here’s plenty to do in Salt Lake City. Seriously. And it doesn’t
have to involve a ride around Temple Square in a desperately slow
moving, horse-drawn carriage. Comedy Central’s Dave Attell
attempted to shed some light on Salt Lake City’s night life,
but we thought we’d one-up him with this thorough guide to
culturally enriching activities to pursue in your downtime.
City’s Selection of Purchasable Sounds
groundbreaking changes have occurred since the publication of last
year’s SLC Guide. Stores have closed, reopened and relocated
and local independents have responded to the challenge of competing
with corporate chains (by either appropriating doctrines similar
to the faceless giants or by standing firm and staying true to the
Fortunately, everything seems to have balanced out. Though a certain
amount of competition certainly exists among the various retailers,
each one has a strength that sets it apart from the rest. Here’s
a guide to help you figure out which best fits your needs.
208 S. 1300 East
The newly remodeled Graywhale
is not a girl, not yet a woman. Fresh off a move from its previous
location less than a block away, the store is apparently still scrambling
for middle ground. Efforts to attract an new audience while also
retaining a core following have resulted in a space where music
is slowly taking a back seat to extraneous product.
The building itself is a vast improvement upon the original site.
Situated in a two-story structure, the physical space is comfortably
spacious and is enhanced by lights that actually allow one to scour
for sonic gems without any accompanying eye strain.
The main entrance flaunts a cafe where students can purchase coffee
as lovely as the caffeine buzz it inflicts. Once inside, customers
can visit the listening area where any album may be reviewed before
purchase. This is a stellar feature, as it allows for exposure to
a wider range of artists that one might otherwise overlook.
And there is certainly no need to rush. If you need any further
guidance in widening your musical repertoire, simply grab one of
the good-natured employees for some knowledgeable advice. Don’t
need or want any help? Don’t ask. Employees are just as happy
to let customers peruse at their own pace.
Graywhale is still a first-rate store—but the new changes
are up for debate. The selection of DVDs upstairs might translate
into financial success; however, it may also make die-hard music
lovers yearn for the days when vinyl wasn’t relegated to out-of-sight
boxes on the floor. (There are also seven additional locations across
the valley, but for our purposes, only the U-area store was deemed
1310 E. 200 South
If you’re not careful, you might discover Modified Music by
tumbling down its harrowing staircase. The store, recently relocated
from its blink-and-miss spot on 900 South, now occupies a netherworldy
space on a plane parallel to The Pie Pizzeria.
Modified specializes in rare imports and singles, an emphasis that
effectively separates them from the U-area’s main music supplier
down the street (see above). After 13 years in existence, the store
has clearly carved a particular niche in the market by focusing
on industrial, gothic and ’80s music. If Echo and the Bunnymen
turn you on, this place is for you. For those who have no idea what
this group is, go inside Modified and broaden your perspective.
878 E. 900 South
Walking into Orion’s is like stepping into Championship Vinyl,
the elitist-run record shop featured in the cinematic classic “High
Fidelity.” One half-expects Jack Black to jump out and ridicule
customers for purchasing The Strokes, as the New York hipsters are
sooo played out. But perhaps these elusive exclusionary tactics
are the store’s greatest strength.
Looking for old Lou Reed or maybe a little Dressy Bessy? Those with
musical tastes bent to sounds from off the beaten path will find
comfort in bins overflowing with bands too good to fit any FM playlist.
The store also offers the city’s best selection of local CDs,
a feature that attests to owner Andy Fletcher’s commitment
to helping his community thrive.
12 S. 400 South
It’s a bit disconcerting to admit an affection for a corporate
behemoth. However, it’s also difficult to deny the attractive
qualities of the Virgin Megastore. At first, patrons may find themselves
disoriented by the myriad displays of sensory attractors.
Should you listen to the top-20 listening station, outfitted with
huge neon numbers, or rifle through the many aisles in search of
your own favorite artists? Read an excerpt from a pop culture novel
or zone out at the video game consul?
Fortunately, any number of (almost overly) friendly employees will
rush over to save you from consumer confusion (on one visit, all
five staff members inquired about our well-being). Virgin is a browser’s
paradise—a perfect place to waste time and a chance to remember
that you never did replace that lost copy of Elvis Costello’s
Greatest Hits (it’s there, and it’s only $10).
