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West Sacramento

Long hidden in the shadow of its bigger sister city to the east, this industrial town is having its moment in the sun. Due in no small part to a daring, confident mayor in Christopher Cabaldon—it doesn’t hurt that he’s so hip he can pull off a pink seersucker suit, does it?—West Sacramento’s burgeoning riverfront scene finally reached a tipping point in 2016 with the rise of lively, livable architecture in The Bridge District (styled TBD by those in the know). The adjacent Washington neighborhood, once the turf of the infamous “Broderick Boys” street gang, has also seen a flurry of trendy destinations open over the past few months, from a cool coffeehouse to a hot jazz club. Finding the shiny new gems (think Fido-friendly taprooms and a dive bar revamped by the Shady Lady guys) tucked among the city’s unadorned reaches is a favorite sport among locals, as is strolling along the River Walk toward Raley Field humming “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” between licks of a cardamom-creamsicle ice cream cone you picked up from a devilishly charming treat shop. Or valet-parking your bicycle at the Barn to feast on food truck tacos and sip sangria to the tune of a local Americana band. So if it’s been a while since you’ve crossed the river to this suddenly exploding burg, it’s time to read the latest chapter in this west side story. —Hillary Louise Johnson

What’s Hot

Bean & Barrel

As of February, the Washington neighborhood now has a serene, light-filled cafe where you and your MacBook can while away a morning at a communal table sipping an Americano from beans roasted locally by Camellia Coffee and munching on a slice of bread so good it may just be the platonic ideal of breakfasts: The summery Farmer’s Toast, bedecked with lemon yogurt, avocado, cherry tomatoes and paper-thin ribbons of cucumber dressed in olive oil, is both virtuous and infinitely craveable. With wine on offer in the evening hours, this is a chill, convivial room to hang before or after work, a short hop across the I Street Bridge from downtown. 289 3rd St. 873-8136. beanandbarrelsacramento.com

The rustic-industrial décor at Bean & Barrel invites patrons to linger over a latte or a pinot noir. Above: The cafe’s savory toasts raise the Washington neighborhood’s breakfast game. (Photo by Jeremy Sykes)

Devil May Care Ice Cream

You’ll think you’ve landed in some hipster’s fever dream of Mayberry, R.F.D. when you nip into this adorable ice cream parlor in a strip of old-timey storefronts on 3rd Street, next door to Ray Mata’s Barbershop, a joint that’s right out of, well, Barbershop. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a chef with serious culinary chops did nothing but invent ice cream flavors all day long, meet Devil May Care’s owner, West Sacramento native Jess Milbourn, who opened his parlor last November and handcrafts every batch of toasted almond and Thin Mints. We love the popular Coffee & Donuts, but our favorite treat on the rotating menu for a warm spring day has to be a pear sorbet float made with Burly Beverages ginger beer. 322 3rd St. 572-0456. devilmaycareicecream.com

Burgers & Brew

Opening last December, this latest offshoot of the popular local chain is an homage to beer geekery housed in the historic art deco Washington Fire House building at the foot of the I Street Bridge, refitted withAl fresco diners at Burgers & Brew are warmed by a whimsical fireplace stretching the length of the patio. (Photo by Jeremy Sykes) hammered copper furnishings and witty details like a skinny fireplace that runs the entire length of the patio. The burgers are inventive—they had us at cilantro and garlic aoli—and the BLT, packed with applewood-smoked Niman Ranch bacon, is an instant classic. The 40-plus tap pulls include a changing selection of local brews and seasonal highlights like the coveted Pliny the Younger. 317 3rd St. 572-0909. burgersandbrew.com

The historic Washington Fire House is home to the new Station 1 and Burgers & Brew. (Photo by Jeremy Sykes)

Station 1

West Sacramento now has its Blue Note, as in a serious, first-class jazz venue right above Burgers & Brew. The dimly lit, sexy second-floor boîte draped in red velvet curtains, which opened in mid-December along with its downstairs neighbor, is the perfect spot for an intimate evening with a local diva like Beth Duncan or Vivian Lee, who are already regulars on the calendar, and the adjoining terrace promises to be one of the coolest places in the city for late-night lounging, preferably to the smooth strains of bandleader Peter Petty crooning Mack the Knife. 317 3rd St. 572-0909. station1westsac.com

