BEST of UTAH 2022 | The BEST restaurants, bars, entertainment, nightlife, dishes, drinks, media, and politics in Utah. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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    There's much blubbering about the new 9th & 9th public artwork. - DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle
    • There's much blubbering about the new 9th & 9th public artwork.

    Best Public Art
    “Out of the Blue” Breaching Whale

    Who knew that a 40-foot-wide/23-foot-tall colorful whale sculpture breaching on the 900 South 1100 East roundabout would have people up in arms? Yet, here we are. Stephen Kesler, the artist, certainly got people talking. “’Out of the Blue’ was designed to complement and augment the unique identity of the 9th & 9th neighborhood, celebrating a community that’s welcoming and stands for respect,” says the Salt Lake City Arts Council. Whale “resisters” placed a colony of gnomes in the roundabout, which disappeared and later returned—whether left by trolls, community members or the artist himself; it made us smile. Love or hate the whale—it’s here to stay. 900 S. 1100 East, SLC, IG @stephenkesler_tusk
    2. Granary District Murals
    3. Protest Portraits

    Best Escape Room
    Alcatraz Escape Games

    Whether spending time as a family, or heading out with a group of friends, an escape room provides a fun and unique challenge—more unique than a typical night out. Alcatraz Escape Games provides patrons a great escape, thanks to their friendly employees, challenging experiences and variety of rooms. 12674 Pony Express Road, Ste. 1, Draper, 801-708-0198,
    2. Escape on 13th
    3. Mystery Escape Room

    Best Dance Company
    Ballet West

    As dancer Lucas Horns said, “Ballet West is a result of the commitment Salt Lakers have to uplifting quality art—nowhere else do you find such a world-class ballet company in a relatively small city.” Since 2007, artistic director Adam Sklute, former dancer, former ballet master and associate director of the Joffrey Ballet, has further energized and expanded Ballet West’s remarkable repertoire with works by the most renowned choreographers of today. 50 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-869-6900,
    2. Odyssey Dance Theatre
    3. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.

    Best Movie Theater
    Brewvies Cinema Pub

    The idea of a movie theater serving drinks isn’t a revolutionary one, as the national success of Alama Drafthouse proves. But it’s a pleasure to see local and regional movie houses employ the formula to lasting success. With food, drink, multiple screens, new releases and repertory faves, Brewvies brings the best things in life together under a single roof. 677 S. 200 West, SLC, 801-355-5500, 801-322-3891; 2293 Grant Ave., Ogden, 801-392-2012,
    2. Broadway Centre Cinemas
    3. Megaplex Theatres at Jordan Commons

    Best Local Stage Actor
    Deena Marie Manzanares

    If you have been in the Salt Lake acting scene, you have likely witnessed the brilliant Deena Marie Manzanares. She played Sycorax in The Sting & Honey Co.’s Sleeping Beauty’s Dream, this past summer. She once shaved her head for a part—she’s that dedicated (and not just another pretty face)! She was once named the Lady Gaga of Salt Lake City, and we can see why! Is there anything she can’t do? We’re lucky that New York City did not keep her. You can catch her weekday mornings on Good Things Utah on ABC4. She’s multifaceted as a superhero mom, a Nintendo warrior and a burrito slayer. IG @deena_marie
    2. Sarah Huff
    3. April Fossen

    Best Music Festival
    Das Energi

    Going strong since 2012, Das Energi continues to be a top choice for EDM lovers. Held at the historic Saltair on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, ravers flock to the famous venue for days of music, lights, fireworks and dancing. Attendees have been dancing the night away at this festival for a decade now, with no signs of the event going anywhere anytime soon.
    2. Kilby Block Party
    3. Utah Blues Festival

    Best Friend of the Arts
    Utah Arts Alliance

    All artists know exposure is key to success: Many offer it, but few actually deliver it. UAA Connect is a free event expanding all over Utah. Artists can participate in a monthly event with up to two pieces of art hanging in a gallery. It culminates in a year-end gala awarding grant money to participating artists. More details are on their website listed under “programs.” Multiple locations, 801-888-9638,
    2. Salt Lake County ZAP
    3. Ogden City Arts

    Best Outdoor Concert Venue
    Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre

    Where else can you pack in your own homemade picnic and wine? No matter where you sit, it’s a great spot in a delightful space. Even when we miss the warm-up performers, we seem to find a decent spot to watch our favorite bands. We all know why we love this place and why the musicians love playing here ... there is something magical about Red Butte. We all anticipate the release of the lineup every year. We love this all-ages venue and the good memories made here. Red Butte, you have our hearts. 300 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-585-0556,
    2. Usana Amphitheatre
    3. Sandy Amphitheater

    Best Indoor Concert Venue
    The Depot

    How to rate a music club’s “it factors?” Sightlines? Friendly staff? Convenient location? All of the above and more? The Depot satisfies music fans of all stripes, with a broad booking policy and a room that delivers good sound, a bit of food, a solid beverage program and all kinds of angles to experience a show. With concerts back in business, The Depot’s once again doing what it does best. 13 N. 400 West, SLC, 801-456-2800, IG @depotslc
    2. Metro Music Hall
    3. The State Room

    For chills and thrills, it's the Fear Factory - COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo
    • For chills and thrills, it's the Fear Factory

    Best Haunted House
    Fear Factory

    Location, location, location. Salt Lake City (and Utah more broadly) has many grade-A haunted attractions during spooky season. But where others must first mimic dilapidated spaces, Fear Factor benefits from hostile industrial surroundings that have a ghostly quality of their own, priming the scare pumps before guests even make it inside. That’s the trick, but the treat is how well the Fear Factory team converts their unique space into a kaleidoscope of horrors that feels fresh and frightening every year. 666 W. 800 South, SLC, 801-692-3327,
    2. Nightmare on 13th
    3. Castle of Chaos Escape Rooms & Haunted House

    Best Concert
    Garth Brooks

    After performing at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2021, country music legend Garth Brooks promised to return to Salt Lake. True to his word, Brooks returned to sold-out audiences on June 17 and 18, 2022. Country listeners packed into Rice-Eccles for two nights to see the beloved performer deliver a powerhouse show. And he even brought a surprise: an encore with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, and the pair sang “Shallow” from the 2018 film A Star Is Born.
    2. Alanis Morissette
    3. Das Energi

    Best Theater Company
    Hale Centre Theatre

    Thirty-five years and going strong: Founded by Nathan and Ruth Hale, Hale Centre Theatre has been packing in family audiences since 1985 to see its roster of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. After outgrowing its home in West Valley City, the company built a new theater in Sandy that opened in 2017. The two stages, the Centre Stage (Hale’s “theater in the round”) and the smaller jewel box, are truly unparalleled in Utah. With parking often being a struggle downtown, you’ll find none of that at HCT—in fact, there is plenty of free parking! Catch A Christmas Carol this holiday season at HCT, Nov. 30 to Dec. 27. 9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy, 801-984-9000,
    2. Salt Lake Acting Co.
    3. Pioneer Theatre Co.

    Best Glass Blower
    Mike Hurst

    For 30 years, Ogden-based Mike Hurst has been crafting fantastical creations out of glass, many of them inspired by his love of holidays—like pumpkins for the Halloween season, and heirloom Christmas ornaments. In addition to the beautiful work he’s inspired to create on his own, including seashells, bottle stoppers and glass drinking straws, Hurst also accepts special commissions for “memorial glass” receptacles to contain the ashes of loved ones.
    2. Tom Holdman
    3. Jodie McDougal

    Best Museum
    Natural History Museum of Utah

    The copper-clad building is an architectural wonder seated high on the east bench overlooking Salt Lake. It features exhibits and artifacts, including Utah’s paleontology discoveries. One of the most striking dinosaurs to appear in Jurassic World Dominion is the horned dinosaur Nasutoceratopstitusi—you’ll find the only fossil specimen of it here. On the first and third Saturday of each month you see animals native to Utah. They also offer craft workshops with local artists, and educational programs galore for families. So much to do at this beloved spot! 301 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-581-6927,
    2. The Leonardo
    3. Utah Black History Museum

    Science nerd by day; pop-star diva by night - COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo
    • Science nerd by day; pop-star diva by night

    Best Drag Entertainer
    Tamara Knight

    A relative newcomer to the SLC drag scene, Tamara Knight has exploded onto the scene with a unique voice and perspective. The Las Vegas transplant somehow found time in the middle of pursuing a biology degree at the University of Utah to make it a priority to celebrate artists of color in lip-sync performances showcasing stars like Beyoncé, Janet Jackson and Nicki Minaj. Welcome to the throne, queen, and long may you reign. IG @thetamaraknight
    2. Jason CoZmo
    3. Gia Bianca Stephens

