2009 Subscribers' Choice Dining Awards

Posted on July 16

Photography by Schwager Studios

If there’s one thing we here at Sacramento magazine know about our readers, it’s this: You love to eat. Every year, we ask you to weigh in on your favorite local restaurants, dishes and chefs. We figure if anybody knows about Sacramento dining, it’s you. Here, then, are this year’s dining award winners as voted by Sacramento magazine subscribers, along with some of our own editors’ picks.

New Restaurant
1. Grange
2.  Cosmo Cafe
3. Chicago Fire (midtown)

Best of the Best (money no object)
1. The Firehouse
2. The Kitchen
3. Biba

Best of the Best (moderate prices)
1. Ella
2. Bandera
3. Cattlemens

Best of the Best (inexpensive)
1. Cafe Bernardo
3. Jack’s Urban Eats

Special-Occasion Restaurant
1. The Firehouse
2. Ella
3. Slocum House

1. The Firehouse
2. Slocum House
3. Biba

1. The Firehouse
2. Biba
3. Slocum House

1. Ruth’s Chris
2. Morton’s
3. Cattlemens

1. Scott’s Seafood
2. Fins
3. McCormick & Schmick’s

Fish Market
1. Fins
2. Scott’s Seafood
3. Whole Foods Market

Outdoor Dining
1. The Firehouse
2. Slocum House
3. Paragary’s and Rio City Cafe (tie)

River Dining
1. Rio City Cafe
2. Scott’s Seafood (Le Rivage)
3. Delta King Pilothouse

1. Rio City Cafe
2. Scott’s Seafood (Le Rivage)
3. Joe’s Crab Shack and Sudwerk Riverside (tie)

Restaurant to Take Out-of-Towners
1. The Firehouse
2. Biba
3. Rio City Cafe and Slocum House (tie)

Restaurant in a Mall
1. California Cafe
2. The Cheesecake Factory
3. California Pizza Kitchen

Chain Restaurant
1. Mimi’s Cafe
2. The Cheesecake Factory
3. BJ’s and P.F. Chang’s (tie)

Biggest Portions
1. Claim Jumper
2. The Cheesecake Factory
3. Buca di Beppo

Chips and Salsa
1. Chevys
2. Ernesto’s
3. Garcia’s

1. Tapa the World
2. The Firehouse
3. P.F. Chang’s

Place to be Seen
1. Crush 29 and Ella (tie)
2. The Firehouse
3. Grange and Mason’s (tie)

Late-Night Dining
1. Ink
2. Tapa the World
3. Mel’s Diner

Hotel Restaurant
1. Dawson’s (Hyatt Regency)
2. Grange (The Citizen)
3.  Basil’s (Radisson) and Scott’s Seafood (Le Rivage) (tie)

Dining and Dancing Spot
1. Mason’s/The Park Ultra Lounge
2. Harlow’s
1. Mix Downtown and Tre (tie)

Dining Entertainment
1. Cosmo Cafe (The Cosmopolitan Cabaret)
2. Benihana
3. Delta King (Capital Stage/Suspects Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre)

Wine Bar
1. 58 Degrees & Holding Co.
2. L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen
3. Crush 29

Wine List
1. The Firehouse
2. Crush 29 and 58 Degrees & Holding Co. (tie)
3. Morton’s

Happy Hour
1. McCormick & Schmick’s
2. Chevys
3. The Firehouse

Bar Dining
1. Ink
2. BJ’s
3. The Firehouse

Brew Pub
1. Brew It Up!
2. BJ’s and Sacramento Brewing Company (tie)
3. Pyramid Alehouse

Pub Food
1. Sacramento Brewing Company and Streets of London (tie)
2. de Vere’s Irish Pub
3. Brew It Up! and Fox & Goose (tie)

Sports Bar
1. Mandango’s
2. Players
3. Center Court With C-Webb

Health-Conscious Menu
1. Fresh Choice
2. Jack’s Urban Eats
3. UFood Grill

Theme Restaurant
1. Joe’s Crab Shack
2. Elephant Bar
3. Hard Rock Cafe

Family Restaurant
1. Old Spaghetti Factory
2. Buca di Beppo
3. Brookfields, Cattlemens and Mimi’s Cafe (tie)

Dining Secret
1. Boulevard Bistro
2.  Moxie
3. Mama Susanna’s and Tulí Bistro (tie)