342 S. State Street
Though it might be hard to believe, Salt Lake City does have a thriving
hip-hop scene. Most of it is confined to the underground, and that’s
what makes the sounds streaming from down under so appealing. Uprok
is at the center of this scene, supporting local artists who excel
within all five areas of hip hop. In addition to a vast collection
of hip-hop CDs and records, the store also hosts monthly showcases
where people can watch the display of raw, witty freestyling in
Stroll Through a Selection of Salt Lake City's Galleries
is possible to live in Salt Lake City without noticing the engaging
art community here. That would be similar to living in this city
and never visiting the origin of the grid system. However, the link
to the art world is easy to find with enough Paxil and literate
The Gallery Stroll on the third Friday of every month provides the
beginning of local art education. There were too many galleries
to do an adequate exposé, so instead I have chosen my favorite
The many galleries in the area consistently reflect their respective
tastes. Just talk to gallery owners, presented artists and vagabonds.
Art is abundant in this city and it’s growing all of the time.
Thin Air Design
926 E. 900 South
This new gallery is one of a kind, gracing Salt Lake City’s
eventful Ninth and Ninth intersection. A visual art gallery was
the only thing missing. Now it is the only building that jumps out.
Designed by local architect Lloyd Platt, the gallery hosts practical,
customized and creative wares. The paintings upstairs are by Platt,
who just could not stay away from the paint pallet any longer.
The main level was meant to be a unique furniture retail store.
The upstairs was to provide gallery owner and artist Kathryn Lichfield
studio space. Showing artists eventually became a working part of
the gallery’s mission.
Lichfield hopes to bring industrial artists to manufacturers. Currently,
the gallery connects custom pieces to consumers, instead of having
them produced by a production line.
Out of public need, Lichfield hopes to have a materials library
for local artists and professors to touch, feel and smell.
Up the vibraphone-like stairs is the gallery. The shows last two
months, which is longer than most, but it ensures you won’t
have to miss something good. The gallery’s grand opening was
July 18. This new gallery is sure to become a well-known cornerstone
in the community.
Finch Lane Gallery
54 Finch Lane
This gallery works hand in hand with its University of Utah neighbors.
It often shows work of renowned professors and excelling students.
It is a relaxed environment for gallery strolls.
The gallery is separated into two large rooms and several nooks.
It is a great layout because it can do two shows at once—landscape
painting in one room and big red shoes in the next. Not that they
have done that (yet).
The exhibits consist of the usual fine art. They show some crafts,
like jewelry and ceramics, as well.
Dynamically, the space becomes a think tank. It is typical to see
professors with their students in conversation about solving technical
and theoretical problems.
Art has a need to be discussed, as the obsessive creative pastime
is only meaningful when questioned.
444 E. 200 South
Phillip’s Gallery presents well known and working contemporary
artists. Getting a show here is often the envy of local artists.
Typically, Phillip’s exhibits feature artists who have already
impressed their community and are booked at least a year in advance.
The owners are definitely art lovers and artists themselves, but
they are highbrow.
More often than not, Phillip’s sets the pace for local art
For your art needs, there is an art supply store attached, with
papers and inks that are unmatched at this level of convenience.
A student discount is offered, but I can’t promise there will
be no roll of eyes if you ask a materials question and accidentally
Art Space Forum Gallery
511 W. 200 South
Located right before you get out of town via train-jumping, snuggled-under-the-bridge
projects, the Art Space Forum Gallery is a one of a kind art friendly
They have been known to throw some wonderful parties alongside controversial
art shows. This gallery successfully runs the gamut of design-oriented
art to contemporary local genius. The space itself begs to be filled,
and it usually is. The ceiling height attempts to reach heaven,
and the simple refined concrete lends the curator endless possibility
with moving walls, racks and hanging apparatuses.
Salt Lake City is becoming a beautiful urban queen, though it is
tempered like a 5-year-old princess at times. Art Space Forum continually
impresses its attendees and absolutely adds to the art capacity
of the city. These types of art experiences lend an atmosphere of
culture to our quaint town.
In October, Art Space Forum will occupy the space with a printmaker
extravaganza. In this event, some of the best locally selected printers
will display together in a contrast of style and technique. This
is a must-see gallery for any and every gallery stroll. You will
rarely be disappointed.
Walk of Shame Gallery
351 W. Pierpont Ave.
Alongside its friendly neighbors on Pierpont Avenue, the Walk of
Shame did not originally intend to be gallery. A triumvirate of
young working artists, Alex Ferguson, Derek Mellus and Eric Delphenich,
meant it for their own studio space. They soon realized the potential
of putting up shows for the gallery stroll. The shows have always
been only one or two days long, but have included some incredible
Ferguson wants to showcase artists who “are not represented,
are up-and-coming or are cats that can paint.”
Delphenich uses the space as a portrait studio for Delphenich photography.
Ferguson graduated from Westminster College in photography and ceramics
and “haphazardly attempted graduate school,” but in
the end he could not justify it. He teaches pinhole photography
and other art techniques to interested youth and will teach private
lessons in any of the many areas in his vast talent collection.
Derek Mellus uses the studio to paint. He creates 3-D box constructions,
much like Joseph Cornell, the famed modernist of the 1950s. All
of the owners are of exceptional talent and show their work around
town. The one- or two-day exhibits give them the rest of the month
to keep working.
They’ve created a very special gallery experience. The gallery
touts being perhaps the only one in the world that does not, and
will never, take commission from the artists’ sales. Walk
of Shame has been operating as a gallery since December 2000. This
December, the owners will celebrate their 3 year anniversary party
with art and the obligatory cheap wine. Walk of Shame does the gallery
stroll right, allowing patrons and friends to hang out deep into
the night. Its first call for entries since it opened is taking
place now, in hopes to book local worker bees for January through
the More Classical Tastes
you need to escape the bar and rock scene for the breath of fresh
air found in the several venues where classical music is the soup
du jour, tous les jours. Although there are many venues, two big
areas in the city that provide the best experiences: downtown and
Within five square blocks, one can find Abravanel Hall, Capitol
Theatre and Temple Square’s Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.
All of these venues run the gamut of classical music.
123 S. West Temple
Named after famed Utah Symphony conductor Maurice Abravanel, this
large 2,811 seat concert hall is the home of the Utah Symphony.
The concert season at Abravanel features artists both international
and local. The performed repertoire is always sufficient to whet
the appetite of both the occasional listener and long-time concertgoer.
Located in the heart of downtown, this venue is within walking distance
of the area’s great restaurants and bars.
Student tickets rarely go above $8. For more information, call 355
Theatre's facade looks as lovely as the shows -including the
delightful "The Full Mony" - that are put on inside.
Enlighten your weekends by taking in a play.
50 W. 200 South
A few blocks to the south, one can find the home of Ririe Woodbury
Dance Company, Ballet West and the Utah Opera. In addition to the
city’s companies, Capitol Theatre is the main venue for traveling
Broadway shows such as “The Full Monty,” which starts
next month. The Capitol Theatre provides a great variety of performances
in both dance and music. So if you want to try out the opera, ballet
or some musical theatre, call 355-2787. Tickets sell fast, so be
sure to get them in advance. And while you are at it, ask about
the student rush tickets.
The Tabernacle and Assembly Hall
(Just head to where all the street numbers hit
Located in historic Temple Square, the Tabernacle is the home of
the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.
Assembly Hall usually hosts smaller events such as instrumental
soloists and chamber groups. The admission is always free, which
is by definition a great deal. Yet it is always good to get the
tickets ahead of time, because they are given out quickly. Find
out what the programming will be in advance as well.
Some things may be for more of the LDS crowd, but often it is a
user-friendly program for all lovers of choral and orchestral music.
Call 240-0080 for upcoming events and tickets.
The University of Utah is a hub of cultural happenings, whether
it be from the Associated Students of the University of Utah Presenter’s
Office, its Red Fest (ASUU stole our name, the punks!), the various
campus festivals, the various performing groups or, of course, the
motocross in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Did I mention Ute football? How
can you miss it? As far as music is concerned, the on campus venues
supply the community with some of the best performances.
Although the performance of “Porgy and Bess” last year
was a big flop and utterly unenjoyable, Kingsbury still brings diverse
entertainment to placate the masses. If one is looking for classical
music in particular, Kingsbury doesn’t bring much to the palette,
save a few guest artists and the Utah Lyric Opera (the university’s
own opera company).
Great performances of great music are hard to come by in the great
hall of Kingsbury. But, if you want dancing and other easy entertainment,
it’s the place to go. If it suits your mood, the student ticket
prices are fairly reasonable. For more information, call 581 7100.
Libby Gardner Hall
One of the most beautiful concert halls in the area is right in
our own yard. Since its addition to the refurbished Gardner Hall,
Libby is clearly one of the best venues in the Salt Lake City area
for classical music. Libby Gardner Hall is booked almost every evening
during the school year.
Each night is something new. Be it the University Wind Ensemble
or violinist extraordinaire Joshua Bell, Libby brings an enriching
and far-reaching experience for all who attend.
The hall is also quickly becoming a second home for the Utah Symphony.
