Summer is officially over (boo!) and it’s the time of year for us to discover the indoors again. You know me, I’m the OG party girl and I thought I take you on a downtown bar crawl that marks a path that is straight but not narrow.
I find it perpetually frustrating that we happen to have one of the largest gay populations in the country, yet only three gay bars. Oh well, even San Fran just closed its last lesbian bar. It seems that while every city has a smattering of GBs down by their proverbial tracks, the way of a bar actually catering to an all-gay clientele could eventually be a thing of the past.
I noticed at Jam the other night that even our bars are “their” bars and so goes about every bar downtown.
Here are my favorite “straight”‘ hot spots:
Weekdays are made for 200 South:
Hipster Lane, as I like to call it — just don’t tell the natives, they’re quite sensitive about labels — is where to be, whether you want an afternoon beer and designer dog, a fancy craft cocktail or a late-night party screen.
Beer Bar: My co-workers and I from Nick James salon find ourselves here after a long day of hair burning. The staff is ultra friendly and the wide range of beers make it the perfect place for happy hour or a trip with friends-in-town. The first time I ventured in I was fraught with past life school-cafeteria anxiety when faced with the seating, but I quickly realized the rest of the crowd was there for the same reason — good beer, a crafty hot dog and fun! If you happen to come early and stay late then venture next door to…
Bar X: I find this to be the perfect place for a starter, usually the night that Jacob (swoon) is working. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t stay long cuz a craft cocktail bar tab is a little rich for my gin-soaked blood but what they do mix are delicious. This is the perfect place to take a date, It’s ‘scene-y’ without being overly so, perfectly dim lighting and usually quite calm, making a conversation totally possible. For a bar that used to smell like peanut shells and pee, they really have made quite a silk purse out of one of Salt Lake’s oldest watering holes.
Twilight Lounge: This is the place to be for last call on weekdays; it’s definitely party central on any night of the week. With a Retro-rock juke box, pool and cans of Rainier beer (the new Pabst), you can star watch the creme de la creme of tattoo artists and musicians, knocking it back with their counterparts. The thing I love about Twilight is that if you do a Google search of gay bars, they are one of the first in the list. May I suggest you go and visit my good friend and bartender Andrés Weiner “Snickers,” Salt Lake’s token Dominican. Tip this beautiful boy good and he’ll flash you his giant Dominican smile!
Zest: 275 S 200 West seems to be where the Friday night magic happens. This daytime upscale vegetairium turns into the the palace of all things good and house music. Featuring regularly one of my all time faves (and rooftop pride party cohort), DJ Artemis, you will usually find the place packed with new and familiar faces. Casey Staker, owner and nightlife staple, has a selection of organic and craft cocktails that seem to fuel the gyrating dance floor quite perfectly. May I suggest the watermelon and jalapeno margarita? You’re welcome.
Woodshed: This is were your bartender goes to party on a Saturday night! It’s a bit off the beaten path, I mean for downtown that is, but conveniently located next to Taco Time just below State Street on 800 South. The party simply named Party Hard is the wet-brain child of Salt Lake City brotender/wild-child Benton Leu. You wanna go crazy? Well child, here’s your MFing excuse! The music is … hmmm, multiple personality? Who the fuck cares, it’s totally dancible. I suggest starting with the Jäger bombs and a tequila back followed by three more and cap with copious amounts of cheap beer. The boys, honey! They are are c-u-t-e! Definately the place to go if you wanna make out with a drunk straight boy. Trouble is he’s probably gonna throw up a cigarette in your mouth or the last ‘fallen soldier’ he just pounded. They all seem a bit rough around the edges at the Woodshed, but trust me, everyone is there to have a good time. Respect the wildlife boundaries and you will certainly party hard!
Exchange Place Brunching
I would be remiss not to mention my good friends at Green Pig and their beautiful rooftop that is accessible all year. Always a friendly face and a fun chat with owner Bridget Gordon. I love their brunch and their huge support of the community. Support, support, support!
But for a bit of a change, well, exchange that is, right around the corner in the heart of Exchange Place lives an old carcass that houses the new kid. Owner of the now defunct Bar Deluxe, Kaci Takumoto, closed her doors and reopened the old Vortex space, I can’t remember what it was last but I don’t really care, it’s been reworked as Twist and breathes a fresh breath of in the middle of fratland! Hosting the same formula as the former venue, they’ve added a fabulous way to cure your hangover — brunch! Perfect place to sip on Bloody Mary’s and stare at the broship hotties from behind your sunglasses.
Go fourth my little Kennedolls, open your horizon. Go to new places, go to new heights, make some everlasting allies.