Go east, drunk man

Practice your swilling skills in Sacramento’s booming suburbs

We must be doing something right here in Sacramento, because housing prices are climbing higher than a space shuttle, and newcomers keep flooding in, squeezing our population eastward through the corridor between routes 50 and 80 like toothpaste. But if you think the eastern suburbs are the exclusive domain of commuters and soccer moms, think again. Suburbanites drink too, damn it, and they don’t drive all the way to Sacramento to do it. So, if you’ve been confining yourself to the bars downtown, you’ve been missing out on some prime venues for honing your swilling skills.

Take Folsom, for example, where the PowerHouse Pub (614 Sutter Street, (916) 355-8586) is a nucleus of nightlife and, hands down, one of the best bars in the Sacramento region. The feel is both blues roadhouse and tropical resort, but somehow it works. Popular bands that frequent downtown Sacramento’s hot spots—like Wonderbread 5, Jackie Greene, the Cheeseballs and Mercy Me—attract Folsom’s young, hip and fashionable on weekends. The expansive tiki-torch-laden patio and multitude of TVs appeal to everyone else. PowerHouse doesn’t serve food, but Chicago Fire will deliver pizza from next-door.

Nearby Yager’s Tap House & Grille (727 Traders Lane in Folsom, (916) 985-4677) is the place to go for a large selection of microbrews; decent pub fare; and a casual, 30-ish crowd. For those who like to be active while drinking, Yager’s has pool and darts and live music on weekends.

Way out in Folsom, the PowerHouse Pub is one of the Sacramento area’s best live-music venues.

Photo By Jill Wagner

Folsom’s drinking scene historically has catered to an unassuming crowd. The arrival of BJ’s (2730 East Bidwell Street, (916) 404-2000) has changed that. This stylish restaurant is where members and aspirants of the “I’m famous, you’re famous” club come to imbibe and admire each other’s wardrobes. Despite the huge bar, the place is packed to the rafters with well-heeled people in their 30s and 40s every weekend night. Part of a small national chain, BJ’s is known for its Chicago-style pizza and brewery.

Tattoo-covered 21-year-olds (and even younger, we suspect) flock to the sports bar at Folsom Lake Bowl (511 East Bidwell Street, (916) 983-4411) for loud music, cheap pool, a smoking patio and, beginning this month, poker.

Slightly northwest of Folsom but a road-rage-filled ride via Sacramento’s convoluted and congested roadways, Roseville is another eastern outpost of intoxication.

The Onyx Club (116 Main Street, (916) 786-7709) is not your grandfather’s bar, but he might remember it from when he was a kid. This landmark in historic Roseville has been serving drinks since 1936. And just a few years ago, it came under new management after 60 years with the same family. Onyx has live music two nights a week (typically blues or rock ‘n’ roll) and all the staples of a quality neighborhood bar: three pool tables, dartboards, a jukebox and tabletop trivia games.

Nearby, another historic landmark, the Owl Club (109 Church Street, (916) 782-5222) fills the roles of dance club and pub (a dance pub?). Downstairs, the pub has plenty to keep you busy—like a pool table, foosball and darts. Upstairs, a full schedule of bands playing a variety of styles—including classic rock, jazz, blues, alternative, reggae, emo and power pop—keeps people on the dance floor. The club also endeavors to bring a little culture to Roseville: It hosts an open-mic several nights a week and promotes the visual arts by participating in Roseville’s 3rd Saturday Art Tour and displaying the work of local artists. But it’s not all about self-expression. The Owl takes beer seriously, too. With more than 60 choices—including 20 microbrews and several English and Scottish imports—even the pickiest drinker might have to deliberate for a moment.

Sports fans in Roseville have a number of good options, including Mandango’s (106 North Sunrise Boulevard, (916) 797-7678), kin to the popular Sacramento sports bar; Legends & Heroes Sports Bar at the Woodcreek Golf Club (5880 Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard, (916) 771-5161); and Mark & Monica’s in Granite Bay (8705 Auburn-Folsom Road, (916) 771-7110), which has pizza, a dance floor, a fireplace, pool tables, and six 10-foot TVs. You can even control the volume of the TV you want to hear from your table.