What's Cooking

A look at the latest in local food, dining and drinking news

2020

The team behind Allora launches a farm-to-fork meal delivery service

09/17/20

The team behind Allora launches a farm-to-fork meal delivery service

In 2018, the husband-and-wife team of chef Deneb Williams and sommelier Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou chose the name Allora for their East Sacramento Italian bistro because of its forward-looking English translation—“What’s next?” In pandemic times, there have been many pivots in response to that question, from making the decision to temporarily close their other restaurant, Woodlake Tavern, to preparing full-scale family meals for takeout. Their newest endeavor, Eatable Sacramento, which launched Sept. 2, delivers ready-made farm-to-fork dishes to your doorstep.  The idea to start a chef-driven, farm-to-fork meal service came to Williams and Mandalou about six months ago, just before the pandemic shut down the restaurant industry. The pair decided...

Posted at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments

Vegan and gluten-free Babes Ice Cream & Donuts opens

09/06/20

Vegan and gluten-free Babes Ice Cream & Donuts opens

When Olga and Danny Turner—the married couple behind the popular Pushkin's bakery chain—started offering gluten-free doughnuts at one of their locations five years ago, they had no idea their followers had been chomping at the bit for their allergen-friendly take on the dessert. “We sometimes had lines [around the corner],” says Olga. “We would sell out by 12 p.m., and the customers who came after would get really upset.”  So the obvious answer, at least to Danny—“The Doughnut Guy” as he is known in Pushkin’s circles—was to open a shop devoted to the coveted treat. And considering Olga’s knack for nailing recipes featuring alternative ingredients, he thought the new desserterie should also...

Posted at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments

A new artisan chocolate company sets the bar for mixing sweet goodness with wellness

08/27/20

A new artisan chocolate company sets the bar for mixing sweet goodness with wellness

What if chocolate, quite possibly the world’s most craved food, were the delivery vehicle for botanicals linked to, say, supporting mental cognition or preventing heart disease? Tack on the reported health benefits of organic cocoa (lowering cholesterol levels with flavanols or stabilizing your mood thanks to tryptophan) and consuming a daily dose could be the next “apple a day.” For the new local boutique chocolate line Chelsea & the Chocolate Factory, this intersection of vice and virtue just may be the golden ticket. “The West Coast seems much more open to incorporating wellness ingredients into food than the East Coast,” says owner Chelsea Russo, a Folsom native and former managing director of Pennsylvania-based Nathan Miller...

Posted at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments

New retro-glam lounge with political intrigue opens downtown

07/23/20

New retro-glam lounge with political intrigue opens downtown

A new downtown bar with political intrigue will soft-open tonight, foretelling a future in which Capitol denizens might make cocktail-napkin deals over a round of gin martinis.  “I wanted to create a place where you can be seen, but maybe not heard,” says owner Paula Thompson of SMIC’s Sip & Quip, which is replacing Downtown & Vine near 12th and K. “Bars are extensions of the office—people are clustered in cozy nooks having conversations that are probably important.” Per Gov. Gavin Newsom’s current order permitting only outdoor dining and takeout for restaurants and bars, those cozy nooks in the lush throwback lounge—think gold velvet captain’s chairs arranged around marble tables, neon-like rope...

Posted at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments

A new yacht-rock bar from the team at The Snug sets sail

07/22/20

A new yacht-rock bar from the team at The Snug sets sail

Sacramento may be landlocked, but you'll be able to escape to cooler waters at The Doobie Bar, a new contactless yacht-rock-inspired patio—did someone say boat drinks and hot dogs?—that sets sail on its maiden voyage on Wednesday, July 22. Located in a once-forlorn parking lot along the R Street Corridor, this outdoor hideaway endeavers to provide physically distanced, nostalgic summer fun for you and your quarantine crew. When the bar opens at 7 p.m. you’ll find your host roosting atop a custom-made lifeguard tower, ready to direct you via megaphone to one of 11 spread-out lounge spots. Wrapped in a white picket fence, the patio will offer a mix of wooden tables and AstroTurf picnic spots outfitted with lawn chairs. Guests will simply place orders from their...

