Formerly a cardroom where Sacramento's poker players regularly congregated to play a late-night game and talk about their crushes, the Phoenix Lounge has been reborn as a 5,000-square-foot sports bar, event center, and dart-throwing arena. Add a wall of flat-screen TVs, weekly trivia contests, and a regular lineup of standup comedians, and what remains is a spot to relax, laugh, and tip back a brew or two any night of the week.
The term "couch potato" usually applies to lazy people, a description that doesn’t at all befit The Couch's executive chef, who hustles to to his own culinary play calls nightly. To create the bar's couch potatoes, he hand-cuts housemade french fries every day, serving them plain or tossed in a choice of six zesty seasonings. His other elevated bar fare demands a similar level of dedication, from housemade soups to sandwich meats slow roasted in-house, such as barbecue pulled pork and roast beef.
True to its name, The Couch––founded by local Del campo graduates and high school sweethearts, along with their close friend––houses plenty of couches to lounge on, as well as tranquil patio seating. Throughout each feast, nine flat-screen TVs and and two 106-inch projector screens broadcast the latest sports, from baseball in the summer to polar bears playing baseball in the winter. Besides sports, The Couch's weekly entertainment lineup includes karaoke every Wednesday and live music every Saturday night.
Mermaids and mermen are a surprisingly common sight at Dive Bar. Fin-clad entertainers spend their evenings elegantly swimming through the 7,500-gallon aquarium that hangs over the bar’s stone countertops, charming guests as the bartenders mix an array of classic and contemporary cocktails. Exposed brickwork, black-leather armchairs, and a dangling chandelier don’t necessarily continue the nautical theme, but they do contribute to the overwhelmingly luxuriant ambiance.
Live musicians grace the bar’s stage on Wednesdays, whereas Thursdays feature a dueling-piano show that brings to mind Billy Joel and Elton John’s legendary joust to the death. In addition to hosting DJ performances, the lounge pumps out dance-worthy tunes until as late as 2 a.m., even allowing customers to connect their iPods to the sound system and either play their favorite song or the shortest chapter from their favorite audiobook.
District 2 sates cavernous appetites within a casual community sports bar, boasting more than a dozen brews and five tap-side TVs. Suds-loving patrons can sop up pints of Guinness ($7), Miller Lite ($5), or Original Sin cider ($6), with a succulent hot and spicy chorizo dip, fraught with red peppers and the glowing coals of defeated taste buds ($8). Or sink snack-craving incisors into a menu of gourmet bites, such as a quartet of Angus mini burgers on toasted brioche rolls and platters pilfered from Barbie's dream house (4 for $9, 8 for $14). The D2 mac 'n' cheese, frosted with three-cheese fondue, delights dairy addicts and self-obsessed cows ($10), and the Yuengling beer-battered fish and chips treats seafarers to incognito imbibitions ($12).