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SC Hound needs dinner in Sacramento

Hi! This will be my first trip to CA. I'm landing in Sacramento at 9 pm on a Wednesday night. I'll want to eat right away!! Although I want really great food (of course) I also don't want to have to find my way around a brand new city when I'm bleary-eyed from travel. I'll be headed toward Lake Tahoe. What can you recommend that's an easy drive from the airport, and going in the right direction?

We are Italian restaurant deprived here at home, so that would be our first choice in cuisine. Otherwise, anything goes except sushi (we love it, but we eat it all the time at home.)

On Saturday, I'm catching the midnight flight home. I'll be driving back from Tahoe, so I have a lot more luxury of time to chase after the best thing going. We don't mind spending some cash, but we don't really care for formal,white-table cloth,"special-occasion" type places. Something funky but fabulous would be great. Something with a seasonal/local "I've never been to Napa" vibe would also be good. I don't think I can talk my husband into driving all the way to Yountville....but if there's something spectacular if we go West of the airport a bit, please tell me about it.

Many thanks!

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  1. North or South Shore of Tahoe (I 80 or Highway 50)?

    1. 9:00 PM is too late for sit down restaurants, but I have an excellent suggestion for an East-Coast hound. There is an In-N-Out in Sacramento right off the freeway on the way to Lake Tahoe that is perfect. It is open late and is extremely good.

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      In-N-Out Burger
      3501 Truxel Rd, Sacramento, CA 95834

      9 Replies
      1. re: Sacto_Damkier

        Hmmm...not what I had in mind, but a good possibility. We are also burger-deprived here in SC, thanks to run-away-government-regulations which forbid rare burgers. I've heard a lot about how tasty In-n-Out is... I assume I can order my burger the way I want?

        North or South Shore? I'm not sure yet. Probably North.

        1. re: danna

          hard to answer your question without the answer to North or South. coming from the airport it makes a big difference, since most of the restaurants are after you have to commit to either 880 (north) or 50 (south). (the airport is not in town).

          If it is open that late, and I were going to north shore, I'd stop at Tuk Tuk Thai....off of 880. (bu tthen I am not Italian deprived)

          and by the time you get out of airport if you are landing at nine, yes, most places will be closed. You might need to lower your expectations for the outbound journey.

            1. re: susancinsf

              Also Tuk Tuk is off I-5, not off I-80.

              1. re: PeterL

                You can get there easily via Northgate Blvd or Truxel off of 80 (yes you are right that it is 80 not 880) , but yes, coming from the airport 5 is quicker (as indicated in your post below). However, for others who might read this and are heading to North Shore Tahoe or Reno, it is good to know you don't need to head off track to 5 to get there...unfortunately, for OP it isn't clear that she will make it by the time she gets rental car and baggage, or if plane is late....

              2. re: susancinsf

                My first thought was Tuk Tuk, but the OP will not be in Sacramento until at least 10:00 PM, which is a very difficult time. An earlier flight opens up many more opportunities, but In-N-Out is an excellent and convienent stop.

              3. re: danna

                Eventhough In N'Out uses fresh ground beef, I am afraid that corporate risk management has gotten to them. No rare burgers.

                1. re: danna

                  In-N-Out uses thin burgers which may be difficult to cook rare, however I have always found the normal cooked burgers at the Truxel Blvd location to be nice and juicy - especially the Double Double. There are reports of being able to cook them to order, but they are not the thick ones that benefit from being rare.

                  Unfortunately, I am not as familiar with restaurants in Lake Tahoe - especially the North Shore. Hopefully others can help out.

                2. re: Sacto_Damkier

                  This is on the to North Tahoe route, just to clarify, and yes, I'd say that might be your best bet

                3. Tuk Tuk Restaurant, 4630 Natomas Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95835
                  (916) 575-7957 tuktuksac.com

                  It's a Thai restaurant. They are open till 10:00 on wednesday. It's close to the airport. If your flight comes in on time you may just make it. Give them a call first.

                  Otherwise places close down pretty early here in Sac.

                  On your way back, it depends on whether you are driving from north Tahoe (I-80) or south Tahoe (Hwy 50). There are many possibilities.

                  1. here is the in and out down low menu:

                    In-N-Out Burger has a secret unpublished menu for insiders who are In-The-Know. Next time you're at In-N-Out (i.e. tomorrow . . . or maybe tonight), order a bag of these off-the-menu specials:

                    "3-by-3" = three meat patties and three slices of cheese.

                    "4-by-4" = four meat patties and four slices of cheese.

                    "2-by-4" = two meat patties and four slices of cheese.

                    *Note: You can get a burger with as many meat patties or cheese slices as you want. Just tell the In-N-Out Burger cashier how many meat patties and how much cheese you want and that is what you'll get! For instance, if you want 6 pieces of meat and 10 pieces of cheese tell them you want a "6-by-10."

                    "Double Meat" = like a Double Double without cheese.

                    "3 by Meat" = three meat patties and no cheese.

                    "Animal Style" = the meat is cooked and fried with mustard and then pickles are added, extra spread and grilled onions are added.

                    "Animal Style Fries" = fries with cheese, spread, grilled onions and pickles (if you ask for them).

                    "Protein Style" = for all you low-carbohydrate dieters, this is a burger with no bun (wrapped in lettuce).

                    "Flying Dutchman" = two meat patties, two slices of melted cheese and nothing else - not even a bun!

                    Fries "Well-Done" = extra crispy fries . . . even better than the regular!

                    Fries "Light" = opposite of fries well-done, more raw than most people like 'em

                    "Grilled Cheese" = no meat, just melted cheese, tomato, lettuce and spread on a bun.

                    "Veggie Burger" = burger without the patty or cheese. Sometimes we call this the "Wish Burger."

                    "Neapolitan" Shake = strawberry, vanilla and chocolate blended together.

                    The friendly employees of In-N-Out Burger will take your special order without question, if you use the right terminology. The printed receipt will have your special request typed on it just as we said it.

                    Try it!

                    1. i love paragary's -- family owned, excellent italian food. however, if you want to pay less and eat GREAT food in a more casual environment go to cafe bernado arounf the corner.

                      also check out the tower cafe. there's nothing like it anywhere else. it's international foods with a unique twist.