O is for Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides
10th & S Streets
Old Ironsides is the real deal.

I don’t really know the folks that own it, but as the stained glass window by the door will tell you it’s the Bordisso family and they’ve been running the place since 1934. Probably would’ve been earlier, but that whole prohibition thing got in the way.

As Sacramento fills up with annoyingly modern “ultra euro lounges”  it’s nice to have an unpretentious classic like Old Ironsides standing its ground.

There are a million things I like about the place –  four of them being it’s old, it’s dark, it has live music at least 5 nights a week and they serve a killer lunch.

Back when I had a later bedtime, I’d go see shows here all the time. The calendar says shows start at 9pm, but seasoned veterans know they won’t see a headliner til around 11:30. The stage is small, the room fills up quickly, everyone is sweaty, but that’s why we love rock and roll, right?

And if you’ve got a three dollar bill burning a hole through your skinny jeans on a Tuesday night, Old I hosts the long running indie dance party known as Lipstick. I haven’t been to Lipstick for a while not because it’s a bad time, but because I had to get a real job that wanted me in the office on Wednesday mornings. Also, once my waistband crossed over the dreaded 36 inch threshold into 38 land, it was awkward.

Speaking of how fat I am, my recent trip to Old I was a lunch outing. Monday through Friday from 11am-2pm Old I serves up some good old fashioned eats. I usually choose to sit in the comfy bar booths, but others opt to be seated at tables on the dance floor and/or stage.

The important thing is that the PBR pours nice and cold whatever time of day you choose to visit. They’ve got a bunch of other beers, but a place like Old Ironsides begs for everybody’s favorite blue ribbon winner.

If you do go for lunch, I recommend the Cajun chicken sandwich.  There are also some burgers, pasta and salad on the menu.  So far, I haven’t found a stinker in the group.

Oh and the waitresses are real nice. One time, I got a call alerting me that the special of the day was lamb sandwiches and I’d better get there early if I wanted one. That’s what I call service. KFC never calls when they’re running out of drumsticks.

Another cool thing about Old I is all the old timey bar stuff they have on the walls. What once were simply advertisements are now treasured antiques. This is what happens when you let stuff sit on a shelf untouched for 70 years. There are neon signs, serving trays, decanters, pennants and more. The Hamms bear makes and appearance and a Burgermeister owl. Man, I wish I could actually order a Burgie.

Perhaps the best thing on the wall is a big ol’ fish which I swore was a fake til I saw this on the Old Ironsides website:


That beauty hangs above a doorway.

My one complaint about Old I is that they recently succumbed and eliminated their old jukebox which was filled with cool cds from Sinatra and Patsy Cline to current and defunct Sacramento locals (sometimes I need to hear Sex 66). It’s sad to see it go and I hate these internet jukeboxes. You’ve let me down here, Old I.

* Live bands
* It’s been owned and operated by the same family for like 75 years.
* Great lunch.
* Big ol’ fish on the wall
* Nautical theme

Cover charges for shows are usually under $10. Drinks are average. PBR is $2 a pint. Lunch’ll cost ya $10.

During the day old-timers fill the lunch area. At night, it’s Sacramento’s young music lovers. Tuesday, during Lipstick, the younger and hipper the better.