Sacramento, the capital of California, has legislators, lawyers, lobbyists and, thanks to several universities, students. With that kind of mix, there is no shortage of drinking establishments in the midtown area.
But most are more club than bar, more flash than dive and when you want to relax, you need a good dive bar.
Sacramento and Environs Dive Bars
Thankfully, Sacramento and the surrounding areas do offer a number of friendly neighborhood dive bars. If you live around here, you likely know one or two of these places, but give the others a try. Visitors and newbies; keep this list handy and your fun will be yours starting the first weekend you are here.
Rocky’s 7440 Club
Located in Citrus Heights at 7440 Auburn Boulevard is Rocky’s 7440 Club . Known as the “40” to regulars, it is open 7 days from 6 am to 2 am. Rocky’s calls itself an ‘adult playground” and nothing could be more accurate.
There is Karaoke every night, TVs crowd the walls, pool, video games and drink specials make Rocky’s an adult Disneyland, only not so sparkly.
They have a year-round tent outside with heat for the winter and A/C for the summer. There is more to do outside than in the bar. As well as a full bar, there is a DJ, dancing, a sand pit volleyball court, a putting green, a shuffleboard court, a Beer troth and shot girls circling the place offering your choice of Tooters or Jell-O shots.
Best nights, based on number of people are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Friday and Saturday there is a cover and parking fills quickly. If you street park you may have to walk one or two blocks.
No real baggy clothes ( gangsta wear), no gang colors, no visible gang tattoos, no ball caps and no bandanas; that is the dress code. Friendly bouncers enforce the nightly “no in and out” rule.
No one will mistake Rocky’s for a midtown club. Rocky’s bills itself as “where dive bar meets night club” and while that may be a little optimistic there is no way anyone goes to Rocky’s and does not have fun.
When you hear this bar’s name, you think “dive bar.” The site, 2342 Fruitridge Road, Sacramento screams dive bar, walk in the door and the mostly old interior make you feel dive bar. The Buda is a great old bar. The owner, Mel, recently died and the family now runs the place. They invested in some nice flat screens and added some good pub dishes to the menu. Otherwise, it is still the same Swiss Budda that has been around for years. A real scruffy hole-in-the-wall. At 9:00 pm Friday and Saturday nights the Karaoke starts. Regulars at the Swiss Budda are usually first up to sing. Most are tipsy and their singing is just awful – but they help make the night memorable. Besides Karaoke the bar has darts which is fun. Phillip (not Phil) tends the bar with a generous pour and the drinks are strong.
Old Tavern Bar & Grill
Located in the city proper at 1510 20th Street, Sacramento 95814, the Old Tavern Bar is quite possibly the most divey bar in the Sacramento area. The cash only bar is open every day from 6 am to 2 pm. Allegedly recently renovated, the place still smells like a boat bilge. The bar tender is grumpy, but drinks are cheap. No Karaoke, but there is a jukebox, TV and a pool table. There is a nice outdoor patio where you can enjoy some fresh air without the bar smell. Smokers gather here too.
Drinks are cheap and strong, food is cheap and better left uneaten.
Overall, The Old Tavern would be perfect for a movie or TV show looking for a dive bar location.
It is, if nothing else, authentic.
Round Corner Tavern
How imaginative can a bar be? Kudos to the Round Corner Bar for creativity. The name originated as there is a round corner in the bar. Now, imagination is not needed when you are going to a neighborhood bar for a few drinks. But if your order a cocktail with more than two ingredients it is likely that the genial gruff bartender will no longer be genial.
The drinks at the Round Corner are heavily poured and cheap. Hiding in the back is the Downtown Kitchen.
Despite the disgustingly dive ambience, the food was remarkably good and inexpensive.
There is a jukebox with a decent choice of music and two pool tables. Be careful who you play pool with at the Round Corner. It has a reputation of hosting a group of pool sharks – so if you do not know someone do not play pool.
Like many a dive bar, the Round Corner is cash only.
If you go by yourself, friendly regulars engage you in conversation. Groups of friends can have a great evening on the cheap. With food and drinks you will spend about $40.
Round Corner closes on Sundays, Monday through Friday it is open from 7 am to 2 am. Saturdays it opens at 9:30, last call is 2 am.