Best of Utah 2020 | The complete list of winners from our readers and staff | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

Best of Utah 2020 

The complete list of winners from our readers and staff

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2020, folks ... amirite?

I know, I know: This year, it's been hard to think about what's good. Between a global pandemic, the economic damage caused by it, social unrest to address institutional racism and, oh yeah, the ongoing threat of a fascist takeover of the American government, it's understandable if your mood hasn't exactly been celebratory.

In some ways, this year's City Weekly Best of Utah issue is unlike any other we've done. There's a recognition that some of the people and places we're celebrating have been hit hard by the COVID crisis—some of them hanging on by their fingertips, some of them still figuring out if they can survive. We realize that as we go to press, many of our award-winners don't know if they'll still be operating a month or even a week from now, and we send deepest condolences to those who have already had to make heartbreaking choices this year. It's possible that the information included here might change suddenly, and we apologize to readers if anything rapidly becomes inaccurate or obsolete as the world around us changes by the moment.

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Yet in another sense, this is a Best of Utah the way it's always been. Our goal, even as more and more commerce moved online and benefitted massive corporations, has been to celebrate that which was specific and special to our state—the savvy entrepreneurs, the talented artists, the creative chefs, the dedicated activists and so much more. We support them, in the way so many of them have always supported City Weekly, by reminding readers that these are the people and places that give our communities their distinctive personality beyond chain establishments. And the fact that readers voted by the thousands in this difficult time shows that you support them, too.

Inside these pages, you'll find over 300 selections of the best restaurants, nightspots, arts organizations, shops, services and individuals, with 150 of those selections representing our readers' picks for Utah's best. For many of you, those picks will simply be a reminder of the great stuff you already know; for others, we hope it's a chance to discover something new and wonderful to add to your experience of living in Utah. Especially as we head into the holiday season, we ask you to support them financially to the extent that you are able to do so,

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making sure that come this time next year, we're still celebrating them as the Best of Utah.

We're all going to enjoy watching the door hit 2020's ass on the way out. But in the meantime, let's raise a cheer to everything in our state that made the experience of living through this year even a little bit easier.

—SCOTT RENSHAW


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Media & Politics | Readers' Picks

Best Social Cause
Black Lives Matter

In the months following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, the focus on racial injustice and inequality in the U.S. has taken center stage. Protests were a regular staple in downtown Salt Lake City during the summer. Social justice advocates clamored for someone to be held accountable for the killing of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal in downtown Salt Lake. Minorities and allies alike made their voices heard loud and clear that they won't stand for such abuses of power anymore. (RH) blacklivesmatterutah.com
2. The Other Side Academy 3. COVID Mutual Aid

Best Weathercaster
Allison Croghan

Whether it's dunking on strange men who slide into her DMs or sharing photos of her adorable pup, Archie, Fox 13 meteorologist Allison Croghan has a wide—and entertaining—range on social media. But when it comes to the weather, the Ole Miss alumna is an all-pro. Croghan joined the station in 2012 and moved to prime time as evening meteorologist in August 2020. Catch her reports at 4, 5 and 9 p.m. (RH) allisoncroghan.com
2. Sterling Poulson, KUTV 2
3. Alana Brophy, ABC4

Best Nonprofit Organization
Best Friends Animal Society

Finding a forever home for Fido or Leo is heartwarming. It's also reassuring knowing there are people working to find every pet a home. That's the mission behind Best Friends Animal Society. In addition to supporting their no-kill rescue work around the globe, Utahns should check out the organization's Kanab-based animal sanctuary—home to more than 1,600 dogs, cats, horses, birds and other critters. (RH) Multiple locations, bestfriends.org
2. Equality Utah
3. Planned Parenthood Association of Utah

Best Sports Reporter
David James

KUTV 2's David James is a long-running title holder for the Best Sports Reporter category, and it's with good reason. The California native joined the station in 1992 and has become a well-sourced and knowledgeable voice for Utah sports news. James hosts two weekend Talkin' Sports shows as well as a morning radio show on 1280 The Zone. (RH) facebook.com/DavidDJJames
2. Dave Fox, KUTV 2
3. Amy Donaldson, Deseret News

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Best Utahn
Donovan Mitchell

When the NBA season was put on hold in March and later resumed two time zones away in Orlando, Florida, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell carried the torch for Jazz fans rooting from afar for their squad. Then, when the Black Lives Matter movement took center stage on the American psyche, Mitchell proudly advocated for victims of police brutality and didn't shy away from the racial-equality conversation. Kudos to Mitchell for showing the world what a leader looks like. (RH) twitter.com/spidadmitchell
2. U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams
3. Dr. Angela Dunn

Best TV News Station
Fox 13

Going on 42 years strong, Fox 13 is the youngest among Utah's commercial TV stations. But during its four-plus decades covering all things Utah, it's built a strong reputation for news coverage with the likes of Bob Evans, Scott McKane and the always Twitter-savvy (and this year, particularly, face-mask fashionable) Ben Winslow. Be sure to tune in for extensive news of the day during their hour-long 9 p.m. newscast plus hours of news programming throughout the day. (RH) fox13now.com
2. KSL-5
3. KUTV-2

Best Local Podcast
I Am Salt Lake

For the third year in a row, the I Am Salt Lake podcast reigns supreme. The locally themed podcast, hosted by Chris and Krissie Holifield, offers a glimpse into what makes Utah's capital city tick. Now at more than 450 episodes, it's hard to find a place with more insight into Salt Lake City's personalities. Recent episodes include interviews with a haunted house owner, an entrepreneur who's produced COVID-19 PPE and local restaurateurs. iamsaltlake.com (RH)
2. Geek Show
3. Radio West

Best TV Anchor
Mary Nickles

After receiving a mammogram in 2012 to encourage other women to get screened, KUTV Channel 2's Mary Nickles learned she had an invasive, malignant tumor. The subsequent stories on her surgery, chemo treatments and even wig shopping won her an Emmy for Best Series. The Washington state native joined the station in 1991 and is an authoritative and accessible source for news. (RH) facebook.com/mary.nickles
2. Kelly Chapman, Fox 13
3. Bob Evans, Fox 13

Best Radio Show
Radio From Hell

Radio From Hell hosts Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi can be penciled into this spot just about any year. The longtime Best of Utah winners from 96.3 FM have amused and entertained Utah audiences in some form since 1986. This year might be some of their most impressive work yet as they've continued their show away from the studio because of the COVID pandemic. (RH) 50 W. 300 South, Ste. 200, SLC, 801-524-2600, X96.com
2. Radioactive, KRCL 90.9 FM
3. Bad Brad Wheeler, KUAA 99.9 FM

Best Elected Official
U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams

So how is it that Rep. McAdams easily won this award but then narrowly lost his re-election to Republican challenger Burgess Owens? Since 2018, the former Salt Lake County mayor served as Utah's lone congressional Democrat, walking a "moderate" tightrope to keep those in his split District 4 happy. After he contracted COVID-19 in March of this year, he sounded the alarm for mask-wearing caution. Here's hoping McAdams has the chance to win this title again at some point in the future. (RH) mcadams.house.gov
2. SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall
3. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney

Worst Utahn
Sen. Mike Lee

There's a reason Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee is a back-to-back winner of the coveted title "Worst Utahn." President Donald Trump's yes-man and self-proclaimed "constitutional expert" tweeted in October that the U.S. is not a democracy. "Democracy isn't the objective," he wrote. "Liberty, peace and prosperity are." Well, Senator, with all due respect, we hope your "Worst Utahn" title brings you little peace and prosperity as you try to strip health-care coverage from millions in the name of your pocket-book Constitution. (RH) lee.senate.gov
2. Gov. Gary Herbert
3. U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart

Best Radio Station
X96

A perennial inductee, X96 (96.3 FM) is the go-to station for alternative and contemporary rock along the Wasatch Front. Named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the five "awesome radio outlets" in America, the rock station features one of Utah's most popular radio shows—Radio From Hell. The station has brought all sorts of rock music to Utah's airwaves since 1995. (RH) 50 W. 300 South, Ste. 200, SLC, 801-524-2600, X96.com
2. KRCL 90.9 FM
3. KUER 90.1 FM

Best Political Scandal
Test Utah

As the COVID pandemic started its brutal course through the country, one group of Utah tech companies engaged in a philanthropic effort to boost the state's testing abilities. Then, it became a multi-million dollar no-bid state contract for companies such as Nomi, Domo and Qualtrics that made up TestUtah. But something wasn't right. Thanks in part to a Salt Lake Tribune investigation and concerns voiced by health officials, the group's testing accuracy was questioned. It turned out Test Utah's rate of positive results was less than half what it was for patients tested elsewhere in Utah. While there were reasons aplenty for the discrepancy, it became another cautionary tale underscoring the tech industry's tendency to overpromise and underdeliver. (RH)
2. Gov. Herbert's weak COVID response
3. Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen's racist and sexist remarks


Eric S. Peterson
  • Eric S. Peterson

Media & Politics | Staff Picks

Best Investigative Journalism
The Utah Investigative Journalism Project

It falls to journalists to keep government honest. There is enough skullduggery, whether in San Juan County or the White House, to keep a battalion of investigative reporters occupied 24/7. The work is painstaking and costly, however, and most cash-starved news outlets can't afford it. We are fortunate to have the Utah Investigative Journalism Project. Founded in 2016 by Eric Peterson, who broke stories of pay-to-play corruption charges in the Attorney General's Office while a City Weekly reporter, it has been shining light into dark places ever since. If you believe in Tinkerbell, clap; if you believe Utah needs a watchdog, donate to the cause. (JR) utahinvestigative.org.

Best "Count My Vote"
73,000 Dems and Independents Registering as Rs

In an April Salt Lake Tribune op-ed, prominent developer Kem Gardner urged Democrats and Independents to temporarily register in the GOP in order to vote in the (closed to all but registered Republicans) primary. That's where most of the ultimate winners of the election are chosen. Gardner's modest proposal gained traction with endorsements from Abby Huntsman and Jim Dabakis. But the prospect of a herd of RINOs (Republican in Name Only) had party pooh-bahs crying foul. Meanwhile, more than 73,000 voters joined Republican ranks, a significant increase from past primaries. Will RINOs become a factor in Utah politics? Or will the Legislature, given its arch treatment of initiative petitions, nip RINOism in the bud? Stay tuned! (JR)

Best Data Columnist
Andy Larsen

Long before the mendacity of Donald Trump, Mark Twain observed there are lies, damned lies and statistics. The COVID-19 pandemic provided plenty of each, often in bewildering combinations. To sort fact from fiction, falsehood and flim-flam, The Salt Lake Tribune assigned Jazz beat reporter Andy Larsen to "data columnist," aka "coronavirus stats guy." Writing in an avuncular, first-person voice, Larsen explained the likes of "seven-day moving averages" and "positivity rates" to those who were stumped by high-school algebra. He challenged such Trump befoggery as: "If we stop testing right now, we'd have fewer cases." Larsen deserves The Anthony Fauci Award for Service in the Public Health—should there ever be one—and the gratitude of those who disfavor lies and statistics. (JR) alarsen@sltrib.com, @andyblarsen

Best All-Purpose Journo
Amy Donaldson

There was a time when Amy Donaldson was happily ensconced on her regular beat as a sportswriter for the Deseret News where she was regarded as among the best around. When changes disrupted newsroom coverage, nearly all writers took on new beats and among areas Amy became noted for besides onside kicks were minority, gender and women's issues. This year, she's become an expert on COVID-19, adding Utah health needs to her gym bag of tricks. She's an expert on Led Zeppelin and cats, too, so who knows what comes next. (MS) @adonsports

Best Wake-up Call
Lex Scott

As the founder and leader of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, Lex Scott's work is never done. Not only does she coordinate chapter projects such as organizing a summer camp for Black children, she meets with and advocates on behalf of school kids, inmates and tenants who've been evicted. She leads protests throughout the state. She's written a police reform bill, the Police Accountability and Transparency Act, and met with national and state representatives who've sought her input. She's been interviewed for TV, radio and print stories, helping those interested in the cause understand how best to be allies. Tune in to her message, and you'll begin to see where systemic racism lives and how it can be undone. It's exhausting and exhilarating to have lived through 2020, but Scott is unfazed. Give her your kind regard and get to work. Learn what it takes to get behind the Black Lives Matter movement. (JW) blacklivesmatterutah.com

Daud Mumin
  • Daud Mumin

Best Hope for Black Liberation
Daud Mumin

Community organizer, board member for March for Our Lives and college student, Mumin is stepping up on the world stage as an articulate champion of social justice. "My journey is about being Black in America; being Muslim in America; being first generation in America; being low income in America. Those identities alone bring a great deal of consciousness-raising about the world that we live in," says this wise-beyond-his-years 19-year-old who's been an activist since he was 13. "When I tell people that Black liberation is the liberation for every group, people think it's an exaggeration," he says, "but it's not. Black people are at the epicenter of violence, patriarchy, whiteness, masculinity, capitalism and colonialism." As he says, let's learn from it and "rethink, reimagine and re-create" a more just world. (JW)

Best Homeless Helper
Kim Russo

The following is a verbatim copy of a handwritten letter from a homeless person living in Salt Lake with a deep appreciation for case manager Kim Russo:

"I am not good with computers. I saw you were accepting nominations but could not figure out how to put in my case manager. I am sorry, life got in the way of what I wanted to accomplish.

"But please consider my case manager Kim Russo for an award! She works for Utah Community Action. She works downtown with the homeless—always coming out and seeing how we are. I like talking to her. If she can't find us, she gets in her car and finds us in our camps. She brought me food.

"Please give her one of your awards. I see many people get them, but nobody like Kim Russo. Do you know she is going to get me housing? Yes, she is. Please, I would like to have her in City Weekly. I read your paper every week and love it. Did you know I was illiterate until I was 14?

"Please consider Kim as she has shown me love and compassion; she cares about us; she is Superman to me and so many others. I am getting out of this shelter because she found a studio for me. Come and see me anytime. I camp on Rio Grande, or I am in shelter. I want to talk to you about my friend. Many thanks, [Name withheld for privacy]" (MS) utahca.org

Best Zoom Feature
Mute

In the 1970s, "Zoomers" were 8-year-olds in rugby shirts, singing "C'mon and zoom, zoom, zoom-a-zoom" on a children's PBS-TV show called Zoom. Those Gen-Xers, now middle-age, find themselves unexpectedly dependent on a new Zoom. Expedient but irritating, the video-conferencing app has allowed businesses, schools and churches to carry on despite COVID. Zoom software offers a Hollywood Squares format, green-screen backgrounds, mellow lighting and, most important of all, a mute button. A feature of the old TV show was "Zoomchat," which encouraged kids to "turn off the TV and do it!" Mute it and do it remains excellent advice for Zoomers of any age. (JR)

Best Prophylactic for the Hive
Neighborly Mask Wearing

Zorro and Batman's masks were not prophylactic. They were disguises. The hero's mouth—the infection-spreading facial feature that signals approval or hostility—was never covered. Mouth-covering masks are a proven prophylactic, and while they do impede human interaction, they aren't "Luciferian," "unhealthful" or "unconstitutional," as some Utahns have asserted. What is constitutional is the social contract philosophy embraced by the founding fathers whereby citizens willingly give up a little freedom in return for security. Similarly, Utah culture has always placed more importance on the hive than the honeybee. The communal hive is sustained by neighborly love, and love in the time of Covid-19 requires a prophylactic mask. (JR)

Dr. Thuet, front left, founder of With Love, From Strangers, and her crew load PPE headed to Southwest tribal communities.
  • Dr. Thuet, front left, founder of With Love, From Strangers, and her crew load PPE headed to Southwest tribal communities.

Best Tribal Relief
With Love, From Strangers

This past spring, the Navajo Nation, a community of nearly 200,000 residents, reported one of the highest COVID rates in America. A lack of running water and PPE in conjunction with a high number of multi-generational households all contributed to the spread. That's when With Love, From Strangers, founded by Dr. Christina Thuet, began collecting PPE, sanitizer, masks and other aid for the Four Corners region to help stem the spread. With Love, From Strangers has conducted hundreds of flights and served a dozen health-care facilities, drastically alleviating the strain on the local community. (MS) WithLoveFromStrangers.org

Best Bar Benefactor
Ty Burrell

We're all going to remember the first few weeks of the COVID shutdowns as a time of extreme uncertainty. We collectively didn't know enough about the virus, we didn't know if we had it and, as such, we limited interactions with Grandma, and, for whatever reason, there wasn't enough toilet paper to go around. Amid all that craziness, one industry got slammed more than others: the hospitality sector. Actor Ty Burrell (of Modern Family) and part-owner of Beer Bar, Bar X, The Eating Establishment and the Cotton Bottom, led the charge of high-level fundraising and marketing to raise awareness for this group, awarding displaced personnel in $500 chunks. At its final tally, the #TIPYOURSERVER campaign put hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $100,000 from Burrell himself, back into the pockets of good people all around Salt Lake. Thank you, Ty! (MS)

Best Columnist
Robert Gehrke

A columnist has two things going for them when they write about their own institution: 1. The support of his peers and readers, and 2. A whole lotta nerve. No columnist can succeed without both of those and Gehrke has each in bushels. When Salt Lake Tribune Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce left her position, Gehrke was quick to challenge the reasons for her departure, even noting on Twitter he feared it may cost his job. It didn't, thank goodness. Gehrke, a trained reporter, was thrust into being the outward facing columnist a couple of years ago, albeit nervously. Not to sweat. He's taken to the role and is one of SLC's last free voices—and he's not afraid to use it. (MS) @robertgehrke

Best at Demanding Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault
Rep. Angela Romero

Utah ended a backlog of thousands of unprocessed sexual assault kits recently, thanks in large part to Rep. Angela Romero, who sponsored a 2017 Utah law that mandated testing of the kits used to collect DNA and other evidence from victims of sexual crimes. Turnaround time for processing kits is now under 90 days, with a goal of reducing it to 30. Processed kits have added 5,025 new DNA profiles to the state's database, identified 1,979 suspects and provided evidence for charging at least 33 suspects across the state. (JW) angelaromero@le.utah.gov

Best Mask Mandate Rant
State Rep. Phil Lyman

You may recall that in 2015 Phil Lyman was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing for leading an ATV protest ride through Recapture Canyon's archaeologically sensitive lands, closed to off-road vehicles by the BLM. The Blanding state representative only just paid off a $96,000 fine for that act of rebellion. This year, he was also among the first elected leaders to politicize COVID mask mandates by comparing Utahns wearing them to those wearing Hitler's arm bands. "Hitler didn't start out killing Jews, Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hungarians, homosexuals, the disabled, political critics, Poles, Soviets, and Gypsies," Lyman tweeted. "That was after he asked politely for people to just wear the [damned] arm band." When an elected leader compares a symbol of anti-Semitism and white supremacy with a face covering intended to reduce the spread of a highly contagious virus, is it any wonder why Utah case counts are spiking at record highs? (JW)

Dr. Angela Dunn
  • Dr. Angela Dunn

Best 'Rona Warrior
Dr. Angela Dunn

Over the many months since COVID-19 showed its ugly crown in Utah, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn has been the cool voice of reason at the governor's briefings. Some might call her Utah's Anthony Fauci, but she brings a fresher face, a less raspy voice, and thus far, is less worn down by politics. That, even after Dunn helped guard the taxpayers' pocketbook by protesting when overzealous state administrators heeded Trump's dog whistle to acquire massive doses of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, although its effectiveness was in question. It would have been easy to acquiesce and let the stampeding elephants have their way, but Dunn stood strong. Utahns appreciate her succinct delivery and the fact she never veers far from the mantra of "wear a mask, social distance, stay home if you're sick." That's the common sense we need right now. (JW) twitter.com/DrAngelaCDunn

Best Election Reform
The End of Straight-Ticket Voting

Utah's Republican barony finally relented: straight-ticket voting is by the boards thanks to the recent passage of HB70 (a longtime project of Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek). For years, Utah voters (and those in six other states) could cast a vote for every candidate of a particular party with a single stroke of the pen. Never mind if a candidate was unknown. Party loyalty über alles! Roughly a third of all ballots cast in Utah had used straight-ticket voting. Now, without the option, voters are incentivized to research the down-ballot candidates and select individuals based on qualifications—not party affiliation. There might even be a Democrat worth a surreptitious vote. (JR)

Best Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear
Urban Indian Center's Wood Collection for the Navajo Nation

The hurricane-force winds that lashed the Wasatch Front Sept. 8 left its urban forest badly damaged. Thousands of trees were uprooted, including 255 at Salt Lake City Cemetery alone. In the disaster, the Urban Indian Center recognized opportunity. Rather than dumping tons of branches and tree trunks in the landfill, the wood could be trucked to the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners Region, where many houses are heated by burning wood. Two collection points—the Urban Indian Center and Esther's Garden (Congregation Kol Ami)—were established. In a matter of days, three semi-trailer truckloads of salvaged wood were dispatched. Now, if you want to help replace the trees, make a contribution. (JR) Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, 120 W. 1300 South, SLC, 801-486-4877, uicsl.org

Best Retirement Gig
Jason Chaffetz as Talking Head

When Jason Chaffetz left Congress in 2017, six months into his fifth term, politicos speculated he'd jump into this year's governor's race. But he opted to pass, saying, "I'm going to get off the crazy train." Instead, he jumped on the gravy train as he continued his gig as a contributor on Fox News. Salary? "They were very nice to me," the 53-year-old coyly said after signing with the conservative network. He's collecting royalties, too, from two books and has signed on with D.C. speakers' bureaus. One lists his fee as "$15,001 to $20,000." And there's a stipend from Harvard where he's a visiting fellow. Not bad for a guy who famously and frugally slept on a cot in his Capitol Hill office following his election in 2008. (LG)



Arts & Entertainment
Goods & Services
Restaurants
Food & Drink
Nightlife

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Arts & Entertainment | Reader's Picks

Best Public Art
300 West Memorial Portraits

This tumultuous year included public protests around the country drawing attention to police violence against people of color, including right here in Salt Lake City. Among the other efforts to shine a spotlight on those whose lives were lost too soon, anonymous artists crafted a mural at 300 West and 800 South with images of George Floyd, Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal and other victims of police shootings. Though vandals have targeted the murals more than once, they remain a kind of public shrine, where visitors leave flowers, notes and other mementos demonstrating that they won't be forgotten as the work for social change continues. (SR)
2. Spiral Jetty
3. Atlas - Sril Art

Best DJ
Bad Brad Wheeler

Local legends take many forms. For Bad Brad Wheeler, it's mainly as a radio DJ and station program director at KUAA, the station he decamped to after his long tenure as a staple host at KRCL. At KUAA, Wheeler leads a multilingual, broad-genre approach to community radio listening, reflective of his love of all music of the folk and roots varieties. Wheeler is one local music lover who clearly sees the value in all kinds of music and people. Check out his ever-diverse DJ sets. (EM) KUAA 99.9 FM, 663 W. 100 South, SLC, 801-363-2787, kuaafm.org
2. John Florence
3. DJ Juggy

