Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more fun to visit Sacramento’s restaurant-rich 16th Street corridor, Firestone Public House recently opened at the corner of L and 16th.
The newly transformed, historic space is airy and bold, with a high-ceilinged industrial vibe. A wraparound bar serves as the heart of the space, and large-screen TVs tuned to sporting events flicker mesmerizingly throughout the restaurant. Steel-gray walls and concrete floors contribute an urban grittiness; pea-green booths hug the room. Whimsical wood and burlap lamps that look like old-fashioned corsets dangle quirkily from above.
The evenings I visited, Firestone’s bar was jam-packed, customers gripping beer glasses, riveted by the televised sports, while diners tucked into buckets of fried chicken and marveled at the kitchen’s signature giant soft Bavarian pretzel, which hangs from an elaborate hook and is served with soft pimento cheese and stone-ground honey mustard.
Lunchtime business is brisk as well. From the look of the customers, the local business community has embraced Firestone. The menu—a thoughtful balance of unapologetic bar nibbles (chili cheese fries and popcorn) and substantial dishes such as roasted turkey Cobb salad and miso-glazed salmon—offers a span of items that appears to satisfy both the day and evening demographics.
A colorful array of beer taps in the bar draws attention to Firestone’s excellent selection of suds, ranging from complex Belgian ales to crisp, tangy Pilseners. The restaurant offers several beer flights, including a Best of the West IPA flight that will take you on an $8 hoppy frolic through selections such as San Francisco’s 21st Amendment IPA and Green Flash Imperial IPA, crafted in San Diego. The bar also mixes up beer cocktails, such as the Spiced Beer-Garita, made with tequila, agave nectar, freshly squeezed lime juice and Mexican lager and served on the rocks—a refreshing palate smack on a hot Sacramento afternoon.
The restaurant’s happy hour (Monday through Friday 3 to 6 p.m.) has gotten good buzz since Firestone’s opening. People flock in for the $1 off “big drafts,” $2 off wines by the glass, half-price pizzas and other selected appetizers. These discounts also are offered on Sunday evenings from 8 p.m. to closing and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 p.m. to closing.
If you like to graze (especially while clutching a cold glass of wild blueberry wheat ale or double nut brown porter), you’ll be thrilled with the appetizerheavy menu. It features items such as bánh mì sliders and addictive pulled-pork nachos drizzled with jalapeño cheese sauce and topped with gobs of guacamole. The crusty soft-shell crab tacos are fabulous, and the beer-battered fish ’n’ chips—surprisingly nongreasy and accompanied by a huge pile of fries—is another excellent nosh.
However, I didn’t care for the poke wrap, made with ahi tuna, avocado and mango tucked prettily into baby romaine leaves. The flavors were muddled and bland and the ensemble unimpressive. The pepperoni pizza was another disappointment. Doughy and thick, it offered only a sparse amount of topping.
You don’t have to be a sports or beer fan to enjoy dining at Firestone. Pleasing dishes such as jambalaya (tastily punctuated with hunks of andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp and fried okra) and Philly cheesesteak (made with sliced rib eye) will send you home happy and satisfied. The bucket of brandy fried chicken, served with french fries and refreshing celery slaw, is another winner.
Firestone also offers a large, enticing brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, with dishes such as banana nut pancakes, smoked pulled-pork eggs Benedict and chilaquiles piled with scrambled eggs, pepper Jack cheese and spicy tomato sauce. The restaurant serves beer-friendly snacks during brunch, including Firestone Wings (your choice of classic Buffalo, Thai chili or barbecue sauce).
It’s always exciting when a locally owned and operated restaurant arrives to successfully fill a dining (and drinking) niche. Firestone Public House’s lively sports-bar concept has met with an enthusiastic reception in Sacramento, adding more allure to an already vibrant, food-centric slice of the city.
FIRESTONE PUBLIC HOUSE: 1132 16th St., Sacramento
BEST DISHES: Soft-shell crab tacos, beer-battered fish ’n’ chips, bánh mì sliders
DRINKS: Huge beer list, interesting specialty cocktails and a decent selection of wines by the glass ATMOSPHERE: Lively and crowded
NOISE LEVEL: Quite loud, especially in the bar
KID-FRIENDLINESSS: The menu will appeal to little ones
HOURS: Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m.– midnight, Wednesday–Friday 11 a.m.– 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.–2 a.m.
CONTACT: (916) 446-0888; firestonepublichouse.com