Through the Connoisseur Series, the Utah Symphony plays smaller
chamber works, including ones that use of the Lively-Fulcher pipe
Most important is the Virtuoso Series. This series is becoming one
of the most-attended and highly praised concert series in the valley.
For any information regarding events at Libby Gardner Hall, call
the School of Music at 581-6762. For information regarding the Virtuoso
Series, call 587-9483.
We all need a breath of fresh air. And the freshest (or is it most
fresh?) can be found in the concert hall.
Year's Headline: Salt Lake City Turns Into a Giant Art-House
isn’t this Salt Lake City? Since when did we have almost as
many screens showing artsy fartsy films as one of the several megaplexes
has showing mainstream product?
The Downtown Area
The Salt Lake Film Society
Tower Theatre and Video
876 E. 900 South
The Salt Lake Film Society
Broadway Film Center
300 S. State Street
woman sweeps up the posh cafe area in the lobby of the new Madstone
Theater, a corporate chain that cares about independent cinema
- and money.
Trolley Square Mall
500S. 700 East
Salt Lake City’s art-house scene has undergone a serious makeover
this year, gaining 10 more screens—six independent and four
corporate. The long established Tower Theatre’s non profit
Salt Lake Film Society took over the Broadway Centre six screen
theater shortly after its former owners switched to art house format.
Since then, attendance has noticeably increased, although it’s
rarely so crowded as to be uncomfortable. A new cafe space is currently
being developed as well.
This has allowed for more art house films in a city that once had
only the Tower’s single screen. Unfortunately, the Tower’s
pleasant atmosphere has taken a back seat since the opening of the
Broadway, including the limited use of the theater for the summer
due to a broken air conditioner. It was only open for the repertory
Midnight Movie series, video rentals from the expansive archives
and the occasional special screenings. It reopens this weekend with
The newest theater is the corporate chain Madstone Theaters, in
the Trolley Square Mall space that had been vacant for two years.
The theater includes a cafe space that shows videos on mute while
movie soundtracks play on the stereo and a “personal trailer,”
who tells you what to think of the film before you watch it. The
theater’s target audience consists of yuppies and newlyweds.
The sound and screen are nice, and I didn’t think I’d
find any issues to complain about until I went to see the re-release
of Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Cercle Rouge” last
weekend and the theater won my now third-annual Learn-to-Show-Films-in-the
I have no desire to once again explain that the top and bottom of
films shot in the 1.33:1 and 1.66:1 ratios are cut off when projected
in 1.85:1, the current standard. When I complained about the problem,
the closest I received to results came during one of the film’s
many quiet moments, when I listened to the confused projectionist
talk about how the titles were cut off at the top and bottom of
So we’ll have to wait to find out if Madstone can redeem itself
and continue to bring more interesting art films to Salt Lake City.
515 S. 700 East
The movie theater across the street from Trolley Square Mall is
best known for the impressively large screen in theater one. Checking
out a film in this theater is almost like attending a show at a
movie palace, assuming there aren’t any projection problems,
such as dim bulbs and misaligned lenses. It’s fun, the sound
is nice and you can enjoy a special effects extravaganza.
677 S. 200 West
House Movies 10
1300 East @I-80
For people on a budget, some theaters show second-run films for
Brewvies Cinemapub usually shows second-run films
(with a few exceptions) that are artsy or are the sort-of hip Hollywood
The screen and sound is in nicer condition than in the other cheap
theaters, and you can enjoy a meal or drink with your film (you
must be 21 or older to enter). Unfortunately, this makes for a louder
audience that might distract from the movie. The food is good, but
it’s very difficult to eat the not as-simple-as-popcorn meals
while sitting in a dark theater, trying to pay attention to a David
Films only cost $2.00 on Tuesdays, which makes them as crowded as
on the weekend.
If you want to watch your films with younger drunks, go to the Sugarhouse
10 on a weekend, where some high school students sneak
in beer and drink the night away. If you don’t want to pay
$7 or want to re-watch a movie, this is a great, inexpensive ($1.50,
$1.00 matinees) place to watch movies when it isn’t crowded.
125 E. 3300 South
165 S. Rio Grande Street
9400 S. State
everywhere flock to the American institutions that are megaplexes.
A couple of years ago, they were built to put those unpleasant multiplexes
out of business. The age of stadium seating and eye-catching decor
had arrived. Now, nothing much has changed.
The Century 16 is probably the most popular of these theaters because
of its semi-suburban location and its THX-certified theaters, which
ensure a good experience for sound and screen (the screen with gray
tape on it has even been replaced). This is your best bet if you’re
seeing a movie that won’t be incredibly crowded.
