Great New Places to Eat

There’s a saying that when one door closes, another one opens. Last year was tough on local eateries, but some very exciting restaurant doors have opened in the past few months, including one inspired by a food truck, another by a 56-foot-long bunny, and others by cuisines ranging from French to Mongolian and Indian to Southern (grits, anyone?). So feast your eyes on our favorite new spots, and you’ll see why we think the food scene is looking very sunny-side up.

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Bar & Grill

908 15th St.

Republic Bar and Grill, featuring Drewskis - It’s a wish that’s as bold and audacious as the food he serves.

“I want to be Sacramento’s biggest restaurateur for 2012,” says Andrew “Drewski” Blaskovich, a driving force behind Sacramento’s recent food-truck awakening, known for his outrageously delectable grilled sandwiches that mash up comfort (think pulled pork paired with mac and cheese) and ethnic (Korean braised beef with Sriracha-wasabi aioli) in each clarified-butter-soaked bite.Photo by Ryan Donahue

He’s not just gassing on. Less than a year after he drained his 401(k) and quit his loan-company job to crank the ignition on Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Blaskovich has lent his culinary creativity to the spacious Republic Bar & Grill, which opened in February in what used to be Dream Ultra Lounge & Restaurant downtown.

With its polished concrete floors, exposed brick walls and roll-up garage-door entrance, Republic has an airy, modern feel and sports all the requisite accoutrements of a lost afternoon, evening or weekend. Full bar, draft beers and 24-ounce cans of PBR? Check. Pool tables? Check. Vintage arcade games? Check. Skee-Ball? Check. Multiple big-screen TVs that show all the games and fights? Check.Mac and cheese balls with  smoked bacon (Photo by Ryan Donahue)

But the real draw is Blaskovich’s extended menu, which includes all the calorically reckless hits normally slung from his flame-emblazoned truck, such as rosemary-garlic tater tots, as well as some new Frankensteined food items that will set you back a few notches on the belt. In addition to inventive (and generous) salads, burgers, dogs and bar snacks, check out Photo by Ryan Donahuethe fried-chicken-and-waffle sandwich with a sweet and spicy maple dipping syrup or the “Tot-chos” (that’s tater tot nachos).

Don’t expect Blaskovich to put his mobile kitchen up on blocks anytime soon, however. Republic, he says, gives fans of his well-known Twitter feed a preview of what they might one day see out on the road. “If it makes a huge splash in the restaurant, then we’re going to put it on the truck,” says Blaskovich.

That’s just the way he rolls.

—Tim Swanson