Best Dance Company
Ballet West

For many Utahns, their introduction to professional dance came via Ballet West's annual production of The Nutcracker. But the pandemic has truly demonstrated the company's creativity beyond that stalwart production. Choreographer Nicolo Fonte—who worked on the company's 2016 production of The Rite of Spring—worked virtually with dancers from their residences and other remote locations to re-create the piece with special consideration for the small-screen format in which people would be watching. Videographer Andrea Peterson then combined the recorded dancers with the music of the Utah Symphony for a short selection that captured all the spirit of Stravinsky's bold innovation. See it at youtu.be/_bO0R7SgA6M. (SR) 50 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-869-6900, balletwest.org
2. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.
3. Odyssey Dance Theatre

Best Drag Entertainer
Jason CozMo

Jason CozMo has graced City Weekly's cover in his full Dolly Parton regalia, so it's not surprising that he has become a favorite of our readers. After a pandemic hiatus, CozMo's delightful Viva La Diva show has returned to Metro Music Hall, providing plenty of bawdy entertainment with CozMo and his crew of performers bringing celebrity impersonation to new heights, and often with a holiday-themed flavor. It doesn't take a genius to realize that we-e-e will always love yoooooooooou. (SR) thevivaladivashow.com
2. Rose Nylon
3. Sally Cone Slopes

Molly Burch at Kilby Court
  • Molly Burch at Kilby Court

Best All-Ages Venue
Kilby Court

Ah, Kilby Court. It's like the high school of the SLC music scene, especially because, as the premier all-ages venue in town, it's often home to actual high schoolers. With the booking connections of its big sister venue Urban Lounge, it's still home to nationally and sometimes even internationally acclaimed acts, and often to up-and-comers who might later graduate to venues much bigger than the drafty shed-and-patio setup that makes Kilby so distinctive—alongside the stone's throw-away of a bathroom that's next to a motorcycle shop, and the fire pit that's sometimes lit. If there's any venue that at least a few recent generations of SLC music kids have grown up loitering at, it's Kilby Court. (EM) 748 S. Kilby Court, SLC, 800-513-7540, kilbycourt.com
2. Red Butte Garden Concerts
3. The Complex

Best Museum
Natural History Museum of Utah

A museum isn't all about its physical space—but a great physical space doesn't hurt. The beautiful Rio Tinto Center of the Natural History Museum of Utah literally glows above the landscape when the sun hits the copper trim, making it a beacon to those fascinated with the state's landscape, weather, flora, fauna and human history. The facility is open to the public again, with online reservations required and timed ticketing to insure spacing between visiting parties, and the exhibits remain wonderfully engaging and interactive through touch-free stylus technology. (SR) 301 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-581-6927, nhmu.utah.edu
2. Utah Museum of Fine Arts
3. The Leonardo

Best Record Shop
Randy's Records

Well, who can pass on the variety and pure history of Randy's Records? It has over 40 years of history at its modest 900 South locale, stewarded for most of that time by Randy Stinson himself. Two years ago, it was taken over by his son Sam Stinson, who has since continued to run the shop through the pandemic. No trial could be enough to taint the good reputation of this shop, with their reliably huge collection of vinyl—both vintage and new. With other large-scale operations like Graywhale stepping back to the suburbs, Randy's is the place of all places to go for pretty much anything you seek. (EM) 157 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-532-4413, randysrecords.com
2. Graywhale
3. Diabolical Records

Best Canceled Music Festival
Ogden Twilight

A cousin to the SLC Twilight Concert Series, Ogden Twilight is a fan favorite in the summertime. Although Salt Lakers usually have a full plate of music and entertainment in the summer, it's a treat to hop a ride on the Frontrunner up to O-Town (it's free with your concert ticket) and visit the outdoor amphitheater and browse the foreign food trucks (Lucky Slice, so different than The Pie). The summer spread also tends to be the most diverse of any summer indie fest, though they feature repeat acts like The Flaming Lips—basically residents at this point. (EM) Ogden Twilight, 343 E. 25th St., Ogden, ogdentwilight.com
2. Das Energi
3. Reggae Rise Up

Best Theater Company
Salt Lake Acting Co.

Many professional theater companies are taking the slow-and-cautious approach to bringing patrons back into their conventional theater spaces, but that doesn't mean that they can't provide folks with engaging entertainment. Salt Lake Acting Company kicked off what would have been its historic 50th season with a lively series of digital shorts, dropping every Friday beginning in September. They then partnered with a New York-based company for the fascinating streaming production American Dreams, a dark satire in which citizenship is decided by an audience-participation game show. While we all want to be in theater seats again soon, SLAC is turning home into a great alternative for the moment. (SR) 168 W. 500 North, SLC, 801-363-7522, saltlakeactingcompany.org
2. Hale Centre Theatre
3. Pioneer Theatre Co.

Best Visual Artist
SRIL Art

Visual artists aren't often known to those who don't venture into gallery spaces, but one Utah artist has created work known to people throughout the valley—even if they don't actually know the artist behind that work. SRIL (the nom de paint of Shae Petersen) has created large-scale murals familiar on buildings from downtown (the 4,000 square foot "Atlas" commission near the North Temple Trax station) to Millcreek (the sea turtle swimming across the Fat Cats building at 3739 S. 900 East). He might not be a famous face himself, but SRIL's commemorations of other famous faces make him a local treasure. (SR) SRILart.com
2. Cat Palmer
3. Jann Haworth

Best Canceled Concert
Post Malone

For being a much-celebrated Utah transplant, rap star Post Malone is still as elusive as a mountain goat in the Wasatch. Even if you're running around in the hopes of seeing him, he just won't show. The one time he was definitely going to take the stage for his Utah fans was at the March 21 Vivint Smart Home Arena show on his Runaway Tour. However, he ended up having to cancel because of—you guessed it—the pandemic. Ah, March, when we thought tours like that could be rescheduled, and we thought we'd see Post Malone in the flesh in his Utah home maybe later in 2020. Big mistake! (EM)
2. Tool
3. Cher

Zac Ivie
  • Zac Ivie

Best Local Band/Group
Zac Ivie

Although it's obvious that Zac Ivie is in fact one person and not a band or a group, he's a welcome addition to Best of Utah as an artist who's been on the local circuit for ages. His win shows that Utah's rap scene is strong, and he's one of its main players. Having opened up for notable rap acts like Ghostface Killah and Talib Kweli, he's also on the forefront of artists who are figuring out how to navigate shows and livelihoods as the pandemic rages on and the music industry continues to be depressed. A man with many talents, he's a music maker we're proud to call our own. (EM) facebook.com/IvieMusic801
2. Royal Bliss
3. Pixie and the Partygrass Boys

Best Live Music Venue
The State Room

A classic place to see the classics, The State Room has such a stately name for a reason. With its comfortable layout of church pews-meets-amphitheater style seating, which still allows for standing near the stage, the venue is a time-tested place to see tour-worn artists across the genre spectrum, though they've got a knack for making their stage home to some of the best Americana, folk and rock 'n' roll acts around. This past year, they supported themselves through the pandemic by creating an auction for posters of shows past, a fitting and valuable memento in today's sadly show-less world. Long live The State Room and their cheeky marquee. (EM) 638 S. State, SLC, 801-596-3560, thestateroompresents.com
2. The Depot
3. Metro Music Hall

Best Gallery
Urban Arts Gallery

The expression "art gallery" doesn't have to be intimidating—and that's certainly not the case at this beloved spot in The Gateway. Local artists get a showcase throughout the year doing work that appeals across the spectrum, from pop-culture-themed annual shows to the Skate Deck Challenge that invites artists to decorate skateboards. And as calls for representation increased across the country amidst demands for racial justice, Urban Arts Gallery showcased LGBTQ artists and people of color in separate shows. It truly is a place for art by and for everyone. (SR) 116 S. Rio Grande St., SLC, 801-230-0820, urbanartsgallery.org
2. The Leonardo
3. Phillips Gallery

Best Friend of the Arts
Utah Arts Alliance

This local organization has its fingers in so many artistic pies, it's amazing that it gets everything right as often as it does. In addition to the Urban Arts Gallery as a showcase for local artists' works, UAA presents the annual Urban Art Festival, operates the new Dreamscapes space and provides a state-of-the-art recording studio in Counterpoint Studios at rates accessible to many more musicians than conventional studios. Executive director Derek Dyer has given the city, and the state, a place that supports countless creative folks. (SR) 663 W. 100 South, SLC, 801-363-2787, utaharts.org
2. Diane Stewart
3. Cat Palmer

Best Canceled Community Event
Utah Pride Festival

One of the most colorful community events of the summer, maybe even nipping at the heels of the Days of '47, is Pride. A huge event in Salt Lake City, just as it is in many other cities, Pride feels especially exciting since Utah as a whole still is quite conservative. Sixty thousand or more show up for the parade each June as it winds through downtown streets that are usually vacant lots on Sunday mornings. While the parade and festival were canceled in June of 2020, the organization sponsored a "Coming Out" road rally in the fall to help raise funds for Pride Center outreach (which is usually funded by the summer events). Pride will surely come roaring back once the pandemic has ended. And the services that the festival funds also must live on. (EM) Utah Pride Center, 1380 S. Main, SLC, 801-539-8800, utahpridecenter.org
2. Utah Arts Festival
3. Salt Lake City Greek Festival


Angela Brown
  • Angela Brown

Arts & Entertainment | Staff Picks

Best Virtual Festival
Craft Lake City

Craft Lake City is that summer event where you can find all things local: from food trucks to craft artisans to the performers who soundtrack the weekend-long event. Of course, this year, the IRL event was canceled but was replaced by an ambitious virtual take. The replacement online festival still featured access to vendors and innovative links to food trucks around the valley instead of in-festival dining, and there was also music. The festival still hosted the usual huge lineup, with 47 artists or bands participating in online performances. (EM) craftlakecity.com/diy-festival

Best Critter Connection
Hogle Zoo Facebook Field Trips

As the state locked down in the spring, kids were schooling from home. And our state's most beloved institutions were closed to the public. Hogle Zoo sought to address both obstacles with the rapid launch of "Facebook Field Trips," a series of daily virtual livestreams where zoo personnel introduced lessons about their animals to viewers at home. Kids (and their parents) got a chance to learn about how they cut an elephant's toenails, and how the bears savor honey-slathered windows, all with an opportunity to ask questions and participate remotely. It was a much-needed dose of critter cuteness with an educational twist. (SR) facebook.com/hoglezoo

Best New Local Music Program
HUM-TV

The Salt Lake Public Library is no stranger to supporting the arts, with recurrent programs like 12 Minutes Max, their rooftop concert shows in the summer and their collection of local music found in the Hearing Utah Music archive. Now, they're expanding on the latter work (known as HUM) with a public-access TV-styled program called HUM-TV. The video series was developed as a more permanent kind of approach to the virtual concert, one that could outlast the pandemic. It features pre-recorded and edited sets by local artists (who are paid for their time), alongside interviews between those artists and an interviewer chosen from another part of the local music community: music supporters, like those at SLUG Magazine and City Weekly, were already featured in the first "season's" episodes, which were released in October. (EM) hum.slcpl.org

Best Repurposed Costumes
Pioneer Theatre Co.'s 'Costume Collection' Mask Project

On-stage performers weren't the only people impacted by the shutdown of live performances; many technical, creative and support staff also faced the loss of jobs. Pioneer Theatre Co. sought to address both that problem and the need for masks by turning to its massive storehouse of costumes from previous productions. The company was able to put employees of its costume shop to work, converting these unique pieces of production history into protective masks sold to the public, with new limited-edition designs released weekly. (SR) pioneertheatre.org/masks-to-order

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Best Beer Art
Uinta Brewing

Way back before Utah even conceived of a vibrant beer/distillery scene, rocker Rod Stewart sang "Every Picture Tells a Story." That notion is forever true at Uinta Brewing, where every can is colored with a storytelling scene like no other. Beer-can art may be its own genre these days, so many great examples, but the honor of being consistently great, many having distinctly Utah looks, belongs to Uinta Brewing. Our faves: Cutthroat, Golden Spike, Yard Sale, Sea Legs, Croggy and Pit Stop. Suitable for stacking and framing. (MS) 1722 S. Fremont Drive, SLC, 801-467-0909, uintabrewing.com

Best Educational Flashback
S.T.E.A.M.punk Academy's 'Adult Science Fair'

We all know how hard it's been for teachers and students to adjust to the "new normal" of distance learning, as adults got a reminder of what school days were all about. But it wasn't all grim news: Those who were getting stir-crazy could turn their energy to the kind of project that allowed for some creativity. S.T.E.A.M.punk Academy invited adults to participate in a summer-long project of designing and following through on an experiment that could then be shared with their fellow amateur scientists. Remote options were available throughout the process, and at a time when we all need to believe in the importance of science, we could be part of it. (SR) steampunkacademy.org

Best Astrology Author
Christopher Renstrom

A previous winner of Utah's Best Astrologer, Christopher Renstrom just scored another big win: His book, Cosmic Calendar: Using Astrology to Get in Sync With Your Best Life, is hot off the press, published by Penguin Random House imprints, TarcherPerigee. It's no surprise, given Renstrom's grasp of traditional astrology and his engaging writing style, the book is already a bestseller on Amazon.com. Renstrom, a Utah resident, is the driving force behind online astrology site RulingPlanets.com. He also pens daily horoscopes for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate.com. Those wishing to learn more can enroll his classes, attend a webinar or lecture, sign up for a private reading or, hey, buy his dang book. It's a fun (and illuminating) read! (JW) RulingPlanets.com.

Best Throwback Cinema
Salt Lake Film Society and Utah Film Center Pop-up Drive-ins
In the heyday of the drive-in movie theater—the pre-metroplex age—Utah had about 30 big, outdoor screens. The Motor-Vu at the top of 3300 South was a local favorite. There, you could smuggle a trunk load of friends past the ticket seller; dress your kids in Dr. Denton pajamas for the latest Disney film; or make out with your boyfriend until the credits rolled or the windows fogged. With indoor theaters shuttered by COVID-19, the Utah Film Society and Salt Lake Film Society responded with pop-up drive-ins in Alta, Sandy, Midvale and Salt Lake City. It was a brilliant, retro moment, especially for those with memories of the Motor-Vu on a summer night. Many of the films screened for free, so no one had to hide in the trunk.(JR/SR) utahfilmcenter.org; saltlakefilmsociety.org

Best Door-to-Door Dance
SB Dance Curbside Theater Pickup
Many performing arts organizations shifted during the early months of the pandemic to virtual performances, as people were forced to stay at home. Stephen Brown, however, has never been one to take the obvious creative path, so he decided instead to bring the show to where the viewers were. Beginning in June, Brown's SB Dance offered pay-what-you-can Curbside Theater, with interested patrons reserving a time for Brown to pull a stage right up to your home and let you watch short dance pieces from a lawn chair. "Artists are cockroaches," Brown said at the time; "We adapt, man." And dance-lovers were all the better for it. (SR) sbdance.com

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Best First Return to Live Performance
Wiseguys Comedy Clubs

It was something of a leap of faith when, in early May, Wiseguys reopened its comedy club venue at The Gateway. We were still figuring out what kinds of gatherings were safe, and many people still weren't sure about going out to live entertainment. Yet the re-opening—with reduced seating capacity for social distancing and enhanced sanitary protocols—has thus far been without incident, as the Ogden and West Jordan venues have also subsequently re-opened. At a time when we all could use a laugh, Wiseguys was able to deliver it—and safely. (SR) Multiple locations, wiseguyscomedy.com

Best Drive-in Shakespeare
SONDERimmersive's Through Yonder Window

If you're a theater company, what do you do when you can't have audiences in a theater? If you're a film organization, you can show things at a drive-in, but that couldn't work for a play ... could it? Graham Brown and SONDERimmersive proved that the answer is "yes" with their production of Through Yonder Window, a take on Romeo & Juliet offered at The Gateway's parking structure with patrons remaining in their vehicles. The result was a one-of-a-kind experience that offered a new perspective on a story about people separated through no fault of their own. (SR) sonderimmersive.com

Best Drive-by Installation
UMOCA/ Granary Arts Lawn Gnomes 2020

A gallery isn't just an indoor physical space; it's a place where people can encounter art. With those indoor physical spaces shut down, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and Granary Arts in Ephraim collaborated on a project encouraging local artists to create pieces that they would then put out in their front yards, providing multiple locations in the state for those who were interested to drive by and view safely. Jared Steffensen and Cara Krebs were among those who responded to the call, giving us all a jolt of new visual excitement that didn't require staring at a screen. (SR) utahmoca.org/lawn-gnomes-2020

Best Virtual Dose of a Summer Institution
Utah Arts Festival 'Festival Vibes'

We've all missed out on a lot this year, and the local arts community certainly missed the annual four-day celebration of the Utah Arts Festival. In an attempt to keep people connected to the festival's work and the artists it supports, UAF created "Festival Vibes," a weekly mini-showcase hosted on its website. In addition to a festival marketplace for accepted visual artists, "Festival Vibes" provided a curated selection of short films, music performances, poetry readings and even a virtual "Art Yard" for kids' craft projects. It was a reminder of everything we'll be looking forward to again in 2021. (SR) uaf.org

Best Pandemic Commissions
Utah Symphony World Premieres

Art doesn't stop in times of crisis; if anything, challenging times inspire creative people to some of their best work. Utah Symphony maestro Thierry Fischer reached out to composers Andrea Read Thomas and Dai Fujikura in May, inviting them to create new works for a full orchestra to play remotely and bring together via video and audio editing. Thomas' Fanfare of Hope and Solidarity and Fujikura's Longing from Afar allowed fans of orchestral music to recall the beauty of symphonic music, and the way it can capture the emotions of the most tumultuous times. (SR) utahsymphony.org

Best Stories From Around the World
Virtual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

Timpanogos Storytelling Festival director Jennifer Nelson applied all the skills she learned doing customer service for WordPerfect to the unique challenge of connecting storytellers from all over to viewers for the 2020 virtual incarnation of the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. The adaptation allowed gifted raconteurs from all over to bring their gifts to viewers, at a time when many of these storytellers have had no other way to draw income from their skills. For a bargain price, families were able to remain safely at home and enjoy amazing tales on both live-stream and pre-recorded formats. (SR) timpfest.org

Best Entertainment District
The Gateway

Just as soon as it seemed the up and down then up again Gateway Mall was gaining steam as Salt Lake's premier, all-inclusive entertainment center, its legs were cut from underneath their building momentum. Like all businesses, they were forced to pivot. No more mass gatherings on the plaza, but not all was lost—it just meant they had to be more creative. The draw of Goat Yoga, HallPass, Clark Planetarium and a giant footprint to stroll remain. With a renewed focus on the arts, it's also easy to enjoy the murals, lights and ambiance that make The Gateway a must visit. (MS) 400 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-456-0000, shopthegateway.com

Best Arts Expansion During a Pandemic
Urban Arts Fest Elements

It felt inevitable that scheduled arts events would either disappear or contract noticeably throughout the summer; it was a rare bold step for Derek Dyer to make the annual Urban Arts Fest bigger, and even more accessible. The typically single-weekend September event became a month-long celebration of live painting and the creations of artists and artisans, employing outdoor marketplaces and storefront displays at the Gateway. Throw in the annual Skate Deck Challenge, and you have an event that found a creative way to keep the buzz of festival energy going. (SR) utaharts.org


Media & Politics
Goods & Services
Restaurants
Food & Drink
Nightlife

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Goods & Services | Readers' Picks

Best CBD Product
Hemplucid

Founded in Utah in 2016 by four friends living in Utah County, Hemplucid has quickly become one of the most popular and trusted CBD companies in America, with products now in 3,500 retail locations. Hemplucid is committed to providing lucid information to help others make educated decisions about their health. New to CBD? Start with a low dose with one of Hemplucid's products and work your way up to a serving size that's ideal for you. (MS) Multiple locations, hemplucid.com
2. Muscle MX
3. Beehive Buds

Best Barbershop
Jed's Barber Shop

Did an extended quarantine and months without human interaction leave you a little too comfortable with a scraggly beard or unkempt hair? Get back to your confident 2019 self at one of Jed's Barber Shop's three Salt Lake locations. 2020 is a wild year, but your luscious locks don't have to look as crazy. (MS) Multiple locations, jedsbarber.shop
2. Salt Lake Barber Co.
3. City Barbers

Best Salon
Landis Lifestyle Salon

Tired of running around town and seeing different hairstylists, nail technicians and estheticians? Landis Lifestyle Salon is your one-stop shop for hair styling, coloring, nails, waxing and other spa services. Get the treatment you deserve at their Marmalade or Sugar House locations. (MS) 569 N. 300 West, SLC, 801-364-3354; 1298 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-485-5506, landissalon.com
2. Lunatic Fringe
3. Got Beauty

Best Tattoo Artist
Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson of Studio Elev8 has been tattooing since 2002 and has developed a specialty in illustrative and realism tattoos. Johnson is also masterful in handling scar tissue, a tough component for novice tattoo artists. If you're looking for some badass ink that'll last a lifetime, Johnson is your best bet in Utah. (MS) 3752 W. Azara Lane, South Jordan, 385-229-7048, studioelev8.com
2. Buck Harvey
3. Alex Gregory

Best Garden Supply
Millcreek Gardens

When stay-at-home orders went into effect and people were at home for extended periods of time, they took to gardening and houseplant care. Many garden supply stores had their hands full with customers coming in droves to service Utahns' newfound hobbies of shrubbery and gardening. Millcreek Gardens, in business since the 1960s, rose to the task and kept patrons safe and healthy in their spring shopping. (MS) 3500 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-487-4131, millcreekgardens.com
2. Glover Nursery
3. Cactus and Tropicals

Best Thrift/ Consignment Store
Pib's Exchange

For over 20 years, Pib's Exchange has been fitting customers with unique clothes, accessories, Halloween costumes, magical outfits and day-to-day awesomeness. For those selling their gently used items, Pib's offers 55 percent in in-store credit, or 30 percent cash. They also have preferred donation services at Big Brothers and Big Sisters, MS of Utah and Odyssey House. (MS) 1147 S. Ashton Ave., SLC, 801-484-7996, pibsexchange.com
2. IconoCLAD
3. The Other Side Thrift Boutique

Mike & Holly Cash
  • Mike & Holly Cash

Best Smoke/Vape Shop
Blackhouse Vapor

Owners Mike and Holly Berry have decades of experience in the retail and service industries. They founded Blackhouse Vapor on the premise that customers deserve the best possible care and products. Step into their Sugar House vape shop, and you instantly get the picture—the clean and classy shop is chock-full with vape options, and a knowledgeable staff to help you with your decision. (MS) 2148 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-467-6526, blackhousevapor.com
2. Smoke Break
3. Murray Vape

Best Tattoo Shop
27 Tattoo

With two studios in Salt Lake and a third about to open in St. George, 27 Tattoo canvases a wide swath of the state, in geography and in skin. They offer custom, individual artwork in a relaxed, comfortable and clean environment. Their professional artists offer a wide range of skills and styles, so you're sure to find the design and look you're looking for. (MS) 535 S. 700 East, SLC, 801-906-8116; 1790 S. 1100 East, SLC, 435-708-1999, facebook.com/follow27
2. Yellow Rose
3. Good Times

Best Comic Book Store
Dr. Volt's Comic Connection

Back-to-back winner! Dr. Volt's is Utah's Best Comic Book Store over many consecutive years. Now entering their 30th anniversary year, the Millcreek comic book shop has been giving joy, thrills and entertainment to comic book and graphic novel aficionados for generations. Dive into a new world with ease in their expansive collection. (MS) 2043 E. 3300 South, SLC, 801-485-6114, drvolts.com
2. Heebeegeebeez
3. Black Cat Comics