If you’re seeing a movie on the weekend, get there really
early or reconsider going. You can always wait until Tuesday, when
the shows won’t be overflowing. It should be illegal to let
someone sit as close to the theater’s curved screen as the
first few front rows are. Unless you prefer your actors’ faces
distorted beyond reason, sit at least six rows back.
The Gateway complex, an outside mall in a city that’s as hot
as an oven in summer and as cold as a freezer in winter, has the
second multiplex managed by Salt Lake City’s favorite millionaire,
Larry H. Miller. Whether or not you need to beat a crowd, get there
early and enjoy the video-projected ads—the Totally Awesome
Computers one with the guy kissing a dog is a classic, if you’re
into that sort of thing, but I prefer the guy who dies in a bungee
jumping accident because he doesn’t “Got Jesus.”
Oh, and be prepared to wait 30 minutes to one hour to exit the labyrinthine
hell that is the parking lot.
In fact, in the time it takes to get out of the parking lot, you
could probably drive to Sandy for Larry Miller’s other, more
disturbing theater, Jordan Commons. The vibes are a tad unsettling,
but the screens are nice and large.
There’s also the Ritz 15, near the E Center in West Valley
City. It’s part of a complex called the Hollywood Connection,
so you can rollerskate after the movie. If the lights are at full
brightness when the film starts, ask for your money back because
there’s no way for them to turn them off—or so the employees
will tell you.
to Grab a Bite at Night
first glance, late-night food options in Salt Lake City seem to
consist of the Wendy's drive-thru and select 7-Eleven locations.
Closer examination reveals…well, Denny's—while being
a perfectly decent restaurant (see review), it’s simply not
Hence, RED decided to devote its considerable time and resources
to investigating where to go for some truly great late-night cuisine.
So we did, and here are the results.
We’re talking about the places where you can stumble in at
4 a.m. and get coffee and some hangover-quelling, craving satisfying,
real food. All have pretty standard menus (with variations, of course),
mainly breakfast or Mexican foods, with a few sandwiches thrown
in, for which you can expect to pay about $6 to $8 for a full plate.
64 W. 400 South
Conveniently located within walking (or staggering) distance of
most downtown clubs, the Galley is a beer bar (sorry freshmen) and
all-night restaurant. Absolutely no effort is made to live up to
its seafaring name, either in the food or in the decor. But hey,
For those of you who just can't stomach the idea of a night life
that ends at 1 a.m., the Galley (formerly Anchors Aweigh) gives
you the bar atmosphere all night long. It's the only place we visited
that allows smoking, the only one that requires ID just to enter
and the only one with pool tables and a jukebox. They've even been
known to sometimes show porn on the big screen. It has a variety
of beers on tap, as well as the full, breakfast-y, Mexican-y, appetizer-y
menu and lots of coffee drinks. Just be sure to bring lots of money
for the jukebox, unless you want to get stuck listening to Guns
’N’ Roses and AC/DC all night long. [Asst. Editor’s
note: There is nothing wrong with listening to either of these legendary
acts at any time of day or night.]
Belgian Waffle and Omelet Inn
7331 S 900 East
If, for whatever ungodly reason, you find yourself trapped in Midvale
at 3 a.m., take a stop here at the aptly named Belgian Waffle and
Omelet Inn. Hell, it’s probably even worth a special trip
out there. This is the all-night diner Village Inn wants to be—the
sort of place that just craves clouds of cigarette smoke (stupid,
damn stupid anti smoking laws). It has classy vinyl booths, fake
wood and waitresses who call you “Hon’.” And then
there’s the matter of the food—oohh, the waffles. Big
waffles, waffles with ice cream, waffles with whipped cream or chocolate,
or fruit, or maybe everything, or hell, maybe just maple syrup.
If you crave sweet things late at night, this is truly the only
place to go.
The menu also boasts the aforementioned omelets and other breakfast-y
and dinner-y things, most notably garbage hash, a very large mess
of hash browns, vegetables and ham.
Blue Moon Expresso
165 S. West Temple
Blue Moon Expresso (formerly Blue Iguana Expresso) would be a great
all-night coffee shop, if it weren't already an all-night restaurant.
Which is not to say they don't have a fine selection of coffee drinks
and smoothies. Blue walls, nice lighting, tables with collages on
them—they even have a chess board—all give the Blue
Moon the prize for most aesthetic late-night dining experience.
