The California Beer & Wine Festival expands the palates of visitors with unlimited samples of beers and wines. Plus, 100% of the profits from ticket sales are donated to local non-profits. Inside the festival, craft breweries showcase their creations, with participants such as Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and Lost Coast. A number of wineries also pour vintages for sipping, while a live cover band provides a lively soundtrack for the yearly ritual of inadvertently bathing yourself in red wine while dancing.
Cicada Cantina isn't your typical Mexican restaurant. That's because its kitchen takes time-tested recipes and puts a modern spin on them, creating unique dishes such as blue-corn tacos and enchiladas stuffed with portobello mushrooms. The cocktails get the same update, with bartenders blending more than 75 tequilas into signature margaritas flavored with unexpected ingredients such as jalape?o, white peach, and seasonal berries.
Of course, the restaurant's atmosphere is just as atypical as its food. The decor is both contemporary and rustic, with weathered benches, Mexican-inspired textiles, and colorful light fixtures. There's even occasional DJ music to inject the space with extra energy.
Auburn Alehouse's menu features hearty burgers, and crowd-pleasing appetizers alongside award-winning brews handcrafted in small, fresh batches using a traditional 10-barrel system. After savoring a pitcher of American Pale Ale ($15.25), hops-seekers can toast beloved bards with bawdy haikus and pints of Old Town Brown, a complex potion descended from English mild ale and crystal malts ($4.25). Guests may then top off their guzzle tanks with pints of Gold Country pilsner, which took a bronze medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival before sweeping the Olympic lager-luge finals ($4.25).
At Dingus McGee's, you can play nine holes of golf, and then refuel with a half-pound burger and fries or Cajun-style crawfish etouffee. Their Creole-inspired menu offers up much more than your average club house grill. Diners can dig into alligator nuggets, house-smoked prime rib, and cedar-plank salmon imported from Vancouver Island. The vegetarian-friendly Cajun nut burger is made in-house with seasoned grains and nuts, and much of the restaurant's produce is grown in the on-site garden.
The restaurant is set in Auburn's peaceful green hills, but inside the atmosphere is always lively. Sports games play out on big screen TVs, and on select nights, live music fills the room. Diners can sip the house brewed beer or Dingus McGee's daunting Cajun Bloody Mary?which comes garnished with andouille sausage, jumbo shrimp, and a whole crawdad.
At Valencia Club, the menu—which includes everything from specialty wings to tacos and chili-mac ‘n’ cheese––serves as an added bonus to the convivial atmosphere. A sprawling patio, two bars, horseshoe pits, pool tables, and a dance floor make for memorable evenings and Odyssian trips to and from the bathroom. Local bands on Fridays, country tunes on Saturdays, and DJ-spun beats on the patio on Fridays and Saturdays underscore the lively atmosphere. Valencia Club even holds line-dancing lessons every Saturday night, hosted by a local radio DJ.
Pause Lounge & Kitchen urges diners to take a break from sprinting after fast food by slipping inside its elegant eatery and enjoying a luxuriously chewable selection of contemporary chow and beverages. Start off by noshing on a pile of beer-battered asparagus flanked by a dedicated entourage of lemon aioli ($4), then proceed to chat with pals about baseball scores and solutions to the Entscheidungsproblem over a helping of crispy monterey calamari ($10) washed down with Terra Alpina pinot grigio ($8/glass) or a mug of Pause’s house-brewed ale ($3). While using one hand to grip a glass of basil-mint or thyme-lime lemonade ($4), guests can order the other to fork-feed them dainty bites of hanger steak ($20). The dangerous twists and turns of a busy day slowly fade into a liquefied rollycoaster as the palate draws a bath of zesty Bridgetown daiquiri spiked with rum, apricot liqueur, lime, and bitters ($9). For dessert, tickle the tongue’s sweet spot with a plate of chocolate-chip cookies and a chaser of milk ($6).