Green Means Go
Enjoy a drink and a bite at this new East Sac hangout
By Greg Sabin
The Green Room, one of East Sacramento’s newest eating and drinking spots, brings refined cocktails and small plates to J Street. This offering from Billy Zoellin and Amber Michel, owners of breakfast standout Bacon & Butter, is a rebrand of their second B&B location.
When the pandemic shut down restaurants, Zoellin and Michel decided to try a new formula at their J Street space. Rather than a second Bacon & Butter less than 3 miles from their Broadway location, the sibling pair overhauled an East Sacramento storefront and turned it into a modern, inviting cocktail lounge and small-bite gastropub.
Not to be confused with The Green Room Social Club, an exceptional yet unrelated music venue and bar in Placerville, The Green Room is its own special thing. Neither fully a sit-down restaurant nor a full-fledged late night watering hole, it sits between the worlds of restaurant and bar.
With sensible hours of 3–9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, The Green Room is a spot to meet friends before a show, grab a drink before dinner or join a few coworkers at the end of a work day. It’s a convivial, lovely space to do those things.
Surrounded by leafy plants hanging from the skylight, perched on an emerald velvet upholstered barstool, it’s easy for visitors to see where The Green Room gets its name. Green is the theme, and with it, calm, harmonious feelings are brought out by various hues, from moss to pistachio, basil to shamrock.
The cocktail menu is stocked with approachable concoctions. The Mule is a cold refresher on a hot Sacramento day. A straightforward mix of Tito’s vodka, apple cider, lime and ginger beer, the frosty brew is cold enough to set your fillings tingling, but not so sweet as to penetrate the gumline.
The Highball, a clever mix of Suntory whisky, lemon, honey and raspberry, matches the complexity of one of Japan’s best whiskies with fresh, regional and fun ingredients that make it peculiarly local.
Small plates form the bulk of the menu and are done with skill. Chicken tacos, which I nearly overlooked on my first visit, turned out to be some of the best I’ve had this year. A just barely crispy shell stuffed with braised chicken, cotija cheese, chili crema and lettuce, these beauties are a sum beyond their parts.
I almost find it difficult to express what made the tacos so enjoyable, other than to say every bite made my mouth happier than the last.
The mac and cheese is a stellar representation of a common dish. Whether it’s the lardon topping, the three-cheese blend or the perfect ratio of mac to cheese, it’s a dish to return to.
Service is casual, competent, friendly. The bartender is happy to talk whiskies while expertly mixing cocktails. Multiple staff members unobtrusively check in.
The feel is refined but unstuffy, casual but not cavalier. Subdued, atmospheric music sets the mood but doesn’t overwhelm conversation.
Unlike the crowded and sometimes hectic environment at Zoellin and Michel’s Bacon & Butter, The Green Room is a sanctuary. It’s a place where adults feel like adults and children are welcome. You’ll find a doggie or two on the patio, yet an air of sophistication permeates.
Simply put, it’s a place to enjoy company and companionship without the worries of the outside world. And when I think about it, isn’t that what “going out” should be all about?
The Green Room is at 3839 J Street; thegreenroomsac.com; (916) 475-1801.
Greg Sabin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.