Auburn has been revitalized and is no longer a “pit stop” on Interstate 80 but a destination for dining, wine tasting and entertainment, including a number of fall festivals and events.
It has some top-notch restaurants, such as Carpe Vino and Monkey Cat; good ethnic food, such as Bobo Cafe for Vietnamese or Royal Thai; and Tre Pazzi Italian trattoria.
Old Town Auburn is home to Carpe Vino, also a fabulous wine shop, and nearby wineries are expanding. Lone Buffalo has opened a winery and vineyard in North Auburn, for example.
Auburn’s downtown Arts Building is home to Placer-Arts, renowned local artist Douglas Van Howd’s artwork is featured in a town square, and the California Welcome Center now occupies the historic firehouse.
Craft breweries are locating in Auburn. Examples: Knee Deep Brewing, a popular craft brewery in Lincoln, is migrating to the city. Since 2007, Auburn has been home to the Auburn Alehouse Brewery and Restaurant.
Auburn is winning prestigious awards for its fine dining. Along with only two other Northern California restaurants – The French Laundry and The Kitchen – Carpe Vino was named to Open Table’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants for 2012. The Old Town restaurant also won a 2012 Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence.”
In downtown Auburn, Monkey Cat and Tre Pazzi are winning fans. Other notable restaurants include Bootleggers Tavern & Grill in Old Town Auburn, Old Town Pizza in Old Town Auburn, Max’s at the Auburn Holiday Inn, and Strings Italian Cafe.
For fresh, local food, Auburn is the only Northern Sierra Foothills town with a year-round farmers market. It is held Saturdays at the Old Town Courthouse parking lot, from 8 a.m. to noon.
A visit to the Foothills Farmers Market in Auburn reveals the bounty of “Placer GROWN” produce. Market Founder Joanne Neft is a regular. She and local chef Laura Kenny wrote two popular cookbooks: “Placer County Real Food” and “The Art of Real Food.”
For more information, visit SierraCulture.com.
Auburn for après-ski
Auburn is famous for its gold mining history. What’s less known is the city’s leading role in bringing skiing to the Sierra.
The Auburn Ski Club was formed in 1928 by resident Wendel Robie. At Cisco Grove, the Auburn Ski Club built ski jumps, ski trails and a lodge (much of it now covered by Interstate 80). It now is the site of the Western SkiSport Museum.
Less than an hour from the major ski areas, Auburn is becoming a popular option for skiers who want to reduce the drive time from the Bay Area. The Auburn Holiday Inn has teamed up with Sugar Bowl to offer winter ski packages.
Jeff Pelline is editor and publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine, a free quarterly publication that focuses on food, wine & beer, art & music and travel for Tahoe-Truckee and the Sierra Foothills. The companion website is SierraCulture.com. He is a former writer and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and CNET, since sold to CBS.