P is for Pre-Flite Lounge

Pre-Flite Lounge
513 L Street (somewhere under the mall)
Downtown Sacramento


Like Bigfoot, many folks have heard the legend of the Pre-Flite Lounge, but have never been able to find it. Also like Bigfoot, it lives in the parking garage under the Downtown Plaza mall.

There are a number of secret paths to find the Pre-Flite, but for the beginner, I recommend walking along the L St. side of the mall near 5thSt. right by where Morton’s used to be (Did you know Morton’s moved? Did you know we had one in the first place?). Anyhow, walk along L St. til you see this sign:

Then follow the plane:
That will bring you to a magical portal which looks like this:


Once you cross the threshold into the Pre-Flite it is officially 1975 again and I’m all for it.

The dim lights, the 2 song for a quarter 45-playing jukebox, the warming glow of the fake fireplace – it all adds up to a great time.

The fact that this bar isn’t for those late night partiers who can’t seem to find a way to get out of their apartment til after midnight is made all the more obvious by the fact that the Pre-Flite closes at 10pm. Oh and it’s not open on weekends.

My guess is that most bars make the bulk of their money after 10pm and on weekends, but apparently the Pre-Flite isn’t about making money it’s just about making people happy, specifically me.

Also, it’s about bologna sandwiches on white bread cut into quarters and, if you’re lucky, it’s about tuna casserole.

On Thursdays and Fridays during happy hour (somewhere around 4pm) the Pre-Flite’s buffet table fills with the homemade food (usually the sandwiches) of Julie who is pretty much the best waitress I’ve ever had anywhere. Where else can I get service like this?


Russ the bartender is a great guy who doesn’t mind if you order an old-timey drink like a Picon Punch. Of course, I drank all the “picon” stuff so that specific drink may no longer be available. Also, one time Russ paid my bus fare when I didn’t realize the free River Cats shuttle wasn’t free anymore. I wouldn’t count on him covering you though.

If you’re wondering why it’s called the Pre-Flite, apparently back in the day there was a ticket counter next door and a shuttle out to the airport. Well, the ticket counter is gone, but the bar still stands. For the record, it’s is still a pretty quick trip out to the airport from here so you might want to consider it. Also, the bar can also be a great post-flight destination…but only if your flight comes in before 10pm.

The mystery as to why it’s “flite” and not “flight” remains though.

Everyone who has ever been to the Pre-Flite has a great story of how they first found the place. The quintessential Pre-Flite discovery involves a lot of wandering up and down the street, getting lost in the garage, discovering the sign, approaching the portal very cautiously and then beaming with joy like Christmas morning upon entering.

I could go on and on about how awesome this place is, but I’d hate to give away all its secrets. For the record, I don’t know that any bar has ever made me happier than the Pre-Flite.

* Secret location
* Vintage decor
* Cool staff
* Cheap drinks
* Free sammiches like grandma used to make

Real decent

The Pre-Flite has a tight-knit group of regulars who are either retired, lazy or both. Whatever the case, they spend a lot of time at the bar. That’s ok becausethey are awesome. You’ll also find some post-work Capitol-types, usually with a couple first scared then overjoyed newbies in tow.