Restaurant News & Reviews

This massive entertainment venue will open Friday near Golden 1 Center

Get a glimpse of the new Punch Bowl Social in Sacramento

The new food and entertainment venue Punch Bowl Social opens in Sacramento’s Downtown Commons Friday, Dec. 16 2017.
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The new food and entertainment venue Punch Bowl Social opens in Sacramento’s Downtown Commons Friday, Dec. 16 2017.

When Punch Bowl Social, the new entertainment eatery at the heart of downtown Sacramento’s reworked Downtown Commons, opens Friday night, it will do so without its biggest Sacramento investor: former Kings all-star center DeMarcus Cousins.

“He was going to be here five nights a week,” said founder Robert Thompson from the “diner” within the 25,800 square-foot space as he shared a Superfood Grain Bowl and some Sriracha Peanut Fries.

Judging from the fact that Friday’s opening night VIP fundraiser has already sold out, the Sacramento installment of this Denver-based entertainment chain will be just fine without the skilled but fiery Cousins on a nightly basis.

The 565-seat restaurant opens to the public Friday at 9 p.m. The Kings will be in the midst of a four-game road trip, so fans will have to wait until Dec. 23 to have a pregame meal there.

Situated in the new Sawyer Hotel building at 500 J Street, Punch Bowl Social overlooks the Downtown Commons public square and sits below the upscale Revival rooftop bar.

Sacramento’s Punch Bowl Social has eight bowling lanes, two private Karaoke rooms, classic arcade games and virtual reality gaming. Still, its leadership team – in town to open their 11th location – insisted Wednesday that Punch Bowl Social is no Dave & Busters, the decades-old chain known for arcades that cater to adults.

“We are a gaming operation, but 89 percent of what we do is food and beverage,” Thompson said. “We are not a Dave & Busters.”

The menu, designed by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, features burgers made with grass-fed, hormone-free beef; a vegetable minestrone soup; and lobster bacon fries. The full menu is served throughout the restaurant, with decor blending modern, rustic and industrial elements.

Punch Bowl beverage director Patrick Williams, a senior executive, was in town with a full-red beard that would make him fit right in with Sacramento hipsters. In addition to boozy but easy-to-sip punch bowls, the drink menu features California beer and wine.

The beer draft menu includes the commonly offered Anchor Steam and Firestone 805, as well as the more local Knee Deep Breaking Bud IPA and Auburn Ale House Gold Digger IPA.

There are also “old man cans” for those still drinking Miller Lite.

“We’re excited to come down here. So much is happening,” said Williams from establishment’s round bar looking out to the Golden 1 Center plaza and the much debated Piglet sculpture. “I’m looking forward to coming back and seeing what has opened.”

Thompson said Cousins joined as an investor a couple of years ago.

“He was pretty excited about this location,” Thompson said. “We were pretty sad to see him get traded.”

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch