As purely neighborhood dive bar as it gets with tacos on top.
One of the great gifts of Sacramento is its ability to quickly transition from urban, seat-of-government density into pleasant, residential neighborhoods in the span of a handful of blocks. Round Corner sits in Midtown, one such district that mixes Sacramento’s big town size with a patchwork of homes that naturally some kind of anchor dive bar. At the intersection of S Street and 24th, Round Corner is the quintessential corner dive bar down to the wood paneling and pool hall reputation.
The signature feature here is, of course, the beautiful neon sign out front above a front door that sits on the diagonal axis between the Sacramento dive bar’s two front walls. A simple black awning rests underneath a red and blue sign with a mixture of green and red neon with the always classic depiction of a martini glass illuminated as well. Estimates peg the neon out front as a renovated piece with roots in the 1940s or 1950s, a trait that comes as no surprise given its vintage feel.
While the sign is perhaps Round Corner’s best overall feature, an equal second is its location a few blocks removed from any real business density. Instead, as all great neighborhood dive bars, Round Corner is simply a piece of the residential community that surrounds it, not an anchor to some stretch of retail options but rather an organic piece that has grown up with the homes next door. Opaque glass blocks provide the only real source of natural light, mixing with two-tone white and blue out front that gives off a very fresh, beach-like look.
The front door uses its diagonal disposition to angle new entrants directly toward the bar, naturally, that runs along the nearby wall. The L-shaped bar is home to a string of bar stools that provide the best seating inside as well as proximity to the Round Corner kitchen that features a limited menu and rolling specials. Taco Tuesday was on tap during my visit, meaning a handful of taco varieties at a reasonable price kicked out of a small kitchen in plastic baskets. Natural light does exist thanks to the glass blocks out front but in true dive bar fashion, even this filtered light is subjected to blinds in places to keep the place pleasantly dim.
A few tables can be found just inside the front door as well, low square style tables that can be found throughout the space. Most of them rest on the edges of the Round Tavern interior, most of them pushed away from the real center point of activity in the two pool tables just off the bar itself. Round Tavern has had a reputation over the years as a more serious pool destination than the typical dive bar, a fact supported on my visit in the sighting of more than one pool cue case carried through the front door. All of that is not to paint a picture of an intimidating pool scene but rather a few regulars mixed in with the normal set of pool players with drink in hand.
Also in classic dive bar fashion, the surfaces here are about as dive-bar-starter-pack as they get in the form of linoleum-looking tile flooring and wood paneling throughout. A few neon beer signs dot the walls, including a pretty beefy Budweiser piece in back, complemented by the pair of Budweiser pool lights above each table. No dive bar would be complete, of course, without a random sports trophy or two and Round Corner features its location along a far wall. In keeping with the theme established here, most relate to pool victories in various competitions.
In the best possible way, if you’ve been to a neighborhood dive bar before, you’ve been to Round Corner, the classic mixture of neighborhood spot, corner location, wood paneling and a couple of pool tables. That affordable food can be ordered sitting on a bar stool bathed in filtered, glass block natural light only adds to the experience. An epic, vintage dive bar neon sign caps off the package, creating one of Sacramento’s purest neighborhood dive bar options.