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A bowl of ramen with bamboo shoots, and egg, and chives. Kodaiko

24 Exceptional Restaurants in Sacramento

From iconic favorites to fresh newcomers, these are the restaurants that define Sacramento

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Despite all the disruptions of the past two years, the Sacramento area’s food scene continues to thrive with its globe-trotting range of flavors and dining options, from low-key mom-and-pop shops to fine-dining restaurants with Michelin aspirations. It’s a dining scene that excels in everything from tacos de cabeza to Chinese dumplings, Ethiopian stews to Italian comfort foods. These two dozen restaurants represent the spectrum of Sacramento’s enduring dining scene — a mixtape of the city’s standout spots.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kabab Hut

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Head to Placer County for Pakistani and Indian food at this restaurant known for its over deliciousness — and, especially, for its impeccably tender tandoori fish. Overseen by Zulfiqar “Guddu” Haider, who previously ran the acclaimed San Francisco restaurants Lahore Karahi and Guddu de Karahi, this strip mall restaurant also produces exceptionally creamy chicken tikka masala, irresistible garlic naan, and housemade pudding for dessert.

Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Stephanie Stiavetti

Nixtaco

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Venture out to a Roseville stripmall to find some of the greater Sacramento area’s most interesting tacos. This Michelin-recognized restaurant wraps everything from pork belly to al pastor to deep fried avocado in housemade 4.5-inch blue corn tortillas, though you can also order a quesadilla or burrito if you’re not in the taco mood. Round out the experience with a cold cerveza or Cadillac margarita on the buzzy front patio, often filled with regulars from near and far.  

A taco in a paper-lined basket. Nixtaco

Shige Sushi

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For sushi purists, it doesn’t get much better than this humble shop on Madison Avenue. Leave the sauce-drenched rolls with wacky names for another time. Chef-owner Shige Tokita specializes in impeccably prepared nigiri, sashimi, and small plates that are high in freshness and flavor, and low on flash. Pro tip: Go with any of the “daily specials” posted inside the restaurant, such as the juicy hamachi kama.

Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Stephanie Stiavetti

Sunflower Drive-In

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The offerings for vegetarian and plant-based foods have never been better locally, but you still can’t beat a nutburger with house sauce from this long-running Fair Oaks spot. Since the late 1970s, Sunflower Drive-In has stood as a must-stop for vegans and vegetarians with a variety of burgers, burritos, and sandwiches that are both filling and fresh.

Yue Huang Restaurant

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The Michelin Guide called out this Natomas Chinese restaurant as a “hidden treasure” tucked away into a Natomas stripmall, which essentially means you’ll have to show up early if you want to get a table on bustling Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s become a hot destination for steamed dumplings, barbecue pork buns, and all other manner of fried and baked Cantonese specialities. 

Dim sum from Yue Huang Restaurant. Lauren Saria

Tori's Place

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Billed as “the tiny restaurant with the big heart,” this humble shack dishes out some of the best soul food in the Sacramento area. The skillet cornbread eats like a pancake and comes with all combo meals, whether your entree of choice is fried chicken, red snapper, riblets, or pork chops. For a true Tori’s Place experience, dip that cornbread into their signature gumbo, with its spicy and soothing overtones. Loaded with shrimp, chicken, and sausage, it’s a hearty stew that really sticks to the ribs.

Solomon's

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Located in a former Tower Records spot and named after Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, the restaurant previously known as Solomon’s Delicatessen now focuses on globally-inspired dishes like the “Sapporo” fried chicken sandwich with sunomono. Jewish deli favorites, including some of the best pastrami in town, remain from its original concept as a delicatessen. Look for the outdoor “disco brunch” on weekends with DJs in the mix and plenty of patio dining.

Kodaiko Ramen & Bar

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If you find yourself downtown craving something comforting, Kodaiko serves one of the city’s best bowls of ramen on K Street. Though it’s a small space, the restaurant gets a boost from its pedigree (owner Billy Ngo is also behind hit sushi spot Kru) and earns respect for its housemade broths, including a rich three-day pork paitan. In addition to both traditional and contemporary takes on ramen — there’s a reuben-inspired mazeman for those looking for something fresh — sushi, donburi, and sandos round out the options.

A bowl of ramen with a half egg and pork belly. Kodaiko

Bambi Vegan Tacos

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If you’ve lived in Sacramento for any measurable amount of time then it’s likely you’ve eaten a crunchy, greasy, and curiously Parmesan cheese-dusted taco from Jimboys. Well, Bambi Vegan Tacos, a former food truck that rolled into a sunny brick-and-mortar space near downtown last year, does a vegan version starring “beef” made from crimini mushrooms that honestly might be even better than the original. The fully vegan menu also offers creamy queso and bean dip; a Taco Bell-esque crunchy taco that comes wrapped in a refried bean-lined fresh flour tortilla; and the Melty Melt, an artichoke-filled riff on a vegan tuna melt. Plant-based eaters, get wild. 

