Let’s drink to railroad days

“New American Delta Cuisine” will be the guiding principle behind Hoppy’s Railyard Kitchen & Hopgarden in Old Sac

photo courtesy of hoppy brewing co.

The menu at Hoppy’s Railyard Kitchen & Hopgarden, the new project of the Hoppy Brewing Company, which closed its East Sac brewpub location in February, is inspired by Sacramento’s rich history, according to executive chef Kent Souza.

Souza, who also created dishes for Kupros and Roxy Restaurant and Bar, says a recent field-trip with his son to the Sacramento History Museum influenced the direction of the restaurant and taphouse that will open this summer in the 9,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Ten22 in Old Sacramento.

“Local is our main priority, but we also want to incorporate the history of Sacramento and what it had to offer when the railyard was [operating] in Sacramento,” Souza says. “You’re going to see things like bass, striper, indigenous fish to the Sacramento River like crawfish, and game that you would find in that era like pheasant, quail and duck. We’re going to tap into that real hardcore and try to keep Old Sacramento’s culture alive through cuisine.”

Souza coined the term “New American Delta Cuisine,” a unique style he hopes reflects the array of food available not only during the development of the railyard, but also when the Gold Rush was booming.

“I’ve really been inspired to keep my city’s culture alive. It’s really fascinating to me how diverse the cuisine was and still is,” Souza says. “For me as a chef, that’s like a freakin’ playground because I can just touch on so many demographics, and when you think of the railyard and how many different people came to build it and be a part of that, and then the Gold Rush and how many people came from all over the country or even the world. I’m really going to touch as many demographics and different style of cuisines as I can while keeping it cohesive.”

With crawfish season upon us, Souza says, Hoppy regulars can expect to see the crustacean on the menu perhaps paired with corn and a flavorful broth. Although the menu is in its developing stages, he plans to bring in influence from his butchery days at Roxy, so expect to see tri-tip, ribs, brisket and flank steak varieties available.

Hoppy’s Railyard will also feature a large patio area where Souza plans to grow an herb garden and source fragrant greens like lemon thyme, rosemary and sage, while Hoppy’s owner Troy Paski says he also plans on growing hops for the company’s brews right on site.

When asked if Sacramento’s thirst for craft beer options, with more than 60 operating businesses throughout the city, will bottleneck anytime soon, Paski says he’s optimistic, and that there is a niche market for everyone.

“I don’t think the bubble’s going to burst. There’s a certain amount of saturation and there’s a certain amount of awareness. I think the craft beer market only has 15 percent of the population’s attention, so there are a lot of consumers that still aren’t aware of what good craft beer is so that tells me there’s still opportunity out there,” Paski says. “I don’t necessarily know if there is opportunity for all these guys to become regional brewers like Sierra Nevada, but there’s an opportunity and a niche for you to fit into a neighborhood somewhere that is underserved. If you’re making good beer and you’ve got good food, you’ll survive.”