    Best Local Band
    Pixie & the Partygrass Boys

    Like most modern bands, this group doesn’t find themselves fitting narrowly into one genre. They playfully incorporate bluegrass, newgrass, pop, punk and rock ‘n’ roll in their unique and fun sound. Seeing this group live is an absolute treat, and an experience listeners won’t easily forget. They play around the state regularly, so keep an eye out for their shows.
    2. Talia Keys
    3. Royal Bliss

    Best Music Series
    Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series

    There’s a certain alchemy to a great concert series, combining the right lineup of performers with the right venue and benefitting from intangible variables that create something far greater than the sum of its parts. That magic regularly unfolds on summer nights in Salt Lake City, when the sun dips low in the west, the air turns cool and concertgoers at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheater sink low into their (appropriately sized) chairs, snacking on a picnic spread, sipping a glass (or three) of wine and singing along with their neighbors as the band plays on. 2188 Red Butte Canyon Road, SLC, 801-585-0556,
    2. Ogden Twilight
    3. SLC Twilight Series

    Best Muralist
    Shae Petersen (SRIL)

    SRIL cut his teeth making street art and has since created the biggest murals in Salt Lake City. He’s arguably one of the most recognized and sought-after muralists in the Western United States. He continues to bless the city skyline with his work, like the 60-by-60 foot “Atlas” at the Hardware Apartments. He’s spent over 100 hours using 100 cans of spray paint to create the impressive image of an astronaut this past summer. 160 S. 300 West, SLC,
    2. Trent Call
    3. Josh Scheuerman

    Best Art Gallery
    Urban Arts Gallery

    A shout-out to the donated time and spaces that keep this gallery going. Volunteer artists and curators (artist Jimmi Toro and guest curator/artist Essie Shaw, just for starters) have worked tirelessly with executive director Derek Dyer toward a shared artistic community vision, making this gallery and space what it is. For more of the innovative visual imagination from the folks at Utah Arts Alliance, you should also check out the immersive Dreamscapes experience, now at Sandy’s The Shops at South Town. Multiple locations, 801-230-0820,
    2. Phillips Gallery
    3. The Local Artisan Collective

    NIIS at Kilby Court - JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman
    • NIIS at Kilby Court

    Best All-Ages Concert Venue
    Kilby Court
    What is there to say about Kilby Court that hasn’t been already? This legendary venue has witnessed the start of so many great bands and has continued to host fan favorites since 1999. Kilby has always been a venue that prides itself on fostering a safe space for live music. It has hosted acts like Doja Cat, Phoebe Bridgers, Diplo, Foster the People, Death Cab for Cutie, and many more. Hopefully we get another 20 years from this iconic venue. 741 Kilby Court, SLC,

    Best Views With Music
    Sandy Amphitheater

    This is a hidden gem and there’s not a bad view in the house! To the west, you can watch the sun set as you watch the show. To the east is a view of our captivating Wasatch Mountains. Whether you have actual seats or general admission, you have a sweet spot. They killed it with the lineup this past summer with bands like Lord Huron and Regina Spektor. And they offer open mic and free community nights. Make sure to pack a sweater because once that sun goes down, the chill is in the air. 1245 E. 9400 South, Sandy, 801-568-6097

    Best Really Big Outdoor Shows
    Usana Amphitheater

    The Wasatch Front doesn’t lack for quality outdoor music venues, from sports stadia to city-based amphitheaters. Of course, the biggest can also be the best, certainly in terms of bringing a wide selection of summer’s biggest shows to life. And USANA does that, across all genres, with solid staging and sound pros on the job. 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City,

    Best Backyard Vibes
    Backyard Events on Reed

    If you have been to Eddy’s, you know. This guy somehow gets the best local (and sometimes not local) bands to play in his very epic backyard. He always has a smile, a hug and the grill going. He welcomes all. We checked it out, and it passes the vibe check. You bring a side dish and chair. Everyone from Timmy the Teeth to Michelle Moonshine to Branson Anderson to Morgan Snow has played in that backyard. It is donation based and that all goes to the musician playing that night. 353 W. Reed Ave., SLC, follow “Backyard Events on Reed” on Facebook

    Best Use of an Organ Not Attached to Your Body
    Free Tabernacle Concerts

    Above the cacophony and crush of the 21st century, a slice of serenity beckons every day right in the very heart of downtown SLC—the free, half-hour recitals on the monumental Tabernacle organ on Temple Square. From noon to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 to 2:30 p.m., top-flight artists lift your spirits as their fingers dance over the five keyboards of the 11,623-pipe instrument. And remember to take a long look at your surroundings. You’re sitting in a building that Frank Lloyd Wright called “one of the architectural masterpieces in the country ... and perhaps the world.”

