Great New Places to Eat 2018

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A quartet of tacos, from top: duck confit, steak and egg, pork al pastor and fried oyster (Photos by Marc Thomas Kallweit)

Mas Taco Bar

While the Delta breeze might be the closest thing Sacramento gets to an ocean spray, Mas Taco Bar—the newest eatery from Mason, Alan and Curtis Wong (the brothers behind Cafeteria 15L, Firestone Public House and Iron Horse Tavern)—is bringing surf and turf to the R Street Corridor.

"We're trying to do something fresh and refreshing," says executive chef Christian Palmos. "[Mas has] that feeling of a coastal restaurant, warm with bright colors—you're transported to a beach in Hawaii." 

Habañero Fireballs, with puréed habañero and jalapeño peppers, bacon, and pepper jack and cream cheeses

Palmos has harnessed the feel of an oceanfront walk-up taco stand with his menu of 14 different two-bite tacos, which includes imaginative combos like corn tortillas filled with crispy fried oysters, cabbage and Tapatío aioli or melt-in-the-mouth duck confit in tamarind glaze, and steamed bao shells stuffed with succulent Korean fried chicken tossed in a tongue-tingling gochujang sauce. "We're not just a regular taco joint. We're not doing anything traditional," the chef says. The Kool As a Kiwi cocktail made with coconut water and cucumber vodka

The waterside mood at Mas, which opened in late March, is further enhanced by the spot's indoor-outdoor aesthetic (thanks to accordion glass doors), wrap-around patio and white quartz-topped bar that sits front and center and serves canned beers from California breweries like Sacramento's Track 7, Auburn's Knee Deep and San Diego's Ballast Point. And while the cocktails aren't presented with tiny umbrellas, they do adhere to a tropical, south-of-the-border theme; the pineapple ginger mojito, for instance, is bright and fruity and the dessert-like horchata colada is cool and frothy with hints of cinnamon and coconut.

With its seaside vibe and menu of laid-back yet elevated eats and drinks, we think this new staycation spot is beachy keen. —Jessica Rine

1800 15th St. 916-706-1330. mastacobar.com