Posted at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments

The owners of Milestone Restaurant to open Mom & Pop Chicken Shop

07/17/20

The owners of Milestone Restaurant to open Mom & Pop Chicken Shop

The buttermilk fried chicken at El Dorado Hills’ Milestone Restaurant has been flying off the fryer since it made its debut at the comfort food eatery five years ago. In fact, its popularity has spawned a new sister spot, Mom & Pop Chicken Shop, which is set to open mid-August.  Milestone owners (and affianced couple) Nick Dedier and Alexa Hazelton are the eponymous mom and pop of this casual joint, which will also be located in El Dorado Hills’ Town Center. And like any finger-licking-good fried chicken, Mom & Pop’s version is served in a variety of ways: in three-piece boxes, sliced and chopped atop corn tortillas for antojito-style tacos, and on a brioche bun in three different sandwich variations, including The Original Blueprint, featuring a...

Posted at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments

Icy treats for grown-ups arrive just in time for swelter weather

07/16/20

Icy treats for grown-ups arrive just in time for swelter weather

From Rocket Pops to snow cones, there’s no shortage of cool summer sweets for kids, but what about the kids at heart? From boozy Otter Pops to latte popsicles to sangria slushies on tap, a trio of icy treats for the over-21 crowd makes sure that grown-ups don't get the short end of the fudgesicle stick. South South’s new “boozesicles,” in citrusy flavors like tequila margarita and vodka-based hibiscus lemon, ooze chill—literally—from their see-through push-up pouches. The alcoholic slush sticks nod to the Otter Pops of childhood summers past and are crafted with house-made syrups. The pops, which made their icy debut over the Fourth of July weekend, will pop up on Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, and periodically...

Posted at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments

Get pantry cooking with local artisanal shelf stockers

07/08/20

Get pantry cooking with local artisanal shelf stockers

The last few months of quarantine cooking have proven that a well-appointed pantry leads to better meals at home. And with Sacramento County closing bars and restricting in-door dining at restaurants in light of the recent coronavirus spike, rummaging through our cupboards for ingredients to use in our home cooking and bartending remains a part of our pandemic routine. Thankfully, the Sacramento Valley offers an artisanal inventory of small-batch goods to spice up your meals and cocktails, sometimes literally. From a dry meat rub made with Chocolate Fish espresso beans, cumin, cayenne and brown sugar to pomegranate balsamic vinegar made from farm-fresh fruit, here are over a dozen specialty items to keep your pantry stocked and your dishes brimming with local...

Posted at 04:39 PM | Permalink | Comments

Downtown's Solomon's Delicatessen gets a global menu makeover, but keeps its heart in the Jewish deli

06/16/20

Downtown's Solomon's Delicatessen gets a global menu makeover, but keeps its heart in the Jewish deli

On Saturday, June 20, Solomon’s Delicatessen—named after Tower Records founder Russ Solomon and located in the K Street space once occupied by the iconic company’s sixth-ever store—is celebrating its grand reopening. But take heed, fans of Jewish deli food: the hand-rolled bagels, the signature lox sandwich called The Russ, and the popular pastrami-on-rye sandwich, The Stanley, are among the few original menu items that have survived the quarantine. Welcome to Solomon’s 2.0, where the old queue-up, fast-casual concept has turned into full service on fewer tables in light of social-distancing etiquette, and where, says restaurant partner Andrea Lepore, “Jewish deli meets California soul.” Drawing upon the Golden State’s reputation as a...

Posted at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments

Hotly anticipated Majka Pizzeria & Bakery gets set to open in midtown

05/22/20

Hotly anticipated Majka Pizzeria & Bakery gets set to open in midtown

June 25 Update: Majka Pizzeria & Bakery will soft-open this Saturday, June 27. The 50 vegetarian pizzas a day available for purchase, are currently sold out. The restaurant will reopen Wednesday for normal hours of operation: Wednesdays through Fridays from 3-9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-7 p.m. Preorders for window pickup will be available via Tock. Phone/text orders will be available at 916-572-9316.  1430 Q St. Follow Majka on Instagram for updates. * * * * * * Pizza. Cookies. Wine. Those three comforting comestibles will represent the entire takeout menu when the eagerly awaited Majka Pizzeria & Bakery opens its doors in late June on the ground floor of a new midtown residential complex near 15th & Q. “We’re just going to...

Posted at 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments

A new hard seltzer line from Sudwerk Brewing Co. is a sparkling addition to summer drinking

05/19/20

A new hard seltzer line from Sudwerk Brewing Co. is a sparkling addition to summer drinking

A local craft beer company is about to break out the bubbly—bubbly water, that is.  Davis-based Sudwerk Brewing Co. will launch its new line of hard seltzers, Life Is Hard Seltzer, on Thursday, May 21. The opening lineup of black cherry and grapefruit flavors will be available from the get-go, and passionfruit will follow a week later. Sudwerk brewer Kristina Drake says that the company had been noticing a recent shift in beer trends—craft beer drinkers who may have once sought big, piney West Coast IPAs are now looking for the lighter lager styles Sudwerk is known for, as well as healthier beer alternatives, like lower-calorie seltzer (Life Is Hard has 120 calories per 16-ounce can). “Drinks that are gluten-free or have lower ABVs are fun and social, but...

