Best Salt Lake City Bars 2019

Bar area at Lake Effect in downtown SLC (Lake Effect)
Bar area at Lake Effect in downtown SLC (Lake Effect)

Best bar to take a date in SLC

Naturally this depends on the preferences of your date of course. That said, it’s usually a safe bet that your date won’t might comfortable surroundings, an extensive drinks menu and a more than competent food menu as the backdrop for your night out. With all that in mind, we think Lake Effect makes a perfect first date spot if bars are your thing. Inside Lake Effect, there’s an eclectic mix of seating too; from the chic and lively bar to more private and snug sofa spaces.

Bonus points: Lake Effect is located right in the heart of downtown SLC making it ideal for your destination for the evening or merely as the starting point before you head off out for a night on the town.

155 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 532-2068
lakeeffectslc.com

Bongo Lounge outside sign

Best dive bar

In our humble opinion, SLC’s best dive bar is The Bongo Lounge – a kinda blink and you’ll miss it spot on Highland Drive. Indeed nestled between the two ritzy Forsey’s furniture locations, and with no windows of its own, most people don’t even know this gem is here. And what a gem it is. In operation continually since opening in 1952, and showing no signs of slowing down, this a diamond in the rough. Inside, you’ll find a familiar and friendly crowd always eager to strike up a conversation about anything and nothing – or maybe just catch the game on one of the screens. There’s pool, darts and a pinball machine too.

You can grab an ice cold stein from as little as $2.75 if that’s your poison, but there’s also a decent selection of local craft brews for $4 a stein too. There’s plenty of liquor if that’s your thing, just don’t be the chump that asks about the cocktail list. Know what you want before you order.

Gateway entertainment destination

Extra bonus points: the Bongo is cash only, yep you read that right. There’s no cash machine on site, just stop by the 7-11 a couple buildings down and you’ll be fine. In our experience, this is a good thing, one drink at the Bongo can turn into five, real easy…

2965 S Highland Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
(801) 466-1577
facebook.com/Bongo-Lounge-111689682200756/

Shooting Star Saloon - interior
Shooting Star Saloon – interior

Utah’s oldest bar

O.k. so what has the Bongo’s 1952 beat? Only a select few, but Huntsville’s Shooting Star Saloon has the honor of the longest running bar in all of Utah. In operation since 1892, some say the bar is oldest West of the Mississippi, a hard fact to disprove and then some.

The modest bar is definitely worth a trip if you’re within an hour to two’s drive. It’s beer only but don’t let that put you off. While you stop in to sink a few cold ones in the amazingly unique space (rumor has it thats $15K of dollar bills on the roof) order up one of their famous burgers too. No kale, no artisan buns, just simple, honest burgers cooked fresh on the grill.

7350 E 200 S, Huntsville, UT 84317
(801) 745-2002
facebook.com/ShootingStarSaloon/

Best Neighborhood Bar

This is a subjective one for sure, but when asked, people time and again name Dick N Dixie’s as the best neighborhood bar in Salt Lake City.

The relatively smallish bar has plenty of components that add up to make it great place to hand out: cheep drinks, a friendly crowd of regulars, a pool table, smoking patio, plenty of TVs…and it’s the official hone of the Real Salt Lake. So if it’s game day we’re going to name this the best bar in SLC to watch Real Salt Lake too!

479 E 300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
(801) 994-6919
facebook.com/pages/Dick-N-Dixies/425610124302901

Beer Bar interior
Beer Bar interior

Utah’s best beer selection

Stop your searching now and just head on down to the The Beer Bar in downtown Salt Lake City right away; sister bar to the adjoining Bar-X, Beer Bar is all about, well, the beer. The Beer Bar menu has enough selections to keep you going for weeks and weeks. Everything’s served not only at the right temperature abut in the correct glassware too. These guys take their beer as seriously as you do.

Due to the selection, care and quality this place can get exceptionally busy in the evening. If you want to take some time to mull that IPA or gose in peace and quiet definitely come here on off hours. Also available at the Beer Bar are a range of gourmet brats – that match the German beer hall vibe inside – made by local butcher Frody Volgger of Salt And Smoke meats.

161 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(385) 259-0905
beerbarslc.com

BTG Wine Bar
BTG Wine Bar in downtown SLC. 50+ wines by the glass

Best wine bar

Hands down BTG Wine Bar – and no argument otherwise. With more than 50 different wines By The Glass (get it?) this is the spot for wine lovers of all types. The bar offers wines by the glass in two different pour sizes, full bottles and also wine flights. The flights and larger wine list are always in flux and flow – ably maintained by sommelier Louis Koppel – who you might remember as the talented chap that helped build up the extensive wine cellar at Spencer’s steakhouse (still a great wine spot too!).

Koppel is always plotting something new on the list, so stop back often and you’ll always be sure to find something new to explore; if in doubt just ask, he keeps the whole team well drilled and educated too. Also notable are the wine dinners and tastings held often at this wine bar. Paired with food from sister restaurant Cafe Molise, wine dinners are held regularly showcasing a specific winery or varietal. Always a great time and value.

63 W 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 359-2814
btgwinebar.com

under current long bar shot
Under Current in downtown SLC

Best cocktail bar

When we want hand crafted cocktails, Under Current is always our number one destination. This chic little bar tucked away behind companion restaurant Current Fish And Oyster is the perfect spot for the whole evening or just a solitary sip. Managing partner, Amy Eldredge heads up the bar program at Under Current and is one of THE super-brains of the cocktail scene in Utah; having created bar programs all around town including noted luminaries such as Bar-X.

Under Current’s offerings are always changing with the seasons, as is the small bites menu available as well. Cocktails poured here are creative, considered and classy; so much so, we lied, you won’t be able to come here for just one…

279 300 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(801) 574-2556
undercurrentbar.com

Ice Haus - Vegan Kein Fleisch Burger. Credit Pure Food
Ice Haus – Vegan Kein Fleisch Burger. Credit Pure Food

Best vegan friendly bar

Head honcho Dave Morris actually co-owns a range of vegan friendly bars in town: Ice Haus, Piper Down, Ogden’s Funk N Dive. As a vegan himself, you can rest assured that each stores, preps and cooks their vegan menu they offer completely separately. Ice Haus is the pick of the bunch though; it has a friendly welcoming atmosphere to everyone, great food (meaty options as well), tons of drinks and a space that routinely hosts special music and comedy nights.

7 E 4800 S, Murray, UT 84107
(801) 266-2127
icehausbar.com

Best hipster bar

When we asked people to name their favorite bars for this page, The Twilite Lounge came up over and over. The message was the same, this is SLC’s hipster hangout for the downtown crowd. Here’s what people said when we asked them to sum up the Twilite:

Twilight Lounge. Sure it’s full of so-called Hipsters but get over yourself. They’re just regular people that don’t dress the same as you. Cheap drinks. Cash only. Great vibe.

Cash only, cheap drinks, carpet that hasn’t been changed since 1974, and a tabletop Pac Man machine? How could you go wrong?

Heck, Google even agrees saying about the 1947 opened bar: “No-frills bar with a retro vibe offering billiards, a few arcade games & a jukebox.” Twilite also routinely hosts a number of food trucks, so you can grab a bite to eat too – check their Facebook pages for more details.

347 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
(801) 532-9400
facebook.com/twilitelounge1947

Other handy SLC booze info

Utah County bars
For those looking for a spot to drink a little farther South in the valley.

Utah liquor laws
Our continually updated guide to liquor laws in Utah; they’re not half as bad as you imagine, find the full details here.

Utah brewers and breweries
Utah’s craft brew scene is stronger than you think, here’s the current list of all our craft brewers

Utah’s distilleries
Or maybe the strong stuff is more your speed, check out our guide to all of Utah’s top distilleries.