Auburn booms as a food, wine & art mecca

AUBURN HAS BEEN REVITALIZED and is no longer a “pit stop” on I-80 but a destination for dining and entertainment, as we’ve observed.
It has some top-notch restaurants and restaurateurs, such as Jim Bril’s Monkey Cat and Gary Moffat’s Carpe Vino; good ethnic food, like
Bobo Cafe for Vietnamese or Royal Thai; and Tre Pazzi Italian trattoria, also a creation of Bril and longtime local Gary Capps.

Old Town Auburn is home to Carpe Vino, also a fabulous wine shop, and nearby wineries are expanding. Lone Buffalo just opened a new winery and vineyard in North Auburn, for example.

The downtown Arts Building is home to PlacerArts; renowned local artist Douglas Van Howd’s artwork is featured in a new town square; and the California Welcome Center now occupies the historic firehouse. Now Auburn is further building its reputation for food, wine and art (and yes, craft beer). Examples: Knee Deep Brewing, a popular craft brewery in Lincoln, is migrating to Auburn, where it plans to grow fivefold by next year. It produced 1,800 barrels last year.

In Auburn, Knee Deep is planning a new $1 million brewery that will measure 16,000 sq.-ft. and house a 40-barrel brewhouse. Since 2007, Auburn has been home to the Auburn Alehouse Brewery and Restaurant. In addition to its growing craft breweries, Auburn is winning prestigious awards for its fine dining.

Along with only two other Northern California restaurants— The French Laundry and The Kitchen—Carpe Vino was named to Open Table’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants for 2012.

The Old Town Auburn restaurant also won a 2012 Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence.” Wine club membership grew 50 percent.

In downtown Auburn, Bril’s Monkey Cat and Tre Pazzi are winning fans. “Going to the Monkey Cat is very special,” as one reviewer put it. “They have the largest selection of local wines, and the food is always down to perfection.”

On Friday evenings this summer, visitors can enjoy local wines, music and art at the Auburn Holiday Inn.

Year-round Farmers Market

Auburn is the only Northern Sierra Foothills town with a year-round farmers market. It is held each Saturday at the Old Town Courthouse parking lot, from 8 a.m.-noon.

A visit to the Foothills Farmers Market in Auburn reveals the bounty of produce available in the area.

Market Founder Joanne Neft often shows up. She has co-authored two popular cookbooks showcasing fresh, local food from Placer County markets.

(photo of wine at Carpe Vino: Keith Sutter)

Here’s a video of the Amgen Tour of California in Auburn from 2011:

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