2005 Subscribers’ Choice Dining Awards


New Restaurant

1. Zócalo
2. Masque Ristorante
3. Lucca
RUNNERS-UP: BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, Dragonfly, Icon Restaurant & Lounge

Mall Restaurant

1. California Cafe
2. California Pizza Kitchen
3. Max’s Cafe
RUNNERS-UP: Il Fornaio, Panda Express, Pluto’s

Neighborhood Restaurant

1. 33rd Street Bistro
2. Applebee’s
3. Riverside Clubhouse
RUNNERS-UP: Brookfield’s, Il Fornaio, Tower Cafe

Best of the Best (money no object)

1. Biba
2. The Firehouse
3. Morton’s, The Steakhouse
RUNNERS-UP: Masque Ristorante, Slocum House, The Waterboy

Best of the Best (moderate prices)

1. Paragary’s Bar and Oven
2. The Waterboy
3. Il Fornaio
RUNNERS-UP: Bandera, Scott’s Seafood, Zinfandel Grille

Best of the Best (inexpensive)

1. The Old Spaghetti Factory
2. Cafe Bernardo
3. Jack’s Urban Eats
RUNNERS-UP: Chili’s Grill & Bar, Elephant Bar Restaurant, 33rd Street Bistro


1. Tapa the World

2. T.G.I. Friday’s
3. Elephant Bar Restaurant
RUNNERS-UP: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, The Cheesecake Factory, The Firehouse


1. Freeport Bakery

2. Ettore’s
3. Philipp’s Bakery
RUNNERS-UP: The Bread Store, La Bou, Raley’s/Bel Air


1. Noah’s

2. New York Bagel Boys
3. Sacramento Bagel & Coffee Company (formerly Manhattan Bagel)
RUNNERS-UP: La Bou, Panera Bread


1. Texas West Bar-B-Que

2. JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que
3. Back Forty Texas BBQ
RUNNERS-UP: Bar-B-Que Express, Everett & Jones Barbeque, Memphis Bar-B-Q Co., Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood, Tony Roma’s


Barbecued Ribs

1. Tony Roma’s

2. Texas West Bar-B-Que
3. JR’s Texas Bar-B-Que
RUNNERS-UP: Back Forty Texas BBQ, Bandera, Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood

Bed and Breakfast

1. Amber House Bed and Breakfast Inn

2. The Sterling Hotel
3. Wine & Roses
RUNNERS-UP: Camino Hotel Seven Mile House Bed & Breakfast, Hanford House Bed & Breakfast Inn (Sutter Creek)

Bread at a Restaurant

1. Il Fornaio
2. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
3. Red Lobster
RUNNERS-UP: Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus, Mimi’s Cafe, Piatti


1. Fox & Goose Public House and Mimi’s Cafe (tie)

2. Cornerstone
3. Tower Cafe
RUNNERS-UP: Cafe Bernardo, Eddie’s on Broadway

Brew Pub

1. Sacramento Brewing Company

2. Brew It Up! Personal Brewery & Grill
3. Hoppy Brewing Company
RUNNERS-UP: Elk Grove Brewery & Restaurant, Pyramid Alehouse, River City Brewing Company


1. IN-N-OUT Burger

2. Willie’s Burgers
3. Ford’s Real Hamburgers and Squeeze Inn (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Carl’s Jr., Hamburger Mary’s

Burger, Non-Fast Food

1. Red Robin

2. Hamburger Mary’s
3. Chili’s Grill & Bar
RUNNERS-UP: Nationwide Meats, Squeeze Inn, Willie’s Burgers

1. Chipotle
2. Dos Coyotes Border Cafe
3. Baja Fresh and Gordito Burrito (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Adalberto’s Mexican Food, El Azteca Taqueria, Jimboy’s Tacos

Caesar Salad

1. Jack’s Urban Eats

2. Paragary’s Bar and Oven
3. The Firehouse
RUNNERS-UP: Horseshoe Bar Grill, La Bou, The Waterboy, Zinfandel Grille


1. Classique Catering

2. A Chef’s Affair Gourmet Foods & Fine Catering, Capital City Catering and Virga’s Catering (tie)
3. David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods
RUNNER-UP: Culinary Specialists

