Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Make way for Tri-Tip (and other tasty to-go)

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The 1801 L building has already opened to apartment residents and is starting work on the street-level shops and restaurants. Fellow foodies take note, because today I spotted a banner for a Buckhorn Grill at the corner of 18th & L, across from Crepeville and Aioli Bodega Espanola. I learned to love Buckhorn at their Walnut Creek location when I was living in the East Bay (this is their first outside the Bay Area, despite their connection to the Buckhorn Steak & Roadhouse in nearby Winters). If you’re not familiar, it’s a great sandwich/salad/entree & sides quick service restaurant (more like Pronto than Jack’s). I’m not a big red meat fan, but their tri-tip is excellent; they also have chicken, salmon and a few vegetarian options. They were originally supposed to open this summer, but hopefully they’ll speed things up and start serving up some comforting dishes this winter. Whenever they open, I predict it will be a popular place for a casual but good lunch or dinner.

You Can Go Home Again…

… but it’ll be different and you won’t be sure if you like it.

Hi, I’m Tom Bridge, I usually write over at Metroblogging DC, but I grew up right here in the Central Valley, and I’m home for the long holiday week. We stepped off the plane into the terminal at SMF, and made our way down to the baggage claim and the giant piles of luggage sculpture called “Samson.”

Catching I-5 toward Woodland and Davis, I was surprised to see how far these once-small farm towns have spread their borders ever closer. Sure, there are empty fields between these bedroom communities, but those are growing ever smaller. Driving through town today, pondering some lunch, we stopped in at Woodstock’s Pizza. Now, back east, we’re mostly stuck with the major chains, but even our local shops can’t keep up with the classics around here like Steve’s Pizza or Woodstock’s. It’s one of things that draws me back here to the Sacramento area, right up there with In-n-Out Burger, The Governator, Winter in California, and more.

But it’s not always that easy. Riding in on Southwest, I ran into a classmate from high school. It reminded me just how far I am from my native state, from my California heritage. From the local politics that govern the town I grew up in. It’s funny how something that mattered once is fading from my list of important things. Sure, the pizza’s as good as you remember, and the smell of fall on the Delta will remain one of the sweetest you’ll know, but things will change when you’re not looking each day.

Seafood comes downtown

I’m very excited that two vacant spaces in the greater downtown area are being transformed into two very excellent seafood restaurants. First, McCormick & Schmick’s is opening an outlet in the ground floor of the Elk’s Building. If you’re not familiar they run some excellent restaurants in major cities, including three Bay Area locations. Even if you’re not a seafood person, you won’t be able to resist the $1.95 bar food menu. You can get a 1/2 pound cheeseburger, fish tacos and more for just a handful of change.

The other new arrival is an extension of a Sacramento food family, Fin’s Market, across from the shiny horse Safeway at 19th & R. The bonus here is that it’s a fish market and more casual restaurant (Mc & Schmicks is installing lots of mahogony paneling) all in one. It’s within walking distance of home so I’m looking forward to being able to buy fresh fish without dropping some serious dough at the Co-Op.

Restaurant remix

Two local restaurants (Paesano’s and Paragary’s) just scrapped two of their outlets (Hukilau and Icon) for the increasingly popular counter service restaurant with Pronto and a new Cafe Bernardo (not to cause confusion with the midtown branch, this one’s been labeled R15, for its cross streets).
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Taka Sushi, Take Two!

YEA! Taka’s Sushi, a fabulous sushi joint formerly located at S and 18th before it closed courtesy of a tenant/landlord dispute, is allegedly reopening – and at a better location: I and 15th.

“But wait!” some of our more astute Sacramento sushi loving readers will shout. That address is home to another great sushi restaurant: Zen Toro. Well, apparently Zen Toro’s now closing their doors soon. However, if this nutshell game is contagious, maybe the ZT will reopen one day at Suite 111 of 1501 16th Street, currently occupied by yet another fabu sushi joint – Nishiki.

And the plot thickens: where Taka’s Sushi used to be shall now reside another, and wholly separate, Taka’s. Confused? Not yet. Read this for more sushi name-game drama.

