Taste: The region's latest food, drink & restaurant news for Oct. 14

Photos courtesy of purveyors; Empress photo by Ryan Donahue
Clockwise from top left: Empress Tavern's fried chicken sandwich; Devil May Care Ice Cream & Frozen Treats in West Sacramento; Sacramento Coffee Beerfest; Tower Cafe's French toast

This week we've got the lowdown on a buzzy beer event, a new ice cream shop in West Sacramento, the revamp of a popular cafe at Downtown Commons, and the scoop on two popular restaurants' delicious menu changes.

Empress Tavern

This underground restaurant on K Street below the historic Crest Theatre launched a weekday lunch menu on Sept. 20. Empress will now be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, before happy hour begins at 3 p.m. In keeping with the eatery’s meat-centric menu, the lunch offerings include sandwiches like the Hot Pastrami Rachel, smothered in Swiss cheese and coleslaw, and the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with a creamy avocado ranch dressing on bread baked in-house daily. The menu also includes a rotisserie chicken salad, house-made pasta-of-the-day and desserts like seasonal pies, German chocolate cake and melon sorbet. If you’re up for lunchtime drinks, Empress offers local beers on tap and cocktails like the Paper Swan, with peach-infused rye whiskey and lemon. 1013 K St. 662-7694. empresstavern.com

The Hot Pastrami Rachel Sandwich on Empress Tavern's new lunch menu (Photo by Ryan Donahue)

Devil May Care Ice Cream & Frozen Treats

This new craft ice cream shop is slated to open its storefront in West Sacramento Oct. 14. Devil May Care is the brainchild of Jess Milbourn, who grew up in the city and wanted to give back to the community with his handcrafted ice cream. The shop will offer six to eight rotating flavors at a time, with unique creations like a vegan piña colada sorbet, which includes green Szechuan peppercorn, locally sourced honey from Woodland’s Sola Bee Farms and bee pollen from The Allspicery in downtown Sacramento. Milbourn is also experimenting with such offerings as a root beer float using soda from Sacramento-based Burly Beverages, coconut mocha ice cream balls in salted peanut butter shells, and frozen “mocktail” popsicles. He plans to host a grand opening celebration with music, mural painting and food trucks in the spring, to coincide with ice cream weather. 322 3rd St. West Sacramento. devilmaycareicecream.com

Sacramento Coffee Beerfest

Catch a buzz in more ways than one at this third annual event, which will bring together 15 breweries on Oct. 28, including locals like Sactown Union, Tilted Mash and Sudwerk to crown the next coffee beer champion. Each brewery will bring a keg of its specialty coffee beer, along with a keg of non-coffee beer, for guests to sip and compare. Vibe Health Bar and The Shack will provide small plates and Old Soul Co. will serve up larger dishes to wash down with pints of local suds. Before the festival, over 40 West Coast breweries will participate in a competition judged by 20 beer industry professionals, and the winners will be featured at the festival for attendees to vote for to receive a people’s choice award. $30 tickets for unlimited beer tastings. 6-10 p.m. Patris Studio and Art Gallery. 3460 2nd Ave. 229-8681. sacramentocoffeebeerfest.com

The popular sesame Mandarin chicken salad at Macy's Taste Bar Café (Photo courtesy of Macy's)

Taste Bar Café

This cafe inside Macy’s at Downtown Commons, the entertainment and shopping complex surrounding Golden 1 Center, unveiled its renovated interior and revamped menu Oct. 8, featuring a new coffee menu designed by Martha Stewart Café. The domestic queen is beginning to launch new outposts of her original Chelsea cafe in New York City, and the Sacramento location of Taste Bar Café will offer iced and hot coffees blended from Stewart’s signature roast, in addition to tea, espresso and trendy beverages like iced matcha lattes. The new cafe is keeping some favorite mainstays on its menu, like its sesame Mandarin salad, its chicken chili soup, and its pressed-to-order cobblestone turkey sandwich. New menu items include freshly squeezed veggie and fruit juices, a chicken pot pie and a smoked turkey sandwich on a pretzel roll. The re-opening of the cafe is the latest in a series of upgrades to Macy’s that will include an expanded furniture department and a modernized exterior. 414 K St. 444-3333. macys.com

Tower Cafe

This popular restaurant under the glow of the Tower Theatre’s neon spire is now serving up its famed French toast for dinner on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Previously offered only at breakfast and weekend brunch, the legendary dish is made of sweet French bread soaked overnight in vanilla custard then cooked up so it’s hot and crunchy on the outside, sweet and impossibly moist on the inside. Ruben Reveles, the restaurant’s assistant general manager, says the restaurant decided to offer the sweet treat later in the day for those who may not be able to make it in the mornings. Dinner at Tower Cafe begins at 4 p.m. and is served until closing at 10 p.m. Insider tip: you can ask for the French toast à la mode with ice cream. Bon appétit! 1518 Broadway. 441-0222. towercafe.com

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