Bringing the party
Serpentine Fox Prohibition Grille
Sacramento, CA 95821
A man with white hair emerged from the darkness of night. He shuffled from the sidewalk and through the parking lot, his Cowboys jersey backlit by an accordion of business signs at the strip mall. At the end of his trek, he sidled up to the bar, chatted among other football fans and ordered a drink to watch his team ultimately wallop the Cardinals. He was no longer alone.
For a Monday night, Serpentine Fox Prohibition Grille was bumpin’. There were dates on stools and friends in booths. The previous Friday night, it hosted a well-attended EP release show by indie rock band The Depths.
Mind you, this is in Arden Arcade, a patchwork of big box stores. This gastropub has sparked camaraderie near a shuttered upholstery chain.
Sacramento native Diego Peralta opened the restaurant in May as a kind of sports bar with panache and personal significance. Upcycled local wood furnishes the space, along with a snazzy neon sign that reads “Serpentine Fox.” You can sink into the luxurious booths, and for anyone on a bombing date, there’s a giant Jenga game. More than a dozen beers are on tap. The several menus—lunch, happy hour, dinner and cocktail—each offer American pub-style food or drink with a nod to Peralta’s Colombian heritage.
Like any good bar with a dozen TVs blasting sports, the menu boasts a solid share of burgers—seven, in fact, with meat that’s ground and spiced every day in-house. Each has its own flourish: peppered pastrami or beer-battered onion rings, or Gorgonzola and red wine vinegar. The two most interesting have Peralta’s signature and are the priciest ($14.95!), Chorizo & Shrimp and Lamb.
In the latter, spices nipped the palate and heightened the lamb’s earthy essence. Gorgonzola cooled it all down, along with a housemade Greek yogurt with cucumber, dill and mint. The shiny brioche bun balanced the deliciously sour sauces with a frame of airy sweetness.
The burgers all come with fries that are flecked with golden dots of fry oil—surprises of crunch surrounding pillowy potatoes.
And the pizza! This is not the typical greasy pizza of a sports bar. On the margherita ($8.95), the discs of mozzarella were properly salted to bring out their creamy musk. The vine-ripened Roma tomato sauce zinged with freshness. The housemade dough carried a satisfying nutty flavor, though it was a bit mushy toward the middle.
Also notable: appetizers such as the empanadas ($7.95 for four) of juicy pork, chicken and veggies; and hearty mozzarella sticks ($5.95), served panko-breaded with marinara sauce—housemade, of course.
The only real strikeout was a grilled vegetable sandwich ($8.95) that came soggy (though we should possibly blame that on my to-go box) and without the promised mozzarella.
Yes, its name is a bit ridiculous. But at Serpentine Fox Prohibition Grille, you can relax into the comfort of a very normal burger and a plush booth, or check out Colombian-inspired pub food, funky cocktails and burgeoning local bands. In a sea of chain stores, this is a place where a Cowboys fan can show up by himself and finally meet his neighbors.