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Please help me plan for a trip to Sacramento

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I'm coming to Sacramento mid July for business. I will be staying at the Hyatt near the convention center on J Street. I won't have a car, but am not adverse to taking public transportation. I have 4 dinners to plan and one morning/afternoon to explore.

My spending can't be extravagant -- about $50 for dinner with tax and tip. I like all sorts of food. Where would you send me?

Also, any thoughts on fun foodie things to do my free day. I love to explore ethnic neighborhoods and foodie spots.

Thanks so much!

PS -- I know there are other threads on Sacramento (like the one on things to eat before you die) but I also know that the food scene in an area changes all the time so I'm seeking recent recommendations.

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  1. It's been a few years since I regularly went to Sacramento for business, but I would definitely return to the Waterboy restaurant which is near Capitol Ave and 20th.

    Your hotel is really centrally located, so if you head east on J street you will end up in the Midtown neighborhood, not ethnic, but urban, with lots of shops and small restaurants to check out. Downtown Sacramento is very walkable, but the temperatures in July are likely to be hot. It does get cooler once the sun starts to go down, so you might plan on a later dinner.

    1. Earlier this year I had two days of meetings near the Convention Center. While I had a car, the places I explored were within a mile of your hotel.

      The highlight for me was taking a look around what remains of what used to be a Japanese-American neighborhood. These businesses are within two blocks of each other.
      June's Cafe
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8364...
      Osaka-ya
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6562...
      Taiwan Best Mart
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966908
      Wakano Ura
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8634...

      Other stops:
      Hot Italian
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7975...
      Anatolian Table Turkish Bistro
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9684...
      Devine Gelateria
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8795...
      Coffee Works & Jumpstart Cafe
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9676...

      Have only had catered lunch from here and haven't visited in person, but wanted to mention that Magpie Cafe is within the one-mile radius too.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6332...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Note that Wakano Ura closed a few years ago. It has been sadly missed I am sure.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Thanks for this information. I'm liking some of those choices.

        2. Burgers and Brew on R st
          Temple Coffee at least once, they have a location a couple blocks from where you are staying

          1. Having spent many a trip doing exactly the same thing I know what you are up against.

            I liked the Frank Fat traditional chinese wedding dinner items, which is a few blocks down the street from the Hyatt towards the river - this is the old famous political watering hole - their walnut shrimp alone are worth the trip. And top it with their famous and out of character banana cream pie.

            Then must later I also learned about the collection of small restaurants heading away from the river up about 5-6 blocks in a historic little cluster on J Street I believe - lots of choices. But most of the places right around the Hyatt and Convention Center were pretty routine.

            1. We like Ella's. I think it might be nearby.

              http://www.elladiningroomandbar.com

              In addition to Magpie,there are some recent updates to the "before you die" thread.

              1. There are quite a few options in your vicinity:

                Ella is a bit on the pricey side but worth it and I think you could stay under $50.

                Mother is a new restaurant making outstanding food at great prices that just happens to be vegeterian. I know for dinner they have a 10 course menu for two that is $40. Probably the best place in Sacramento right now.

                Dad's Burgers is on J for a quick filling lunch.

                Some other places I like: the grange, buds, Estelle's, pizza rock (terrible name/decor but really good pizza), zocalo, mayahuel.

                1. Let me add that I really like Waterboy. Their food and service have always been a step ahead.

                  http://www.waterboyrestaurant.com

                  2000 Capitol Ave. / very centrally located

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tripeler

                    +1 always a must stop for us, also if you're into sweetbreads this is the place, Lady PB is not, but still is always up for a sidewalk seat and their great food.

                    1. re: PolarBear

                      Sweetbreads... I think they're offal, but I have always had something I really loved at Waterboy. I don't remember sidewalk seats, but that could be new.