Best Medical Cannabis Dispensary
Dragonfly Wellness

Utah's medical-cannabis program didn't launch without some kinks. In the spring, medical cannabis patients were often left confused about the process of obtaining a recommendation and being issued cannabis cards, which left the burden of dealing with their angst on the first dispensary to open, Dragonfly Wellness. Now nearly a year into the program, patients have adapted to legally purchasing and using medical cannabis, and Dragonfly has been a trailblazer from the beginning. (MS) 711 S. State, SLC, 801-413-6945, dragonflyut.com
2. WholesomeCo
3. Perfect Earth

Best Piercer
Dustin Robbins

If you're itching to add a new piercing to your collection, look no further than Dustin Robbins of Enso Piercing + Adornment. For nearly 25 years, he's been making Utahns quirkier, cooler and more pierced. The crazy thing is, he doesn't have any piercings of his own! Just kidding. He's super pierced. Get your piercings from people who are super pierced, like Dustin. (MS) Enso Piercing + Adornment, 336 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-953-0201, ensopiercing.com
2. Courtney Marriott
3. Patrick Bogdanich

Best Boutique
iconoCLAD

With an unabashedly quirky style, iconoCLAD's wide variety of offerings has become a local favorite for thrifters. Interested in consignment? iconoCLAD will carry your previously rocked stuff and give you 50 percent of the cash. During the era of COVID-19, iconoCLAD has been one of the premier face-mask sellers around, with plenty of sparkles and sequins to keep you safe and fashionable. (MS) 414 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-833-2272, iconoclad.com
2. Blue Boutique

3. The Stockist

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Best Piercing Studio
Koi

Curt Warren opened Koi's doors in 1997, and since then, it's become one of the most trusted and high-quality piercing studios in Salt Lake. The skilled staff strives to work by the motto, "Safety, quality and trusted skill." They follow an abundance of health and safety measures and are currently taking appointments over the phone or on their website. (MS) 1301 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-463-7070, koipiercingslc.com
2. Enso
3. Abyss

Best Bookstore
The King's English Bookshop

King's English Bookshop has been matching books to readers since 1977. When the beloved independent shop closed to foot traffic at the end of summer for the safety of its staff, the store put out a plea to its loyal patrons to make holiday purchases early, since it was possible the business wouldn't survive until the holidays otherwise. The result was such a wave of orders in September that the staff could barely keep up, proving that a wonderful local business inspires equally wonderful behavior in those who care about it. (MS/SR) 1511 S. 1500 East, SLC, 801-484-9100, kingsenglish.com
2. Weller Book Works
3. Ken Sanders Rare Books

Best CBD Retailer
Koodegras

Opening its doors in 2015 as Utah's first CBD retailer, Koodegras has blossomed into three Salt Lake Valley locations. The parents of two chemical engineers, owners Mike and Diane Bingham's family-run operation ensures high-quality products fill their shelves. Their THC-free topicals, gels and salves help reduce pain and ailments. (MS) Multiple Locations, koodegras.com
2. Blackhouse Vapor
3. Farmer and Chemist

Best CBD for Pets
Roxy Pets

Skeptics of CBD are quickly turned into advocates when they see the effects whole-plant CBD extracts have on their pets. Does your dog or cat have anxiety, trouble sleeping or is geriatric? Offering a droplet of Roxy Pets, produced by Provo-based extractor Hemplucid, is a sure way to help your furry friend with an assortment of ailments and keeps them healthy and happy. (MS) Multiple Locations, hemplucid.com
2. Koodegras
3. Proper Hemp Co.

Best Pet Supply Store
The Dog's Meow

If you have a furry friend in your life, you want suppliers of their pet products to share your concern and dedication to their health and well-being. Mother-daughter duo Alexis and Alyssa have teamed up to provide two Dog's Meow locations, featuring high-quality products to keep pets happy and healthy for years to come. (MS) 2047 E. 3300 South, Millcreek, 801-468-0700; 866 E. 12300 South, Draper, 801-501-0818, dogsmeow.com
2. Rockstar Pets
3. Paw Paws


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Goods & Services | Staff Picks

Best Bird Boutique
Backyard Birds

Even if you don't make a hobby or habit of feeding your feathered backyard friends, meaning you may have no need for nyjer, black sunflower or safflower seeds, you still should make a visit to this colorful, charming cottage store that sets your senses ablaze from the moment you first walk in. From baths to birdfeeders, from suet to shelters, you will find everything and anything your birds need here. COVID-19 caused so many people to work from home. The ideal pastime for those folks is a watching the busy life that unfolds just feet from our windows and porches. Stop here for starters advice and become master of your own aviary. (MS) 2698 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-467-7222, facebook.com/backyardbirdsslc

Best Celebration of a Milestone
AAA Jewelers

More expensive doesn't always mean better—in the jewelry world, paying more for the same product is just throwing money down the drain, especially when there is a wholesaler on the scale of AAA Jewelers. The family-run store, operated by Mike and Lisa Vardakis with their son, Michael, will beat any price or quote in town for rings, gold and watches. AAA also creates custom jewelry. Before your next milestone celebration, give the iconic store a call for an appointment. (MS) 601 S. State, SLC, 801-359-2035, AAAJewelryUtah.com

Best Rice Cookers
Asian City

Rice cookers are essential to the Asian kitchen, giving you a light, airy texture—possibly even better than a restaurant's version. All you do is simply measure and rinse the rice, then set it to cook while you focus on the main course. Asian City has an entire aisle dedicated to rice cookers, and our favorite of the pack is the Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer (NS-WTC10), made by Zojirushi. This reputable Japanese brand features advanced cooking technology. (ML&CL) 1653 W. 9000 South, West Jordan, 801-255-5667, utahasiancity.com.

Ken Sanders
  • Ken Sanders

Best Treasure Hunter
Ken Sanders, Ken Sanders Rare Books

The literary community's thirst for knowledge is quenched at Ken Sanders Rare Books. The local treasure is headed by none other than Mr. Sanders, a rare-book collector since his childhood, who has amassed a collection that is nationally acclaimed. When COVID-19 swept through the state, and readers shifted their buying tendencies, Salt Lakers stepped up with a campaign to raise KSRB over $120,000 (the campaign is about half funded), helping ensure this gem has a future in our city. (MS) 268 S. 200 East, SLC, 801-521-3819, KenSandersRareBooks.com

Best Real Estate Tag Team
Babs De Lay & Julie Brizzée

When you pick up a copy of City Weekly each week, you've likely noticed these goofballs on the inside back cover in their weekly ad, dressed up as Wonder Women, teachers and many other costume-themed campaigns. They've done it all. And, in the craziness that is the Salt Lake real-estate market, they've seen it all. When looking for a knowledgeable real estate broker and a trusted lender these two have your back just like they have City Weekly's each and every week. (MS) Babs De Lay, 801-201-8824, urbanutah.com; Julie Brizzée, 801-971-2574, intercaplending.com

Best Way to Look Sharp
Bonneville Sharpening Service

A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one, they say, but dull scissors may only be a danger in the hands of the do-it-yourself barber. "Out of an abundance of caution," the COVID catchphrase, visits to haircutters and dentists have been curtailed. Many people have taken to self-barbering using scissors so dull that more hair is pulled than cut. Witness the bad haircuts on display: The Army Recruit, The Sheared Sheep, The Dog's Mange, The Tufted Mongo and The Moe Bowl. If you're bent on lowering your own ears and trimming your own bangs, do yourself a favor by sharpening your scissors. Bonneville Sharpening Service is the place to go. Expert service for the inexpert. Bring your knives and they'll give you loaners. (JR) 2161 E. Browning Ave., SLC, 801-913-5753, bonnevillesharpeningservice.com

Best Idli Cooker
Cash 'n' Carry Indian Groceries and Spices

A less common but widely popular rice cake in India is the savory idli, which can be dipped into sauces or eaten alone. With a texture that's warm, soft and spongy, like a handheld cake, they soak up flavors from each dish they're served with. Common pairings include tomato, onion or coconut chutneys, sambar lentil soup or a simple curry sauce. Batter of fermented lentil and rice for idli can be made from scratch but a prepared mix is available for purchase at Cash 'n' Carry along with the cooker. The idli cooker steams up to 16 bite-size cakes at a time. (ML&CL) 8750 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-561-0499, indiacashandcarry.com

Best Way to Electrify Your Bike
Electrify Bike Co.

Electric bicycles are all the rage. Streets are literally humming with them. While they may not flatten the curve, they damn sure flatten hills as steep as I Street. Because most e-bikes are built in China, however, the pandemic has caused imbalances in supply and demand. You may not be able to find the new e-bike you want even if you are willing to spend big bucks. Fortunately, most standard bikes can be retrofitted with a pedal-assist, electric motor by Electrify Bike Co. Efficient, friendly and knowledgeable, the Electrify conversion specialists provide up-front quotes. Get one for your cruiser on the company's website. (JR) 8060 S. 1300 West, West Jordan, 801-997-0550, electrifybike.com

Heather Smith, Orson Gygi Brand Developer
  • Heather Smith, Orson Gygi Brand Developer

Best Reason to Be a Home Cook
Orson Gygi

The upside to quarantine? We've all learned how to cook more than quesadillas. Time to reward your newfound chef skills with the tools to match at Utah's premier culinary supply store, Orson Gygi. Yes, silicone baking mats will change your life. Splurge on those Wusthof knives. Buy an oven thermometer and never burn your banana bread again! Follow on Instagram @orsgongygi for virtual classes, promos and cooking tips. (MW) 3500 S. 300 West, South Salt Lake, 801-268-3316, gygi.com

Best Perfectionistic Painter
Kevin Miller of Freedom Services

Those with older homes are always in need of miracle workers to deal with aging plumbing and wiring. But when peeling paint on the home's exterior becomes the latest emergency (that day will come), contact Kevin Miller for a painting bid. Miller and his cohort, Casey, are the friendly, hardworking team behind Freedom Painting Services who not only take on any number of handyman repairs as they give your home a new lease on life, but their painting expertise (interior, exterior, residential or commercial) is top notch—perfectionistic, in fact. They take care of the power-washing, prepping and taping in advance, and then the transformation begins. All of a sudden, your neighbors are stopping to tell you how amazing your house looks. (JW) Freedom Painting Services, 5574 W. Poacher Circle, Kearns, 801-755-0079

Best Friend of the Free Press
Glover Nursery

This giant, 10-acre nursery in West Jordan has garnered lots of City Weekly awards over the years (their tree and shrub selections are unmatched), but for our hibiscus, none means as much as the staff pick we grant them for this year: Best Friend of the Free Press. The nursery industry was one of the business categories that actually thrived during the coronavirus outbreak. It was not lost on brothers Rod and Bryce Glover that their good fortune was not universal to others, especially to the hospitality industry or this newspaper. They wanted to give back to our community. In August the two began reaching out to their suppliers to solicit in-kind plant and product donations—annuals, perennials, vegetables, rocks and sod—that were resold with proceeds going to pressbackers.com—the 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that helps support City Weekly and independent journalism. By September, when the paper's reserves were razor thin, the Glovers had donated $20,000 to the fund, the largest such donation supporting the local free press to date. Glover has sold nursery products in the valley since 1895. With your pay-it-forward support, they'll do it for another 125 years. Our humble hat's off to two of the greatest guys to ever graduate from Hillcrest High School—Rod and Bryce Glover. (MS) 9275 S. 1300 West, West Jordan, 801-562-5496, glovernursery.com

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Best Ever-Evolving Indy Bookstore
Weller Book Works

Since 1929, the Weller family has sold books in Salt Lake City. Now located in historic Trolley Square, Weller Book Works continues their successful mantra of being kings of new, used and rare books. Rare books and Weller are like bread and butter. Like other local bookstore survivors, Weller has changed radically in the digital era. Today, one can peruse the shelves or order your favorite books online but also shop for specialty merchandise like mugs, tees and totes. (MS) 607 Trolley Square, SLC, 801-328-2586, wellerbookworks.com

Best Stone Pots
Seoul Market

Ceramic stone pots are a fixture in almost every Korean restaurant. Korean signature rice bowls, called bibimbap, are highly differentiated by the crunchy, fried rice along the outer edge of a stone pot called ddukbaegi. This stone pot acts as a mini Dutch oven, crisping the rice in a heated pot. Top with your favorite veggies, meat and chili gochujang sauce—you've got yourself the ultimate rice bowl. Although these pots require care, they are microwave safe. (ML&CL) 153 E. 4370 South, No. 10, Murray, 801-266-2228

Best Florist
Sweet William Floral & Design

If you're in the market for something fresh and floral, leave it to Sweet William. Sisters Sara and Emily are happy to take on even the wildest ideas and work with clients one-on-one to create perfect petal pairings for every personality, be it for a wedding, event, funeral or just because—all at prices you'll dig. (MW) 10506 S. Redwood Road, South Jordan, 801-679-5352, sweetwilliamdesign.com

Best Oasis in a Grocery Store Desert
Lee's Market at 4th West

Here's a wonderful addition in what has been a grocery desert in west downtown. Lee's might appear to be a bodega at first, but it's actually a full-service grocery store with many specialty items, sushi, a hot bar, etc. The produce is fresh, too, often from local growers. Their employees actually remember your names. Locally owned, Lee's has locations in Logan, Ogden, Smithfield, Heber and North Salt Lake, and is a sight for sore eyes for those living in the high-end apartments that have popped up north of North Temple behind West High. (BDL) 255 N. 400 West, SLC, 801-869-1000, leesmarketplace.com

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Best Beard Trim and Cut Combo
Salt Lake Barber Co.

Isaac Atencio and Eric Stone are longtime friends and co-owners of downtown's Salt Lake Barber Co. The duo have a staunch following that continues to grow larger, giving cause for Atencio and Stone to annex an adjacent space to add more barber chairs to the mix. Customers enjoy an array of specialty barbers and beard trimmers. Going to anyone other than your steady barber may feel like cheating, but the inclusive and inviting crew at Salt Lake Barber Co. won't rat you out. (MS) 10 E. 800 South, SLC, 385-261-2196, SaltLakeBarberCo.com

Best Reborn Nostalgia
Top Hat Video

Sure, you're thinking, video rental is as dead as disco. No way, Mr. Gibbs. While it's true that video rental shops are as nearly as rare as fish in the Great Salt Lake, one very notable exception is the 40-year tenured Top Hat Video in Bountiful. Yes, they pivoted in part to disc repair and video transfer, but their 40,000 titles of videos march steadily out the door even in this age of on-demand movies. Hard to find and rare movies are actually found at Top Hat. As long as you have a disc player, you might as well use it. A trip to Top Hat will convince you Netflix isn't the only movie game in town. (MS) 521 W. 2600 South, Bountiful, 801-292-2221, tophatvideo.com

Best Woks
Vinh Long Oriental Food Market

When shopping for a wok, consider the next evolution in stove-top cooking: a ceramic marble wok, available—along with a wide variety of kitchenware and cookware—at Vinh Long Oriental Food Market. Unlike traditional Asian woks, this all-in-one pan/pot is lightweight, nonstick and cooks just about anything without taking up all the real estate in your cupboard. It can saute, boil, fry and sear kung pao chicken, ham-fried rice, hot and sour soup or even fried vegetable tempura. Best of all, the wok fits other pan lids of the same size. (ML&CL) 119 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-561-4380, vinhlongorientalmarket.com

Best Cobbler
Village Cobbler Shoe Repair

If your best boots, heels and loafers need a new lease on life, Village Cobbler near Foothill Village is a shoo-in. With 30+ years of experience, cobbler Troy Morgan and staff can repair, resize and resole just about any pair of shoes and make them look brand new again, not to mention deep cleanings and dye jobs to restore leather and suede shoes to their original luster. (MW) 1455 S. 2300 East, SLC, 801-582-7784

Best Survival Mode Collab You Didn't Know You Needed
Dianormical Drop Days by Diabolical Records and Normal Ice Cream

The pandemic has shifted many of our everyday perceptions, but an unexpected one is this: records and ice cream belong together. Or at least, that's the conclusion reached by Diabolical Records and Normal Ice Cream—plus all their fans. Diabolical started doing "drop bag" bundles of records and other goodies at the beginning of the pandemic to make up for the loss of foot traffic in-store, collaborating with businesses like lifestyle shop Atelier to start. That quickly led to other collaborations, most notably the "Dianormical" collaboration with Normal, which gave buyers both records and pints of ice cream with every bundle purchased. (EM) 238 S. Edison St., SLC, 801-792-9204, diabolicalrecords.com, normal.club


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Commerce | Readers' Picks

Best Minority-Owned Business
Icy Mountain

In 2019, Jared Clavell opened a gourmet shaved-ice truck that specializes in what the Black businessman calls his "boujee" shaved ice. According to Clavell, this is not Hawaiian style you may be used to. Rather, it's a morph of the island original—soft ice over vanilla ice cream, your pick of syrup flavors, sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, caramel drizzle—and damn it!—fresh fruit or candy! There are a slew of crazy flavors that you don't usually find, such as peaches 'n' cream and strawberry lemonade. Also, look for vegan, gluten-free and dye-free flavors—even "pup cups" of ice just for dogs. (BDL) Find them on Facebook or Instagram (icy.mountain) or via thefoodtruckleague.com
2. Empire Body Waxing
3. Fillings and Emulsions

Best Utah Retailer
Cotopaxi

Named after the world's largest active volcano (in the Andes mountain range in Ecuador), this outdoor gear company is en fuego in sales and popularity for several reasons: 1. they create quality clothing and camping/outdoor gear; 2. they give back to the community and 3. during the pandemic, they've donated over 100,000 face masks made of teca cotton (so soft!), and for every mask we buy, they donate one to charity. They put 1% of annual revenues towards addressing poverty and supporting community development. They have awarded 42 grants in six countries they focus on to help improve our world. May more firms step up and follow Cotopaxi's good-karma lead. (BDL) Multiple locations, cotopaxi.com
2. Black Diamond
3. Kühl Clothing

Best Bank for Small Businesses
Mountain America Credit Union

MACU is a federally chartered credit union headquartered in Sandy. With branches in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, it's the 12th largest credit union in the country with almost 900,000 members, 95 branches and 5,000 shared branch locations. When a 5% tax from the Utah Legislature was going to be required on the three largest credit unions in the state who were competing with big local banks for members and money, MACU moved from a state charter to a federal charter in 2003 to avoid that tax. (BDL) Multiple locations, macu.com
2. University Credit Union
3. Zions Bank

Best Company that Gives Back
Ogden's Own Distillery

Five Wives, Porter's Fire Liqueur, Porter's Peach Liqueur, Porter's Apple Liqueur, Underground, Madam Pattirini booze ... and Five Husbands vodka during Pride. How can you not love these people? From using local spring water from Ogden Canyon that must be hiked out five gallons at a time to distilling corn spirits and risking the wrath of the DABC with racy labels of Victorian women in their undergarments, Ogden's Own is now a force to be reckoned with in the distilling world. Plus, they used their mixology brains and compassion to be the first to turn their plant into producing hand sanitizer and giving it to first responders in Utah as well as shipping truckloads of sanitizer to the Navajo Nation. (BDL) 615 W. Stockman Way, Ogden, 801-458-1995, ogdensown.com
2. Mark Miller Subaru
3. Vivint Smart Home

Best Company to Work For / Best Tech Company
Qualtrics

When 75% of the Fortune 500 companies rely on a company's platform, you should pay attention to that company. Qualtrics' subscription platform is one of the first employee-management platforms to measure employee experiences through metrics powered by "predictive intelligence." Their leading research software scoops up data on all sorts of industries, and for nearly 20 years, they have served millions of management professionals in more than 100 countries to help them better listen, understand and take action. (BDL) 333 W. River Park Drive, Provo, 801-374-6682, qualtrics.com
Best Company to Work for Runners-up
2. Intermountain Healthcare
3. Adobe
Best Tech Company Runners-up
2. Pluralsight
3. Domo

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Best Made-in-Utah Product
Beehive Cheese

The amazing bovines in our state produce some of the creamiest milk this side of the Mississippi. In 2005, Tim Welsh and his brother-in-law, Pat Ford, had an idea in mind for that milk when they opened a creamery in the mountains of Utah. But not just any creamery. Beehive Cheese has taken Utah and the world by storm with their award-winning cheeses, including Barely Buzzed, Apple Walnut Smoked, Red Butte Hatch Chili, Seahive, Big John's Cajun, Promontory, Teahive and Pour Me a Slice. They like to say, "This isn't the cheese you grew up with." The Legislature should vote it the official cheddar of the state! (BDL) 2440 E. 6600 South, No. 8, Uintah, 801-476-0900, beehivecheese.com
2. Fivewives Vodka
3. Hemplucid

Best Trade School
Stringham Schools

For more than 30 years, this local real-estate educator has been turning out graduates of what is now a 120-hour real-estate sales agent course. They almost guarantee that you will pass the state exam and teach you how to take the test. If you’ve been in the business and want to move to broker status, they offer advanced classes as well as continuing education courses that licensees are required to take every two years. The founders sold the school 12 years ago but, as the current owners say, “it has continued to offer high-quality education with personable staff that’s like family.” And they offer home-inspection courses through a nationwide sister company, American Home Inspector’s Training. (BDL) 635 W. 5300 South, Ste. 301, SLC, 801-269-8889, stringhamschools.com
2. SLCC
3. Healing Mountain

Best Business School
U of U David Eccles School of Business

Founded in 1917, the school offers 12 institutes and centers, priding itself on delivering "academic research and support in an ecosystem of entrepreneurship, technology and innovation." Thousands have graduated from one of nine undergrad and four MBA programs, and (before COVID-19) students traveled the globe through Eccles Global to see how the world does business. The DESB helps students launch companies, offers scholarships and focuses on diversity in a business world needing to innovate. (BDL) eccles.utah.edu
2. Westminster College
3. BYU Marriott School of Business

Spencer Young Sr.
  • Spencer Young Sr.