Chain Restaurant

1. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
2. Chili’s Grill & Bar and Mimi’s Cafe (tie)
3. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
RUNNERS-UP: Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory


1. The Cheesecake Factory
2. The Firehouse
3. Rick’s Dessert Diner
RUNNERS-UP: Costco, Marie Callender’s, Max’s Cafe, Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse

Cheese Plate

1. The Firehouse

2. The Melting Pot
3. Raley’s/Bel Air
RUNNERS-UP: David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods, La Provence Restaurant and Terrace, The Waterboy


1. Kurt Spataro, Paragary’s Restaurant Group

2. Biba Caggiano, Biba
3. Rick Mahon, The Waterboy
RUNNERS-UP: Angelo Auriana, Masque Ristorante; Irie Gengler, The Firehouse; Randall Selland, The Kitchen

Chips and Salsa

1. Chevys Fresh Mex

2. Ernesto’s
3. On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina
RUNNERS-UP: Centro Cocina Mexicana, El Torito Restaurant, Zócalo


1. Starbucks

2. Peet’s Coffee & Tea
3. Bella Bru
RUNNERS-UP: Java City, La Bou, Naked Lounge

Coffeehouse, Locally Owned

1. Bella Bru

2. Java City
3. Steamers Coffee & Tea Exchange
RUNNERS-UP: Boulevard Coffee Roasting Company, Coffee Works, Naked Lounge

Cooking School

1. Institute of Technology Culinary Arts Campus

2. American River College (Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management)
3. Napoli Culinary Academy


1. David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods

2. Corti Brothers
3. Raley’s/Bel Air
RUNNERS-UP: The Beach Hut Deli, Dominick’s Italian Market & Deli


1. Rick’s Dessert Diner

2. Ettore’s
3. Freeport Bakery
RUNNERS-UP: The Cheesecake Factory, The Firehouse, Tower Cafe

Dining Entertainment

1. Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre

2. Suspects Murder Mystery DinnerTheatre
3. Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub and 2 Grand Saloon (tie)
RUNNER-UP: Joe’s Crab Shack

Dining Secret

1. Moxie
2. Il Fornaio
3. The Kitchen and The Melting Pot (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Chicago Fire, Gönül’s J Street Cafe,Horseshoe Bar Grill, La Provence Restaurant and Terrace, Silva’s Sheldon Inn


1. Squeeze Inn
2. Back Door Lounge and Limelight Bar & Cafe (tie)
3. Eddie’s on Broadway
RUNNERS-UP: Jamie’s Bar and Grill, Poor Red’s


1. Krispy Kreme
2. Marie’s Donuts
3. Dunkin’ Donuts and Safeway (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Baker Ben’s Donuts, Cinnamon City Bakery, Family Donuts

Ethnic: Chinese

1. Frank Fat’s
2. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
3. Chinois City Wok
RUNNERS-UP: Fat’s Asia Bistro, The Mandarin, Mayflower Chinese Cuisine, Fortune Garden

Ethnic: Chinese, Hole in the Wall

1. Fortune Garden
2. Shanghai Garden
3. Kim Hei Restaurant and Simon’s Cafe (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Chopsticks Restaurant, Golden Palace

Ethnic: French

1. La Bohème
2. La Provence Restaurant and Terrace
3. Rolle French Gourmet Food
RUNNERS-UP: Cafe Campanile, Danielle’s Village Crêperie & Gallery, The Waterboy, Zachary Jacques

Ethnic: German

1. Sudwerk
2. Cafe Vienna
3. St. Pauli Inn

Ethnic: Greek

1. Greek Village Inn
2. Daphne’s Greek Cafe
3. Kabob House
RUNNERS-UP: Crest Cafe, Symposium

Ethnic: Indian

1. Kaveri Madras Cuisine
2. Bombay Bistro
3. Mother India, Sher-E-Punjab and Taste of India (tie)
RUNNER-UP: Star of India

Ethnic: Italian, Family-style

1. Buca di Beppo
2. The Old Spaghetti Factory
3. Español
RUNNERS-UP: Club Pheasant, Olive Garden, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Ethnic: Italian, New