A metal tray with tacos and a patty melt from Bambi Vegan Tacos in downtown Sacramento. Lauren Saria

Frank Fat's

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In terms of classic Sacramento cuisine, it doesn’t get much more iconic than a “Frank’s Style” New York steak that’s loaded with oyster sauce and onions, plus banana cream pie for dessert. Frank Fat’s has bridged Chinese and American cuisines since 1939 and remained a hotbed of political wheeling and dealing. It’s the oldest family-run restaurant in Sacramento, enduring times of war and recessions, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Dine-in and takeout available — lobbyist not included.

Paragary's

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Since 1983, Paragary’s has been giving Sacramento diners a taste of classic Continental (read: French-Italian) cuisine and over the years has gone on to spawn a number of other successful restaurants. But the original Midtown location remains a classic dining experience for the City of Trees; it’s all white tablecloths and seasonal produce used to dress up pizza, pasta, and steak, but thanks to an update in 2015 the real draw might be the stunning patio with its lazily climbing vines and romantic string lights. 

Kru Sushi

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Splurge on some of Sacramento’s most artfully executed and flavorful Japanese food at this elegant East Sacramento spot. Chef Billy Ngo and his team are producing precision-sliced nigiri and sashimi, plus such small plates as tea-smoked duck kushiyaki and grilled corn with miso butter. The restaurant is open for dine-in but act fast and early if you want to snag a reservation, which can be made online.

Quail egg fried rice on a bed of frisée Chris Macias

In Sacramento’s great fried chicken wars, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t list South as a top contender — if not the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. But beyond that deftly seasoned and chomp-worthy chicken, this mom-and-pop shop near Southside Park has emerged quickly as a Sacramento staple with barbecue platters, Creole-style linguine, and one of the best burgers in town.

Localis

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At this Michelin Guide-worthy Midtown restaurant chef-owner Christopher Barnum-Dann offers Sacramento diners a true fine dining experience with prix-fixe menus built around locally grown and seasonal produce. Snag a seat at the chef’s counter to hear about the Barnum-Dann’s “conscious eater” ethos from his own mouth or snag a seat on the cozy back patio.

Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Rachel Valley

Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining

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In a section of southern downtown that continues to shed its Japantown roots, Binchoyaki remains true to the neighborhood’s soul with such comfort foods as bacon fried rice, sumptuous bowls of ramen, and skewers grilled over white-hot Japanese charcoal. Order a la carte or opt for Binchoyaki’s artfully assembled bento boxes. Takeout and outdoor dining only.

Canon | East Sacramento

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Step inside this handsome East Sacramento dining room and you’ll find chef Brad Cecchi offers a menu that oscillates between playful – and often shareable – plates like golden crispy tater tots smothered in inky black mole to an elegant citrus marinated cod with smoked scallop nage. A cocktail list veers from the complex Cenote, blending smoky mezcal with amaro and dry vermouth, to the tropical-leaning Sassenach made with scotch and passionfruit.

The Canon dining room with a view into the kitchen. Canon

Tower Café

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Come to this garden oasis for a piece of Sacramento history; located next to the historic Tower Theater, Tower Cafe has long been a favorite spot for breakfast and brunch — drawing fans as much for its menu of French toast and omelets as for its eclectic decor and lush patio, shaded by reaching trees and strung with lanterns and lights. 

A monte cristo sandwich on a white plate. Jenya Chernoff Photography

Pangaea Bier Cafe

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Head to this Franklin Boulevard spot for an excellent burger and impressive selection of beers. The food sticks mostly to tavern staples like nachos, wings, and a fried chicken sandwich, all of which pairs well with any of the local and international brews available by the bottle or on tap. Let this be your jumping off point for a Sacramento brewery tour or end your night here before popping over to local ice cream favorite Gunther’s for a scoop of something sweet.

The exterior of Pangaea Bier Cafe. Pangaea Bier Cafe

Fixins Soul Kitchen

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Sacramento loves to claim South makes the best fried chicken in the city. But don’t overlook Fixins, the Oak Park soul food restaurant opened by former NBA player and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. What Fixins might lack in indie-coolness it more than makes up for with its consistently succulent fried chicken, sinfully sweet candied yams, and smoky collard greens. Bottom line: Fixins is a crowd-pleaser thanks to those flaky biscuits that come with a side of pink strawberry buttery and playful selection of Kool Aid-infused cocktails. 

