Best of Utah 2021 | Spreading the Love | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah 2021 

Spreading the Love

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Shout it from the rooftop: The Green Pig’s avocado rolls are delish - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Shout it from the rooftop: The Green Pig’s avocado rolls are delish

NIGHTLIFE | Readers' Picks

Best Salt Lake City Bar
The Green Pig Pub
Why do Salt Lakers so love the Green Pig? Well, for one thing, there's a rooftop patio, just the place where friends want to hang. There's pub food that's made from scratch daily (kudos for both stellar vegan and non-vegan bar fare), the varied entertainment (including a Monday blues jam plus karaoke and trivia nights—not to mention live bands and DJ Latu on the weekend), and the drinks, from pints of local beers to top drawer spirits to premium wines. And with over a dozen flat screens, it's the place to watch games. And we love those avocado rolls. Really, we do! 31 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-532-7441, thegreenpigpub.com
2. Gracie's
3. Ivy & Varley

Best Neighborhood Bar
A Bar Named Sue

A Bar Named Sue (Sue's for short) has a stronghold in Holladay and Midvale, and it's easy to see why. Each have diehard regulars at their weekly bingo, trivia and other themed nights, and the staff is amiable, the type that remembers their customers' faces and orders with ease. The food fare is worth the trip on its own—Sue's is known for their insanely tasty wings and sandwiches, such as their flagship Tennessee Turkey. 8136 S. State, Midvale, 801-566-3222; 3928 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-275-5578, ABarNamedSue.com
2. Dick n' Dixie's
3. Brickyard Bar

Best Late-Night Grub
Arempa's

Arepas and late-night grub have gone hand in hand forever, but it just took the opening of Arempa's to help us locals see the light. Giant, overstuffed corn tortillas filled with rice, beans, grilled pork or roast chicken just feel right when it's after midnight, and your body demands sacrifice. 350 S. State, SLC, 385-301-8905, arempas.com
2. Pie Hole
3. Beto's Mexican Food

Best Ogden Bar
Funk 'n Dive

Self-proclaimed as Ogden's "five star dive bar", Funk 'n Dive is a no frills, good-time bar that patrons have flocked to for years. Partners and longtime friends Bridget Gordon and Dave Morris (Green Pig, Piper Down, Ice Haus and others) teamed up to create an easy and affordable restaurant, and as with many of the Morris bars around town, an excellent vegan menu. 2550 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-621-3483, funkanddive.com
2. Brewskis
3. The Angry Goat Pub & Kitchen

Best Theme Night
Gays of '47

Each July, the Days of '47 celebrates the arrival of Utah pioneers in 1847. There are the usual parades, dances, rodeos, races and assorted festivities offered statewide. In recent times, those not of the pioneer heritage have created "Pie and Beer Day" (to rhyme with Pioneer Day). Still, there is no more of a unique celebration than the Gays of '47. This "Pio-QUEER" weekend has a gay rodeo, parties at both LGBTQ bars and straight bars, and of course, drag shows. Local queens like Jason CoZmo, Gia Bianca Stephens and a slew of DJs bring the music and glam as an alternative to the traditional parade and rodeo the Mormons hold every year. Portions of the cover charges go to nonprofits like Equality Utah, Utah Pride Center and the LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce. utahlgbtqchamber.org and Twist Bar & Bistro, 32 Exchange Place, SLC, 801-322-3200, twistslc.com
2. Viva la Diva
3. Drag Karaoke at Why Kiki

DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Bar Patio
Gracie's

We love heading to Gracie's tiered patio to grab a drink and meet with friends. The food and beverages combined with the downtown city views just give off a vibe of contentment. Plus, Gracie's does not disappoint with their taste in local bands. They offer live music or a DJ almost every night of the week. 326 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-819-7565, graciesslc.com
2. The Hog Wallow Pub
3. The Green Pig Pub

Enjoy local and out-of-state touring bands while savoring Hog Wallow pub fare and beverages. - JOHN TAYLOR
  • John Taylor
  • Enjoy local and out-of-state touring bands while savoring Hog Wallow pub fare and beverages.

