Round and round

Spin Burger Bar

1020 16th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

It’s unknown how often Gov. Jerry Brown channels his inner carnivore or feels like knocking back a brewski to clarify his thinking. But when the impulse strikes, all he has to do is go downstairs and walk a few paces to the corner of 16th and K streets.

That’s where Spin Burger Bar is located. Formerly the home of a petite Bistro 33, Spin remains a part of the Haines brothers’ 33rd Street Bistro eateries empire. However, it seems aimed at a different clientele. It’s kind of a new millennium public house, as the Brits call it. Chuck Dickens’ Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese—a London pub in continuous operation since 1538—Spin ain’t. But the fixed barstools and shelves to eat at along the walls, the L of tall tables and the large four-person and six-person low tables evoke the camaraderie of strangers scrunched together on the Cheshire Cheese’s long trestles, linked together in bountiful repast.

Unlikely Spin views itself in such grandiose or overwrought terms. It certainly grooves on the “spin” riff, however. There are bicycle wheels on the ceiling. The menus employ sleeves of albums—LPs, spinning on turntables—from the years before cell phones. “You have Journey,” says Hilary the waitress to a woman seated across the table. The woman’s companion wonders if her sleeve, an album by Zapp, is Frank Zappa. The stranger on the other side of the table assures her the funky sounds of Zapp don’t share a scintilla in common with the maestro.

A row of bicycles hang from the ceiling over one of the chalkboard-covered walls, which, obviously, sport an ever-changing array of artwork, much of it touting local bicycle establishments. And, as Hilary notes, the walls leave a lot of chalk particles scattered about. On one visit, the chalkboard displays the troubling: “Beer + Spin = (drawing of a heart) Attack.” Hopefully, the reference is to the two stationary bikes standing in a corner over rectangles of pink light. On Wednesdays after 8 p.m., there are sprint races, which, if the competitors had stuffed themselves with burgers or beers, could lead to additional—and unwanted—cleanup duties for Spin’s personnel.

Like the truth in advertising of Burgers and Brew, Spin’s name lays it on the table: A bar with burgers. Big half-pound burgers pinned in the corner of tin serving pans by an avalanche of too-greasy fries. (Go for the mixed greens. If only to assuage the conscience.)

Spin’s burgers are thick enough that Hilary warns “well done” is required to depink them. The governor would be hitting the treadmill the next day, for sure.

There’s other stuff on the menu, like fried pickles with sriracha ranch to dip them in, a stack of onions—yes, please—and barbecue meatballs. But burgers are the main attraction. There’s the usual suspects—burger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger; $6.50, $7.25 and $7.95 respectively—but they can be dolled up, for a price, in almost too many ways.

Manchego? Cambazola? Jalapeños jazz up the cheeseburger with Swiss. Guacamole. Peperonata. Malted tartar. Pastrami. Blackberry ketchup. Fried egg. Chili. Fig jam. The corned beef burger—with Russian dressing, natch—is a patty, not deli-thin slices. While runny French cheese is never on the A-list, it and a mango curry sauce are a near perfect foil for the patty of lamb and Italian sausage. Also, as a periodic pickler, the use of bread and butter over dill chips, despite their tasting store bought, is a welcome touch.

The burgers tend to fall apart faster than those at Burgers and Brew, despite the wise placement of lettuce between the patty and the bottom bun to retard juices’ soak-through. Dunno why, but true. Like Hilary, Ariel, the server on another visit, is conscientious and efficient although, no fault of hers, the draft Stella takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque with Bugs Bunny and arrives later than hoped.

Overall, a fun but very filling experience.