with your hands. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, Randy's still pulls in patrons with a massive collection of vinyl LPs and 45s—and, yes, CDs—plus quarterly sales that allow music lovers to carry even more stuff home, and treat it with love.
    157 E. 900 South, 801-532-4413,
    2. Graywhale Entertainment
    3. Raunch Records

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    • Steven Vargo

    Best Barber Shop
    Jed's Barber Shop
    With nearly 20 years of experience, you could say Jed Beal knows exactly what goes into a good haircut, and what goes into building a good barber shop. Beal started Jed's in 2011, when he decided he wanted to create a shop that married classic charm with a clean, modern interior. Open seven days a week, Jed's now has three locations committed to making every customer feel pampered.
    Multiple locations,
    2. City Barbers
    3. Salt Lake Barber Co.

    Best Bookstore
    The King's English Bookshop
    Why walk the large halls of Barnes & Noble or purchase a book on Amazon when SLC is home to one of the coziest bookstores out there? The King's English Bookshop was started in 1977 by Betsy Burton and Ann Berman through their mutual love of good books and the classic bookshop. Currently, the shop not only hosts authors from all over the world but is also part of the Utah Humanities Book Festival.
    1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100,
    2. Ken Sanders Rare Books
    3. Weller Book Works

    Best Boutique
    A' La Mode
    Opened in 2016 by Jasmine Gordon, Angelique Gordon and Sarah Skeps, A' La Mode does things a little differently in the world of boutiques. Not only can you visit the store and get the "fashionistas" there to style you, but you can also sign up for A' La Mode's by-mail styling service. All you have to do is fill out a survey and the shop will ship you a personalized style box set to fit you perfectly.
    265 E. 900 South, 845-393-4446,
    2. IconoCLAD
    3. Hip and Humble

    Best Comic Book Store
    Black Cat Comics
    Greg Gage started Black Cat Comics in 2004 with a mission to make a shop with the largest selection and a classic feel. He believes the focus on purely comics is what really sets his shop apart. "There's not many stores left any more," he says. "So it's nice to have a store that focuses just on that." Gage also invites local creators to share his shelves with their own work, and hosts large names from the comic book world at Black Cat's annual anniversary signings.
    2261 S. Highland Drive, 801-461-4228,
    2. The Nerd Store
    3. Dr. Volt's Comic Connection

    Best Garden Supply
    Millcreek Gardens
    Started by Vernon and Murriel Smith in 1955, Millcreek Gardens has a strong local connection to not only Millcreek but much of the valley. People drive from all over the Wasatch Front to look over the selection covering Millcreek's 3 ½ acres. The gardens also carry a large array of perennials, trees and supplies, setting it apart from other smaller shops.
    3500 S. 900 East, 801-487-4131,
    2. Cactus and Tropicals
    3. Glover Nursery


    Best Pet Supply Store
    Paw Paw's
    All dog owners have, at some point, given their dog a bath that went bad. Maybe your beloved canine made a break for it or gave you a bath in the process. At Paw Paw's, which opened in 2010, you can wash your dog in a tub just the right size and equipped with everything you need to make the experience positive—for both parties. And after their bath, you can reward your pet with high-quality, organic, grain-free and/or raw treats.
    624 S. 300 West, 801-531-4200,
    2. The Dog's Meow
    3. Healthy Pets

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    Best Piercer

    Dustin Robbins at Enso
    With 23 years of experience, Dustin Robbins has long been at the top of the piercing game in Utah. Whether at other shops or now at his own, he treats every client with respect and a calming demeanor, making your experience—dare I say—enjoyable. His shop, owned by him and his wife, Tara, is immaculate and offers free cleaning, checkups and jewelry changes.
    2. Courtney Marriott at Abyss Body Piercing
    3. Patrick Bogdanich at Koi

    Best Piercing Studio
    Koi Piercing Studio
    It's fitting that the best piercing studio in Utah was actually the first all-body piercing studio in the state. Curt Warren opened Koi in 1997, feeling nowhere else took a clean, professional approach. Warren, as well as Melissa Christensen (shop manager) and Patrick Bogdanich (senior piercer), all are members of the Association of Professional Piercers, so you know you're in good hands.
    1301 S. 900 East, 801-463-7070
    2. Enso Piercing + Adornment
    3. Iris Piercing Studio

    Best Salon
    Lunatic Fringe
    With a long list of awards already under their belt, Lunatic Fringe isn't new to the competitive salon world. Business partners and husband-and-wife team Shawn Trujillo and Angie Katsanevas started the Lunatic Fringe brand in 1999. They have a strong list of values that underpin operations in 10 locations spanning Utah, Idaho, Tennessee and Ohio.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Landis Lifestyle Salon
    3. Got Beauty

    Best Smoke/Vape Shop
    Opened in 2013, iVape's strength lies not only in its helpful and knowledgeable staff but in its incredibly large selection. The shop carries more than 100 mods and more than 250 flavors. Making a choice might be hard here, but at least you only have to make one stop for everything you could want. Alex Ogilvie, shop manager, says his favorite part of iVape is having "The only shop in the state with an outdoor flavor bar."
    4523 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-268-8273,
    2. Blackhouse Vapor
    3. Peak Vapor

    • John Taylor

    Best Tattoo Artist
    Bret Johnson, Sacred Souls Tattoo
    It seems each day there are more and more tattoo artists in Salt Lake. It's hard to choose the right person when the pool is so full of talent. Some are good, yet only at one thing, and others are good at just about everything. Bret Johnson is clearly one of the latter. When you're ready to take that big step, Johnson can handle the art of your choice with his versatile style. 244 S. 500 West, 801-372-3876,
    2. Tori Lake at Black Thumb MST
    3. Sarah de Azevedo at Locust Tattoo

    Best Tattoo Shop
    Yellow Rose
    Tucked away in the heart of Sugar House, Yellow Rose was opened in 2010 by Luis Flores. Shop manager Briana Brunelle, who has worked for the company for five years, says it's the "quality of work that [the artists] put out" that keeps customers coming back. Now employing seven artists, Yellow Rose has the professionalism and creativity to make that next tattoo pop.
    2006 S. 900 East, 801-415-9596,
    2. Big Deluxe
    3. Mercy

    Best Thrift/Consignment Store
    There are a lot of reasons IconoCLAD has been Salt Lake's favorite shop since 2014. For some, the shop cats Bugsy and Lola brings them back; for others, it's the great price on rad clothing. You can find everything from day-to-day wear to festival fashion—all at shockingly low prices. Everything you find here is handpicked for style, so you know you can't go wrong. Even stop by for those stylish pollution masks during fire or inversion season.
    414 E. 300 South, 801-833-2272,
    2. Uptown Cheapskate
    3. Pib's Exchange