Best Non-Downtown Bar
The Hog Wallow Pub

Hog Wallow is where people post up before and after hitting the slopes in Big Cottonwood Canyon, including celebrity guest and nearby resident Post Malone, who is often spotted at the neighborhood watering hole. Music lovers flock to the always-impressive lineups they host (still waiting on that Post Malone booking), and their popular patio is one of the coolest spots in town to get a bite and beer. 3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, SLC, 801-733-5567, thehogwallow.com
2. Ice Haus
3. Prohibition Bar

Best Dive Bar
Johnny's

If you go to this SLC dive often enough, you become family, or at least kissing cousins. The bartenders keep the bar but also the people, which is good since Johnny's beer selections (that include over 30 full strength and selected import beers) make patrons a little wild sometimes. It's all about the patio, pool tables, pub food, live tunes on weekends, shuffleboard and, of course, cheap booze. 165 E. 200 South, SLC, 801- 746-3334
2. Willie's Lounge
3. Bongo Lounge

Best Sports Bar
Legends Pub & Grill

As much as the cable companies want to believe that Utahns are proximity fans of "nearby" teams such as the Raiders or Broncos in the NFL or Diamondbacks and Rockies in MLB, Utahns by and large are fans of a wide variety of sports teams across the country. There's no better place for people to stream games across all the major sports than Legends. Along with their longstanding downtown location, they recently opened up a Sandy iteration. 677 S. 200 West, SLC; 10631 S. Holiday Park Drive, Sandy, 801-355-3598, whylegends.com
2. The Huddle
3. The Break

Best Park City Bar
No Name Saloon

No Name Saloon is one of those Park City bars that gets packed because, yes, it's on Main Street, oozes with local history and serves incredible buffalo burgers and craft beverages, but also because it's one hell of a charismatic bar. The rough and tumble Old West vibes are present, and their rooftop area is the perfect place to escape crowds and, during Sundance, scout for celebrities below. 447 Main St., Park City, 435-649-6667, nonamesaloon.com
2. The Cabin
3. O'Shucks

Best LGBTQ+ Bar
Sun Trapp

A perennial Best of Utah winner, Sun Trapp has the charm of a dive bar with its old school decor, but it can just as easily turn into a party bar and dance club when the music is right. The best part is that it carries both those qualities while fostering a space for local queer folks and their friends to drink beer out of Mason jars and feel welcome and right at home. 102 S. 600 West, SLC, 385-235-6786, thesuntrapp.com
2. Why Kiki
3. TryAngles

Best Beer Selection
The Bayou

In 2001, when The Bayou opened its doors, the idea of a craft beer bar was still a pretty novel concept. This bar that specialized in craft beers from around the world was an immediate success and its reputation grew from within and outside of the state as a must stop for beer lovers. Even two decades later, The Bayou still manages to endear itself to craft beer lovers by stocking its fridges with the hard-to-get bottles and cans that may not even be on the radars of other pubs. 645 S. State, SLC, 801-961-8400, utahbayou.com
2. Beerhive Pub
3. Beer Bar

Urban Lounge features indoor and outdoor concert spaces. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Urban Lounge features indoor and outdoor concert spaces.

Best Live Music
Urban Lounge

Outdoor shows are still a norm everywhere these days, and the Urban Lounge has one of the most frequently used and beloved outdoor concert spaces. Sometimes it's used to double-book shows, with an early performance outside and a later one inside—it's a clever way for the venue to capitalize on show times and tickets, since both were scant in 2020. Performers love it, too—not just for the safety element but because being outside eases a lot of the chaos that can ensue at a packed-like-sardines indoor show. 241 S. 500 East, SLC, theurbanloungeslc.com
2. The State Room
3. The Depot

Best Liquor Selection
Whiskey Street

Holding steady in the top position, Whiskey Street is where the liquor is. When you have a wall lined with more than one hundred whiskeys from around the world and are situated on a road once designated "Whisky Street" by Brigham Young, you must be in the liquor business. The old-town vibe of the interior is the perfect backdrop for night out on the town. If you are not a whiskey drinker, don't fret, there are plenty of classic cocktails, wine and spirits to pander. 323 S. Main, SLC, 801-433-1371, whiskeystreet.com
2. Lake Effect
3. Water Witch

Best Karaoke
Highlander Pub

Karaoke is a Japanese term that means "empty orchestra." Japanese karaoke, with its plush private rooms and bar service, is a far different beast than our rowdier version in the USA. However, in Utah, one place seems to have karaoke well dialed in: Highlander Pub. With karaoke on tap seven days a week, their large space is great for celebrations. While you're waiting for your turn to belt out a tune, play a round of pool or dig into a basket of English-style chips. 6194 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-277-8251, highlanderutah.com
2. Piper Down
3. Club 90

Best Utah County Bar
The Owl Bar

Located 13 miles northeast of Provo, this 1890's bar is an easy winner because it's so cool. Not only does it have a wild origin story (wild as in it hosted Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang when it was located in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Robert Redford had it moved to Sundance and restored), but it's one cool bar that hosts local and national musical acts on many Friday and Saturday nights. The resort offers views of Provo Canyon and Mount Timpanogos—no better place to enjoy the music, beer, cocktails and seasonally inspired food at The Owl Bar. 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, 801-223-4222, sundanceresort.com
2. ABG's Bar
3. Strap Tank Brewery

Best Dance Club
Twist Bar & Bistro

Yes, it's a dance club, especially on Thirsty Thursdays with DJ Mvdness, Friday Nights with DJ Dirty Dave & DJ Myze, and Saturday nights with DJ Dirty Dave & DJ Marcell Mesquita. And the expansive layout offers both a patio and main floor where the vibes can be just to your liking. But there's more: The drink specials are inspired and the food menu is indeed "bistro" dining at its finest, well beyond your average pub grub, making this not only a dance club but a date-night spot. Twist's location right downtown makes it perfect as your first stop or last of the night. 32 Exchange Place, SLC, 801-322-3200, twistslc.com
2. Why Kiki
3. Echo

Best New Bar
Ivy & Varley

The lounge vibe at Varley (the bar connected to The Ivy) is on point, serving up craft cocktails, delicious snacks and shareable plates. The Thai coconut curry mussels and grilled beet hummus are perfect options for an after-work get together. Dim lighting, comfortable seating and a thoughtful menu that pairs great with the cocktail options complete the mood, in case you want to get your lounge on and stay a bit. 63 W. 100 South, SLC, 801-203-4124, varleyslc.com
2. Aces High Saloon
3. The Palace

Best Craft Cocktails
Water Witch

Returning champs in this category, Water Witch doesn't just serve the best craft cocktails, their delivery and presentation is second to none. Try the flaming mai tai for an impressive and tasty good time. Patrons navigate the small space with ease. 163 W. 900 South, SLC, 801-462-0967, waterwitchbar.com
2. Bar X
3. Under Current

Best Bar Menu
White Horse

Returning to the top of the list, White Horse does a great job serving up enchanting bar foods. Sure, you'll find some of the old standbys like a bacon cheeseburger (wagyu beef, of course) but be sure to branch out and try something new. Don't miss the confit duck wings, Buffalo roasted cauliflower or fried oysters. 325 S. Main, SLC, 801-363-0137, whitehorseslc.com
2. Whiskey Street
3. The Bayou

Reggie on sax creates a vibe with DJ Joune at a recent Afro Paradigm “Interlude” - MONHAND MATHURIN
  • Monhand Mathurin
  • Reggie on sax creates a vibe with DJ Joune at a recent Afro Paradigm “Interlude”

NIGHTLIFE | Staff Picks

Best New Social Celebration
Afro Paradigm

After a year or more of canceled events, Afro Paradigm seemed to sweep in at the perfect time. In August, Afro Paradigm introduced "The Interlude," a social celebration held on the rooftop of the Industry building. With permanent smiles, creatives, artists and local influencers danced all night long to the beats brought by DJ Joune's and other local artists. Look for Afro Paradigm's next event in the beginning of 2022—they are planning and looking forward to connecting more of Salt Lake City in a fun space. afroparadigm.com