We recommend the outdoor dining, mainly because it comes with entertainment
in the form of the semi-coherent masses exiting DV8.
Its menu leans far more toward Mexican food, but still doesn’t
forget the all-important breakfast. It gets extra health points
for stuff like the vegetarian nachos, which come with fresh vegetables
and black bean and aguas frescas—fresh fruits mixed with water
to create yummy drinks.
Only open all night on Fridays and Saturdays, Village Inn is the
poser of the group. (It's only open until 2 a.m. the rest of the
week.) To add insult to injury, they serve from a “late-night
menu,” a reduced version of their daytime selections. You'd
best go to Dee's instead, where everything is identical, except
they serve their full menu all the time and give you salads in amusing
little clamshell dishes. But then, who eats salads late at night?
And Village Inn leaves you a whole pot of coffee on the table and
their pie is better.
Oooohhh, maybe you should just give up and go to Denny's instead,
where you can eat your eggs in peace, knowing that you are the ONLY
SANE PERSON THERE.
is no dress code or guest list at Beto's, a favorite spot for
drunken gluttony, horchata and pleasant customer service. What
more could you ask at 3 a.m.?
Ahhh, Beto’s. We did say no fast food drive-thrus, but, just
to clarify, Beto's is not Taco Bell. It is Mexican fast food the
way it was meant to be. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, a la carte
or in a combo are all served with healthy portions of grease guaranteed
to absorb whatever chemical substances you may have ingested in
your nightly wanderings.
In fact, if you're broke by 2 a.m., just go stand inside the restaurant
and absorb the grease in the air. You'll be sober in no time. They
even have horchata (Mexican rice milk).
If you're still not satisfied watching people stagger out of DV8
at the Blue Moon, come on over to Beto's and check out the crowd
about half an hour after the bars close. Muy interesante.
and Smell the Coffee Houses
Geerlings, Autumn Thatcher
and Jordan Scrivner
houses used to be called Penny Universities. The name comes from
England, where professors and students of local colleges would meet
for coffee, which only cost a penny. At least at one time coffee
was cheap and accommodated a progressive thinktank for interesting
A Cup of Joe
353 W. 200 South
This quaint but spacious coffee retreat has some of the best baristas
this town has to offer. The counter is chill, attentive and addresses
the regulars by name. It is chess-, reading- and lollygagging-friendly.
And if you have ever lived in Utah, it is good to note that this
is one coffee house that is at least open until 2 p.m. on Sunday.
(The coffee bean juice is not as accessible as the gods would like
on the sabbath.)
The setting is littered with information boards, daily rags and
used novels. It’s a great place to wait for people—ensuring
a good time, even if the awaited never shows up.
The menu offers blended drinks for people with mini-ice addiction.
(There is a large number of these people infused in your society.)
They also have the best herbal iced tea, made with hibiscus, chamomile,
mint, lots of sugar and secret mystical ingredients.
It is a welcoming coffee shop with plenty of corners to make a solitary
retreat. The good drinks are evenly priced and some food items are
House of Coffee
450 W. 200 South
This is the best coffee house in town. It has only been open about
three months and everything there makes the inner smile under my
cold exterior grow and grow.
The daily crowds are oh-so pretty in clashing chiffon and colorful
tattoos dripped into their skin. It is situated in the Bridge Projects
next to Good Times Tattoo and the creative, bright people flourish
The counter is full of lovely people. Imir, the co-owner, was the
most attentive, affable person I have met in a long while. It is
easy to get coffee with or without flavor thanks to the simplified
naming scheme: coffee, coffee with soy milk, or coffee with arsenic,
and all in a variety of comprehendible sizes. The coffee is affordable,
which is refreshing. After all, coffee is more than an amenity.
It is a necessity. The House of Coffee people understand this and
stay open as late as possible, often until 3 a.m.
Imir says anyone may bring them artwork to hang and they won’t
take a percentage if it sells. Currently, there is a photo show
called “Anatomy of Their Shadows” by Mike Bernard. His
pictures were taken from the deserted past, over places like burnt
taxidermy studios and the hauntings of everyday objects. Sri Whipple
is showing portrait paintings like only he can, featuring Bernard
and Ben Callister.
There is some great repo poster-style art and another local artist
named Skot, who paints brightly colored sperm-like creatures.
The good, strong coffee straightens your spine and makes you spit
farther. House of Coffee deliver the atmosphere, the people and
the material that makes coffee drinking a cult practice.
rare moment of calm occurs at Salt Lake Coffee Break, which
usually bustles with people waiting in line to grab some coffee,
vegan cookies and/or hummus to eat while checking out potential
dates on the patio.
