Archive for the ‘Downtown Life’ Category


This week, I fell in love with Tiropita.

Sacramento Greek Festival

I couldn’t stop snacking on the savory Greek cheese puffs inside our newsroom. It was all part of our tasty preview of the 46th Annual Greek Festival in Sacramento. It runs today and tomorrow at the Sac Convention Center.

Bop your head to live music, check out some cool trinkets and art booths and bring an appetite because there’s plenty of yummy food – gyros, baklava and more.

Shady Lady, Some Visible Values

This will be one of my few visual aid-free restaurant reviews, but oh well: Had a chance to check out the new Shady Lady Saloon at 14th and R.  Their “thing” is twofold: first, no TVs!  Second, they do old skool – like way old – cocktails.  The lack of TVs could explain the light crowd on Sunday night given that we were there smack in the middle of the NBA championship game.  The cocktails, however, did not disappoint.  I enjoyed a Pim’s Cup – just the way I would in England, cool and full of crisp cucumber and fragrant herbs.  Cocktails are all around the $8 mark which makes them very close in price to the menu items.

I would recommend the tomato soup at $5.   I didn’t get details on it, but I would guess it was free of cream even though it had the traditional creamy texture (vegans or lactose intolerant diners should check, of course).  Bonus for being garnished with a grilled cheese sandwhich (no really).  My husband and I shared the soup and each ordered the Cobb Salad.  At $7.50 it was a relatively good salad value, with it’s pleasing straight lines of ingredients and ample bowl size making mixing easier and less messy.  I was surprised, however to find the dish remarkably bland.   That sounds harsh – but it did lack any real flair.  I wouldn’t call it bad, though.  I originally asked for my salad with dressing on the side but was persuaded to go for it as-is by the server who said it was better tossed and was dressed with a light hand anyway. Maybe too light, in this case.

The venue also hosts regular live music acts in the spacious, warehouse/saloon-chic interior.  I love live music, but I wondered why both acts on Sunday felt the need to use all available amplification when the wide, hardly-full room probably could’ve experienced their sound just fine without any electronic help whatsoever.  Translation:   it was LOUD – too loud to engage in much meaningful conversation among our table of seven for very long.  Maybe they could turn it down a wee bit during the dinner hour?  Then everyone could enjoy both food and entertainment without sacrificing good companionship along the way.

Lastly: the hunt for a good burger in the new R Street complex continues, according to my friend who gave the Shady Lady burger a tepid so-so review.  I told her not to rely on Burgers and Brew either – unremarkable, especially when there is better in town.

Journalist from Sac is one of two detained in North Korea

Though dealing with the stress of their relatives’ arrests for more than two months, the families of two journalists held in North Korea are kicking up the PR efforts in the face of the impending trial and increasing tensions between the two countries. Laura Ling (sister of the better know Lisa Ling, formerly of the view) was detained in March of this year and accused of illegally entering North Korea and some other vague bad stuff. The Fair Oaks family appealed to both countries on the Today Show this morning to appeal to diplomacy and reason to win the day. The two women, according to reports, will have assigned North Korean lawyers to represent them at the June 4 trial – though information about the proceeding and the charges are sketchy. Del Campo HS has also held a vigil for its alumna.

It was really heartbreaking to watch the family plea for the safe return of their wives/mothers/daughters/sisters. The other captured Journalist, Euna Lee, has a four-year-old daughter who, according to her dad, still thinks mommy is at work. And really, what else can you tell her.

Fingers cross that this ends well, as it did for Roxana Saberi who was held in Iran but released last week.

Note to the City: Please fix these bogus street markings

As I recall from driver training – which was, admittedly, a few years ago now – a solid, unbroken white line indicates no changing lanes.  Doesn’t one appearing when approaching an intersection generally (maybe not always) mean a lane is presenting you with a forced-turn scenario?  Herein lies my issue.5th-street-issue 

See, when  you’re driving east along J Street, heading into town from the freeway or Old Sac, etc, you come up to the intersection of 5th and J and a combination of signs, street markings, and newbies makes for a potentially dangerous situation.

It doesn’t show up too well in this screen grab from google’s street view feature, but there is a “Left lane must turn left” sign on the left side of the (one-way) street.  There are, however, TWO left turn lanes. One, the closest to the curb, is frequently (partially) blocked – depending on the time of day – with parked cars, but the lane is still there with a white left turn arrow painted on it. You can see the SUV and trailer in this lane in the photo.  There’s a solid while line dividing it from the next lane.  THIS lane, however, also has a solid while line dividing IT from the center lane.  BUT, it has a turn arrow AND A STRAIGHT ARROW.  You are NOT required to turn left from this lane.

Here’s the rub:  That furthest left lane, the truly forced turn lane, it sort of materializes to the left of drivers who are in the Turn/Straight lane.  When you add in the parked cars and general rush-hour confusion, most people assume they are already in the lane that must turn left. So they slam on the brakes, [too infrequently] engage their right hand turn indicators and wait to be let into the far busier center lane because they are misled into thinking they’re going to be forced to turn left. But they could go straight! They just don’t know because they can’t see that straight arrow for all the traffic.

