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Sometimes it’s the little things in life that deliver the most pleasure. Take bar bites, for example. Sampling the snacks and small plates that are meant to accompany a pint or a cocktail can be a satisfying way to explore a menu, especially when you’re feeling more peckish than famished. Here are three restaurants that serve up tasty, inventive fare for when you’re hankering for a little something special with your drink.
Photo by Rudy Meyers
At Canon, executive chef Brad Cecchi has assembled a bar menu that’s “flavorful and impacts the palate very strongly right from the gate.” Chicken drumsticks dipped in chili sauce are served in a pool of Greek yogurt. The pickle plate, which shows off five different pickling methods, is served over crushed ice. The bar menu also includes Kennebec fries dusted in umami powder, and ribs in espresso tamarind sauce. Canon’s riff on gorp—“our solution to dessert at the bar”—is a medley of caramel corn, dehydrated blueberries, marshmallows, peanuts and malt balls. On weekends, Canon’s late-night happy hour kicks in at 9:30 p.m. There’s no written menu for this American-style dim sum experience; “plates are just circulated through the dining room on trays, kind of whatever we feel like making,” says Cecchi. Recent items have included hamachi collar tostadas and lamb bao. 1719 34th St.; (916) 469-2433; canoneastsac.com
Grange Restaurant and Bar showcases seasonal bar bites alongside perennial favorites like steamed Manila clams and a burger that executive chef Oliver Ridgeway describes as “one of the silent champs in town, honest and pretty damn good.” There is typically a rotating pair of panini on the menu—recent offerings included grilled cheese with caramelized quince and roast beef with blue cheese and onions. The fried cheese curds come with a smoky romesco sauce for dipping. “They are a great drinking accompaniment,” insists Ridgeway. Always on the menu is some form of crudo, maybe a classic poke or a salmon tartare. Another top pick, the grilled flatbread, comes with a rotating trio of dips, perhaps a seasonal hummus, a tapenade and a French mushroom dip. 926 J St.; (916) 492-4450; grangesacramento.com
At Kupros Craft House, executive chef Kent Souza serves “beer bellies”: pork belly braised in craft beer, fried and tossed in a honey sesame glaze and resting on mustard-infused goat cheese. Customers also can’t get enough of the tots of the day, which might include a Philly cheesesteak version with house-smoked brisket one day, chili and cheese the next. Fried oyster mushrooms tossed with Parmesan and garlic and served with lemon aioli make for a satisfying nibble, as does the charcuterie board, which is accompanied by seasonal pickled veggies such as okra and pearl onions, prepared in house. 1217 21st St.; (916) 440-0401; kuproscrafthouse.com