Feed the starving poets

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If you’re looking for an interesting evening out, and you have a literary bent, check out the “Extemporaneous Collaboration” of Brad Buchanan and Robbie Grossklaus (both published poets) tomorrow night at 8 PM at Luna’s in Midtown.

I don’t rightly know what ‘extemporaneous collaboration’ means, other than it sounds like fun. Here’s a poetry sample from Brad Buchanan:
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Cookies

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From July’s National Geographic:
“It’s a frustrating fact that the Mudslide, without a doubt Nature’s most delectable cookie, is also one of the most difficult to track and locate. Despite its strong and delicious scent, trackers throughout the Sacramento region have had difficulty finding the Mudslide with any consistency.
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The Scene’s Moving East, You Say?

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My relationship with Sacramento spans the past 5 years or so. It’s been an on-again, off-again relationship as various commitments have taken me away and redelivered me to this delta town. Each time I return, of course, I have to check with friends about the new see-and-be-seens. Chops begat Spataro. Spataro, I’ve been told, is sooo last summer. Spataro begat The Park (it’s so now it has its own website, can you believe it) and its various culinary venues. So when my friend suggested we meet for lunch at Ma Jong’s – I thought, great! time to check this new hot spot on the corner of 15th and L out, see what’s what.
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Mana From Heaven

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I know what you’re thinking: 2 sushi posts in a row? What is this? A web-shill for the fishing industry? Nah, sometimes I get into a bit of a food rut, but why sit on good material?

When I moved from Sacramento a few years back, one of the things I missed the most was Mana Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. That’s not to say San Francisco lacked fantastic sushi restaurants that I now miss having moved back to Sac. People get as fanatical about their choice of sushi restaurant, it seems, as about their choice of basketball teams (Lakers – there, I said it. Send complaints to: Metroblogging Sacramento, 555 Save It Street).

Mana is located across from a Target, way the hell out on Alta Arden in an ugly strip mall next to a check-cashing place. Don’t let that description put you off, though – great things come in plain brown siding, and Mana is one such thing. It’s a large, square, suburban restaurant – well decorated with touches of Japanese art, typical sushi bar lighting, and a back counter stocked with every imaginable variety of imported Japanese soft drink. There’s a player grand piano at the front that from time to time provides diners with a concert of old-standards – some cheesy, but none distracts from the treats rolled out by the happy sushi chefs who shout greetings at arriving and departing guests.

You can check out the menu here (update: my bad, the sushi menu isn’t available via that link). The prices are normal for the area and the type of cuisine and there’s no lack of variety on the sprawling menu. My favorite: the L&A roll which takes something arguably healthy and adds plenty of fry action. Can’t go wrong though, the thing is delicious.

For friendly service, ample choice, fresh, wonderfully prepared fish, and a calming ambiance that is great for dates or dinner parties, Mana gets 4 out of 4 fins.

Mana Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Sacramento; 2580 Alta Arden Expwy, Sacramento 95825; 916-971-0728

Nothing Fishy Here

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Though it can be rather raucous, Midtown’s Tamaya wraps up some tasty fish. Prepared by dedicated NBA fans – judging by the sushi chefs’ enthusiastic reaction to the game playing on the flat screens behind them – each dish we sampled was fresh, beautifully presented, and not the least bit fishy – the hallmark of high quality.

The pictured roll above certainly better matched its name, the Caterpillar role, with it’s hair-thin sliced avocado, roe, and crispy tempura shrimp. I’m normally a roll-only girl, but since my sushi fanatic friend, Crystal, was there, she applied her ocean-vast knowledge of nigiri to get us the day’s special salmon cuts and fresh tuna varieties. These simple fish-and-rice combos practically melted in the mouth and were so hot-off-the-boat they practically swam up to the table themselves.

Tamaya is a chill establishment – it would make a great 3d date restaurant, but not a great first date location unless you and your date like yelling over either basketball or the loud music that piped up after the game. The service was friendly, relatively prompt, and attentive. I give Tamaya 3 out of 4 fins for quality, ambiance, and service.

Tamaya Sushi Bar & Gril; 2131 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95816, Phone: (916) 498-8388; rolls from $4.95 to $12.95 or thereabouts.

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