HOME > Chowhound > California >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure

Spot for a birthday dinner in Sacramento

Beam Oct 6, 2006 07:36 PM

My husband and I are going to be in Sacramento on my birthday next week and are looking for a nice spot for dinner. We live in San Francisco but are completely clueless about restaurants in Sacramento. We like pretty much all types of cuisine though would avoid sushi (pregnancy), heavy French food, and chinese. We'll have a car and I'm not even sure where we'll be staying so I'm just looking for ideas anywhere in the area. Sorry if this is quite general. I read the Sacramento posts on these boards and it looks like Waterboy is a big favorite. Any other suggestions?


  1. m
    melly Oct 8, 2006 04:54 AM

    Biba, Paragary's Bar and Grill, Dawson's in the Hyatt downtown, The Firehouse in old Sac, Spataro's, Enotria on Del Paso Blvd.
    I don't know what your budget is like, but if you don't have one,

    I'd go to The Waterboy, or The Firehouse.. in midtown and old town respectively. Spataro's is very good too, but can be loud on a busy night. If you do have a budget, go to Cafe Bernardo in midtown which is owned by the Paragary group and has some of the same menu items at much lower prices. It is a fun place but can be loud when busy..plus there is a bunch of construction going on right in front of the place.

    I've heard not so great things about Slocum House recently...but that is way out in the burbs. If you know where you are staying...what locale, I could be of more help.

    Melly www.sacramentofoodgroup.org

    4 Replies
    1. re: melly
      Beam Oct 8, 2006 05:29 PM

      Thanks. I'll check out both The Firehouse and Mulvaney's on line. We usually scrap budget considerations (within reason) on birthdays. If I find out we're staying somewhere far away from these options I'll let you know. Thanks again.

      1. re: melly
        hewn Oct 10, 2006 04:33 PM

        Personally, if you have no budget and time to make reservations, I'd try The Kitchen or the new Supper Club, which is also a meal-as-performance fixed price situation. I'm not a huge fan of The Kitchen's management - they "lost" my confirmed reservations once after I had looked forward to the meal for two months, and were very unpleasant about it - but the food is amazing and it is a lot of fun.

        I think Waterboy has suddenly done very steeply downhill in the last few months. Overdressed salads, ice cream with freezer burn (?!), saffron risotto without saffron. But the service remains the best in town and their pasta and meat dishes are excellent. Hopefully it's just a hiccup and their kitchen will be back on its feet soon.

        Firehouse I find a little too precious and overbearing, but it does exist for a certain type of customer and nobody ever said their food was mediocre.

        Certainly Biba is still very good; I was there a few weeks ago and while the meal didn't blow me away, as I was expecting it to, it didn't let me down either. And the bar there is the best in town.

        Have not tried Mulvaney's yet - I will try that.

        1. re: hewn
          melly Oct 12, 2006 12:39 AM

          I will try Mulvaney's as well. I am glad you mentioned The Kitchen and the Supper Club. These places do take a time committment and the poster is pg, so wasn't sure she'd be up for the wine pairings and sitting that long. But she may be!

          Melly www.sacramentofoodgroup.org

          1. re: melly
            dimsumgirl Oct 12, 2006 12:48 AM

            I've been wanting to try Mulvaney's too. Melly, we have some eating to do! Maybe we can plan to meet there sometime.

      2. s
        sugit Oct 8, 2006 05:34 AM

        Waterboy is great, but I am also a really big fan of Mulvaney's on 19th between Cap Ave and L St. Great ambience, character, great food, everything is very fresh and local

        They are 2 block from each other, so you can walk to both places check out the menu and decide

        1. rosielucchesini Oct 9, 2006 10:52 PM

          Biba's is my hands-down favorite for a money's no object fantastic Italian meal. They are on the corner of 28th and Capitol Avenue. Wherever you decide to go, have fun and Happy Birthday.
          Also, please post and tell us where you went and what you thought of the dining scene in our fair town.

          1. free sample addict aka Tracy L Oct 11, 2006 07:37 AM

            Aioli Bodega is a nice birthday spot. Nice Tapas as well as good entrees.


            1 Reply
            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
              hewn Oct 11, 2006 09:07 PM

              excellent recommendation. great tapas, fantastic management, great bar too. one of my favorite places in midtown - if you haven't been there before, try it.

            2. t
              tavmark Oct 11, 2006 05:00 PM

              Enotria on Del Paso Blvd.

              1. j
                jennyo Oct 13, 2006 08:55 PM

                Went to Mulvaney's last night for my husband's birthday. I have heard nothing but raves about it for weeks so I was expecting alot--turns out too much. While it was good in terms of fresh, local food, there was something missing in the taste department. It just didn't stand out in the way that I would have expected based on the accolades the restaurant is getting. Maybe it was an off night. That said, there were some excellent components to the evening:

                1) The setting is charming, we were seated on the patio and directed to a basket full of blankets if we got too cold.
                2) The service was very good--our waiter was knowledgeable and attentive.
                3) The sweetbreads, which were served in a red (mole?) sauce with corn over polenta. This dish was excellent--it was by far the standout of the night.
                4) The Terre Rouge Syrah (from Amador County--$49) was perfect.

                But there were enough other "just ok" components to make me wonder what all the fuss was about. There were no "wow" tastes (other than the sweetbreads) that I would expect from a restaurant with this pedigree. OK sea bass, OK duck, OK desserts, OK salads, OK bread. Overall, just OK.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jennyo
                  Beam Oct 14, 2006 06:37 PM

                  Thanks for all the suggestions. We ended up at Waterboy which was quite good. And, as it turned out, it was only a few miles from where we were staying. Both our starters--shrimp crostada and risotto--were delicious. My main course, salmon, however was overcooked. My husband's main, a shellfish stew, was better. Both our desserts, an apple crostone and chocolate cake, were good but not spectacular. The service was great and we liked the ambiance. So, all in all, a positive experience though I'm tempted by some of the other offerings that have been discussed here.

                  1. re: Beam
                    melly Oct 14, 2006 08:42 PM

                    Wow..sorry to hear about the just "okay" entrees at Waterboy.

                    I am kinda bummed to hear about the "just okay" stuff at Mulvaney's..haven't been yet.

                    I am eating at Biba's tonight, so I'll report here (and there) tomorrow. I just can't decide what to order..I have been staring at the online menu.

                    Melly www.sacramentofoodgroup.org

                    1. re: melly
                      hewn Oct 14, 2006 08:59 PM

                      Melly, my and friends' experiences at Waterboy in September/October have been uniformly OK. Not great. They seem to have slipped. Not sure if it's a staffing thing.

                      Service is still perfect, drinks fine, etc ... but that special edge is missing from the food, especially the fish, salads, desserts.

                      Not sure what's happened.. Hope they get through this rough patch quickly because it used to be great.

                      Have a great meal at Biba! If they have a gnocchi with anything but a red/meat sauce, definitely get it... I was very impressed. Also their sweetbreads were great.

                2. rosielucchesini Oct 15, 2006 12:11 AM

                  Just made reservations yesterday at the Waterboy for my birthday dinner next month. Now after reading the above posts, I wonder if I should stick to my tried and true: Bibas. I have been wanting to try Waterboy for years but as our fine dining dollar is limited, usually stick to places where I know I won't be disappointed. Not sure if I should cancel and reschedule???????????

                  Melly-please post us on Bibas. I can't wait until her new cookbook is released.

                  Show Hidden Posts