2006 Subscribers’ Choice Awards

    With ever more restaurants to choose from in the Sacramento region, subscribers faced quite an undertaking when they responded to our survey: What restaurants really stand out as best in the region? Our subscribers rose to the occasion, though, and took full advantage of their privilege to vote. We received more responses than ever this year. Here are the winners, along with some picks from Sacramento magazine editors. 


    Auburn: Latitudes

    2  Awful Annie’s  |  3  Bootleggers
    Runners-Up: Katrina’s Cafe, Lou La Bonte’s, Monkey Cat Restaurant

    Davis: The Mustard Seed and Seasons (tie)

    2  Redrum Burger and Sudwerk (tie)  |  3  Bistro 33 Davis
    Runners-Up: Dos Coyotes Border Cafe, Soga’s

    Elk Grove: Logan’s Roadhouse

    2  Silva’s Sheldon Inn  |  3  Elk Grove Brewery
    Runners-Up: Mikuni, Mimi’s Cafe, Palermo Ristorante Italiano

    El Dorado Hills: Masque Ristorante

    2  Cafe Campanile  |  3  Bella Bru 
    Runners-Up: Fortune Garden, Mama Ann’s Deli & Bakery, Purple Place

    Best Mousse Cake: Chocolate Mousse Torte, Selland’s Market-Cafe
    Indulge your sweet-loving side with this trio of flavors: chocolate mousse atop a dark-chocolate cookie crust, finished with whipped cream. It’s like eating a chocolate cloud. 5340 H St., Sacramento; (916) 736-3333; thekitchenrestaurant.com

    Folsom: The Cliff House of Folsom

    2  Bidwell Street Bistro  |  3  Bailies
    Runners-Up: Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar, Scott’s Seafood, Zinfandel Grille

    Lodi: Wine & Roses

    2  Woodbridge Feed & Fuel  |  3  Rosewood Bar & Grill
    Runners-Up: Movie City Grill & Bar, Pietro’s Pizzeria

    Placerville: Sequoia

    2  Zachary Jacques  |  3  Tortilla Flats and Z Pie (tie)
    Runner-Up: Tomei’s

    Roseville/Granite Bay: Carvers Steaks & Chops

    2  Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar  |  3  P.F. Chang’s China Bistro 
    Runners-Up: Claim Jumper, La Provence, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

    Most Addictive Bread: Focaccia, Il Forno Classico
    Sink your teeth into this wonderfully fresh, chewy focaccia and you’ll be dreaming about it for weeks. It’s impossible to stop at one piece of this bread, which accompanies every entre, whether it’s dunked in oil and balsamic vinegar or eaten plain. Low-carb diets be damned&emdash;this stuff is great! 2121 Golden Centre Lane #10, Gold River; (916) 858-0651; ilfornoclassico.com

    West Sacramento: Club Pheasant

    2  Emma’s Taco House  |  3  Cafe Vienna 
    Runners-Up: IKEA, Sal’s Tacos, Vince’s

    Woodland: Morrison’s Upstairs

    2  Tazzina Bistro  |  3  Ludy’s Main Street BBQ  
    Runners-Up: Maritime Seafood & Grill, Sonic Drive-In

     Appetizers: Tapa the World

    2  T.G.I. Friday’s  |  3  Elephant Bar 
    Runners-Up: The Cheesecake Factory, The Firehouse, P.F. Chang’s
    China Bistro

    Bagels: Noah’s Bagels

    2  New York Bagel Boys and Panera Bread (tie)  |  3  La Bou and Sacramento Bagel (tie)
    Runners-Up: Costco, Main Street Bagel Cafe

    Best Shellfish: Mussels Marinière, Restaurant 55 Degrees
    Can’t make it to the South of France this summer? Then do the next best thing: Order the Mussels Marinière at Restaurant 55 Degrees. The meaty little bivalves are cooked in a garlicky white wine broth and served with crispy Belgian fries (perfect for dipping in the broth). C’est magnifique! 555 Capitol Mall, Suite 55, Sacramento; (916) 553-4100; restaurant55.com

