Salt Lake City isn’t exactly known for it’s bar scene. The Mormon church, which is extremely active in Salt Lake, doesn’t allow members to consume alcohol and has a huge amount of influence on state law. This includes statutes governing liquor. However, things are changing. Due to recent amendments to liquor laws, especially those allowing for easier access to liquor licenses; new bars and trendy restaurants are popping up all over the place. Two such projects, Beer Bar and Bar X are the brainchildren of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and his local Salt Lake family.
Beer Bar is completely casual, with long bench style tables, and several flat screen TVs on the walls. It’s the perfect, laid back place to grab a beer and house-made brat, hangout, or watch the game. The bar is, perhaps surprisingly, frequented by people from all different walks of life. Stop in from a visit and you’ll meet everyone from well dressed businessmen, tourists, jersey wearing sports fans, to the local hipsters adorned in bushy beards and tattoos snaking up their arms.
It must be the extensive beer list, with over 150 choices, and terrific food that brings everyone together at the same table. In an article from pagesix.com Burrell stated, "It’s a super simple menu, which is what we wanted from the beginning. Basic, but well-made and local. Instead of putting the energy into a lot of elements, making sure you have fewer elements and you are taking the time to make them right.” Beer Bar really does do it right, with the menu designed by Chef Viet Pham, one of Food and Wine magazine’s best new chefs in 2011. Chef Pham was also involved in opening Forage, one of Salt Lakes hottest restaurants.
Next door to Beer Bar, is Bar X. The two establishments are joined by a door in the middle and guests are welcome to wander back and forth between the two rooms. Bar X was originally opened, with the same name, in 1933, right after prohibition was repealed. For years before Burrell's involvement the original bar was known as, “The biggest dive in the city,” according to Shawn Stinson, of Visit Salt Lake. The bar didn’t even have a ladies restroom for a number of years.
Since Burrell has taken hold of the place, things have definitely taken a turn for the better. Bar X is now the hottest bar in town, offering recipes from the bars 1933 days, with a modern touch. The bar is intended to modeled after a speakeasy. The room is dark, with a glowing backlit bar, even at four in the afternoon, when the business crowd is just starting to arrive for an after work drink. By midnight the bar is wall to wall packed on a Thursday or Friday night. Like Beer Bar, you might meet anyone from just about anywhere at Bar X. You can expect to chat not only with locals but out of town visitors looking to enjoy the city night life. Perhaps if you’re lucky you’ll even spot Burrell himself. Locals say he has been known to put in appearance at the bar, possibly with a fellow Modern Family cast member in tow.