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Best of Sacramento - Sacramento Magazine

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The August 2007 Sacramento Magazine has their list of Best of Sacramento as ranked by readers. The results are mostly the same, but there are some interesting ones. Both types are listed below:

Best of the Best: Biba (expensive), Paragary's Bar & Oven (moderate), Jack's Urban Eats & Old Spaghetti Factory (inexpensive)

BBQ: Texas West Bar-B-Que

Breakfast: Fox & Goose Public House

Burger: In-N-Out

Chain Restaurant: Romano's Macaroni Grill

Coffeehouse, Locally Owned: Bella Bru (Starbucks #1 for all coffeehouses)

Chinese, Hole-In-The-Wall: Wonderful Chinese Restaurant (Frank Fat's #1 for all Chinese)

Greek: Greek Village Inn

Indian: Gaylord India Restaurant

Italian: Biba (Buca di Beppo #1 for Italian, Family Style)

Mexican, Hole-In-The-Wall: Vallejo's (Ernesto's is STILL #1 for all Mexican)

Vietnamese: Lemon Grass Restaurant

Ice Cream Parlor: Leatherby's Family Creamery

Davis Restaurant: Bistro 33 Davis

EDH Restaurant: Masque Ristorante

Elk Grove Restaurant: Boulevard Bistro

Folsom Restaurant: Bidwell St Bistro & Cliff House

Woodland: Morrison's Upstairs (Tazzina Bistro is #2)

Pizza: Round Table Pizza (interestingly BJ's is #1 for Pizza, Non-Pizzeria?)

River Dining: Rio City Cafe

Seafood: Scott's Seafood

Steakhouse: Ruth's Chris Steak House

Sushi: Mikuni

Like almost all elections, it is purely a popularity contest instead of true merit. However, some of the 2nd place finishers have been mentioned frequently on this Board. Maybe there is some hope left in the universe. If I see Ernesto's once more as #1 Mexican, my head will just explode!

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  1. What!!!? PFChangs snubbed again? And where's any mention of Chipotle?

    I guess Vallejo's qualifies as "hole-in-the-wall" Mexican because some of the people who work there have accents. And since when was Lemon Grass a Vietnamese restaurant?

    Oh, the humanity...

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Chipotle was voted best burrito with (sigh) Dos Coyotes Border Cafe as #2.

    2. Yep...further proof that "popular" and "good" are independent of one another. Round Table? Frank Fat's??

      1. Some of my list:

        Best Coffeehouse: Temple

        Best Mexican: Tres Hermanas (La Favorita Taqueria for Hole-In-The Wall)

        Asian-Fusion: Fat's Asia Bistro (not Chinese, but pretty damn good!)

        Best Chain Restaurant: BJ's

        8 Replies
        1. re: Sacto_Damkier

          Forgot to add:

          Best Soup: Soups in the City!

          I had probably the best chicken & dumplings soup there today I have ever tasted. The chicken was moist and hand shredded. The dumplings were perfect. The broth made me stop and catch my breath - yes even over regular chicken & dumplings.

          1. re: Sacto_Damkier

            I agree with you more than with the SacMag lemmings, but have you tried La Bonne Soupe downtown? Two or three or more soups made fresh from scratch every day. Quality varies from outstanding to divine. Hmmm, it's lunchtime...

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Yes, I have tried La Bonne Soupe. It is excellent for French soup, but I think that Soups in the City is better with a larger variety. If you have not tried Soups in the City, you are missing out.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                I used to work in the Wells Fargo building downtown where Il Fornaio is located and they have some excellent soups as well.

              2. re: Sacto_Damkier

                On your recommendation and because I was downtown on a saturday I went to this place. Well guess what. The owner decided to take that weekend off (weekend before July 4th). I am sorry but when I tract all the way downtown and they closed the place just because, I ain't coming back.

                1. re: PeterL

                  I'm not sure La Bonne Soupe is open on ANY weekend. My impression was it was a M-F lunch only type place.

                  Makes sense, since Sacramento downtown is pretty desolate once the offices close.

                  1. re: salutlemonde

                    PeterL is referring to a previous thread in which I highly recommended the place. Soups recently changed their hours, and is now closed on the weekends.

                  2. re: PeterL

                    Thanks for trying the place, and I am sorry you are upset. Part of being a Chowhound is running into places that have weird hours or are routinely closed - it has happened to me MANY times.

              3. My fave was the best West Sacramento restaurant runner-up - IKEA!

                1. Another reason not to buy Sacramento Magazine. I think Sactown is better for food reviews and listings, anyway. For that matter, so is News & Reviews. The magazine reads like it's 85% advertising, albeit in different forms - sometimes disguised as articles, sometimes not. The other 15% is badly done snapshots of Sacramento's elite attending various functions.

                  At least it was "SUBSCRIBERS' choice. So, it can be argued that it does not represent a true demographic for Sacramento. WHEW!

                  The Bee seems to really like La Favorita - maybe they're too "ethnic" for this magazine's subscribers. But then they voted my #1 most detested Mexican - Chipotle - as best burrito. Sorry, but I can't even tell their chicken from their pork. They must put the meat in a flavor-removing machine before putting it in the steam trays. At least Dos Coyotes puts real carne asada in their steak burritos - but not enough to break a tie, seemingly.

                  Sacramento really does seem mediocre in some categories - Greek comes to mind - so maybe the "best of" really does reflect the overall region. Things are getting better, though.

                  Some categories are still a no-show (or vastly underrepresented here): Cuban, Indonesian, Nicaraguan... still have to drive to Pittsburg (CA) for Nicaraguan.

                  In general, we get better food cooking it ourselves than going out. Even if it's a challenge finding a good restaurant, we do have good markets!

                  BTW: Full review here:
                  http://www.sacmag.com/media/Sacrament...

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: salutlemonde

                    Yeah, it's a perfect "Doctors Office" magazine for people to pretend to read while wondering what strange and exotic diseases are possessed by everyone else in the waiting room. The editors have found some interesting food places, but they are nowhere near the other sources. Their demographic seems to be suburban soccer moms.

                    This parallels the recent "Best of Reno" list I saw - just a popularity contest. I mean McDonalds got best french fries! Yes, they are decent, but nowhere near Jack's garlic fries, Spataro's parmesan truffle fries, or any other number of places. SN&R readers have a somewhat more sophisticated palette, but they still pick the popular places too. Fortunately, Sacramento is growing a lot more good restaurants, even in the 'burbs!

                    1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                      McDonalds often gets "best fries". If it's not MacDo, then it's usually In-N-Out. It's never the frite maniac from Belgium who obsesses over them.

                      Did anyone here find these categories useful, or get tempted to try any of them?

                      Best Legs, Best Use of Sulfite-Laden Lunchmeat, Best Culinary Homage to a Former Rapper (Like rappers are known for fine culinary distinction?)

                      Was biggest portions a reason to go to a restaurant or AVOID it?

                      There wasn't a single new place mentioned that I really wanted to try. Granted, I've already tried the places I found interesting so there really wasn't that much to choose from.

                      Some they missed:

                      Italian: Palermo, Elk Grove;

                      Mexican, hole in the wall: Anything from La Favorita group (Fiesta, Garibaldi...), Taqueria Guadalajara (not as good as it once was, but light years ahead of Chipotle), Taqueria Jalisco (Roseville/Lincoln)...

                      The Chinese seafood place on Broadway (I don't know the name)

                      Maybe these places aren't frequented by subscribers of the magazine. My impression was they don't have many individuals as subscribers - that they would give a subscription to businesses in return for advertising, or businesses would get subscriptions so they can cover the scratches on their waiting room tables.

                      1. re: salutlemonde

                        "The Chinese seafood place on Broadway"...could it be New Canton?

