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I have to vist Sacramento and Davis between 27 and 30 January. I'll probably have time at night to explore. Does anyone have any tiki, restaurant, cafe, or bar recommendations? Also, if anyone else will be up there at the same time and would like to meet for a drink or whatever, let me know.
Hi, Traderfranks! Yes, Pop's right, I did mention the "Eastern Empire." I went there again last month and had a great time. It may depend which night of the week you go, but the drinks I had were both yummy and strong. (And yes, they do often serve them in mugs.) They offer such classics as the Suffering Bastard, Zombie, and Navy Grog too. Plus lots of others.
There's an enthusiastic waiter named David I really like. I ordered an SB and he chortled, "Suffering Bastard! That drink knock your socks off!!" He was right. The food is actually very tasty too. I get so used to wretched Chinese food that the Empire is a nice reminder of how good classier Chinese joints can be.
It's on Howe at Fair Oaks, next to Safeway. Across the river from Midtown. It's in the phone book too, I'm sorry, can't find their card since I moved. Yes, a strip mall restaurant, but everything's malls up there pretty much. I did ask if it was an older place that'd moved or something, and David just said, "no, the owner just loves those drinks, he used to work at a tiki restaurant on the east coast many years ago." I would've asked the owner about it--he's a really sweet old guy--but his English is a little lacking I think. He did give us free extra drinks and dessert!
Downtown/midtown is the Hukilau Grill/Aloha Lounge I saw mentioned in another thread, the one about Aloha Lounges, I think. But this is a new place, basically put together by some canny local businessmen/restaurateurs, and it's a total cash-in attempt as far as I can tell. The food and drinks are not bad, but the tropical drinks, when I went anyway, were just in big vats, like Mexican fruit drinks. And the decor is awful. Feels like a Hawaiian-themed airport waiting room.
Sacramento is frustrating because there used to be several (purportedly) terrific tiki bar/restaurants, but they all closed painfully recently, like mid-90's. I am bummed to have missed the Zombie Hut on Freeport. I did hear a rumor that the Zombie Hut in Brooklyn is somehow related--this info came from a transplanted Sacramento bartender who applied for a job there recently.
One more thing:
There's an old restaurant at 4800 Florin Rd. right at Highway 99 named Tahiti, which once definitely was Tiki--I have tikified matchbooks to attest to this. But I have never had a chance to go there when it was open. No tikis left outside, but I could catch glimpses of a nautical theme inside. Phone, should you wish to investigate, is
Moxie on H St. is a cool old-fashioned restaurant, lots of Sinatra tunes in the background and a full bar; kinda expensive but worth it. "Tapa the World" on J St. has very good tapas and and mojitos! Plus it is one of the few places which is routinely open late--other than Carrow's, anyway...
Old Sacramento is beautiful even if it is touristy. I wouldn't miss it. The Rio City Grill has better food than the restaurant on the damn riverboat. And the "Fat" family restaurants are good too. An atmospheric old lounge called "The Back Door" in old Sac has a marvelously funny and cool Dean Martin-type entertainer Fri and Sat nights, apparently. I hear much praise about him. And also in old Sac, hunt down "Brooks' Novelties" shop if you dig old records and jukeboxes, that sorta thing. He's a nice chap too.
Most midtown bars stink; they are either slick pickup joints for the young and beautiful set, or rather sleazy and depressing tweeker/frat boy/moocher/drug dealer hangouts. But the "Torch Club" has great blues and cool ambiance. They even rescued their fabulous antique neon sign when they moved a couple of years back--that's CLASS.
Wish I could meet you up there--it's only an hour from here! But I think I will be out of town. If plans change, though, I'll send you an email. Have fun!
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