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Carne Asada
Grange Restaurant & Bar
Best known for its farm-to-table cuisine, this boutique-hotel restaurant also happens to serve a magnificent Mexican-inspired carne asada. Available only on Wednesdays at lunch, the dish features sliced marinated skirt steak snuggled onto a plate with two full-flavored salsas (tomatillo and tomato), black beans dotted with chorizo and a side salad lightly tossed in the tomatillo salsa. The lively dish is so popular that it tends to sell out quickly; arrive early to ensure there's one for you. 926 J St., Sacramento; (916) 492-4450; grangesacramento.com

 

Fish and Chips
Auburn Alehouse
It's hard to find good fish and chips. All too often, they are tepid and sodden with grease. But Auburn Alehouse knows how to cook 'em right. Large pieces of Alaskan cod, coated in a crunchy batter made with the brewery's Fool's Gold Ale, are served piping hot with a crusty, nongreasy exterior and a moist, flaky interior. Accompanied by a big pile of herbed fries and a side of palate-reviving coleslaw, this fishy dish is one of the alehouse's yummiest menu items. 289 Washington St., Auburn; (530) 885-2537; auburn alehouse.com

 

Super Nutburger
Sunflower Drive In
Craving wholesome fare? Tuck into Sunflower's enormous super nutburger, a textural nutmeat patty crammed into pita bread with pickles, romaine lettuce, tomato slices and alfalfa sprouts (remember those?) and jazzed up with a proprietary sauce composed of mayonnaise (regular or vegan), ketchup and stone-ground mustard. This hearty, juicy item is a bit awkward to consume, so make sure you have lots of napkins at the ready. 10344 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 967-4331; sunflowernaturalrestaurant.com

 

Panko-Crusted Eggplant Sandwich
Juno's Kitchen & Delicatessen
This creative sandwich is an absolute delight. Served warm on grilled bread, it features a slab of crispy, panko-crusted eggplant with a silky, tender center. Topped with a generous pile of smoky roasted red peppers, melted Manchego cheese and fresh tomato, the sandwich gets extra zip from the addition of basil aïoli and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. After polishing it off, ask for one of the deli's dense, ultra-chocolatey brownies, located in a glass jar on the counter—they'll knock your socks off. 3675 J St., Sacramento; (916) 456-4522; junoskitchen.com

 

Goat Curry
East West Junction
Goat curry? You betcha. This is just one of many appealing dishes at this unassuming Pakistani restaurant in South Sac. (It's attached to a bustling store specializing in Indian and Pakistani groceries.) I love the fragrance of this stewlike dish, whose exotic, perfumey spices enhance the fork-tender meat. (Caution: Watch out for bones.) Pile the curry on nan for a satisfying, out-of-the-ordinary meal. 4411 47th Ave., Sacramento; (916) 421-4442

 

Frisée Salad
The Waterboy
I've never had a salad I didn't adore at The Waterboy, but my favorite is this feathery, tangled frisée salad. Generously sprinkled with thick pieces of smoky bacon and crunchy housemade croutons, the ensemble is topped with a peppered, warm poached egg, which you break apart and mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Soothing and fun to eat, offering an entertaining array of textures and temperatures, this is a salad I never get tired of ordering. 2000 Capitol Ave., Sacramento; (916) 498-9891; waterboy restaurant.com

 

Tofu Tibbs
Queen Sheba
Vegetarian food never tasted as good as this dish of custardy cubes of tofu gently sautéed in garlic, turmeric and ginger, then mixed with an array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and bell peppers. Pile a big spoonful in the restaurant's tangy, crêpelike injera (a traditional Ethiopian sourdough flatbread) and savor the big, sunny flavors of this intriguing dish. Hint: If the restaurant is offering sweet potato pie when you visit, save room for a slice. 1704 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 446-1223; queenshebas.com

 

Pulled Pork
MacQue's Bar-B-Que
You can smell the smoky, meaty aromas wafting out of MacQue's a block away from this unpretentious eatery. And while the ribs are outstanding, I think the pulled pork is the best dish on the menu. Moist and tender, the pile of pork is slathered in MacQue's luscious barbecue sauce (choose from mild, medium or hot) and tastes even better when devoured with sweet baked beans and spicy, crinkly greens. 8101 Elder Creek Road, Sacramento; (916) 381-4119; macquesbbq.com

 

SNAPSHOTS

Wind Youth Services Summer Soirée 2014

Wind Youth Services Summer Soirée 2014

Published: Sunday, July 27, 2014