Whenever I travel to a new location I do extensive food research before I go. By extensive, I mean excessive. For me food is one of the best ways to understand a new destination and its culture.
Sacramento was no exception.
I was intrigued by the city’s marketing slogan “America’s Farm to Fork Capital,” because who doesn’t like fresh, locally-sourced food?
Aside from the farm-to-fork trend, Sacramento is also a diverse city, with lots of different dining options depending on the neighborhood. In Downtown there are plenty of trendy restaurants where you can rub shoulders with well-suited government workers or go into Midtown and find a tiny Japanese market that sells plenty of sweets and prepared sushi.
I hardly touched the surface of this city food wise (hello outlying neighborhoods, I’m coming for you next), but here are some of my favorites from this trip.
For a locally-sourced brunch: Magpie
This restaurant is a prime example of the farm-to-fork food trend that Sacramento is known for. Every thing I ordered tasted incredibly fresh, from the free-range eggs to the side of veggies that graced my plate. I went for brunch, but I hear their dinner isn’t too shabby either. Also, that lemon lavender mint tea was something else.
For that ramen craving: Ryujin Ramen House
In Sacramento, there’s a sizable Japanese population and so it’s no surprise that this extremely popular ramen joint exists and it’s always packed. There are lots of different kinds of ramen options, whether you’re in the mood for spicy, savory or veggie. There’s even a chilled ramen version for those hot hot summer days.
For those with gluten/dairy allergies: Pushkin Bakery
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more sensitive to dairy, so I’m always on the lookout for alternatives. This bakery is so good, you forget that everything is sans gluten and dairy. There are a wide variety of treats, from cupcakes to chewy chocolate crinkle cookies dusted in powdered sugar (my favorite). There are also hot breakfast sandwiches and regular sandwiches if you want a more substantial meal.
For those who love pie: Ikeda’s
Speaking of dessert, if you go to neighboring Davis, this family-owned market is the place to go for excellent pie. We stopped on our way back home, bought a mini peach pie and inhaled it after dinner that night. There are fresh produce and specialty grocery items to pick up as well.
For those who want their seafood with a little spice: Station 16
Located in the trendy downtown neighborhood, this restaurant is the place to go for fresh seafood with a little kick. I ordered the Blackened Salmon and I’m not usually one to go for spicy food, but man was that salmon good. Happy hour (Monday 3 p.m.-10 p.m., Tuesday-Friday (3 p.m.-6 p.m.) is definitely worth checking out for the steep discount on dishes and drinks.
For those who want a casual brunch with strong coffee: Old Soul At The Weatherstone
If I lived nearby, this would be my go-to coffee shop for when I got stir-crazy working at home. There are plenty of fantastic breakfast options, as well as sandwiches and salads. I got the smoked salmon on a pretzel bun and never looked back. Mustafa says the coffee is great and I trust his highly caffeinated opinion because that guy drinks a lot of coffee. This café is house in a beautiful brick building, with a spacious outdoor space for when the weather is ideal.
For those who dream of homemade mochi: Osaka-Ya
This tiny Japanese market churns out homemade mochi every morning: red bean, white bean or peanut butter (didn’t try this one, but heard it’s very popular). They also have pre-package sushi and some Japanese snacks like those highly addictive wasabi peas. I’m already planning my return during the summertime when they break out the snow cone machine.
For those who want a simple bagel breakfast: Main Street Bagel Cafe
We stayed near the Sacramento airport and wanted to pick up a quick breakfast before we headed back home (yes and pie too). I found this place close by and though it doesn’t look like much from the outside, it has surprisingly good bagels that have the perfect amount of chew. I was so enamored that after I inhaled my lox bagel, I got a strawberry one for the road.
Have you been to Sacramento? Where are your favorite places to eat?