On my battered but beloved Subaru Forrester ski mobile, there is a simple sticker that defines my way of life and general outlook.
"I'M ONLY HERE FOR THE APRÈS."
Now, sure. I love skiing. Obviously. But I do firmly believe that the time spent rehashing the day's skiing with a bevy of friends over a fine beverage is nearly as fulfilling. This is my list of favorite après spots in Salt Lake City, Utah. Just any list of watering holes won't do, this guide is meant to match your mood with a little something for any occasion. Whether you spent the day burning 10,000 calories earning your turns, scored nocturnal laps at Brighton, or took the fam out for lessons, there's always an ideal spot to wind down and download your day.
Ok, not quite Salt Lake City, but this first option is absolutely worth traveling further afield. After skiing around Ogden Valley at Powder Mountain, Nordic Valley or Snowbasin, no visit to the area is complete without a pit stop at the revered Shooting Star Saloon.
The Shooting Star is quite possibly the oldest business in Utah, it's certainly Utah's oldest bar, and it is believed to be one of the most ancient continuously running bars west of the Mississippi River. You'll feel the heavy weight of nostalgia the moment you step inside the edifice in Huntsville, erected back in the 1850s in Huntsville. The building became a saloon in 1879, survived 14 years of prohibition and now serves an (in)famous burger known as the STAR BURGER. This imposing gastronomic wonder is composed of two beef patties and a grilled Polish sausage nestled between two cheese slices.
My favorite part about visiting the Shooting Star is paying Buck a visit. Buck is a Guinness Book of World Records holder as the largest measured St. Bernard canine. The taxidermist didn't have a mount for a dog handy and the remains of Buck were affixed to a fearsome grizzly bear mount instead. This explains his fearsome visage and hulking appearance. You can't visit the Shooting Star without snapping a pic with Buck.
Disclaimer: The Shooting Star famously does not have a fryer and cannot serve french fries, so your classic STAR BURGER will be served with potato chips.
Tacos are obviously a staple food amongst both avid and casual skiers and snowboarders. No respectable après list would be complete without a worthy taco stop. For me, there is absolutely no contest and it will always be Fácil Taqueria. Formerly a food truck, this fairly new establishment serves (IMHO) the best tacos around. Not only that, you can order up a cold beer or a craft cocktail. It's fast, pleasant and filling. Vegetarians can enjoy options like mushrooms and cauliflower. Nowhere in Utah has crispier, lighter, more delightful fish tacos.
Fácil is conveniently located on 4500 South for those skiing or shredding in the Cottonwood Canyons.
LATE NIGHT GAMES
It's casual and you will need a lot of quarters. Don't worry, there's a change machine. Quarters SLC is a Gen X + Millennial dream. This full-service bar is packed with pinball machines, arcade games, skeeball, Mortal Kombat, Frogger, Big Buck Hunter...all the classics. With two convenient locations in Sugarhouse and Downtown, Quarters is a night owl's dream as it's open from 4pm to 2am, daily!
LAST ONE DOWN
For a bomber selection of beer on tap, beer to-go and plenty of snacks, add the West Side Tavern & Cold Beer Store by Wasatch and Squatters to your hit list. Patrons can enjoy over 20 taps flowing with tasty craft beer from both Wasatch Brewery and Squatters, two institutions within the Utah craft brewing scene. With tons of events on deck, the scene can get lively and the taproom is open 7 days per week from 10am to 10pm.
The Cold Beer Store offers...well...cold beer, but if you're not from around these parts, that may not seem like a big deal. However, with Utah's liquor laws, the higher alcohol content beer sold in the sate-owned liquor stores is never cold. So the Cold Beer Store is an awesome thing to know about - where higher alcohol content beer can be purchased chilled, any day of the week. (State liquor stores are closed Sunday and all beer is warm).
SAMPLE SLC PRIDE
One of the rowdier scenes in Salt Lake City can be found at the lauded Why Kiki Bar. This welcoming establishment is fashioned in the theme of an upscale tiki bar. Events dominate the calendar and include a silent disco, energetic drag shows, comedy acts and drag brunch.
