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Nothing screams summer like Concerts in the Park. It’s the music series that you know and love and can always count on. Starting at 5 pm every Friday night until July 24, the bass is bumping as the people of Sacramento flock to Cesar Chavez Plaza for music, food, friends, and fun. The free, all-ages show just entertained a crowd of over 7,700 last Friday so, without a doubt, it’s the place to kick off your weekend.
You’ve picked out what time you want to show up, what you’re going to wear, where you’re going to park, but now you’re pondering that age-old question: what to do before and after. I don’t think this is a secret, but in case you didn’t get the memo, Downtown Sac has some pretty awesome spots that are perfect for your pre or after party. Here are our favorite spots to visit during our Friday night adventures.
Vegetarians and carnivores alike fill this spot daily, and I’m one of them. While the line can be long during lunchtime, it’s the perfect place to nosh on some delicious local food before getting down at CIP. From small bites to sandwiches to entrees, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, it’s all a matter of how hungry you are. If you’re with a large group who likes to have fun with food, order a bunch of small plates and share. The chicken fried mushroom and cheddar biscuits are a crowd pleaser. And don’t forget to get a sea salt cookie on your way out. You won’t even believe the blessing that tiny morsel is until you’re out of the restaurant and devouring it while watching your favorite band play at CIP.
On the Table: Chicken Fried Mushrooms, Sarissa Potatoes with Chimichurri, Smoked Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter, Brown Butter and Sea Salt Cookies, Pink Lemonade, Mikkeller Imperial IPA Grange
Grange is my go-to for an after-work cocktail. Being a direct shot across the street from Cesar Chavez Park, there’s no way you can’t stop in on your way to the show. Don’t be fooled by the dark shades and towering doors; the vibe is very approachable and welcoming. You’d be missing out on some really great libations by not stopping in. While I’m a fan of a classic glass of sparkling wine, the Shrub and Amy’s Wedding cocktails couldn’t be more different but with one thing in common: they are equally delicious and will leave you saying “wow.”
On the Table: The Shrub, Amy’s Wedding Temple Coffee & Tea
Temple is a great place for camaraderie and some darn good coffee. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from all of the CIP action; and if you sit on the patio, you can even hear the music echoing down the street. Whether you fancy coffee or tea, there is something for you to enjoy. And if you are feeling a little bit adventurous, just tell one of the baristas and they’ll fix you up something special. Nitro coffee is back for the summer! A delicious and popular option, although, those sensitive to caffeine may want to sip slowly. This little giraffe was super wired for the rest of the night.
On the Table: Nitro Cold Brew, Bliss Tea, Regular Latte
My friends hear me say “I want tacos!” way too often, and there is nothing like a good taco after a fun night at CIP. It’s satisfying yet light, and at Maya’s Kitchen inside Mayahuel, they are as tasty and as fresh as they come. The taco bar is toward the back of the restaurant at the Mezcaleria, and they are open late and accommodate take out orders. If you choose to have a seat and stay awhile, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not asking about the Mezcal! It was a delight to learn about the process and different types. Did you know that unlike tequila, mezcal can be made from any type of agave plant? Mayahuel was the first Mezcaleria in California, and the bar houses over 70 different kinds for you to choose from. (Tip: enjoy Maya Margaritas for $6 with your CIP wristband)
On the Table: Guacamole, Tacos de Arrachera, Tacos de Mole, Ceviche Acapulco de Camaron, Maya Margarita, Asi Sabe MexicoCoin-Op Game Room
Your inner child is geeking out right now at the fact there is an arcade smack dab in the middle of Downtown Sac. They just opened, so don’t feel like you’ve been missing out, but please make your way down there after CIP to see what the fuss is all about. With over 40 arcade games to choose from, you’re sure to get your turn at a machine. All games are between 25 and 50 cents, and if your crew isn’t into Mortal Kombat or Pac-Man, you can keep the drinks flowing: Coin-Op has a full bar and other games like Jenga. (Tip: Show your CIP wristband for $6 craft cocktails and $3 off a whole pizza)
On the Table: Pepperoni Slice, Dogfish AleLaughs Unlimited
No one ever said “no” to too many laughs, right? Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac has been around for years, and they are still hosting some of the freshest and funniest comedic talent. It’s a short walk through the tunnel to Old Sacramento and well worth the walk. Your CIP wristband will grant you free admission to the 10:30 pm show!
This list barely scratches the surface of all that is waiting for you to explore in Downtown Sac. The folks behind Concerts in the Park have worked hard to put together a list of designated “after party” locations – places where you and your crew can get a discount with your CIP wristband. It’s all on Downtown Sac.
Here’s to a fun and safe evening with friends and wishes for a private dance with Kenny the Dancing Man.
Photos | Jenna Zavislan
Stay connected with all things Sacramento and beyond.