Nevada City: Yuba River Town


IN 2012, OUTSIDE magazine named Nevada City one of the “best river towns in America,” citing its connection to the sun-soaked, granite-lined Yuba.

Few people know the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) was founded in an upstairs office on South Pine Street in what is now the South Pine Cafe, a popular spot for “breakfast, lunch and beer.”

Back in the ’80s, the “circle of citizens” gathered after reading that the South Yuba River was threatened by dam proposals. Their efforts culminated in winning protection for the river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1999.

Four years later, SYRCL’s inaugural Wild & Scenic Film Festival was an informal gathering at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. Poet Gary Snyder spoke. Since then, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival has grown into the largest film festival of its kind, drawing thousands of people to Nevada City each January.

Now Nevada City is experiencing a “food, wine and art” revival. Highlights include a new restaurant with an acclaimed Bay Area chef on lower Commercial Street called Los Mineros; the planned Golden Era lounge on Broad St.; and a new coffeehouse and art galleries on Spring Street.

Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. just celebrated its first anniversary on lower Commercial Street, helping to create a hip food-lovers hangout near the Nevada City Farmers Market. This summer Wheyward Girl Creamery, Nevada County’s first commercial cheese maker, opened next door.

Now an authentic Mexican taqueria featuring fresh, local ingredients is going to open on lower Commercial Street in front of the Boardwalk. Los Mineros (or the Miners) is a partnership of former Nevada City Mayor and commu- nity leader Reinette Senum and well-known Bay Area chef and restaurateur Jason Moniz.

Jason’s culinary resume includes opening-day chef at well-respected restaurants such as Flora in Oakland, and Tres Agaves and Locavore in San Francisco, and Barbacoa and Table 24 in Orinda. The San Jose Mercury News named Barbacoa one of the 10 top taquerias in the Bay Area.

It’s a small culinary world too: Moniz is the son of Barbara Jenness, an award-winning cheese maker who co-owns Wheyward Girl Creamery with Roberta DesBouillons.

Local wine and craft beer enthusiasts enjoy the tasting rooms of Nevada City Winery, Clavey Vineyards & Winery, ol’ Republic Brewery and Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. Nevada City Winery, now in its 37th year, just won six medals at the California State Fair.

Joining the others, an upscale cocktail lounge called Golden Era is opening in the old Cirino’s building on Broad Street. It is owned by longtime residents Steve and Cindy Giardina with help from their son Eric, daughter Jessica and consultant Darren Crawford.

Eric and Darren work for Future Bars of San Francisco, known for stellar bars such as Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse and Devil’s Acre. Esquire named Bourbon & Branch one of America’s best bars.

Golden Era will serve hand-crafted cocktails, specialty beers, local wines and non-alcoholic soda fountain drinks. Weekend music will include piano or soft jazz. Cocktails include “The Golden Era” and “Pisco Punch.”

The bar features a Brunswick-Balke-Collender “Record” bar that was made in the mid-1890s in Chicago and has been in place at the location since 1904. “If these mirrors could talk,” the owner jokes.

Next to Nevada City Winery, on Spring Street, veteran barista Steffen Snell has opened FoxHound Espresso and Coffee Broaster.

Local artist LeeAnn Brook has opened an art gallery in the Spring Street neighborhood in Nevada City. It features her large format contemporary paintings, which are popular throughout Northern California and elsewhere.

Down the street, DANK at Osborn/Woods Gallery, located at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, features the work of local artists.

Like lower Commercial Street for foodies, Spring Street is an emerging arts district. This includes a new building for KVMR Community Radio next to the 150-year-old Nevada Theatre.

(Photo: Adam Potts)

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