Best Blues News
Open Blues Jam

If rainy days and Mondays always get you down, the Open Blues Jam at The Green Pig Pub will shore up your spirits. Gary Tada, Kevin Gardner and Ray Rosales kick things off on Monday nights with a 45-minute set. After that, they open the stage up to local musicians to get their blues jam on, so bring your guitar, bass, horns, harmonica, keyboard, cowbell—hey, even your blue suede dancing shoes! No cover charge (and no bongos, either). Mondays at10 p.m., The Green Pig Pub, 31 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-532-7441, thegreenpigpub.com

Best Racks
Big Willies Sports Bar & Grill

In the epic years of Utah bar crawling, there wasn't a tavern in town that didn't have a pool table or three. Those days are gone for now in favor of lavender scented cocktails, but at Big Willies, The Color of Money tradition continues. Not just classic pool tables, but Snooker, anyone? If that's not your fancy, Big Willies has other games from darts to dingers, along with drinks that don't bust your pocketbook. The only thing missing is the smoke. 1717 S. Main, SLC, 801-463-4996, bigwillieslounge.com

Best Bar Makeover
Brickyard Bar on Highland Drive

The old Lumpy's underwent a massive renovation and transformed into the gorgeous Brickyard Bar. It is still a great neighborhood sports bar, but it also brings in fantastic local music acts and even offers a Sunday morning yoga class. Hungry? You'll find a delicious balance of restaurant and bar food. Millcreek has upped its game. 3000 S. Highland Drive, Millcreek, 801-883-9845, thebrickyardbar.com

Best Late-Night Drinks
Duffy's Tavern

With the friendliest of bartenders, it is truly a good time there. No frills—no need for them there. You can even order a delicious veggie grilled cheese, cheesesteak sandwiches and other great bar food. And who doesn't love affordable beer? 932 S. Main, SLC, 801-355-6401

Best Happy Ending
Fall and Rise of the Tavernacle

It was gutting to hear about the Tavernacle closing when the team made the announcement last summer but hearing about their reopening only a few months later was enough to give me emotional whiplash. We've had a few local joints close only to reopen, but something about this quick turnaround gave me hope for those running our scrappy hospitality scene. Here's looking forward to another few decades of drag brunches and grand piano melee. 50 W. 300 South, SLC, 801-623-0987, tavernacle.com

Best Anticipation
Flanker Kitchen & Sporting Club

We've been hearing the buzz for a while, and at long last, Flanker is set to open on Dec. 8. This latest addition to the downtown nightlife scene fills the space left behind by the Punch Bowl Social at The Gateway. The kitchen and sporting club will boast a massive 17,500 square-foot complex that features a casual restaurant, three bars, 400 square-foot LED screens, private karaoke and sports simulator rooms, a nightclub and cocktail lounge. If you can't find fun at Flanker, you can't find it anywhere. So, get that bad boy open already. 6 N. Rio Grande St. No. 35, SLC, 801-683-7070, FlankerSLC.com

Best Monday Night Music
Garage on Beck

Back in May, Triggers & Slips started this cool new Monday-night music at The Garage on Beck. After a year of COVID, the city was craving something like this. We were freshly vaccinated and wanting to dance. Each band had guest musicians join them. It was so much fun! The Garage thankfully kept it going with Jonny Gold, George Charles Nelson III and Brother Carl Carbonell. Look for monthly Triggers & Slips Monday Night shows in November and December. 1199 Beck St., SLC, 801-521-3904, garageonbeck.com

Best Sugar House Brewery Crawl
Hopkins, Craft by Proper, Wasatch Breweries

Sugar House is bursting at the seams with an influx of new apartments and congested streets. But for those that rack up the miles on bikes or on their two feet, it's the perfect place to make three brewery stops—Hopkins, Craft and Wasatch are all within a stone's throw of each other. Hopkins and Wasatch both have great food selections to go along with their taps, while Craft by Proper is a locals-only beer bar fixed with a wide variety of Utah favorite beers. 1048 E. 2100 South, SLC, 385-528-3275, hopkinsbrewingco.com; 1053 E. 2100 South, SLC, 385-242-7186, craftbyproper.com; 2110 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-783-1127, wasatchbeers.com