    Bakery: Ettore’s

    2  Freeport Bakery  |  3  Panera Bread
    Runners-Up: Karen’s Cafe & Catering, La Bou, Philipp’s Bakery, Raley’s/Bel Air

    Barbecue: Texas West Bar-B-Que

    2  JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que  |  3  Back Forty Texas BBQ
    Runners-Up: Bar B Que Express, Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood

    Best of the Best (money no object): Biba

    2  The Firehouse  |  3  Ruth’s Chris Steak House
    Runners-Up: The Kitchen, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Slocum House

    Best of the Best (moderate prices): Paragary’s Bar and Oven

    2  Scott’s Seafood and The Waterboy (tie)  |  3  Bandera, Carvers Steaks & Chops and Lucca (tie)

    Best Big Burger: French Ground Steakburger, Nationwide Freezer Meats

    Twelve bucks for a hamburger, fries and a Coke? What is this, New York City? Fuggeddaboudit, right? Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. Weighing in at one-third of a pound, this burger&emdash;offered with plank fries the size of bananas&emdash;literally emasculates the Quarter Pounder, or any other cheeseburger you get around these parts for that matter. It’s worth every single one of the many bites you’ll need to finish it&emdash;and well worth the search for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it warehouse it’s served in. 1930 H St., Sacramento; (916) 444-3286

    Best of the Best (inexpensive): The Old Spaghetti Factory

    2  Jack’s Urban Eats  |  3  Dos Coyotes Border Cafe
    Runners-Up: Cafe Bernardo, In-N-Out Burger, Mimi’s Cafe

    Biggest Portions: Claim Jumper

    2  Buca di Beppo  |  3  The Cheesecake Factory
    Runners-Up: Cattlemens, Mimi’s Cafe, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Moxie

    Bread at a Restaurant: Il Fornaio

    2  Romano’s Macaroni Grill  |  3  Mimi’s Cafe and Red Lobster (tie) 
    Runners-Up: Logan’s Roadhouse, Panera Bread, Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus

    Breakfast: Mimi’s Cafe

    2  Fox & Goose Public House and Tower Cafe (tie)  |  3  Cornerstone Restaurant
    Runners-Up: Awful Annie’s, Cafe Bernardo

    Best Pad Thai: Thai Siam Restaurant
    Thai food aficionados will delight in discovering authentic pad thai at Thai Siam in Folsom. Carrots, peanuts, eggs, tofu, bean sprouts and chives come scattered throughout a bed of soft rice noodles. Add chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetables. For complete decadence, spice it up with chili peppers and ask for peanut sauce on the side. 705 Gold Lake Drive, Suite 360, Folsom; (916) 351-1696

    Brew Pub: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

    2  Sacramento Brewing Company  |  3  Brew It Up!
    Runners-Up: Elk Grove Brewery, Pyramid Alehouse, River City Brewing Company

    Burger: In-N-Out Burger

    2  Red Robin  |  3  Carl’s Jr.
    Runners-Up: Ford’s Real Hamburgers, Hamburger Mary’s, Squeeze Inn

    Burger, non-fast-food: Red Robin

    2  Hamburger Mary’s  |  3  Chili’s Grill & Bar and Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks (tie)
    Runners-Up: The Firehouse, Squeeze Inn

    Burrito: Chipotle

    2  Dos Coyotes Border Cafe  |  3  Baja Fresh
    Runners-Up: Adalberto’s Mexican Food, Gordito Burrito, Jimboy’s Tacos

    Caesar Salad: Jack’s Urban Eats

    2  La Bou  |  3  The Firehouse
    Runners-Up: Delta King Pilothouse, Paragary’s Bar and Oven, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

    Caterer: Classique Catering

    2  Chateau by A Shot of Class and Selland’s Market-Cafe (tie)  |  3  David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods and Hannibal’s Restaurant Catering (tie)
    Runners-Up: Capitol City Catering, Ettore’s

    Best Spicy Stew: Roghan Josh, Bombay Bistro
    What’s special about this hearty concoction of tender lamb chunks, tomatoes, onions and garlic at Bombay Bistro in Roseville? The spices: ginger, coriander, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon and chili pepper, precisely proportioned to leave a lingering warmth in your mouth after your meal. Sop up the scraps with some of the bistro’s moist garlic naan and you’ll be sorry that you’re too full to eat more. 1813 Douglas Blvd., Roseville; (916) 772-5551

    Chain Restaurant: Mimi’s Cafe

    2  Chili’s Grill & Bar  |  3  P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
    Runners-Up: Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

    Cheese Plate: The Melting Pot

    l2  The Firehouse  |  l3  Tapa the World  | 
    Runners-Up: Masque Ristorante, Raley’s/Bel Air

    Chef: Kurt Spataro (Spataro)

    2  Biba Caggiano (Biba)  |  3  Vincent Paul Alexander (The Firehouse) and Randall Selland
    (The Kitchen) (tie) 
    Runners-Up: Taro Arai (Mikuni), John Evans (Zachary Jacques), Rick Mahan (The Waterboy)

    Chef, up and coming: Jonathan Kerksieck (Masque Ristorante)

    2  Noah Zonca (The Kitchen)

    Best Buddha-Worthy Appetizer: Enlighten Mind Roll, Andy Nguyen’s
    These delightful 100 percent veggie rolls&emdash;the creation of owner Lien Nguyen&emdash;are stuffed with grilled and marinated tofu and mushrooms, lettuce, carrots, cilantro and mint and wrapped in chowfun. They’re served with a vegetarian fish sauce (a soy-based vinaigrette), but a side of either plum or peanut sauce complements them nicely as well. 2007 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 736-1157

    Chips and Salsa: Chevys Fresh Mex

    2  Ernesto’s Mexican Food  |  3  Chili’s Grill & Bar
    Runners-Up: Centro Cocina Mexicana, On the Border, Zócalo

    Chocolate Dessert: Rick’s Dessert Diner

    2  Ettore’s  |  3  The Firehouse
    Runners-Up: The Cheesecake Factory, Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse

    Coffeehouse: Starbucks

    2  Peet’s Coffee & Tea  |  3  Java City
    Runners-Up: Bella Bru, It’s A Grind Coffee House, La Bou

    Coffeehouse, locally owned: Bella Bru

    2  Java City  |  3  It’s A Grind Coffee House and La Bou (tie)
    Runners-Up: Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Plantation Coffee & Bakery

    Cooking School: American River College (Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management)

    2  IT Culinary Arts  |  3  The Kitchen and Napoli Culinary Academy (tie)
    Runners-Up: Culinary Institute of America, Williams-Sonoma

    Best Onion Rings: Brew It Up!
    Crunchy on the outside, warm and silky on the inside. An old favorite doesn’t get much better than this.
    801 14th St., Sacramento; (916) 441-3000; brewitup.com

    Crab Cakes: Scott’s Seafood

    2  Joe’s Crab Shack  |  3  The Firehouse
    Runners-Up: California Fat’s, Delta King Pilothouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Rio City Cafe

    Crème Brûle: The Firehouse

    2  Slocum House  |  3  Il Fornaio
    Runners-Up: Biba, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Scott’s Seafood

    Deli: Raley’s/Bel Air

    2  David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods  |  3  Corti Brothers
    Runners-Up: The Beach Hut Deli, Dominick’s Italian Market

    Desserts: Rick’s Dessert Diner

    2  Ettore’s  |  3  The Cheesecake Factory
    Runners-Up: The Firehouse, Freeport Bakery, Tower Cafe

    Dining and Dancing Spot: Harlow’s

    2  The Park Ultra Lounge at Mason’s  |  3  The Cliff House of Folsom
    Runners-Up: Cafe Capri, Delta King Pilothouse

    Dining Entertainment: Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre

    2  Delta King Pilothouse  |  3  Harlow’s
    Runners-Up: Benihana, Joe’s Crab Shack, The Kitchen

    Dining Secret: Moxie

    2  The Kitchen and Tower Cafe (tie)  |  3  Cafe Milazzo and The Melting Pot (tie)
    Runner-Up: Il Fornaio

    Best Salad With Lots of Zip: Hal’s Salad, Cafe Morocco
    Introduced this past spring, this salad at Cafe Morocco is delighting diners seeking something a little lighter than, say, a gyro. Indulge in the Matterhorn of romaine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, baked pita chips, chicken and lightly grilled green peppers and onions, topped with a zesty tawuq garlic dressing that lends a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. 1221 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 731-4637

