—by Andrew Brawley
I been to SLC quite a few times, but my more recent visits have been in the form of layovers. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the city proper. Since I have a ticket to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway next month, I can’t imagine a better time to prepare for that than with a visit to SLC this week (yes, I’m actually going on this trip. It’s my second away match this season, after the epic Seattle jaunt in May).
Since it’s been a while for me, I sought help for this entry. Turns out we have quite a few SLC ex-pats amongst our flock. One of them even recently played for the Timbers (shoutout to Ian Joy). The honor for this particular entry fell onto the very capable shoulders of 107ist board member Garrett Dittfurth, who is lucky he sent this info to me BEFORE he started bombarding my Twitter feed with sacred images of Tim Tebow and terrible Toby Keith music videos. (Garrett’s a habitual acceptable/offensive joke line-stepper.)
(One final note: this is the last entry of the away game travel guide series for 2011. I managed to post for all but the first three cities, and that’s because this idea didn’t pop into my head until after those first three away games. Thanks to all who contributed to these entries and helped with even more tips via the comments section. Extra thanks to those who appreciated the Seattle guide for what it truly was…a joke that went over way more heads than I anticipated. If you want to help with the 2012 series, you know where to find me.)
Alright, it’s go time. Here's Garrett!
Oh Salt Lake...it feels like just yesterday I was there last.
Salt Lake's public transportation system, UTA, is just as good as TriMet so getting around downtown is easy. Rio Tinto Stadium is located just off the TRAX line in Sandy. Other than Rio Tinto Stadium there is nothing of value in Sandy unless you love strip malls and big box stores so make sure you get a hotel downtown.
As far as things to do I'm not going to lie…it's a little straightforward. Heavy Metal Shop is basically a nationally recognized institution and it's awesome that it's located in a place like SLC. The Salt Lake Library is really something to behold even if you're not all that into libraries. Beyond that, the stuff to see is all pretty straightforward. If you've never been to Temple Square it's worth the trip just to get a look at the architecture (religious mumbo jumbo aside). There are plenty of museums around there focusing on church/pioneer history, but since it's basically like the Vatican there are all kinds of weird religious things around. There's also Olympic Cauldron Park at the University of Utah where they rather spectacularly lit the Olympic Flame for the 2002 games. If anyone wants to rent a car and head up into the canyons I'd recommend going up to Park City where they hold the Sundance Film Festival. If you don't want to go to another town try Big Cottonwood Canyon. A scenic drive to the top will put you at Brighton ski resort and you can walk around Silver Lake. There may be snow on October 22nd but it's too early in the year for any lifts to be open.
Food: SLC isn't exactly known for its gastronomical excellence. That being said, there are some pretty Utah-ish places I'll be hitting up that I haven't had in a while. Crown Burgers is sort of the local better-than-fast-food chain that beats any chain we have in Portland. I think it beats In-N-Out as well, although it doesn't have the 1950s charm or secret menu. Just go simple and have the Crown Burger. Make sure to try the "Fry Sauce." You should be able to find or request Fry Sauce in almost every restaurant in Salt Lake City, but Crown Burgers nails the recipe. Past that nothing would really stand out other than The Pie, which I've been craving since I left. It's the best pizza in Utah and ranked as one of the top 10 pizzerias in the country. If you decide on that, avoid the ones in strip malls and hit up the original location in a basement where you'll find 30 years worth of college kids writing their names all over the walls.
Drink: the bar scene is a little different in Salt Lake. They've recently got rid of needing a private membership to get in so you can go in and out of any bar you want. You won't find a Kelly's Olympian in SLC but there are plenty of good places to hang out and get a beer. As I used to spend a lot of time at Port O' Call I would recommend all of the places in this article. I haven't been to any of them but I know most of the owners and can't imagine they'd screw it up. (This is a lie…my friend owns Gracie's and I will be there most of the time. I just don’t want a lot of people to know about it.)
Everyone may think beer sucks in Utah but that's not the case. Not even a little bit. Squatters has been around for a long time and they're a great standard brewpub. Red Rock Brewing is also a downtown staple. Oh yeah, this is Utah, so they brew Root Beer too. It's the best Root Beer I've ever had. I'm not lying. My personal favorite is Uinta Brewing. I'm going to guzzle Cutthroat Pale Ale the entire time I'm in Salt Lake. I'm sure everyone is aware of Utah's most infamously named beer. Sadly the brewery, while excellent, is located in Park City. If you do head up there definitely check out Wasatch Brewing.