Cocktails + Vibes: The Best Themed Bars in Salt Lake

Sometimes, you want an experience, not just a cocktail on a night out on the town. These are the local themed bars that have a certain vibe, mood, or atmosphere that makes for a memorable visit and great photos. 

80s Cocktail Beach Vibes: Tipsy Flamingo at Flanker SLC 

Flanker Kitchen & Sporting Club is known for its stunning pop-up bar in the back of the larger restaurant. It has become a destination in and of itself for the over-the-top decor, fun bartenders, kitschy themes, and plenty of neon with a sprinkle of disco. The highlight? You enter through a door hidden behind a vintage Pepsi machine. Have your phone out and ready to record. 

In the latest iteration, the bar is decked out in 80s style with retro beachy cocktails in the best cocktail glasses in town. The Tequila Sunrise 2.0 is a pleasant update with both tequila and mezcal, “fluffy” orange juice, and tropical Red Bull + grenadine. The Miami Vice is a solid frozen daiquiri taken up a notch with real creme of coconut, strawberry puree, and pineapple juice blended with rum and lime juice. You can also find bar bites and plenty of photo ops.

Tipsy Flamingo is open Wednesday through Saturday. A live DJ spins vinyl every Wednesday, adding to the nostalgic vibe. Be sure to make a reservation. The space is intimate and fills up fast.

If you go: Tipsy Flamingo at Flanker Kitchen & Sporting Club at The Gateway 6 N Rio Grande St, Suite #35

Cowboy Bebop Japanese Anime Vibes: Sayonara 

Walking into Sayonara, you go from a standard Downtown street corner and transport into a Tokyo Izakaya Bar. With neon street signs, an entire wall of anime prints, themed booths, and decor brought over directly from Japan, this bar is the perfect place to gather for bar snacks and drinks after work.

Izakaya bars are traditionally casual neighborhood bars, and Sayonara is no exception. The food menu is limited to finger food. The Katsu Sandwich is crispy and delicious, with tangy Japanese BBQ sauce. You can get food on skewers, the ultimate small bites. The Togarashi Fries are tossed in togarashi with a yuzu dipping sauce and are perfect for sharing. 

Drinks range from imported Japanese beers and whiskey. Many of the cocktails also have ingredients from Japan, like wasabi, sesame seeds, sake, and yuzu. Their highballs are particularly refreshing. Check out our full review!

If you go: Sayonara 324 S. State St.,

Gaming IRL Vibes: Quarters Arcade Bar

Quarters Arcade Bar is your spot if you want activities with your beverages. With everything from skeeball to classic PacMan to retro pinball machines, this is the spot to go and blow through a roll of coins while you enjoy a surprisingly well-crafted cocktail. 

Be prepared for lots of noise, flashing lights, and high-fives. Games are quarters each. And don’t worry if you don’t have a change jar at home; there is an ATM and change machine on site. 

With two locations, there is a distinct vibe at each. The Downtown location is literally underground (where the old Manhattan Club used to be). You won’t find food beyond a vending machine here, but plenty of local spots will deliver. Inside the Downtown Quarters, you’ll also find a live music venue, The DLC, with multiple weekly shows. 

The Sugar House Quarters is right off 2100 South and 1100 East. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a giant skeleton. With personal pizzas and two stories, this bar feels more expansive, and you may even find video games being played live up on the wall. 

Both locations have excellent cocktails. As a matter of fact, Quarter’s bartender Emma Roberts’ cocktail took the lead in our Reader’s Choice category for last year’s cocktail contest. The drinks are just that good.

If you go: Quarters Sugar House Quarters (1045 E. 2100 South) Downtown (5 E. 400 South,

Dark Academia Underground Speakeasy Vibes: Bodega and The Rest

Bodega is an unassuming spot on Main Street with excellent food. But behind closed doors and down some stairs is The Rest, a “subterranean speakeasy for creative eats & cocktails in atmospheric digs with a hunting-lodge vibe.” 

Complete with stuffed things and Victorian-style paintings on the wall, exposed brick, skulls and books tucked on shelves, and bottles of tinctures hidden behind wood and glass cabinets; it is mad scientist meets Wednesday Addams meets steampunk goals. 

With a new American menu, craft cocktails, house-created bitters (aka Honest John Bitters), and the best list of Amaro spirits in town, The Rest is the cocktail nerd’s hideaway. Be sure to make a reservation. Again, seating is limited. 

If you go: Bodega and The Rest 331 S. Main St., 

Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to

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