Fried chicken with mac n’ cheese and candied yams at Fixins. Lauren Saria

Bacon & Butter

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Breakfast and brunch don’t get much better than this spot on the edge of Tahoe Park. The wait for a table is notoriously long, but the payoff is equally big with chef Billy Zoellin’s take on scratch-made biscuits, breakfast burritos with housemade chorizo, and a burger that some call the best in town. Don’t sleep on the “Kitchen Sink,” a flavorful mash-up of crispy lardons and potatoes with mushrooms, cheese, and onions, all topped with two perfectly cooked eggs.

Luigi's Pizza Parlor

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For a slice of old school Sacramento, it’s tough to beat Luigi’s. This Stockton Boulevard landmark has crafted pies since 1953, with much of that time under the Brida family’s ownership. That changed in 2019 with a new ownership group that includes the proprietors of the Shack, but this pizzeria’s time-honored recipes endure. The “Luigi’s Special” remains one of Sacramento’s signature pizzas with its mouthful of olives, salami, mushrooms, and sausage on a crispy New York-styled crust.

Lalo's Restaurant

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A must for any fan of Mexican food, this unassuming spot near Fruitridge Road comes through with quesadillas con huitlacoche (corn smut), a mouthful of a Cubana torta, birria, and other dishes that bring a taste of Mexico City’s food styles to the 916 area code. Also check for $1 “Taco Tuesday” specials that can be washed down with a variety of agua frescas. If you’re looking for especially rich tacos de lengua or tacos de cabeza, this is your spot.

Quán Nem Ninh Hòa Restaurant

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Some 23,000 Vietnamese live in Sacramento, and the south side of town is especially known for its range of Vietnamese restaurants. Still, even within that vibrant local scene, Quan Nem Ninh Hoa stands out as one of the few spots that focuses on central Vietnamese dishes, including bánh bèo (steamed rice cakes), bánh xèo (crispy, savory crepes), and nem nuong cuon (fresh spring rolls) that you roll yourself.

Journey to the Dumpling

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A good place to start any trek through the Sacramento area’s spectrum of international flavors is the aptly named Journey to the Dumpling, a Shanghai-styled cafe located in the southern suburb of Elk Grove. The xiao long bao is the star of the show here: The delicately wrapped dumplings, which include versions made with ground pork or seafood, are flavor bombs filled with savory soup. Also look for such specials as mushroom stuffed baos and vegan dumplings.

Kabab Hut

Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Stephanie Stiavetti

Head to Placer County for Pakistani and Indian food at this restaurant known for its over deliciousness — and, especially, for its impeccably tender tandoori fish. Overseen by Zulfiqar “Guddu” Haider, who previously ran the acclaimed San Francisco restaurants Lahore Karahi and Guddu de Karahi, this strip mall restaurant also produces exceptionally creamy chicken tikka masala, irresistible garlic naan, and housemade pudding for dessert.

Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Tandoor Fish at Kabab Hut
Stephanie Stiavetti

Nixtaco

A taco in a paper-lined basket. Nixtaco

Venture out to a Roseville stripmall to find some of the greater Sacramento area’s most interesting tacos. This Michelin-recognized restaurant wraps everything from pork belly to al pastor to deep fried avocado in housemade 4.5-inch blue corn tortillas, though you can also order a quesadilla or burrito if you’re not in the taco mood. Round out the experience with a cold cerveza or Cadillac margarita on the buzzy front patio, often filled with regulars from near and far.  

A taco in a paper-lined basket. Nixtaco

Shige Sushi

Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Stephanie Stiavetti

For sushi purists, it doesn’t get much better than this humble shop on Madison Avenue. Leave the sauce-drenched rolls with wacky names for another time. Chef-owner Shige Tokita specializes in impeccably prepared nigiri, sashimi, and small plates that are high in freshness and flavor, and low on flash. Pro tip: Go with any of the “daily specials” posted inside the restaurant, such as the juicy hamachi kama.

Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Aburi Salmon Nigiri at Shige Sushi
Stephanie Stiavetti

Sunflower Drive-In

The offerings for vegetarian and plant-based foods have never been better locally, but you still can’t beat a nutburger with house sauce from this long-running Fair Oaks spot. Since the late 1970s, Sunflower Drive-In has stood as a must-stop for vegans and vegetarians with a variety of burgers, burritos, and sandwiches that are both filling and fresh.

Yue Huang Restaurant

Dim sum from Yue Huang Restaurant. Lauren Saria

The Michelin Guide called out this Natomas Chinese restaurant as a “hidden treasure” tucked away into a Natomas stripmall, which essentially means you’ll have to show up early if you want to get a table on bustling Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s become a hot destination for steamed dumplings, barbecue pork buns, and all other manner of fried and baked Cantonese specialities. 

