I would look for your basic taquerias. I think that is the one thing that Sacramento might do better than NYC. I don't have any particular recommendations but I know that other hounds will chime in.
If you are anywhere near Roseville (just east of Sacramento on I80) on a weekend, ask for directions to Denio's Roseville Auction (anyone in town should know...its not easy so ask). Go early (definitely before noon), and look for "La Bamba" tamale stand just across the street from the main auction in a building called "Auction World." I love their tamales....but they'll be sold out by noon!! After you've feasted for next to nothing, head over to the main Denio's auction and check out the produce market. Its one of the largest on the west coast, and you will find all kinds of wonderful examples of California produce at dirt cheap prices. You might also find some things you can take home: nuts, salsas, etc....
At Denios (actually Auction Town next to the tamale place)is Jimboys tacos. Very unique tacos and are so much better here than at any of theri other outlets. I love em. Also in the parking lot on Church street above the auction is a great taco truck. Buck tacos with a choice of many meats.
Maritime in Carmichael has been getting raves.....have yet to go but both Mike Dunne and the SN&R reviewer give it raves. Fine dining.
SakeYa is a great (though overlooked) japanese restaurant and it too is in Carmichael.(Coupon in the Sunday Bee).For me, this is the best japanese place in Sac. Not big on the over sauced rolls, more a sushi place. Great japanese food too.
For Chinese the Mandarin is almost in Carmichael at Arden and Eastern (next to Whole Foods) and IMO is the best Chinese restaurant in Sacramento. (no Dim Sum however)..
Coming from New York, there are not too many places here that will impress. I will focus mainly on the downtown/midtown area since I am most familiar in that area. Also, Carmichael is very much a suburban desert with limited options. Plus, any visit to Sacramento should include the urban core!
Waterboy is one of the best high-class restaurants and is slightly better than Biba IMO. I have not been to Hawks in Granite Bay, but I have heard it is excellent also. Two ethnic places I would recommend are Tres Hermanas (very good Mexican - pork dishes & mole especially) and New Canton (excellent Dim Sum and Cantonese dishes) that may be as good or better than NYC. Mikuni in Fair Oaks is a great place for sushi - especially their WIDE selection of rolls. Another cheaper, but good place, is Jack's Urban Eats for a good tri-tip sandwich and garlic fries - two NorCal staples. Fin's Market & Grill serves the freshest fish in a East Coast fish market setting. Also, one of the best hamburger places in town is Nationwide Freezer Meats, but I also include Squeeze Inn since many like it - I do not care for the GIANT amount of cheese on the burgers.
If you are here Jan 12-18, many of the downtown places are having $30 dinner specials - http://www.downtownsac.org/dinedowntown Of those, I would recommend Ella, Masons, Spataro, Restaurant 55, or Rio City Cafe (for riverfront dining).
Enjoy your trip!
2416 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816
2000 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95814
5530 Douglas Blvd, Granite Bay, CA 95746
New Canton Restaurant
2523 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
4323 Hazel Ave, Fair Oaks, CA 95628
Jack's Urban Eats
2535 Fair Oaks Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95825
Fins Seafood Market & Grill
8525 Madison Ave # A1, Fair Oaks, CA