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Best tapa: Tapa the World
If you like garlic, you’ll love the gambas al ajillo: rock shrimp sautéed in olive oil, a shocking amount of garlic, fresh parsley, white wine and dried red chili flakes.
Best healthful lunch: Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe
At this Davis cafe, dishes are free of gluten and casein, and the focus is on locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables.
Best place to pretend you’re on a Mediterranean vacation: Osteria Fasulo
This Italian restaurant in Davis has a stunning outdoor courtyard with trellised grapevines and big trees strung with lights.
Best breakfast: Cornerstone
This bustling greasy spoon cranks out great no-frills food such as the California omelet, filled with turkey, mushrooms, zucchini and tomato.
Best grounds: High-Hand Conservatory
Located at a bustling nursery in Loomis, this restaurant is surrounded by gorgeous gardens.
Best place to dine alone: Jim-Denny’s
Belly up to the well-scuffed counter at this diner and order a strawberry shake and a Megaburger.
Best spring rolls: Vientiane
The Lao spring rolls at this West Sac eatery are irresistible, served with an invigorating lemon sauce.
Best river view: Pearl on the River
Request an upstairs window seat at this pretty restaurant, where you can gaze out at the lazily moving river and gnarled oak trees below. Nibble on the light, crispy fried calamari or the beer-battered King salmon fish ’n’ chips and bless your lucky stars that you live in Sacramento.
Best blintz: Lake Forest Cafe
These blintzes are stuffed with a sweet, creamy cheese filling and served with fresh sour cream and chunky strawberry preserves.
Best sides: Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
All entrees come with crusty, warm housemade biscuits (your kids will devour them in seconds) and a selection of 12 sides from which to choose—don’t miss the Southern sweet potatoes.
Best place to help out a farmer: Paul Martin’s American Bistro
This restaurant focuses on organic, sustainable and locally sourced food. Don’t miss the Sunday night three-course fried chicken dinner; dessert is a hot blondie with vanilla ice cream.
Best ambiance: Blue Nami
This lovely little restaurant feels like a snug, dimly lit cave, with a waterfall rushing down one wall and a lush, magical display of bamboo poles that are lit from within.
Best family-run restaurant: Le Bilig Kitchen
Marc and Monica Deconinck (and their food-savvy kids) serve some of the best country French cuisine in the region at this Auburn dining destination.