Best Family-Owned Business
Young Auto Group

This family-owned company has been in business in Utah since 1924 and now has 18 retail automotive franchises as well as several other companies across the state and in southern Idaho. They've understood how important family (and extended family) are during COVID-19, stepping up and sanitizing workplaces throughout the day and offering free pickup and delivery for sales and service. Through charity work, in partnership with Davis Education Foundation, they've helped clothe 475 kids and have helped their communities since they opened shop in Morgan, Utah, just before the Great Depression. (BDL) youngautomotive.com
2. Tony Caputo's Market and Deli
3. All Hours Plumbing

Best Local Manufacturer / Best Local Gear Brand
Black Diamond (Clarus Corp)

Clarus Corp., which owns the Black Diamond brand, is a leading developer, manufacturer and distributor of outdoor equipment and lifestyle products that focus on the climb, ski, mountain, sport and skin-care industries. Their products are sold under the Black Diamond, Sierra (bullets), PIEPS and SKINourishment brand names. Their climbON skin cream bar is one of their newer products that's never been tested on any mammal other than humans and meets high environmental sustainability standards for our earth and waterways. They make specific products for runners, skin and general clean hands, as well. (BDL) 2084 E. 3900 South, SLC, 801-278-5552, claruscorp.com
Best Local Manufacturer Runners-up
2. Purple
3. Lifetime
Best Local Gear Brand Runners-up
2. Cotopaxi
3. Klymit

Commerce | Staff Picks

Best Myth Shatterer
Wells Fargo Center

A popular Salt Lake City urban legend of the'70s, '80s and '90s was that an ordinance prohibited any building taller than the 420-foot LDS Church Office Building within the city limits. The myth was shattered in 1998 with the opening of a 422-foot skyscraper at the corner of Main and 300 South. (The church edifice appears higher because it's on an incline). Originally built as headquarters for American Stores, later sold to the Wasatch Group, the Wells Fargo Center's large faux "windows" impart a welcoming vibe—compared with the stark, monolithic church structure, which has more stories: 28 compared with 24. The Wells Fargo high-rise was designed by HKS Architects of Dallas, famous for the cavernous AT&T Stadium, home of the Texas Rangers. It will soon be joined or exceeded in height by new downtown construction including the 28-story Salt Palace Convention Center Hotel; 24-story Liberty Sky residential tower at 151 S. State; and Tower 8, a 28-story high-rise office at 95 S. State. (LG) 299 S. Main, SLC

Best 'Wanna Talk Tall?'
Rio Tinto Kennecott's Smelter

You can spot it to the northwest, rising from the base of the Oquirrhs. At 1,215 feet, Kennecott Utah's Garfield Smelter smokestack is a mere 35 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. The tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi, it's also the fourth tallest smokestack on earth. After an 84-day continuous concrete pour, it was finished in 1974. Its walls are 12 feet thick at the base and 12 inches thick at the rim, and a Swedish-built gear elevator on the inside takes 20 minutes to travel to the top. Lest environmentalists despair, it's Utah's last operating smelter chimney. (LG) Along Interstate 80 west of Magna

Best Subsidized Senior Housing
Taylor Gardens

Salt Lake City's Housing Authority operates several low-income housing complexes. Taylor Gardens, for 55-plus seniors, is one of the best. The one- and two-bedroom units are small—650 to 821 square feet—but designed to utilize every square centimeter. You'll find ample storage, patios, top-of-the-line appliances and granite countertops. The complex includes a community kitchen/pantry and party area, library common areas, TV rooms and exercise spaces. The immaculate landscaping is on par with Temple Square. There are income restrictions but if you fit the criteria, this is the place. (LG) 1790 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-466-9012

Editor's note: An earlier version of the Stringham Schools story ("Best Trade School") indicated an incorrect number of hours to become certified as a real-estate sales agent. It has been corrected to 120 hours.


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Recreation | Readers' Picks

Best Local Recreational Sports Store
Recreation Outlet

Love the outdoors, but don't love having to save big bucks for expensive outdoor gear? Recreation Outlet has a huge selection of gear—at reasonable prices—for whatever adventure you're feeling up to. This local company has locations in Salt Lake, Ogden and American Fork. Plus, you also have to option to order online, and they'll ship it to you! (ML&CL) Multiple locations, 801-484-4800, recreationoutlet.com
2. Level 9
3. Sports Den

Best Bowling Alley
Bonwood Bowl

This iconic bowling alley is a local favorite. With nightly specials, lessons and leagues, Bonwood is right up Utah's alley. They serve food and beer with plenty of options for alternative bar games into the wee hours of the night. Bonwood's expansive facility boasts 42 lanes, capturing audiences who don't like to wait around all night for a game. (ML&CL) 2500 S. Main, SLC, 801-487-7758, bonwoodbowl.com
2. Pins and Ales
3. Olympus Hills

Best Snowboarding
Brighton Ski Resort

This all-terrain resort serves a wide range of snowboarders, from beginners taking lessons to advanced backcountry boarders. The mountain is generally divided into levels, meaning you can ride the same lift and switch up runs within your ability. The variety of wide and narrow routes makes exploring the mountain fun. Just don't get stuck on a cat track. (ML&CL) 8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731, brightonresort.com
2. Snowbird
3. Solitude

Best Bike Shop
Contender Bicycles

Looking for a new ride? Live in Utah or even out of town? Contender is the bike shop you want to go to whether you are a newbie or a weathered rider. Whatever your skill level, the exceptional staff can make recommendations, from any bike model to any part. They can ship to you free with a $50 purchase or more. (ML&CL) 989 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-364-0344, contenderbicycles.com
2. Bingham Cyclery
3. Saturday Cycles

Best State Park
Goblin Valley State Park

A mere four-hour drive lands you in the valley of stunted hoodoos, otherwise known as goblins. These red rocks have some of the most interesting rock formations you'll find in Utah. Everything from easy hikes to guided canyoneering is available for a $5 entrance fee and any required permits, depending on your final destination. (ML&CL) 18630 Goblin Valley Road, Green River, 435-275-4584, stateparks.utah.gov/parks/goblin-valley
2. Antelope Island
3. Snow Canyon

Best Skate Shop
Milosport

It's hard to dive into a new sport like skateboarding, but it's even harder to trust the gear. Milosport's friendly, knowledgeable staff has experience with everything boards, so you'll come out feeling confident in your purchase. Responsive and easy to get a hold of online, they'll bend over backward and do a 360 to get you the best service. (ML&CL) 3119 E. 3300 South, 801-487-8600, milosport.com
2. Raunch
3. Salty Peaks

Best Bike Path
Jordan River Parkway

Jordan River Parkway is a smoothly paved, two-lane bike and pedestrian trail extending from northern Utah Lake to North Salt Lake. It spans 45 miles with beautiful scenery along the Jordan River. Perfect for bikers with minimal obstacles, this well-maintained path is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dogs allowed on leash. (ML&CL) Jordan River Commission, 801-536-4158, jordanrivercommission.com
2. Snowbasin
3. Bonneville Shoreline

Best Hike Path
Lake Blanche Trailhead

Extensive and steep, this Big Cottonwood Canyon hike is an adventurer's dream: its ultimate reward is at the top. The narrow out-and-back trail features natural shade if you're an early bird. The sound of running water teases you as you hike the trail until reaching the vast, glassy lake at the top. Plan on a half day to finish this hike. (ML&CL) 4.3 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Mill B South Fork Picnic Area (just before the S curve), fs.usda.gov
2. Living Room
3. Dog Lake

Best Public Golf Course
Mountain Dell Golf Course

This well-maintained golf course offers gorgeous scenery without needing to spend a lot on the sport (or the view). It's a short 20-minute drive from Salt Lake City for some peaceful golfing. Since the course is large, you might want to rent a golf cart. Also, check it out during the winter months for snow activities with the family. (ML&CL) Parleys Canyon, Interstate 80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812, mountaindellgc.com
2. Bonneville
3. Bountiful Ridge

Best Ski Resort
Snowbird

This highly rated ski resort isn't for the weak-kneed and is highly preferred by more advanced skiers. Its outstanding powder days and access to Mineral Basin through an easy access tunnel make for amazing runs in challenging bowls and chutes, through tree glades and on groomed trails. Create your own route by combining tree terrain and cliff jumps down these vertical slopes. Night skiing and the Tram are also a bonus. (ML&CL) 9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, Snowbird, 1-800-232-9542, snowbird.com
2. Brighton
3. Alta

Best Ski Shop
Sports Den

This shop might look small from the outside, but their ski selections are larger than the Cheesecake Factory menu. Sports Den offers exceptional quality on your tune ups and takes pride in their customer service. For beginner skiers, it's important to rent or buy from a shop that fits you with the proper gear. They're not just looking to sell you the most expensive products—just what's right for you. (ML&CL) 1350 Foothill Drive, SLC, 801-582-5611, sportsden.com
2. Milosport
3. Wasatch Touring


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Outdoors & Recreation | Staff Picks

Best Swimming Pool Alternative
Rockport Reservoir

Where do you go to cool off during one of the hottest Utah summers on record when many of the state's public swimming pools are closed due to COVID? Just 30 minutes from downtown, Rockport Reservoir offers sandy beaches and crisp mountain water perfect for a socially distanced soak. Park in any of the roadside lots on the west end of the reservoir for just $5—one cheap way to spend a sweltering weekend. (MW) 9040 N. State Highway 302, Peoa, 435-336-2241, stateparks.utah.gov

Best Scenic Hike for the Family
Stewart Falls Trail

Family and dog-friendly, this scenic trail is only 3.4 miles out and back. The views are grand: With Mount Timpanogos in the background, there's a gorgeous waterfall at the trail's end, the perfect spot to eat your well-deserved snacks. If you want to explore, you can take in the scenery from the base of the initial waterfall. (ML&CL) 40.4043, -111.605, utahvalley.com/listing/stewart-falls/708/

Best Real Estate Deal That Saved Hobbitville
Allen Park Opening to the Public

In a welcome move, Salt Lake City saved the city's most unique, wooded property from becoming another housing development. Then, adopting its legendary name, Mayor Erin Mendenhall opened Allen Park to the public for the first time in 50 years. George and Ruth Allen bought the seven-acre site along Emigration Creek east of Westminster College in 1931. The Allens' eclectic taste ran to exotic animals—including peacocks—fountains, log houses and mosaic art. Fifteen small duplexes were built in the 1940s. Renters included artists, professors, hippies, students and Howard Berkes, the NPR reporter who filed stories from his house there for decades. Public access ended in the 1960s, and the property decayed. As the forest encroached, the site's peculiarities were mythologized in whispered tales of Hobbitville. Tolkien aside, those who like Gilgal Sculpture Garden's oddities will be charmed by Allen Park. Open seven days a week until dusk. (JR) Parking on Downington Avenue and 1300 East

Best Campsite With Amenities
Currant Creek

This home away from home is remote and quiet, with everything you need for the ultimate glamping experience. A three-hour scenic mountain drive from Salt Lake City brings you to a campground nestled in Aspen trees and hugging the Currant Creek Reservoir. Complete RV hookups, a campfire ring, a picnic table and bathrooms with running water will put this on your list of annual sites for a getaway. (ML&CL) Wasatch Cache National Forest, Forest Road 145, Heber City, 385-273-1100, gocamputah.com

Best BLM Land Getaway
Gandy Warm Springs

This hidden gem rests on the Utah-Nevada border next to Crystal Ball Caves. To get there, head west on U.S. Highway 50/6 from Delta toward the Nevada border and Great Basin National Park. Then, turn right on Gandy Road, 2/3 of a mile before the border, and drive 28 miles north. The grueling dirt road deters many visitors, so you might have the place to yourself. High-profile vehicles are recommended but not required to access this watering hole consisting of caves, waterfalls, pools and clear streams with water temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees—ideal for a summer soak. (ML&CL) 39°27'35.75"N, 114° 2'13.62"W, geology.utah.gov

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Best Wakeless Reservoir to Bring Your SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)
Causey Reservoir

Paddleboarders, here's your dream come true: a wakeless, glassy reservoir lined with trees that touch the sky. Beginners can seek peace and calmness if learning the ways of the SUP. Ogden locals love this hot spot for cliff jumping, kayaking and tube floating. This reservoir, with its long pathways, is ideal for the explorer at heart. (ML&CL) Route 39, Huntsville, 801-999-2103

Best Water Obstacle Course on a Tube
Weber River Tubing

The Weber River is a class II whitewater river not for the faint of heart. If you're looking for more than a lazy float and lots of excitement, then this two-hour float has got it all. This natural obstacle course includes turns, bridges, logs, rapids and last but not least, Rock Alley (it is what it sounds like). Required: a life jacket. Unofficially required: shoes with straps, high-quality tube and sunscreen. (ML&CL) Highway 84, Exit 112, Henefer

Best Historic Farm
Mabey's Pumpkin Patch

With over 45 pumpkin varieties of pumpkin growing annually on 16 acres in the heart of South Jordan at Mabey Farm, the perfect photo opportunity with the kids awaits. Hard stop. Did you know that there were at least 45 pumpkin varieties? Did you know there are still farms in Salt Lake Valley? Make sure you circle the calendar for the end of September and October in time for Halloween 2021 to support this quaint century-old farm and the annual traditions that will likely kick off for you and your family. The Mabey family is rock solid, and their land is a valley treasure. (MS) 10090 S. 1000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-1261, mabeyfarms.com


Media & Politics
Arts & Entertainment
Restaurants
Food & Drink
Nightlife

Communal Pudding
  • Communal Pudding
Restaurants | Readers' Picks

Best Utah County Restaurant
Communal

Communal might just be the best thing to happen to Provo since Steve Young. With crave-worthy dishes like the funeral potato croquette, Clifford Farms pork loin (big enough to share) and butterscotch pudding with salted caramel and cookie crumble, this New American restaurant combines next-level comfort food with locally sourced ingredients and a great wine list. (MW) 102 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-373-8000, communalrestaurant.getbento.com
2. Black Sheep Cafe
3. Station 22

Best New Restaurant
Arlo

Marmalade darling Arlo recently arrived on the SLC dining scene with a global contemporary menu created by renowned chef Milo Carrier. Look for standouts such as lamb ravioli with roasted mushrooms and celery root, and the chicory salad with sumac yogurt, caramelized carrots and quinoa crumble. They're currently open for dinner, brunch and takeout Wednesday through Sunday. (MW) 271 N. Center St., SLC, 385-266-8845, arlorestaurant.com
2. Cultivate Craft Kitchen
3. Carson Kitchen

Best Breakfast
Blue Plate Diner

Blue Plate Diner is a heavy hitter in the breakfast arena for plenty of reasons. Their chile verde is a wake-up call for the ages—whether it's stuffed inside their gargantuan breakfast burritos or slathered on top of their fluffy omelets. If eggs Benedict are more your breakfast jam, you can't go wrong with their traditional and salmon variations, covered in homemade hollandaise sauce and served up with perfectly cooked home fries. Blue Plate's griddle is always hot and ready to sling out traditional pancakes, thick French toast and hearty country corncakes. Combine that stellar menu of breakfast stalwarts with their excellent location in the heart of Sugar House, and it's no secret why locals love Blue Plate. (AS) 2041 S. 2100 East, SLC, 801-463-1151, facebook.com/blueplatediner
2. Roots
3. Park Cafe

Best Indian Restaurant
Bombay House

Given the caliber of truly great Indian food available across our state, it's no small feat for Bombay House to be such a consistent presence at the top of this list. Perhaps that's because it's been part of Utah's culinary identity for years now—or perhaps their roster of curries and chutneys are just that good. Either way, it's clear that they're rocking an impressive menu of Indian favorites and the casual-yet-classy atmosphere is perfect for both special occasions and low-key social calls. Bombay House has been special to the Wasatch Front for years, and we're always happy to see them hanging at the top of this list. (AS) Multiple locations, bombayhouse.com
2. Saffron Valley
3. Kathmandu

Best Atmosphere
Carmine's Italian Restaurant

Looking for classy dining in Cottonwood Heights? Reserve a white-linened table next to the fireplace and enjoy 5-star service at Carmine's, an authentic Italian restaurant (the chef is from Naples) with stand-out favorites like homemade pappardelle with wild boar sauce, wood-fired pizzas and homemade tiramisu. (MW) 2477 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-948-4468, carmines.restaurant
2. HSL
3. Log Haven

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Best Wine List
BTG Wine Bar

It's been quite the year for BTG Wine Bar. A move to a new location, COVID and an earthquake that broke windows didn't deter BTG, which is currently open and pouring more than 75 wines by the glass, plus cocktails, beer and small bites. Sink into one of the deep, leather booths and sip to your heart's content. Flights starting at just $12 are a great way to test your sommelier skills. (MW) 404 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-359-2814, btgwinebar.com
2. Pago
3. Cucina

Best Thai Restaurant
Chabaar Beyond Thai

If you like your Thai food extra spicy, Chabaar Beyond Thai is the place to be. In fact, first-time diners and takeout orders can't go beyond spice level 3. (The restaurant keeps a log of who can handle the heat!) For Thai classics with a twist, try the mango curry, curry pot pie or owner Anny Sooksri's namesake salad with fried chicken, pineapple and sesame vinaigrette. (MW) 87 W. 7200 South, Midvale, 801-566-5100, bestthaifoodinutah.com/chabaarbeyondthai
2. Sawadee
3. Chanon Thai

Best Coffee Shop
Coffee Garden

In spite of all the craziness of 2020, it's nice to know you can still get a cup of joe from your friendly neighborhood Coffee Garden. Their takeout-only model hasn't deterred customers from bringing their own lawn chairs and setting up socially distanced circles on the patio, conjuring up images of pre-COVID coffee talk. Treat yourself to a scratch-made pastry and don't forget to tip your barista. (MW) 878 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-355-3425, coffeegardenslc.com
2. Beans and Brews
3. Publik

Best Downtown SLC Restaurant
Copper Onion

When Copper Onion first opened its doors, Utah didn't really have a place that combined culinary innovation and trendy concepts with local ingredients. As it grew in popularity, Copper Onion honed an authentically Utah perspective. The downtown location makes it the perfect jumping off point for a night out or for taking in a flick at the Broadway Centre Cinemas. Its carefully curated New American cuisine always has something craveworthy. On top of the stellar menu and knowledgeable staff, the atmosphere at Copper Onion is among the best Salt Lake has to offer. (AS) 111 E. 300 South, Ste. 170, SLC, 801-355-3282, thecopperonion.com
2. Takashi
3. Current

Best Desserts
Fillings and Emulsions

It's been a busy year for Fillings and Emulsions. On top of expanding their dessert empire to West Valley and into Salt Lake City International Airport, Chef Adalberto has been organizing fundraising bake sales that have raised thousands of dollars for RAICES. Such growth and community involvement wouldn't be possible without the team's uncanny knack for creative baking. Their signature, gem-toned macarons are what catch your eye while their savory meat pies and decadent dulce de leche cruffins steal your heart. It's hard to enter Fillings and Emulsions without being immediately entranced by the welcoming environment and jaw-dropping desserts constantly on display. (AS) Multiple locations, fillingsandemulsions.com
2. Gourmandise
3. Les Madeleines

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Best Brunch
Piper Down

What's your definition of brunch? If your tastes lean toward pub grub and a breakfast that includes $1.50 mimosas, plenty of vegetarian options and Sunday football, then look no further than Piper Down. Pretend you're across the pond and order a Henry the VIII, Piper Down's take on a traditional English breakfast, or try one of the many mouthwatering breakfast burritos, or ... who are we kidding, you're here for the mimosas, right? (MW) 1492 S. State, SLC, 801-468-1492, piperdownpub.com
2. Little America
3. Ruth's Diner

Best French Restaurant
La Caille

With 23 pastoral acres surrounding a turreted stone French-country chateau, La Caille reopened Sept. 25 following a COVID closure. This elegant eatery boasts a new decorative fire feature and has tripled the size of its front entrance. At press time, the restaurant's classic brunch service is scheduled to return in mid-November. La Caille's charcuterie board—filled with local and French cheeses, meats, housemade crostinis, chutneys and a local pickled mustard-seed honey—is a don't-miss, as is the French onion soup—on the menu since La Caille opened—capped with layers of French cheeses and served with a toasted baguette and garlic spread. For entrees, executive chef Billy Sotelo recommends the grilled Wagyu with toasted shishito pepper or the sea bass, paired with La Caille's wines, two of which—the Seyval Blanc and Chateau Rose—are made from grapes from La Caille's own vineyard. Sotelo notes that La Caille plans to offer Thanksgiving dinner with limited-seating—reservations only—on Wednesday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week. (CC) 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., Sandy, 801-942 1751, lacaille.com
2. Eva's Bakery
3. Franck's

Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant
Mazza

Fans of Mazza bemoaned the recent closures of their 9th and 9th and Sandy locations, but the original Mazza at 15th and 15th is alive and well. It'll be worth whatever drive is needed to dine at the original location. Readers can't do without Mazza's bold Middle Eastern flavors in dishes like baba ganooj with fresh roasted eggplant, traditional mana'eesh Lebanese flatbreads, house-made lamb sausage with Armenian pickles and plant-based pumpkin kibbeh. And those french fries! (MW) 1515 S. 1500 East, SLC, 801-484-9259, mazzacafe.com
2. Laziz Kitchen
3. Afghan Kitchen

Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Oh Mai Sandwich Kitchen

As far as consistently delicious pho and banh mi goes, Oh Mai rarely disappoints. Their curry chicken banh mi next to a big bowl of meatball pho are essential cold-weather fare in Utah. Looking for a damned near perfect breakfast? Try the sunny-side up egg banh mi with a cup of pho broth for dipping. Even for lunch or dinner, the meal captures the heart and soul of the Vietnamese comfort food, making it easy to understand how Oh Mai, with its nine locations, has become a favorite of all of the "pho-natics" out there. (AS) Multiple locations, ohmaisandwichkitchen.com
2. Little Saigon
3. All Chay

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Best Bakery
Gourmandise

What can you say about an institution like Gourmandise? The quaint, Euro-by-way-of-Utah vibe had made this local bakery a dessert destination for years. Whether you're there to snack on a buttery croissant or planning to indulge in one of their many French-inspired meals, you're always in for a treat. Their chocolate mousse cake is decadence incarnate, and their strawberry mille feuille is a creamy dream of a dessert, and that's just to name a few. Sure, we all have our favorites, but exploring that stocked display case in the center of the restaurant is ever a fun adventure. (AS) Multiple locations, gourmandisethebakery.com
2. Fillings and Emulsions
3. Les Madeleines

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Best Restaurant to Impress Newcomers / Best Mexican Restaurant
Red Iguana

Local foodies have long been impressed with Red Iguana's spectacular menu, bulwarked by its selection of primo moles, so it's a no-brainer to stop there when friends and family come to visit. We know that most every sane person loves Mexican food, so when we find a place like Red Iguana that takes such a sincere and hard-working approach to this beloved cuisine, it holds a special place in our hearts. I can't remember how many times we've suggested Red Iguana as a recommendation for our Utah visitors, and based on this year's Best of Utah results, neither can all y'all. (AS) Multiple locations, rediguana.com
Best Restaurant to Impress Newcomers Runners-up
2. Copper Onion
3. Table X
Best Mexican Restaurant Runners-up
2. Chile Tepin
3. Blue Iguana

Best Chinese Restaurant
Red Maple Chinese

The people have spoken. Red Maple is the readers' choice, even if the doors to the dining room happen to be closed due to COVID. Fear not, you can still order to-go or via delivery. No pandemic can come between the people and Red Maple's savory, spicy favorites such as salt and pepper pork, beef with Chinese broccoli, Singapore noodles with stir-fried shrimp, French-style beef steak, barbecue pork lo mein, beef chow fun, Hong Kong duck and ham fried rice along with a full dim sum menu served all day. Flavors are sublime, and portions are generous. Consider a party platter for a family gathering. We'll one day return to this bustling eatery for weekend dim sum, but in the meantime, don't deny yourself—order it to-go. (JW) 2882 W. 4700 South, Taylorsville, 801-747-2888, redmaplechinese.com
2. Mandarin
3. Mom's Kitchen

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Best Park City Restaurant
Riverhorse on Main

Offering a menu of eclectic American dishes, Forbes-rated Riverhorse on Main shines when it comes to spotlighting flavors of the West, like their trio of wild game with North American buffalo, venison and elk expertly paired with herb shallot butter and Oregon huckleberry, hand-cut buffalo tartare or pistachio-crusted local rainbow trout. Be sure to save room for apple bread pudding with award-winning Promontory cheddar from Beehive Cheese Co. (MW) 540 Main St., Park City, 435-649-3536, riverhorseparkcity.com
2. Handle
3. Grappa