Dim sum from Yue Huang Restaurant. Lauren Saria

Tori's Place

Billed as “the tiny restaurant with the big heart,” this humble shack dishes out some of the best soul food in the Sacramento area. The skillet cornbread eats like a pancake and comes with all combo meals, whether your entree of choice is fried chicken, red snapper, riblets, or pork chops. For a true Tori’s Place experience, dip that cornbread into their signature gumbo, with its spicy and soothing overtones. Loaded with shrimp, chicken, and sausage, it’s a hearty stew that really sticks to the ribs.

Solomon's

Located in a former Tower Records spot and named after Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, the restaurant previously known as Solomon’s Delicatessen now focuses on globally-inspired dishes like the “Sapporo” fried chicken sandwich with sunomono. Jewish deli favorites, including some of the best pastrami in town, remain from its original concept as a delicatessen. Look for the outdoor “disco brunch” on weekends with DJs in the mix and plenty of patio dining.

Kodaiko Ramen & Bar

A bowl of ramen with a half egg and pork belly. Kodaiko

If you find yourself downtown craving something comforting, Kodaiko serves one of the city’s best bowls of ramen on K Street. Though it’s a small space, the restaurant gets a boost from its pedigree (owner Billy Ngo is also behind hit sushi spot Kru) and earns respect for its housemade broths, including a rich three-day pork paitan. In addition to both traditional and contemporary takes on ramen — there’s a reuben-inspired mazeman for those looking for something fresh — sushi, donburi, and sandos round out the options.

A bowl of ramen with a half egg and pork belly. Kodaiko

Bambi Vegan Tacos

A metal tray with tacos and a patty melt from Bambi Vegan Tacos in downtown Sacramento. Lauren Saria

If you’ve lived in Sacramento for any measurable amount of time then it’s likely you’ve eaten a crunchy, greasy, and curiously Parmesan cheese-dusted taco from Jimboys. Well, Bambi Vegan Tacos, a former food truck that rolled into a sunny brick-and-mortar space near downtown last year, does a vegan version starring “beef” made from crimini mushrooms that honestly might be even better than the original. The fully vegan menu also offers creamy queso and bean dip; a Taco Bell-esque crunchy taco that comes wrapped in a refried bean-lined fresh flour tortilla; and the Melty Melt, an artichoke-filled riff on a vegan tuna melt. Plant-based eaters, get wild. 

A metal tray with tacos and a patty melt from Bambi Vegan Tacos in downtown Sacramento. Lauren Saria

Frank Fat's

In terms of classic Sacramento cuisine, it doesn’t get much more iconic than a “Frank’s Style” New York steak that’s loaded with oyster sauce and onions, plus banana cream pie for dessert. Frank Fat’s has bridged Chinese and American cuisines since 1939 and remained a hotbed of political wheeling and dealing. It’s the oldest family-run restaurant in Sacramento, enduring times of war and recessions, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Dine-in and takeout available — lobbyist not included.

Paragary's

Since 1983, Paragary’s has been giving Sacramento diners a taste of classic Continental (read: French-Italian) cuisine and over the years has gone on to spawn a number of other successful restaurants. But the original Midtown location remains a classic dining experience for the City of Trees; it’s all white tablecloths and seasonal produce used to dress up pizza, pasta, and steak, but thanks to an update in 2015 the real draw might be the stunning patio with its lazily climbing vines and romantic string lights. 

Kru Sushi

Quail egg fried rice on a bed of frisée Chris Macias

Splurge on some of Sacramento’s most artfully executed and flavorful Japanese food at this elegant East Sacramento spot. Chef Billy Ngo and his team are producing precision-sliced nigiri and sashimi, plus such small plates as tea-smoked duck kushiyaki and grilled corn with miso butter. The restaurant is open for dine-in but act fast and early if you want to snag a reservation, which can be made online.

Quail egg fried rice on a bed of frisée Chris Macias

South

In Sacramento’s great fried chicken wars, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t list South as a top contender — if not the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. But beyond that deftly seasoned and chomp-worthy chicken, this mom-and-pop shop near Southside Park has emerged quickly as a Sacramento staple with barbecue platters, Creole-style linguine, and one of the best burgers in town.

Localis

Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Rachel Valley

At this Michelin Guide-worthy Midtown restaurant chef-owner Christopher Barnum-Dann offers Sacramento diners a true fine dining experience with prix-fixe menus built around locally grown and seasonal produce. Snag a seat at the chef’s counter to hear about the Barnum-Dann’s “conscious eater” ethos from his own mouth or snag a seat on the cozy back patio.

Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Wood-Fire-Roasted Octopus at Localis
Rachel Valley

Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining

In a section of southern downtown that continues to shed its Japantown roots, Binchoyaki remains true to the neighborhood’s soul with such comfort foods as bacon fried rice, sumptuous bowls of ramen, and skewers grilled over white-hot Japanese charcoal. Order a la carte or opt for Binchoyaki’s artfully assembled bento boxes. Takeout and outdoor dining only.

Related Maps

Canon | East Sacramento