Old Favorite
1. The Firehouse
2. Old Spaghetti Factory
3. Cattlemens

1. Biba
2. Il Fornaio
3. Cafe Vinoteca

Family-Style iIalian
1. Buca di Beppo
2. Old Spaghetti Factory
3. Español

1. Cafe Rolle
2. La Provence
3. La Bohème

1. Opa! Opa!
2. Greek Village Inn
3. The Kabob House

1. Kathmandu Kitchen
2.  Kaveri
3. Gaylord and Sher-e-Punjab (tie)

1. Frank Fat’s
2. P.F. Chang’s
3. Fat’s Asia Bistro

1. Mikuni
2. Kru
3. Hana Tsubaki and Kamon (tie)

1. Mikuni
2. Kru
3. Nishiki

1. Thai Basil
2.  Amarin
3. Lemon Grass

1. Lemon Grass
2.  Bobo Cafe
3. Andy Nguyen

1. Ernesto’s
2. Zócalo
3. Tres Hermanas

Hole-in-the-Wall Mexican
1. Vallejo’s
2. La Fiesta
3. 524

1. Chipotle
2.  Dos Coyotes
3. Ernesto’s

Gourmet Takeout
1. Selland’s Market-Cafe
2. The Market at Pavilions (formerly David Berkley)
3. Whole Foods Market

Budget Lunch
1. Jack’s Urban Eats
2. Subway
3. Buckhorn Grill and Chipotle (tie)

Business Lunch
1. Esquire Grill
2. The Firehouse
3. Roxy

Ladies’ Lunch
1. Danielle’s Creperie
2. Ettore’s
3. The Firehouse

Caesar Salad
1. Jack’s Urban Eats
2. Ruth’s Chris
3. Scott’s Seafood

1. Corti Brothers
2. The Market at Pavilions (formerly David Berkley)
3. Nugget Markets

Sandwich Shop
1. Mr. Pickles
2. Subway
3. Beach Hut Deli and Togo’s (tie)

1. Sunflower Natural Foods Drive-In
2. Andy Nguyen

1. Classique Catering
2. Back Forty Texas BBQ
3. Hannibal’s Catering

1. Biba Caggiano (Biba)  and Randall Selland (Ella/The Kitchen) (tie)

2. Kurt Spataro (Spataro,  Paragary Restaurant Group)
3. Deneb Williams (The Firehouse)

Cooking School
1. American River College
(Culinary Arts &  Hospitality Management)
2. Kitchen Academy
3. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

Neighborhood Restaurant
1. Applebee’s
2. Riverside Clubhouse
3. Club Pheasant and 33rd Street Bistro (tie)

In Auburn
1. Latitudes
2. Carpe Vino
3. Auburn Alehouse and Katrina’s Cafe (tie)

In Davis
1. Seasons
2. Sofia’s Thai Kitchen
3. Bistro 33 and Little Prague (tie)

In El Dorado Hills
1. Bistro 33
2. Cafe Campanile
3. Sky Sushi

In Elk Grove
1. Boulevard Bistro
2. Silva’s Sheldon Inn

In Folsom
1. Fat’s Asia Bistro
2. Bidwell Street Bistro
3. Chicago Fire

In Lodi
1. Wine & Roses

In Natomas
1. Center Court With C-Webb
2. BJ’s
3. Malabar

In Placerville
1. Zachary Jacques
2. Sequoia
1. Z Pie

In Roseville/Grranite Bay
1. Crush 29
2. Hawks
3. La Provence and Paul Martin’s American Bistro (tie)

In West Sacramento
1. Club Pheasant
2. Emma’s Taco House

In Woodland
1. Tazzina Bistro
2. Morrison’s Upstairs
3. Ludy’s Main Street BBQ

1. Round Table
2. Chicago Fire
3. Zelda’s

Non-Pizzeria Pizza
1. BJ’s
2. Paragary’s
3. Zinfandel Grille

Pasta Selection
1. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
2. Il Fornaio
3. Olive Garden

1. Texas West Bar-B-Que
2. Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
3. Back Forty Texas BBQ and  JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que (tie)

1. In-N-Out
2. Squeeze Inn
3.  McDonald’s

Non-Fast-Food Burger
1. Squeeze Inn
2.  The Firehouse
3. Ettore’s

Hot Dogs
1. Costco
2. Capitol Dawg
3. The Wienery

Onion Rings
1. The Habit
3. Granite Rock Grill

Fried Chicken
1. KFC
2. Popeyes
3. Sandra Dee’s

Bread at a Restaurant
1. Il Fornaio
2. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
3. The Firehouse

1. Starbucks
2. Peet’s
3. It’s a Grind

Locally Owned Coffeehouse
1. Bella Bru
2.  Java City
3. The Naked Lounge and Old Soul Co. (tie)

1. Tower Cafe
2. Fox & Goose

Sunday Brunch
1. Tower Cafe
2. Slocum House
3. Delta King Pilothouse and  33rd Street Bistro (tie)