Best Italian Restaurant
Sicilia Mia

After a brief closure, Sicilia Mia diners are happy to be wowed once again by the tableside preparation of carbonara inside a warmed grana padano cheese wheel that's two feet wide. Grana padano, according to Sicilia Mia co-owner Giuseppe Mirenda, is the best cheese in Italy. Additional parmagiana pecorino cheese is added to the hot housemade noodles before they are blended inside the cheese wheel with other ingredients, including eggs and pancetta. Mirenda says the rich and delicious mushroom ravioli is returning by popular demand to Sicilia Mia's three currently open locations in Holladay, Farmington and 15th and 15th (the new La Trattoria de Francesco). Antica Sicilia is set to reopen mid-November, with all locations reducing their seating capacity by half while taking care to follow health department edicts, including wearing masks and seating guests six feet apart, Mirenda says. But if takeout is your thing, consider the highly flavorful Margherita pizza. "All pizza ingredients are premium—from the mozzarella to the tomato, to the basil," says Mirenda. (CC) Multiple locations, siciliamiautah.com
2. Caffe Molise
3. Carmine's Italian Restaurant

Best Salt Lake Valley Restaurant
SLC Eatery

With its rustic-industrial interior and the constant motion of servers pushing dim sum-style food carts among its tables, SLC Eatery is in a league of its own. It's one of those places that bet big on a risky concept and quadrupled its return—which is why it's so fun to eat there. While it should be counted among Utah's most sleek and hip places to snag a bite to eat, there's an air of culinary mischief that permeates the revolving menu and rides invisibly among the amuse-bouches that wheel around the space. A visit to SLC Eatery is never short on surprises. (AS) 1017 S. Main, SLC, 801-355-7952, slceatery.com
2. Oquirrh
3. Provisions

Best Innovative Menu
Table X

If you've got a culinary rut that you'd like to get out of your system, then Table X needs to be on your list. This is a place where summer squash turns spaetzle into a work of art, and where perfectly cooked wild mushrooms are just as satisfying as a medium-rare steak. The innovative menu on display at Table X bespeaks impeccable taste. Only a few local places embrace the chaos of invention like Table X, which is why it continues to show up among Utah's finest restaurants. (AS) 1457 E. 3350 South, SLC, 385-528-3712, tablexrestaurant.com
2. Oquirrh
3. SLC Eatery

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Best Restaurant Patio
Ruth's Diner

Few dining areas convey Utah's natural beauty as effectively as the patio at Ruth's Diner. It's lovely no matter when you visit, but if you're lucky enough to enjoy some of Ruth's homemade favorites as the sun sets on the Wasatch Mountains, it's impossible not to appreciate your backyard. Of course, fantastic patio dining can't happen without memorable food, which is something of a specialty at Ruth's Diner. A dinner of meatloaf or Atlantic salmon chased with a tall dish of Ruth's chocolate malt pudding while listening to the wind in the trees is usually enough to solve all of our problems—for a few sublime minutes, anyway. (AS) 4160 Emigration Canyon Road, SLC, 801-582-5807, ruthsdiner.com
2. Tuscany
3. The Cliff Dining Pub

Best Greek Restaurant
The Other Place

In addition to The Other Place's buzzy breakfast-joint vibe, its traditional Greek lunch and dinner items are what secured its place as the "Sakis Rouvas" of local Greek food. Their gyros and kabobs are marinated and roasted to perfection—the gyro omelet is one of the finest cultural crossovers you can experience. For dinner, The Other Place serves up everything from traditional dishes like dolmathes and moussaka, to leg of lamb over rice. Though The Other Place rubs elbows with some of Salt Lake's hippest real estate, its staying power over several decades has made it a crucial part of the local community. (AS) 469 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-521-6567, theotherplacerestaurant.com
2. Manoli's
3. Greek Souvlaki

Best Ogden Restaurant
Tona

When it comes to Ogden, we're always amazed at two things: 1. the sheer number of great restaurants and clubs to be enjoyed there; and 2. why more Salt Lakers don't make the quick jaunt up Interstate 15 (or take FrontRunner to 25th Street). Tona is but one example of an O-town culinary destination that must be experienced; it's simply one of the finest eateries along the Wasatch Front. From bento and udon to sushi and sashimi and beyond, a Tona meal is well worth the journey. (MS) 210 25th St., Ogden, 801-622-8662, tonarestaurant.com
2. Rooster's
3. Slackwater

Best Gluten-Free /Best Vegetarian
Zest

A haven for health-conscious foodies, Zest offers delicious dishes like nachos made with cashew sour cream and house veggie cheese, Cuban tacos with orange marinated jackfruit and vegan carrot cake. Everything on the menu is plant based, gluten-free, soy-free and vegetarian or vegan (owner Casey Staker is vegan himself), including creative takes on cocktails made with cold-pressed juices, fresh fruit and CBD oil. (MW) 275 S. 200 West, SLC, 801-433-0589, zestslc.com
Best Gluten-Free Runners-up
2. City Cakes
3. Good Food Gluten Free
Best Vegetarian Restaurant Runners up
2. Buds Sandwich Shop

3. Seasons Plant Based Bistro


Breakfast Nochos
  • Breakfast Nochos

Restaurants | Staff Picks

Best View & Brew
Brewvies Cinema Pub

There were few COVID-19 yearnings these past months like those of longing to sit back at your favorite theater to watch a movie. After a pause, Brewvies is back at it, once again serving up drinks, pool and movies (with reserved and safely distanced seating). They were the originator in this region for the cinemapub concept, and we're all happy to see the reels spinning once again at both locations. Play it again, Sam. (MS) 677 S. 200 West, SLC, 801-322-3891; 2293 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-392-2012, brewviews.com

Best Taste of Argentina
Argentina's Best Empanadas

Ana Valdemoros makes damned good Argentinian empanadas. Without the big bucks for a brick-and-mortar restaurant, she put heads together with other talented chefs at the Square Kitchen incubator. Her food is cooked there and sold elsewhere. Thus, she doesn't cook food in her store—just sells the finished product. The lemon beef is to die for. (BDL) 357 S. 200 East, SLC, 801-548-8194, argentinasbestslc.com

Best Cross-culture Combo
Angry Korean

The cross-cultural comfort food boundaries get deliciously blurry at South Jordan's Angry Korean. Chicken wings, poke, sushi, tacos and the unapologetic Korean cheesesteak can all be found under one roof. Of course, fans of traditional Korean food will feel right at home with their menu of bulgogi and japchae, but The Angry Korean's ability to throw down so many different favorites and make them all taste amazing is what makes them special. One visit and they'll become a regular fixture in your takeout roster. Did I mention they also do po' boys, chicken sandwiches and steamed buns? Because they do all that, too. (AS) 11587 S. District, Main Drive, Ste. 300, South Jordan, 801-307-8300, facebook.com/theangrykorean

Best Breakfast Delicacies
Beaumont Bakery and Café

At Beaumont Bakery, bakers arrive at 3 a.m. to allow the dough to rise for the French pastries pre-laminated with layers of butter before being baked to perfection in the form of cruffins, croissants, stars and kouign-amann. Two or three turkeys are baked daily for the turkey sandwiches served on cranberry spice bread with a hint of cinnamon. Bacon jam, truffle aioli and a sprig of watercress highlight the truffle bun. Smoked paprika aioli adds zest to the french fries. The most popular dish is the avocado toast. "I recommend customers order avocado toast with the silkiness of our medium egg," says manager Jacob Johnson. "We feel like we give customers what they want: great setting, great view and great food," he says. "There's no compromising on the quality." The s'mores and peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are among the dessert favorites. (CC) 3979 Wasatch Blvd., Millcreek, 801-676-9340, beaumont.cafe

Best Sunday Funday
Carson Kitchen

Getting all sorts of buzz for everything from their "social plates" to secret-ingredient baked mac and cheese, newcomer Carson Kitchen really shines when it comes to their Sunday brunch menu—the drink menu, that is. Their "Day Drinking" offerings include soon-to-be cult faves like That's My Jam with bacon jam vodka, house bloody mary mix and fresh lime; The Dude Abides with citrus vodka, almond milk, cold brew liqueur and orange bitters; and the Water Malone featuring gin, watermelon, mint, fresh lemon and balsamic vinegar. (MW) 241 W. 200 South, SLC, 385-252-3200, carsonkitchen.com

Best Mega Margaritas
Blue Iguana

The Blue Iguana has attracted diners for years to its colorful décor and decidedly fine array of Mexican dishes. But, let your eye wander the menu to the drinks section. There, you discover not only your standard tequila-lime drinks like the traditional Iguanarita, but the 16-ounce Grande Margarita (with brandy and Grande Marnier) and the 32-ounce (yes, a quart) Mega Margarita, which adds mango, peach, strawberry or lime to the standard Patron, triple sec and agave. If that sounds heavy, opt for the Coronarita—yep, a margarita with Corona beer. (MS) 165 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-533-8900, blueiguanarestaurant.net

Best Nostalgia Delivery
Buttered Bake Shop

One of the best things about growing up is discovering that talented professional bakers share your childhood love of Pop Tarts and Dunkaroos. The folks at Buttered Bake Shop understand the hardwired devotion that adults have for the boxed snacks that they grew up on, and they've made such great improvements. Their Pop Tarts are flaky, buttery and packed with fruity tartness, and their crisp shortbread Dunkaroos with rainbow sprinkle frosting are infinitely munchable. Buttered Bake Shop is currently delivery-only, but their user-friendly Instagram ordering process makes getting a tasty goody box easy—and pandemic friendly. (AS) instagram.com/butteredbakeshop

Best Double-Date Dinner
Cafe Trio

The challenge of any double date is splitting the check with the other couple—just about every time they offer to "go down the middle," they've had two more drinks than you or the other date ate most of the appetizer. Dinner math is the easiest with pizza and flatbreads, and at Cafe Trio, you get fantastic grub, an expansive wine list and the benefit of impressing your significant other sans any awkwardness at the cash register. (MS) 680 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-533-8746, TrioDining.com

Best Rock-Solid Dining
Red Rock Brewery

Red Rock, now with three brewpubs—two in Salt Lake, one in Park City—plus a beer store in the Marmalade District, has been a rock-solid force in the Utah brewing scene since the mid-1990s. Always good, always consistent, always top drawer quality. A major reason for their success has been their strong commitment to superior foods to complement their equally superior beers. From the start, the pasta and wood-fired pizzas were a hit, and we can't resist the Cobb salad. Others die for the French onion soup. The burgers are stellar. Trust us, everything is good. Always. (MS) Multiple locations, redrockbrewing.com

Best New Lebanese
Beirut Cafe

For many years, the cherished Cedars of Lebanon reigned supreme in this category. As a longtime City Weekly favorite, of course, we were sad to hear of Cedars' closing, but fear not. Head out to Murray to the unassuming Beirut Cafe for your traditional Lebanese favorites. The thyme pie is a dish you'll likely not find anywhere else. It also would be impossible to go to a traditional Lebanese joint without ordering the baba ghanouj and falafel, both of which are flawless. (MS) 1326 E. 5600 South, Murray, 801-679-1688, beirutcafe.com

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Best Masala Meets Mangia
Curry Pizza

It was a good day for the world when the owners of Curry Pizza decided to combine traditional Indian dishes with pizza. Their stroke of genius makes us wonder why no one in our neck of the woods had thought of it before. Now that the idea is in full flight, Curry Pizza has expanded from its origins in the small Southern Utah town of Bicknell to locations in South Jordan and West Valley. With a concept as brilliant as combining the convenience and party appeal of pizza with the vibrant flavors found in traditional Indian cuisine, it's no surprise that Curry Pizza has taken off in such style. (AS) Multiple locations, currypizzaonline.com

Best Healthy Mediterranean
Couscous Mediterranean Grill

With nearly nothing unhealthy about Mediterranean food to start with, it's hard to make it even healthier. Enter Couscous. Besides all the vegetarian, lean meats and seafood options, Couscous takes it up a notch by preparing and cooking all their servings with heart-healthy olive oil. For toppers, they present a gluten-free category that includes quinoa or zucchini noodles. Try their Mediterranean nachos made with garbanzo chips. (MS) 5470 S. 900 East, Ste. A, Murray, 801-938-8307, couscousgrill.com

Best Crepes Catering
Dali Crepes

If your summer European trip was canceled due to COVID-19, try pretending West Temple is the Champs-Élysées as you stroll to Dali Crepes, Utah's newest creperie. Along with their brick-and-mortar location, Dali Crepes wants to bring their crepe cook to cater your next Christmas party, wedding reception or work event. Don't limit yourself to the nutella and fruit—their crepes can include protein, cheese and other savory items. (MS) 2854 S. West Temple, SLC, 385-228-4280, dalicrepes.com

Best Tomahawk Tuesday
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Fleming's is a local favorite for the carnivore/meat-lover crowd. Do you consider yourself a steak aficionado? If so, you're likely familiar with the Holy Grail of steaks, the tomahawk. Featuring a most-impressive amount of meat, Fleming's version of the tomahawk is a 35-ounce ribeye steak for two (obviously) that's served with salads, sides and desserts—if you have room. (MS) 20 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-355-3704, flemingssteakhouse.com

Best Orange Chicken
Ginger Street

Ginger Street wows in so many ways. From its funky vibe highlighted by its distinct, bright-pink neon sign to its walk-up ice cream window, the ecletic downtown eatery is as upbeat as it is tasty. Say goodbye to Panda Express—the casual Asian restaurant has killer orange chicken, with a nice blend of zest, scallion, chili powder and rice. (MS) 324 S. State, SLC, 385-477-4975, gingerstreet.com

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Best Presentation
HSL, Handle Park City

Partners Briar Handly, Melissa Gray and Meagan Nash created Handle Park City and Handle Salt Lake (HSL) with a vision of curating a masterful American cuisine dining experience, interesting wines and thoughtful cocktails. Every dish at the restaurants is artistic and tasty—each a carefully crafted, Instagram-worthy (oh, those Millennials!) presentation. (MS) 418 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-539-9999 HSLRestaurant.com; 136 Heber Ave, Park City, 435-602-1155, HandleParkCity.com

Best Reason to Be a Mall Rat
HallPass at the Gateway

Remember hanging out at the mall food court in high school, where the scent of freshly baked Cinnabon rolls swirled with aromas of Sbarro and Hot Dog on a Stick? Gateway has taken that memory to a whole new level with HallPass, a food court concept catering to adults featuring offerings like Nashville hot chicken, lobster rolls, ramen and cocktails—yes, cocktails!—in a contemporary, art-forward space that encourages you to not take this whole "adulting" thing too seriously. (MW) 153 S. Rio Grande St., Ste. 107, SLC, 801-415-9886, hallpassslc.com

Best Hard-to-Find Appetizers
Hearth & Hill

Hearth & Hill, a welcoming gathering place in Park City, has a collection of some of the tastiest and "out there" appetizers. The shrimp bagna cauda is a must try, which is a traditional Italian dish made with garlic and anchovies. Hearth & Hill also serves up tostadas, pierogis, gyoza, truffle mac 'n' cheese, ahi poke bowl and other specialties from around the world. (MS) 1153 Center Drive, Park City, 435-200-8840, Hearth-Hill.com

Best Asian Farm to Table
Hong Kong Tea House & Restaurant

As one of Utah's fantastic Cantonese restaurants, Hong Kong Tea House is a go-to for delicious small bites such as dumplings and dim sum. But it's also one of few downtown ethnic restaurants that's farm-to-table. Hong Kong Tea House has a booth at the Downtown Farmers Market each week selling greens and veggies. Then, they add those ingredients to their huge menu of dim sum and Chinese recipes. Ah, farm fresh! You've never tasted better. (BDL & MS) 565 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-531-7010, hongkongteahouse.yolasite.com

Best Anniversary Dinner
Log Haven

Just because COVID has made us nervous about dining out doesn't mean all our special occasions come to a screeching halt. Log Haven hasn't forgotten what it takes to keep the magic alive, and to that end, they've created a spectacular meal, one that can be pre-ordered, picked up and enjoyed at home after a delightful canyon drive with your honey bunch. Executive chef David Jones' Beef Wellington dinner for two is a boneless beef filet wrapped in layers of finely chopped mushrooms and puff pastry, then baked to perfection. It's served with fingerling potatoes, a side vegetable and a red-wine demi-glace. Plus, you can kick things off with a classic Caesar salad and top it off with a decadent dessert, all for $125. Before 2020 came around, would you have ever entertained the idea of ordering a heavenly meal such as this as takeout! Log Haven's Anniversary Dinner is one to tell the grandkids about. (JW) 6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, SLC, 801-272-8255, log-haven.com/our-food-wine/anniversary-dinner

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Best Ribs & Relics
Kaiser's BBQ & General Store

Among the number of rib and BBQ joints in town, Kaiser's is the one that proudly hails itself as a Texas-style eatery. Good choice, since Texas is regarded as the king of BBQ, and Kaiser's brings it home to Utah with an array of slow cooked and tasty selections such as brisket, pork ribs and rib tips on their menu. While you're waiting, don't forget to peruse of the general store offerings including yard decorations made of metal and wrought iron. (MS) 962 S. 300 West, SLC, 801-355-0499, saltlakebbq.com

Best Ogden Pizza
Lucky Slice

Historic 25th Street in Ogden is home to Lucky Slice, a welcoming pizzeria with gourmet sauces and ingredients, with pies sold whole or by the slice. Since opening, Lucky Slice has seen a hockey stick spike in popularity and has expanded to locations in Logan, Clearfield and Powder Mountain. Salt Lake resident? No problem. Lucky Slice frequents the city in their food truck. (MS) Multiple locations, TheLuckySlice.com

Best Greek Fusion
Manoli's

Partners Manoli Katsanevas and Katrina Cutrubus opened Manoli's with a goal to serve their ancestral Greek heritage favorites with modern flair. One of the finest restaurants Salt Lake has to offer, Manoli's serves up classic Greek meze (appetizers and shared plates) such as yemista (stuffed peppers), tiropita (cheese pie) and kritharaki (orzo and cheddar). Seafood lovers will enjoy the psari psito, a pan-seared branzino served with out-of-this-world lemon roasted potatoes. (MS) 402 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-532-3760, ManolisOn9th.com

Best Reason to Drive to Orem
Mora Iced Creamery

With over 70 rotating gourmet flavors to choose from (48 on any given day), Mora Iced Creamery has earned accolades from the likes of Food + Wine magazine and has quickly become a Utah County favorite with offerings like dulce de leche, swiss chocolate, green tea and lemon bar. Drop by the store to taste test all the flavors or order pints of ice cream online for home delivery. (MW) 541 E. University Parkway, Orem, 385-236-3319, moraicecream.com

Best Eastern Expansion
Nomad East

Situated near the Salt Lake City International Airport, Nomad Eatery is often the first stop for travelers in search of Justin Soelberg's irresistible comfort food. But the American-style eatery recently expanded to the city's east side in the form of Nomad East. The second venture specializes in shared plates and boasts two large pizza ovens and patio seating—it's quieter here without jets coming and going overhead, but both locations are worthy of a night out. (MS) Nomad Eatery, 2110 W. North Temple, SLC, 801-938-9629, Nomad-Eatery.com; Nomad East, 1675 E. 1300 South, SLC, 801-883-9791, Nomad-East.com

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Best Party Baskets
Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers

There are few things as beautiful as a party basket from Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers. You bring in this hefty aluminum tin and peel off the covering to reveal a stack of freshly made chicken fingers, heaping piles of crinkle fries and a stack of buttered toast slices just waiting for you to dive in. I don't know if it's the arrangement, the absurdity or the simplicity that makes one's heart fill with joy at the sight, but there's something magical about this big ol' plate of chicken fingers. Whether you're throwing one of those things we used to have—parties, I think they were called—or just want to chow down with your family, the party baskets at Mr. Charlie's do not disappoint. (AS) 554 W. 4500 South, Murray, 801-803-9486, mrcharlieschickenfingers.com

Best Patio Dining With a Side of Enlightenment
Oasis Cafe

The beautiful courtyard patio and adjacent covered breezeway at Oasis Cafe has long been a favorite of diners in search of al fresco fare, but perhaps even more so this year. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the cafe's socially distanced dining among planters blooming with summertime buds shaded under canvas canopies already has us longing for next spring. (MW) 151 S. 500 East, SLC, 801-322-0404, oasiscafeslc.com

Best Locally Sourced Menu
Oquirrh Restaurant

With a name like Oquirrh (OH-ker, for you California transplants), you know owners Andrew and Angelena Fuller's have a commitment to the local community, including using locally grown and produced food. COVID closures have hit them hard, and we're crossing our fingers their GoFundMe campaign keeps them going so we can continue to enjoy this cozy downtown bistro. For newbies, try the housemade spaghetti, made with Bolognese, house ricotta and chili flake. Dessert is provided by another local establishment, Normal Ice Cream. (MS) 368 E. 100 South, SLC, 801-359-0426, OquirrhSLC.com

Best Escape From the City—in the City
Pallet

Step into Pallet in downtown Salt Lake City, and you'll feel like you're anywhere but. The decor and ambiance are rustic-yet-modern. Pallet's dim lighting and muted brick with wood flooring create an atmosphere unlike any other dining experience in the neighborhood. The menu is unique and creative, offering hearty and delicious cuisine—a few drinks and a meal here make you feel like you've escaped your daily grind. (MS) 237 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-935-4431, EatPallet.com

Best New Home for Tapas Tuesday
Porch

The owners of Porch—who also owned the now-closed small-plate sensation of Meditrina—have woven crowd-pleasing tapas into the Porch menu but with new touches. Along with some of their past hits, Porch offers patrons American classic cuisine, Southern comfort food and shared plates. Enjoy their Tapas Tuesday special, a selection of five plates for just $30, or weekend brunch. (MS) 11274 S. Kestrel Rise Road, South Jordan, 801-679-1066, PorchUtah.com

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Best German
Siegfried's Delicatessen

With the growth of downtown the past few years, we've seen many newcomers already come and go. We're so happy that Siegfried's has held its own for more than 40 years. As one of the last bastions of the "under $10 lunch" downtown, it's easy to see why lines form early and stay strong throughout the lunch hours. You just can't go wrong with the bratwurst and real mustard. Yes, real German mustard that you can buy from their market to level up your home-grilled brats and burgers. (MS) 20 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-355-3891, siegfriedsdelicatessen.com

Best Hawaii in Herriman
Salty Pineapple

We've got a fair selection of traditional Hawaiian grills along the Wasatch Front, but there's something that stands out about Salty Pineapple. For starters, it's the slice of fresh pineapple you get with your order. Another is their perfectly sweet-and-spicy pineapple jalapeño sauce. All I can say is, it's been a long time since I've visited Herriman this much. Lately, my go-to order is the pineapple jalapeño chicken with the kalua pork, but their katsu chicken and teriyaki beef are also fantastic. They give you more than enough food to fill you up, but should you be in the mood for some sweet to go along with your savory, their guava cake is a light and fluffy confection that's oh-so-pretty in pink. (AS) 13262 S. 5600 West, Herriman, 801-890-0532, the-saltypineapple.com