Edible Pedal

The first new business to stake out this now-happening strip on the corner of 3rd and C streets in March of 2015, this bike shop-cum-food delivery service (cargo bikes at Edible Pedal’s midtown location ferry grub to customers from places like Hot Italian, Magpie and The Porch) is yet another disarmingly charming business that seems like it should only be real in a world where leprechauns actually do roam the earth. West Sacramento is a bike commuter’s paradise, and if you live here you can bring your vintage Raleigh in for co-owner Brian Asch to do a 24-hour overhaul, or browse through new and used inventory of the kind of two-wheelers you wear a beret to ride, not a spandex unitard. 328 3rd St. 873-8585. ediblepedal.com

At sultry jazz club Station 1, Vivian Lee’s voice is as velvety smooth as the venue’s Maker’s Mark Manhattans. (Photo by Jeremy Sykes)

Port Brewery District

With the addition of Jackrabbit Brewing in 2015, followed by Rubicon’s Stillwater Brewery this past September, the density of taprooms in West Sacramento reached critical mass. Now styled the Port Brewery District by the city, this area is a collection of casual spots high on conviviality and low on décor budget—think concrete, corrugated tin and strings of Edison bulbs—with beer menus scrawled on chalkboards offering pints, flights and growler fills. You can bring your bike, your dog and your kids to any of them, and you’ll usually find a food truck parked out front. Start your tour at Bike Dog Brewing (2534 Industrial Blvd.) with a pint of malty Milk Stout, brave the graduate-level challenge of the Tower Bridge 3x IPA at Yolo Brewing (1520 Terminal St.), then recover with a mild, wheaty saison at Jackrabbit (1323 Terminal St.) and end with a game of skee-ball at Stillwater (885 Stillwater Rd.) while nursing a goblet of Naughty Russian Imperial Stout, the sipping whiskey of beers.

Chando’s Tacos

Last September, cult-favorite Chando’s Tacos opened an outlet smack in the middle of the industrial area that also houses the Port Brewery District. The red-and-yellow fast-food-restaurant décor will barely register once your senses are preoccupied by the heady aromas and flavors of a taco filled with Chandos’ marinated adobada, sliced to order off a rotisserie. You can also just get your food to go before hitting the taprooms, fortifying your beer belly with a savory meal of the signature mulitas—small corn-tortilla quesadillas stuffed with meat and ringed with crispy cheese. 2530 Boatman Ave. 375-0075. chandostacos.com

Four-legged patrons at Bike Dog Brewing can’t get a growler of IPA, even if they’re 21 in canine years, but they’re welcome to hang out. (Photo by Jeremy Sykes)

Sail Inn Grotto & Bar

Last March, the team that operates R Street hot spots Shady Lady and Amaro helped reboot this friendly neighborhood tavern for owner Wayne Morse. The nautical dive-bar theme includes a stuffed marlin on the wall behind the bar, a rope ceiling and a parade of frozen rum cocktails (as in “yo ho ho and a bottle of”) decorated with umbrellas and strong enough you might just wake up in Shanghai with a new tattoo if you aren’t careful. The playfully piratical vibe attracts in equal measure families that come for pub fare like the rum-soaked pineapple chicken sandwich and millennial urbanites who come for the frosé, a frozen pink wine that is a summer favorite on the patio. 1522 Jefferson Blvd. 272-2733. sailinngrotto.com

