Best of the Beehive 2022: Downtown & Central City

Within a few days of entering the Salt Lake Valley, the Saints (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) had started work on their temple and the fairy tale castle building remains the center of the city. Street numbers of the city’s grid layout start with the Temple as zero. Once defined by the ornate 19th-century mansions along South Temple and old-fashioned apartment buildings, now the urban skyline is filled with modern multi-use developments. In recent years, downtown SLC has developed a lively nightlife, with bars lining Main Street and sophisticated restaurants serving everything from first-class sushi to Nepali food to chef creations at artisanal restaurants. On the edge of downtown, Pioneer Park is home to the Downtown Farmers Market featuring locally grown and made food. During the summer, the Gallivan Center hosts the Twilight Concert Series and becomes an ice rink in the winter. 

Who Lives There?

Median household income: $50,335
Median age: 38.6
White: 74.17%
Hispanic/Latinx: 19.51%
Black/African American: 4.05%
American Indian/Alaskan Native: 2.18%
Asian: 5.97%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1.06%
Some other race: 8.95%
2+ Races: 3.61%

What’s the Rent?

Median home price: $487,500
Median rent for one bedroom: $1,399

Where Do You Eat?

Another welcome addition to Regent Street, Fenice was opened mid-pandemic by Jeff and Lisa Ward, who own Park City’s Silver Star Cafe. The small (cozy) space features a menu of classic Italian staples, like pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven and house-made pasta, along with dishes that take broader inspiration from the larger Mediterranean region, incorporating flavors from Greece, Spain, southern France and North Africa.

Where Do You Drink?

The Bars of “Whiskey Street:” In Salt Lake City’s frontier days, lower Main Street was dubbed “Whiskey Street,” because of the segregated area of bars and houses of ill-repute in the area. Now, Whiskey Street is back—in a sense. In 2009, the Salt Lake City Council loosened an ordinance that limited clusters of bars. Soon—gasp—there were two, three, four, five, and then more bars all in a row—including one actually named Whiskey Street

Alibi Bar & Place has a tight bar crew, excellent cocktails, and walls of art by local artists.

Cheers to You is cheap drinks, bowling trophies behind the bar and a semi-surly bunch of regulars. Oh, and karaoke.

White Horse Spirits & Kitchen brings a deep selection of aperitifs and a menu of bar bites and locally sourced fare.

Where Do You Play?

On the cusp of falling victim to terrible urban planning decisions that led most of its retail tenants to move into City Creek Center, The Gateway’s future was uncertain. However, new ownership has worked to reinvent the mall into a downtown entertainment district. Anchored by movie theaters, the Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, Vivint Arena and The Depot music club, The Gateway has welcomed new bars, restaurants and a fancy food hall (not court), along with events and programming in its outdoor plaza. We especially love the Utah Arts Alliance’s Dreamscapes project, which gives space to local DIY artists to help create an immersive, trippy experience.

Where Do You Shop?

Kevin and Angie Kirk had been “peddling evil” since 1987 at The Heavy Metal Shop when Angie sadly passed away in March of this year. The music community, both local and national, rallied around Kevin and his staff with a successful GoFundMe campaign. Kevin vows to continue Angie’s legacy and keep on rocking.

Best Delayed Project (Finally Realized)

The Convention Center Hotel has been a decade in the making. The Hyatt Regency attached to the Salt Palace will offer 700 additional hotel rooms to the Downtown landscape. The hotel is slated for a Fall 2022 grand opening, in time for the controversial return of Outdoor Retailers to Salt Lake City in 2023. 

Katy Willis and Michael Eccleston stand by vintage arcade games in Quarters Arcade Bar, a 2022 Best of the Beehive winner in downtown SLC.
Katy Willis and Michael Eccleston are the nerd brains behind Quarters Arcade Bar. (Photo by Adam Finkle/Salt Lake magazine)

Best Use For Your Pocket Change

Pull up the change from under your couch cushions and head to the only bar of its kind in Salt Lake. Quarters Arcade Bar has a full slate of retro and modern video games, arcade cabinets, pinball machines and a rotating menu of on-theme craft cocktails. The venue and event space inside Quarters hosts a diverse lineup of performers and musical acts throughout the week.

Best Spot to (Not) Call It a Night

Pie Hole and Jackalope Lounge make up a spicy end of State Street—the part of Downtown where you end up after your friends without kids ordered a round of shots at the last place. It’s the answer to the question “now what?” You find yourself amid the rowdy crowd at Pie Hole (the pizza slingers on the late shift are nothing less than saints) clamoring for a slice and, once sated, looking for one more round at the Jackalope. The Jackalope, owned by former Twilite Lounge bartender Sunyin Marci, has cleaned up its act under her stern hand and is one of the best “beer and a back” bars in town perfect for the end (or beginning) of a night.

Notable News: Downtown Demolition

The contentious demolition of the historic Utah Pantages Theater and adjoining shops on the 100 South block of Main Street paves the way (literally) for a new luxury apartment high rise to transform downtown Salt Lake’s skyline forever. As that’s far from the only ongoing development, businesses near 200 East and Broadway have seen the writing on the wall and plan to move—if they haven’t done so or been torn down already. 


Welcome to the neighborhood! View all of Best of the Beehive 2022: Neighborhood Edition. And while you’re here, subscribe and get six issues of Salt Lake magazine, your guide to the best of life in Utah.

Salt Lake Magazine
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