My Watering Holes
|"A good local pub has much in common
with a church, except that a pub is
warmer, and there's more conversation."
-- William Blake
|If you're one of the many who think Salt Lake has no night life, well..., ok, maybe you're partially
right. But, although Utah has very rigid and often inane laws which regulate quite thoroughly the
business which caters to those looking for a drink, there are, perhaps surprisingly, a good number
of places in Salt Lake to get a good drink and have a good time. Things are constantly changing,
so, like restaurants, there is always fluctuation in quality, popularity, scene, etc. Hopefully what is
documented here is somewhat up to date. I'm certainly not the "man about town" I may have sought
to be in my youth, but I do have an interest in keeping up on the social scene locally. So hopefully I'll
occasionally have something worthwhile to say about the pubs, clubs, bars, and lounges listed here.
Lumpy's Downtown: 145 W. Pierpont Ave. This location of Lumpy's is quite different from the original. Opened in
August of 2005, Lumpy's Downtown is a full-fledged sports bar which also finds a way of serving as an urban singles bar.
The location is convienent, with many other downtown destinations within walking distance. While the food at the original
Lumpy's is some of the best bar food around, the downtown location has food which is perhaps even better. The menu is
also a bit more expansive, with items ranging from tacos, salads, burgers, and sandwiches to fish/chips, cajun cubed beef,
This location is dominated by a large circular bar at it's center, mid-sized tables at front, and comfortable booths lining the
sides. The main room is also dominated by a plethora of flat-screen televisions above the main bar and in each individual
booth. Large projection screens also loom over the tables near the front. There is also a small lounge-like section of the main
bar above the kitchen and an entirely separate bar downstairs. There are also several pool tables located downstairs.
Lumpy's: 3000 S. Highland Drive This is my 'local' (as they say in Australia). It has become for me the closest
thing that I might be able to call the "local pub" here in in Salt Lake, and a natural extention of my home. The place is almost
two bars in one, with the upstairs being a kind of cozy neighborhood sports bar, occupied mostly by locals and regulars. The
upstairs crowd is also very diverse, with all ages, races, and most social-economic groups represented. Because it's a
place where a lot of people know one another well it has a very relaxed but vibrant atmosphere.
Downstairs serves more as a "singles" scene, and is quite a popular spot for 20 and 30 somethings. There are a couple of
pool tables and a small dance floor downstairs. Other than attending my weekly poker game which is held downstairs, I
rarely spend any time in the downstairs area.
Salt Lake City:
Club Bambara: 202 S. Main St. "Club" Bambara isn't really much of a "club" at all, at least not in the way most of us
would think of in contemporary times. There is no dancing, no large social areas, no pat-downs by large bouncers upon
entering, and no wrist-bands or hand-stamps, though one may be able to occasionally spot a small group of fashion forward
young things. No, Club Bambara is in fact a small, cozy, yet tactfully posh hotel bar located in the quirky and chic Hotel
Monaco. The staff is very professional, the drinks well made, and the clientele generally upscale (made up mostly of hotel
guests). This is one of my favorite spots to have a drink before doing dinner downtown. I'm still unsure about the t.v. screen
recently installed because although I do like to be able to watch the sports often displayed, I also feel it detracts from the "old
school," lounge-like atmosphere that always helped give this place a unique feel. My main complaint is the lack of quality
bottled beer. My favorite drink here: Mohito.
Butterfly: (CLOSED) 400 W. South Temple Butterfly opened in January of 2006 and is a very welcome addition
to the nightlife of downtown Salt Lake. Butterfly is not only a very comfortable and hip bar, but a wonderful restaurant that
features an American West Coast/Asian fusion menu. Butterfly is only part of the package. It's second floor, called "The
Depot," has quickly become my favorite live music spot in town. I've already had the chance to see several great shows here,
including X, The Rollins Band, and Yellowman. I haven't felt as comfortable at a live music venue as I have here in years.
Especially since the old Zypher closed a couple of years ago.
Butterfly still seems to be going through some growing pains when it comes to staff turnover and service in general, but I
suspect it all work itself out eventually. My favorite menu items are the duck spring rolls, the lemongrass clams, the Kalua pig
lettuce cups, and the Macadamia/Banana waffles. They also have some unique coctails worth a try, including the Sumohito
and the Ginger Gimlet.
Sky Bar: 600 S. 200 W. This is truly a unique spot. Located in the Red Lion Hotel (a hotel that I would personally not be
tempted to stay in) just south of the main area of downtown Salt Lake, it is one of the few venues at which to enjoy food/drink
in Salt Lake that provides a quality view. For better or for worse Sky Bar still seems to remain relatively unknown. It has a lot
of things going for it in my view, and the fact that it isn't the hot spot it should be remains a bit of a mystery. Not only is the view
of the mountains to the east and downtown area to the north spectacular, but the bar itself is clean, modern, and comfortable.
The service is also friendly and professional. It also doesn't hurt that parking is free and abundant, or that the waitresses are
attractive and dressed in corsets and heels. While the drink menu is more limited than I'd like to see, I'm always happy to
drink Negra Modelo w/a lime.
