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Custard made with deconstructed craft beer, a hot dog made into a taco, a cool dog that’s setting the political world atwitter, cocktails from a barrel, coffee from a keg, mini pies on wheels, a 9-year-old advice guru, a 95-year-old paperboy, and more. For the sixth time, we present our annual guide to the finest places, people and things that Sacramento has to offer, proving once again that there’s no place like our hometown.
By Anita Chabria, Elyssa Lee, Tori Masucci Cummins, Jennifer Resnicke, Stephanie Towne,
Rob Turner, S.T. VanAirsdale and Kate Washington
No Kings home game would feel complete without Folsom resident Barbara Rust—aka Sign Lady—waving her poster-board displays of team spirit from the third row of Section 120 at Sleep Train Arena. And in December, Rust’s singular devotion—she rarely missed a home game until last season when breast cancer treatment sometimes sidelined her—made her a slam dunk to be inducted into ESPN’s Fan Hall of Fame, along with two other sports superfans. Come this fall, we look forward to her once again holding court with homemade signs like “Sacramento Kings will stay in my heart 4ever.” No doubt Sign Lady will stay in our hearts forever, too.
Midtown has gone to the dogs—in a good way—thanks to a new pop-up dog park that debuted at the Midtown Farmers Market in April. Combining private donations and a successful campaign on the crowdfunding site Neighbor.ly, the Midtown Business Association raised $3,000 to build a portable dog park at 20th and J streets every second Saturday of each month through October. The open space offers a welcome respite for midtown pups, whose nearest off-leash outlet is located more than a mile to the north at Sutter’s Landing. Pooches under 30 pounds can run wild inside the wooden fence perimeter, enjoying fun features like inflatable fire hydrants, tennis balls and a grass strip while their owners socialize with other dog lovers and relax in Adirondack chairs. Meanwhile, the association has made the park available for other events and festivals around town to rent—a doggone great idea, if you ask us. midtownfarmersmarketsac.com
Socially Conscious Coffee
In a region where farm-to-fork credentials are touted and farmers’ identities are celebrated, that connection is often hazy at best when it comes to coffee. Not so at Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, a trailblazing organization entirely owned by 140,000 family farmers in Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Ethiopia. Founded in 2001 by a pair of former Peace Corps volunteers, Pachamama operates out of its midtown Sacramento headquarters and runs a stylish flagship cafe in Davis inside of the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts. There, you can sip a cup of single-origin organic coffee and learn about the growers whose photographs fill an entire wall of the space. The snapshots serve as an apt reminder that every Pachamama drink you buy directly supports those farmers, their families and their communities. That’s an afternoon pick-me-up you can feel good about. 521 1st St. Davis. 530-746-2172. pacha.coop
Deconstructed Craft Beer Dessert
Call it a hoppy accident. Last fall, downtown’s Grange Restaurant & Bar hosted a one-time dinner to celebrate the region’s booming craft beer movement and wanted to conjure a beer-themed dessert to finish off the meal. But executive chef Oliver Ridgeway didn’t want a dessert that tasted like beer. Rather, he wanted to deconstruct a popular local craft beer and brew up a sweet treat based on its core ingredients—barley, malt and hops. The result: the 1881 Ruhstaller Malt Custard. The Grange team started with a crème brûlée-style custard infused with the same barley used in Ruhstaller’s red ale. Then they topped it with house-made “Whoppers”—malted milk balls covered in chocolate—and a crunchy honeycomb brittle steeped in “gargoyle” hops. Happily, a dish intended as a drunken one-night stand turned out to be a marriage made in culinary heaven, and has been on the menu ever since. We’d like to keep digging our spoons into it ’til death do us part. 926 J St. 492-4450. grangesacramento.com
Snow Biz Star
The 27-year-old Nevada City resident Evan Strong is no stranger to the world of extreme sports—and extreme triumphs over tragedy: In 2004, on the path to becoming a professional skateboarder, he lost his left leg below the knee seven days before his 18th birthday after a drunk driver struck the motorcycle he was riding. Two days after his amputation surgery, Strong began physical therapy and soon took to the snow, living up to his last name this past March when he won the first-ever gold medal in the men’s snowboard cross competition at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where he conquered a challenging 2,230-foot-long course with steep bank turns, triple-rolls and a 460-foot vertical drop. And in March, the snowboarder made history again when he became the first para-athlete featured on the iconic Wheaties box. We think that’s the perfect choice—he’s just the inspiration we need in the morning to aim faster, higher and stronger in our own lives.
Spot-On Style Blog
A cheetah can’t change her spots. So when fashion-forward Chico native Alicia Lund began feeling stifled at her day job in finance, she embraced her creative side and in 2009 launched Cheetah is the New Black, a lifestyle blog in which she chronicles her style experiments with new trends and designer pieces. The blog took off, drawing 300,000 monthly readers, and last fall—after a stint in New York as the fashion editor for Elle.com—the cheetah-print-crazy fashionista moved back to Northern California and currently lives in midtown Sacramento. Now, Lund’s eclectic mix-and-match styling posts have River City backdrops of landmarks like Capitol Park and the Memorial Auditorium, as well as Lund’s go-to spots like Fringe, Doughbot and Hook & Ladder. Looks like we’ve found our new favorite destination for style inspiration. cheetahisthenewblack.com
Gourmet Meal in a Dive Bar
At a glance, Jamie's Broadway Grille might look like the kind of joint you’d do best to avoid—an unmarked box on an industrial street in Land Park with a few parking spots smashed right up against the dark wood door. Be bold and enter, though, because inside this unassuming little space, you’ll find some of the best food in town, courtesy of chef-owner Jamie Bunnell. Whether you opt for the cult-favorite smoked prime rib (a thick, medium-rare slab of bliss that Guy Fieri called “beautiful” on his Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2009), the daily seafood special (with choices like just-caught halibut or salmon), or the steak sandwich made with filet mignon that’s marinated for two days in garlic and olive oil, you’ll come away satiated and stuffed. It is an old-school bar, of course, so the drinks are stiff and plentiful, with a line of regulars staking out the stools—especially on Friday afternoons, when the baby back ribs, hot links and barbecued chicken are cooking out back. Dive in! 427 Broadway. 442-4044. jamiesbroadwaygrille.com
Get ready for a new wet-and-wild adventure at Auburn’s Hidden Falls Regional Park, which Placer County expanded last year from 221 to almost 1,200 acres. The reimagined park added picnic areas, bridges, viewing platforms, and 23 miles of trails, ranging from oak-shaded jaunts lined with wildflowers to sweeping canyon vistas and lookouts over two majestic waterfalls that flow year-round. Walk the Hidden Falls Access Trail to discover the namesake attraction, which casts a 30-foot misty veil down the hillside and spills into calm pools that make the ideal stop for lunch or a cool dip, or roam to the north to stand atop a tall wooden platform built into the cliffside and feel the summer breeze winding through the deep, rocky gulch that holds Canyon View Falls below. With 27 trails to mix, match and choose from, you can’t go wrong when you go chasing waterfalls here. 7587 Mears Pl. Auburn. 530-886-4901. placer.ca.gov