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Illustration by Serene Lusano

Sweet potato popsicles, a peanut butter burger, a mobile boutique, nostalgic tees, high tea for two, a hike for history buffs, two hot glass blowers, a cool bike-powered coffee roaster, an underground lunch spot, an underwear race, a teeny tiny puppy, a magic wall for mini Monets, and much more. Here is our fourth annual list of Sacramento’s finest—and funnest—people, places and things that make us ‚Ä®proud to call this city our home sweet home.

By Elyssa Lee, Tori Masucci, Stephanie Towne, Tim Swanson,
Rob Turner and Kate Washington


Photo by Lisa Van Dyke/El Dorado Dog Photography

Pup Star
When a baby Beyonce was born earlier this year, the blogosphere was all atwitter. No, we’re not talking about the superstar’s infant daughter Blue Ivy, but rather a lilliputian puppy who was born in El Dorado Hills on March 8. When the dachshund mix first came into the world—the last of five dogs birthed by her homeless mom Casey who was going to be euthanized before being taken in by local animal rescue organization The Grace Foundation of Northern California—she weighed less than an ounce, wasn’t breathing, and fit inside a tablespoon. Within a few days, she grew to the size of an iPhone and was well enough to star in her own photo shoot—and the rest is puppy history. Since then, Tiny Beyonce (named after Beyoncé Knowles because of the singer’s Grammy-winning song “Survivor,” which she co-wrote as part of Destiny’s Child) has appeared on shows like Today and Good Morning America and has been written up in the likes of the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and The Telegraph in the U.K. She even caught the attention of Guinness World Records, which contacted The Grace Foundation for information on the petite pooch to potentially crown her the World’s Smallest Rescue Puppy. Want to meet the little star? While her sister and three brothers were put up for adoption in May, Tiny Beyonce will remain at the foundation as its “ambassadog” and will happily entertain visitors. Call ahead to make a date, and get ready for some serious puppy love. 5800 Latigo Ln., El Dorado Hills 941-0800. www.thegracefoundation.com

Viennese Sweets
Governor Schwarzenegger may no longer be flexing his political muscles here, but thanks to Konditorei Austrian Pastry Cafe, our region still has a strong—and scrumptious—Austrian presence. Since 1990, this Davis bakery has been churning out luscious desserts like Topfenstrudel (strudel with quark cheese, served warm with vanilla and berry sauce), Krapfen (fried dough filled with marmalade or custard) and Mohnkuchen (sweet yeast bread filled with a thick layer of poppy seeds). The pastries’ authenticity comes from Austrian-born head baker Albert Kutternig, who trained in the renowned Kurkonditorei Oberlaa cafe in Vienna and went on to bake in hotels like the Hilton and InterContinental in Europe, Japan and Venezuela (where he met his wife Gloria, who now runs Konditorei—which is German for pastry shop—with him). The main attraction is Kutternig’s extensive lineup of specialty cakes like the Sacher Torte (an apricot-glazed chocolate beauty that was ordered for Schwarzenegger’s birthday in 2010; the ex-governor would send an aide to the cafe regularly for his Konditorei cravings) and the Gloria, a popular triple-layered chocolate mousse cake that Kutternig named in honor of his wife. Now, isn’t that sweet? 2710 5th St., Davis. 530-758-1331. konditoreidavis.com

 

Muzak Killer
Let’s face it. When a restaurant hires a singer to do standards, it’s often obvious why said singer is in a restaurant playing background music instead of on stage in front of paying fans. In the case of Rocklin singer Quinn Hedges, it’s downright baffling, and givePhoto by Jeremy Sykesn his talent, likely temporary. Where most other musicians are merely side dishes, this guy is definitely the main course. Few other singers can stop tableside chatter cold and draw both rapt attention and spontaneous applause, but this 33-year-old troubadour is one of them. It’s even rarer that an eatery act is covering artists as eclectic and contemporary as Coldplay, Jason Mraz, Mazzy Star and The Shins to name a few. On top of it all, he’s a talented songwriter, too. In May, he opened a show for Van Morrison’s daughter Shana Morrison. And his band will debut its first album this summer. In the next few months, he’ll be playing dates at Bistro 33’s Davis location, Old Sacramento’s Ten 22 and the Hyatt Regency, but you can also see him in Rocklin, Folsom, Loomis and Natomas. Catch him while you still can. You’ll likely have to pay for the privilege soon. quinnhedges.com

 