    Best Literary Support Group
    League of Utah Writers

    Every budding artist needs a helping hand now and then—and not even necessarily financially. From novices to established professionals, writers often want to emerge from the solitary nature of their work to find feedback and support from fellow writers. From one end of the state to the other, the League of Utah Writers provides regional groups, often with a specific genre focus, that allows writers to network and improve their craft; the annual Quills conference offers even more workshops, in addition to recognizing great local work.

    Best Pandemic Pivot, Continued
    SB Dance Curbside Theater

    Lots of creative people developed new ways to connect with audiences during the COVID pandemic, but not all of those connections became the new normal. SB Dance impresario Stephen Brown took his dance work directly to the people for “Curbside Theater” performances beginning in 2020, and subsequently fell in love with the ability to connect with all-new audiences, and to perfect works that could be performed many more times. Whether you find a performance near you, or schedule one for your own neighborhood, it’s exciting seasonal performance with an up-close-and-personal feel.

    Best New Arts and Culture District
    Creative Industries Zone in South Salt Lake

    South Salt Lake is changing a lot, and most apparently with the arts. It’s Creative Industries Zone—between 2100 South and 3000 South along West Temple between State Street and Trax—is home to some of the valley’s coolest murals, a new arts co-op at the Columbus Center, and a hopping brewery scene that fuses with the arts scene for events like this past summer’s Grid City Music Fest and its annual fall Craftoberfest.

    Best New Theater Hub
    The Box and the Box Too at The Gateway

    In the clash between “high culture” and “low culture,” the idea of a “mall” has long been connected with the latter. So as The Gateway has evolved in recent years, it has been fascinating to watch it turn into a terrific place to experience theater performances. In addition to the many venues employed by the Salt Lake Fringe Festival, we now have not one but two year-round theater spaces—The Box, and The Box Too—allowing audiences to check out daring work by small and emerging companies.

    Stand and deliver (the laughs, that is): - Wiseguys Lake City Showcase - COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo
    • Stand and deliver (the laughs, that is):Wiseguys Lake City Showcase

    Best New Comedian Introduction
    Wiseguys Lake City Showcase

    In the liminal space between “open-mic tryouts” and “headliner gig,” there’s a long road for stand-up comedians to get better, and get known by the local community. Wiseguys’ long history of supporting local comedy talent currently includes recurring “Lake City Showcase” performances, with several local performers taking center-stage. If you want to get a glimpse of where the next generation of Utah funny folks are coming from, keep your eye on the Wiseguys calendar and drop in. The Gateway, 194 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-532-5233,

    Best Groovy Gray-ish Gathering
    The Get Up Kids 25th Anniversary Show

    Picture it, wall to wall Gen Xers...a lot of gray beards and gray hair...rocking out like they were 15-year-olds again, at The Urban Lounge. Sparta (former members of At the Drive In) joined The Get Up Kids on tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1997 album Four Minute Mile. They played the entire album cover to cover and then surprised the audience with some oldies from 1995 and 1999. There was no moshing that night because the audience knew they’d have to load up on ibuprofen and ice packs the next day. Either way, fun was had by all, and we’re thankful they added Salt Lake City to their tour.

    Best Literary Start to Your Tuesday
    Weller Book Works Breakfast Club

    Not all of us are morning people; sometimes it takes a little something extra to get that brain into a galloping gear. So why not kick off your day with a little stimulating book-based chatting. After a COVID hiatus, Weller Book Works once again invited guests to join co-owner Catherine Weller for coffee and snacks across from the store’s Trolley Square location at My Amour Café, every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. No homework required, just a fondness for books, good company and conversation. 607 Trolley Square, SLC, 801-328-2586,

    Editor's Note: Over 160,000 votes were cast in the 2022 City Weekly Best of Utah poll. The ballot software used was from Revfluent, Inc. which provided City Weekly a list of "estimated winners." That list was tallied and vetted by City Weekly editorial staffers per our historic rules and published guidelines that are intended to monitor ballot malfeasance. The official City Weekly Best of Utah 2022 results were printed in Salt Lake City Weekly on Nov. 17, 2022 and are republished here online.


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