Going Local: Alamexo

Simple neon lighting greets night-time customers at Alamexo. Photo credit: Yelp
Simple neon lighting greets night-time customers at Alamexo. Photo credit: Yelp

One of the great things about a growing city is seeing the rise of other local businesses, especially the restaurants. Today’s VIP Limousine favorite is one of the best-ranked establishments in Salt Lake City: Alamexo, a mid-level restaurant with high quality Mexican cuisine.

Located near The Gallivan Center/Gallivan Plaza, and a short walk from the UTA TRAX Gallivan Plaza station, Alamexo has a clean approach and philosophy about food and style. Approaching the restaurant, potential patrons are greeted with a simple exterior with an outdoor deck for the warmer months. Inside there’s an expansive number of tables, including some for large groups and families.

The menu adjusts a little bit depending on the time of year, but includes a simple and delightful luxury: table-side guacamole, hand-made by your waiter or waitress according to your request. This simple approach to service elevates the atmosphere here.

Beyond the guac, the main menu is a mixture of simply-made Mexican classics, some with modern twists, to make sure that the flavors speak volumes to the taste buds. Service is rapid without feeling rushed, and the food is consistently delightful. It’s no wonder that Alamexo was named as one of the top 25 restaurants in Salt Lake.

Be sure to check it out!

Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 8

An overview of the University of Utah campus, just above downtown Salt Lake City. Photo courtesy of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.
An overview of the University of Utah campus, just above downtown Salt Lake City. Photo courtesy of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

The next stop on our tour of our hometown takes us up across The Avenues and into the Wasatch Mountain foothills just above the downtown core of Salt Lake City. Nestled between these two, and with a frankly astonishing view, lies the main campus of the University of Utah.

The flagship collegiate institution in the state, the the University of Utah was founded on February 28th, 1850 as the University of the Deseret by LDS Church leader Brigham Young. It began as a very small collection of buildings above the planned downtown area. The oldest remaining parts of campus are centered around what is now known as President’s Circle, home now to the music school and near other components of the fine arts divisions. Slightly to the south are the facilities for the natural and social sciences, as well as the S.J. Quinney College of Law. The law school received a new building just a few years ago, and is one of the most striking features of campus.

Across the street sits Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of the University of Utah football team. The complex seats 45,807 people at maximum capacity and was completed in 1998. Besides football games, the tower attached to the western side holds a variety of special events, including high school prom. However, the stadium is probably best known for hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. With the Olympic Torch still situated south of the stadium grounds, coupled with a small history center and an assortment of Games logos placed across the complex, the stadium serves as a reminder to students and guests what the University of Utah can achieve and the significant role it played in hosting what is still known as the best Winter Olympics ever.

Continuing eastward, we approach the complex for the College of Social Work and the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Next to this sits the J. Willard Marriott Library, named after the alumnus who founded Marriott Hotels, the largest hotel chain in the world. Around the library also sits the University Union building, and to the south the architecture center. Continuing east is the center for the David Eccles School of Business, as well as the College of Education and new facilities for the Tanner Dance Center. Back up north, we find the Center for the Humanities, the Engineering Building, and the Lassonde Studios for entrepreneurship.

Towards what seems like the top of the hill is the Marriott Honors Community, home to the housing for students in the Honors College. Adjacent to it is the state-of-the-art Student Life Center, complete with an Olympic pool, health center, jogging track, and much more.

Moving across Mario Capecchi Drive, there is more uphill to the core of student housing and the student center, which doubled as the Athlete’s Village during the Olympic Games. This is integrated into Fort Douglas, the old army compound which previously had guns pointed down at the valley in the 19th century. Moving further back north, we approach the arguably most-renowned part of the campus: the University of Utah Hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital, and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, poised to become the largest cancer research center in the world. All of these combine to make one of the best university hospital systems in the United States.

In case you are wondering, we’re not making these things up. We love our hometown of Salt Lake City, but it’s because all of these things are genuinely great. We look forward to serving you in your travels here.

In the News: VIP Limousine with Make-A-Wish Utah and Vivint!

One of our biggest joys at VIP Limousine is finding ways to give back to the community. We were contacted by Vivint Gives Back, the charitable arm of Vivint Smart Home, as well as Make-A-Wish Utah, to provide our service for Olivia and her family. Watch the video clip from Fox 13 News to see her story unfold.

We want to give a special thanks to Vivint and Make-A-Wish Utah for asking us to help with this special evening!

Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 7

The seat of government of the state of mountains, the Utah State Capitol sits high above the city. Photo credit/copyright: Desert Survivor
The seat of government of the state of mountains, the Utah State Capitol sits high above the city. Photo credit/copyright: Desert Survivor

Just over 100 years ago, and 20 years after gaining statehood, Utah gained a completed structure which would further symbolize that completion: a state capitol building. Perched on a hill just above the downtown core at the northern end of State Street, the Capitol is an iconic part of the Salt Lake City skyline, and it’s one of the reasons why we love our home.