    Dive: Squeeze Inn

    2  Jamie’s Bar and Grill  |  3  Eddie’s on Broadway and Jim Denny’s Lunch (tie)
    Runners-Up: Chargin’s Bar and Grill, The Limelight, Poor Reds, Zelda’s Original Gourmet Pizza

    Doughnuts: Krispy Kreme

    2  Marie’s Do-Nut Shop  |  3  Manley Donuts and Safeway (tie)
    Runners-Up: Donut Fair, Raley’s/Bel Air, Richard’s

    Chinese: Frank Fat’s

    2  P.F. Chang’s China Bistro  |  3  Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar
    Runners-Up: Chinois City Cafe, The Mandarin

    Chinese, hole-in-the-wall: Fortune Garden

    2  Jade Fountain Cafe and Shanghai Garden (tie)  |  3  Far East Cafe and Happy Garden (tie)

    Best Unusual Milkshake: Peanut Butter Shake, Whitey’s Jolly Kone
    Whitey’s dares to be nutty. With one large dollop of peanut butter, the venerable hamburger stand has turned a plain vanilla milkshake into a West Sacramento signature treat. 1300 Jefferson Blvd., West Sacramento; (916) 371-3605

    French: La Bohème

    2  La Provence   |  3  Danielle’s Crêperie & Gallery
    Runners-Up: Bidwell Street Bistro, Cafe Rolle, The Waterboy

    German: Sudwerk

    2  Cafe Vienna  |  3  St. Pauli Inn
    Runner-Up: German Deli

    Greek: Greek Village Inn

    2  Kabob House  |  3  Daphne’s Greek Cafe
    Runners-Up: Opa! Opa!, Pita Pita, Symposium

    Italian: Biba

    2  Il Fornaio  |  3  Romano’s Macaroni Grill
    Runners-Up: Buca di Beppo, Lucca, Olive Garden

    Italian, family-style: Buca di Beppo

    2  The Old Spaghetti Factory  |  3  Español
    Runners-Up: Olive Garden, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Strings Italian Cafe

    Best Straightforward Combination of Fresh Ingredients: The Cheese Plate at Tucos Wine Market & Cafe  Tucos doesn’t cut corners when it comes to quality ingredients. Thinly sliced French bread from the nearby Village Bakery, olive oil, roasted almonds, currants and local cherries (or other seasonal fruit) complement your choice of cheese. We think Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam organic cream cheese is an elegant selection. 130 G St., Suite A, Davis; (530) 757-6600

    Japanese: Mikuni

    2  Hana Tsubaki  |  3  Osaka Sushi
    Runners-Up: Benihana, Samurai Sushi, Wasabi House

    Mexican: Ernesto’s Mexican Food

    2  Zócalo  |  3  Chevys Fresh Mex
    Runners-Up: Centro Cocina Mexicana, El Novillero, On The Border

    Mexican, hole-in-the-wall:

    Jimboy’s Tacos and Vallejo’s (tie)
    2  El Azteca Taqueria  |  3  Emma’s Taco House
    Runners-Up: 524 Restaurant No. 2, Tres Hermanas

    Sushi: Mikuni

    2  Nishiki Sushi  |  3  Samurai Sushi
    Runners-Up: Osaka Sushi, Taka’s Sushi, Taro’s by Mikuni

    Thai: Thai Basil Cafe

    2  Lemon Grass  |  3  Amarin Thai Cuisine
    Runners-Up: Thai Cottage, Thai Siam

    Vietnamese: Lemon Grass

    2  Bobo Cafe  |  3  Andy Nguyen’s
    Runners-Up: Noodle House, Pho Bac Hoa Viet, Viet-Ha

    Best Pizza for a Party: Bahama Mama, Ciro’s Pizza Cafe
    At Ciro’s Pizza Cafe, the dough alone keeps area pizza lovers coming back for more: hand-tossed, perfectly textured, with a warm, yeasty flavor. Piled high with fresh, garlicky tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, salami, bell peppers, black olives, red onions and mushrooms, this pie goes a long way in a hungry crowd. 241 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom, (916) 983-5757; and 7521 Old Auburn Road, Citrus Heights; (916) 726-5757; cirospizza.com