Lake Coffee Break
430 E. 400 South
most famous for its late-night hours, Salt Lake Coffee Break is
a good place to sober up after a night at the clubs or just to hang
out and relax with friends. Salt Lake Coffee Break features a variety
of flavored teas and coffees, in addition to various types of vegan
meals and snacks. Though Coffee Break makes tasty coffee, they do
not offer any new and innovative tastes to the coffee world.
In other words, there is nothing spectacular enough to compensate
for the overpriced coffee.
In addition to the pricey beverages, the vegan snacks are tasteful,
but are also a bit much for the small square of treats that can
be finished in a few tiny bites.
Though the main focus of the Break house is to sell coffee, it seems
as though the attraction to Coffee Break is its atmosphere. There
are two fairly large inside rooms—one offers chairs and tables,
the other comfortable couches. Groups of people seem to flock to
the couches, some to drink coffee, others to lay down and sleep.
The chairs and tables found in the room where coffee can be bought
provide for numerous games of chess and opportunities to read one
of the various newspapers and magazines on display.
In addition to the two inside rooms, the patio is available for
those who want to smoke and watch the exciting nightlife of Salt
Lake City. (Please note the immense sarcasm.) All in all, the Break
House is a nice place to go late at night, as it is open until 2
a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
2106 S. Highland Drive
My iced coffee with tons of soy milk and organic sugar is slowly
turning into a lukewarm Americana (that’s a watered-down cappuccino
for you kids at home) as I applaud the kinda-cute violinist for
the jazz band The No Star Five. Well, the band’s name changes
depending on who shows up to play that night, but tonight, there
are five of them. The violinist finishes her amazing solo. She puts
down her bow and passes the ball to Spencer Kellogg, who takes over
on his baritone sax.
Sugarhouse Coffee (formerly known as Bluekats) would be worth going
to just to check out the No Star Band, who play every Sunday night.
(Three of them play every Monday and Wednesday at noon.) As far
as the coffee shop itself, though, reviews are mixed. The coffee
is cheap, but there’s no guarantee they’ll get your
order right. “I ordered a 12 and they gave me a 20,”
said Marlin Taylor in his best vocal impression of an indignant
coffee shop customer. “But I like the plethora of chessboards.”
A lot of changes have taken place since Bluekats turned into Sugarhouse.
Shea McDonough, one of the three new owners of the newly revamped
coffee place, seems to be hitting his stride as a cafe owner. “The
Bluekats people got sick of running this place and sold it to us.
We’ve finally just got settled so that we’re really
taking care of (this place.)”
Most of the critiques that came from fellow customers were compare-and-contrast
with the good old days of Bluekats. “Bluekats had style, it
had pictures of blue cats all over the place. This place is just…bland,”
said my roommate, who chose to be quoted anonymously. But not everyone
is a fan of the fabled blue cats of Bluekats. “I hated those
blue cats!” said Laura Ruhlman, a former student at the U.
“They were downright creepy!”
I admit I never visited Sugarhouse during its Bluekats days, but
I like the atmosphere of Sugarhouse Coffee on its own. I still haven’t
decided whether the decorating could be considered eclectic, or
just deranged. The lattices in the outside drinking area give it
a European feel, while the cracked glass on the front door and the
live jazz give it that nifty beat feel. Plus, the Internet stations
and chessboard give it a certain geek quality that somehow all fits
together and makes sense. Oh, and the coffee’s really good
If you’re looking for a nice place to hang out with your friends,
Sugarhouse is a good bet…especially if it’s a Sunday.
Millcreek Coffee and Bagel Co.
613 E. 400 South
Millcreek Coffee and Bagel Co. seems to be in that weird missing-link
area between fast food joint and restaurant. The meal is prepared
before your eyes, much like it is in Subway, but the waiter/chef/clerk
takes his or her time preparing your sandwich, taking care to put
just the right amount of hummus on the Hummus Amungus (actual food
Then, when the food is handed to you, it looks like something you
may have ordered at a three-star restaurant. Everything after that,
though, is essentially like eating at an Arby’s except (a)
it’s cleaner, (b) there are less people and (c) there are
about three or four guys just standing around, waiting for you to
finish your meal and to get the hell out of the place.
For some inexplicable reason, the Millcreek Coffee and Bagel Co.
closes up shop at 5 p.m. By the time I got there, it was even too
late to order coffee. Maybe they just do things differently where
I come from, but I would think it would make the most sense to be
serving food and coffee around dinner time, when most people who
eat bagels and coffee begin to crave bagels and coffee! Sheesh!
