It should come as no surprise after one glance at the building that it began its life as part bar, part grocery store, a dusty outpost on the fringes of Sacramento at the time. The Sacramento dive bar’s original name, Pimentel’s Ingleside Café first gave way to a more colloquial Pimentel’s Saloon moniker before ultimately settling on the even more informal name of The Trap in 1964. Debate exists around exactly when a bar was added to the property and the precise date of the structure’s opening, but there is no doubt that this is a historical setting and one of Sacramento’s oldest spots to grab a beer.
The fact The Trap continues to operate as its typical cash-only, beer & wine self today comes after a shaky time in 2022 when the bar and its plot of land went up for sale. Thankfully, the family of ex-Sacramento Kings owner Gregg Lukenbill purchased the icon, local neighborhood residents well acquainted with the space. Fresh plans may be in the cards (food has been mentioned as a potential addition), but local ownership makes it more likely that the historic dive bar charm of The Trap will be preserved.
And that charm is on full display at first glance, a building that gives off the feeling of a lean-to thanks to a long wood awning big enough to look almost like a drive-thru lane past the front door. Parking along the streetcorner location is ample by dive bar standards, the gravel and dirt lot stretching around the front half of the building. The awning’s pools and roof look well-weathered and the wooden tiles that cover the front of The Trap have similarly seen brighter days. A chain-link fence extends from the building, wrapping around a spacious back patio area.
Inside, the wood tiling out front is reflected in similar, if less beaten-up, wood tiling inside to serve as a one-up to the more typical dive bar classic vertical wood paneling. A zig-zag bar sits in the middle of the front room, flanked by wooden stools that stretch around the horseshoe design, a dive bar island in the center of the building. Updates have been made in spots, including some of the paint and the ceiling, but the wooden tiling and scuffed bar counter bring the vibe back down to earth a bit. Maybe most attractively in this first room, the beer coolers look ancient in the best possible way, covered in beer signs and bumper stickers.