    Family Restaurant: The Old Spaghetti Factory

    2  Mimi’s Cafe  |  3  Buca di Beppo
    Runners-Up: Applebee’s, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Red Robin

    Fish Market: Fins Market & Grill

    2  Scott’s Seafood  |  3  Whole Foods Market
    Runners-Up: Joe’s Crab Shack, Raley’s/Bel Air

    French Fries: McDonald’s

    2  In-N-Out Burger  |  3  Red Robin
    Runners-Up: The Firehouse, Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, Jack’s Urban Eats

    Fried Chicken: KFC

    2  Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits  |  3  Raley’s/Bel Air
    Runners-Up: Chick-fil-A, Church’s Chicken

    Best Sandwich: Roasted Turkey and Pesto Panini, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Elk Grove
    This is the ultimate turkey sandwich, complete with pesto mayonnaise, mozzarella, tomato and baby greens, all nestled inside an enormous ciabatta roll, which is pressed on a hot grill right before your eyes. Your mouth will water while you wait. 8517 Bond Road, Elk Grove; (916) 714-7100; sacfoodcoop.com

    Garlic Fix: Granito’s

    2  Arco Arena  |  3  Jack’s Urban Eats
    Runners-Up: Buca di Beppo, Elk Grove Brewery, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

    Gourmet Cookies: Mrs. Fields

    2  Ettore’s  |  3  Cookie Connection
    Runners-Up: Freeport Bakery, Goodie Tuchews, Kelli’s Gourmet Cookies

    Guacamole: Centro Cocina Mexicana and Chevys Fresh Mex (tie)

    2  Ernesto’s Mexican Food  |  3  Chipotle and Zócalo (tie)
    Runner-Up: On The Border

    Happy Hour: Elephant Bar

    2  El Torito  |  3  The Firehouse
    Runners-Up: Chevys Fresh Mex, Mandango’s Sports Bar and Grill, Scott’s Seafood

    Health-Conscious Menu: Fresh Choice

    2  Applebee’s  |  3  Sunflower Drive-In
    Runners-Up: Jack’s Urban Eats, La Bou, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Subway

    Best Poultry: Chicken Makhani, Kathmandu Kitchen
    Chicken is anything but boring at Kathmandu Kitchen in Davis. There, they roast it over charcoal, cut it into chunks and smother it in a creamy red sauce scented with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. It’s exotic comfort food. 234 G St., Davis; (530) 756-3507 (and other locations); kathmandukitchen.com

    Hotel Restaurant: Dawson’s (Hyatt Regency Sacramento)

    2  Chanterelle (The Sterling Hotel)  |  3  Basil’s by the Lake (Radisson Hotel Sacramento)
    Runners-Up: Delta King Pilothouse, Morgan’s Central Valley Bistro (Sheraton Grand Sacramento)

    Ice Cream Parlor: Leatherby’s Family Creamery

    2  Coldstone Creamery  |  3  Vic’s
    Runners-Up: Baskin-Robbins, Gunther’s, Burr’s Fountain

    Late-Night Dining: Tapa the World

    2  Ink  |  3  Lyons and Mel’s Diner (tie)
    Runners-Up: Denny’s, Esquire Grill

    Lunch (budget): La Bou

    2  Subway  |  3  Jack’s Urban Eats
    Runners-Up: Chipotle, In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell

    Lunch (business): Esquire Grill

    l2  The Firehouse  |  l3  Il Fornaio
    Runners-Up: 4th Street Grille, Lucca,
    Paragary’s Bar and Oven, Piatti

    Lunch (ladies’): Danielle’s Crêperie & Gallery

    2  The Firehouse  |  3  The Elegant Garden and Tea and La Bou (tie)
    Runners-Up: Bella Bru, Elephant Bar, Ettore’s, Slocum House

