Wednesday, April 21, 2021
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The Best Dive Bar In Utah?

Sticky floors. Jukebox. Neon signs. Cheap drinks. Regulars. What makes a good dive bar? It turns out, after a lively discussion in the editorial office here at Salt Lake magazine, the answer is: it depends.

I think a good dive bar is a little seedy and a lot friendly. But, Managing Editor Glen Warchol feels quite passionately that “Illicit drugs or stolen goods should be exchanging hands” to make it a true dive.

Food and Lifestyle website The Daily Meal says, “A true dive bar will have the cheapest beers in town, a clientele of colorful characters, and something a little quirky to set it apart.” And so, it’s editors set out to find the best dive bars in the nation based on the following criteria: pricing, existence of a jukebox, the availability of pool, darts and other pub games, and what they subjectively define as overall character.

After an extensive nation-wide search they named a bar in our fair city as one of the 25 best.


Y’all probably know the painfully unoriginally named Bar in Sugarhouse, but probably not by name. You might call it the old (old) Tap Room. You might call it That Place Next To Fats Grill. Or you might call it The Tiny, Crooked Shack on Highland Drive (that would be a better name, actually). Well, apparently, it’s the best dive bar in the state, according to people who may or may not have ever stepped foot in the place.

Don’t get me wrong, The Bar in Sugarhouse is a decent joint. I was once on a date there and talking about music —and I somehow managed to get the entire bar engaged in a dscussion about The Pogues. What’s not to like about that? But, let’s just be honest. There’s better dive-bars in this town, no matter how you define them.

Here’s a few on my list.

Willie’s: My one evening at Willie’s was after a Bee’s game. There was karaoke, roller derby girls, a bar with a sign declaring it “The G-Spot” and a derogatory name for women on the ladies room door. Oh, what a night.

The Republican: No matter what time of day you go in, The Republican is a dark place. This windowless cavern on State Street is a great place to get a beer and be left the hell alone, if that’s your thing. That’s totally my thing.

The Busy Bee: This place has gone from a bar to an all ages restaurant and back to a bar again. I swear to you, every time I have been there (and I have been there a lot, those garlic burgers always hit the spot) I have had the same waitress. It’s cash only, beer only and smells of garlic and broken dreams. Oh my gosh, I love it there so much.

Twilite Lounge: Twilight is a retro-cool dive with vinyl booths and old-school charm, pulling an interesting and diverse mix of folks from all walks of life. Like their website says, it’s like a happy boozer’s commune.

This blog would be remiss if we didn’t pour one on the ground for the lost, but forever in our hearts, dive bars. This one’s for you, Burt’s Tiki Lounge and Bar-X (before the Modern Family takeover). You’re gone, but never forgotten.

You know it's spring in Utah when cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the @utstatecapitol ⁠🌸😍⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart

Inspired by @oldsaltlake, we're celebrating #throwbackthursday with a favorite snapshot of early 20th century Salt Lake City. 🏖️⁠

Photos shared by @oldsaltlake are inspiring millennials and zoomers decades later with visions of a different city: one with easily accessible public transportation, walkable streets, local businesses (open late) and distinctive architecture.⁠

See more photos at the link in our bio. ⁠

Pictured: Women relax at what is believed to be Saltair Beach, date unknown

Why did Utah's only Titanic passenger not survive her journey?⁠

The descendants of Irene Corbett believe that the 30-year-old teacher sacrificed her life to save others. It's one of the many ways this remarkable figure bucked tradition and forged her own trail.⁠

Read more about Irene at the link in our bio!

One year ago today: a Salt Lake earthquake that even shook Moroni 👼⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart

"We must have done something right, cause you guys kept coming back."⁠

@bluepelatedinerslc, one of Salt Lake's signature spots for everyone from hungover college kids to vegan food lovers, will be closing its doors this May after more than two decades of service. It's the latest casualty in a brutal year for the restaurant industry. ⁠

Head to the link in our bio for a tribute to Blue Plate Diner. (And keep supporting your favorite local restaurants. ❤️)

Tony Caputo, a food evangelist and founding father of today’s SLC food community, passed away last night.⁠

Tony started @caputosmarket in 1997, bringing his passion for the cuisine of his heritage to Utah tables. Most days during the lunch rush you’d find Tony behind the counter slicing meat and cheeses and then, after it wound down, holding court out front. He’d often rush back behind the counter and holler over his shoulder, “you have to try this!" only to return with a sample bite of veiny cheese, a paper-thin leaf of prosciutto or a perfectly crisp amaretti cookie that he’d recently added to his menagerie of taste. For his many contributions to Salt Lake City, we awarded Tony with a Lifetime Achievement Dining Award in 2007.⁠

Today, we're sending love to @caputosmarket and the many people whose lives were touched by Tony. A full tribute is on our website now. ❤️

Why is the Pleasant Grove theme park Evermore suing one of the most powerful women in music? Long story short: a playground for those who would choose lore over folklore is taking on Taylor Swift over the name of her most recent album. Both parties have their reputation on the line in a battle of undercover Swifties and novelty mug disputes. Will Evermore hit the gold rush? Or did they cross the wrong mad woman? The full story is at the link in our bio. ...

Even in the exploration boom of the 1800s, nobody dared to explore the terrain flowing through the Green and the Colorado Rivers.⁠

That is, nobody until Major John W. Powell said the 19th Century equivalent of “Hey man, hold my beer while I try this.”⁠

Read more about his dangerous expedition at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo of Powell’s expedition courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division⁠

A brand new issue of Salt Lake magazine is coming your way! ⁠

We can't wait to share these stories with you. This issue includes our annual Blue Plate Awards celebrating those surviving and thriving in the restaurant biz. Plus, we take a road trip to Wyoming and ask why the only Utah passenger on the Titanic didn’t survive her journey.⁠

A note from our editor Jeremy Pugh, including beautiful tributes to Mary Brown Malouf from our friends in the community, is online now. Read more at the link in our bio ❤️⁠

Subscribers: Look for this issue in your mailbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands March 1! 📬

Today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Blue Plate Awards! ⁠🎉⁠

These prizes honor the growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs who do more than put good food on the table—they make our community a better place to live. This year, just surviving as a local business deserves an award, but each of our Blue Plate winners did more than that. They made us grateful for every person involved in the essential act of feeding us.⁠ 🍽⁠

At the link in our bio, we have the full list of winners, a celebration of feats of COVID creativity and a tribute to restaurants we lost this year. If you’re hungry for more, pick up a copy on newsstands March 1! Plus, check out our Instagram for spotlights on some of the Blue Plate winners. ⁠

This year’s Blue Plate Awards are the first without our beloved Executive Editor Mary Brown Malouf. We dedicate them to her, our town’s biggest food fan, critic and champion. xoxomm⁠ 💙

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @ricobrandut for Staying in Beansness⁠

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove and now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.” 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award Winner: @spicekitchenincubator for Keeping the Spice Flowing⁠

This year Spice Kitchen Incubator, already an essential resource for refugees, became, well, even more essential. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @thestore_utah for Special Deliveries ⁠

As grocery delivery becomes the new norm, The Store offers a personal touch that only an independent grocer can provide. Last March, high-risk and elderly customers began calling in their grocery lists over the phone, and The Store’s general managers personally delivered food to their homes. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @cucinaslc for Preserving Neighborhood Connection⁠

Cucina’s outdoor spaces became a place where the neighborhood could gather safely. Owner Dean Pierose offered free coffee in the mornings and encouraged his regulars to linger and commiserate together, preserving a semblance of society during a socially distanced time. 💙⁠