Making music at The DLC - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Making music at The DLC

Best New Venue
The DLC in Quarters Arcade

In a year when many venues were just trying to stay open, another one got things rolling, practically for the first time. After a few shows right before the pandemic hit, Quarters Arcade Bar decided to open their in-bar venue space, The DLC, and try again. They've been booking mostly local shows steadily over the past few months, and while there are still tough decisions to be made as this pandemic continues, it's good to see a new space for music forging ahead. 5 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-477-7047, quartersslc.com/the-dlc

Redemption in Herriman brings food, sports and fun together on three levels. - ALEX SPRINGER
  • Alex Springer
  • Redemption in Herriman brings food, sports and fun together on three levels.

Best Pay It Forward
Redemption Bar & Grill

This south Salt Lake Valley club wears its patriotic fervor proudly. But it especially hits the right buttons when it comes to supporting veterans and first responders. Top-drawer kudos for that. Their creative way is to help those folks by offering $10 Challenge Coins that are delivered anonymously (if you wish) to patrons who have served country, county or municipality. You may not earn a full dispensation for doing this nice deed, but you're on your way—everyone needs redemption. 3517 W. Maradona Drive, Herriman, 801-938-9363, redemptionbarandgrill.com

Best Day Drinking With Locals
Junior's Tavern

Not long ago, a couple from Bangor, Maine, settled onto well-worn cushioned stools at Junior's Tavern. The guy surveyed the joint: A small but comprehensive selection of suds and booze, a lone TV set in the corner, a pool table in the back and, on the east wall, a case displaying hundreds of vintage beer cans. Oldies and jazz wafted from speakers. "Honey," he said, "it feels like home." Since 1974, proprietor Greg Arata has catered to an eclectic clientele making them feel "at home," too. Getting nostalgic? Check out Junior's—the consummate neighborhood bar—right in the heart of downtown. You won't regret it. 30 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-322-0318, juniorstavern.com

Best Upcoming Hot Spot
Tailgate Tavern

Dive of the gods. Centrally located in South Salt Lake, it's brand new, and they already featured all the hottest local acts playing here. Opening weekend they had Bad Brad Wheeler, Carl Carbonell, Muskrat Jones, Nate Spenser, JT Draper, Kelly Belerose and Timmy the Teeth. With pool tables and a great friendly vibe, this promises to be the place to be. 3550 S. State, SLC, 801-290-2531, tailgatetavernslc.com

Best $2 Drinks
Bongo Lounge

Since the Legislature wants to control how much liquor constitutes a drink at bars, we'll get an ounce no matter where we go. This is why we love dive bars—$2 drinks at the Bongo is our jam. Pool tables, booths and quiet corners are good for catching up with old friends. Oh, and the best juke box in town. Cash only. 2965 Highland Drive, SLC, 801-466-1577

Best Bar Ambiance
The Lake Effect

Immaculately curated cocktails and food prepped with intention is just what you'll find at the stylish Lake Effect. We were happily surprised to find they stocked a gin that we drank in Amsterdam that we loved so much. They book rad local musicians nightly, which adds to the ambiance and creates a memorable experience. It's also a really fun brunch spot. 155 W 200 South, SLC, 801-285-6494, lakeeffectslc.com

Best Perseverance
Will Bourne

In 2019, the Dick N' Dixie's family tragically lost one of their staff members when a vehicle struck him at the adjacent intersection at closing time. D&D's popular owner, Will Bourne, was also critically injured and spent nearly four months in the hospital. Bourne has since recovered and instead of folding in adversity, he grew. In 2021, even through COVID-19, he took on the old Tinwell bar spot and renamed it The Pines, opening a clean, complementary addition to Dick N' Dixie's. Congratulations, Will. Dick N' Dixie's, 479 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-994-6019; The Pines, 837 S. Main, SLC, 801-906-8418