Best Park City Hangover Cure
The Cabin

Night out on the town in Park City? Partygoers at The Cabin are quick to return to the origins of their debauchery for breakfast or lunch, where they find a nifty patio and welcoming interior. The breakfast sandwich is a masterful blend of housemade maple habanero sausage, avocado, brown sugar bacon, cheddar, egg and kimchi aioli. The Main Street bar has a number of delectable pizzas, sandwiches and shareables. (MS) 427 Main St., Park City, 435-565-2337, TheCabinParkCity.com

Best Family-Style Dining in Ogden
Union Grill

After being tucked cozily in Ogden's Union Station for 25 years where it catered to locals, newcomers, travelers and train workers, Union Grill moved to 24th Street in 2016. The move gave the eatery the chance to enhance their offerings for Ogdenites. They famously serve up a delicious family-style menu, including their legendary pasta salad, an Ogden classic. (MS) 315 24th St., Ogden, 801-621-2830, UnionGrillOgden.com

Best Apres-Ski Hob-Nobbing
Porcupine Pub & Grille

Nestled at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Porcupine in Cottonwood Heights is a much-beloved watering hole for apres-ski refueling since 1998. Skiers, snowboarders, cyclists and hikers frequent the pub and grill for their famous nachos, fish tacos and expansive selection of local beers, wines and spirits. Further north, by the University of Utah, Porcupine is a noshing and brews hub for students. (MS) 3698 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-942-5555; 258 S. 1300 East, SLC, 801-582-5555; PorcupinePub.com

Best Mini French Vacation
The French Spot

International travel not in the cards? Simply head south to Cedar City and drop by The French Spot. Owned by Lyonese chef Michael Attali and managed by his daughter Leah, their walk-up window offers homemade croissants, crepes, quiche and macarons alongside the most perfect cappuccino you've ever sipped. Don't let its tiny facade fool you; the daily lunch and dinner specials hold their own against any Michelin-starred French restaurant—and, no passport is required.(MW) 5 N. Main St., Cedar City, 347-886-8587, thefrenchspotcafe.com

Best Study Spot
Publik Coffee

Roast, grind, brew. Sit, study, sip and repeat. Publik Coffee and Kitchen's four locations (though two are temporarily closed due to COVID-19) are havens for college-age folk to hunker down over a cup of joe, avocado toast and textbooks. Publik has a contemporary vibe and offers enough privacy and Wi-Fi bandwidth for students to complete their studies. Among the coffee shops in town, Publik's fantastic food fare is tough to beat. (MS) Multiple locations, publikcoffee.com

Best Restaurant Personality
Valter's Osteria

Ciao bella! Valter Nassi, the proprietor of Valter's Osteria, is often seen going table to table, welcoming new diners into his establishment as if they were lifelong friends. The ringmaster is a huge restaurant personality in Utah, and his fare is an ode to traditional Italian cooking. A classy selection is the gnocchi all'arrabbiata. Or if you're looking for an adventure, allow Nassi to make your dinner choice for you. (MS) 173 W. 300 South, SLC, 801-521-4563, valtersosteria.com


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Food & Drink | Readers' Picks

Best Pizza
The Pie

The Pie is the unsung hero of many a Salt Lake student. Anyone who has graduated from the University of Utah, in particular, owes a debt of gratitude to this pizza establishment. How many late-night study sessions were fueled by pizza from The Pie? How many undergrads popped in for a quick slice in between classes? How many study groups gathered within its dimly lit walls to prepare for an upcoming exam? Maybe all that college-student cash financed The Pie's expansion to other areas of the Wasatch Front. If the world were a just place, every graduating class commencement would include a mention of gratitude for The Pie. (AS) Multiple locations, thepie.com
2. Pie Hole
3. Este Pizza

Best Donuts
Banbury Cross

As we embrace wearing sweatpants and our new remote working lives, donuts have become powerful tools for getting us out of bed in the morning. If they're Banbury Cross donuts, we might even attempt to make a good day out of it. Banbury offers literally dozens of ways to satisfy that deep-fried, sugar-dusted craving, but the cinnamon crumb donut in particular is a wonder among wonders. It has the perfect rise, giving each bite a fluffy texture that quickly melts in your mouth. The cinnamon crumb finish adds yet another layer to this donut's arsenal, making it one of the most delightful sweets one can get in our neck of the woods. (AS) 705 S. 700 East, SLC, 801-537-1433, facebook.com/BanburyCrossDonuts
2. Big O
3. Donuts and Deli

Best Burrito
Beto's Mexican Food

The burrito menu at Beto's is an accurate indicator of someone's personality. We tend to gravitate toward the Texano and machaca side of the burrito spectrum—if that describes you as well, then we're probably best friends. If you're more of a carne asada or California kind of burrito enthusiast, we'd probably collaborate well on a professional project. If you go for the fish or camarón burrito, we might start out as enemies but work our way into a grudging respect for one another. Of course, the Beto's breakfast burrito is the great equalizer—we could end worldwide conflict if everyone on the planet ate one of these at exactly the same time. (MS) Multiple locations, betosmexicanfood.com 2. Albertos
3. Lone Star Taqueria

Best French Fries
Bruges Belgian Bistro

For years, french fries have been relegated to the sidelines while burgers and chicken fingers got the main dish treatment, but that was before Bruges. While it's home to a number of other tasty creations, the fries—or frites—at Bruges can stand proudly as a meal in and of themselves. It's the twice-fried approach combined with the wide range of dipping sauces that make the Bruges frites so delightful. For a true frites experience, one must experience the Machine Gun sandwich, in which those famous frites are stuffed into a baguette with lamb sausage and spicy andalouse sauce. (AS) Multiple locations, brugeswaffles.com
2. Spitz
3. Crown Burger

Best Food Truck
Cluck Truck

What's the secret to winning the award for Best Food Truck? Apparently it involves locally sourced chicken brined for 24 hours then dredged in corn flakes and special spices, which is exactly how Cluck Truck preps their deliciously moist chicken tenders before rolling them up in a variety of wraps, like the Hawaiian or Buffalo, with homemade sauces and slaws. Don't forget a side of garlic Parmesan fries! (MW) roaminghunger.com/the-cluck-truck-ut
2. Waffle Love
3. Fácil

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Best Brewery
Fisher Brewing Co.

There are many ways to create a successful business model. But it takes real insight to find a formula that fires on all cylinders. Fisher fans not only find the beer delicious, they also clamber for the cozy, open-air industrial brewhouse that enhances the drinking experience. Combine that with a neighborly staff and a philosophy that encourages stewardship of public lands, and you've got a prosperous, home-grown craft beer watering hole that any community-minded person would be a fool to pass by. (MR) 320 W. 800 South, SLC, 801-487-2337, fisherbeer.com
2. Shades Brewing
3. TF Brewing

Best Seafood
Current

With a focus on sustainability, chef Alan Brines offers up some of Salt Lake's finest seafood, including oysters on the half shell, grilled halibut with saffron cream and quite possibly the world's best fish stew in a coconut lemongrass broth. Save room for dessert; award-winning pastry chef Amber Billingsley makes a killer flourless chocolate torte topped with tahini caramel and apricot spice pureé. (MW) 279 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-326-3474, currentfishandoyster.com
2. Market Street
3. Harbor

Best Appetizers
Eva

The greatest thing about date night in Eva's intimate dining space is that anything on the menu can be considered an appetizer. With a focus on small plates, highlights like the oink, oink, oink—pork belly, pork loin and bacon-wrapped garlic with celery-apple salad, mustard vinaigrette and cambozola—and fried cauliflower with whipped ricotta are meant to be shared, alongside a specialty cocktail. (MW) 371 S. Main, SLC, 801-359-8477, evaslc.com
2. HSL

3. Provisions

Best Local Spirit
Five Wives Vodka

The Ogden distillery that built its business on the herbal spirit Underground breathed new life into their brand in 2011 with the introduction of Five Wives Vodka. It's made from water that comes from a hidden spring in Ogden Canyon, inaccessible to motorized vehicles and physically hiked out five gallons at a time. City Weekly readers obviously love the clean taste and the fact that this special spirit is 100% distilled from corn, making this 80-proof vodka gluten-free as well. No wonder it's one of the state's best-selling brands. (MR) 615 W. Stockman Way, Ogden, 801-458-1995, fivewivesvodka.com
2. High West Campfire
3. Salt City Vodka

Best New Food Trend
Ghost Kitchens
Ghost kitchens began trending even before COVID restaurant closures—among Utah's first was the Greek Tyrant. The pandemic, however, has helped the concept skyrocket as a way to provide diners with ever-expanding takeout/delivery options without the need for indoor seating or even a brick-and-mortar operation. Notable names like Ghost Sushi, Tandooria, Mad Dough and Silver Moon Taqueria operating out of the Ballpark area's ComCom Kitchen (67 W. 1700 South, SLC, 801-694-2390, comcomkitchen.com) are all ghost concepts worth checking out. (MW)
2. Takeout
3. Banana Bread

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Best Local Beer
Kiitos Brewing

Kiitos Brewing saw their popularity blossom when they launched their Coconut Stout and Coffee Cream Ale, now staples on most bar taps. They have a plethora of other year-round beers—if you're new to the craft-brewery game, go with something easy like a blonde ale, amber or pilsner. If you want to give your taste buds a kick, try out their imperial stout or double IPA. (MS) 608 W. 700 South, SLC, 801-215-9165, kiitosbrewing.com
2. Uinta
3. Shades

Best Gyros
Greek Souvlaki

When you advertise the best gyros in Utah, it's nice to have the cred to back your claim, and readers agreed that Greek Souvlaki is the real deal. Maybe it's the warm, fluffy pita bread and house-made tzatziki, or perhaps the rotisserie lamb and beef, slow cooked to perfection. Whatever you like most about that first bite, don't forget to order a side of fries and tuck a few of them inside your gyro like a true Greek. (MW) Multiple locations, greeksouvlaki.com
2. Local Greek
3. Yanni's

Best Distillery
High West Distillery

Utah's original post-Prohibition distillery put the Beehive State on the world's whiskey scene when it debuted with Top Ten honors at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits competition. Since then, they can claim shelf space in bars and restaurants all over the globe, multiple coveted awards, the world's first ski-in "gastro-distillery" and the world-renowned distillery at the Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship. From bourbon to rye-barrel finished cocktails to Silver Whisky, it's no wonder City Weekly readers cherish this distillery above all others. (MR) Multiple locations, highwest.com
2. Ogden's Own
3. Sugar House Distillery

Best Ramen
Jinya Ramen Bar

This Japanese import has been making waves and plans for rapid expansion since it arrived in Sugar House a few years ago. Their black-and-red tonkotsu ramen are the stars of the Jinya menu, and their Sprouting-up Ramen with crispy Brussels sprouts, kikurage and tender pork belly is a lovely take on the traditional ramen recipe. I'm always a sucker for their different wonton ramens. Of course, if ramen isn't what you're craving (weirdo), you can always try out Jinya's mini tacos served in crispy wonton shells. When the weather starts to cool down, we're pretty quick to thank our lucky stars that a ramen joint like Jinya isn't too far away. (AS) Multiple locations, jinyaramenbar.com
2. Tosh's Ramen

3. Yoko Ramen

Best Burgers
Lucky 13

From the peanut butter-slathered Nut Butter burger to the foot-high Big Benny, Lucky 13 has always had something for everyone. With a killer variety of crowd-pleasing burgers, sandwiches, sides and salads, it's not the biggest surprise that this local favorite has added yet another Best of Utah notch to its belt. With the recent opening of Lucky's Iron Door Roadhouse in West Jordan, burger-loving Utahns have twice the opportunity to get some of the state's best burgers along with a wide variety of craft beers and cocktails. If meat slapped between two buns is at all your thing, Lucky 13 is a must. (AS) 135 W. 1300 South, SLC, 801-487-4418, lucky13slc.com
2. Proper Burger
3. Crown Burger

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Best Sandwiches
Moochie's Meatballs & More

In a world of excellent sandwiches, it's tough to find something better than a meatball and provolone or a Philly cheesesteak. Our local sandwich heroes at Moochie's have found a way to corner the market on both while remaining true to their sloppy spirit. A sandwich at Moochie's is always a battle to distract yourself from savoring the hot, melty goodness in your hands for long enough to make sure none of it ends up on your shirt. Before you dig into one of these famous creations, stock up on napkins and make sure to snag a bottle of their signature jalapeño mayo for liberal application to each marvelous bite. (AS) Multiple locations, moochiesmeatballs.com
2. Caputo's Market and Deli
3. Feldman's Deli

Best Catering
LUX Catering and Events

There will come a day when COVID is behind us and we can all sit down together again. When that day arrives, you'll want a quality caterer like LUX Catering and Events. Whether you're hosting a charity event, wedding or business meeting, they provide award-winning menus, decor, floral arrangements and bar services to match every mood, with an eye for design that's sure to create a memorable experience for your guests. (MW) 1578 S. 300 West, SLC, 801-466-2537, luxcateringandevents.com
2. Tilted Cup
3. Blended Table

Best Hard Cider
Mountain West

When Jeff Carlton and Jennifer Hamilton relocated to SLC from Pennsylvania, they were taken aback by the lack of local hard ciders available to Utahns. Mountain West Hard Cider became a sleek and modern cidery that immediately became a staple of Salt Lake's emerging Marmalade neighborhood, creating ciders of all stripes, including some that feature hops and others aged in whiskey barrels. City Weekly readers have also embraced Mountain West for The Garten, an outdoor patio styled like a modern beer and cider garden. (MR) 425 N. 400 West, SLC, 801-935-4147, mountainwestcider.com

Best Culinary School
Park City Culinary Institute

From basic classes such as knife skills to graduate-level courses in exotic international cuisines, the Park City Culinary Institute has been helping chefs of all levels be all that they can be. This hub of gastronomic higher education hasn't missed a beat since going virtual with their famous cooking classes, giving home chefs the ability to practice their skills in their own kitchens. For those seeking a career in the culinary arts, PCCI offers certification programs in baking and cuisine both in-person and online. In short, PCCI has become a bastion of culinary enlightenment for chefs and bakers of all skill levels. (AS) 1484 S. State, SLC, 801-413-2800, parkcityculinaryinstitute.com
2. UVU
3. SLCC

Best BBQ
R&R Barbecue

It didn't take long for this food festival favorite to carve out a sizable piece of barbecue turf along the Wasatch Front. R&R started out as the brainchild of two competitive barbecue aficionados who put their smoked ribs, brisket and pulled pork up against some of our nation's finest and came away with a wide range of accolades. Having proven itself against the old guards of Memphis and Texas barbecue, R&R fired up their smokers full-time to keep Utah's barbecue craving satiated. If there's a smoked meat on the menu, chances are it'll be the best you've ever had. (AS) Multiple locations, randrbbq.com
2. Pat's Barbecue
3. SugarHouse BBQ

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Best Salads
Spitz

How do you win the Best of Utah award for Best Salads when you really only have one salad on the menu? You make sure it's the doner salad from Spitz: to-die-for balsamic or lemon herb dressings (and pita strips to dip in it), crispy garbanzo beans and fried lavash chips, cool tzatziki and cucumbers, plus all the staples like tomato, green onion, carrots, olives, pepperoncinis and a crumble of feta atop a bed of romaine and cabbage. Now that's a salad! (MW) Multiple locations, spitzrestaurant.com
2. Cafe Zupas
3. Cafe Rio

Best Chicken Dish
Pretty Bird

Whether you're getting your fried chicken dolled up with coleslaw and served up on a bun with some crinkle-cut fries or scarfing down a quarter bird doused with hot sauce like a Nashville savage, your fried chicken dreams come true at Pretty Bird. Housed within its cozy Regent Street space, the Pretty Bird team has dedicated itself to the pursuit of near-perfect Nashville hot chicken. Anyone familiar with this Southern favorite knows that Pretty Bird is serving up the good stuff. It's crispy and liberally spiced on the outside while remaining tender and juicy on the inside every time and maxing out the heat levels with the hot behind is a fiery adventure that we've been happy to take. (AS) 146 Regent St., SLC, prettybirdchicken.com
2. The Cluck Truck
3. Curry Fried Chicken

Best Cookies
Ruby Snap

At Salt Lake's original prestige cookie shop, the lovely "ladies" of Ruby Snap are expertly crafted celebrations of the cookie—one of the world's most celebrated desserts. Each pinup girl-inspired cookie at Ruby Snap embodies sophistication, adventure, danger and just a little bit of hot, hot heat—and it's nearly impossible to be satisfied with just one. Luckily, the team at Ruby Snap is considerate of this reality, and they make it easy to walk away with a few dozen at a time. If you ever do find yourself in this situation and are looking to make a few boxes disappear, feel free to bring them by the office. We're helpful like that. (AS) 770 S. 300 West, SLC, 801-834-6111, rubysnap.com
2. Crumbl
3. Goodly

Best Soups
Soup Kitchen

It takes a special kind of gift to make exceptional soup. Here is a food that has been with us since humans first learned how to boil water, and yet the team at Soup Kitchen have managed to turn that humble staple into something singular and craveable. Cliché as it sounds, the love that the Soup Kitchen has for its namesake is what gives each bowl of hot, satisfying goodness its appeal. Of course, their lax rules on how many breadsticks you can pile on your tray with each purchase makes a big difference as well. (AS) Multiple locations, slcsoup.com
2. Cafe Zupas
3. Porcupine Pub and Grille

Best Sushi / Best Japanese Restaurant
Takashi

As a precautionary measure, Takashi has been take-out only since the summer. That hasn't stopped customers from naming them Best Sushi and Best Japanese Restaurant for the umpteenth time. Even if it's served in a to-go container, Takashi's rolls are the best in town. The Sunshine Roll travels well, a tasty blend of salmon, lemon, cucumber, avocado and spicy sauce. (MS) 18 W. Market St., SLC, 801-519-9595, takashisushi.com
Best Sushi Runners-up
2. Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill
3. Tona Sushi Bar & Grill
Best Japanese Restaurant Runners-up
2. Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
3. Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill

Best Tacos
Taqueria 27

Before Taqueria 27 arrived on the scene, the idea of a taco and tequila bar was relatively unknown to most locals. Now that it's expanded its reach and demonstrated the true, unifying potential of duck confit tacos and imported tequila, things will never be the same. Sure, Taqueria 27 has plenty of tacos ideal for carnivores, but their vegetarian options are just as tasty. Grilled pears and roasted beets, portobello mushrooms, tomatillo salsa and roasted peppers are all on the menu, creating a taco paradise that diners from all walks of life can enjoy. On top of their already stellar menu, the taco and fresh fish of the day are enough to pique the taco lover's curiosity. (AS) Multiple locations, taqueria27.com
2. Taco Taco
3. Lone Star Taqueria

Best Ethnic/Specialty Market
Tony Caputo's Market and Deli

There's a reverence toward food within the walls of Tony Caputo's that is scarce in most religious buildings. It's not the kind of reverence that excludes the novitiate, nor is it the kind that demands some sort of penance to be truly experienced. It's the kind of reverence that exists when passionate people converge upon an ideal and genuinely want to share it with others. Perhaps this is why Caputo's offers high-brow classes on chocolate appreciation and cheese connoisseurship, delivered with enthusiasm and consideration. Every person who ends up taking food seriously in one way or another always finds their way here, and Caputo's welcomes them with open arms. (AS) Multiple locations, caputos.com
2. Black Cherry Mediterranean Market
3. Ocean Mart

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Best Brewpub
Squatters

Nobody had made beer in Salt Lake City since Lucky Lager closed up their west-side brewery in 1967. The thirsty folks of SLC would have to wait 22 more years for Jeff Polychronis and Peter Cole to open Squatters Brewpub in 1987, exposing the people of the capital city to beer styles they thought had long gone extinct. Many craft beer players have come and gone over the past 33 years, but when it comes to classic beers in a wholly familiar surrounding, no place other than Squatters will fit the bill. (MR) Multiple locations, squatters.com
2. Red Rock Brewing
3. Wasatch Brewery

Best Wings
Trolley Wing Co.