Posted at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments

A dozen ways to satisfy your inner cookie monster on National Chocolate Chip Day

05/14/20

A dozen ways to satisfy your inner cookie monster on National Chocolate Chip Day

From celebrity baker Stella Parks’ behemoth version at New York’s Levain bakery to a Cookie Crisp cereal variation that’s blowing up the internet, the chocolate chip cookie has been modified and elevated in thousands of ways since its allegedly accidental 1930s inception (the fateful recipe is still printed on bags of Nestlé semi-sweet chips). And local bakers are no exception, taking their own creative liberties with the classic snack: From an Ice Blocks shop doling out chocolate chip cookie-cheesecake sandwiches to an Oak Park bakery making cookies with spent grains, here are 12 ways around the region to get your cookie fix on National Chocolate Chip Day.   Ginger Elizabeth The menu at this midtown...

Posted at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments

How does your indoor garden grow? By a window all in a row

05/13/20

How does your indoor garden grow? By a window all in a row

Green-thumbed home cooks have known about the trick for ages: Place a scallion bulb in a small cup of water, set it on a sunny window and watch the green shoots grow. This easy example of indoor gardening really began trending when New York chef David Chang posted the penny-pinching hack on Instagram in March. Since then, everyone from Chrissy Teigen to food critic Helen Rosner to members of the Sactown staff have hopped on the bandwagon. “Growing scallions is a fun, inexpensive indoor project,” says Angela Pratt, owner of The Plant Foundry in Oak Park. “It helps people understand how plants work and how they can reproduce crops on their own.” Here’s the deal: If a kitchen scrap still has its root system attached, it’s likely to grow well...

Posted at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments

Local cookbook authors help you bring the farm to your table this spring

05/06/20

Local cookbook authors help you bring the farm to your table this spring

Whether you have mastered Chrissy Teigen's recipe for crave-worthy banana bread or you just found out that tomato sauce is a base ingredient of chili, you’ve probably been spending more time in the kitchen these days. Luckily, spring fruits and vegetables know no quarantine limitations, which means you now have ample opportunities to discover just what it means to live in America's Farm-to-Fork Capital. And to take advantage of that bounty, we can take a page from cookbook authors around the region, who know best what’s sprouting up in our surrounding fields and orchards (think sweet onions, leafy chard and still-tart apricots). From the late, legendary Biba Caggiano channeling memories of her motherland to the James Beard Award-winning hunter-gatherer Hank...

Posted at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments

Local chefs and other kitchen pros offer insider tips for home cooks and amateur bartenders

05/01/20

Local chefs and other kitchen pros offer insider tips for home cooks and amateur bartenders

Evidenced by the surge of at-home bread baking and comfort-food comebacks, as well as the rebirth of the community cookbook, the quarantine has led to an uptick in home cooking and bartending. A recent survey of 1,000 Americans found that over 50% of us are spending more time in our kitchens than we were pre-pandemic. In response, kitchen pros around the region, including chefs, bar managers and baristas, are posting videos with insider tips to raise your meal and cocktail game, and help you become the star of your next Zoom dinner party. Chando’s Tacos Grab a pad and pen—you'll want to take notes on the abundance of family cooking secrets spilled during the weekly hourlong Facebook Live videos from this celebrated local chain. Your charming hosts for these...

Posted at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

With stay-at-home becoming bake-at-home for many, Faria Bakery's "Head of Bread" offers up the lowdown on sourdough

04/17/20

With stay-at-home becoming bake-at-home for many, Faria Bakery's "Head of Bread" offers up the lowdown on sourdough

With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and people spending almost all their time at home, many are embracing a back-to-basics lifestyle in their search for comfort during this chaotic time. Baking bread, you may have heard, is at the forefront of this quest. Over the last few weeks, social media has been deluged with examples of #quarantinebaking, including daily 140-character updates on the maturation of sourdough starter. This elemental mixture of flour and water comes alive as it’s exposed to the natural yeast in the air, developing bread dough organically, without a packet of Fleischmann’s. Some budding bakers are even hanging packets of sourdough starter in trees to share with fellow sourdough enthusiasts while maintaining physical distance. In my own...