                        1. re: salutlemonde

                          So is there a obsessive frite maniac from Belgium cooking fries somewhere in Sacto?

                          In defense of In-N-Out (not that anybody's really attacked it), at least the place is committed to quality ingredients. No, you're not going to get spectacular preparation or presentation from a crew of 17-year-olds who are trying to get food to a line of people that stretches out the door. But their burgers don't start out as icy, chemically-augmented hockey pucks, and their fries are actually made from real potatoes. Not a great meal, but when you're rolling through Turlock at 9 pm on a Sunday it at least provides a place to get real food.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Luc, the chef at 55 degrees, is Belgian and his fries are good (they do have moules frites on the menu). I don't know if they're as good as a hole in the wall in Brussels that serves only fries (and 15 or so dipping sauces to go with them) - but I haven't found anything like this in Sacramento.

                            BTW, I'd rather see In N Out win for fries than most restaurants, since you can see they start with a real, unfrozen potato. Too bad there's only one on hwy 5 between Sacto and the Grapevine.

                            1. re: salutlemonde

                              Ah, but there are a dozen or so off of 99. Alternate routing, anyone?

                              55 degrees is right across the street from my office and I've never had a meal there. Don't know why. Moules frites, eh? May have to make a point of giving it a try.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                They have pretty good steak frites, too.

                                1. re: salutlemonde

                                  I hate these "Best Of"s. Pizza Round Table? Romas, Giovannies, Zeldas, Luigi's are much better.

                                  And for fries (and potatoes called moules frites are not FRIES) are at Weiner Works on Madison Ave. Also best Hot Dog and a contender for for best hamburger.

                                  The most glaring ranking is El Torito for best happy hour. El Torito stopped having anything for happy hour years and years ago. (except half price apps) No comp. food at all (except for chips and salsa)and drinks are as high as a ca'ts back..

                                  1. re: bennyboy1

                                    LOL! Just don't tell the Belgian dude with the big knife.

                                    What's your favorite dog at Wiener Works?

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      #5 I think. Tomatoes, onions mustard and relish. I love they use red onions too and steam the dogs in beer..

                                      I am so craving one of their dogs right now too... I have been eating there since they opened.

                                  2. re: salutlemonde

                                    Steak frites? For real? I am so going there this week. I quit ten years of being vegetarian for steak frites.

                                2. re: salutlemonde

                                  I agree with 55 Degrees and the quality of the fries. Crisp on the outside and creamy in the center. I haven't found better in town. Mussels are fine, but at times a bit overcooked, and at times a bit small. Not sure of the sourcing, but I'd pay extra to get good Tomales bay mussels.

                              2. re: salutlemonde

                                I bet "The Chinese seafood place on Broadway" is Fortune House...There are dishes on their menu you won't find anywhere else in town, and everything I've tried there is terrific.

                          2. I stopped reading at Old Spaghetti Factory.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: PeterL

                              Sacramento Magazine and their Best of is an anachronism. Last gasps from old media. Nice pictures, but not serious towards Food.

                            2. When I saw that..and all of the chains...I almost puked. Who votes? Dismal list for the most part. Dave and I figured whoever is voting has only heard that Biba's is the best (never eaten there) and would never think to actually go into a real "hole in the wall".

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: melly

                                You have correctly identified the average Sacramento Magazine reader. Note that "average" does not mean that all readers are addicted to chains, just most. At least the list is getting better over time as more independents are opening up in the suburbs. I do wonder how many people vote for Biba without actually eating there.

                                1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                                  SacTown magazine has a much more chowhound-oriented "best of" restaurant list. They are clearly the magazine that has a much more up-to-date perspective on the Sac scene. Sacramento Magazine is a dinosaur, published by old-money East Sac country-club-mansion-living blue-hairs who know as much about the MidTown Yuppie crowd as they do about Eskimo social mores. I gave up on Sacramento Magazine when I found out that most of their restaurant reviews were written by people with a financial stake in the restaurant they're reviewing.