Great New Places to Eat

There’s a saying that when one door closes, another one opens. Last year was tough on local eateries, but some very exciting restaurant doors have opened in the past few months, including one inspired by a food truck, another by a 56-foot-long bunny, and others by cuisines ranging from French to Mongolian and Indian to Southern (grits, anyone?). So feast your eyes on our favorite new spots, and you’ll see why we think the food scene is looking very sunny-side up.

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Monsoon Cuisine
of India

1020 16th St.
469-9999
monsoonsacramento.com
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Monsoon Cuisine of India - Spice lovers, take note: The sleek new Monsoon at 16th and K (the former location of Spin Burger) adds a fresh and sultry new note to Sacramento’s rather scarce options for Indian food. The restaurant, which opened Dec. 8, should delight the cocktail crowd as well. The restaurant’s cool downtown vibe—think striking outdoor columns of fire and service until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday—is dressed up with colorful, mod original art pieces from India, as well as a stunning central piece that evokes Rajasthani dangling earrings.    Dragonfly cocktail with fresh mint and strawberries created by bar manager Tim Varner as a tribute to his sister, who passed away from cancer two years ago (Photo by Ryan Donahue)

Monsoon, which is owned by Paul Dhillon, Chan Singh (a chef who has another Indian restaurant in Toronto), and his nephew Paul Singh, offers a full menu of Indian favorites—the top dishes so far are the creamy chicken tikka masala and spicy lamb vindaloo, a dish from Goa in western India—and a brand-new brunch buffet, which includes a potato-filled dosa (Indian-style crepe) and idli (rice dumplings) served with sambar (spicy lentil soup) and coconut chutney.

The drink menu is a distinctive and intriguing draw, with 21 artisanal cocktails hand mixed by bar manager Tim Varner (formerly of nearby Sapporo Grill), who took inspiration from Indian flavors for his not-too-sweet sipMonsoon’s chicken tikka masala (Photo by Ryan Donahue)pers, named for his favorite movies: The Dr. Strangelove combines Tanqueray lime gin, cardamom syrup and ginger beer, while for the Raging Bull, he infused vodka with saffron and orange peel to make a stunning sunset color. (One departure from the movie names is the bright Dragonfly, with fresh mint and strawberries, which is a tribute to Varner’s younger sister, Brenna, who passed away from cancer two years ago; for every drink the restaurant sells, it donates a portion to cancer research.)

Monsoon’s tandoori mango prawns (Photo by Ryan Donahue)

We’re thinking that come June, sipping those refreshing cocktails on the patio will cool down not only the vindaloo but also a Sacramento summer: If we can’t have monsoon rains to break the heat, we’ll happily take Monsoon drinks.

—K.W.