Shady Lady Saloon
1409 R St.
www.shadyladybar.comWhen you step inside the Shady Lady Saloon, it’s like traveling back in time. The pre-prohibition era spot offers classic cocktails that are not readily available at other bars today. Its casual yet elegant vibe will transport you back to the days of early jazz and flapper girls. Shady Lady Saloon was opened in 2009 and is owned by longtime friends Jason Boggs, Alex Origoni and Garrett Van Vleck. They were looking for a place that combined good food, craft cocktails and music, and from there the idea for the Shady Lady Saloon was born. While the cocktails are one of the bar’s main draws, the food menu has earned the Shady Lady additional praise, offering many Southern inspired dishes and American classics.
1928 L St.
www.facebook.com/The-Mercantile-SaloonThe Mercantile Saloon, typically called “The Merc,” is one of the Midtown’s most popular gay bars. The drinks are cheap, the pool tables provide entertainment, the outdoor patio is a great place to chill and the jukebox allows you to play your favorite tunes. It’s not quite a dive bar, but don’t expect the ultra lounge vibe here. The Merc is just a great place to chill, have a drink, and shoot a game of 8 ball.
Round Corner Tavern
2333 S St.
www.facebook.com/Round-Corner-TavernRound Corner Tavern is one of Midtown’s most popular dive bars. The drinks are stiff and cheap, but take note to hit up the ATM before stopping by – it’s a cash only bar. If you fancy a game of pool with some pretty good players, bring your cue and hang out with the regulars who frequent the Round Corner Tavern. You may get the tie-in, as the name Round Corner refers to the game of billiards, so don’t expect a casual game — these guys are pretty hardcore. A bit of an anomaly in the dive bar scene, Round Corner offers some great food, including vegan options. There is a happy hour seven days a week from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. as well.
Streets of London
1804 J St.
www.streetsoflondon.netA roundup of awesome neighborhood joints in Midtown would be incomplete without mention of the Streets of London pub. As the name suggests, Streets of London is patterned after the welcoming pubs found throughout Britain. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating — even your furry four legged canine friends are welcome at the outdoor tables. Streets of London serves up a full menu and shows all the soccer, rugby and other sports telecasts you could want. There are weekly events including happy hour, pint night, bingo and the Simon MacMillan Memorial Pub Quiz.
Related: Sacramento’s Best of Trivia Bars
Firestone Public House
1132 16th St.
www.firestonepublichouse.comFirestone Public House opened its doors in May 2012 and has already become a popular neighborhood hang out in Midtown. It’s a cutting edge sports bar featuring some great eats and an awesome selection of beers. It’s not entirely surprising that Firestone Public House is so innovative and popular when you realize who the successful local restaurateurs are behind it — Mason, Curtis, and Alan Wong of Cafeteria 15L, the Park Downtown, and MIX Downtown, and brothers Henry, Simon, and Mark de Vere White of de Vere’s Irish Pub. At Firestone Public House you can catch the latest game, enjoy one of the 60 beers on tap, and chow on wood-fired pizza or fresh BBQ made onsite. The casual ale house has outdoor patio dining, a spacious central bar, and of course, large flat screen televisions.
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.