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Instant Reaction: Republic by Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen


Sacramento’s downtown/midtown has a couple good sports bars. I really enjoy watching games at R15 and BarWest, just to name a few. I also enjoy the beer selection at River Rock Tap House, and look forward to trying the upcoming Firestone Public House (replacing CPK at 16th & L) and Coyote Tap House (replacing Brew It Up).

At this point, though, they’re all competing with a great new spot, Republic. Fronted by the man who owns Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Republic replaced Dream Ultra Lounge next to Zen Sushi and the Torch Club on 15th between I and J streets.

The space itself is warm and inviting. Gone is the cold and frosty décor from Dream. In are pool tables, a skee ball machine and vintage video games.

When you first walk in, you notice that the whole front is open with big windows and a roll up garage door. There’s plenty of seating and ample space around the bar in the center of the large room. TVs abound so it’s a great place to watch sports.

It was also half full of people – a good sign for a restaurant open for less than a week. The crowd was a good mix of everybody – the after work crowd, families, people playing pool, and groups of friends gathering for a drink. Unlike some local bars, it was not overrun by people trying to relive their fraternity days.

Onto the food. I ate there with my wife on Wednesday night. It had been open less than a week, and we were ready to forgive a few flaws from a restaurant still struggling to work out some kinks.

Fortunately for Republic, they were already firing on cylinders. We ordered two things – a quesadilla and a chicken and waffle sandwich.

The luau quesadilla ($5) was served with Hawaiian pork and smoked mozzarella, topped with chipotle cream and pineapple salsa. This was a great dish – probably the second best quesadilla I’ve ever had. Given, making a good quesadilla isn’t hard. It’s meat and cheese melted in a tortilla. But, they managed to do it very well. The meat was flavorful and ample, and the acidity of the pineapple balanced well with the spiciness of the chipotle sour cream. The quesadilla was also big enough to be filling. It’s a dish that I plan on ordering again. (For those wondering, the best quesadilla I’ve ever had was a pork belly quesadilla from the famed Kogi food truck in Los Angeles.)

The second dish was the Chicken and Waffle Sandwich ($7.50) with a Belgium-style waffle and deep fried chicken with a spicy maple syrup. I had high hopes for this dish, but it was only mediocre. While I can’t prove the waffles were made in a toaster, they immediately reminded me of the instant Eggo waffles. The chicken also wasn’t what you think of when you see something described as fried chicken. Instead of fried pieces of chicken, it was flattened chicken (possibly a tenderloin), breaded and fried. I enjoyed the dish, but given how good the quesadilla was and how good chicken and waffles can be when done right, I was a little disappointed.

With that said, we had a great experience there. Our dinner was $25, including two Coors Lights and the two dishes, with tax and tip.

We ran into Drewski himself, and he said that they had put the place together in less than a month. When you walk into the place, you’ll be amazed that they could have put that place together in that short amount of time. He also reported that the larger kitchen will allow them to try new dishes before he puts them onto the menu at the food truck (and soon to be, a second food truck).

I have one last note. I sat directly in from of the roll up garage door. When people are smoking outside in their patio area, it wafts into the restaurant and disturbed my eating experience. If that isn't your cup of tea, sit further in. Or Republic could insist on people being on the sidewalk before smoking. I'm sure this is somethng they'll fix as they fine tune their operation.

Overall, Republic had a great vibe and good food. If you like R15 or BarWest, but want a place with slightly better food and a different crowd, Republic is the place to be.

As of Wednesday, Republic was still finalizing their happy hour. I’ll stop by soon to get it added to Cowtown Eats.

Republic is located at 908 15th Street and is open Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., Saturday, noon to 3 a.m. and Sunday noon to 2 a.m.

Find them online at RepublicSac.com.

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