Pop Artisan
Fat Face popsicles, made by Jaymes Luu in wild, wonderful combinations, have been earning the cook plaudits sincPhoto by Ryan Donahuee she first sold them at the Davis Farmers Market. Now that she also offers them at midtown’s vintage store-cafe-art gallery Bows & Arrows, Sacramentans can enjoy them too—from the mint Arnold Palmer to Thai tea to sweet potato (the most popular pop at Bows) and a new fudge espresso made from local roasters Insight Coffee. Spring and summer fruit combos include standouts like a bar with an inky blueberry purée filled with lemon yogurt (pictured), strawberry basil lemonade, apricot lavender, and even cheese and tomato. Pops like that—not to mention menu snacks like spiced popcorn and a stellar beer and wine selection—make Bows & Arrows’ sweet outdoor space, stocked with patio furniture that’s just like your grandma’s (in a good way), the perfect place to chill out. 1815 19th St. 822-5668. fatfacedavis.com


Place to Break Bread
Trong Nguyen, who co-founded the La Bou chain, always wanted to brew coffee the way it should be: with the beans ground and steeped to the exact Photo by Jeremy Sykesspecifications of the drinker. At his new, sunny cafe Les Baux (named for a town in Provence, one of his and his co-owner wife Annie Ngo’s favorite places)—which inhabits the transformed space that used to be Cassidy’s Family Restaurant in East Sacramento—he does just that, thanks to a trademarked method called Hand Brewed Just For You. The smooth cups of java are complemented by fresh-baked bread, from rye to baguettes and more (Darrell Corti drops in often for the savory focaccia with ever-changing toppings); flaky croissants (including ones filled with chocolate chips or almond paste) and other pastries; and soups and sandwiches at lunchtime (don’t miss the classic French onion). Coming this summer are dinner service and an oyster bar. Nguyen was inspired by his favorite spot in New York, the famed Balthazar Restaurant and Bakery, to create a welcoming neighborhood hangout in the French tradition; in fact, Balthazar’s founding baker, Sim Cass, recently visited to teach his bread recipes to the baking staff. No wonder East Sacramentans can’t stay away—and you shouldn’t either. 5090 Folsom Blvd. 739-1348. lesbauxbakery.com


Wardrobe on WheelsPhoto by Jeremy Sykes
Local fashionistas looking for that perfect LBD now just need to step inside the LBT. As in the Little Black Truck, home of Gypsy mobile boutique. The brainchild of midtown jewelry designer and former Sacramento Kings dancer Bridgette Maldonado, Gypsy hit the road in April and, borrowing a page from the nascent food truck movement, began popping up all over town, like in front of restaurants such as Shady Lady and Fox & Goose, and at popular local events like the Second Saturday Art Walk, SactoMoFo festival and Food Truck Mania. Inside her 60-square-foot 1987 Chevy P30 Step Van, shoppers on the go will find an impeccably curated array of vibrantly colored clothing—think orange, pink, jade, coral and yellow—and trendy accessories, from chiffon tops to flowing dresses, floppy hats and oversized sunglasses by out-of-town independent labels and local designers like Lori Vaught. (They will also, surprisingly, find a dressing room.) This summer, Maldonado will be driving Gypsy to “Good: Street Food & Design Market” on Del Paso Boulevard, downtown’s Friday Night Concerts in the Park through July, and a host of last-minute locations announced via Twitter and Facebook. Talk about fast fashion. Let’s hope this is another mobile trend that keeps on truckin’. gypsymobileboutique.com

Made to Order Orbs
The delectable and innovative fried delights at Doughbot have been amply praised, with flavors like bacon maple, Meyer lemon and PB&J. But some doughnut enthusiasts feel the need to take it even further—into the realm of the custom order—and owner Bryan Widener is ready and willing to think outside the dessert box. In the past few months, he’s made saffron-pistachio rounds dipped in cardamom honey for the Indian festival Diwali, and recently turned out Andes mint-flavored treats with candied bacon on top at the request of a young birthday girl. And it’s not just about taste. Some orders revolve around shape (like the giant replica of the Starship Enterprise he helped make in bacon maple) or color, such as a blue and red batch for a baby shower. This Southside Park shop will whip up as few as a single dozen treats for special requests (about $22 per dozen). But allow enough time for the muse to visit: off-the-menu flavors can take Widener up to a month to perfect. 2226 10th St. 444-5157. doughbotdonuts.com
 

 

Shirt Tales
Not all of us wear our civic pride on our sleeve, but thanks to Swanbergs on J, it’s a whole lot easier now. The Hawaiian-themed midtown shopPhoto by Jeremy Sykes sells shirts and hoodies that pay homage to local neighborhoods (East Sacramento, Land Park and Curtis Park, to name a few) and also some of our favorite local restaurants that have been lost to time like the celebrated tiki rooms Coral Reef (which used to be on Fulton Avenue) and Zombie Hut (on Freeport Boulevard). May they rest in T’s. 2316 J St. 447-6284. swanbergsformen.com

 

 

 

 

 

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