Why Kiki features over 30 cocktails served in custom tiki glasses and bowls. The vibe is irreverent and energetic. For example, sample the DEW ME, a concoction of Mango 360 Vodka, Watermelon Pucker and Utah's favorite soda: Mountain Dew. Why Kiki is where fun lives and you may even find yourself sampling sweet treats handcrafted in the shape of genitalia. If you'd like to attend an event, do snap up a ticket first.
GLUTEN FREE & SICK OF SELTZER IN CENTRAL 9th
If you're avoiding beer and sick and tired of flavored seltzer water then you surely must swing by Scion Cider Bar. A relatively new kid in town, Scion is a hub for hard cider with a menu of over 200 craft ciders from across Utah, the USA, and the world. Nowhere in Utah will you even come close to a selection as expansive as this! Even the state-owned liquor store can't compare. The vibe is typically chill and there are even board games available for those who want to settle in and have quality time with friends. You can actually order take-out food next door at Laziz Kitchen and bring it on over to Scion for noshing and cider sipping.
Scion offers a light menu of tapas, cheese, charcuterie, and conservas plates. If you're like me and need a translation, a conservas plate is loaded with a rotating selection of artisan tinned seafood, pickles, hot sauces, homemade bread, Spanish potato chips and more. The annual Salt Lake City Reader's Choice Awards selected the cidery as Utah's Best New Bar in 2022!
Still hungry? Once you've experienced the magic of Water Witch, head around the next corner to the highly acclaimed Pearl Bar & Kitchen. A new addition to the neighborhood, The Pearl serves up mouthwatering Vietnamese street food, craft cocktails and a hip atmosphere. Cure any hanger with banh mi sandwiches, pork belly and a steaming bowl of pho. Sunday brunch is exceptional as well!
SNEAK IN THE BACK DOOR
With multiple locations across the valley, most are aware of Laziz Kitchen, a Salt Lake institution of mouthwatering, modern Mediterranean cuisine. However if craft cocktails are what you crave then you'll want to be made aware of Back Door SLC. The efforts of Laziz's owners, Back Door offers a cozy atmosphere reminiscent of a speakeasy cocktail lounge. It's located just down the Edison alleyway behind Laziz Kitchen's downtown location in Salt Lake City. I recommend the Habibi, a concoction of Dented Brick Craft Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Coconut, Hibiscus and Lime. After a day of skiing, it will transport you to warmer climates and brilliant sunshine.
BEERS & BURGERS ON A BUDGET
The Cotton Bottom is a longstanding Utah tradition. I remember feeling very intrigued as a child about the ratty old sign outside featuring Bugs Bunny. My mom would confess to having consumed many a garlic burger at the Cotton Bottom after skiing in the 70s. I spent years waiting to try the Cotton Bottom. 21 years, in fact. This beloved hole in the wall is the antidote to a long day in the snow. Cheap beer, "Skier's Chili" and their quite famous Double Garlic Cheese Burger.
WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME THE DOUBLE GARLIC CHEESEBURGER ON A FIRST DATE!
Ask me how I know...
APRÈS & CHARDONNAY
No ski crew is complete without a wine enthusiast. When it's time to humor their passion, head for Casot Wine Bar. From the group that brought us Finca and Pago, Casot is a place to gather in the 15th & 15th neighborhood. Casot is a feeling and a state of mind. The word itself hails from the Piedmont region of Italy and describes a tiny stone house nestled amid Italian vineyards that provides food and refreshment for workers. It's a refuge and a place to convene. Casot is a celebration of Spanish wines and tapas. Revel in the flavors at the sumptuous vintage wooden bar. You can grab food to-go from Finca, Mazza, Caputo's or enjoy Casot's small menu of bar snacks.
THURSDAY FAMILY NIGHT OUT
One of the newest and shiniest developments in Salt Lake Valley is the Millcreek Commons community center. A mecca for families, the improved block in Millcreek's heart features a roller rink that coverts to an ice rink in the winter months. Community events are commonplace and include music, games, and skating lessons. On Thursday nights, the Commons welcomes a number of food trucks from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.
Last One Down | The Official Beer of Ski Utah - Click Here
Trailside Tailgating Guide - Click Here
The Utah Hard Cider Scene - Click Here
5 Places to Après in Ogden - Click Here