    Best Garlic Bread: Cheesy Artichoke Garlic Bread, Elk Grove Brewery
    Elk Grove Brewery’s combination of its cheesy artichoke dip, usually served with tortilla chips, and its garlic bread, usually served with marinara sauce, is a marriage made in culinary heaven. Presented warm straight from the oven, it’s a crunchy, creamy, tangy delight. 9085 Elk Grove Blvd., Old Town Elk Grove; (916) 685-2537; elkgrovebrewery.com

    Neighborhood Restaurant: 33rd Street Bistro

    2  Applebee’s  |  3  Riverside Clubhouse
    Runners-Up: Bella Bru, Brookfield’s, Tower Cafe

    New Downtown Restaurant: Spataro

    2  Mason’s  |  3  Zócalo
    Runners-Up: Restaurant 55 Degrees, Lucca, The Melting Pot, Sofia

    New Restaurant: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

    2  Spataro  |  3  Mason’s
    Runners-Up: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Logan’s Roadhouse, The Melting Pot, Taro’s by Mikuni, Zócalo

    Old Favorite: The Firehouse

    2  The Old Spaghetti Factory  |  3  Slocum House
    Runners-Up: Biba, Club Pheasant, Paragary’s Bar and Oven, Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus

    Outdoor Dining: The Firehouse

    2  Slocum House  |  3  Rio City Cafe
    Runners-Up: Chevys Fresh Mex, Paragary’s Bar and Oven, Tower Cafe

    Best Starter: Carpaccio, Tazzina Bistro
    Some dishes never go out of fashion. Consider Tazzina Bistro’s carpaccio, a traditional take on the classic appetizer: paper-thin slices of rosy-red top sirloin, topped with peppery arugula, hard-boiled eggs, big shards of Parmesan and dollops of tangy green-peppercorn vinaigrette. Simply great. 614 Main St., Woodland; (530) 661-1700; tazzinabistro.com

    Pancakes: IHOP

    2  Pancake Circus  |  3  Tower Cafe
    Runners-Up: Cafe Bernardo, Cornerstone

    Restaurant Panini: La Bou

    2  Panera Bread  |  3  33rd Street Bistro
    Runners-Up: Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Il Fornaio, Infusion, Safeway

    Pasta Selection: Romano’s Macaroni Grill

    2  Olive Garden  |  3  Strings Italian Cafe
    Runners-Up: Biba, Buca di Beppo, Il Fornaio, The Old Spaghetti Factory

    Pizza: Round Table Pizza

    2  Steve’s Place  |  3  Zelda’s Original Gourmet Pizza
    Runners-Up: Chicago Fire, Giovanni’s Pizzeria, Original Pete’s, Papa Murphy’s

    Best Muffin: Cappuccino Chocolate Chip, Gino’s
    Caffeine lovers will revel in this two-in-one treat. It’s the Goldilocks of baked goods: not too bland, not too sweet, but just right. With a crunchy-chewy texture and a sprinkling of chocolate chips, this flavorful muffin works for breakfast or an afternoon snack. 5635 H St., Sacramento; (916) 452-1829

    Pizza, non-pizzeria: California Pizza Kitchen

    2  Paesano’s Pizzeria  |  3  Paragary’s Bar and Oven
    Runners-Up: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Il Fornaio, Zinfandel Grille

    Prime Rib: Carvers Steaks & Chops

    2  Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus  |  3  Cattlemens
    Runners-Up: Buggy Whip, The Firehouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse

    Restaurant in a Mall: California Cafe

    2  California Pizza Kitchen  |  3  Ruth’s Chris Steak House
    Runners-Up: Dos Coyotes Border Cafe, Max’s Cafe, Pluto’s

    Best Tamale: Vegan Tamale, Emma’s Tamales
    Among the seven traditional handmade tamales sold at this hole-in-the-wall eatery (a retail outlet for the locally based Mother Earth Baked Goods), we love the signature vegan tamale for the perfect crumb of its tasty corn masa encasing a savory, rich and&emdash;dare we say&emdash;meaty blend of ground pinto beans, peanuts and spices. Get one steamed in its own husk with a side of chunky housemade salsa for an easy-to-digest two bucks. Or buy them in four packs at Corti Brothers, Whole Foods Market or the Davis Co-op for your next fiesta. 8101 Elder Creek Road, Sacramento; (916) 387-6324

