The queries come to “Wine Buzz’s” email each January: Where’s a good place to grab a bite and pop a bottle with a client during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium?
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium kicked off Tuesday and runs through Thursday at the Sacramento Convention Center (as well as the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton hotels). Essentially a wine-industry think tank, it features a massive trade expo and hosted workshops.
Unified ranks as the largest convention hosted annually in Sacramento, drawing more than 13,000 attendees over its three-day run. That translates into more than 2,000 hotel rooms being booked – and of course, plenty of visitors in need of food and a place to pull a cork.
Many central city restaurants see business double during Unified’s run, and if you haven’t yet scored a reservation at some of Sacramento’s wine-friendly restaurants – especially those near the Convention Center – well, good luck. Scott Smith, manager of midtown’s Biba Restaurant, wrote in to caution that tables will be hard to come by and civilians should aim to make reservations for Friday (i.e., when Unified 2014 is already in the books).
But if you’re attending Unified and still need a wine-friendly dinner spot, give these a try:
• Bandera (2232 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento; 916-922-3524): It’s worth the 5-mile cab ride from the Convention Center hubbub to Bandera, where upscale comfort foods await (think French dip sandwiches, roasted chicken, ribs). Best yet: Wine corkage is free. Prices on its California-focused wine list are also reasonable, in many cases marked up just a few dollars above their retail cost.
(1300 H St., Sacramento; 916-594-7669): Alas, this will be the final time to dine at Thir13en during Unified, as the restaurant has announced it will shutter at the end of the month. A few tables still remain for a menu of house-made pastas, locally sourced ingredients and a burger that The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson once called the best in town. Wine corkage costs $15, and it’s all available within walking distance from the Convention Center.
• Iron Steaks (2422 13th St., Sacramento; 916-737-5115): For those craving something meaty after a day of ogling the latest grape de-stemmers and tractors, Iron Steaks is a short cab ride to 13th and Broadway. You’ll find traditional steakhouse fare – “surf & turf,” lobster tail, 14-ounce rib-eyes – plus shrimp tacos, jambalaya and more. Corkage is free for the first bottle, and $10 thereafter.
• Pangaea Two Brews Cafe (2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento; 916-454-4942): Truth be told, it’s easy to burn out on wine during Unified, so why not switch it up and grab a beer? Located about 3 miles from Unified, Pangaea pours approximately two dozen craft beers on draft (recent selections included Pliny the Elder and Allagash Grand Cru) and a bottle selection that’s among the best in town. Soak up those brews with sausage samplers, pizzas and hearty sandwiches.