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Sacramento's Dining Scene - It's Capital!

Sacramento's Dining Scene - It's Capital!

Dining in Sacramento can be a simple event or a long-remembered culinary experience. Thanks to the city’s diverse ethnic population, you can relish everything from andouille sausage to zabaglione. Being in the Central Valley allows the freshest of ingredients, available year-round, to create palate-tempting dishes.


Do not be surprised to rub elbows with politicians or celebrities as both dine around town during legislative sessions and frequent area movie productions.


When hunger calls, answer it at these restaurants--some of the best restaurants in Sacramento.


Downtown Al Fresco

Paragary’s in Midtown has been a Sacramento epicurean’s favorite for more than 25 years. Go at night and book an outdoor courtyard table. Enhancing the ethereal mood—created by lush gardens, twinkling lights, and waterfalls—are the entrees such as asparagus and prosciutto calzone made in the outside brick oven and hand-cut rosemary noodles with seared chicken and pancetta.


As soon as you sit down at Tuli’s, on S Street, order dessert first, especially the German chocolate cake slathered in a velvety chocolate ganache and chopped nuts. If you wait until you finish an entrée such as Sonoma Valley duck or summer stroganoff with a fennel- infused crème fraiche, it could be, disappointingly, sold-out.


Sensational Seafood

As an appetizer, Blackbird Kitchen and Bar’s Kona kampachi catches your taste buds with its lemon grass and lime-infused dressing. Their beer-popped mussels and whole-roasted trout with shaved summer squash deliciously complete the capture.


In South Sac, spice rules at Firehouse Crawfish. Located at 6519 Savings Place, near the Stockton Boulevard and 65th Street intersection, crawfish and clams, mussels and shrimp, come in varying levels of heat. Just be warned: your head could explode at level five.


Helping the Wallet

Land Park’s Oscar’s Very Mexican Café at 3061 Freeport Blvd. offers big burritos and more for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be prepared: from the outside the cafe looks a bit dicey, and credit cards are only accepted on orders for $5 and up. That said, vegetarians appreciate the variety of fresh veggie choices, while meat lovers thrill to the addition of bacon to the steak-and-fries-laden California burrito.


Park across the street from 6534 Florian Rd., and walk into Viet-Ha Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant for some of Sacramento’s finest cheap Asian fare. The pho is phenomenal—gently seasoned—and rave reviews abound for their bun thit nuong cha gio (barbecued pork), served with silky noodles and rice paper-wrapped egg rolls.


Scoop and Share

At the corner of 17th Street and Broadway, a little bit of Ethiopia exists at the Queen of Sheba Restaurant. Use enjeera, the spongy bread, to scoop up traditionally prepared meat and vegetarian dishes. Lunchtime specials include a vegetarian buffet, good until 3 p.m.


Caribbean Rhythms

Life between the American and Sacramento Rivers may not be like Jamaica; however, its flavorful cuisine thrives at the Caribbean Kitchen in Natamos. Made fresh daily, Island delicacies such as oxtail, chicken curried and jerked, and rice and peas are staples at this tiny restaurant located at 3315 Northgate Blvd.


Blow the Budget

Just one block from the State Capitol and the Convention Center, Ella’s Dining Room and Bar delivers innovative fare at a prime location. Tales of seasonal gastronomic genius are spun through starters like butter lettuce salad dotted with blueberries and drizzled with lemon poppy-seed dressing, followed by roasted mussels with pork bellies.


Head to Midtown’s Biba Restaurant, where owner, cookbook author, and television chef Biba Caggiano greets you at the door. Native to Bologna, her recipes resonate with the Northern Italian flavors found in delicate spinach and ricotta gnocchi, 10-layered lasagna, and braised lamb shank served with grilled polenta.


—By LJ Bottjer 
LJ Bottjer is a cultural chameleon whose work has appeared with CBS News, the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and Travel & Leisure.

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