As a traveling salesman, I always appreciated the dive bars full of locals yet friendly to tourists. There are “tourist traps,” and then there are local bars. None of these picks, while famous, are tourist traps. They all offer a genuine, authentic vibe because they are owner-operated and mostly full of locals. Enjoy these dives on your next road trip. As a traveling salesman, I always appreciated the dive bars full of locals yet friendly to tourists. There are “tourist traps,” and then there are local bars. None of these picks, while famous, are tourist traps. They all offer a genuine, authentic vibe because they are owner-operated and mostly full of locals. Enjoy these dives on your next road trip.
Situated on a country road off the I-84 freeway in Morgan Valley, Kelly’s Roadhouse is a great place to get away from the madness of the Wasatch Front. Popular with motorcyclists, there is plenty of bike parking. Don’t have a bike? There are plenty of parking spots for 4-wheeled transportation as well. Once inside, enjoy a cold beer and some of the best burgers and sandwiches in Utah. My personal favorite is the garlic burger. There is also plenty of patio seating if you prefer, just beware of the cats and the dog who like to say hello. Of special note, back inside, are brassieres hanging from the light fixtures. I don’t know why, but I prefer this to remain a mystery.
1550 West Old Highway Road, Morgan, Utah
When you need a getaway from the metro areas, Heber City is the perfect place. The Timpanogos Tavern, or the Timp Tavern, as it is cordially known, is walking distance from a couple of hotels in town, my favorite being the Holiday Inn Express. Always filled with friendly people, you never know who you’ll be rubbing elbows with in the Timp Tavern—cowboys, hunters from the hills nearby, bikers, and, sometimes, firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service enjoying a needed break from summer’s action. You can watch, if you time it right, from the patio, a beautiful sunset as the sun goes down behind Mount Timpanogos.
1320 S Daniels Road, Heber City, Utah
About midway down Coalville’s bucolic Main Street, Bunny’s Club doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once inside, you’ll find a friendly barkeeper, a passel of taxidermy, and a fairly spacious banquet area in the back. Another favorite of motorcyclists and the local denizens, you’ll usually find a mix of gregarious cowboys and cowgirls, weary travelers who came into town from the interstate, and bikers when the weather is warm. One of my favorite stops when I’m riding from Evanston, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning, Bunny’s is a great place to get some breakfast—but only if you like freshly made home cooking. Don’t be in a hurry, just relax, because this isn’t a fast food stop.
36 S Main, Coalville, Utah
Shooting Star Saloon
Utah’s oldest verifiable business is the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville. This storied bar appears right out of a wild-west movie. It is certainly one of the most famous examples of the freedom and liberty that defines the spirit of the West. It survived and operated as a fully-functional bar throughout the entire 13-year prohibition period, and they never got busted once for their moonshine and illegal spirits. This is thanks to the town’s residents’ protective efforts to always inform the bar owners ahead of time when a suspicious wagon or car was approaching, which could be a government inspector. The Shooting Star features a stuffed Saint Bernard—the previous owners and guests were so attached, they couldn’t let him be buried. They offer three beers on tap and delicious burgers and dogs. It also happens to be located in one of the most scenic and fun places in Utah to visit. The Shooting Star Saloon is located near Pineview reservoir in Huntsville. Drive Trapper’s Loop to get there. It’s an incredible ride!
7350 E 200th S, Hutsville, Utah
Road Island Diner
If you haven’t yet eaten at the Road Island Diner, or if it has been a few years since you’ve been there, it is, without a doubt, worth returning because their food has vastly improved. Before, everything came out of a box and a bag; but now, everything is made from scratch, from ice cream to pies. They even corn their own beef. The diner was moved from Rhode Island to Oakley in 2007 by Keith Walker. The menu featured all the same greasy-spoon dishes one might expect—the kind of food you trudge through (featuring gravy made from a powder) then regret afterward.
When Utah Stories last wrote about this amazing roadside attraction, the photos of the place turned out incredible. The staff were well-attired to fit the architecture, but the food, well, we didn’t mention it. Steven and Ginny Butler, who operate Kumbaya Kitchen, a catering company, bought the diner in 2014. It was closed at the time they purchased it and were told that if they didn’t buy it, the Road Island Diner would very likely go the way of the thousands of other diners that once dotted the rural landscape. It was the third time they’d been approached and decided to finally jump in. Now, some true culinary artists run the kitchen. They source “as local as we can.” The lamb comes from Tooele Valley Meats. They butcher local Utah lamb in a 100 to 200 mile radius. “The rest comes from Nicholas and Co,” according to Butler. We ordered their shakes (made with real ice cream and real fruit, which were above par. “We make our own real-fruit purees,” Butler says.
981 W Weber Canyon Road, Oakley, Utah