Five Knockout Dishes


These past few weeks I’ve enjoyed a bounty of good eating—I never fail to marvel at the sheer abundance of excellent food available to us in the Sacramento region. Here are five dishes that knocked my socks off recently:

Chilled Cucumber Gazpacho

Ella Dining Room & Bar

A dazzling meal at this lauded downtown restaurant included a number of great dishes, but one standout was the kitchen’s beautiful chilled cucumber gazpacho. The refreshing, chilled soup had a snappy edge from the addition of fresh lime juice and a drizzling of palate-heating harissa cream; and harbored a special treat at the bottom of the cup: tender, plump rock shrimp. This is one item I hope the restaurant keeps on the menu all summer.


Centro Cocina Mexicana

There’s lots of good guac to be found in Sacramento, but one of the finest versions is at Centro on J street, which incorporates chopped white onion and tomato, a feisty smidgen of Serrano chile and a generous scattering of cotija cheese. Plunge those chips in and go for it—and don’t forget to accompany your nosh with a shot or two of the restaurant’s fabulous fruit-infused tequilas.

Appetizer Combo

Tak Food Market

If you’ve never visited Carmichael’s quirky little Tak Food Market, you should. This family-owned establishment—part Persian convenience store, part restaurant—serves up some radiantly fresh and delicious Middle Eastern fare. I loved the appetizer combo, whose nubbly homemade hummus and luscious, deeply smoky baba ghanoush shared plate space with delicate, grape leaf-wrapped dolmas. Still hungry? Try Tak’s yummy ground lamb kabobs.

Salt and Pepper Bean Curd

Hidden Sichuan

I relish the simplicity of this delectable dish—cubes of tofu are deep fried, then sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper. Crusty on the outside, smooth on the inside, and insidiously addictive, these little finger-food gems are reason enough to make the trip to Elk Grove.

Salvadoran Tamales

Restaurante Salvadoreño

Ever tried Salvadoran tamales? If not, now’s the time. Head out to Rancho Cordova’s friendly Restaurante Salvadoreño for a passel. These rustic treats are wrapped snugly in banana leaves and contain moist chicken and sweet chunks of bell pepper. Pair the tamales with the kitchen’s zingy curtido, a fiery cabbage salad.