Best Reggae Nights
The Royal

The Royal is the place for music lovers. Thursdays through Saturdays, The Royal hosts bands from a variety of genres. Local bands such as Ginger and the Gents and Royal Bliss are regulars on the stage. And The Royal also hosts weekly Reggae Nights on Thursdays—keeping the beats going—featuring bands like Newborn Slaves, Makisi and others. The affordable drinks and good eats are a plus, too. 4760 S. 900 East, Murray, 801-550-4451, theroyalslc.com

Best for a Get-To-Know-You Date
The Ruin

Work is a curse of the drinking class, and dating is the curse of the single class. If you fall into both categories, the Ruin's super-comfy leather lounge chairs are the perfect spot for a quiet conversation and a cocktail to break the ice. Their "Pearly Gates" cocktail is a favorite (made with gin, egg whites, bergamot and activated charcoal). And if the date goes well, then pop next door to SOMI. 1215 Wilmington Ave., Ste. 120, SLC, 801-869-3730, ruinslc.com

Best Bar Rescue
The Sidebar

The Walker Building in downtown Salt Lake once housed Walker Bank, which was owned by the Walker family who developed the Walker Lane area in Cottonwood and built a beautiful mansion there that was eventually sold to someone with little appreciation for old, fine things and thus demolished it. Which was great for Ogden's Own. They bought the mansion's early 1900s-era marble and oak back bar, rescuing it from a miserable life as an ice-cream counter, and returned it to the whiskey-pouring centerpiece it was meant to be at Sidebar, their new club within Ogden's Own distillery. For your sitting pleasure, try the 1800s English pub bench, too. 615 W. Stockman Way, Ogden, 801-458-1995, ogdensown.com

Best COVID-Conscious Pivot
The State Room

By choosing to stay closed during the entire pandemic—until this fall—we can say that The State Room played it the safest of any venue in town. But they (along with sister venue The Commonwealth Room) were also the first of venues around town to double down, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test result to get into shows. It was a bold and controversial thing to do at the time they chose to do it, but they turned out to be leaders of the pack, as most venues have since ended up following suit. 638 S. State, SLC, 801-596-3560, thestateroompresents.com

Sally Cone Slopes performs at Why Kiki. - LANGLEY HAYMAN
  • Langley Hayman
  • Sally Cone Slopes performs at Why Kiki.

Best New Drag Bar/Tiki Bar Fusion
Why Kiki

When we heard about one of the new bars downtown, we thought it was "waikiki," a tiki bar. But it's Why Kiki. Turns out it's a tiki bar, but it's a drag bar, too! Island-themed drinks are spiked with swirling glitter, sharing menu space with mai tais and bulging fishbowls, plus drag brunch eats that include penis-shaped waffles (with gooey dipping sauce). And, of course, among all the kitsch (a mermaid-adorned ship's prow towers over the back patio) is camp to match in their regular drag shows and costume parties. 69 W. 100 South, SLC, 801-641-6115, whykikibar.com

Best Spirited Parties
The Westerner

Nobody parties like the Westerner. In any month at this sprawling club in West Valley City, you can let loose your inner party animal at such parties as this years' White Claw Ball, Burger and Beer Bash, Porters Party, Margarita De Mayo, Effen Party and the Jim Beam Orange Launch. Or how about the recent two weekends of Scare Tastic, celebrating Halloween? If not in the party mood, try the free mechanical bull, free line dancing or free pool. Top country bands in the area, to boot, no pun intended. 3361 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-972-5447, westerner.com

Best Millcreek Clubbin'
Liquid Joe's

Millcreek's bluest building is still ripping and roaring as usual, and clearly the readers of City Weekly know it. Home to the ever-loyal Spazmatics and their cover classics, plus tons of other local and touring acts on the regular, Liquid Joe's is always a dependable place for Millcreekers and Salt Lakers alike to dance and find a good time. 1249 E. 3300 South, Millcreek, 801-467-5637, liquidjoes.net



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