The Barn

A swooping riverfront pavilion designed by Dutch landscape architect Jerry van Eyck, the Barn debuted last July and quickly established itself as the social hub of the emerging Bridge District. A marvel of digital engineering in which all the curves are constructed out of straight pieces of lumber, the shingled structure is rustic enough to host a hootenanny and futuristic enough that when you see it you feel a frisson reminiscent of the big reveal in Close Encounters. It’s the site of the Thursday night farmers’ market and magical “Saturday Nights at the Barn”: Picture yourself drinking in the Delta breeze—and a couple of craft cocktails—while listening to a hometown band playing Americana and feasting on tacos and gyros from food trucks courtesy of San Francisco-based Off the Grid, which also hosts a mobile eats festival during warm-weather months in nearby River Walk Park. 985 Riverfront St. barn.thebridgedistrict.com

What’s Still Cool

Broderick Roadhouse

When Chris Jarosz of Wicked ’Wich food truck fame took over a shuttered jazz club in 2012, his then-new burger joint respected its neighborhood’s working-class roots while tempting midtowners to cross the bridge. Broderick’s burgers come either cheffed up, like the duck burger with pear fig jam and arugula (pair it with a pint of Angry Orchard cider) and the Lebanese-spiced lamb burger with goat cheese (try it with Six Rivers’ macadamia nut porter), or down and divey like the Johnny Cash with house-made BBQ sauce and the Gold Rush, topped with bacon mac and cheese. Broderick now has outposts in midtown and Walnut Creek, with more in the works, but there’s something special about the original’s ramshackle simplicity. 319 6th St. 372-2436. broderickroadhouse.com

Raley Field

One of the charms of West Sacramento’s riverfront is the ambient sound of the seventh-inning stretch wafting out of this minor league stadium, home to Sacramento’s beloved River Cats, one of the winningest Triple-A baseball teams since 2000. While catching a Kings game at the Golden 1 Center may be the hottest sports ticket in town, there’s nothing quite like the timeless, summery nostalgia of a day at the ballpark. The new baseball season began April 6, and foodies will appreciate a revamped menu for 2017, which will include offerings like street tacos and gourmet lamb burgers and falafel burgers. But some things thankfully never change: you’ll still be able to cool off with a classic Merlino’s Freeze. 400 Ballpark Dr. 376-4700. raleyfield.com

Lake Washington Sailing Club

Never heard of Lake Washington? Little more than a widening of the shipping channel near the towering rice silos you can see from Chando’s Tacos, it shelters one of the Port Brewery District’s hidden surprises, a charming private sailing club established in 1934 on a thumb-sized peninsula that welcomes new members warmly. Learn to navigate a dinghy for fun or take part in friendly club races—you’ll gain a new appreciation for the Delta breeze, and work up a thirst for the nearby craft beer. 3251 Beacon Blvd. 374-0433. lwsailing.org

The Saturday night scene at the Barn shows off the new West Sacramento, fully engaged and ready

What’s Next

Sometime in late summer, Drake’s Brewing Company, one of the progenitors of the West Coast craft beer movement, will debut as the food and beverage operator at the Barn. The San Leandro-based brewery opened Drake’s Dealership in 2015, now the buzziest beer garden in Oakland, and the West Sacramento location promises to be no less popular, offering Adirondack chairs ranged around fire pits and pints of Drake’s popular IPAs, as well as a rotating selection from local breweries, wood-fired pizzas and even coffee service for morning bike commuters. Also breaking ground in TBD will be a mixed-use project called West, which is slated for completion in 2019 and will feature restaurants, retail and housing. Its cool factor will come from the proposed public “urban beach,” the brainchild of landscape architectural firm Quadriga’s John Suesens, a UC Davis grad. A sandy expanse that will run along the River Walk Trail, the beach will finally allow Sacramentans room to lounge, bask and exercise along the riverfront like the groovy Californians we are.

Gimme Shelter

If you’d like to sit on your front porch and take in the evening’s entertainment at the Barn, or maybe walk to a Kings game at the new arena, then The Moderns at Eames Walk, which went on sale in April, are for you. These townhouse-style, single-family dwellings, from the Barn and Golden 1 Center developer Mark Friedman, are loosely inspired by the livable mid-century modern aesthetic of Sacramento design legend Ray Eames and her husband, Charles. But act fast, as the list of interested buyers already tops 400 (you can sign up at moderns-tbd.com). S