Once you get past Utah's confusing alcohol laws, Salt Lake City's bars and clubs are surprising vibrant and fun. To discourage bar hopping, all clubs that serve liquor are required to advertise as "private clubs for member." This simply means that patrons must sign up and pay a small fee, similar to a cover charge at non-Utah bars. Most of Salt Lake City's bars are well worth the membership fee and Kristauf's Social Club is definitely one of them. This stylish dance club features exotic cocktails, a lively crowd and a DJ spinning hip-hop to the delight of those on the dance floor. Those in the mood for something, well, seedier will love Bar-X Inn. Complete with a peanut-covered floor, tankards of beer and a rickety pool table, this Salt Lake City hotspot seems like a caricature of a dive bar. Whatever type of Salt Lake City bar or club seems appealing, this city has something for everyone.
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4242 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.265.9889
Yes, it's true: Salt Lake City is home to a real biker bar—Harleys, leather jackets, and all. Don't believe it? See for yourself—chrome pipes and scruffy bikers clutter the entrance of this Salt Lake City bar on any given night. Inside, the atmosphere is surprisingly friendly. A full bar menu with hearty burgers and tasty fries satisfy anybody's hunger, from 300-pound biker Bob to the average Joe, who presumably weighs much less.
Bar In Sugarhouse
2168 Highland Dr., Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.485.1232
No frills and small bills, this hole-in-the-wall dive bar is a Salt Lake City saloon where locals go to get a drink without shelling out the cash demanded by more upscale establishments. A neighborhood haunt where everybody knows your who you are, Bar in Sugarhouse is about as fancy as it's name suggests, which is to say, not very.
155 E 200 S Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.532.9114
Salt Lake City's Bar-X Inn epitomizes the words "dive bar," so depending on what you look for in a bar, you'll either like it or really, really hate it. Let's start from the top: tankards of domestic beer (that's right, 32 oz. tankards), check. Peanut shells covering the floor, check. And of course, a tiny space shrouded in cigarette smoke—check it. Call it seedy, call it sexy, it is what it is and it probably isn't going anywhere any time soon—the bar's been operating since 1933. A pool table in the back attracts players of surprisingly high ability, while a couple TVs and a jukebox provide the rest of the entertainment. Don't expect a dance floor or a fancy cocktail—Bar-X doesn't provide these sophisticated luxuries, and quite frankly, they don't have to.
Burt's Tiki Bar
726 S. State St., Salt Lake City UT; Tel. 801.521.0572
If you want a good punk dive, Burt's is probably the best place in Salt Lake City, if not the whole state of Utah. As Tiki bars go, it stinks, but as a trashy punk dive, it is every bit as good as Empty Bottle in Chicago, or the Grog Shop in Cleveland. Burt's Tiki Bar has cheap beer; crappy punk bands on a grimy corner stage; flyers, pictures and posters all over the walls; a surly bartender; and free pool on Sundays. (Excerpt from Tiki Road Trip: A Guide to Tiki Culture in North America
by James Teitelbaum)
2115 S. State St., Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.466.0950
Hot lunch anyone? Known for it's unbeatable hot-sandwich menu and the local favorite garlic burger, this Salt Lake City bar is a true neighborhood favorite. But the heat only goes with the food—inside the tavern you'll find a cool, dim interior furnished with strips of redwood. The jukebox plays everybody's favorite classic rock tunes above the din of after-work conversations. With several beers on tap and great food, Busy Bee in Salt Lake is the perfect place to unwind.
31 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.355.9538
Billy Joel would be at home at the Cabana Club. A sleek baby grand in the corner signifies the fact that it's Salt Lake City's only piano bar. Cozy vinyl booths provide comfortable seating for watching the performance, which is a good thing considering there's live music every night of the week. An amiable crowd lounges around while pianist Dave Compton plays the keys. Good bartenders mix up excellent martinis, and the food is delicious. One of Salt Lake's oldest bars, the Cabana Club is a great refuge from the whirlwind of city life.
323 S Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.595.7003
Grey and windowless, the drab aesthetic of this Salt Lake City bar's façade may fool you into thinking that the inside is equally as dreary. On the contrary, once you've walked through Deseret Lounge's non-descript doors you'll be greeted by smiles and how do-you-dos from the friendly staff and patrons. Brown shag carpet and vinyl booths show how much the owners care about looks (very little), but karaoke every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, a killer classic rock jukebox, and cheap beer make this bar worth diving into.
The Desert Edge Brewery at the Pub
273 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.521.8917
Known by locals as simply "the Pub," this lively Salt Lake City microbrewery is all about good vibes and tasty food. An upstairs patio is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer night, while brass-top tables and floor-to-ceiling windows make the interior equally as appealing. Six delicious microbrews are on tap, and the menu offers a wide selection of above-average pub fare. Kick back and sip on your beverage of choice at The Desert Edge Brewery, one of Salt Lake City's most friendly neighborhood pubs.
202 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.322.0318
Sure, it's just a little Salt Lake City tavern across the street from the historic City & County Building, but this friendly neighborhood bar is everything you need- and nothing you don't. An awesome record collection at Junior's Tavern behind the bar supplies jazz and blues while you sip one of the several beers on tap, including $1.50 pints of Pabst. A TV and a pool table provide the entertainment, but usually affable conversation takes care of any bar boredom.
Kristauf's Social Club
16 W Market St., Salt Lake City, UT; Tel.801.366.9490
This Salt Lake City bar is known for its multitude of martinis- choose from exotic tropical blends like the "Flirtini" and the blue-colored "Venus Fly Trap," as well as a handful of more traditional varieties. A casual atmosphere and stylish décor make this a relaxing after-work gathering place during the week, while weekends see a livelier college-aged crowd. With the youth comes the party—a DJ spins hip-hop beats as the dance floor swells with energetic socialites yearning to boogie the night away.
Porcupine Pub & Grille
3698 Fort Union Blvd., Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.942. 5555
Skiiers and snowboarders, take note—this spacious Salt Lake City bar is located just miles away from the slopes. Both the Snowbird and Brighton ski resorts are nearby, so it's no wonder that Porcupine Pub & Grille attracts the after-ski crowd looking for a tasty bite and a cold beer. The spicy chicken wings are hotter than fire, and the fish tacos are a local favorite. A warm atmosphere, TVs tuned into sports, and a lively crowd make this Salt Lake pub a perfect shelter from the storm.
78 W. 400 S., Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.521.0589
A Salt Lake City nightclub (housed in a historic downtown Salt Lake City building) for over eleven years, Port O'Call has four stories of sports television and dance floors, a full menu and nightly entertainment, including anything from fashion shows to Cajun rock and R&B bands to larger touring acts like Burning Spear.
Red Rock Brewing Company
254 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, UT; Tel. 801.521.7446
One of Utah's perennial favorites, Red Rock Brewing Company follows a simple formula of success: outstanding food, great beer, and excellent service. The Salt Lake brewpub aces all three categories with flying colors, making it a popular destination for locals and travelers alike. A handsome polished wood interior is inviting to the senses, and compliments the delicious food perfectly. Wood fired gourmet pizza bursts with flavor; the rotisserie chicken is mouth-wateringly tender. The beer, too, is not to be overlooked—ten full flavored ales are on tap, each with a unique taste that will have you asking, "may I try another?"
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