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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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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