Best Bars in Salt Lake City

The city's best, most classic bars: open for fun any night of the week

Salt Lake City has a bad rap for its nightlife. However, you shouldn’t believe everything that you hear. True, the city’s bars are rather widely dispersed. However, there is nothing wrong with the bars themselves. So if you’re looking for a night out, do some research ahead of time, and chose your destination before you leave your hotel. In this way, you’ll spend your evening in a bar that suits your preferences, and you won’t even notice the city’s lack of a major bar crawl. Or better yet, pick a destination - say State Street or Downtown - and locate a few bars within walking distance of each other.

Downtown proper is home to many of Salt Lake’s best bars. It is there you’ll find The Hotel Bar and Nightclub. Within a stone’s throw of Salt Lake’s hotel district, this upscale venue is perfect for drinking and dancing on any evening. Alternatively, if you’re in the area and feel like enjoying yourself in a low-key fashion, check out Junior’s Tavern. There you won’t feel the need to dress up or shake your booty.

Just south of Downtown, State Street offers a fair number of its own genuine bars. Those looking for a classic bar with live music should check out Burt’s Tiki Lounge. This no-frills establishment offers its guests cold beers, liquor shots and a lot of local bands. Farther south is Piper Down. This Irish bar recently underwent an impressive facelift that softened its edges a good deal.


Calling itself "Salt Lake City's Independent Sound Stage," the Urban Lounge is perhaps the most popular venue/ bar/ dance club in all of Salt Lake City among the young, alternative, or otherwise hip crowd. On the stage of Urban Lounge you can see music nearly any night of the week. Artists range from talented locals to nationally famous, indie bands. Cult classics like the helmet-wearing Bob Log have graced the stage numerous times. If you check online, you'll notice that Urban Lounge has a show scheduled nearly every night of the week. Come dressed casually; this dark, gritty, faux-dive encourages it.

Local Expert tip: Because Urban Lounge hosts so many musicians, you should generally expect to pay a cover charge.

Read more about Urban Lounge →

Self-described as "the place for jazz, blues, and booze" since its opening in 1974. During this time, Junior's has dodged the yuppification that has transformed most of Salt Lake City's watering holes. Sticking to its roots, Junior's provides space in which to drink, play billiards, watch sports, and - most importantly - listen to music. Located on 300 South Street, Junior's stands just a short walk from most downtown hotels and restaurants. Enjoy a Guinness from the tap, and check your email on the small outdoor patio; Junior's even offers wifi. People that love Juniors keep coming back for the laid-back, genuine atmosphere.

Local Expert tip: Call ahead of your visit to see who's playing.

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The Tram Club at Snowbird is a little hard to find at first. Located in the depths of the resort center complex, the Tram Club is one of the most popular apr?s ski watering holes in the entire Alta/ Snowbird area. With neon lights and dated decor, this bar makes you feel like you've stepped back into the 1980's. However, the Tram Club really "owns" that era, and doesn't seem ashamed of its style in the least. With a small patio area and plentiful indoor seating, the Tram Club presents a viable option for unwinding in good or bad weather.

Local Expert tip: When locating the Tram Club for your first time, ask someone for directions... and keep following the signs.

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Located downtown, The Hotel Elevate Bar & Night Club is Salt Lake City's most classic dance club. Offering five separate areas each with their own energy and intensity, The Hotel has The Lobby for relative relaxation, Club Elevate with a stage, dance floor, and lighting, The Ballroom for drinking and lounging, The Opium Lounge for mingling and dancing, and The Game Room for dancing and playing billiards. Each room has at least one fully-stocked bar and its own feel - from glossy and glitzy to underground. In every section of the club, you'll find a high-quality sound system and live DJ on most weekend nights.

Local Expert tip: This is a 21+ venue only; come prepared with an ID.

Read more about The Hotel Bar and Nightclub / Elevate →

Fiddlers Elbow
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

In a town ripe with attractive, modern brewpubs, Fiddler's Elbow stands out as the most sports-friendly of them all. Providing a clean and handsome setting, this pub invites you to enjoy a few beers and a meal while catching up with friends. You can alternatively order rounds of appetizers and watch the current game on any of the numerous televisions, including one that is 10 feet across. Or if you'd prefer, you can play billiards or darts. The bar serves more than 30 beers, as well as liquor and wine; the kitchen offers an enticing variety of creative and classic salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, entrees, and deserts. Located in the Sugarhouse, this popular pub is usually quite busy. Fiddler's Elbow now serves Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

Local Expert tip: If you're a sports fan, Fiddler's Elbow is the place to watch a game.

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Whether you're looking for a beer and burger or in the mood to dance to live music, you'll be happy you came. Make your way in, sidle up to the bar, and place an order for your favorite cold one. After a while, should you start feeling hungry, take a peek at the pub menu. Pizzas, heaping sandwiches and burgers can satisfy just about any need. The Hog Wallow also offers BBQ on the weekends. Most weekend nights you'll find live music. This is an excellent, low-key place for dancing and is welcoming to visitors and locals alike.

Local Expert tip: This is a great place to meet up after a day of skiing or hiking.

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For most of its life, Piper Down was a dark, hole-in-the-wall, Irish bar on State Street. With no windows and a somewhat off-central location, this was truly a locals-only hang. However, in 2009, this bar underwent a massive expansion. This renovation added 1,200 square feet of space, some windows - skylights, even - and a totally new ambiance. Retaining its Irish roots, this pub now offers a much more modern, inviting atmosphere in which to watch games, play billiards, and catch up with friends. Piper Down even offers a food menu with numerous snacks like buffalo wings, sliders, and nachos, as well as salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and Irish specialties.

Local Expert tip: If you haven't been to Piper Down since its expansion, it's time to give it another try.

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Located inside the Walker Center, smack-dab in the center of Downtown Salt Lake City, the Bourbon House is a restaurant-slash-bar combination freshly opened in 2012. On the restaurant side, Bourbon House offers a great selection of finger foods and meals. Fill your belly with poutine, Irish nachos, fried pickles or take it easy with enjoy a sesame chicken salad or a turkey, green apple and brie sandwich. Wash it down with a cold beer, a shot or a mixed drink. Whether you're looking for lunch or a full night involving scotch, bourbon and whiskeys, you won't be disappointed here.

Local Expert tip: Check out the Bourbon House's online calendar for events and specials.

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Burt's is one of the best places in Salt Lake City for a casual night out. Beloved by locals for its regular music schedule and cheap drinks, this State Street hole-in-the-wall is a great place to consume blue-collar beers and feel totally comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. A dive by appearances, yet safe and clean, this place is particularly beloved by hipsters and fans of local musicians. On any random night of the week, you may well catch a solo musician or bluegrass band for as little as $5. Small though it is, Burt's Tiki Lounge always makes room for dancing.

Local Expert tip: Not a typical dance club by any means, this is nevertheless one of the best places to cut loose in Salt Lake City.

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Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine