SACRAMENTO THIS WEEKEND -- CHEAP, GOOD EATS?
My husband and I are going to be in Sacramento this weekend -- neither of has ever been. We love good food and trying new things, but we're on a tight budget. I did a quick search for good cheap eats on this board, and while there are tons of suggestions, it's hard to tell what's affordable without looking up every restaurant's menu on the web. Any suggestions for lunch (no more than $25 for two) and dinner (no more than $50 for two)? We'll be near the Convention Center, but we will have a car. Thanks!!
Nationwide Burgers. Great lunch and well withn the price range.
Jacks Urban Eats (Capital Ave) Again great food, and within you pricing.
Rubicon Brewing. Best 10 dollar meals in Sacramento. (Capitol Ave)
Pasesanos Pizza. Treny but hopping. good pizza (again Capitol Ave).
Zeldas Pizza. 21'st between O and P Streets. best pizza downtown, but not as hip as paesanos.
also good pizza is Luigis.
If you re going to splurge (and you should from the savings of the reccos I just gave) go to the Waterboy. next to Rubicon Brewing. Without wine it fits in you budget. But best in town.
Kinda depends on where you're from and what you like. If you live in the San Gabriel Valley, for example, you won't be impressed with the Asian food here. But compared to most of what's available in the US, it's pretty good. So with that grain of salt...
Head over to Broadway. The dim sum at New Canton is very good (although you might have to swap lunch and dinner budgets that day). You can hit Pho Bac Hoa Viet (a local chain) for pho (beef noodle soup), bun (rice vermicelli topped with tasty grilled and/or fried things), or my current favorite mit vit (roast duck noodle soup). Fortune House has pretty good Hong Kong style food, and Kathmandu Kitchen serves Nepali food that I like, although I have no basis for comparison. And it's not all Asian: Queen Sheba does decent Ethiopian, and the vegetarian lunch buffet is something like $8 pp.
Another option is to head down Stockton Blvd. That's where you'll find the Pho Bac Hoa Viet mothership (see above) as well as zillions of other Vietnamese places (they call it "Little Saigon" for a reason), including Pho King II (love the name), which makes an okay bun bo Hue. I haven't found a great banh mi place since New Paris closed, but the place next to SF grocery at 65th Street isn't bad, and you'll be hard pressed to eat $10 worth of food between you. Happy Garden has decent dim sum; not as good as New Canton, but much more affordable.
For old-school Cantonese food, the neighborhood near Executive Airport (not Sacramento International) has some good options. In fact two of them are in the same shopping center - Jade Fountain and New Hong Kong Wok. I like the duck jook at Jade Fountain and the wonton soup at NHKW. Beyond that, nobody in either place speaks much English - just point at what looks good on other peoples' plates. But if you end up with salt and pepper frog, don't say I didn't warn you.
Across the street is Oto's new grocery. It's a great Japanese supermarket, but they also have Ray Yamamoto - one of the better sushi chefs in town - slicing fish at the back of the store. Lunchtime only, and the variety starts limited and gets picked over quickly before it's gone. But it's probably the best bargain for reasonable-quality sushi and sashimi in the area.
For Mexican, there are a couple of good taco trucks at the corner of Northgate and West El Camino. Probably not worth a trip out of the way, but if you're in the neighborhood (or from someplace that doesn't have taco trucks) you might consider a stop. I like the ceviche tostada at La Mex and the cabeza at La Piedad, but at $1 each you can try a variety of tacos. For sit-down (barely) seafood, try Mariscos Mazatlan on Franklin Blvd. Just up the street is La Favorita, which is one of the better general-appeal taquerias around. There's a paneria in the adjacent shopping center that has tasty pastries and makes a good pozole, too. El Caballo Blanco is an old-fashioned Cali-Mex place where I had my first good Mexican food after 40 months in the wilderness of Ohio. It may not be that great, but it has a special place in my heart.
I agree with bennyboy about Rubicon. The food's as good as the beer, and the beer's really good. And about The Waterboy, although my experience is that you can count on spending $50pp including tax and tip but excluding wine. Paesano's is a little too happening for my taste, and Zelda's staff are unnecessarily surly. Luigi's in Oak Park has the best pizza in town (try the house-made sausage), but the neighborhood is marginal if that's something that you worry about.
Hopefully this helps. If you have a more specific idea about what you're looking for, you might get more specific suggestions. Meanwhile...
2000 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95814
Zelda's Original Gourmet Pizza
1415 21st St, Sacramento, CA 95811
Oto's Japan Food
4990 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA
S F Supermarket
6930 65th St, Sacramento, CA 95823
New Canton Restaurant
2523 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
Fortune House Seafood Restaurant
1211 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
Pho Bac Hoa Viet
1827 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
1704 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
New Hong Kong Wok
5019 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822
5731 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95824
4800 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95820
Hoa Viet Restaurant
6645 Stockton Blvd # 300, Sacramento, CA
1728 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
Pho King II Restaurant
6830 Stockton Blvd # 180, Sacramento, CA
Jade Fountain Cafe
5021 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822
Tacos La Piedad No 2
2201 Northgate Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95833
Caballo Blanco Restaurant
5604 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95824
Rubicon Brewing Co
2004 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95811
1806 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95811
3800 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95820
We've been going to Dol Ho on Pacific between Stockton and Powell for over 20 years. It has less than zero atmosphere and if they speak any English there, they try not to let us know :) But we like the dim sum. The last couple of years we've also been going to Happy Chinese on Powell between Broadway and Pacific next to the firestation. It has a little more atmosphere and a few of the staff do speak English and are friendlier than Dol Ho. They have great chicken feet and the har gow are especially tasty. If I were going for more expensive dim sum, I'd take the 38 Geary bus out to Ton Kiang out on Geary (in the 20's avenues) Plenty of people love Yank Sing but you'll see plenty of discussion on the SF board about it.
Edit: I forgot to mention that we go for dim sum usually no later than 830a.m. Dol Ho at that time of day, anyway, is mostly the old Chinese men with their newspapers. Happy Chinese has more families.
I just eat what looks good and don't really pay attention to what's "special," but in my experience it's pretty easy to spend $20 per person at New Canton, and $30 wouldn't shock me. Not that it isn't worth every penny; the quality of the food is outstanding and the variety is pretty impressive. And I don't doubt that you can get out of there for less money; the size of the bill obviously depends on what you order and how much. But the OP should at least be aware of the possibility that their meal will exceed the stated $25 lunch budget.
Oh yeah for breakfast or lunch a trip to Jim Denny's is apprrpriate. Teeny-tiny diner at 12th and I sts. (real close to the Convention Center). Good Burgers.