    Restaurant To Take Mom: The Firehouse

    2  Mimi’s Cafe  |  3  Slocum House
    Runners-Up: Biba, Danielle’s Crêperie & Gallery, Delta King Pilothouse, Scott’s Seafood

    River Dining: Rio City Cafe

    2  Delta King Pilothouse  |  3  Chevys Fresh Mex
    Runners-Up: Crawdad’s River Cantina, Joe’s Crab Shack, The Virgin Sturgeon

    Romantic: Slocum House

    2  The Firehouse  |  3  The Melting Pot
    Runners-Up: Biba, The Cliff House of Folsom, Delta King Pilothouse

    Sandwich Shop: Togo’s

    2  Subway  |  3  Mr. Pickles
    Runners-Up: The Beach Hut Deli, La Bou, Quiznos

    Best Tuna Sandwich: Apple-Walnut Tuna Sandwich, Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe
    Tangy but not overly seasoned, generous but not supersized, this sandwich evokes the civilized feeling we’ve been seeking in a casual lunch. The tuna salad, with its nuts and cubed apple bits, is sheathed by a thin slice of Swiss cheese, and fresh green-leaf lettuce peeks out prettily from under wheat bread. Makes us wonder: Can a sandwich be polite?  4740 Natomas Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 419-3688 (and other locations); camillescafe.com

    Seafood: Scott’s Seafood

    2  Red Lobster  |  3  Joe’s Crab Shack
    Runners-Up: Fins Market & Grill, The Firehouse, Rudy’s Hideaway

    Sidewalk Lunch: Cafe Bernardo

    2  Jack’s Urban Eats and La Bou (tie)  |  3  33rd Street Bistro
    Runners-Up: Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Tapa the World, Tower Cafe

    Special Occasion Restaurant: The Firehouse

    2  Slocum House  |  3  Biba
    Runners-Up: The Kitchen, The Melting Pot, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

    Sports Bar: Mandango’s Sports Bar and Grill

    2  Player’s Sports Pub & Grill  |  3  Joey B’s
    Runners-Up: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Hooters, Mark & Monica’s Sports Grill & Pizza

    Best Guilt-Free Taco: Nutty Taco, Sunflower Drive-In
    Seasoned nutmeat, melted cheese and just the right amount of hot sauce are tucked inside a soft corn tortilla that’s topped with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts. It’s so flavorful and satisfying, you won’t realize it’s good for you. If you’re in a hurry, phone in your order first. 10344 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 967-4331

    Steakhouse: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

    2  Morton’s The Steakhouse  |  3  Carvers Steaks & Chops
    Runners-Up: Cattlemens, Outback Steakhouse, Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus

    Sunday Brunch: The Cliff House of Folsom

    2  Delta King Pilothouse  |  3  Dawson’s (Hyatt Regency Sacramento) and Slocum House (tie)
    Runners-Up: Basil’s by the Lake (Radisson Hotel Sacramento), The Firehouse

    Theme Restaurant: Elephant Bar

    2  Joe’s Crab Shack  |  3  Buca di Beppo
    Runners-Up: Hard Rock Cafe, The Melting Pot

    View: The Cliff House of Folsom

    2  Rio City Cafe  |  3  Delta King Pilothouse
    Runners-Up: Chevys Fresh Mex, Joe’s Crab Shack, Slocum House

    Best Buffet Deal: Lunch Buffet, Queen Sheba
    If you’re hungry for a hearty midday meal that transcends ordinary comfort food, head to Queen Sheba’s weekday buffet for a culinary cruise to Ethiopia. Miser kik wot (spicy red lentils), kik wot (a thick mash of yellow split peas with curry, garlic and turmeric) and gomen (flavorful cooked spinach and collard greens) are the stars of this all-vegan buffet, especially when piled atop spongy, pliable, slightly sour injera bread, best eaten once all the savory juices have soaked through. At $5.99, this all-you-can-eat meal is a trip not to miss. 1537 Howe Ave., Suite 116, Sacramento; (916) 920-1020; queenshebas.com

    Wine List: The Firehouse

    2  Enotria  |  3  Morton’s The Steakhouse
    Runners-Up: The Kitchen, Masque Ristorante, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

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