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2010 Best of Sacramento Winner
River City Brewing Company
545 Downtown Plaza
Brewpub food isn’t often known for its refinement—you’re more likely to find hamburgers and onion rings at a brewpub than a nice clam linguine. However, there are brewpubs determined to break that “standard fare” mold, most notably River City Brewing Company, located within the Downtown Plaza shopping mall. River City has dared, for years, to characterize itself as a fine dining establishment that also happens to have excellent house-brewed beer. And their efforts have succeeded. Diners can expect to enjoy an upscale meal, including items like the enduringly popular crispy eggplant Napoleon appetizer; the grilled salmon with orange butter cream sauce; and the marinated lamb tenderloin served atop a pretty spinach salad. However, that is not to say that you can’t find a good burger or pile of barbecued pork ribs, as well—you can—but feel comfortable getting a little more sophisticated with your menu selections at this bustling brewpub. Recommended items include the luscious Reuben sandwich, served on swirly rye bread and loaded with pastrami, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing (accompany it with a frosty mug of River City’s Cap City Pale Ale) and the addictive fritto misto (mixed fry)—quick-fried calamari and chunky artichoke hearts, served with a lemon-caper aioli. Another briskly-selling signature menu item is the hefty flank steak salad, tossed with grilled bell peppers, balsamic-marinated onions and blue cheese crumbles—a full-flavored salad that tastes great with the house-crafted Woodenhead Ale. This attractive brewpub has an industrial, urban feel that’s softened slightly by velvety blue drapes bisecting the bar from the dining area and a warmly twinkling copper wood-fired oven in the back, which produces the restaurant’s crusty pizzas. The floor is fatigued concrete, the ceiling is black, and the second floor balcony features a metal sculpture of waving grain. Fermentation tanks quietly stand sentry around the perimeter of dining area, reminding patrons that the beer they are drinking was made very close to where they are sitting. This is the perfect lunch or dinner spot when perusing the mall, but don’t wait until your next shopping trip—his is one brewpub worth the cost of the parking fee. — Kira O'Donnell
Insider tip: River City is a kid-friendly restaurant, despite its upscale ambience. All kids’ meals are $5. Try a turkey corn dog with French fries and fruit; or a “very cheesy pizza” with tomato sauce.
Payment methods: AmEx, MasterCard, Visa
Alcohol: Full bar
Corkage fee: $7
Hours: Monday–Thursday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Dinner 5–9:30 p.m.
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