You would expect the capital city of America’s most populous state to offer a wealth of fine dining options, and Sacramento doesn’t disappoint. Many of the restaurants here in this corner of Northern California rely on local produce, and the results are often stunning. If you’re looking for a culinary experience to remember in the city, the places on this list are the best of the best.
The most award-winning restaurant in the region is found in Old Sacramento. For over half a century, The Firehouse has been serving exquisite food to the city’s inhabitants in an historic building that dates back to 1853. The restaurant boasts a staggeringly extensive wine collection that numbers in the thousands. Appropriately for the waterfront location, The Firehouse serves up daily fish specials but the house specialty is filet mignon, accompanied with bone marrow butter, chive-potato croquette, and a madeira-infused demi-glace.
Chef and owner of The Waterboy, Rick Mahan, has a firm belief in the farm-to-fork movement, a belief evident in his restaurant’s food that draws on the cuisine of California, northern Italy, and southern France. Their seasonal menu incorporates ingredients procured from local producers, like cherry tomatoes from Del Rio Botanical in West Sacramento, and gypsy peppers from Full Belly Farm in Guinda. But they are perhaps best known for their potato gratin, steak tartare, and tender sweetbreads. Make a stop at their full bar for the finest of artisan cocktails and aperitifs.
Prolific cookbook author and TV chef Biba Caggiano has a plethora of awards and commendations to her name, including Northern California Chef of the Year. Raised in Italy, she brought her expertise to Sacramento in 1986, and since then her restaurant has become the go-to destination for authentic Italian food in the city. Try traditional recipes like costoletta di maiale col balsamico (grilled pork chop with a balsamic vinegar glaze served with farro, heirloom squash and radicchio) or the famed 10-layer lasagna. Wines from across Italy and California, as well as a warm welcome from the hostess herself, contribute to Biba’s acclaimed reputation.
The staff here at Grange, a restaurant located in downtown Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel, are proud of the city’s designation as America’s farm-to-fork capital. They buy directly from seven farms in neighboring counties to produce dishes like their Passmore Ranch sturgeon with turnip, brown butter, beets, gastrique, and horseradish. A private dining room is available on the restaurant’s mezzanine level that will lend an exclusivity to the dining experience, but it is already an impressive one thanks to the impeccable presentation and inventive flavor combinations. They also serve an upscale brunch here on weekends, with customizable Bloody Marys.
The Kitchen Restaurant, Sacramento | Courtesy of The Kitchen Restaurant
Sitting around an open kitchen, eating a five-course, prix fixe meal from a monthly menu that is paired with one of two perfectly curated wine flights, partaking in some sushi during an intermission, watching the chef act as much as compere as cook. This is dining with a difference. There is only one sitting a night here, which fosters intimacy and a communal atmosphere not just between the guests and the staff, but among the guests themselves. It is a unique culinary venture that has earned The Kitchen the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award five years in a row.