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Sacramento: need help picking one of three Mexican restaurants

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I am arranging a dinner for my mom and my brother, who is visiting from out-of-state. Also with us will be my developmentally disabled sister, who can sometimes act the way a toddler might. I live in the Bay Area and need help choosing between one of the following three Mexican restaurants in Sacramento: Centro, Zocalo, and Ernesto's.

My two key needs are good service and not extremely noisy.

Chowhounders, what do you recommend?

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  1. If you want something that is not too noisy I would automatically scratch Zocalo and Centro off your list since those are more "scene" spots and the bar areas can be extremely noisy. Ernesto's, while a decent option, can't hold up to Tres Hermanas in my opinion if you want to stay in the Midtown area. The service can be a little more spotty and inattentive at Tres Hermanas but the food is way better and IMO.

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    Tres Hermanas
    2416 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816

    4 Replies
    1. re: gmk1322

      Plus 1 on Tres Hermanas. Ernesto's can also be very noisy.

      1. re: gmk1322

        Agreed to scratch Zocalo off your list (haven't tried the other two). Noisy AND spotty service.

        Tres Hermanas gets a fair amount of love on this board, but I've never understood why, really. I thought my recent dinner at Restaurant 524 was better than any of the meals I've had at Tres Hermanas, it was almost too quiet, and the service was lovely.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618707

        1. re: susancinsf

          went to Restaurant 524 last nite on the way back to Oakland from the Sierras.
          When I asked the dude for the house specialties, he quickly noted that the chile verde was excellent and very popular.
          But I gotta say, the meal I had -- 2 tacos de chile verde -- was very disappointing: a lot of lettuce, and little meat -- which I s'pose was good cause the meat that was there, wasn't particularly interesting.
          And my sweetie's chicken enchiladas arrived with the chicken cold inside.

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          Restaurant 524
          524 12th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

        2. re: gmk1322

          I agree with the Tres Hermanas suggestion

        3. I don't know about the other two, but I've been to Ernesto's several times, and none have been memorable. Not bad food, just not remarkable.

          1. I agree w/everyone else - Zocalo's and Centro are considered trendy, 'scene' spots. Ernesto's used to be very good a long time ago, but I feel is now overrated. I don't know how you feel about other suggestions, but there's also Vallejo's downtown (I like the 11th and O location; it's larger) and there's also my favorite, Caballo Blanco, in South Sac. (Franklin and Fruitridge). I feel it's a little more authentic and the service is always good and it's quiet/family-oriented, which might be nice for your sister.

            5 Replies
            1. re: lilyalli

              I don't think I've seen much discussion of Caballo Blanco, so thanks for the mention. What do you like there?

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              Caballo Blanco Restaurant
              5604 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95824

              1. re: susancinsf

                I'm a taco & enchilada person, so I usually need a combo plate. But everyone I've always eaten with/taken there, has enjoyed everything. It's not a fancy place; just good, basic, homestyle Mexican/American food. It's definitely the opposite of 'trendy' :)

              2. re: lilyalli

                lilyalli - Caballo Blanco is a great suggestion. It's been years since I ate their but it would be much quieter than the other restaurants mentioned. Parking is also better there.

                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                  I agree with Caballo Blanco. Centro Cocina is a noise machine!

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                  Caballo Blanco Restaurant
                  5604 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95824

                2. re: lilyalli

                  I do like the food at Zocalo's but the service can be slow at times and it is very noisy. I agree with Lily about Caballo Blanco-- not fancy but solid Mexican food. I like their camarones al ajo.

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                  Caballo Blanco Restaurant
                  5604 Franklin Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95824

                  Zocalo
                  321 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901

                3. I have always enjoyed Tres Hermanas. We don't go very often, so when we do we usually go to Rick's Dessert Diner just down the street.

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                  Tres Hermanas
                  2416 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816

                  Rick's Dessert Diner
                  2322 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816