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    Best Bike Path
    Jordan River Parkway
    Utah has great mountain biking, but two-wheel enthusiasts can also find plenty of options around the Salt Lake Valley, such as the Jordan River Parkway. The more than 40-mile urban trail stretches from Utah County north to the Great Salt Lake in Davis County and offers a scenic way to see Salt Lake's green spaces and waterways.
    2. Legacy Trail
    3. Provo River Trail

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    Best Bike Shop

    Contender Bicycles
    You'll find Contender Bicycles lives up to its name after visiting its Salt Lake storefront. Between its array of service, apparel and parts options, it's hard not to feel like you and your bike can contend with the best. The shop's comprehensive two-hour motion capture bicycle fit process, known as biomechanic fit, will help you set goals and establish a baseline for improvements in your ride.
    989 E. 900 South, 801-364-0344,
    2. Saturday Cycles
    3. Bingham Cyclery

    Best Bowling Alley
    Bonwood Bowl
    Throw on your bowling shoes and make your way to Bonwood Bowl for a night of rolling entertainment. The 42-lane alley and pro shop can help even the most casual of bowlers get set for two, three, even four games of bowling against your friends and family. With multiple league options available, the facility has you covered for all of your hardwood alley needs.
    2500 S. Main, 801-487-7758,
    2. Fat Cats
    3. Olympus Hills Bowling

    Best Hiking Trail
    Donut Falls
    If you need a hiking spot but don't have the time for a 10-mile all-day trek, Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon is a trail friendly for all hiking abilities. The 3½-mile round-trip journey lets you take in some of Utah's most majestic canyon landscape and a cool waterfall to boot. Bring your camera and see if you can snag a better photo of the falls than a professional.
    Mill D Trailhead, Big Cottonwood Canyon
    2. Lake Blanche
    3. Dog Lake

    Best Gear Brand
    Brands are all about messaging these days and Cotopaxi, started by Brigham Young University graduate Davis Smith, is quickly becoming a household name among outdoor gear options. The philanthropic-minded retail outlet partners with nonprofit organizations and donates a portion of its profits to help those in extreme poverty around the world. The brand also sponsors Questival, the increasingly popular 24-hour adventure race. Now, when you see someone sporting a llama logo, you'll know where it came from.
    74 S. Main, 385-528-0855,
    2. Black Diamond
    3. Kühl

    Best Public Golf Course
    Mountain Dell
    With two courses to choose from and located among the Wasatch Mountains, Mountain Dell has plenty of natural beauty to admire while you slice your tee shot right. Just a few minutes east of Salt Lake City off of Interstate 80, this golf course offers players a mountain getaway for an affordable price—just mind the wildlife while you're out there.
    Interstate 80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812
    2. Bonneville
    3. Old Mill

    • Steven Vargo

    Best Recreation Sports Store
    Recreation Outlet
    Gear up for your next outdoor adventure at State Street's Recreation Outlet. With good prices on quality equipment, the shop gives you a chance to get outdoors without making a serious dent in your wallet. The knowledgeable and experienced staff can provide advice on what's hot today and what equipment will keep you safe as you explore Utah's natural beauty.
    3160 S. State, 801-484-4800,
    2. Wasatch Touring
    3. Kirkham's Outdoor Products

    Best Reservoir
    Head east of Ogden to find one of the Wasatch Front's best spots to fish and dabble in water sports. If you have a boat or, better yet, a friend with a boat, Pineview Reservoir has plenty of space to cool down during Utah's warm summer months. If you prefer staying close to shore, the reservoir also has a few swimming areas where you and the family can recreate safely.
    Highway 39, Ogden Canyon
    2. Jordanelle
    3. Strawberry

    Best Running Event
    Ogden Marathon
    Also known as "Utah's Spring Run Off" and rated by Runner's World as one of the Top 10 marathons in the world, the Ogden Marathon starts at 5,400 feet of elevation and follows a gentle downhill path. The course takes you around Pineview Reservoir and down Ogden Canyon. It's hard to find a much more scenic (and grueling) 26.2-mile course.
    2. Ragnar Relay
    3. Salt Lake Marathon

    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Skate Park
    Fairmont Park
    If you can't find a clean rail to grind around town, you might have to practice at a nearby skatepark. Located in the southwest corner of the park, Fairmont's concrete-and-metal haven offers you a chance to hone your skills free of security chasing you off. The park is full just about any weekend and has you covered on whatever extreme sport you want to try next.
    1040 E. Sugarmont Drive
    2. Sandy Skate Park
    3. Jordan Park

    Best Skate Shop
    This local shop on Salt Lake's east bench has been a go-to spot for skating and snow sport needs for 34 years, and for good reason. The staff is happy to help you find what you need to make sure your winter, or summer, shredding goes according to plan. Forget those corporate chain outlets and find a local expert who can get you on your way.
    3119 E. 3300 South, 801-487-8600,
    2. Salty Peaks
    3. Raunch Records

    Best Ski Resort
    With more than 3,000 vertical feet to test your downhill prowess, Snowbird is internationally known for its challenging and fun terrain. The resort also always has one of the earliest opening days of the season in November, in case you get bored of the fall months and need an early snow fix. It not only offers runs down the Little Cottonwood Canyon side, but also along the backside of the mountain to Mineral Basin.
    9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222,
    2. Alta
    3. Brighton

    Best Snowboarding
    If you prefer snowboarding over skiing, then Brighton, one of the most popular resorts for boarders, might be for you. The resort has more than 1,000 acres of terrain as well as a park to test your grinding and aerial skills. Its lift tickets are still some of the best deals around the Wasatch Front. If you prefer an even bigger discount, check out their night skiing option. Just be sure to bundle up.
    8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-532-4731,
    2. Snowbird
    3. Powder Mountain

    Best State Park
    Goblin Valley
    Forget the traffic and crowds at national parks like Zion and Arches, and check out some of Utah's most interesting rock formations at Goblin Valley State Park. Sandstone has eroded over millions of years to resemble short, mushroom-shaped hoodoo rocks, better known as "goblins." Don't hesitate to make the journey south to see some of the state's strange, yet colorful, natural beauty.
    Goblin Valley Road, Green River, 435-275-4584
    2. Antelope Island
    3. Snow Canyon

    Best Water Skiing
    Lake Powell
    In need of an adventurous getaway with options for everyone? Look no further than Lake Powell. The "fake lake, real fun" motto of the Southern Utah destination lives up to its billing when you explore the lake's flooded canyons and other sandstone features. Between houseboating, waterskiing and easy-access hikes, Lake Powell offers plenty of entertainment on land and water.
    2. Bear Lake
    3. Pineview

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    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best Atmosphere

    Cliff Dining Pub
    Elegant and extravagant, Cliff Dining Pub in Draper bespeaks excellence. Its broad range of signature dishes from across the world—wings, nachos, chicken and waffles, as well as a full sushi bar—make this eclectic dining experience as wonderful as it is tasteful. Mood lighting from modern chandeliers, a sunny patio and a slew of regular live music performances sweeten the pot.
    12234 Draper Gate Drive, Draper,
    2. Log Haven
    3. La Caille

    Best Bakery
    City Cakes & Café
    Careful, once you experience these vegan and gluten-free cakes and baked goods, you might just have to make the lifestyle switch. Since 2010, owner Nanette Wessels has earned a reputation for delivering high-quality products with exceptional customer service. With offerings such as cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins and so many more baked treats derived from organic ingredients, there's ample reason to give City Cakes a try.
    1860 S. 300 West, 801-359-2239,
    2. Tulie Bakery
    3. Ruby Snap

    Best Breakfast
    The Park Café
    On any particular morning at The Park Café, you might spot superstar athletes from the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake or the University of Utah. Or, you'll recognize the familiar faces of regulars lining the tables. No matter your background, The Park Café's exceptional staff welcomes you with open arms and a friendly smile. Start your morning with French Toast Foolishness—an inch-thick serving with a side of savory bacon and house potatoes.
    604 E. 1300 South, 801-487-1670,
    2. Ruth's Diner
    3. Roots Café

    • John Taylor

    Best Brunch
    Rye always has a homey feel to it. Are you brunching with your mom and pop? Got a business meeting? Out with friends? All feel acceptable here. Stick with the traditional two-egg breakfast, brioche French toast or waffle with house potatoes, or branch out with the marinated duck bowl—a helping of pomegranate roasted duck, pear confit, rice, chevre and duck egg. Delicious.
    239 S. 500 East, 801-364-4655,
    2. La Caille
    3. Ruth's Diner

    Best Chinese
    How does any restaurant survive four decades like Mandarin? Family atmosphere, excellent staff and, of course, a phenomenal menu. That culture is what the son of Greek immigrant Gregory Skedros created back in 1978. Today, Skedros' daughter Angel, along with her husband, Paul Manfredini, operate Mandarin. Skedros, 91, ensures his restaurant reigns supreme by preparing his salivating Szechuan and kung pao secret sauces.
    348 E. 900 North, Bountiful, 801-298-2406,
    2. Asian Star
    3. Little World

    Best Coffee Shop
    Beans & Brews
    It's the American Dream—working your way from humble beginnings into an industry juggernaut. That's what happened to the Laramie family when they opened the first Beans and Brews near Liberty Park in 1993. Now, dozens of cozy coffee shops line Utah streets and have spread through Idaho and Nevada over the past few years. Thanks for ensuring Utahns don't have to succumb to Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks.
    Multiple Locations,
    2. Publik Coffee Roasters
    3. Coffee Garden

    Best Desserts
    Fillings & Emulsions
    Pastry chef and owner Adalberto Diaz has been refining his pastry skills for the past 30 years. "Chef Al" took his talents to the Food Network back in 2015, where he was recognized as a finalist on Holiday Baking Championship. Within the glass cases at Fillings & Emulsions, you'll find an array of masterfully crafted macarons, quick breads, tarts, petitte gateaux, custards and more mouth-watering pastries.
    1475 S. Main, 385-229-4228,
    2. Gourmandise The Bakery
    3. Chip

    Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
    The Copper Onion
    Copper Onion owner Ryan Lowder found the secret ingredient when it comes to restauranteuring. The native Utahn traveled the globe—from Colombia to Barcelona to New York—for inspiration for Copper Onion's creative menu. Favorite dinner options include the classic Roman dish cacio e pepe as well as the melt-in-your-mouth patatas bravas.
    111 E. 300 South, 801-355-3282,
    2. Takashi
    3. Blue Iguana

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best French

    La Caille
    From the moment you step onto La Caille's scenic grounds, you'll find yourself in awe of the calm forest, and the proud peacocks roaming the gardens. For first timers, the roasted filet mignon—paired with potatoes, broccolini, roasted cauliflower, wild mushrooms and foyot sauce—will leave your stomach and your heart happy. This French chateau oozes romance and is guaranteed to impress your significant other on your next date night.
    9565 Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
    2. Paris Bistro
    3. Franck's

    click to enlarge NIKI CHAN
    • Niki Chan

    Best Gluten-free

    Zest Kitchen & Bar
    As former owner of the W Lounge, Casey Staker sought to combine his passion for mixology with vegan cuisine. Since its inception in 2012, Zest Kitchen & Bar has been the premier vegan restaurant around town, providing fresh, organic and healthy options for its guests. Sharing plates among the table is the way to go at Zest, with options including Brussels sprouts, baked mushrooms, jalapeño poppers and delectable deviled avocados.
    275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589,
    2. Vertical Diner
    3. Rawtopia

    Best Greek
    Since he was a young boy, Aristo Boutsikakis had a vision to create a restaurant honoring his family's home, the Greek island of Crete. Staying true to Greek culture and tradition, Aristo's grows herbs, makes cheese, kneads bread and butchers meat all on their own. Whatever they possibly can't make in house, Aristo's sources locally. The meze (small plates) are spectacular, as are the charbroiled lamb chops served with fresh-cut fries and sautéed garlic rapini.
    244 S. 1300 East, 801-581-0888,
    2. The Other Place
    3. Manoli's

    Best Indian
    Bombay House
    The early bird gets the worm, or in Bombay House's case, a seat at the table. If you are indeed late to the dinner rush, no need to worry—you can simply call in your order (though even the pickup line can get crowded) and enjoy one of the scrumptious curries, masalas and kurmas at home. What is everyone swarming Bombay House for, anyway? The chicken makhani prepared tandoori-style with oven-toasted garlic naan is life changing.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Saffron Valley
    3. Kathmandu

    Best Innovative Menu
    Foodies in Utah should already be aware of Briar Handly, Melissa Gray and Meagan Nash's other successful restaurant, Handle in Park City. They've since ventured into the Salt Lake Valley to create HSL, an oasis of locally sourced vegetables and ingredients that come together to form one of the finest menus around. For a different taste, dig into the General Tso's-style cauliflower or the market fish plated with a serving of corn fondue and foraged mushrooms.
    418 E. 200 South, 801-539-9999,
    2. Table X
    3. Boltcutter

