The Sweet Spot
3 Fires Lounge
1501 L Street, Sacramento
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday, 3–6 p.m. All day on Sundays.
When football season kicks off, I begin my annual search for the best Monday night happy hours in Sacramento. There’s always the popular locations that we all know and love, but as they quickly fill up, I often like to duck out and find an alternative to the crowded sports bars and pubs. Surprisingly there are still some hidden gems that I have been lucky enough to uncover.
One such unturned stone lays smack dab in the middle of downtown Sacramento inside the Residence Inn hotel. I hesitate to share the wealth—quite frankly I’m greedy when it comes to not-so-crowded, yet very enjoyable places to take in a football or baseball game—but at 3 Fires Lounge, chef Sean Thomas has recently overhauled the menu with items that deserve to be shared.
What was once an outdated hotel bar with uninspired food recently went through a pretty big renovation that had the sports fan in mind. The circular bar in the middle of the lounge has been given a much needed face lift with large televisions flanking both ends. Two projectors have been installed on opposite ends of the bar making for an impressive football viewing experience. The only downside to the projector placement is that the lounge has to be somewhat dark for the picture to be at its most vibrant, so daytime sports viewing can be a little tricky. I also kind of love that 3 Fires Lounge is in a hotel. While sitting at the bar watching the game, you can’t help but feel the energy of visiting business men and women whizzing past with roller luggage and dry-cleaned clothes in tow.
In true retro Rachael Ray fashion, I had a set amount of money to spend—what I like to call the “Hound 20”—and many options to choose from. The happy hour drink choices at 3 Fires Lounge are pretty standard, with $1 off any draft or well drink, and the “Bar Bites” menu features a few classics like mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce and bacon cheddar Potato skins—both of which always sounds tasty. But it wasn’t the drinks or standard bar fare that brought me here. It was the unique menu items like their chocolate-dipped bacon with chocolate ganache and toasted pecans and fried spinach potstickers with jicama slaw and cilantro soy dipping sauce that caught my eye and lured me in.
I believe that most happy hour food is meant to be communal, so I recruited my friend Steve to help devour the splendidly overindulgent items I was about to order. After an intense bracket-style elimination, we decided on the raspberry chicken cordon bleu puffs ($7), bacon cheeseburger glazed doughnut sliders ($8) and a pint of Sierra Nevada ($4) which brought my total to just under $20.
The food came out timely and hot. The chicken cordon bleu puffs were placed on top of a sweet raspberry drizzle and garnished with a fresh mango salsa. After simply grabbing and tossing back a couple of puffs, I quickly realized that dragging the meat and cheese filled dough balls through the raspberry sauce before consuming was the key to a sweet, savory, meaty, cheesy unification of flavors.
Now, I did splurge a bit on the bacon cheeseburger glazed doughnut sliders, but it was well worth it. Three strikingly upscale state fair-inspired sliders were placed in front of me and I was in awe. From their size to the freshness of the house made doughnuts, everything about the burgers exceeded my expectations. I also loved the chef’s decision to accent and not douse the burgers in a sweet glaze, then plate them around a spicy jalapeño Tabasco syrup—which I couldn’t get enough of. This made the doughnut burgers easy to pick up and fully enjoy. There was no skimping on the bacon either. Crispy chunks of applewood smoked bacon sat perfectly on top of the cheeseburger, which was grilled and seasoned perfectly.
With football season in full swing and basketball season about to start, 3 Fires Lounge is a great alternative when looking for a place to watch sports while getting your happy hour on. I’m already planning on going back soon and ordering a round … or two … or three of their Chocolate-Dipped Bacon. The happy hour at 3 Fires Lounge is Monday through Friday, 3–6 p.m. and all day on Sundays.
Check out 3fireslounge.com for more info.