Flemings: 20 S. 400 W. Flemings is a steak house which is part of a fairly large chain, but it also includes a nice little
wine bar. I enjoy the steaks and other menu items here, but it is the comfortable, upscale atmosphere of the wine bar area
that keeps me coming back. I occasionally indulge in a steak (usually a petite fillet), though I'm often just as tempted to order
off of the appetizer/bar menu. I also prefer to sit at the tall tables near the bar as opposed to the tables and booths on the
main floor. Not only do you have a nice birds-eye view of the entire restaurant from these seats, but the service always seems
more personal and attentive. The wine list is very impressive and the servers quite knowledgeable. My favorite drink here:
Coppola Cab-Sav and the Duck Horn Cab-Sav. It's easy to think "steak" here, and I wouldn't blame you for wanting to order
some red meat, but it's nice to know that even the salads and seafood items here are well worth checking out.
Cabana Club: (CLOSED) 31 E. 400 S. With a claim of being the oldest operating bar in Salt Lake, Cabana Club
has obviously seen a lot of changes over the years. Throughout the 80's and 90's Cabana Club remained a staple for those
seeking a quiet cocktail and a sampling of live jazz. The patrons tended to be older couples, well dressed business men, and
the occasional group of well-heeled college kids. That's the way I always liked it. Along with the old Manhattan Club located
next door, these two spots filled a much needed niche in Salt Lake's downtown social scene. Because of the long-time
stability of the image and patronage of the Cabana Club I suppose I took it for granted that it would always remain that way.
Well, I was wrong, and also caught off guard. Something happened to the Cabana Club about three years ago (2003). I don't
know if there was an ownership change or what, but the place took a noticeable step down in both the quality of atmosphere,
service, patronage, and live music. It's really all quite depressing. Gone is the jazz piano and sophisticated older clinentele,
having now been replaced by generally mediocre "rock" acts and uncouth 20-somethings. Cocktails are still often a good
deal, with frequent $2 specials, but it remains hard for me to enjoy myself because of the constant reminders that the "good
ol' days" of the Cabana Club are not only now well in the past, but thoroughly unappreciated by it's current staff and
customers. My drink here: Rum and Coke.
|Sunday Brunch with the family at Butterfly
A Bar Named Sue
The Green Pig
The Twighlight Bar:
The Red Door:
Monk's House of Jazz:
Piper Down: 1492 S. State Street Originally this pub was to be named "Temple Bar." This name was chosen
because the owners, Dave and Shelli, who are a young couple from Texas had spent their honeymoon in the "Temple" area of
Ireland where they were inspired by a particular pub there to try their hand at opening their own place here in Salt Lake. Well,
the powers that be here in Utah took offense to the name "Temple Bar," feeling that it was somehow a slight toward the
predominant religious culture here. So, this pub, even after having had over a million dollars invested in it's construction and
furnishing was required to change it's name before it was allowed to open! DUH! Welcome to Utah Dave and Shelli! So, the
name of the place is Piper Down.
The Piper Down serves a needed niche in that it is a large, clean, and well run Irish-style pub located in an area which really
has no other such spot. While the feel is that of an Irish pub, Dave and Shelli have also sought to make it feel spacious and
contemporary. There is a main bar, a standing bar area just behind that which is made of an impressive single large piece of
lumber, booths, tables, a small stage for live music, pool tables, and a well stocked jukebox. Basically, it has all of the
accoutrements of a comfortable drinking spot. The clientle is quite diverse, but is mostly made up of college students and
20/30-something downtown residents. While I don't get down there much nowadays, I still enjoy stopping by on occasion. The
Piper Down is particularly convenient for a drink either before or after a Bees baseball game in that it is within quick walking
distance to/from the ball park. My drink of choice here: Harp Lager
|Piper Down's Dave and Shelli
|The Urban Lounge: 241 S. 500 E. Although it serves as a live music venue it really doesn't have much to offer;
consisting of one small bar at the back, a very limited dance floor area that fronts an equally small stage, and a couple of pool
tables near the entrance. Seating consists of 4 or 5 wooden booths, some small tables and stools that surround the dance floor,
and some scattered sofas that look like they should have been tossed out years ago. In it's defense I must say that they do offer
a nice selection of beer and the bartenders always seem friendly. Live acts are usually of the "punk" or hip-hop variety, though
they also occasionally book a good reggae act as well.
|A night at The Urban Lounge
Junior's: 30 E. 300 South Veteran bar-hoppers know Junior's isn't "new" in Salt Lake City. But it is new in many ways,
starting with the location. Formerly ensconced southeast of the City-County Building, Junior's reopened just over a week ago on
Broadway, in the same strip of storefronts as the Judge Cafe. It is now a private club instead of a beer-only tavern, although the
liquor selection is very much a work in progress. It is now nonsmoking as well, beating the Legislature to the punch. In the
important ways, though, Junior's is the same. The old bar was transferred to the new address, as were the massive beer-can
collection, its display cases and the pool table. The recognizable faces tending bar remain the same, as does the friendly and
loyal clientele that waited a couple months for Junior's to come back to life after leaving the old address this winter.
Bar X: 155 E. 200 South