Joe Marty’s Bar & Grille
Joe Marty’s1500 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818
The term “sports bar” can make you think “loud TVs and louder customers.” Luckily, the resurrected Joe Marty’s Bar & Grille is an old-fashioned sports bar. Yes, there are plenty of televisions, but Little Leaguers are welcome and there’s some history to learn.
Local baseball legend Joe Marty—he played for the San Francisco Seals with Joe DiMaggio—opened his namesake bar in 1938. It grew into a fusty old space, eventually destroyed by a fire in 2005. More than 10 years later, two local businessmen reopened the venue to recapture some nostalgia for the favorite community gathering spot.
The iconic baseball-themed neon sign remains, but the interior got cleaned up and well-stocked with noteworthy memorabilia, some of it salvaged from the original bar. One wall holds Land Park’s old Dooley Field scoreboard, while one of Marty’s vintage jerseys lives behind the bar.
Service is mostly lunch and dinner, with breakfast on weekends. The menu isn’t pushing any boundaries, but there are some standout items. There are lots of good local beers on tap, too.
Starters include standard salty, crunchy things like fries and Parmesan pretzel bites ($4.95 each). Slightly more unusual are the street tacos ($2.50 each). The soft corn tortillas are stuffed with in-house pulled pork, and garnished with tomatillo salsa and radishes. They’re simple but well-executed, with juice oozing from the tender meat.
The oblong grilled flatbread ($5.95) is another good choice. A supple hand-formed bread holds thinly sliced Fuji apples, herb aioli, crispy bacon and blue cheese crumbles. The sweet and salty components balance well, and make for an excellent pairing with Track 7 Brewing Co.’s Bee Line Blonde ($6).
Entrees skew, unsurprisingly, toward things in buns. One night, we ordered the special broasted chicken ($10.95), a holdover from the original Joe Marty’s. Broasting is a ’50s era technique of deep-frying under pressure, producing somewhat crispy, if not exactly crunchy, chicken. It has retro appeal if you enjoyed the original version, but it didn’t impress us much.
Conversely, we really liked the pulled pork sandwich ($10.50) on a custom sourdough roll from the Bread Store. As with the tacos, the pork is plenty juicy, this time beneath a tangy apple-jalapeño slaw. It holds just the right amount of sauce so the bun maintains its integrity. The side salad oddly features giant rings of red onion that might work better on the sandwich.
Considering the farm-to-fork ethos of today’s restaurants, the salads underperform. The spicy chicken ($11.95) is the most interesting, with chopped romaine, fried tortilla strips and blue cheese. As advertised, the chicken packs heat but also just seems to be coated in hot sauce, which overwhelms all the other ingredients.
Joe Marty’s is family-friendly, so children can order either a hot dog ($6.50) or sourdough grilled cheese ($5.50) with fries. Both hit the sweet spot of pleasing kids but also being high quality, with nice grill marks on the dog and good cheese in the sandwich.
If you plan to grab a bite while watching a game, consult the website, which features a helpful calendar of game times and events. Indeed, Joe Marty’s is doing perfectly well for a sports bar, but it’s not a destination spot. However, the place holds a lot of memories for many people. It’s worth a visit to embrace its long history and local roots, and root on the home team.