As everybody from here to Hell's Kitchen knows, each January the folks of SLC and Park City batten down the hatches in preparation for the onslaught of outsiders that will grace our streets and slopes for the annual Sundance Film Festival. Originally begat by the bearded babe himself, Sir Robert Redford, in 1978, the festival celebrates some seriously commendable independent films (with many of them being screened in Park City, Salt Lake, and Ogden). The gathering officially got its current moniker (from one mustachioed namesake) in 1991, and has since grown exponentially in popularity to become the largest independent film festival in the U.S. Fur, over-sized sunnies, and sensible footwear abound, but the films shown here are legit, to be sure; many of them go on to be award-winning features (past Sundance-screened films include: Precious, Winter's Bone, Little Miss Sunshine, The Usual Suspects, and Reservoir Dogs, to name a few. You can see this year's full festival program here). Celebs and "industry people" the world over will be flocking to our snowy slopes starting this week, and our little sister city to the east is about to get a swift kick in the ski pants in terms of population, business, and into-the-wee-hours nightlife.
Staying home? Prepare for the possibility of seeing James Franco in line at Beto's. But for those thinking of braving the cold and crowds up the hill--both Utahans and out-of-towners, alike--we've got a few tips for all the local good you'll find on high. Hopefully you've got your tickets, but there's fun to be had outside the mezzanine, as well. Bundle up. Take care. And tell Kevin Costner we loved him in Waterworld.
1. Clean your plate. As far as eateries go, Park City's not short on fare, but it's hard to top Handle (136 Heber Ave.). In our COLLECTIVE opinion, you should already have reservations. A few noteworthy pubs (Architectural Digest, for one…maybe you've heard of it?) have recently featured Handle in their own Sundance guides, and they weren't wrong. If it's too tough to get in, however, there are still options: we also recommend the terrazzo-clad, Italian medallion that is Grappa (151 Main), or the red meat and piano bar medley at Prime (804 Main).
2. Haute date. Myriad clothing shops dot Main Street Park City, and you can browse for everything from specialty socks to fine furs and sparkly baubles for your best night out (for which we recommend Farasha at 605 Main, #202). But for threads of a more casual kind, make an effort to pop into Hathenbruck (136 Heber Ave, #108). Brands like Filsen, Won Hundred, Pendleton, and Levi’s, strewn artfully about the perfectly curated shop, along with stone-cold jewelry, legit eyewear, and a few photography books. In other words, you're all set.
3. Caffeinate. Should you find yourself jonesing for a warm cuppa, you ought to skedaddle to Ritual Chocolate (1105 Iron Horse Dr.) Sure, you can get a cup of sensational Pink Elephant coffee, but you also get the pleasure of insanely good chocolate in all its forms; hot cocoa, nibs, bars that range from fruity and floral to intensely rich. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, they also offer tours for your ethnobotany enlightenment and tasting delight, but reservations are required, so snap to it.
4. Stay up late. Obviously, the Sundance night life is not lacking. Stop in to most any Park City bar and you're likely to find a smorgasbord of celebs, locals, and silver screen sycophants, all happily slamming steins together in celebratory anticipation of another great day of films. Nevertheless, our suggestion for unwinding--or getting buck--at the end of a frenzied day is OP Rockwell (268 Main). The cocktails are inspired and the vibe divine, and the dance floor here is dizzying in the best way. Not into dancing? Head to High West (703 Park Ave.) for whiskey the likes of which will haunt your dreams on the regular (it's also worth noting that their dinner is sensationally savory). Cheers, guys.