Allen Pierleoni

Counter Culture: 12 ideas for Father’s Day feasting

Beer-battered fries with basil pesto and Swiss cheese are served at Chef’s Table.
Beer-battered fries with basil pesto and Swiss cheese are served at Chef’s Table.

OK, guys, Father’s Day isn’t till June 21, but it’s righteous to get into a celebratory mood now. Your significant others may disagree, but that’s merely a sign that gender differences are going to stop by for an extended stay in your guest bedroom.

Mother’s Day may be a time for Sunday brunches at fancy restaurants and mimosas, but Father’s Day tends to be a time for dressing down, grabbing a beer and a pizza, or forking cold chili from the pot while leaning over the kitchen sink.

In that spirit, we offer places Dad might enjoy if he’s got a hunger goin’ and prefers homey over haute. Note: It’s always wise to call first for days and hours. We’ve alphabetized this recommended list.

Bones Roadhouse

4430 Pleasant Valley Road, Placerville; (530) 644-4301,

Burgers abound, but none like the hand-formed, half-pound monster at this bare-bones joint. It starts with a custom-ground blend of prime rib, rib-eye, tri-tip and chuck, plopped on a toasted hoagie roll. Add more heft with cheese, thick-cut bacon, pastrami and avocado.

Broderick Roadhouse

319 Sixth St., West Sacramento; (916) 372-2436,

Character-driven and a little raucous. Corned beef hash and roasted wings are fine, but get serious with the banh mi-style fries – a mound of skin-on, hand-cut, twice-fried russets. Salty-sweet and crisp, they’re topped with slow-roasted pulled pork and house-brined carrot and daikon radish, then drizzled with a blend of caramelized sugar, fish sauce, citrus and aromatics, finished with jalapeño coins and served with four-alarm dipping sauce.

Chef’s Table

6843 Lonetree Blvd., Rocklin; (916) 771-5656,

The ever-changing menu at the hip and homey bistro makes for surprises, but look for fried chicken, hot ’n’ sweet pastrami sandwich, carnitas tacos, and bacon jam-and-Brie burger. Always present are beer-battered french fries, rich with basil pesto and shredded Swiss cheese.

Field House

1310 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 487-1045,

Plenty of big screens, draft beers and upper-echelon pub grub – four-alarm wings, from-scratch onion rings and a unique chicken sandwich with crispy pepperoni coins, provolone, roasted red pepper, arugula and lemon thyme aioli. The must-try is the “baconator” sliders, half ground beef and half ground bacon. The artisan-cocktail program is counterintuitive until you learn the pub is co-owned by Jason Boggs, co-owner of Shady Lady, which was included last year on Esquire magazine's annual list of the top 25 bars in America.

Hidden Sichuan

9160 E. Stockton Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 686-8696;

The chef loads many of the menu’s 200 authentic dishes with plenty of red peppers, so prepare to sweat. See if Dad can handle luscious beef soup, salt ’n’ pepper prawns, wokked “magic chile” chicken and Xingjiang lamb – medallions of tender-chewy stir-fried lamb dusted in cumin.


1014 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 446-2236,

Food in the front of the house, a card room in the rear, with a bar in between– what's not to like? Spend time at the jukebox or perusing the vintage baseball-centric photos while waiting for meat-loaded thin-crust pizza, Philly cheesesteak and house-smoked, crispy-fatty pastrami on a grilled bun.

Pennisi’s Deli

1237 J St., Sacramento; (916) 448-5610,

The star of the sandwich board is the muffuletta, conceived in 1906 in New Orleans and sold at Pennisi's for decades. Salami, mortadella, Danish ham and provolone cheese are stacked on a Dutch crunch roll and heaped with muffuletta spread. That’s a piquant mix of chopped olives, peppers, cauliflower, carrot, celery, mushroom, artichoke, onion and garlic in olive oil.


4355 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-3647,

Among the best of the wurst is the Wolfsburg Edition (beer-steamed bratwurst with sauerkraut), the Marley (Jamaican jerk pork sausage with pineapple-mango salsa) and the classic Chicago (all-beef frank, mustard, neon relish, tomato, onions, sport peppers and celery salt).

Sol Cubano

5734 Watt Ave., Sacramento; (916) 332-2883.

Last summer’s hit movie “Chef” raised curiosity about the Cuban sandwich, a South Florida specialty. A genuine version is found here, along with fried plantains, black beans and white rice, picadillo (seasoned ground beef) and ropa vieja (shreds of beef in tomato-based sauce). The grill-pressed sandwich is assembled from citrus-marinated and slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and dill pickle chips.

36 Handles

Montano Center, 1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-3606,

The handsome bar is the place to be in the gorgeously appointed British pub-style sanctuary. You won’t go wrong with the stacked corned beef sandwich and jalapeño-bacon mac ’n’ cheese, but tops is the four-star fish ’n’ chips, in this case beer-battered, deep-fried (and hard to find) haddock.

Tori’s Place

1525 Grand Ave., Del Paso Heights, Sacramento; (916) 646-6038.

The sign in front of the violet-colored shack does not lie: “Home cooking.” The soul-food mecca turns out crunchy-juicy fried chicken and catfish, spicy gumbo, cornbread, and expertly seasoned black-eyed peas, pinto beans and collard greens. Outside seating only.

T&R Taste of Texas

3621 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 739-1669.

There’s plenty of ’cue around town, but Texas-raised pitmaster Rodney Ray turns out excellent racks of pork ribs flavored with proprietary spice rub, smoked over a mix of cherry, apple and mesquite woods, and served with in-your-face house-made sauces.