Consistently earning the prestigious title of Best Wings in Utah year after year, Trolley Wing Co. is a crowd favorite, in part due to the endless combinations you can concoct among 17 flavor options and four heat levels. Are you a sweet-and-spicy red-chili Szechuan lover? Or perhaps a more mild garlic-honey BBQ? Traditional, but make it atomic? However you like 'em (there are vegan wings, too), order an extra basket—they'll go fast! (MW) Multiple locations, trolleywingco.com
2. Wing Coop
3. Wing Nutz

Best Vegan
Vertical Diner

Vertical Diner's greatest success in the field of plant-based dining was shattering the myth that vegan food was stuffy and starched—like the Amish of the culinary world. After downing a plate of dude cakes and a chocolate sundae, it becomes clear that plant-based cooking could be just as comforting, fun and satisfying as anything else. It's a restaurant that also set the stage for Salt Lake's surprisingly diverse plant-based food scene—Vertical Diner's success established the demand, and we have all kinds of great plant-based eateries as a result. Thanks to Vertical Diner and its use of foods like nutritional yeast and tempeh, previously narrow-minded foodies have a whole new perspective on plant-based eating. (AS) 234 W. 900 South, SLC, 801-484-8378, verticaldiner.com
2. Zest Kitchen and Bar
3. Buds Sandwich Shop

Best Liquor Selection
Whiskey Street

Aptly named, Whiskey Street's stockpile of imported bourbons; ryes; and American, Irish and Scotch whiskeys is well in the hundreds. The bottles are shelved and backlit, overarching a 70-foot bar, creating an old-time yet modern feel and ambiance. Whiskey Street has the classic cocktails and creative in-house selections created by their top-shelf bartenders. (MS) 323 S. Main, SLC, 801-433-1371, whiskeystreet.com
2. Lake Effect
3. Water Witch

Best Bar Menu
White Horse

A modern American brasserie, White Horse hits it out of the park in everything from shared plates, snacks, sandwiches and steaks. The Egg 'n' Chips—potato chips, 63-degree egg, malt vinegar powder and truffle—are a must try, as is the bacon and jalapeno Mac 'n' Cheese. The sweet-toothers are sure to enjoy the bourbon butterscotch pudding. (MS) 325 S. Main, SLC, 801-363-0137, whitehorseslc.com
2. Purgatory
3. Piper Down


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Food & Drink | Staff Picks

Best Reason to Rise and Shine
Hruska's Kolaches

There's a case to be made for hibernating until 2020 is over but that would mean missing out on the ultimate comfort food: Hruska's Kolaches. Baked fresh daily using a scratch-made dough recipe inspired by their great grandmother, siblings Ross, Cory and Devin fill their kolaches with fillings like homemade jam and hand-mixed sausage. Get 'em while they're hot; Hruska's is open Monday–Saturday until noon or sell out, whichever happens first. (MW) Multiple locations, hruskaskolaches.com

Best All-Natural Latte Love
Affogato West

How can you not love a place that has the best-tasting lattes and owners who support the community any way they can? They also make many of their ingredients In-house and avoid using high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, dyes and flavorings. The balance between the coffee's sweetness and bitterness ("love and chaos") is on point, because we all still love that coffee flavor! (ML&CL) 214 N. 1000 East, St. George, 435-922-1049, affogatowest.com

Best Slice of Italy
Centro Pizza

With one of the best margherita pizzas we've had in a while, it's hard not to feel like you've just stepped into a restaurant on the other side of the world. These pizzas are light enough to forgo the pizza food coma and made with quality seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers. There's also something to be said about their specialty pizzas (i.e., the Dolce Diavola). It's a must try! (ML&CL) 50 W. Center St., Cedar City, 435-867-8123, centropizzeria.com

Best Onion Rings
Crown Burger

It's not difficult to find a decent burger in Utah, so sometimes the decision of where to go comes down to side orders, and Crown Burger takes the prize with their homemade, golden-fried, perfectly crunchy onion rings. You won't find obnoxiously thick beer batter or over-size onion slices that can't hold onto their coating at this family-owned Greek establishment, but instead the perfect accoutrement to famous pastrami burgers and gyros—don't forget the fry sauce. (MW) Multiple locations, crown-burgers.com

Best Meat Lovers Paradise Burger
Cultivate Craft Kitchen

This locally sourced restaurant is paving the way for Draper to enjoy farm-to-table. Cultivate's menu changes with the seasons, utilizing foods harvested at their peak. Choose from a variety of burger types on offer, but you won't go wrong ordering the brisket burger with brie cheese and white BBQ sauce—an incredibly delicious spin on a burger, from (top) bun to (bottom) bun. (ML&CL) 12234 S. Draper Gate Drive, Ste. 105, Draper, 801-274-4230. cultivatecraftkitchen.com

Feldman's Matzo Ball Soup
  • Feldman's Matzo Ball Soup

Best Use of Schmaltz
Feldman's Deli's Matzo Ball Soup

Schmaltz, or chicken fat, is a must-have ingredient for matzo ball soup, which is a must-have soup for anything that ails you—even if your ailment is just 2020 in general. At Jewish deli Feldman's, owners Michael and Janet Feldman make each bowl with a massive, fluffy matzo ball surrounded by large bites of roasted chicken, tender carrots and celery and a stick-to-your soul broth that will have you slurping up every last spoonful. (MW) 2005 E. 2700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-906-0369, feldmansdeli.com

Best Boba Break
Ding Tea

Getting tired of your usual boba order and love unique toppings to completely change the flavor? Boba is a Taiwanese invention, and these drinks come straight from the source, providing high-quality tea. With so many tasty options—from cheese foam to coffee jelly—you can shake up your boba order every day. (ML&CL) Multiple locations, dingtea.club/locations

Best Noods
Hong Kong Banjum

The variety of noodlery in Utah has seen an uptick in recent years, which is nothing but good news. While there are many strong contenders in this category, the jajangmyeon at West Valley's Hong Kong Banjum gets my vote. On paper, it sounds deceptively simple—homemade ramen noodles doused in a lustrous black bean sauce—but the more you eat, the more you realize this is a recipe that has been in the making for generations. It's the kind of food that tickles triggers of comfort-food oxytocin no matter what you grew up eating. Anyone who takes comfort in the warm, slippery presence of high-quality noodles, needs to give this stuff a try. (AS) 3513 Constitution Blvd., Ste. 100, West Valley, 385-900-8607

Best Fondue
Kimi's Chop & Oyster House

Stylish and modern, with warmth and charm, Kimi's has consistently provided fine dining on par with or even better than any snooty eatery striving for diamonds or stars. We were a fan of Kimi Eklund's first place, Absolute!, and then Dijon, but we're totally nuts about her fondue here at Kimi's Chop and Oyster House. It's not too thick, and the cheeses are a special blend that make us weep with joy. (BDL) 2155 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-946-2079, kimishouse.com

Best Takeout to Eat in the Park
Laan Na Thai

This mom-and-pop shop brings you no nonsense Thai cuisine in a counter takeout format. Across from the newly renovated Pioneer Park, the lunch/dinner combo is the closest you'll ever get to fast-food Thai. These first-generation immigrants dreamed of bringing the very best flavors from their home, and the result is a quick, flavorful food that can be eaten anywhere. (ML&CL) 336 W. 300 South, SLC, 801-363-2717

Best Pockets of Sunshine to Uplift Your Weekday
Mad Dough

These Bismark-style doughnuts are inspired by the cook's favorite childhood treat. Filled with four unique flavors every week, these delicious pillows of goodness can instantly launch you into nostalgia-land. Everything from the dough to the filling is fresh and is bound to put a smile on your face. (ML&CL) 67 W. 1700 South, SLC, maddoughslc.com

Best Kabob-e Jujeh
The Med

Serving up Old World Mediterranean cuisine for two decades, family-owned restaurant The Med and its eclectic decor are just the thing to satisfy your need to get out of the house while still making you feel at home. Head straight for the kabob-e jujeh, lemon-and-herb marinated chicken skewers cooked to juicy perfection atop a bed of basmati rice with roasted tomato, warm pita bread and a bracing bite of raw onion. (MW) 420 E. 3300 South, SLC, 801-493-0100, medslc.com

Best Rachel (Not From Friends)
Road Island Diner's Rachel

Whether you call it a turkey Reuben or a Rachel, the historic Road Island Diner in Oakley does it right with house-marinated, roasted turkey breast carved and piled high on toasted rye with sauerkraut, swiss and Thousand Island. Try it with a side of potato salad (whole grain mustard is the secret ingredient) and save room for a treat from the soda fountain. (MW) 981 W. Weber Canyon Road, Oakley, 435-783-3467, roadislanddiner.com

Best Vietnamese Weekend Specials
Saigon Sandwiches

There's much more to Vietnamese cuisine than pho and banh mi. Treat yourself to a delicious Vietnamese special each weekend, one you've probably not tried in Salt Lake before. Savory dishes include bun cha (grilled pork meatballs with noodles, the same dish that the late Anthony Bourdain slurped with President Obama in Hanoi) and bún riêu cua, a savory stew served with tomato broth and topped with minced freshwater crab. Quite a flavor overload from an unassuming Sandy strip mall. (JW) 8528 S. 1300 East, Sandy, 801-281-7400, saigonsandwich.me

Best Hangover Cure
Sensei + The Hero at Vive Juicery

Now that every day feels like a Friday (or what day is it even?), it's easy to get carried away with cocktails. Balance out your bad decisions with the one-two punch of Vive Juicery's Sensei, an alkaline charcoal lemonade to purify toxins and soothe your stomach with lemon, ginger and honey, followed by The Hero, electrolyte-packed coconut water with chia seeds, pineapple, pear and grapefruit to get you back to 100% in a jiffy. (MW) 1597 S. 1700 East, SLC, 801-875-8923, vivejuicery.com

Best 'Crustacular' Pizza
Slackwater Pizzeria and Pub

These large pizzas carry the most amazing crust that's so irresistible, it's hard to not call this a personal pizza. With a hint of sweetness in every bite, this dough is harmony between the classic-crust meets deep-dish pizza. Each pie has distinct sauces and toppings—you're sure to find one that fits your mood. (ML&CL) 1895 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-399-0637; 10290 S. State, Sandy, 801-930-5147; slackwaterpizzeria.com

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Best Wiener
Porky's Kauai

Hot dogs are one of those foods that get a bad rap, even though a bad one is still pretty good, all things considered. Those who doubt the culinary excellence of this humble sausage delivery system only have to visit Porky's Kauai. Their pineapple sausage topped with kalua pork and pineapple relish will make you into a wiener believer. It's a soulful, smoky, sweet mess of a meal, and it goes perfectly with their house macaroni salad. A visit requires a trek through the mess of 1-15 construction through Lehi, but this Hawaiian import is well worth the risk. (AS) 785 E. 200 South, Lehi, 801-803-3783, porkyskauai.com

Best Grocery Store Cookie Selection
The Store

From Reese's peanut-butter-cup cookies to an oatmeal cookie that brims with raisins, The Store is the perfect place to complement staple purchases with a bit of sugary sin. "Our cookies are baked fresh every day, all day. It's almost always possible to get a warm cookie," says Whitney Jackson, bakery assistant. Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke touted the "mudslide"—chocolate on chocolate with chocolate chips—on his radio show. Locke's promotion inspired The Store to add mudslide ingredients to its mocha ice cream. Ten dozen of the Grand Royale cookies, featuring macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut, are baked fresh daily. Grand Royale is also now an ice cream flavor. The Cutler's peanut-butter cookie features peanut-butter chips along with healthy swaths of both peanut butter and chocolate frosting—pure decadent heaven. (CC) 2050 E. 6200 South, SLC, 801-272-1212; 90 S. Rio Grande, SLC, 385-213-7900; thestoreutah.com

Best Family Meal Takeout
Vessel Kitchen

Even though Vessel Kitchen has been proudly doling out a menu of tasty and healthy fast-casual cuisine, my ever-growing need for non-pizza takeout options during the pandemic led me to seek them out. Their family meal option is a lifesaver for when existential dread has sapped the will to cook from your bones but you also want to feel like a responsible parent for including more vegetables in your kid's diet—not that I know what that's like or anything. These family combos consist of a protein like braised beef with cumin, paprika and rosemary or roast chicken with a ras el hanout dry rub along with three sides like ratatouille and roasted Brussels sprouts. There's something tasty and healthy for everybody. (AS) Multiple locations, vesselkitchen.com

Best Unique Spirits
Holystone Distilling

When entering a market with a new product, a serious challenge is finding a niche. Holystone Distilling's answer was to not only find a niche, but to produce new products. Their Bosun's Navy Strength gin comes in at a battleship worthy 114 proof. Perla is Utah's first grape-based vodka. Our state's first absinthe comes from Holystone (Apparition Absinthe Verte), and Tsunami Shochu is another first, with roots in Japan, made with koji, barley and rice. All that niche marketing is easier because each product comes inside a gorgeous Holystone bottle. (MS) 207 W. 4860 South, SLC, 503-328-4356, holystonedistilling,com

Best Ogden Beer Selection
Angry Goat Pub & Kitchen

Ogden's craft brewery scene is on the rise. Rooster's on 25th Street expanded into a second location on B Street, while UTOG, Zolupez and Talisman recently opened up. You can find their products and most other local beers on tap at "The Bayou of the North," aka Angry Goat Pub, which boasts a selection of over 200 brews in stock. (MS) 2570 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-675-5757, AngryGoatPK.com

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Best Local Beer King
Craft by Proper

The Proper Brewing group is as innovative as they come; all of their three entries into the Utah beer market are markedly different in appeal. Their latest Craft by Proper notches it up, though, by emphatically selling only Utah brews. Besides their own notable beers, CBP pours dozens of Utah only beers with scores more available in can or bottle. Can't make it to Tooele for Bonneville, Utah County for Strap Tank, Ogden for UTOG in one day? You can taste all of them easily at just one trip to Craft by Proper. Leave room for 2 Row, Shades, Hopkins, RoHa, Bewilder, Mountain West, Wasatch, Park City Brewing ... and the rest. (MS) 1053 E. 2100 South, SLC, 385-242-7186, craftbyproper.com

Best Sausage on Your Doorstep
Beltex Meats Butcher's Box Service

Did someone say sausage fest? Beltex Meats delivers the goods right to your front porch on the weekends, along with in-store purchases. The butcher shop hand selects the meat from a variety of Utah producers, and they offer all the classic cuts and use the whole animal—nothing goes to waste. Check their website for zip code delivery availability. (MS) 511 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-532-2641, BeltexMeats.com

Best Ogden Brew Addition
Rooster's B Street Brewing Co. & Taproom

While Salt Laker's have been blessed for decades with multiple brew pubs and breweries, they haven't been exactly sitting still in Ogden, either. Besides Ogden boasting its own growing A-List of breweries, a 25th Street landmark, Rooster's Brewing recently expanded into Layton and, in 2019, expanded again but closer to their roots. Their new digs are at a new development that also houses Ogden's Own Distillery. There you'll find all the great food and beer faves from the noted Rooster's menu, plus being able to do so on their fine outdoor patio. (MS) 2325 B Ave., Ogden, 801-689-2879, roostersbrewingco.com

Best Beers That Don't Taste Like Beer
Shades Brewing

Breweries know that they have the attention of beer fans; it's the beer-averse folks they'd really like to woo. The brewery that has found the most success at bridging the gap between the lovers and haters of beer is Shades Brewing. From cobblers to pies, Thai and Indian dishes to smoothies, Shades' brew crew has developed an ale that will blow the minds of any adult beverage drinker. No flavor combination is out of bounds, including dill pickles. Yes, pickles. (MR) 154 W. Utopia Ave., South Salt Lake, shadesbrewing.beer

Best Adult Beverage Hat-Trick
Silver Reef Brewing Co.

It's not unusual to see local breweries delve into other aspects of the adult beverage market. There's growing momentum to enhance alcohol production from beer to spirits. St. George's Silver Reef Brewing Co. has taken things a step farther, which crowns them kings of the adult-beverage trifecta. Not only do they produce beer and spirits, they have also acquired their own Utah-based vineyard and are currently making chardonnays, pinot grigios and a sangiovese. What's next? Mead? (MR) 4391 S. Enterprise Drive, St. George, 435-216-1050, stgeorgebev.com

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Best First & Last Stop
Strap Tank Brewery

When Strap Tank Brewery, Utah County's first licensed brewery in about 100 years, opened in Springville, it gave people a reason to linger in Utah County. The only downside was that unless you were heading to points farther south, it was quite the drive. But now they've opened in Lehi, meaning that Strap Tank has you covered on both ends of the county—north and south. Heading to Moab? You first stop in Lehi, then again at the Springville location. Coming home? Do it in reverse. Great beer and food on one strip of Interstate 15. Perfect. (MS) 596 S. 1750 West, Springville, 385-325-0262; 3661 N. Outlet Parkway, Lehi, 385-352-8194, straptankbrewery.com

Best Hand-Crafted Spirits
Sugar House Distillery

Where once there were no local distilleries in this high and dry desert, Utah is now home to kegs of craft spirit makers. In beautiful metal stills, the artisans of Sugar House Distillery tend over their specialty small batches of bourbon, rye, malt and vodka with ever proudful eye, an attribute born of the dedicated eye of founder James Fowler. The result? Awards and lots of them. In 2020, their accolades include a Double Gold for their single malt whisky, a Gold for their bourbon and a Silver award for their silver rum from the heralded The Fifty Best spirits competition. (MS) 2212 S. West Temple, No. 14, SLC, 801-726-0403, sugarhousedistillery.net

Best Last Meal on Earth
Bambara Steak Frites

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Because the restaurant was temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19, Bambara lovers pined for chef Nathan Powers' dishes, most notably the steak and herbed frites with cipollini onions and a browned butter bearnaise. Now that they're back in business, your dinner awaits, alongside a glass of Turley Dusi Vineyard zinfandel '17 and maybe one of Bambara's famous cookies for dessert. (MW) 202 S. Main, SLC, 801-363-5454, bambara-slc.com

Best Coffee App
Beans & Brews

With over 50 locations in Utah, Beans & Brews Coffeehouse is catching up to the more pervasive Seattle-based mermaid brand. We all know which cuppa is superior, too. Aside from serving us better joe, our local chain built a COVID-friendly app way before it was cool to be contactless. The Beans & Brews app allows customers to order in advance to have at the ready when pulling up to their many drive-thrus, making the seemingly long lines clear up quickly to get us on with our day. On top of that, it tracks your purchases like the traditional coffee stamp cards, but in this case, you'll never lose your rewards the next time you clean your car. (MS) Multiple locations, beansandbrews.com

Best Way to Have Your Beer and Eat It, Too
Bohemian Brewery's Pilsner-Battered Fish & Chips

Fish and chips fans, this one's for you! Bohemian Brewery doesn't cut corners when it comes to their pub fare fave, hand dipping cold-water halibut (or salmon, should you prefer) in house pilsner batter and frying it to golden perfection. Served up with garlic fries, house remoulade (tartar sauce in layman's terms) and creamy coleslaw, all you have to do is decide which of their dozen-plus beers you'll choose to wash it all down. (MW) 94 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-566-5474, bohemianbrewery.com

Diversions Poutine
  • Diversions Poutine

Best Poutine
Diversion Poutine

Depending on where you are reading this in Utah, you're roughly 700 miles from the Canadian border. We're here to tell you that you need only go to the chic Marmalade district to snag Canada-famous poutine right here in Utah. A lot of places get it right, many get it wrong. At Diversion, you'll find yourself a perfect bite. Pair it with some suds and you're set. (MS) 535 N. 300 West, SLC, 801-657-7326, diversioneatery.com

Best Gnocchi
Caffé Molise

Where other Italian restaurants have tried and fallen short, Caffé Molise makes gnocchi the way your nonna used to. Don't have a nonna? No matter; drop by Caffé Molise's new (and beautifully renovated) downtown location for gnocchi di patate, pillowy potato and semolina dumplings ladled with fresh tomato cream, basil and toasted pine nuts. (MW) 404 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-364-8833, caffemolise.com

Best 'Drain the Tank' Beers
Desert Edge Brewery

Desert Edge first opened its doors almost 50 years ago, when it served cheap Coors to college students. After many years of evolution, the Trolley Square pub and brewery has transformed into a family-friendly affair with many tasty craft beers. With their kegs brimming with delicious ale, Brewmaster Chad Krusell wants to "drain the tanks" for a special offering of $2 14-ounce glass brews and $8 growler refills. (MS) 273 Trolley Square, SLC, 801-521-8917, desertedgebrewery.com

Best Eggplant Parm
Fratelli Ristorante

They're brothers, hence the name "Fratelli," Italian for brothers. Co-owners Pete and Dave have grown up in the restaurant industry and are all about keeping it real, using house sauces, fresh ingredients and family recipes. They've just moved the restaurant to a brand-spanking new location in Sandy, where they're serving up their spectacular Italian dishes, including their eggplant Parmesan. Made with Grandmother Mary's recipe, its luscious layers of eggplant, spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan and marinara are a standout. If you'd prefer not to dine-in, check out the full-service deli and espresso and gelato bars. There's something for every hunger pang. Squisito! (JW) 8612 S. 1300 East, Sandy, 801-495-4550, fratelliutah.com

Best Foamy Beers
Grid City Beer Works

Wait. What? Foamy beers? That's normally a thing that will get a bartender knocked on his ass—but not at this new South Salt Lake brewery. Grid City Beer Works absolutely revels in their foam, to the point where patrons are lining up to slam pints of foam or "milky" lagers. Driven by Grid City's Czech-made Lukr beer faucets, this alternative beer-drinking method is an Old World tradition that may look as easy as drinking air, but is far from it. Like your lagers a little more traditional? They've got that, too. (MR) 333 W. 2100 South, SLC, 801-906-8390, gridcitybeerworks.com

Apollo Breakfast Sandwich
  • Apollo Breakfast Sandwich

Best Affordable Breakfast
Apollo Burger

You know them for great burgers, but Apollo Burger dishes up mouthwatering breakfasts, too. The inexpensive breakfast bowl features a pile of hash browns and your choice of protein and cheese. At only $4.99, you might feel like you're stealing from them. It rounds out a solid lineup of quick and delicious brekkie items to get your day rolling. Bacon and eggs go for only $6.79. To boot, the entirety of their morning menu comes in under $8 with the exception of the New York steak and eggs ($9.99). That leaves more for the burgers! Go, ham omelet! (MS) Multiple locations, apolloburgers.com

Best Holy Matrimony of Beer and Pizza
Level Crossing Brewing Co.

Utah is lucky to have so many distinguished and award-winning local brewers. While you cannot go wrong with any of the beer choices at Level Crossing (made impeccably better thanks to their expansive—and warm—outdoor patio), you most certainly can't go wrong pairing such beer with one of their perfectly oven-baked pizzas. Try the Sweet Home Chicago or The Level Crossing pizza, matched with a specialty beer release like October's fine Astro Shake. Classic. (MS) 2496 S. West Temple, SLC, 385-270-5752, levelcrossing.com

Best Reason to Order Dessert First
Stanza's Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

Pastry chef extraordinaire Amanda Billingsley has outdone herself with this one! Topped with moscato strawberries, pistachio sable crumb and vanilla mascarpone cream, the lemon ricotta cheesecake at downtown Italian restaurant Stanza is the cheesecake every other cheesecake wishes it could become. Double down and order the Pillow Talk martini with Godiva chocolate liquor, vanilla vodka and espresso for next-level decadence. (MW) 454 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-746-4441, stanzaslc.com

Best Take-Home Italian Dinners
Stoneground Italian Kitchen Carbonara Weekend Supper

One of the greatest things to come out of COVID is the emergence of weekend suppers at Stoneground Italian Kitchen. Created by head chef Justin Shifflet, these rotating Italian meal experiences feed up to four people and are available for pickup on Friday and Saturday. Follow them on Instagram @stonegroundkitchen so you don't miss staff-favorite carbona next time it hits the rotation. (MW) 249 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-364-1368, stonegrounditalian.com

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Best Beer Battlers
Bewilder Brewing Co.