1. Masque Ristorante
2. Lucca
3. Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Ethnic: Italian, Upscale

1. Biba
2. Il Fornaio
3. Masque Ristorante
RUNNERS-UP: Lucca, Piatti

Ethnic: Japanese

1. Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
2. Benihana
3. Hana Tsubaki
RUNNERS-UP: Nishiki Sushi, Osaka Sushi Japanese Restaurant, Taka’s Sushi

Ethnic: Mexican

1. Ernesto’s
2. El Novillero Restaurant
3. Zócalo
RUNNERS-UP: Centro Cocina Mexicana, Chevys Fresh Mex, Tres Hermanas

Ethnic: Mexican, Hole in the Wall

1. Vallejo’s Mexican Restaurant
2. Emma’s Taco House
3. 524 Restaurant #1
RUNNERS-UP: Adalberto’s Mexican Food, La Placita, Tres Hermanas

Ethnic: Sushi

1. Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
2. Samurai Sushi
3. Taka’s Sushi
RUNNERS-UP: Hana Tsubaki, Mana Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Nishiki Sushi, Tokyo Fro’s Rockin’ Sushi Bar

Ethnic: Thai

1. Thai Basil
2. Lemon Grass
3. Amarin Thai Cuisine
RUNNERS-UP: Siam Restaurant, Thai Cottage, Thai Palace

Ethnic: Vietnamese

1. Bobo Cafe
2. Lemon Grass
3. Andy Nguyen’s
RUNNERS-UP: Hoa Viet Restaurant, Noodle House, Pho Bac Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant

Family Restaurant

1. The Old Spaghetti Factory
2. Mimi’s Cafe
3. Buca di Beppo
RUNNERS-UP: Brookfield’s, The Family Room, Red Robin

Fish and Chips

1. Tugboat Fish & Chips
2. The Streets of London Pub
3. Long John Silver’s
RUNNERS-UP: Fins Market & Grill, Fox & Goose Public House, Joe’s Crab Shack

Fish Market

1. Fins Market & Grill
2. Whole Foods Market
3. Raley’s/Bel Air
RUNNERS-UP: Corti Brothers, Nugget Markets, Scott’s Seafood

Food Court

1. Galleria at Roseville
2. Arden Fair
3. Downtown Plaza
RUNNERS-UP: Market Square, Sacramento International Airport

Fried Chicken

1. KFC
2. Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits
3. Church’s Chicken and Raley’s/Bel Air (tie)

Gourmet Cookies

1. Mrs. Fields
2. Ettore’s
3. Kelli’s Gourmet Cookies
RUNNERS-UP: Cookie Connection, David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods, Freeport Bakery

Gourmet Takeout

1. Selland’s Market-Cafe
2. David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods
3. Whole Foods Market
RUNNERS-UP: Nugget Markets, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Spoons Market Cafe & Bakery

Happy Hour

1. Bandera and El Torito Restaurant (tie)
2. Elephant Bar Restaurant and T.G.I. Friday’s (tie)
3. The Firehouse
RUNNERS-UP: Chevys Fresh Mex, Riverside Clubhouse

Health Food

1. Whole Foods Market
2. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
3. Fresh Choice
RUNNERS-UP: Elliott’s Natural Foods, Sunflower Drive-In, Trader Joe’s

Hotel Restaurant

1. Dawson’s, Hyatt Regency Sacramento
2. Chanterelle, The Sterling Hotel
3. Morgan’s Central Valley Bistro, Sheraton Grand Sacramento
RUNNERS-UP: Bistro 100 on the Riverfront Promenade, Embassy Suites Sacramento; Basil’s by the Lake, Radisson Hotel Sacramento; Delta King Pilothouse

Ice Cream Parlor

1. Leatherby’s Family Creamery
2. Coldstone Creamery
3. Vic’s Ice Cream
RUNNERS-UP: Baskin-Robbins, Burr’s Fountain, Gunther’s Ice Cream