French Toast
1. Tower Cafe
2. Mimi’s Cafe
3. Cafe Bernardo

1. Freeport Bakery
2. Ettore’s
3. New Roma Bakery

1. Rick’s Dessert Diner
2. Freeport Bakery
3. Ettore’s

1. Cupcake Craving
2. Babycakes Bakery
3. Icing on the Cupcake

Gourmet Cookies
1. Cookie Connection
2. Mrs. Fields
3. Kelli’s Cookies

Ice Cream Parlor
1. Leatherby’s
2. Vic’s
3. Cold Stone Creamery

Frozen Yogurt
1. Big Spoon
2. Yogurtagogo

1. Squeeze Inn
2.  Jamie’s Broadway Grille




Best Soup Kitchen: La Bonne Soupe Cafe
He’s been called Sacramento’s Soup Nazi. But the only resemblance between Daniel Pont, chef/owner of this tiny downtown lunch spot, and the touchy “Seinfeld” character who snarled “No soup for you!” is the perfection of their potages. (The French onion soup is a classic.) La Bonne Soupe’s no-frills ambiance didn’t stop the Zagat folks from naming it one of Sacramento’s best restaurants in its 2009 guide.
920 Eighth St., Sacramento; (916) 492-9506

Best New Pizzeria: OneSpeed
You’d think owning the most highly regarded restaurant in town would be enough for any chef. Not The Waterboy’s Rick Mahan. Earlier this summer, he opened this casual pizza place in East Sacramento, serving up inventive thin-crusted pies from a wood-burning oven.
4818 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 706-1748;

Best Commitment to Local Farmers: Mulvaney’s Building & Loan
Local farmers don’t have a better friend than Patrick Mulvaney, one of Sacramento’s earliest champions of seasonal, local food. If fava beans or white peaches are in season, you can bet they’ll pop up on the menu at this midtown restaurant. If you’re lucky, you might even see the farmer who grew them at the next table.
1215 19th St., Sacramento; (916) 441-6022

Best Small Menu: Taylor’s Kitchen
When this Land Park restaurant (an offshoot of Taylor’s Market) opened earlier this year, local residents quickly embraced it. Now, the packed dining room feels like the hottest party in town. Open only for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, it has a concise, interesting menu, with dishes you won’t see anywhere else, like housemade stinging-nettle tagliatelle with Italian sausage, kale and pecorino Toscano. 
2924 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 443-5154;

Best Tapas Restaurant: Ficelle
If it’s Friday or Saturday night, it’s tapas time at this charming Winters hangout. Order at the counter, then grab a seat outside on the patio. On a hot evening, small plates of grilled shrimp and mini tostadas go down nicely with a pitcher of ice-cold Sangria.
5 E Main St., Winters; (530) 795-9593;

Best Place for a bite to eat: Tucos Wine Market and Cafe
At this intimate Davis wine bar, owner Pru Mendez changes the menu frequently, with a heavy emphasis on Latin flavors, producing small plates of exquisite fare. Try the arepas (Venezuelan corn cakes) or the BLT salad.  
130 G St., Davis; (530) 757-6600

Best Place to Wine and Dine: Back Wine Bar
Yes, you can choose from dozens of wines by the glass at this Folsom wine bar. And if you’re feeling peckish, there’s a compact menu of simple, wine-friendly food, such as mini pizzas, bruschetta, a steak sandwich and Hawaiian ahi poke.
25075 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom; (916) 986-9100;

Best Neighborhood Hangout: Formoli’s Bistro
With its shotgun layout and strip-mall location, this little East Sac restaurant hasn’t yet attracted a lot of attention outside of the neighborhood. But locals in the know come for the expertly prepared penne pasta with scallops and the peppery Whiskey Burger. Friendly owners and an open kitchen make for an inviting atmosphere.   
3260 J St., Sacramento; (916) 448-5699

Best Place for an Old-Fashioned Italian Meal: Buonarroti Ristorante

The Italian food dished up at this pretty restaurant is definitely old school. Come here for the likes of veal marsala,chicken piccata, spaghetti and meatballs, and beef ravioli with red sauce.   
Town & Country Village, 2627 Town & Country Place, Sacramento; (916) 265-2110;

Best Restaurant for Ladies Who Lunch: High-Hand Conservatory Cafe
This sun-filled restaurant on the grounds of High-Hand Nursery is the perfect spot for a long, lazy lunch with friends. The farm-centric fare of soups, salads and pizzas is simple and earnest, and the atmosphere can’t be beat.
3790 Taylor Road, Loomis; (916) 652-2064;