Pub Grub

These beer joints excel in the kitchen

By Greg Sabin
June 2024

Many beer-focused places around town concentrate on the suds and keep the kitchen out of sight. But some beer joints work hard to highlight their food. Here are three examples:


This Pocket taphouse looks like many other beer bars, with neon brewery signs, flatscreen TVs and 20 taps behind the bar. Look past the exterior and you’ll see what sets this place apart.

The menu features Indian food.

Beyond the burgers, wings and fries, there’s a list of curries and other Indian specialties. Deep-fried pakoras (vegetable fritters) and stuffed samosas are perfect pub snacks. Salty, crispy and savory, they’re dipped in a mint or tamarind chutney.

Lamb curry with jasmine rice is pungent and delicious. The butter chicken is a home run.

Hop Junction fuses traditional Indian preparations with American pub grub. The tikka masala fries put chili fries to shame. Tandoori chicken tacos are a shareable plate with friends over a few beers.

What surprises some guests is how well Indian dishes pair with beer. Don’t be surprised. English pubs have featured Indian dishes for decades.


Perched at 15th and I streets, Mojo’s looks more like an auto repair shop than a joint that serves some of the best gumbo in town.

Thanks to chef Antwyne Bates, 25 beer taps aren’t the only reason to visit Mojo’s. His unique takes on gumbo, chili and other dishes are worth the stop.

Roux for Bates’ gumbo steps right up to the line of chocolate territory (color, not flavor). It’s dark, rich and earthy, and gives the dish layers of flavor. You can almost stand a fork in that gumbo. It bursts with chicken, andouille sausage and vegetables.

Routine treats from the fry-o-lator, such as pickle chips and fries, are good. But the sour cream and cheddar tots are something else. Clever and dense, they’re perfect with a cold lager on a hot day.


For six years, SacYard Community Tap House depended on food trucks to feed guests. The beer lineup at SacYard is impressive, as are the convivial outdoor spaces and live bands.

Now a permanent food solution exists at the 33rd Street hangout. It’s called Chow at SacYard.

Yes, it’s a food truck (technically a food trailer), but the grub coming through the window is overseen by Sacramento chef Aimal Formoli.

Some readers might remember Formoli from his former namesake restaurant on J Street. His whiskey burger was a favorite.
With Formoli’s stamp on the Chow enterprise, expectations are high. The food meets those expectations.

It’s still sandwiches, fries and salads, but they’re executed with craftsmanship. Nightly specials are truly special. Kimchi dumpling soup, smoked clam chowder and ceviche are just some of the dishes produced in the Chow trailer.

As summer heats up, I expect the Chow wagon to be a mainstay of local beer cuisine.

Hop Junction is at 7600 Greenhaven Drive; (916) 382-9211; Mojo’s Local Tap & Kitchen is at 1431 I St.; (916) 573-3875; Chow at SacYard is at 1725 33rd St.; (916) 400-4708;
Greg Sabin can be reached at Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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