So, City of Sacramento, could you please do one of a few things, or all of these things: 1.) put up some of those graphic signs with the lanes and arrows mapped out for us (you know, like you have on H coming up to 15th and 16th Streets).  2.) Could you paint the turn/straight arrows on the ground several times and earlier?  3.) Could you turn the solid, thick white line into a dashed, thick white line?

Thanks, much appreciated.

Cosmo Doesn’t Reach The Stars, But Still Makes For A Pleasant Night


It was Friday the 13th – never a day to expect things to run smoothly. My mission: reservations for a group of 10, 8 of them high school students, at a nicer restaurant within walking distance of the convention center and Capitol, limited to a two-hour time frame, and a $30 per person budget.  Awesome, right? Do high school students even appreciate a nicer restaurant? Well, they would on my watch. These kids were part of a program designed to teach them about government, civic responsibility, and being a grown-up. That last part means learning how to comport yourself at a business dinner and expanding your culinary horizons.  After checking with my favorite local restaurants (“I know 7pm on a Friday is primetime for your restaurant, but could you seat us and work with us on a fixed price menu? No? Okay, thanks” – went the script with Waterboy, Mulvaney’s, and Grange), I turned to the Randy Paragary Sacramento Empire of California Fusion Restaurants And Dining Experiences. Again.   It’s not that I dislike Paragary’s offerings – but I was worried Cosmo Cafe wouldn’t prove much different than last year’s Esquire Grill fare.  Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised (more…)

Does new hotel establish new ethic? Or rely on old jokes?

So, the Citizen Hotel will open soon and in case you haven’t heard about it yet it is THE coolest thing to happen in Sacramento, potentially ever. It’s so cool the room number signs are cool. So are the lampshades. Seriously, this hotel will outcool you, skinny-jean wearing Midtowner, and you, suit-wearing Capitol staffer, in like 3.2 seconds after it opens on November 30th. In fact, since its first weekend is already booked solid, it’s probably already out-cooled you.

From what I read and hear, little remains of the old building’s interiors – which is probably good since when I went to my optometrists office there, it was overrun by crickets (good luck) and other crawly things (bad luck).

But there’s something about The Citizen Hotel that bothers me, just a little. Something more insidious than its ubercool (hey, I like ubercool), something with a bit more bite . . . . (more…)

Whither thou goest

The state of things here in Sactown: brace yourselves for winter.

A few weeks ago, a shop on my downtown walk was desparately fighting to stay open. The name of the place: Tenacity Gifts. But even with a name like that, there wasn’t enough. Tenacity, that is. So, one day they closed. The day after they closed, there was a woman sleeping under the glass store window. She didn’t appear to be the “typical” homeless person, as she had a clean, new sleeping bag, and her hair appeared to be clean. The thought occurred to me that she might have been the owner, saying goodbye. But probably not.

Even though the store didn’t make it, I hope we all have the tenacity needed to hang on in the weeks ahead!

We love the CHP!

There’s something really cool about a man in uniform–even better than that is a man in uniform, riding a horse, wearing cool CHP boots. Yes, Erik Estrada did not gain his fame by playing a homeless bum on TV.

You too can see our sexy (mostly) CHP riding on horseback around Capitol Park. They are out in full force lately, thanks to the Guv’s recent executive order and the ensuing rallies on the steps for state employees. Someone’s gotta keep the peace. So why not let the CHP do it, when they are on the “exempt” list, and they know for certain their salaries are secure? I’m not sure if the governor’s plan to cut wages backfired or not. Certainly placing more CHP in the public eye means more CHP getting paid. No salary savings there.

I really don’t mind watching the parades of men in uniform. However, had there been no executive order, there would be no great need to put the Capitol on lockdown. Had there been a budget, there would have been no need for an executive order. Had you voted last go around, there may have been a few good legislators in office, willing to compromise to keep the state moving and grooving as the happening place that it is and should continue to be. But then again, I’m counting the “shoulds” and “coulds” and not the reality of the grand BS that is the annual state budget.

What does it all mean? If you’d like to see your tax dollars at work, come for a stroll around the Capitol on a weekday. You’ll see an ocean of people, dotted by CHP, surging along in a sea of disillusion.

I can’t help but wonder if the extra brown shirts on patrol remind the governor of his childhood European home. Definitely a disturbing thought.

Who turned out the lights?

Sacramento was hit by three power failures Tuesday afternoon that disrupted electrical service for nearly 3,800 customers.–

Yes, the lights went out all over town. I would also like to note that the Bee overlooked the Richmond Grove area of downtown, which also lost power today.

Have you ever noticed how quiet it becomes when there’s no HVAC buzz, no neon lights, no (gasp) PCs humming? It was as if we could hear a pin drop over on S Street. But actually, our enjoyment of the silence was interrupted by Light Rail. Apparently they had all the power this afternoon, but they weren’t sharing!

Red sky in the day…

…sailor make hay? Sailor go play? I don’t know the next line in that one, but I do know we’re seeing the strange red sky of smoke-congested air. It smells like a firepit, looks like an ash pit, and sits solid in your nose like nobody’s business.

Even the HVAC-circulated air in my office reeked of cinders.

After all this, I’m asking you, dear reader, to pray for rain. Or chant. Or sing. Or do whatever it is you do. I’m hoping for rain, ASAP.

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