Search for the Printed Word
Carlyle once said, “The greatest university is a collection
of books.” Hopefully you read that before you paid your tuition.
For generations, bookstores have been the source of the perfect
gift for the curious scholar, the jaded professor or even the curiously
jaded child. Here are some fine spots to buy a garden to put in
fishing through the many stacks of novels and manga at Mermaid
Books, located on 1300 East.
250 S. 1300 East
Mermaid Books is the dictionary definition of the quaint little
used bookstore owned by the nice Japanese lady. It is a tiny nook
of a bookstore located across the street from the Wells Fargo near
campus. It is owned by Naomi Larsen, who created the bookstore on
her last birthday, Dec. 20. “It’s my retirement plan,”
said Larsen with a smile. “Next December I’ll turn 40
and my store will have its 1-year anniversary!”
Larsen (who looks young for her age) runs a very mellow and inviting
bookstore. Fans whir silently overhead as you enter, and Norah Jones
plays from Larsen’s stereo in the back of the store. To your
right is a $120 Buddha statue that sits atop a shelf devoted to
religion and mystery novels.
To the left…manga. Lots and lots of manga. Larsen, who is
from Japan, is quite proud of her impressive Japanese comic collection.
“Everything on the right [from where Larsen sits] is Japanese
and everything to the left is English. Some people go all the way
to L.A. to get the manga that we have here.”
Like a lot of independent used bookstores, the selection is scattered.
But, like a lot of independent used bookstores, Mermaid Books comes
with a genuine personality all its own. Shelves are labeled with
magic marker “Good Reading,” “(Some Kind of) Art”
and “Heroes and Weirdoes.” The front desk has jewelry
and picture postcards that Larsen’s friends have made. The
feel-good quality of Mermaid Books is something that cannot be faked.
This is a fine place that anyone in the community should want to
Weller’s Zion Bookstore
254 S. Main Street
Since its inception in 1929, Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore has
been a veritable landmark of culture in downtown Salt Lake City.
Like any good Zion bookstore, they are closed on Sunday. Boasting
literally millions of books, Sam Weller’s has always gotten
endless amounts of good ink about its wide selection, courteous
staff and historical significance in Salt Lake City.
It’s not at all hard to get lost in the bookstore, which has
three floors of books from floor to ceiling, with plenty of nooks
and crannies to wander around in, especially in the basement. The
store also has special events almost daily, including the KUED Program/Book
Club which is currently discussing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
With the notable exception of a library, Sam Weller’s is an
ideal spot for one to just sit around for hours, browsing and reading
whatever title should come across one’s lap. To put it quite
simply, Sam Weller’s is the Cadillac of used bookstores in
2150 South Highland Drive
The books sold at Experienced Books are not used biochemical waste,
but are wisdom-filled gems perused by someone somewhere. They have
practiced in the art of being read, they are experienced.
Every good bookstore should have a couple of things. Bookstores
should be accessible in a highly trafficked area that enjoys a blustery
rainy day. Bookstores are an oasis for the mind to refresh. The
books that inspire us connect us to our surroundings or ourselves.
Every good bookstore needs life.
Experienced Books offers those not allergic to a variety of cats
to keep them company. One more important facet that not every bookstore
has is a union sympathizer who will tell you everything you need
to know about organizing and educating yourself for the cause.
As we write, Experienced Books is moving! They don’t have
an exact address yet, but they are moving just downstairs from their
current location on 2150 S. Highland Drive.
“We’re just moving downstairs. We don’t have an
address yet, but we’ve already got…our fiction section
down there,” said Keith Clauson, the owner and manager of
All of Experienced’s famous cats and knickknacks will be there,
along with a wide selection of wonderful used books. When asked
when the moving will be finished, Clauson said, “The moving
is never finished in the used-book business.
”—JS and Stephanie Geerlings
King’s English Books
1511 S. 1500 East
If you’ve ever taken an English class higher than 1020, you
probably know all about King’s English Bookstore. “Professors
often order books from here when they don’t want to [order
them] through the U bookstore,” clerk Rachel Otto said. “The
most knowledgeable customer would shop here.” King’s
English sells new books, but also has a section devoted to used
The store, which celebrates its 26th anniversary this September,
is an ideal place to shop for a new gift for your favorite bibliophile.
And if they don’t have the book you’re looking for,
simply order it and it should get there in about a week.
Barnes and Noble / Borders
You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.