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SACRAMENTO - casual river/water view restaurants, etc.

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My husband and I, and 9 year old daughter are driving up to Sacramento from Ventura for our family vacation (6/20). We need a few recs for breakfast and dinner. We are staying in Natomas by the airport, but (obviously) have a car. The weather forecast shows HEAT and lots of it this weekend, so I think that's why I'm having such a hard time coming up w/ places to eat. We'd love to be on the river for one meal, at least. Not sure what time it starts getting warm up there in the morning and cooling off at night... Would like to see/do Old Town but we're not sure what time it officially closes down Sat. night and am feeling it might be too warm Sun. to do much by the time it all opens back up. :( Oh well, at least the Capitol building will have some A/C!

ISO:
Dinner Saturday night - (6pm-ish)
We like -meat, veg, carb- type of meal. No Italian (I'm gluten-intolerant), we aren't big fish eaters, and not much into Asian aside from Thai and Sushi.
Mainly interested in a cool, quiet, relaxed atmosphere for after the long drive. Under $15-20pp w/out drinks. I was looking at Fat City, Rio City Cafe, or Chevy's (a chain, but nice view).

Breakfast Sunday morning - (9am-ish)
It will be Father's Day and while we do have a father on board, it's not our focus to celebrate, but it might be best just to make reservations somewhere to beat the crowds/wait. We like traditional type breakfast. I was thinking Rio City Cafe or Tower Cafe.

I've really searched these boards, and other places, but am having a tough time coming up with much. Just coming to here to see if you 'Hounders had any other ideas!
THANK YOU!

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  1. Pearl on the River is the newest, got a great review in the Bee last Sunday. Review should be available on-line, but I did not check. Its on the river, just north of your choices.

    Its been a while since Iv'e been but I don't think Fat City has a view of the river, Its on Front St in Old Sac.

    If Tower Cafe is in the works for Fathers Day, definately make a resv. Last Saturday the line was 40 deep for lunch, and it was just a plain ol' Saturday.

      1. The patio at Scotts Seafood on the River. Easy from Natomas too. I-5 South to Fruitridge Exit...La Rivage Hotel.

        1. Pearl's pretty good, but food for us ended up being around $25-30pp, and it would have been more if we'd had dessert. Rio City Cafe's in the same range - you might find a pasta dish around $15, but you're generally talking entrees in the $20 range and up. And Scott's - which is quite a bit further south - is even more expensive. Between the three, I'd choose Pearl's.

          Chevy's is a rung down on the price ladder, and I actually like the place. Yes, it's a chain, and no, the food isn't innovative, but sometimes beef fajitas and fresh-made flour tortillas are what you really want, and they pride themselves on not using any canned or frozen ingredients. Crawdad's is another viable option, with a nice deck. The Virgin Sturgeon is a kind of dilapidated divey place that has okay food and a great local atmosphere. It's a good place to kick back and drink a couple of beers.

          If you don't have to be on the river, Tuk Tuk is a really good Thai place in Natomas.

          Sunday brunch is going to be a zoo. Tower Cafe is great, but always jammed on the weekends. And I don't think they take reservations. I've never had brunch at Rio City, but it's a pleasant place to hang out, and you can reserve a table there. Cafe Bernardo is another good option, and I like the Fox & Goose Pub for some beer with my eggs.

          Have a good vacation, and let us know what you end up doing and how it is!

          -----
          Tuk Tuk Restaurant
          4630 Natomas Blvd Ste 150, Sacramento, CA 95835

          Crawdads River Cantina
          1375 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA 95833

          Tower Cafe
          1518 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818

          Cafe Bernardo - Midtown
          2726 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95816

          Pearl's on the River
          1379 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA 95833

          Rio City Cafe
          1110 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814

          Scotts Seafood Bar & Grill
          4350 B Riverside Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95825

          Chevys Fresh Mex
          1369 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA 95833

          Virgin Sturgeon Restaurant-Marina
          1577 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA 95833

          Fox & Goose Public House
          1001 R St, Sacramento, CA 95811

          3 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            For some bar bites on the patio for lunch, Scotts isn't that expensive.

            1. re: melly

              You're absolutely right; I was thinking of the dinner menu. Scott's definitely does a good lunch, and it's reasonably priced. Better yet, at least at their original location, there are always some interesting specials in the $10 range.

            2. re: alanbarnes

              I have to give my mixed review on Pearl. Went last week during the week. Thought we would sit outside but it was too windy, walked upstairs but since there were three of us and we wanted to talk, the open bar wasn't as appealing, so we traipsed back downstairs and sat in a corner booth.

              Ambiance - 6.5 (out of 10). Location is good (its been many incarnations over the years) and view of the river is calming. Decor is understated but in a good way. Can get loud though and at some point the lights dimmed fairly dramatically (not sure if it was just the time - dusk - or if there was a loss of power or something).

              Food - 6. The (infamous) Sac bee report raved about the calamari. Meh. To me it tasted way overcooked and sauce, although spicy with a bite, just wasn't all that. I ordered sliders which again were ---- sliders. Honestly, you can't really mess them up unless you try. My friend had the crab cakes which she said were above average and very good (she eats a lot of crab cakes and is pretty opinionated about them). My other friend ordered the pasta salad (I am pretty sure it was the special that night) which she seemed to enjoy. Wine list was decent and we ordered by the glass. I remember thinking mine was better than average but it wasn't so memorable that I remember what it was (although it was NOT the 7 Deadly Zins or the Mark West (?) wine).

              Service - 7. Our server was pleasant (and we had traipsed through the whole building before finally settling down). Service was fairly attentive but it seemed that somewhere between the main course and the desert that it lagged a bit (but we were talking anyway).

              Price - 7. Taking out the wine and coffee, the food prices were reasonable. I think we ended up somewhere around $20-30 per person for food which included two appetizers, an entree each, and one shared desert.