While the original structure has grown to include additional new buildings which make up the Capitol Complex, the original building is what most people see when they look across the Wasatch Front skyline or fly into Salt Lake City. At nearly 300 feet tall at its highest point, the neoclassical revival structure is a grand facility without being overwrought.

The tourist entrance to the Capitol is to scale all of the steps on the south side of the building and enter through the large traditional doors. These lead straight into the main foyer and rotunda of the building. The dome and the ceiling have intricate artwork depicting the Pioneer settlement, coupled with a central halo of lights to light up the area.

The Capitol Rotunda is several stories tall, and the main floor is flanked by two sets of staircases that lead up to the offices and chambers of the members of the Utah Legislature. While some of the configurations have changed, the traditional placements have remained much the same. One of the largest is the relocation of the Utah Supreme Court to the Matheson Courthouse near downtown, so the remaining chambers are no longer in regular use.

One of the most notable rooms in the Capitol is the Gold Room. Most of the building has a relatively spare but still classy feel to it. The Gold Room, though, is opulent from bottom to top. Its sliding doors, big windows, thick drapes, and the extensive use of gold leaf trim. Otherwise known as the state reception room, it is used for visiting dignitaries and other very special occasions, such as presentations of posthumous Purple Heart medals. Fittingly, it is the neighboring room to the Governor’s office.

The Capitol isn’t just the seat of the state government of Utah, however. With its architecture and layout, the building has been used in film and photography repeatedly. It’s a major tourist stop for the companies which come to visit the city. It’s also a highly sought-after destination for high school prom dances and weddings, with the sprawling grounds, fun architecture and detailing, and an amazing view of the Salt Lake valley day or night.

At VIP Limousine, the State Capitol is without question one of our favorite venues for photography and events. It’s an iconic spot where our clients make some of their best memories for life. If you have something special happening up there, be sure to give us a call.

Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 6

Integral to the western side of downtown Salt Lake City,  The Gateway has been undergoing revitalization, and is relevant once more.
Integral to the western side of downtown Salt Lake City, The Gateway has been undergoing revitalization, and is relevant once more.

Downtown Salt Lake City has been undergoing a lengthy renaissance of sorts, with City Creek Center and a lot of new businesses and offices being among the most recent phases. However, it could be argued that these changes began prior to the Olympics i8n 2002, and one of the most important parts of this was The Gateway.

A fitting name for a multi-use complex which marks the western side of the downtown core, which most travelers to Salt Lake City see first, The Gateway cleverly integrates older structures into its design. Chief among these is the old Union Pacific Railroad terminal, preserved as an entrance hall along 400 West and anchoring the mall by use of a signature building. The terminal maintains original signage and elements, in keeping with the times, design, and architecture in the surrounding neighborhood.

Since the Olympics were to be a large part of The Gateway in its early years, there are a multitude of elements throughout the complex which speak to the heritage and function of the Games. This includes the Olympic Legacy Plaza, which memorializes the efforts put into the Games. The Gateway also held certain events during the Games.

The Gateway is currently home to a multitude of stores and shops, including a Larry H. Miller Megaplex movie theatre, one of the largest centrally-located movie theatres in Salt Lake City. Each of these is accessible from outdoor walkways, escalators, and elevators. It’s an outdoor mall on purpose, providing exposure to the natural elements across two levels of its structure with lots of natural stone, an outdoor fireplace, and properly-covered portions so that the electrical parts stay dry. Outside of all of the shops and restaurants, the residential portions of The Gateway offer a variety of housing to residents wishing to live in a mixed-use area.

With the myriad of shops and options available, The Gateway has a multi-story underground garage with electric vehicle charging points, parking validation, and clear signage to different parts of the mall. It’s large enough that parking in the right areas in important, since The Gateway stretches across several blocks and there are two sets of parking garage entrances.

In the not-too-distant past, The Gateway has been known for the following: vagrancy, declining and closed businesses, relocations of key stores, broken escalators, a confusing parking garage, a large presence of the homeless and drug users, poor maintenance, and low foot traffic. Nobody has wanted to come here, and online reviews of the facility plummeted. However, this is starting to change.

As it is now under new management, anybody who visits The Gateway is witness to a multitude of changes. Entering the parking garage alone is a completely new experience. Gone are the odd colors and categories, confusing directions, and poor lighting. These have been replaced with clear signage and a bright white scheme. Escalators are being overhauled, elevators are being upgraded, tile floors are being redone and resurfaced, lighting is being updated…it’s all changing. The results are starting to roll in, with The Gateway showing new signs of life and turning around, no longer being just the dying mall on the western side.

In spite of all of the changes and its prior decline, The Gateway remains an important part of downtown Salt Lake City. Easily accessible from TRAX and the freeway and across the street from the Vivint Smart Home Arena, The Gateway is a facility of hope and dreams, showing how business changes are indeed possible.

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