Ink Eats and Drinks

By Steve Larosa

You don’t need a tattoo to feel at home in this new midtown restaurant.

he “Ink” in this new midtown bistro’s name refers to the stuff that’s gotten under the skin of a young generation of painted people. The walls and ceilings of Ink are painted with colorful images you might expect to see at your upscale tattoo parlors. There are a few illustrated men and women working here, but lest you get the wrong impression, this is simply a great, fun spot for everyone, with nice people serving great, fun food.

Although chef/owner Chris Nestor is quick to pass the credit around, much of what keeps Ink fresh comes from the creative mind of this former GM from Paragary’s across the street on 28th and N streets.

On a recent breakfast visit, we noticed that patrons were partaking of the Bloody Mary bar: You buy a shot of vodka, then concoct your own drink from a buffet that includes celery, pepperoncini, green beans, blue cheese-stuffed olives and an outstanding housemade Bloody Mary mix that tastes like an intense, liquefied shrimp cocktail . . . well, minus the shrimp.

From the breakfast menu, definitely treat yourself to the huevos rancheros. This dish features black beans cooked with garlic, onions and carrots, topped with two corn tortillas, two eggs over easy, housemade ranchero sauce, and American and Mexican cheeses. The ranchero sauce adds zing, and the dish comes with grilled red potatoes.

The vanilla Texas toast hit the right blend of flavors with cinnamon, nutmeg, cream, vanilla and eggs; the seared bread didn’t get soggy after we drowned it in maple syrup. If you crave something sweet, try sous chef Wes Nilssen’s lemon cheesecake—thick and rich, with a perfect graham cracker crust.

One of the signature items on the regular menu is Ink’s version of the East Coast burger chain White Castle’s “sliders.” Ink’s take on this tray of burgers features four small beef patties smothered with caramelized onions on Hawaiian sweet rolls. This appetizer (one of a fun list of seven) delivers a half-pound of beef.

My friend Karen loved her beef salad with spinach, sun-dried cranberries, bacon and goat cheese (also from the regular menu). The chili dog and ground-chuck burger were formidable and delicious, the latter flame-broiled and served on a toasted cornmeal bun. The chicken marsala was good, but the plate was crying out for veggies along with that mound of mashers.

Besides sporting the city’s coolest mural by David Garibaldi, Nestor’s eatery cooks until the wee hours. Hungry insomniacs pack the place from Thursday through Saturday, when the kitchen stays open until
4 a.m. Someday we may look back on all this as the beginning stages of Ink Inc.

2730 N St., Sacramento; (916) 456-2800; open for breakfast 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, lunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Monday–Friday, dinner 5 p.m.–1 a.m. Sunday–Wednesday, 5 p.m.–4 a.m. Thursday–Saturday.