Posted at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments

Take out on your own timetable with meal kits from regional restaurants

04/09/20

Take out on your own timetable with meal kits from regional restaurants

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented amounts of takeout. But the sudden shift to a time-blurring work-from-home life combined with reduced hours at many restaurants could sometimes make take-out-and-eat-later a more convenient choice for diners, especially those who want to plan ahead. “Buying food hot and eating it right away isn’t [always] an option for people whose daily routines have changed,” says Ray Ballestero, owner of midtown’s Alaro Craft Brewery. “Take-and-bake options allow us to feed them on their schedule.” From a Dungeness crab lasagna to a pork chashu ramen to a veggie casserole, here are eight great takeout kits—some which last in the fridge for a week—from eateries around the region. Just transfer the food to an...

Posted at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments

Is takeout safe? A UC Davis virologist shares how to stay healthy and support local restaurants

03/26/20

Is takeout safe? A UC Davis virologist shares how to stay healthy and support local restaurants

As we all adjust to life at home during the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most frequent questions that many of us are likely asking ourselves and each other is: "Is it safe?" Is it safe to go outside? Is it safe to touch our mail? Is it safe for our dogs to run around in dog parks? And the issue of food safety is one of the most common concerns these days. But we also want to support our local restaurants and maintain some semblance of normalcy, like indulging in our favorite thin-crust pizza or sushi roll. When Gov. Gavin Newsom asked restaurants and bars to shutter operations on March 16 as part of a larger attempt to slow the spread of the virus, many local eateries pivoted to takeout and delivery in an effort to survive.  Now that...

Posted at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments

A popular Shanghai-style cafe in Elk Grove is bringing its cult dumplings to midtown

03/09/20

A popular Shanghai-style cafe in Elk Grove is bringing its cult dumplings to midtown

For Sacramento devotees of Elk Grove’s Journey to the Dumpling, your trek is about to get a bit shorter. The Shanghai-style dumpling cafe is set to open a second location in midtown at the end of 2020. Known for its signature soup-filled xiao long bao (XLB, for those in the know), the Chinese eatery will open on the ground floor of The Press building, a new mixed-use apartment complex that will span an entire city block at 21st and Q streets. With a 3,636-square-foot footprint, the restaurant’s second location is a thousand-square-foot size upgrade from its original spot in a suburban Target complex. But for married owners Yvonne Nguyen and Chris Tan, who searched for a location for over a year and a half before locking in their new lease, this is more than just a size...

Posted at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

6 out-of-the-box ways to get your Krispies and Crunch Berries fix on National Cereal Day

03/06/20

6 out-of-the-box ways to get your Krispies and Crunch Berries fix on National Cereal Day

Wolfing down bowls of Froot Loops, Honey Nut Cheerios or Lucky Charms while watching Saturday morning cartoons may just be a happy childhood memory, but National Cereal Day on March 7 gives us good reason to relive those bygone days. We found six local spots taking sugary breakfast cereal beyond the bowl—from fried chicken coated in Frosted Flakes to a Lucky Charms cheesecake, these Trixed-out treats should bring out the kid in all of us. Baker's Donuts Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch Berries encrust doughnuts coated with sticky Oreo mint-, vanilla-, Thai tea- and ube-flavored glazes at Baker’s Donuts in South Sacramento, creating a veritable feast for the eyes—pebble-covered and pillowy, one of the house-made orbs even graced Sactown’s...

Posted at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments

Fried chicken shop opens virtual restaurant in Sacramento

02/20/20

Fried chicken shop opens virtual restaurant in Sacramento

If you’re looking for Plucked Chicken & Beer on a map of Sacramento, you won’t find it. That’s because it doesn’t exist, at least physically. Its six versions of fried chicken sandwiches, two types of loaded fries, and unique take on nachos are only available through DoorDash around these parts. In official restaurant parlance, it's known as a “ghost kitchen.” Nimble and cost-efficient, ghost kitchens operate without any physical footprint, offering fare exclusively through mobile food delivery apps, “changing the very essence of what it means to operate a restaurant,” according to The New York Times. While Plucked runs two brick-and-mortar businesses in San Ramon and Pleasanton (and is expected to open a third outpost...