Utah homebrewers know Cody McKendrick and Ross Metzger of Salt City Brew Supply fame. They opened their years-long dream, Bewilder Brewing, in mid-December 2019. Then, 2020 happened and brought its own set of challenges including a delayed manufacturing license. Lie down? Never! Now, the spacious Bewilder is set to celebrate its one-year anniversary with a menu that includes several varieties of handmade sausages to go with their popular suds. We all need their fighting spirit now. (MS) 445 S. 400 West, SLC, 385-528-3840, bewilderbrewing.com

Best Way to Crack an Egg
The Dodo's Spinach Mushroom Feta Quiche

It's hard to say no to pie. It's impossible to say no when that pie is filled with light-as-air egg custard, fresh spinach, feta cheese and mushrooms topped with tomato pine nut relish. Served at lunch and weekend brunch, The Dodo's famous quiche also comes with a cup of homemade soup (there's not a bad one in the bunch) or salade de maison. (MW) 1355 E. 2100 South, SLC, 801-486-2473, thedodorestaurant.com

Best COVID Meal Prep To Stay
WB's Eatery

Meal subscriptions and to-go meal prep isn't a new concept to digital delivery. But, at WB's Eatery—another quality emporium presented by the folks of Pig in a Jelly Jar fame—they take the monotonous guesswork out of dinner without forcing any long-term commitments down our throats. That means you can enjoy their glorious Market Meal chimichurri steak just once or part of an ongoing monthly plan. Shop their in-store bodega, subscribe to a box lunch program or, wait: Cannabis and Cocktail club is coming! (MS) At The Monarch, 455 25th St., Ogden, 385-244-1471, wbseatery.com

Best Roobins
Robin's Nest

Back when working from home was a novelty and not a necessity, businesspeople flocked to Robin's Nest for their specialty sandwiches. Nowadays in the coronavirus era, delivery and take-out is the name of the game. Josh Romar and his mother, Robin, are still behind the counter every day stacking up the meats for Robin's Nest's dozens of delicious sandwiches, including the Roobin, classically crafted with pastrami, dijon and sauerkraut. (MS) 311 S. Main, SLC, 801-466-6378, RobinsNestSLC.com

Best Paninis
Toasters

Enes Huskic immigrated to the States from Bosnia in 1996, and it didn't take him long to begin working on his passion in the food industry, opening up the first Toasters location in 2002. Now with four Salt Lake Valley locations, Toasters is a local favorite for sandwiches panini-style. The Premium panini is the creme de la creme, a helping of prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, roasted red peppers and balsamic glaze. (MS) Multiple locations, ToastersDeli.com

Best Naan Stop
Himalayan Kitchen

Downtown and South Jordan are home to Himalayan Kitchen, a Nepali and Indian eatery optimal for lunch time and late-night meals. They have a plethora of vegan and gluten-free options, as well as the tandoori classics. The chicken tikka masala is a Himalayan staple, and the lamb vindaloo is as good as it gets. (MS) 360 S. State, SLC, 801-328-2077; 11521 S. 4000 West, South Jordan, 801-254-0800, HimalayanKitchen.com

Best for Cool Bottoms
Beerhive Pub's Ice Rail

Ah, the infamous bottom beer. After enjoying a delicious pour of Utah's finest ales or lagers, the time comes to decide whether to renew your order or knuckle down and chug the warm, stale remnants. Or, you can sit at Beerhive Pub's bar and place your pint on their ice rail, a literal strip of ice that keeps your liquid cold from the first sip to the last. With more than 200 local and regional beers to choose from at Beerhive, each sip is as fresh as when it's poured. (MS) 128 S. Main, SLC, 801-364-4268, Facebook.com/beerhive-pub

Best Build-Your-Own Breakfast
Eggs in the City

After years spent serving up hearty breakfasts and lunches on 1700 South, Eggs in the City is now nestled in their new location on 2300 East and just off the Interstate 80 exit. It's creativity galore for breakfast junkies—owner Heather Santi's Millcreek eatery specializes in build-your-own breakfasts (with dozens of options), either in the form of omelet, skillet or burrito. The potential combos are endless. Don't sleep on their killer lunches, either! (MS) 2795 S. 2300 East, Millcreek, 801-581-0809, eggsinthecityslc.com

Best Burger and Beans
Rich's Burgers-N-Grub

There's not a burger that Rich's doesn't do well. Downtowners migrate to their single (unfortunately) location and agree Rich's unique burgers (100% Angus, all-natural products) are the best downtown. What to match with that Queso, Slaw or Caprese burger? Deep-fried green beans, of course. Nowhere we know of serves them, and they are a "gosh darn delicious" addition to everything. Perfect fry sauce, too. Salt Lake needs more Rich's Burgers. (MS) 30 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-355-0667, richsburgersngrub.com


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Nightlife

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Nightlife | Reader's Picks

Best Bar Patio
Gracie's

As patrons tentatively made their way back to bars and restaurants during the summer, it was helpful for the locations to have an attractive outdoor setup. That's been a significant appeal of Gracie's for years, as their multi-level patio space provides ample room for visitors to stretch out and enjoy their great food and drink. It's the perfect spot to listen to live music, as the street-level patio hosts great local entertainers when the weather accommodates, while upstairs offers bird's eye views of the activity on the street. (SR) 326 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-819-7565, graciesslc.com
2. Hog Wallow
3. Green Pig

Best Dance Club
Area 51

If there's any place that feels connected to deep SLC, it's Area 51. Located near Pioneer Park, walking on those lonely streets after dark is the perfect primer for heading to one of the club's goth nights, or even better yet, their Goth Prom—which takes place in the autumn but not necessarily around Halloween. It's an evening that encourages attendees to be their weirdest selves. So, go ahead and have a cigarette out on their industrial patio and then to disappear into the fog machine's slurry of club sweat. It's also one of the only dance clubs that offers space to both underage folks and 21+, making it accessible for strange cats of all ages. (EM) 451 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-534-0819, area51slc.com
2. Sky Bar
3. The Sun Trapp

Best Late-Night Grub
Arempa's

Arempa's is one of the only local places that will show you any sympathy if you roll in at 1 a.m. and mumble "fuck it" when they ask for your order. They understand that a long night of debauching oneself needs an arepa of epic proportions to chase the demons away, and that's just what you get when you order the Fuck It. Understanding that the recipient is in need of some healing, the Arempa's chef will whip up something overstuffed, dripping with melted cheese, black beans, plantains and at least three different meats. The above-board menu at Arempa's is excellent on its own, but knowing that they offer special hospitality to the late-night crowd earns them a special place in downtown Salt Lake. (AS) 350 S. State, SLC, 385-301-8905, arempas.com
2. Pie Hole
3. Beto's

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Best Neighborhood Bar
A Bar Named Sue

A Bar Named Sue, with locations in Midvale and Holladay, has a steady following in their respective neighborhoods. Whether it's Taco Tuesday, bingo night or game day, the bar is comfortable, affordable and inviting. They have one of the best bar menus in town, too—the Tennessee turkey sandwich is killer, as are the wings, which come in Buffalo, barbecue, honey mustard, Cajun dry-rub or garlic Parmesan. It's a good time just waiting to happen. (MS) 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222; 3928 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-274-5578, abarnamedsue.com
2. Ice Haus
3. East Liberty Tap House

Best Ogden Bar
Funk 'n' Dive

A city on the rise for young Utahns, Ogden has seen a revitalized nightlife scene with installations such as Funk 'n' Dive. A collaboration between business partners Dave Morris and Bridget Gordon, owners of Green Pig, Ice Haus, Piper Down and other bars, Funk' n' Dive has a cool atmosphere, reasonably priced drinks and great bar menu. (MS) 2550 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-621-3483, funkanddive.com
2. Harp and Hound
3. Brewskis

Best Salt Lake City Bar
Green Pig Pub

Green Pig is no stranger in City Weekly's Best of Utah issue, a regular winner in a multitude of "Best of" categories. Over the decade that Green Pig has been operating, patrons have come to love their distinct rooftop patio, Thursday karaoke nights and as a welcoming place to watch Utah football. For food fare, try the shrimp cocktail or one of the burgers on the specials board. (MS) 31 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-532-7441, thegreenpigpub.com
2. Bar X
3. Water Witch

Best Salt Lake Valley Bar (Not Downtown)
Hog Wallow

Everyone who has ever been to Hog Wallow knows that sitting out in the trees and foliage of their outdoor patio is as comfortable as outdoor seating gets. It's like being in your own private back yard, only better. That said, besides the patio, Hog Wallow is a favorite destination of skiers returning from the nearby slopes for some fine libation, live music and the always good food—try the Johnny Cash Burger! (MS) 3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. SLC, 801-733-5567, thehogwallow.com
2. Ice Haus
3. Prohibition

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Best Beer Selection
The Bayou

Though some other local venues have taken up the digital menu model for viewing taps, there's no contesting that The Bayou still started it first, and they've still got the hefty beer selection to warrant such a model. It's also got the prestige as one of the best beer bars to go to for a diverse selection of brews. The Southern zest of their Louisiana-themed bar and eating room make it all the easier to stay awhile and give their mobile app a try—it's a little too fun to let the app select a random beer from their wide selection. (EM) 645 S. State, SLC, 801-961-8400, utahbayou.com
2. Beerhive Pub
3. Beer Bar

Best Karaoke
Highlander Pub

It doesn't matter what day of the week you're hankering for a karaoke night, The Highlander has got you covered. Karaoke begins every night at 9 p.m. with thousands of songs to choose from. If the person belting it out ain't no Alicia Keys, don't worry—there are a dozen TV's to catch a game, or private booths for groups. (MS) 6194 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-277-8251, highlanderutah.com
2. Tavernacle
3. Piper Down

Best Sports Bar
Legends

For a while there in the spring and early summer, American sports had all but vanished. When they came back with a vengeance—virtually all of the major sports leagues at once—Legends remained a great place to enjoy classic pub fare like burgers, sandwiches and pizza while celebrating the return of basketball, hockey, baseball and more. With a location in Sandy to complement the flagship location downtown adjacent to Brewvies, Legends can serve sport fans throughout the Salt Lake Valley. (SR) 677 S. 200 West, SLC, 801-355-3598; 10631 S. Holiday Park Drive, 801-679-1749, Sandy; whylegends.com
2. Green Pig
3. The Huddle

Best Park City Bar
No Name Saloon

Home to the No Name Saloon, Park City's Alamo Building, resembling the Alamo, was built in 1905. The bar was even known as the Alamo for decades. Today, it's home to those craving a cold beer, craft cocktail and their world-famous half-pound buffalo burgers. The expansive bar includes an upstairs mezzanine bar and fantastic heated patio. It's an ideal spot to cozy in after a Main Street stroll. (MS) 447 Main St., Park City, 435-649-6667, nonamesaloon.com
2. The Spur
3. The Cabin

Best New Bar
Redemption Bar and Grill

If your religion is sports, then you can be saved at Redemption, a new sports bar in Herriman. Redemption is housed in a newly built modern structure, featuring a killer patio on the main floor and rooftop. The bar offers a program where you can buy "Redemption coins" for $10, which go toward paying for the meals of first responders, veterans and active-duty military members. (MS) 3517 W. Maradona Drive, Herriman, 801-938-9363, redemptionbarandgrill.com
2. Bewilder Brewing Co.
3. Grid City Beer Works

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Best Dive Bar
Johnny's on 2nd

You can't find a better bang for your buck in Salt Lake—home to the $4 shot and a beer, Johnny's on Second has the best deal in town, bar none. Regulars of the downtown bar frequent the pool tables, enjoy live music, Breaking Bingo and free Texas Hold 'em games. Owner Johnny Dale's free and fun spirit exudes in his bar, and patrons appreciate his dedication to maintaining a safe and inviting place to let loose and let live. (MS) 165 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-746-3334, johnnysonsecond.com
2. Cheers to You
3. Twilite

Best Live Music
The Royal

The Royal is the music venue king in town—there's live music Fridays and Saturdays, and every Thursday is 'Reggae Night.' Hit local bands such as Royal Bliss, Jagerdown, Ginger and the Gents, Buckcherry, American Hitmen and others are frequent performers. When bands aren't on the center stage, it's a great place to kick back in a nook or chill out on the intimate and private patio. (MS) 4760 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-550-4451, theroyalslc.com
2. Urban Lounge
3. State Room

Best LGBTQ Bar
The Sun Trapp

There aren't many LGBTQ bars in SLC (boo!), but Sun Trapp is a reliable favorite among the queer scene in SLC, not only for its weekend party atmosphere, but for things like its patio karaoke, which moves indoors in the winter for continued fun. The bar mixes up all the charm of a dive (and all the cheap beers and liquor to match) and all the joie de vivre that comes from being one of the wildest spots in SLC, even with a somewhat remote location a few blocks behind the Gateway. (EM) 102 S. 600 West, SLC, 385-235-6786, thesuntrapp.com
2. Try-Angles
3. Metro Music Hall

Best Theme Night
Twist 'Gays of '47'

Twist's unique interior, the former home of a 19th-century boiler room that serviced nearby downtown buildings, was the host of something a bit more glamorous at their Gays of '47 celebration in July. Partnered with Equality Utah, the three-day event featured drag queens and DJs such as Jason CoZmo and DJ Bangarang. Proceeds of the event benefited Black Lives Matter, the Utah Pride Center, EU and the Utah LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. (MS) 32 Exchange Place, SLC, 801-322-3200, twist.com
2. Area 51
3. Prohibition

Best Craft Cocktails
Water Witch

When Water Witch first opened a scant three years ago, it was touted as some kind of stylish "NYC-style bar," whatever that means. Since then, though, it's become quite the SLC staple, rivalling spots like Bar X as a go-to bar for extremely innovative and delicious cocktails—as in, offering up specials like a spiced Mexican cocktail served in a carved gourd called jicara, or like one fruity summer concoction that had a big, fat cube of frozen watermelon at its center. The bartenders are some of SLC's best and most knowledgeable, and despite the famously small space of the bar, they've made it work during their pandemic reopening. (EM) 163 W. 900 South, SLC, 801-462-0967, waterwitchbar.com
2. Lake Effect
3. Bar X


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Nightlife | Staff Picks

Best Drink Specials
Big Willie's

Among the frustrating Utah law landmines for clubs is for them to sell drinks at special pricing. Oh, it can be done, but it's a nightmare. Enter Big Willie's. Not only does this Ballpark area club have it figured out, they're good at social media, too. They spread the news so people don't have to bitch about high prices all over town—they just need to follow along on Instagram and get ready for a $3.50 special on Jameson, Tullemore or Jack Daniel's, saving their change for a quick game of pool. (MS) 1717 S. Main, SLC, 801-463-4996 bigwillieslounge.com

Best Cheap Drinks in Ogden
Historic Place

There's no better bang for your buck in Ogden than Historic Place, a dive bar that derives its name from Historic 25th Street. Pints are just a couple bucks, and Jack and Cokes are a paltry $2.75. Historic Place has become a haven for locals and regulars, who you can often recognize at the bar or lining up for a game on the pool tables. (MS) 162 25th St., Ogden, 801-394-6233

Best Fight Night Fanfare
Black Sheep Bar and Grill

No, there's no actual bar fights here. While most local bars around purchase the pay-per-view UFC Fight Night, Black Sheep Bar and Grill has grown a steady following for the Saturday mixed martial arts fights. The Foothill Drive bar has plenty of high tops and bar seating to go around for a view of the action as well as snacks and shared plates galore to enjoy with friends. (MS) 1400 S. Foothill Drive, SLC, 801-877-9350, TheBlackSheepBarAndGrill.net

Best Street Show
Boozetique Sundays With The 8eat1ful5

The street shows outside Boozetique & E3 Modern were performed early on in the pandemic outside the illuminated storefronts to a crowd watching from a distance. Owner of E3, Josh Stippich, is also a core member of the ever-beautiful experimentalists The 8eat1ful5. These informal gatherings took place on Sundays this past summer and preceded outdoor concerts as well as street protests passing along downtown streets. If you missed them, that's OK—they have tentative plans to switch to a streaming format this winter. Live recordings (containing some audible protest snippets) are now streaming on Spotify as are the two albums We Are Nature and We Are Nature 2. (EM) Boozetique & E3 Modern, 315 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-363-3939, boozetiqueslc.com

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Best Chill for Social Distancing
TF Brewing

This past summer, the remote corner tables on TF Brewing's back patio provided a safe haven for brew-heads who miss their signature schnitt glasses—a friendly mystery deal of a glass filled halfway with beer and halfway with foam—which sometimes grants the drinker a few more inches of beer for a deep discount depending on how fast the foam dissolves. Here's to hoping they get some fire pits and heat lamps for fall and winter, so that the best corners of the bar can be enjoyed with only cold beer providing a chill. (EM) 936 S. 300 West, SLC, 385-270-5972, tfbrewing.com

Best Brewery Crawl—South Salt Lake
RoHa, Level Crossing, Saltfire, Shades, Grid City

A few years ago, you could barely do a two-brewery crawl in South Salt Lake. Now, there's a tight cluster of craft beer producers who are eager to have you bumping around in their grid. We start at the RoHa Brewing Project on Kensington Ave in SLC. From there it's five blocks to Shades Brewing. The long part is now over, as Saltfire Brewing is practically a stumble across West Temple. 0.4 miles south of Saltfire you'll find Level Crossing which is the perfect transition to the 15-minute walk to Grid City Beer Works. Who knew beer-drinking could also be a workout! (MR)

Best Brewery Crawl—South Downtown
Epic, Proper, TF, Fisher, Kiitos

It goes without saying that the recent SLC brewery boom has given us a shload of great beers, but it's also provided us a safe and efficient way to patronize breweries on foot, bike or scooter. The preferred route in south downtown ("So-Do") starts at Epic Brewing on State Street, moving a block west to Proper Brewing. From there it's a few blocks to TF Brewing—backtrack a block north, and you'll find yourself at Fisher Brewing. We're not done yet, as the last leg of this mile-long crawl places us in the capable hands of Kiitos Brewing. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. (MR)

Best Music Community Hang Time
Hip Hop Organics Virtual Chillin'

One of the most enduring new virtual traditions to come out of the pandemic has been Hip Hop Organics Virtual Chillin' video streams. The hip hop collective has long been an open space for folks in the hip hop scene in SLC, and with the loss of shows and physical spaces to not only perform but to hang out, they started the virtual hang session via Zoom, with host and local rapper Mana (aka Secret of Mana) at the center of it all. Each week features not only performances and freestyle raps, but special guests and conversation around news related to all things hip hop and more. Since the beginning of the pandemic, new episodes stream on Facebook each Friday from 8 to 10 p.m., with old episodes posted up on the Hip Hop Organics YouTube page. (EM) facebook.com/hiphoporganics

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Best Brewery Where You Can Restock Your Sauce
SaltFire Brewing

This is a roundabout way of shouting out one of the many fine breweries in the South Salt Lake area that now seems to be full of them. Among all the breweries down that way, SaltFire Brewing is not only one of the tastiest, but the only one at which you can also buy hot sauce. And not just any hot sauce. Made by SLC Fermenting Co.—which shares a building with SaltFire—the fermented Habanero Arrow hot sauce they peddle in the bottle shop holds up as a go-to hot sauce. So, the next time you're stopping in to grab a beer (the Charlotte Sometimes is a wonderful pick), and your fridge is low on sauce, remember this strange Best of Utah pick and follow the Habanero Arrow. (EM) 2199 S. West Temple, South Salt Lake, 385-955-0504, saltfirebrewing.com

Best Booze Brawlers
Quarters Arcade Bar and Alibi Bar & Place

The underground arcade haven of a bar, Quarters, has been a prominent voice in the bar scene when it comes to saving Utah's bars. Operating just feet away but on street level, the feisty Alibi has done similar, joining with Quarters to make Utah more sensible. They've been vocal about the need for Utah laws to change to allow for game-changers like take-out cocktails, less-expensive measuring systems and happy hours. They also helped spread the word about the #SaveUtahBars petition, which, like #SaveOurStages, has largely been ignored by the state. Despite Utah's quest for a strong economy, it seems our notoriously Mormon-controlled state wouldn't be sad if our recently blossoming bar scene just disappeared. But bars like Quarters and Alibi clearly won't go down without a fight. (EM) Quarters Arcade Bar, 5 E. 400 South, 801-364-0658, quartersslc.com; Alibi, 369 S. Main, SLC, 385-259-0616, facebook.com/alibislc

Best Evidence of Responsible Drinking
Twilite Lounge

While driving past many a cherished dive in this city, one might be concerned by the sight of folks smoking hella cigs outside on the patios, all while standing very close to one another. But, word on the street is that at least one dive is pretty darn safe as far as social distancing goes. Reports from bar regulars of the Twilite Lounge confirm that most folks inside the bar abide by the mask-wearing rule, and their new outdoor patio space in the back lot is a bonus, too. The lounge sets that used to happen every night happen out there now, and who knows? Maybe they'll move their famous front patio heaters out back for the winter. (EM) 347 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-532-9400, twilitelounge.com

Best New Way to Boogie Down
Roller Disco Nights by Social Disco Club and SLC Skate Babes

One of the vibrant things to come out of this pandemic was a sudden trend that swept the city and it seems the country—roller-skating. The pastime was last super popular in the '70s, in the era of disco, and the damned stylish sport has gone viral for all the stylish reasons. If you look up Salt Lake City Skate Babes online, it shows SLC's skate scene is no different. Especially since the SLC Skate Babes teamed up with the vintage-loving DJs behind the Social Disco Nights—formerly dance nights held in venues—for funky fresh roller disco nights like only happened at the height of the disco years. With cooler months ahead, their skate nights will probably become more rare, but here's to hoping the new trend endures into next spring. (EM) instagram.com/slcskatebabes

Best Innovative Socially Distanced Show
S&S Concert Cruises

Anyone who's been around SLC on a Thursday 999 ride night knows that this is one bike-lovin' city. So, the model of socially distanced shows developed by the moguls at S&S was not only a no-brainer but innovative as hell. Why not combine shows with open air and constant movement, two things that COVID hates? Thus, the Concert Cruises were born, which have been a consistent fixture well into October, featuring a Punk Rock Halloween in addition to the popular cover shows. The events feature large rosters of all-local bands that are spread out at secret locations where bikers stay for short increments—spaced apart—before moving along their show route. (EM) sartainandsaunders.com

Best City-Sanctioned Hold Music
Salt Lake County DA's Office

For those Salt Lakers in activist circles, the hold music at the district attorney's office is a familiar sound. And by golly, it's actually pretty damn good. Calls to the office to, for example, drop the overblown and retaliatory charges against protesters from events like the May 30 and July 9 protests are met first with an unexpectedly pleasant listening experience thanks to the hold music. Folks, it's synthy dream pop, which is definitely a startling thing to hear when you're trying to get fired up enough to either leave a message or speak to a bored secretary about how the DA is suppressing First Amendment rights. I don't know who at the DA's office picked this quality outlier in the Muzak world for the hold music, but if you see this, hats off to you. (EM)

Best Stream Adaptation
Social Antidote

At the beginning of the pandemic, amid myriad lo-fi livestream sets on Instagram, Facebook and Zoom, a vision of a better livestream came to light—and by light, we mean a really good light. The idea was to create a high-quality livestream like the kind already common on television shows—think SNL or a Late Show spot—with professional lighting, sound and film setups, to give artists the experience of a live show. The concert series has appeared at intervals throughout the pandemic and was free but with encouragement to donate to the performing artists. It spotlights local musicians who have lost income, including performances by Cherry Thomas, Joshy Soul, Escalantes, Courtney Kelly and others, in addition to a Empower Benefit Concert in collaboration with the Utah Black Chamber. (EM) facebook.com/socialantidote.live

Best Response from Backstage
Utah Live Events Industry Association

It wasn't just venues and artists impacted by the pandemic, but those who help artists look and sound good on stage, too. The entire behind-the-scenes backbone of the music industry—from sound and lighting techs to equipment rental companies—everyone who makes shows and other big events and conventions (of which Utah is host to many) happen has been out of a job. So, they rallied under the umbrella of the newly created Utah Live Events Industry Association. The group uses Facebook to share music industry news and developments with one another, and teamed up at the end of the summer with #WeMakeEvents, which had light technicians from all over the world lighting up music venues and important buildings in a "red alert" light. (EM) uleia.com

Best Oldest Bar in Town (or So They Say)
Willie's Lounge

"Give 'Em Hell Harry" was president when Willie's Lounge opened in 1948. And the neighborhood fixture on South Main has carried the earthy "what the hell" attitude into the 21st century. Geremy Cloyd, owner of what is arguably the city's oldest bar, boasts his clientele is "white collar, blue collar and no collar." Among them: "A billionaire real estate developer who's here every day at noon, punk rockers and everyone from 21 to 91." Willie, incidentally, was Willie Goldberg, who ran produce stands on the site. (LG) 1716 S. Main, SLC, 760-828-7351, willieslounge.com

Best Bar Renovation
Brickyard Bar

For years, Lumpy's on Highland was a staple in the local bar scene, though years of partying caused wear and tear on the building. Now under new management and fresh off a quarter of a million-dollar renovation, Brickyard Bar strikes a fine balance of Lumpy's classic charm and a new, needed modern look. They even have Sunday morning yoga classes—talk about a change of the times! (MS) 3000 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-883-9845, TheBrickyardBar.com

Best Venue Fundraiser
The State Room Poster Auctions

The State Room has been doing a lot to survive since the pandemic took hold on the whole world, and the music industry in particular. Not only have they been advocates for other venues and aspects of the industry affected with their support of movements like #SaveOurStages and the National Independent Venue Association, but they've come up with innovative ways to support themselves, too. One of these solutions was their Poster Project, which took place back in May. They drew on 11 years' worth of posters, many of which were signed, for an online auction event to raise money for the venue. The venue's early marquee messages greeted the unknowns of the pandemic, with phrases like "Wash your hands, see you in April May." If only that marquee had been accurate. (EM) 638 S. State, SLC, 801-596-3570, thestateroompresents.com


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