Archive for August, 2008

And in the evening, I remember why I like living here

Sometimes, even when it’s hot and nasty out and the air seems icky and tempers are short, a nice delta breeze kicks in and the clouds puff up, and we get the best evening skies:

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.

Sign of Hope

I was riding my little thigh-powered scooter into work along 20th Street the other day, and heard the ominous sound of the railroad crossing arms.  As any Sacramentan knows, the appropriate action to take at this point is to slam on the gas, and hope that you can perhaps beat the train to the C Street crossing.

Alas!  On this day, I had no horses, so I was forced to wait at L Street while the four engine behemoth chugged by.  Up pulled a ponytailed hipsterchik on a black cruiser.  And a business suit on a vintage Schwinn.  And a messenger on a fixie.  And a server, avec apron, on a yellow fat tire.  And a beat-up greybeard on a beat-up grey bike.  And by the time the train was done with us, there were eight bicycles waiting to get through the intersection.

Yay, alternatrans!

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!

Sacramento’s own "red light district"

We’re sitting in the car at Q and 15th, waiting for the light to change. There’s a coffee shop on the corner, with outdoor tables and a neon sign in the window.

“Mama, why do they call that place ‘The Naked Lounge?’ What is it?”
“Oh, it’s a good coffee shop—best lattes in town—“
“Why do they call it, uh—naked–?”
“I don’t really know—to get your attention maybe? There’s nothing naked going in there that I know of—”
The light changed to green , thank goodness, as both my daughters peered into the dark cafe to see what exactly might be happening in the Lounge.
We then turn left onto 16th Street, and the corner ad there proclaims “Hot Italian” alongside a sexy black and white enlarged photo of Sophia Loren. My husband gives me that look, the out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye look, and we both laugh.

Which comes first–a naked lounge, or a hot Italian? Whatever–I’ll take mine hot, and to go, please. Keep the change.

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