    • John Taylor

    Best Italian
    Sicilia Mia
    It didn't take long for the family-run Sicilia Mia to exert a strong presence on the local Italian dining scene, quickly opening up three more iterations around the valley. For starters, try the burrata quattro stagioni, a mouthwatering burrata mozzarella served with housemade Italian sauces and bread. For the main course, watch in awe as skilled waiters prepare spaghetti alla carbonara tableside in a wheel of aged parmigiana for a night to remember.
    4536 S. Highland Drive, 801-274-0223,
    2. Cucina Toscana
    3. Caffé Molise

    Best Japanese
    It's surreal to think that Takashi is now more than 13 years old, a testament to its service and the care Takashi and Tamara Gibo give their pristine cuisine. This summer, they've taken on another venture with tapas-inspired Post Office Place just next door, but Takashi still reigns supreme when it comes to Japanese. If you appreciate artfully crafted dishes, the azekura is a must. Seared beef is balanced on top of tempura-fried portobello mushrooms and green beans for a picturesque meal.
    18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
    2. Kyoto
    3. Jinya Ramen Bar

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Korean

    It's Tofu
    A fast-casual joint in Midvale, It's Tofu offers a number of quick and easy options for all Korean and other cultural hankerings. If you're a fan of killer kimchi and traditional Korean soon dishes, It's Tofu covers all the bases. Specialties include the seafood, Asian beef rib and pork bulgogi soon tofus prepared in three levels of spice—mild, medium and very spicy, which is hotter than hell but well worth the burn.
    6949 S. 1300 East, 801-566-9103,
    2. Myung Ga
    3. Korea House

    Best Mexican
    Red Iguana
    Why would you build a second restaurant two blocks from the first? That's what Red Iguana did with Red Iguana 2 to alleviate the seemingly endless out-the-door line of customers wanting to indulge on the best Mexican food this side of the border. While all dishes are sure to blow you away, the signature moles come highly recommended. The mole negro tops them all, which is a combination of dried chile mulato, negro pasilla, Mexican chocolate, raisins, peanuts, walnuts and banana. Trust us when we say it's exceptional.
    Multiple Locations,
    2. Blue Iguana
    3. Salsa Leedos

    Best Middle Eastern
    The Best Middle Eastern Restaurant award has gone to Mazza for 17 straight years, and for good reason—nowhere else can you enjoy as exquisitely prepared, authentic Middle Eastern cuisine such as falafel, shawarma, kebabs, dips and salads. At either the 9th and 9th or 15th and 15th locations, patrons can devour tasty plates such as the bone-in lamb shank or pumpkin kibbeh.
    912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572; 1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259,
    2. Laziz Kitchen
    3. Cedars of Lebanon

    Best New Restaurant
    Passion for cooking fabulous food is what inspired owners Ashton Aragon and Max Shrives to open their up-and-coming restaurant. For a starter that is sure to swarm your brain with a flood of memories, try the tasty pigs in a blanket. And the fish and chips exceeds all expectations. Sit down and enjoy your favorite meal inside the newly renovated interior or quiet patio, all while making new traditions of your own.
    501 E. 900 South, 385-202-7167,
    2. Boltcutter
    3. Seasons Plant-based Bistro

    Best Ogden Restaurant
    Tona Sushi
    A perennial Best Of winner, Tona Sushi plates its dishes so masterfully and artistically, you'll wonder if it's permitted to deconstruct the food. The dining area offers seating at the bar, where you can watch the artists—err, chefs—handcraft sushi, or you can kick off your shoes and sit in traditional low-rise tables in the O-Zashiki Room for an intimate and romantic setting.
    210 25th St., Ogden, 801-322-8662,
    2. Slackwater
    3. Roosters Brewing

    Best Park City Restaurant
    Riverhorse on Main
    With such a unique ambiance and menu, it's no surprise that Riverhorse on Main is Park City's Best Restaurant yet again. Thanks to its ever-changing menu—seasonally as well as demand based—no two experiences at Riverhorse are the same. Classics joined with new concepts make this menu one you cannot duplicate anywhere else, such as the Riverhorse classic—a macadamia nut crust on Alaskan halibut.
    540 Main, Park City, 435-649-3536,
    2. Blue Iguana
    3. Handle

    Best Patio
    Ruth's Diner
    In 1930, Uruguay defeated Argentina in the very first World Cup, Neil Armstrong and Sean Connery were born and the television was barely an idea. Ruth's Diner was also established in 1930, and is now entering its 88th year of serving Salt Lake natives hearty meals. Located a short drive up Emigration Canyon, patrons flock to the serene patio to take in the surrounding sights and sounds of the mountains.
    4160 Emigration Canyon Road, 801-582-5807,
    2. Cliff Dining Pub
    3. Blue Iguana

    Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant
    Cliff Dining Pub
    "From Draper, for Draper." That's the motto Cliff Dining Pub has lived by since its inception, creating an eclectic, globally inspired menu. In 2017, it took home honors for Best New Restaurant, and now enjoys a statewide reputation well beyond Draper. If you need help deciding what to order, the cast-iron burrata is as masterfully presented as it is tasty.
    12234 S. Draper Gate Drive, Draper, 801-523-2053,
    2. La Caille
    3. Log Haven

    Best Thai
    Sawadee takes its reputation as the most authentic Thai restaurant in the state to heart. The family-run establishment is widely known for preparing spectacular Thai dishes such as nam phrik oong, soups and curries. The dumplings are a must—rice-flour packets stuffed with minced shrimp and bamboo shoots with a sensational sesame-oil chili sauce.
    754 E. South Temple, 801-328-8424,
    2. Skewered Thai
    3. Chabaar Beyond Thai

    • John Taylor

    Best Utah County Restaurant
    Communal offers guests a family-style, farm-to-table experience like no other in Provo, priding itself on its reputation as a home away from home. Next time you cross the Point of the Mountain and are in Utah County, don't forget to try Communal's popular spinach zucchini dip and the hanger steak with chimichurri.
    102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000,
    2. Black Sheep Café
    3. Bombay House

    Best Vegetarian
    Zest Kitchen & Bar
    Zest Kitchen & Bar is unlike any dining experience in Salt Lake City. Its extensive menu is sure to appease your appetite whether you prefer gluten-free, meat-free or soy-free entrées. Even if you don't have any dietary restrictions, Zest is sure to impress. For something different and delicious, try their baked zucchini and cheese. Don't forget to pair your meal with one of their unique cocktails, such as the spicy jalapeño margarita.
    275 S. 200 West, 801-433-0589,
    2. Vertical Diner
    3. Boltcutter

    Best Vietnamese
    Oh Mai
    With three locations around the valley, Oh Mai has got Utahns covered with delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Their banh mi sandwiches have garnered the most notoriety, but you'd be remiss if you didn't scarf down the filling pho served with your choice of beef cuts, herbs and traditional hearty broth. Oh Mai will gladly cater your next event, too.
    Multiple Locations,
    2. Somi Vietnamese Bistro
    3. Pho 33

