Eat Like a Local: Sacramento, California
For Yahoo Food’s travel summer series, Eat Like a Local, we’re taking you on a cross-country food crawl, city by city. Here’s where to chow down in America’s lesser-known destinations without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Sacramento, California has designated itself the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the United States. “We are in the middle of an amazing farming area,” says Kate Washington, a food writer for Sactown Magazine. “We have all the produce one could want.” Not surprising, given that California is generally the land of envy-inducing farmers’ markets.
But there’s also a strong growth in the neighborhood restaurant, “that moderately priced, walk-in-for-dinner-on-a-Wednesday-night kind of place,” as well as some other bright new spots in the local scene. Washington, who has been writing about the Sacramento dining for 10 years, clued us in on her favorites.
Best White Tablecloth: Ella
Located downtown, this is where “you take an out-of-towner you want to impress,” says Washington. It’s in a big, beautiful space, it’s equipped with a killer wine list, and the menu, which changes often, always features the best of the area’s produce. Right now, for example, California King salmon is getting a dose of local Chanterelle mushrooms and Zephyr squash, a hybrid green-and-yellow summer squash. (1131 K St., Sacramento, CA; 916-443-3772)
Best Dive Bar: Old Ironsides
Owners Bill and Lou Bordisso behind the bar at Old Ironsides in the 1930s. Photo credit: Courtesy Old Ironsides/Facebook
The first place to obtain a liquor license in Sacramento after Prohibition, Old Ironsides is “not scary-dicey,” but rather a “welcoming, dim, cozy,” family-owned bar with a lot of history. Located in the Southside Park neighborhood, it celebrated its 80th year in business this year with a big show—it’s become a destination for local bands since it started featuring them in the early ’90s—and plenty of cocktails. (1901 10th St., Sacramento, CA; 916-443-9751)
Best Coffee Shop: Chocolate Fish
Chocolate Fish’s owners are from New Zealand. That means they serve the classic flat white, but they’re also the only people in town who offer nitrogen-infused coffee. “It’s great when it’s hot out, like right now,” says Washington. When kegged and infused with nitrogen, the coffee comes out cold and fizzy, and since Chocolate Fish specializes in medium roasts, that same brew comes out reddish in color. Served in a tulip glass, “it looks like Belgian sour ale, but you can have it for breakfast!” Washington also recommends Temple Coffee, which has a few locations. (Chocolate Fish, 4749 Folsom Blvd. Sacramento, CA; 916-451-5181)