Sactown Budget Dining a la Frommer’s

I don’t know about you but I’ve been limiting all my summer travel to day trips–you know, the kind that cost a tank of gas, max, to get there and back. So, in the sprit of day trips, I picked up a (library) copy of Frommer’s California 2008 guidebook and started riffling through it. The pages fell open to Chapter 10, Sacramento, The Gold Country, & The Central Valley. How wonderful that we rank enough these days to be listed by name. It was fun to note we have only one “expensive” restaurant–Biba’s, but even better was the budget dining section. I don’t know if I agree with the selection of spots–I think they might have been hip and cheap 10 years ago, but here they are, as recommended by former Sacramento resident and Frommer’s writer, Matthew Richard Poole, with my reaction in italics afterward:

Best Burger: Willie’s Burgers on 16th Street I haven’t been to Willie’s in awhile, but I wonder why The Squeeze Inn was listed for best burger? Maybe they’re charging more after their foray into fame with the Food Network? Or perhaps the author didn’t go further than Midtown for budget dining…

Best Coffee: Java City at Capitol and 18th Street Hmm, I haven’t really been a big fan of the Java City on 18th–are they still there? I think they got swamped by all the construction in that area in the last 5 years. I’m saddened that The Naked Lounge wasn’t listed–maybe Java City is cheaper and better, but I don’t have reason to believe it.

Best Mexican: Taco Loco Taqueria at 24th and J Street I’ve walked by Taco Loco on occasion and maybe I’ll try it. I can tell you that I know why Vallejo’s isn’t and shouldn’t be listed as a “best”. But that’s for another post.

Best Breakfast: Cornerstone Restaurant at 24th and J Street I just want to know if Matthew Richard Poole ever worked for the Sacramento News and Review. They seem to love the Cornerstone with a passion not unlike Paula Deen’s passion for butter.

Best Brewery: Rubicon Brewing Company at 20th and Capitol Oooh, pretty lights at the Rubicon. But other than that, I don’t drink (even if my posts ramble as though I do), so I haven’t had the occasion to sample their brew-bicon.

I did enjoy paging through the Sac section of the guidebook, but isn’t there anything outside of downtown/midtown worth visiting? Or do we just look like any other California city once you get past the grid? What’s your best budget dining spot? Surely there’s something outside the grid worth hopping on the light rail or biking towards?

UPDATE: I did overlook a mention of Funderland, The Sacramento Zoo, and Fairytale Town, as well as a quick blurb about where to rent a river raft (in Rancho Cordova), so I guess we did briefly saunter outside the grid and into the “suburban sprawl” as Poole terms everything outside of said grid.

6 Comments so far

  1. Brandon (brandonkweber) on August 21st, 2008 @ 1:20 am

    It’s great that we are in Frommers, but the choices seem so dated that it should be the 1998 edition. Java City? Taco Loco? Biba? Cornerstone? We’ve come a lot further!

  2. politista on August 21st, 2008 @ 6:50 am

    I agree with some of the comments above, but I’ll stand by Java City on 18th. They remodeled a year ago and now the staff is great and the coffee can’t be beat.Looks like they invested in new equipment and training and it’s paying off in my opinion.

  3. sac92 on August 21st, 2008 @ 10:24 am

    I stopped going to Willie’s when I noticed they were slicing their burger patties a lot thinner but the prices remained just as high.

    Their burgers are still tasty but now it’s such a rip off!

  4. cd (cndn) on August 21st, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

    I have never really liked Java City. And isn’t picking Java City like picking Starbucks? I know something like Old Soul wasn’t around, but there have been small, local-only shops for quite awhile. Who would win now, Temple or Old Soul?

    And I am as diehard a fan of Sacramento breakfast/brunch as they come – 33d Street Bistro, Limelight, Ink, Cafe Bernardo, Tower Cafe, PANCAKE CIRCUS! – but I still haven’t been to Cornerstone. Lame.

  5. wburg on August 21st, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

    cd: Picking Java City on 18th & Capitol in Sacramento is like picking the original Starbucks in Seattle. It’s a chain now, but that’s where it all started.

    I haven’t been to Cornerstone in a while. It’s not quite as awesome as the Market Club.

  6. Brandon (brandonkweber) on August 21st, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

    Just a little clarification… I wasn’t totally meaning to beat up on the choices (maybe just a little)… There is definitely something to be said for the trailblazers (for a very long time, Java City WAS some of the best coffee in town before everyone was in a daily habit of stopping for coffee) and many of these are important Sacramento institutions. But honestly, how many of these places would pop up if you had a good friend visiting from afar ask you for the "BEST" places to go now? BTW, Isn’t it great that Sacramento (esp. the grid) is so thriving that we have so many great choices? Cheers!

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