A BEAUTIFUL PLACE
Isleton' Mei Wah Beer Room has a colorful history.
WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY PAM AND GARY BAKER
Owner Iva Dalton behind the bar
A craft beer enthusiast long before it exploded in popularity, Iva Walton dreamed about opening her own business in that arena. Walton, a former stage designer from the Bay Area and frequent visitor to the Delta, found the perfect place to open her Mei Wah Beer Room when one of the original buildings in Isleton’s historic Asian District came up for sale.
Mei Wah, which means beautiful place in Chinese, is housed in a former Chinese gambling hall, opium den, and brothel. Decorated with banners from the Ching Dynasty and old photos showing Isleton’s early Chinese history, the décor prominently features a Chinese opium bed in the middle of the room. The diner-style bar comes from the set of the film Basic Instinct. The 24-tap draft tower sits atop a hand-carved Chinese altar table from the 1870s.
On the other side of the bar room, four tables are laminated with antique posters advertising Chinese beers. In the back corner, a small, comfortable, antique, gold-fabric couch, chairs, and a low table create additional cozy, private seating.
But it’s the beer that draws customers to this dog-friendly bar. That and Walton’s warm, convivial personality. With 22 beers, kombucha, and nitro coffee on tap, Walton, who calls herself the Ambassador of Craft Beer, tries to provide a wide variety of choices for beer lovers and “beer haters.”
The menu changes almost daily and represents local breweries. During one visit, the options included Yasss Cream, a cream ale from New Glory Craft Brewery in Sacramento; Purple Plum Sour, an American sour from Mraz Brewing Co. in El Dorado Hills; Oatmeal Stout from BarrelHouse Brewing Co. in Paso Robles; and 19 other extraordinary, California-brewed craft beers.
The tap room sees a mix of families, bicyclists, tourists, motorcyclists, and local beer enthusiasts. Catch live music Sundays from 3 – 5 p.m., which makes this delightful Delta beer room well worth a short Sunday drive.
Walton says her vision was to have a business that welcomes locals and travelers, and she’s accomplished that in Mei Wah. Under each tap in the beer tower are 24 Chinese bobblehead dolls. Their welcoming faces remind you that traveling is as much about the journey as it is about the destination, especially when you arrive in a beautiful place.
Mei Wah Beer Room
35 Main St., Isleton
916-777-6688 • Meiwahbeerroom.com
Pamela and Gary Baker are freelance food, wine, and travel writers based in Sacramento. They are frequent visitors to the Delta and enjoy writing about food, beer, and wine experiences in the region.