The capital of California, Sacramento has a long and diverse history that is represented in the local cuisine, and with an abundance of farms in the region diners can expect nothing but the freshest ingredients. Here we explore 10 of the best restaurants Sacramento has to offer.
The Kitchen Restaurant
Restaurant, American, $$$
The Kitchen Restaurant is truly a one-of-a-kind fine dining establishment. Executive Chef John Griffiths creates a ‘playbill’ or menu consisting of seven acts, six of which are food courses, and one intermission. The seasonal menus, which feature the finest ingredients from the Sacramento region, change monthly. The six-course menu can be paired with wine offerings chosen by Jeremy Reed, the sommelier, or diners can choose from the extensive wine list. With everything cooked in front of the guests, foodies will feel like they are at a performance where the outcome is delicious farm-to-fork gourmet fare. Reservations are mandatory.
Having a successful food truck and catering business since 1995, Chef Kim Scott and musician Phillip Rayburn established Mama Kim Eats in 2012. By doing so, they fulfilled a dream of producing a casual restaurant serving delicious gourmet fare with a Southern Cajun twist while providing a lively atmosphere filled with great music. Proudly serving locally sourced produce, two delectable highlights from the menu include the fried chicken and waffles with honey mustard and the bourbon braised short ribs with aged cheddar grits and vegetables. A great place for a gathering of friends and family, this restaurant serves dinner Thursday through Saturday and Sunday brunch, which features live jazz music.
Named after famed chef and restaurateur Biba Caggiano, Biba is a fine dining establishment, located in the historic Old Tavern Building, featuring authentic Northern Italian fare. Creating dishes from the best and freshest locally sourced ingredients available, Biba enjoys giving diners a chance to feast on delicious cuisine from her native Emilia-Romagna. In addition to house-made pasta, the seasonal menus feature succulent meats, poultry, and fresh seafood. Dishes to note include fettuccine with green garlic, asparagus, fava beans, pancetta, and hot pepper flakes and the pan-roasted halibut with spring vegetables. With gluten-free options, an expansive wine list, tantalising desserts, and exceptional service, this is a culinary experience guests will not forget.
de Vere's Irish Pub, Sacramento | Courtesy of de Vere's Irish Pub
With a traditional interior designed in Ireland and shipped to the USA, visitors will be able to experience the ambiance of a true Irish pub at de Vere’s. An establishment owned and run by the de Vere White family this pub offers a relaxed environment where appetizing farm-to-table cuisine is featured. Highlights from the menus include pub classics, such as bangers and mash and granny’s shepherd’s pie plus plenty of brunch items, sandwiches, and burgers. With a kid’s menu, tasty desserts and abundant whiskeys from around the world, de Vere’s is great gathering place to meet family and friends for delicious food and conversation or to watch sporting events that are broadcast live.
Another restaurant owned by the Selland family, Ella happily showcases the bounty of the Sacramento and Central Valley region in its New American fare. Located in the heart of downtown, the restaurant provides a unique ‘rustic luxury’ ambience that is warm and friendly and features seasonal menus by new Executive Chef Rob Lind. Current selections include the mouth-watering pan seared scallops with creamed kale, bacon lardons, porcini mushrooms, and kale chips and the juicy Ella hamburger with smoked bacon, roasted onion, choice of cheese, and parsley fries. Peruse the drink menu for the award-winning wine list and leave room for one of their delectable desserts that include spiced carrot doughnuts.
Frank Fat’s has been a staple in downtown for 75 years, and its close proximity to the Capitol has made it a political meeting hotspot over the years. Established in 1939 by Frank Fat, who arrived in the USA 20 years earlier from China, this restaurant serves Chinese American fare in an elegant atmosphere and was a recipient of the prestigious 2013 James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award. Serving lunch and dinner, diners can savour house specialities like Fat’s brandy fried chicken, award-winning dishes, such as honey walnut prawns, or something a bit different like marinated dove and elk. Do not forget to save room for Fat’s famous banana cream pie because it is a must-try for any foodie.
Frutti di Mare | Courtesy of The Firehouse Restaurant
Housed in an historic 1853 firehouse in Old Sacramento, The Firehouse Restaurant is the epitome of fine dining. Serving American inspired fare with an artistic flair, Executive Chef Deneb Williams works with local farmers and ranchers to bring the freshest ingredients to the establishment. The seasonal menu features succulent dishes, such as Moroccan duck and frutti di mare, which is a combination of seafood, plus vegetarian options are available on request making this a place where anyone can satisfy their hunger. With myriad of wine choices, irresistible desserts, an elegant interior decorated with fine and decorative arts, including an Orrin Peck painting and a glass dome that may or may not be a Tiffany, and impeccable service, discerning guests will not regret their visit to this multi-award winning restaurant.
Frutti di Mare Courtesy of The Firehouse Restaurant
Bar, Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, $$$
As the name implies, Tres Hermanas, located in midtown, is a Mexican restaurant opened by three sisters in 1996. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, the sisters have created a festive atmosphere with brightly coloured décor and a tasty menu specialising in Mexican cuisine from the northern region. The dishes are made with the freshest ingredients possible and include flavourful options, such as the popular carnitas and the chicken mole poblano. With plenty of vegetarian options and a full bar serving a variety of refreshing margaritas, diners will enjoy this spot.
Located on R Street, the local favourite Magpie Café is a casual restaurant that was established in 2009. This gem serves American fare prepared with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, and as a result, their innovative menus change often. Serving lunch and dinner, dishes to note from the current menus include Vietnamese steak salad with herbs, pickled roots, jalapeños, natural beef, and lettuce and the summer risotto with azolla baby squash, early girl tomatoes, basil pesto, and aged jack cheese. They also serve brunch during the weekend with a highlight being the savoury bread pudding that includes bacon, chipotle cheddar, chives, butter, and maple syrup. Diners will appreciate the creativity that goes into these flavourful plates.
Cafe Rolle is a popular little café and delicatessen located in East Sacramento. Opened in 2002 by Chef William Rolle, who is originally from France, the casual venue serves authentic French country-style dishes, which includes many delicious sandwiches and salads. The croque chicken monsieur and the warm quiche salad are two of many flavourful options that diners will enjoy. With the tasty fare and friendly ambiance, it’s clear to see why locals return again and again to this local treasure.