I just returned from my visit to Sacramento where I scoped out the city I will be moving to next month. In addition to stuffing our faces with homemade meals, we checked out various restaurants in the area—and it’s safe to say I’ve already found several that I’m hooked on. There’s nothing quite like hanging out with your loved one at a restaurant where you get to enjoy delicious food and drink in one another’s company.
#1 Tower Cafe
BEST FOOD • BEST SERVICE • BEST PATIO
1518 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818 (Land Park)
We were originally a little disappointed we missed brunch (ends at 11am on weekdays), but we decided to still give the place a try—were we happy we did! First of all, I absolutely loved the patio. We sat at a corner table tucked away among a variety of plants with decor hanging in the trees, and there was even a fountain behind us. Jake’s margarita was exceptionally strong and who doesn’t love sangria with a flower garnish? Our lunch entrees were outstanding; Jake ordered the Borracho burger (he particularly obsessed over the crispy onions) and I got the Kingston chicken sandwich with a special request to substitute the grilled chicken for chipotle chicken. We loved our server’s recommendation to dip our french fries in the house sauce since they did not have ranch. She was attentive, friendly, and knowledgable… and she only laughed at me a little when I butchered the pronunciation of jicama (“What is G-mack-a?”). I was attempted to come back here for Monday lunch before the airport because I loved it so much, and I never even consider that option when I’m out of town! This will definitely be a favorite spot when I move to Sacramento!
#2 Firestone Public House
BEST BEER SELECTION • BEST ATMOSPHERE
1132 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Downtown/Midtown)
When you hear the words “sports bar,” it’s hard to prepare yourself how that describes the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised by this place and would consider it a classy sports bar, if that makes sense. It feels especially spacious because of its high ceilings, and there are big screen TVs everywhere you turn. The menu has something for everyone and the happy hour boasts half-priced pizzas and appetizers (the giant Baravian pretzels with the pimeont cheese are so tasty!) Bonus points to our server who checked if we wanted anything else from the happy hour menu twice during its ten-minute countdown. I was impressed by their wide variety of beers (60 on tap) and recognized a few from unique breweries. Our server knew what he was talking about when it came to the beers and guided several in our group to find the best beer for them.
7600 Greenhaven Dr, Sacramento, CA 95831 (The Pocket)
I’d been hearing about how cool this place is since Jake moved back to Sacramento and I was excited to see what all the hype was about. The concept of pouring your own beer astonished me—I needed to see it to believe it. We were the first to arrive after they opened (apparently no one else comes to a taproom at 11:30am on a Monday… weirdos) and pretty much had the place to ourselves throughout our long lunch. The employee who helped us was enthusiastic and walked me through how the taproom works. He also gave me a free taster and pointed out they can do large half-and-half pizzas, which would save us the additional $10 for 2 small pizzas. I always appreciate when the staff helps their customers out with those types of things. Jake and I ordered the buffalo wings as an appetizer; they were decent, but not quite comparable to Boulder’s West End Tavern or Southmouth Wings. Then we got a large pizza half Calfornia with chicken and the other half carnitas. While the California certainly had as many veggies as the description indicated, we were slightly let down by how little carnitas were on the carnitas pizza. All the same, we loved the flavorful green salsa under the carnitas’ cheese and dubbed it our favorite between the two pizzas.
The best part of the restaurant was being able to pour your own beer. We were given a wristband before sitting down, and when we were ready for a beer we went up to the tap wall to retrive a cold glass from the cooler. Once we chose which of the 25 rotating beers we wanted (if you tapped the beer’s display screen, a full description of the beer popped up), we decided which size we wanted: taster, small, or large. And then we scanned our wristband against the star on the display screen and it poured! The amount was automatically measured by which size we input, although if the tap was lifted before the designated amount came out, it only charged for how many ounces were actually poured. Once we were finished with our lunch, we went up to the cashier and handed back our wristbands for them to calculate how many ounces each of us drank. Keep in mind there is a limit of how many ounces one wristband can have, which smartly prevents overserving.
#4 Johnny Garlic’s
BEST HAPPY HOUR
10505 Fairway Dr, Roseville, CA 95678
We were exploring Roseville and toward the end of our busy afternoon, we figured we’d see what sort of happy hour they had. The restaurant is what you would expect from a chain such as this—nice and clean, but not particularly unique. Jake and I loaded up on happy hour items and became contently full. Our order included the bacon wrapped shrimp skewers, barbeque chicken flatbread, and garlic fries. We also couldn’t resist ordering the seasonal mac and cheese balls, which I highly recommend with the Sriracha buffalo dipping sauce. While we didn’t get any, I liked how many types of sliders they had on the happy hour menu, and I’ll be sure to try a few of those out next time. Note: When they ask if you want the big glass or the little glass, keep in mind the big glass is 32 ounces. I was not aware of this and was very surprised when a mug larger than my head was set down in front of me. Not that I was complaining—talk about a decently priced big glass of beer.
Happy eating, Sacramento!