Culture + Style

Forget What You Heard. 3 Reasons Why Salt Lake City Isn’t as Uptight as You Think

Yes, Mormons settled in Salt Lake in the 1800’s, but there are more non-Mormons than Mormons living in SLC these days, busting that pretty puritanical vision in your head. You are about to enter another dimension. (Cue “The Twilight Zone” theme and gravelly narration). A dimension of speculation and intrigue. A place rumored to be dry, that has 12 local breweries and booming nightlife. A place known for snow-bound, rugged seclusion, that has straight-up awesome sushi and puts you front row center to hot indie music. You are about to enter downtown Salt Lake City. Rumors be squashed.

Rumor #1: Salt Lake is Dry. Not.

Salt Lake scuttlebutt says beers clock in at 0.05 percent alcohol, and enjoying one outside the comfort of your kitchen entitles the village children to hurl at you one rock of their choosing.

Just because Salt Lake City runs a tight ship doesn’t mean its nightlife is lacking. Its quirkier mandates include having to wait on your food to drink in restaurants and that whole Zion curtain thing, but if that means not having to see your buddy get sloppy and taunt the door guy, we’re all in.

Bar-X has been a downtown Salt Lake City cornerstone since 1933, but actor Ty Burrell and his “Modern Family” checkbook have helped revive the swanky digs in recent years.

In an area of the country where teetotalism lingered long after it was en vogue, a solid Sazerac is never old-fashioned, and the Bar-X sidecar is a fun ride too.

sushi roll
Sushi is a thing in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rumor #2: Beef Jerky-Style Provisions for Food. Not.

In these here mountains, you’re limited to rations from the general store. Old Man Amos can supply you with hard tack in exchange for gold or beaver pelts, or so you’ve heard.

Truth be told, foodies love this place, and probably won’t take too kindly to us revealing their secret. Salt Lake City has a homogenous rep, but in reality is quite the opposite thanks in part to the International Rescue Committee.

The city offers asylum to hundreds of refugees every year, and that translates to a cultural hodgepodge that rubs off on everything, food included. Takashi is one of downtown Salt Lake City’s favorite sushi spots, and somehow maintains a more-than-reasonable price point, with fresh fish flown in daily. So load up.

Rumor #3: You Must Ski and Only Ski. Not.

Should authorities find residents or visitors more than 100 yards from skis or snowboard, public humiliation shall ensue, and the village children get to throw more rocks.

Yes, Utah has legendary powder and, in downtown Salt Lake City, you are a stone’s throw (or a shuttle ride) from the slopes. But if you’re more of a hot tub/chocolate/music type, take heart.

The Salt Lake City Arts Council offers seasonal concert series that bring in acts like Father John Misty and St. Vincent. This is one of the most bike-friendly locales in the nation too, so renting one to get to and from concerts and farmers markets that know no season is a breeze. It’s also much less likely to put you in a full-body cast than a double black diamond.