Pairing beer and food is not a new concept, merely one that has finally taken off in the United States over the past few years. Often called gastropubs, the idea of good food and beer originated back in the UK during the 20th century. The term “gastropub” made its debut in the early 1990s, and its popularity trickled over to the United States in the 2000s. After Esquire Magazine named Los Angeles area gastropub Father’s Office as having one of the best burgers in the world, the revolution took off. With Sacramento’s deep-rooted love of craft beers and the proximity to many renowned beer producers, it only seems fitting that the gastropub style eatery is thriving here. If you are looking for a spot that serves good food and knows how to pair beer with the menu, check out one of these local joints.
Firestone Public House
1132 16th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Firestone is a newcomer on the Sacramento dining and bar scene, but it is definitely one to check out for good food and beer. Firestone is backed by restaurateurs Curtis, Mason and Alan Wong of Cafeteria 15L, the Park Downtown and MIX Downtown, along with the de Vere White brothers of de Vere’s Irish Pub. Firestone Public House offers creative American food with a great selection of beers––60 on tap, including microbrews. Beer lovers can choose from an array of styles, including everything from American wheats strong ales to porters and stouts to Bavarian hefeweizens.
Pangaea Two Brews Cafe
2743 Franklin Blvd.
Rob, the owner of Pangaea Two Brews Cafe, has brought a part of the European cafe culture to Sacramento. He lived in Europe for a bit playing basketball, and fell in love with the cafe atmosphere. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy a stunning craft beer and a great meal. Rob has a number of hard to find Belgium imports and is quite knowledgeable about craft beer and how best to pair it with what your menu choice. Wondering where the name Pangaea came from? His idea was to create a true “third place” social spot. Pangaea ironically occupies a spot that covers two zip codes––Curtis and Oak Park––so the supercontinent theory that includes all land masses was quite a clever nod to its unique location.
Related: Best Craft Beer Spots
1004 E. Bidwell St
Folsom, CA 95630
With the unofficial motto of “no crap on tap,” Manderes is one of the top spots in the greater Sacramento area to enjoy a quality brew and food. Manderes is located in Folsom and boasts an extensive beer list, both on tap and in bottles. Some of the featured breweries include Chimay, Westmalle, North Coast, Allagash and Avery. The food is classified as “hearty American faire,” but there are a few unexpected finds on the menu, like Korean dishes. Manderes has won numerous awards and has been featured in the media countless times, including a spot in the nation’s top 200 beer bars in DRAFT Magazine.
Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
2001 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Pete’s Restaurant and Brewhouse has four locations in the greater Sacramento area, so you can try out some great food and beer pairings no matter what part of town you are in––Midtown, Natomas, Granite Bay, or El Dorado Hills. Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse makes beer pairing easy, offering a guide to which of its craft beers pair best with what dishes. A popular pairing is Pete’s Uptown Blonde (an American Pale Wheat Ale) with Pete’s Bistro Chicken Salad. A fun match for garlic lovers is Pete’s Skinnier’s Horse IPA (an English India Pale Ale) with Pete’s “Stinking Rose” Cheese Fries or Pete’s Italian Garlic Pizza.
9402 Main St.
Plymouth, CA 95669
While this area of Amador County is commonly regarded for its fine wines, there are a few spots that offer some excellent beer pairing options. Taste Restaurant in Plymouth shares in the love of beer and is lucky to have a member of the staff who is a certified beer server. The beers they offer are from many small producers in California and Belgium. Taste offers a number of menu items that beg for a good beer pairing, including a three course set menu available on Mondays. Taste Restaurant is owned by Mark and Tracey Berkner, who have backgrounds in hospitality and working for small family owned restaurants and wineries.
Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.