Posted at 03:47 PM | Permalink | Comments

A popular Woodland coffee shop to open a cozy, contemporary second location in Sacramento

02/14/20

A popular Woodland coffee shop to open a cozy, contemporary second location in Sacramento

May 28 Update: The downtown Sacramento outpost of Woodland-based Morgan’s Mill is set to open on Monday, June 1. The cafe will only be serving coffee and beer from June 1-3 (8 a.m.-2 p.m). After closing for one day, the shop plans to host a grand opening on Friday, June  5, which will launch regular hours (Fri.-Sat. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sun.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-8 p.m.) and a full menu of drinks and decadent waffles (see below for details). On all days, items will be available for takeout and sit-down service. Seating will be limited and Morgan’s Mill staff members will be masked, in accordance with Sacramento County reopening guidelines. * * * * * * Espresso enthusiasts looking for a good buzz...

Posted at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments

Devil May Care Ice Cream to open downtown in March

02/06/20

Devil May Care Ice Cream to open downtown in March

You’ll scream for you-know-what when West Sacramento’s pint-size Devil May Care Ice Cream & Frozen Treats comes to downtown Sacramento in March. The mini ice cream mecca has gained a cult following with its rotating repertoire of bespoke ice cream flavors like Lavender Honey Bee Pollen, Whiskey Salted Caramel and Coffee & Doughnuts (Sactown included the fan favorite in our 2017 Best of the City list). DMC’s sophomore shop—a 1,200-square-foot storefront located on the 700 block of K Street, home to such buzzworthy eateries as Kodaiko Ramen & Bar, Tiger and Solomon’s Delicatessen—will be more than double the size of its West Sacramento flagship.  Owner Jess Milbourn says the new space will allow him to build on the 300-plus ice...

Posted at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Comments

New plant-based eatery to offer veganified versions of comfort food classics like fried chicken and mac and cheese

02/05/20

New plant-based eatery to offer veganified versions of comfort food classics like fried chicken and mac and cheese

Whether it’s your mom’s Velveeta mac and cheese or grandma’s cast-iron fried chicken, comfort food is typically—gloriously—meaty, cheesy and greasy. But a new restaurant, Pure Soul Plant-Based Eats in East Sacramento, will challenge that convention with its lineup of all-vegan home cookin’ when it launches later this month. The closet-sized diner—a 750-square-foot spot that was the longtime home to the recently shuttered hot dog hut The Weinery—will sling plant-based versions of the aforementioned comfort food favorites, as well as other cozy staples like burgers, mashed potatoes and chili. Sure, there will also be “healthy” options like fruit smoothies and grain-based Buddha bowls loaded with roasted veggies, but owner...

Posted at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Comments

Cheesy does it at the fourth annual Sacramento Grilled Cheese Festival

01/24/20

Cheesy does it at the fourth annual Sacramento Grilled Cheese Festival

You'll be saying cheese and thank you for the mounds of melty sandwiches at the Sacramento Grilled Cheese Festival, the two-day foodie fête that will host its fourth annual gathering in Southside Park this spring. On Saturday, April 4, there will be unlimited tastes of snack-sized sammies, as well as all-you-can-drink craft beer and wine. Attendees on the first day will have the chance to put in their vote for their favorite grilled cheese. (Tickets to this first day, which is 21-and-over admission, often sell out early.) Meanwhile, Sunday, April 5, will be an all-ages affair, with live music, bounce houses and half-portions of grilled cheese sandwiches available for purchase. A panel of judges will choose the best sandwich in two categories:...

Posted at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments

Odd Cookie bakery lives up to its name with pancake cupcakes and deep-fried pizzas

01/23/20

Odd Cookie bakery lives up to its name with pancake cupcakes and deep-fried pizzas

Weird is wonderful at downtown's new Odd Cookie Bakery Cafe & Bar, which doles out creative concoctions like cupcakes topped with mini pancakes or bourbon buttercream.

Posted at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments

Cider House owner to open a new smokehouse and bar

01/07/20

Cider House owner to open a new smokehouse and bar

Update: Lefty’s Eatery will open March 6. Hours of operation are Tues.-Thurs. 3:30-10 p.m. Fri. 3:30-10 p.m. Sat. 11:30-10 p.m. Sun. 11:30-8 p.m. ******* Julio Peix, owner of midtown's Cider House and former owner of Dad’s Kitchen, has something new brewing in East Sacramento. His forthcoming restaurant and pub, Lefty’s Taproom—the name is a nod to the fact that both Peix and his business partner James “Panda” Lee are southpaws—is billed as a classic American eatery, somewhere Guy Fieri might visit on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It's expected to open by the end of January near F Street and Elvas Avenue at the site previously occupied by Cabana Winery. Beer lovers can sip suds from local breweries like Urban Roots...

Posted at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments