With summer in full swing along the Russian River, few signs of February’s dramatic and destructive flooding remain. No place in the forested community has shown such a quick and thorough rebound as Rio Nido Roadhouse, a favorite with locals.
Tucked off the north side of River Road, the the roadhouse’s history as a live music venue stretches back to the 1930s. Once a strictly summer destination for San Franciscans in search of respite from the heat in a shaded redwood glen, the casual, inviting bar—complete with an outdoor stage, swimming pool, and sprawling lawn—is now open through all seasons, seven days a week.
The roadhouse has maneuvered through multiple changes over the decades, most recently during the flooding when it was left with ceiling-high water and a deluge of mud. However, local volunteers descended on the property, helping owners Brad and Raena Metzger with the needed clean-up and repairs. The business also received just over $32,000 in donations to get the bar up and running again. A grand re-opening celebration on May 11 kicked off the season. By early June, there were no visible signs of damage at the property.
The Rio Nido Roadhouse is an ideal place to stop in for a drink after a day at the river. The full bar has rotating craft beers on tap with Bear Republic’s Racer 5 (a top choice among the regulars) and other Northern California brews front and center, including Stumptown Brewery, Sonoma Springs, Plow Brewing Company, Lagunitas and Moonlight Brewing Company’s Death & Taxes. Most of the beers run a modest $5 per pint.
The bar’s back patio offers lots of shaded outdoor seating for casual meals and a pool table for a quick game. The pub-style menu has burgers, grilled sandwiches, buffalo wings, crisp fries, and the like. I’m a big fan of their artichoke-jalapeno dip, which arrives at the table warm with a side of fresh tortilla chips—try it with a cold pint. Steamed clams and a good selection of salads for hot summer afternoons and evenings fill out the selection, along with a delicious (and rather large) taco salad, classic Caesar salad, and arugula salad with goat cheese.
Aside from live concerts, like the Surf Music Festival on July 27, one of the biggest draws for locals and vacationers alike is the swimming pool. Open daily from 11:30am to either 5:30 or 6pm, depending on the day, the day-use fee is a mere $9, which includes access to the outdoor snack bar—a complete steal compared to other regional cocktail-friendly pools (and more laid-back). Families can bring the kiddos along to both the pool and the restaurant.
All in all, with great service and atmosphere, Rio Nido Roadhouse is the perfect escape for sipping cocktails and savoring the long lazy afternoons of summer.
14540 Canyon 2 Road, Rio Nido.
Open seven days a week, call for hours.