Sacramento has long been overshadowed by California’s more iconic cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located within the larger Sacramento Valley, Sacramento has consistently been bustling city since the days of the Gold Rush.
But in recent years, the state’s capital has undergone a transformation, spurred by the Golden 1 Center, a $534 million arena that opened in 2016. It’s part of Downtown Commons (DoCo), an expansive new entertainment and cultural hub.
Here are six of the best restaurants and bars in California’s underrated gem.
Located in the heart of DoCo, Revival connects to a glistening swimming pool and patio that overlooks downtown. The lounge, accented in wood and brass, has become one the city’s most popular nightlife destinations. It’s not unusual to spot celebrities, athletes and musicians here.
The menu offers an eclectic lineup of local and international wines, as well as creative seasonal cocktails like the signature Full Brazilian, made with Novo Fogo cachaça, pineapple, jalapeño agave, raspberries and lime.
Echo & Rig
With Chef Sam Marvin at the helm, this sister location of the Vegas favorite specializes in gourmet steaks like a boneless rib-eye “Spencer.” They’re cooked over California red oak logs taken from the 10-foot-high stack next to the kitchen.
Non-carnivores can enjoy seafood and a host of locally grown vegetables. There’s also a robust menu of California wines and craft cocktails, which you can enjoy at the popular open-air bar.
Canon is the creation of Chef Brad Cecchi, who earned a Michelin star while at Calistoga’s Solbar, and restaurateur Clay Nutting. Located in the booming East Sacramento area, this casual spot is one of the city’s hottest new dining destinations.
Cecchi works with local farmers and ranchers to serve an eclectic menu of small plates that range from chicken drumsticks to flat iron steak.
There’s also a strong emphasis on beverages. Jack Winks, the bar director, spent five years in Paris, which included a stint at Lockwood, a cozy cocktail bar located in the basement of an 18th-century building.
“All of our products are thoughtfully selected,” says Winks. “We don’t stock products just because they’re local or popular. We focus on items that represent the best in their category and finding creative ways to serve them.”
Downtown & Vine
Situated a block from the historic State Capitol Building, Downtown & Vine is a casual yet elegant bar and restaurant. The outdoor patio offers some of the city’s best people watching amid customized flights of local and international wines.
Owner Kate Chomko recommends one of the sparkling wine flights or another that features three rosés from different countries. There’s also an onsite wine shop to take your favorite bottles home.
On Friday nights, the eatery hosts live music, and it’s situated near the Sacramento Community Center Theater, making it the perfect place to dine before a concert or play.
While Sacramento has a number of trendy new bars and restaurants, Firehouse, open since 1960, is a classic spot not to be missed.
The building, an expansive brick structure, was constructed in the mid-1800s to house the state’s first paid fire department. The restaurant is filled with art and antiques, and houses a wine cellar with more than 16,000 bottles.
Located in Old Sacramento, the city’s vibrant historic district, you can stroll along the Sacramento River and explore dozens of boutiques and gift shops. There are also notable nearby attractions like the California State Railroad Museum, with beautifully restored railroad cars and locomotives.
Track 7 Brewing Company
Alongside the vibrant and growing mix of wineries, Sacramento also boasts a burgeoning craft brewery scene. This family-owned brewery boasts two taprooms, both with a revolving lineup of food trucks and themed parties
The original one, located near the historic Western Pacific railroad tracks and the charming Curtis Park neighborhood, offers a variety of their artisanal beers in an industrial environment.
The Natomas taproom provides a view into the brewing area where Track 7’s award-winning beers are concocted. Tours are available of the adjacent production facility with reservations available a couple of weeks in advance.