    Best Wine List
    La Caille
    It's easy to see why La Caille has the best (and probably most) wines in the state—while it sources its wines internationally, the estate also has its own in-house vineyard and winery. The winery sits in Little Cottonwood
    Canyon at an elevation of 5,380 feet, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and purely in the high altitude. The wine cellar at La Caille is expansive, storing hundreds of bottles within the chateau.
    9565 Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942-1751,
    2. BTG Wine Bar
    3. Log Haven

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    • Niki Chan

    Best Appetizers
    While the term "small plates" might be enough to make a budding foodie roll their eyes, downtown's Eva has reenergized the tapas concept with inventive new twists on established standards, and in-house originals. Brussels sprouts with delicately toasted hazelnuts lightly drizzled in cider vinegar? Yes, please. Lamb and pork cevapi with green harissa and roasted veggies? Step right up.
    317 S. Main, 801-359-8447,
    2. Whiskey Street
    3. Porcupine Pub & Grille

    Best Bacon
    Lucky 13
    For generations, bacon was relegated to side-dish status. Then, a sort of Robert Downey Jr. comeback occurred and thin slabs of heavenly goodness broke free from their breakfast-food chains. Enter the 1300 South eatery. From the hickory- and applewood-smoked BLT ($8) to the gargantuan and self-described Pigpen burger ($10.50) to yes, the in-house Big Salad ($10), the cured meat is the real star here. You know, it's moments like these when I realize how much of a culinary superhero Lucky 13 is.
    135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
    2. The Park Café
    3. Pig & a Jelly Jar

    Best Barbecue
    R&R BBQ
    There's a reason the SLC staple has branched out far and wide with South Jordan, Lehi, Farmington and Pleasant Grove locations: damn good barbecue. Be it in tender pulled pork, brisket, spare ribs, chicken or sausage iterations, finger-licking smokiness reigns supreme. Whatever you choose, leave room for sides. From baked beans to hushpuppies to garlic smashers with brown gravy, you'll be ever so glad you did.
    Multiple locations,
    2. SugarHouse Barbeque
    3. Pat's Barbecue

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    Best Brew Pub

    If the arsenal of craft beers on draft isn't enough to lure you to this hoppin' downtown spot, Squatters' generous menu is sure to seal the deal. Think: bacon-topped meatloaf, a mouth-watering buffalo burger that stands out from the pack, and a Niman Ranch peppered pastrami Reuben that can best be described as life-changing. Have special dietary needs? No need to feel ostracized here. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options abound.
    147 W. 300 South, 801-363-2739,
    2. Red Rock Brewing Co.
    3. Bohemian Brewery

    Best Brewery
    Epic Brewing Co.
    The name really suits the place. The State Street institution started in 2008 when Utah laws regulating breweries were relaxed, allowing founders David Cole and Peter Erickson to go all out in the Beehive. Since then, the pair's Intermountain Wheat, RiNo Pale Ale and newer additions like Tart 'n' Juicy Sour and Hopulent IPA have become the stuff of legend. In the mood for a quick bite? Epic's "tap-less taproom," tucked away at the right of the retail store, offers paninis, soups and sandwiches seven days a week.
    825 S. State, 801-906-0123,
    2. Wasatch Brewery
    3. Kiitos Brewing

    Best Burgers
    Lucky 13
    Talk about a no-brainer. Whether you're on your way to a Salt Lake Bees game or making a special trip, this is the place for killer burgers. Seven ounces of fresh, 100 percent local ground chuck and freshly baked buns are the foundation. From there, you can let your imagination run wild. Featuring classics like the Bacon Stinky Cheeseburger to Franken-creations like the peanut-butter-slathered Nut Burger, Lucky 13 never disappoints. Want to etch your name in the history books? Test your gut with the Lucky 13 Challenge and win $200 cash.
    135 W. 1300 South, 801-487-4418,
    2. Proper Burger
    3. Burly Burger

    Best Burrito
    Blue Iguana
    With a menu chock full of Mexican cuisine standouts—including chiles rellenos, molcajetes and pipián—this eatery quite literally has something for everybody. Whether they're naked or ahogado-style (smothered in red or green chile sauce), you can't go wrong with any of the locale's hearty burritos. A solid carne asada version calls the place home, but those looking to take a walk on the wild side should opt for the res, chile colorado or tinga Poblana instead. Room for something sweet? The cinnamon and Corn Flakes-crusted fried ice cream is calling your name.
    165 S. West Temple, 801-533-8900; 255 Main, Park City, 435-649-3097,
    2. Lone Star Taquería
    3. Red Iguana

    • Sheena Bates

    Best Cookies
    With the arrival of Fisher Brewing Co. and a recent large-scale public art initiative, SLC's Granary District has experienced quite the renaissance. Adding a little sweetness to the hood, RubySnaps' pin-up worthy offerings are sure to satisfy even the most discernible sweet tooth. Say hello to your new friends: the almond-infused Audrey, the tart and sweet oatmeal Betty and the flirty, velvety orange Judy.
    770 S. 300 West, 801-834-6111,
    2. Chip
    3. Crumbl Cookies

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Dairy-Free Menu
    It was the worst Christmas present ever: Waking up a couple of years back around the holidays, only to realize I'd become lactose-intolerant. Snug in my bed, taunting visions of cheese, milkshakes and especially ice cream danced through my head. In the months following, I gave many specialty options a try, only to be utterly disappointed. Then, a ray of sweet sunshine in the shape of an "anti-dairy" creamery pierced through my bland, disillusioned sky. Lucky for me, their mint chip, banana brownie and funfetti options are better than their dairy counterparts. Unluckily for my waistline, it's dangerously close to my work.
    53 E. Gallivan Ave.,
    2. City Cakes & Café
    3. Normal Ice Cream

    Best Distillery
    High West Distillery & Saloon
    There's a reason this Summit County original rose to the top of this poll. Inspired by a trip to Maker's Mark distillery in Kentucky, former biochemist David Perkins headed West to establish his own operation in Park City alongside Jane, his wife. A dozen years later, High West sits at the big boys' table. Just how strongly have its American Prairie Bourbon and High West Campfire blend taken hold? In 2016, Whisky Advocate magazine named High West "Distiller of the Year." Cheers to that.
    27649 Old Lincoln Highway, Wanship, 435-649-8300,
    2. Ogden's Own
    3. Beehive Distilling

    Best Doughnuts
    Banbury Cross
    Since the dawn of man, circles have represented family ties, closeness and protection. Among Native American tribes, the formation has been a symbol of equality, signifying that no one person is more important than the other. At Banbury, they are the shape of some of the most delectable treats you've ever tasted. Be 'em raised or cake, sugared or glazed, a baker's dozen of these Homer Simpson-approved doughy confections are a guaranteed hit—at home and at the office.
    705 S. 705 East, 801-537-1433,
    2. Big O
    3. Lehi Bakery

    click to enlarge JOHN TAYLOR
    • John Taylor

    Best French Fries

    Bruges Waffles & Frites
    There's a new champ on the french-fry podium. Tracing its origins to Bruges, Belgium—where co-founder Pierre Vandamme resided before calling SLC home—the authentic menu with playful deviations (see, or rather taste, the pictured Machine Gun Sandwich), has turned Vandamme and partner Philippe Wyffels' vision into a Utah mainstay. Be they accompanied by Flemish stew, a Belgian dog or by themselves, frites here are a thing of beauty. Their secret? Potatoes are hand-peeled and cut daily from fresh Idaho spuds and fried twice, yielding a crisp outside and oh-so soft inside.
    Multiple Locations,
    2. Crown Burgers
    3. Spitz

    Best Ethnic/Specialty Market
    Ocean Mart
    With the distinction of being the largest Asian supermarket in the state, the establishment prides itself in stocking its shelves with top-quality products. On the hunt for hot and spicy udon noodles, Lee Kum Kee Panda oyster sauce or dried shrimp? Give this superstore a go. To sweeten the pot, the Sandy emporium also carries an array of Chinese herbs, fresh seafood and specialty vegetables—from arrowroot to nagaimo.
    115 W. 9000 South, Sandy, 801-255-1118,
    2. Caputo's Market & Deli
    3. Southeast Market

    Best Food Truck
    Waffle Love
    "There are a lot of myths that people buy into, like food trucks are a trend—they're not," TV personality Andrew Zimmern told City Weekly in September. "As long as human beings have been eating food communally, food has been mobile. This is a 40,000-year-old trend, which makes it not a trend." The sentiment surely rings true within SLC's thriving food truck scene. Honoring this tradition, Waffle Love has transformed the ubiquitous breakfast dish into stellar sweet (the fruit-topped Nutella Love, for example) and savory (chicken avocado tartine) creations.
    2. Cupbop
    3. Freshies Lobster Co.

    Best Gyros
    Greek Souvlaki
    Given this publication's ownership, discussions have erupted, strong words have been exchanged and grudges have formed at City Weekly HQ when the debate on what is the region's best Greek food erupts. The readers, however, have spoken and laid the honor of distinguishable gyro on OGs Greek Souvlaki. Just what makes it so great? A mix of primo lamb and beef meat rotisserie-cooked and sliced to perfection, warm pita, oh-so fresh veggies and your choice of either traditional or red pepper tzatziki. Vόστιμο.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Greek City Grill
    3. Crown Burgers

    click to enlarge JESS PEACHMANN
    • Jess Peachmann

    Best Hard Cider

    Mountain West
    A couple of jokesters might have filled in this category with national store brands, but those in the know are aware of Mountain West's premium cider. Naturally gluten-free, the Utah original is here to change your perception of hard cider, one crisp sip at a time. Try the Desolation prickly pear version for a refreshing kickback your tastebuds will thank you for, or stick with the classic—Mountain West's Ruby Red—for a year-round swig of summer.
    425 N. 400 West, 801-935-4147,
    2. Hive Winery

    Best Kombucha
    What's that you ask, "Has the Best of Utah gone all hippy-dippy?" Not quite. Consumer habits have changed, and according to a recent study, what was once thought to be a niche elixir is now poised to represent a $1.8-billion industry by 2020. So, what is kombucha? At its core, a beverage resulting from fermenting sweet tea with a culture of bacteria and yeast, and SLC's Mamachari is at the forefront, with its uniquely brewed varieties. No need to hold your breath when trying it—flavors like concord grape, jasmine rose and lavender honey are as invigorating as they are familiar.
    1415 S. 700 West, Ste. 4, 385-202-3391,
    2. Sünnte
    3. Harmons

    Best Beer
    Wasatch Brewery's Polygamy Porter
    It doesn't get more homegrown than this. Paying homage to a part of Utah's past (and still one of its current misconceptions), it's easy to be faithful to this American porter-style beer. Described by Utah Brewers Cooperative as a "smooth, chocolatey easy-drinkin' brown porter that's more than a little naughty," you'll be introducing her to Mom and sealing the deal in no time. Look no further, your celestial beer is here.
    2. Red Rock Brewing Co.'s Elephino
    3. Uinta Brewing's Cutthroat
    Honorable mention: A. Fisher Brewing Co.'s Lager

    Best Spirit
    Ogden's Own's Five Wives Vodka
    Managing partner of Ogden's Own, Steve Conlin knows three things: How to take a solid portrait, rock a fedora like no other and distill some damn good vodka. Available at state liquor stores and any bar or club worth its salt, the spirit crafted from Utah mountain springs is your best choice—be it for a layman's screwdriver, a gentleman's martini or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bloody mary. Cheers to local spirits!
    2. Beehive Distilling's Jackrabbit Gin
    3. Sugar House Distillery's Sugar House Vodka

    Best Pizza
    The Pie
    Established in 1980 in a nondescript basement location near the University of Utah, and later across a multitude of locations throughout the valley, The Pie has established itself as a true Beehive original. You can't go wrong with any of the specialty pizzas here—the shroomy Holy Shitake, the feastful Stromboli or the self-described Mountain of Meat—all have a good dose of amore hand-tossed right in.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Este Pizza Co.
    3. Pie Hole

    Best Salads
    Café Trio
    Think salads are but bland side dishes? Horse food you promised your doctor you'd start infusing your diet with (accompanied by a hearty steak, of course)? Well, think again. No longer a mere filler, salads here take center stage in Cobb, timeless Caesar, verjuice vinaigrette-drizzled chopped salad, quinoa or the applewood-smoked bacon BLT.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Cubby's
    3. Aubergine

    Best Sandwiches
    Moochies Meatballs and More
    Sandwiches as art? If you've tried any of Moochies' bad boys, you'll realize it's not that much of a stretch. Perhaps it's the fresh ingredients in its mouth-watering Atomic Meatball, sausage and peppers or hot wing chicken sammies. Maybe it's the place's humble origins in the back of a pottery shop. Either way, one bite and you'll agree these sandwiches have "museum quality" written all over them.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Even Stevens
    3. Buds

    Best Seafood
    Current Fish & Oyster
    Step into the realm where swank and freshness collide in beautiful harmony. Housed in a former auto repair shop, the closest things to engine revving you'll hear in the building now are delightful moans from downtown denizens who over its three-year history have transformed Current into one of SLC's premier dining destinations. Pick from a sea of options—open-shell oysters, green-lip mussels, West Coast kumamoto and the legendary Seafood Tower call the place home.
    279 E. 300 South, 801-326-3474,
    2. Harbor Seafood & Steak
    3. Takashi

