Are any places in greater Sacramento opening anymore that aren’t beer-themed? We know there are, but sometimes it feels like one endless parade of pizza and beer. We like pizza and beer – a lot – and, to judge by the current restaurant scene, so does everyone else. But your trusty dining critic can only write so many words about the newest crop of brewpubs, taprooms, beer gardens and barns (okay, there’s just one barn). Hence this roundup of the latest.
The spots included here dot the region from Granite Bay to West Sacramento. All but one of those included here are breweries in their own right, some with beer offerings limited to their own production, some with wider options. All are good for hanging out, with patios or outdoor spaces that will shine all the more as spring ramps up. All have full kitchens (no relying solely on food trucks, as at some tasting rooms) turning out hearty, beer-friendly fare that ranges from serviceable to strong. Let’s face it, sometimes serviceable is just fine when the idea is to chase fried, salty or cheesy snacks with a cold one – but if you’d like to do better, designate a driver and read on.
For when you take the kids to the railroad museum and need a beer Immediately
The venerable Hoppy, founded by Troy Paski in 1994, had a brewpub a presence in East Sacramento for nearly 20 years, but after that location closed it relocated as Hoppy’s Railyard Kitchen and Hop Garden. I was so hopeful (and mildly confused) that something interesting had finally opened in the Railyards, but despite its name the new version of Hoppy is smack in the middle of Old Sacramento, in the sleek brick-walled space that used to be Ten22. That’s pretty good news if you’re in the neighborhood with kids or family who are in town, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reason to cross under I-5.
Hoppy’s has a mostly straight-down-the-middle menu and a vast beer list, including its own brews, several of which were not available when I visited. The menu is heavy on burgers and sandwiches, with outliers like harissa salmon and poke, which made me nervous. I stuck to the savory, toothsome Reuben, which came with stale, cardboardy fries. Pizzas claim Neapolitan style, but were disappointingly reminiscent of the kind of flatbread you get at airports. A “winter farmers” salad was fresh, bright, loaded with goodies like butternut squash and spicy glazed cashews and also dressed with a light hand. Overall, a mixed bag.
Hoppy’s Railyard Kitchen and Hop Garden
1022 2nd St., Sacramento.
Info: 916-451-4677, hoppy.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Beer and pizza rating: ☆☆
For when your hipster craving for cornhole – and beer – can’t be denied
Okay, the West Sacramento Drake’s Barn location is doing a lot. There’s a full-service restaurant, Pizzasmith, and yes, the pizza is handcrafted and very good. There is beer. There’s a huge beer garden (leashed dogs welcome), with firepits and games and music stages and places to sit and watch the currently swollen Sacramento River go by. There’s also a food truck, open weekends-only.
I tried the offerings from Pizzasmith. An oregano-scented New Haven-style “a’pizza” was just about perfect, with a sturdy but thin crackling crust, a blanket of tangy pecorino, and the balanced flavor of tomato sauce. But I kept taking more slices of the Monroe, with sausage, kale and mushrooms. Small bites include tamarind pork belly and ale-steamed clams. Flatbread comes with za’atar and pickles, and the salads – one with grains, chimichurri dressing and kale, one with Chioggia beets, one with arugula and goat cheese – are fresh and interesting. What about the beer? There are 50 taps, including a full range from Drake’s and some guest taps from Sacramento-region brewers, so you won’t go thirsty.
985 Riverfront Street, West Sacramento.
Info: (510) 423-0971, drinkdrakes.com/barn.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Pizza and beer rating: ☆☆☆☆
For when you want to sample allllll the beers – plus good pizza
El Dorado Hills’ casual Boulevard 41 isn’t a brewpub proper, but a taproom – but with a fun pour-your-own twist. You get a wristband and unlimited glasses, then you can choose from all 41 handles (including cider and some respectable wine) for as many ounces as you want to tipple. (You get cut off at 60 ounces, I’m relieved to say.) The selection, from sours and saisons to stouts, is wide-ranging, so you can try your own modest flight or go wild with your fave. Everything here is relatively DIY: you order food by checking off a menu card, too.
And what about the food as ballast for all that beer? The focus is strongly on pizza, with some salads as well, and the pies are darned good. The crust is properly crisp, charred and bubbled, toppings are high-quality (loved the fig drizzle with pancetta and baby arugula on an eponymous signature pie) and the wood-fired oven turns them out fast. Salads are likewise fresh and flexible, but the best thing about it was the pillowy, yeasty slices of pizza-dough flatbread alongside. Note: the place is a little hard to find in the sprawling Town Center development: It’s next to the Holiday Inn, at the back.
4634 Town Center Blvd., #134, El Dorado Hills.
Info: 916-235-2337, boulevard41.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Beer and pizza rating: ☆☆☆
For when you’re in Folsom but wish you were in Tahoe
The knotty pine setting of Folsom’s massive Out of Bounds Craft Kitchen and Biergarten – not to be confused with Out of Bounds’ brewery-only original location in Rocklin – has a distinct rustic mountain chalet air about it, but the welcome is warm and staffing and service levels high. The brewery’s offerings favor IPAs, but there’s also high-octane barleywine, a toasty, malty amber ale and a crisp, super-light lager. The menu is long, with tons of burgers, sandwiches like tri tip and a salmon BLT, and an unusually wide selection (for a brewpub) of solid entrees, such as porcini-crusted pork chop and a big braised lamb shank.
Appetizers are a strength, like the chewy-crisp massive pretzel with bacon-jalapeno cheese dip and beer mustard. Carnitas “street” tacos with black bean dip and tangy red onion were a hit. Flatbreads were a little wobbly; I loved the flavors of marinated skirt steak and chimichurri, plus sweet blistered cherry tomatoes, on one inventive example, but the sauce left the crust awash in oil. Still, there’s plenty here to please many different tastes, and with a wide menu variety it’s a good place to take a family.
Out of Bounds Craft Kitchen and Biergarten
13407 Folsom Blvd., Folsom.
Info: 916-357-5250. outofboundsbrewing.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundaythrough Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday.
Beer and pizza rating: ☆☆1/2
For when you need to please the whole family
Friendly and mod, with pretty tiles and comfortable booths, New Glory’s new eatery occupies a corner of the Quarry Ponds center in Granite Bay. Remember when that center was touted as the next big thing in local food halls? It hasn’t quite lived up to that promise, but New Glory – an offshoot of the Sacramento brewery, which has a taproom on Alpine Avenue – is a solid addition.
It offers just-okay American-style pizza (I found the crust soft), bright salads, upscale sandwiches (another salmon BLT), very strong burgers with excellent thick-cut fries and a bunch of crowd-pleasing shareable appetizers: skillet mac and cheese (weirdly marred by truffle oil but otherwise good), buttermilk chicken strips and more. The beers are mostly house offerings, plus a cider guest tap. They come in a variety of pour sizes and styles, with punny or goofy names and a tendency to dress up familiar styles. The nitro Prince Umberdinck, redolent of chocolate and coffee, was a winner. A beer I was skeptical of – the sour Stellar Burst, heavily dosed with stone fruit – won me over with its tartness. Overall: a solid, convivial spot.
New Glory Eatery & Tap Room
5540 Douglas Boulevard, Granite Bay.
Info: 916-872-1721, newglorybeer.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Beer and pizza rating: ☆☆1/2