Living in Sugar House

sugarhouse sign

A previously down-on-its-luck neighborhood now revitalized and hipsterized into the place to be for young professionals.

Excellent choice! By choosing to move to Sugar House, you’ll be joining many young professionals in Salt Lake City’s trendiest destination.

And it’s trendy for some good reasons: living, shopping, and nightlife are all top-notch in this highly accessible neighborhood in the southeastern portion of the city.

Sugar House is among Salt Lake City’s oldest neighborhoods and has a history of rising fortunes. Established in 1853, it was named for a sugar beet factory and was the home of Utah’s first state prison. The prison moved in 1951 and was replaced by Sugar House Park and Highland High School.

It was once suggested that the neighborhood name be changed to “South East Salt Lake City,” a thoroughly boring proposal that was thankfully rejected.

Today, Sugar House enjoys such a positive reputation that businesses located outside the (hotly disputed) borders of the neighborhood nevertheless use the Sugar House name in the hopes of garnering more patronage.

Affordability

Moving into the neighborhood, you’ll find an enormous variety of housing options. Renting an apartment in the middle of the action can be an expensive but worthwhile proposition, while houses and smaller buildings provide more affordable options in the close environs.

Renting in Sugar House

Sugar House – $1476
Salt Lake City – $1381
Queens NY – $2187

Buying in Sugar House

Sugar House – $262K
Salt Lake City – $231K
Queens NY – $572K

Renting

Renting is a highly variable situation in Sugar House. There are areas, especially on the edges, where you can get two bedrooms for $800 to $900 per month.

Getting closer to the shopping and restaurants gets more pricey. In the middle of the action you’ll find several new, well-equipped apartment complexes where those same two bedrooms are between $1,600 and $2,100 per month. The Zillow Rent Index for Sugar House is $1,476.

Buying

There are generally two types that buy in Sugar House: young professionals with a good salary looking to put down roots in a beautiful neighborhood, and investors looking for rental properties to supplement their income.

Either way, with its many 1920s fixer-uppers and mid-century bungalows, Sugar House is where you go for old-world charm. The Zillow Home Value Index for Sugar House is $262,400.

Getting Around

  • Car:Part of what makes Sugar House attractive is its proximity to … well, everything. Downtown is a quick 10-minute drive. I-80 runs right through the area and connects with I-15 only a couple of miles away. The mountains, with their trails and slopes, are only a short distance to the east.
  • Transit:Several bus lines run through the area, including several north-south lines that run every 15 minutes. But the new jewel of Sugar House is the S-Line, a streetcar that runs east-west through the heart of the community and connects with TRAX, which can take you downtown in a hurry. Skipping the car and commuting by transit is a real possibility here, especially if you work downtown.
  • Walking:You’re a bit out of the way from downtown here, so unless you have 90 minutes and soles of steel, you won’t be walking to work. For a stroll through the parks and shopping district in the neighborhood itself, Sugar House is quite friendly to walkers. Just don’t try to go too far.
  • Bike:It takes a 5-mile ride to get downtown, but there are plenty of bike lanes to use. Check out BikeSLC.com’s bike map of the Salt Lake City area, with tips for the ride.

Restaurants

This is where Sugar House starts to show why it’s arguably the most popular neighborhood in Salt Lake City. There’s no shortage of eateries for every taste and every budget. Many of the restaurants are focused around the central commercial district, but savvy and adventurous residents will venture out to find other treasures sprinkled throughout the area.

Be sure to give these highlights a try:

The Dodo

The Dodo

An American bistro menu and a large and relaxed dining area give this local favorite a comfortable feel. After several moves over the last 30 years, they’ve settled nicely in the heart of Sugar House. Pro tip: Their dessert menu is off the charts. Be sure to try the Banana Cream Cheese Pie, basically a banana cream pie on top of a cheesecake. Yeah.

Bruges Waffles & Frites

Bruges Waffles

A couple of Belgian transplants started selling traditional Belgian waffles and fries from a mobile cart in 2004. A decade and three locations later, Bruges has become a local staple for lunches and tasty treats. Pro tip: After the waffles and fries, check out the Machine Gun sandwich: two spicy merguez sausages in a fresh baguette with fries and Andalouse sauce.

Shopping

Sugar House is a destination for many Salt Lake City area shoppers. In recent years, Sugar House has welcomed several big box stores to its main shopping complex, though it is still home to many locally owned small businesses. The Sugar House Shopping Center is a fully stocked cluster of stores, without the traditional closed mall feel. Nestled with big names like Toys R Us, Nordstrom Rack, and Big 5, you’ll find local gems like Black Cat Comics, Unhinged, and Chocolate Covered Wagon.

Residents are covered on the simple stuff too. Two grocery stores—Whole Foods and the more traditional Smith’s Marketplace—keep you from having to trek too far for milk and eggs.

Nightlife

Sugar House is home to several bars, including a couple that consistently rank in top 10 lists of best night spots in Salt Lake City.

Fiddler's Elbow

Fiddler's Elbow

Fiddler's Elbow

“Pleasant” and “comfortable” often describe this American roadhouse-style sports bar. Big and open, Fiddler’s Elbow serves a menu of comfort food alongside 32 beers on tap to enjoy while watching the game. It’s open seven days a week, but not as late as you might like (midnight on weekends).

“Pleasant” and “comfortable” often describe this American roadhouse-style sports bar. Big and open, Fiddler’s Elbow serves a menu of comfort food alongside 32 beers on tap to enjoy while watching the game. It’s open seven days a week, but not as late as you might like (midnight on weekends).

Campfire Lounge

Campfire Lounge

Campfire Lounge

This offbeat hangout spot boasts not only a great bar, but a great menu of comfort food as well. It’s chock full of games, and features a dog-friendly outdoor patio with three fire pits. It’s a funky, hipster paradise.

This offbeat hangout spot boasts not only a great bar, but a great menu of comfort food as well. It’s chock full of games, and features a dog-friendly outdoor patio with three fire pits. It’s a funky, hipster paradise.

More Things to Do

One of Sugar House’s strengths is that its residents have plenty to do right in their own backyard. Sugar House Park is a huge 110-acre playground with pavilions for group cookouts, hills for sledding, and a pond for feeding the resident fowl. Local Colors of Utah is an artist-owned co-op fine art gallery that will help you keep it classy at your new home or office. Or get off the beaten path with some pottery classes at Adjusting Sails Dirtworks. The activities are many and varied and can keep you busy for as long as you’d like.

Sugar House Photos

About Craig Hanks

Craig Hanks
Craig is a Salt Lake City-based writer who has moved more times than he cares to count. He tried living out of state a couple times, but SLC irresistibly pulled him back in.