    • John Taylor

    Best Soups
    Soup Kitchen
    The weather has turned, your comfy sweater has made it out of the dresser and pumpkin spice everything litters store shelves. It could only mean one thing: soup season is here! A Salt Lake original that first arrived on the scene in 1974, the Soup Kitchen has mastered the game and with its four locations and holds the crown for best soup provider in the land. With options fit for a queen, like chicken noodle and opulent split pea with ham, available by the cup, bowl, quart or gallon, consider them the barons of borscht; the chancellors of chowder; the viceroys of vichyssoise.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Zupas
    3. Kneaders

    Best Sushi
    Last year around this time, our publisher selected the fist class of Best of Utah Hall of Fame inductees—businesses and individuals who are perennial favorites—and not surprisingly, Takashi was at the top of that list. A perpetual winner for more than a decade, Takashi Gibo's baby is now a full-grown Utah culinary staple that always delivers its unique brand of sushi elevated. Bummed by the wait? Neither snow nor rain nor heat should stop you from stepping into its new, adjacent Post Office Place bar, where you can throw down a signature cocktail—like the pisco-infused Nikkei sour or the mezcal-tastic Oaxacagroni.
    18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595
    2. Tsunami
    3. Sapa

    Best Taco
    Taquería 27
    Brace yourself for the best three words you'll hear all day: tacos for breakfast. That's right, son. Sure, T27 has changed the game with Mexican street-food-inspired dishes like grilled pear and roasted beet tacos, mango guacamole and duck confit quesadilla, but its Saturday and Sunday brunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) is where it's at. Try the turkey chorizo and egg or Oaxacan steak and egg tacos and consider your life changed. For the full experience, order a house special jalapeño cream ale to wash it down.
    Multiple locations,
    2. Blue Iguana
    3. Taco Taco

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Vegan

    Vertical Diner
    Think vegan food equals bland food? Clearly you haven't given this Central Ninth eatery a try. Let your taste buds rejoice (and your arteries take a break) with cruelty-free interpretations of down-home favorites like the tempeh Cubano ($10), Asian-inspired seitan lettuce wraps ($9) and I-can't-believe-they're-not-chicken-strips tender tigers ($8). Room for dessert? Give a slice of carrot or Shoo-Fly cake à la mode a try.
    234 W. 900 South, 801-322-3790,
    2. Zest Kitchen & Bar
    3. Boltcutter

    Best Wings
    Trolley Wing Co.
    Looking for savory, filling and just the right kind of messy wings? This neighborhood haunt is sure to do the trick. The operation literally started out of a trolley car nearly 20 years ago. Since then, TWC has morphed into two thriving brick-and-mortar locations. Whether you go the traditional or vegan route, a plethora of flavor combinations exists. Nothing catching your eye? Create your own mix with options like Sriracha, smoky ancho and a Rick Sanchez-approved spicy Szechuan—a flavor for all seasons.
    2148 S. 900 East, 801-538-0745; 736 Blue Vista Lane, Midvale, 801-312-9532,
    2. Wing Coop
    3. Wing Nutz

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    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Bar/Club Menu

    Whiskey Street
    This downtown staple combines the elegance of an old-school speakeasy with the eccentricity of a modern bar, mixing inspired appetizers (bourbon-bacon caramel popcorn, to-die-for deviled eggs, short rib polenta poutine) with sandwiches (pork belly cuban, tasso chicken club) and sophisticated entrées (rosemary lamb chops, NY steak au poivre). It's all a tribute to the Rotisserie Inn, which served classic Italian and French fare in this space from 1915-1974.
    323 S. Main, 801-433-1371,
    2. Lake Effect
    3. Prohibition

    Best Bar/Club Patio
    The Green Pig Pub
    Looking for a rooftop deck with sweeping views of the Wasatch Range and the Romanesque Salt Lake City and County Building? Look no farther than The Green Pig Pub, nestled in a historic building near Exchange Place. Sightlines of Gallivan Center make the 3,000-square-foot patio even more desirable during the summer, but live music and DJs turn it into a destination any time the sun's out.
    31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441, 2. The Hog Wallow Pub
    3. Gracie's

    Best Beer Selection
    The Bayou
    No matter what beer you're dreaming of, The Bayou probably has it. A menu stuffed to the gills with more than 500 international selections goes hand-in-hand with Cajun food and intimate jazz—but for beer lovers, this is heaven on earth. Handwritten descriptions add a quirky touch to those special beers from near and far, while the Bayou app gives connected connoisseurs a real-time look at the menu.
    645 S. State, 801-961-8400,
    2. Beerhive
    3. Beer Bar

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    • Darby Doyle

    Best Craft Cocktails

    Lake Effect
    Claiming the largest spirit selection in the state, Lake Effect excels at forward-thinking creations that push mixology to its limits. Infusing drinks with everything from peppers to nectar while making inspired use of herbs, syrups and bitters, Lake Effect's original cocktails reflect the Latin spin found on the food menu. Order something new and feel like a craft cocktail rock star in Lake Effect's "Rabbit Hole" basement lounge.
    155 W. 200 South, 801-285-6494,
    2. Bar X
    3. Prohibition

    Best Dance Club
    With more than 12,000 square feet of danceable space spread across three floors, Sky combines a premium sound system with high-tech lighting for the best dance club experience in Salt Lake City. Owner Ken Dinsmore drew inspiration from Burning Man's communal energy to breathe new life into Utah's nightlife, creating space for VIPs (20 reserved suites) and all-night partiers dancing under the stars of Sky's retractable roof. 149 W. Pierpont Ave., 801-833-8714,
    2. Area 51
    3. The Westerner

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    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Dive Bar

    Johnny's on Second
    Johnny's is as no-nonsense as it gets, a comfortable, inexpensive staple on 200 South's bar row. Low-key and inviting, Johnny's books local bands on the weekends while the pool table and televised sports dominate every day in between. Claim your cozy corner and drink without pretense or distraction, saving a bundle on your shockingly cheap tab and making a few new no-bullshit friends in the process. 165 E. 200 South, 801-746-3334,
    2. Cheer's to You
    3. Duffy's Tavern

    Best Gentlemen's Club
    A must-see men's club on the West Coast circuit, Trails has all the pomp and circumstance of a high-end strip joint combined with two full-service bars and a restaurant offering lunch and dinner. Conveniently located off Interstate 15, it's a favorite with travelers and locals alike, boasting service with a smile and the sexiest of Trails Girls. You might not find true love, but you will find good, clean adult entertainment.
    921 S. 300 West, 801-363-2871,
    2. American Bush
    3. Southern Exposure

    Best Karaoke
    Highlander Club
    This comfortable little club is off the beaten downtown path, but the trip south is worth it. Wood-grained chairs and tables evoke a classic neighborhood bar atmosphere, but once karaoke starts each night at 9, the focus is on the music. Warm up in a private sound booth so you hit the stage confidently; in between songs, maintain your energy with specials from the Highlander's rotating kitchen menu.
    6194 S. Highland Drive, 801-277-8251,
    2. Piper Down
    3. Tavernacle

    Best Late-Night Bar Grub
    Proper Burger
    Proper Burger provides the perfect antidote to a night on the town. Pick from beef, black bean and sweet potato or vegan patties, then dress it up with a cornucopia of strange sauces, toppings and sides. Best of all, you can make your burger dreams come true until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday—and wash it all down with a fresh draft from Proper Brewing next door.
    865 S. Main, 801-906-8604,
    2. Whiskey Street
    3. Piper Down

    • John Taylor

    Best LGBTQ Bar/Club
    The Sun Trapp
    This neighborhood joint might look like any other bar, but the people at The Sun Trapp are the best. You'll find a cadre of friendly mixologists slinging strong concoctions, while the welcoming regulars won't waste a second before they chat you up. Regular fundraising events reinforce the community spirit of the place. And they advocate wearing white after Labor Day—our kind of watering hole.
    102 S. 600 West, 385-235-6786,
    2. Club Try-Angles
    3. Metro

    Best Liquor Selection
    Whiskey Street
    Whiskey Street opened in 2013 with 130 varieties of its namesake liquor—since then, it's nearly quadrupled that total. The extensive menu includes a whiskey pairing for each food item, and bartenders have mastered the fine art of combining classic cocktails with seasonal twists. All mules follow the original 1941 recipe from Cock 'n' Bull Pub, while a devotion to new spirits spotlights limited-release bourbons and other delicacies.
    323 S. Main, 801-433-1371,
    2. Lake Effect
    3. White Horse

    Best Live Music Bar/Club
    Urban Lounge
    With daily concerts covering everything from indie rock and hip-hop, to electro-pop and country, no national touring band comes through Salt Lake City without making a stop at The Urban Lounge. Local bands consider a headlining gig here a rite of passage, too. And why not? The sound is perfect, the stage is visible from anywhere in the club, you can dance or relax, and even sold-out shows feel intimate. 241 S. 500 East, 801-746-0557,
    2. The Royal
    3. State Room

    Best Neighborhood Bar
    A Bar Named Sue
    Johnny Cash reigns supreme at A Bar Named Sue, and you get the feeling The Man in Black would love the well-stocked jukebox, cheap drinks, locals-only vibe and free pool. Both locations of the Sue have all the modern trappings, too: weekly poker, bingo and trivia with hefty cash jackpots, NFL Sunday Ticket and live rock bands on the weekends. Mouth-watering food is always on the menu, too. 3928 S. Highland Drive, 801-274-5578 & 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222,
    2. Legends Sports Pub
    3. The Break

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    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best New Bar/Club

    Quarters Arcade Bar
    Salt Lake City's first arcade bar was a happy accident for co-owners Katy Willis and Michael Eccleston, who originally planned to open a speakeasy. But everybody digs retro arcade games, classic pinball machines and old-school console gaming—Dungeons & Dragons fans will love the custom-built table, too. Located in the old Club Manhattan space, nostalgia reigns at Quarters, along with craft cocktails and a robust beer list.
    5 E. 400 South, 707-769-4495,
    2. HandleBar
    3. Post Office Place

    Best Non-Downtown Bar/Club
    The Ice Haüs
    Beer, brats and booze—what more do we need? At The Ice Haüs in Murray, these staples rule the roost, but rave reviews pour in for the peripherals, as well. Regulars love the Philly cheesesteak and poutine , thankfully served until midnight. Entertainment fans love the eclectic weekend music and comedy lineup. And who doesn't cherish The Ice Haüs' irreverent perspective and bawdy Facebook posts? 7 E. 4800 South, 801-266-2127,
    2. Prohibition
    3. The Royal

    Best Ogden Bar
    Creatively circumventing the state's 1½-ounce pour law takes guts. Celebrating your downtown Ogden building's former life as a whorehouse takes balls. Cohesively incorporating three different floors into one business takes moxie. Transforming Ogden into a nationally recognized destination takes heart, which is exactly what Alleged owner Jared Allen has shown in spades as he's built this bar's brand in concert with the world-class Ogden Twilight Series.
    201 25th St., 801-990-0692,
    2. Funk N Dive
    3. Brewskis

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    • Ray Howze

    Best Trivia Night

    Piper Down Pub
    Trivia options abound in Utah, but if you're looking for the best, Piper Down has you covered. Geeks Who Drink is a staple two nights a week (Wednesdays and Sundays), while special events take place throughout the year. Whether it's the Quiz for a Cause fundraiser or special-themed nights based on Stranger Things, Parks and Recreation, The Office and Harry Potter, trivia junkies know this is the place to be.
    1492 S. State, 801-468-1492,
    2. Lucky 13
    3. Green Pig

    Best Park City Bar/Club
    No Name Saloon
    Want to enjoy Park City without joining the 1 percent? Spend a day at No Name Saloon, nestled on the heart of Main but a world away from the nouveau riche "ski bum" hordes. Rickety odds and ends line the walls, but a sprawling rooftop patio and rapid-fire service at two bars makes this institution feel more down-home than derelict. Instead, regular folks hold court here—rare for PC.
    447 Main, 435-649-6667,
    2. The Downstairs
    3. Park City Live

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    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Sports Bar

    Legends Sports Pub
    That rarest of Utah creatures, Legends Sports Pub is both a restaurant and a bar—kids are even allowed in when accompanied by an adult. Chicken wings, nachos, burgers and pizza dominate the menu, but pleasant surprises also abound: healthy salads, breakfast burritos and even gluten-free options. If there's a game on, Legends will air it, making this the perfect destination for every sports fan. 677 S. 200 West, 801-355-3598,
    2. Lumpy's
    3. Fiddler's Elbow

    Best Salt Lake Bar/Club
    With a variety of multi-level seating options, Gracie's covers all the bases. Some nights jump with jazz and bluegrass; on weekends, brunch lovers rejoice. Shoot pool inside or read a book on the patio. Tease your taste buds with a curry burger or visit the old country with pomodoro alla tagliatelle. The choice is yours—some call it an identity crisis; others, the best kind of choose-your-own-adventure. 326 S. West Temple, 801-819-7565,
    2. Bourbon House
    3. Lucky 13


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