In Auburn

1. Latitudes
2. Awful Annie’s
3. Bootleggers
RUNNERS-UP: IN-N-OUT Burger, Le Bilig French Cafe, Lou La Bonte’s

In Davis

1. Seasons
2. Soga’s
3. Sudwerk
RUNNERS-UP: Cafe Bernardo, Caffe Italia, Dos Coyotes Border Cafe, Mustard Seed Restaurant

In Elk Grove

1. Silva’s Sheldon Inn
2. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
3. Elk Grove Brewery & Restaurant
RUNNERS-UP: Logan’s Roadhouse, Thai Basil, Todo un Poco

In Folsom

1. The Cliff House
2. Bidwell Street Bistro
3. Zinfandel Grille
RUNNERS-UP: Bailies, Chicago Fire, Scott’s Seafood

In Lodi

1. Wine & Roses
2. Woodbridge Inn Steakhouse
3. Habanero Hots and Pietro’s Restaurant (tie)

In Placerville

1. Sequoia
2. Zachary Jacques
3. Tortilla Flats and Z Pie (tie)

In Roseville/Granite Bay

1. Fat’s Asia Bistro and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (tie)
2. Carvers Steaks & Chops and La Provence Restaurant and Terrace (tie)
3. Claim Jumper
RUNNER-UP: Cascades

In West Sacramento

1. Club Pheasant
2. Emma’s Taco House
3. Cafe Vienna
RUNNERS-UP: Kings, Sal’s Tacos, Vince’s, Westside Pub & Grill

In Woodland

1. Morrison’s Upstairs
2. Tazzina Bistro
3. Ludy’s Main Street BBQ
RUNNER-UP: Maritime Seafood & Grill


1. The Old Spaghetti Factory
2. Chuck E. Cheese’s
3. The Family Room
RUNNERS-UP: Buca di Beppo, Claim Jumper, Red Robin, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Late-Night Dining

1. Ink
2. Tapa the World
3. Denny’s
RUNNER-UP: Willie’s Burgers

Lunch, Budget

1. La Bou
2. Jack’s Urban Eats
3. Taco Bell and Togo’s (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Chipotle, Dos Coyotes Border Cafe, IN-N-OUT Burger

Lunch, Business

1. Esquire Grill
2. Paragary’s Bar and Oven
3. The Firehouse
RUNNERS-UP: Delta King Pilothouse; 4th Street Grille

Old Favorite

1. The Firehouse
2. The Old Spaghetti Factory
3. Frank Fat’s and Paragary’s Bar and Oven (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Biba, Ernesto’s, Scott’s Seafood

Outdoor Dining

1. Slocum House
2. Paragary’s Bar and Oven
3. The Firehouse
RUNNERS-UP: Chevys Fresh Mex, Rio City Cafe, Tower Cafe

Out-of-Town Restaurant
(within a one-hour drive)

1. The Buckhorn Steak & Roadhouse (Winters)
2. Masque Ristorante (El Dorado Hills)
3. Horseshoe Bar Grill (Loomis)
RUNNERS-UP: Silva’s Sheldon Inn (Elk Grove), Sloughhouse Inn (Sloughhouse), Wine & Roses (Lodi)

Pasta Selection

1. Romano’s Macaroni Grill
2. Olive Garden
3. The Old Spaghetti Factory
RUNNERS-UP: Biba, Il Fornaio, Piatti

Philly Cheesesteak

1. The CheeseSteak Grille
2. Steak Escape
3. Hoppy Brewing Company


1. Round Table
2. Zelda’s
3. Steve’s Place
RUNNERS-UP: Giovanni’s Pizzeria, Original Pete’s, Papa Murphy’s

Pizza, Non-Pizzeria

1. Paragary’s Bar and Oven
2. California Pizza Kitchen
3. Paesano’s Pizzeria
RUNNERS-UP: Il Fornaio, Papa Murphy’s, Zinfandel Grille

Prime Rib

1. Carvers Steaks & Chops
2. Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus
3. Morton’s, The Steakhouse
RUNNERS-UP: Cattlemens, Fulton’s Prime Rib, Hungry Hunter

River Dining

1. Rio City Cafe
2. Delta King Pilothouse
3. Chevys Fresh Mex
RUNNERS-UP: Crawdad’s River Cantina, Joe’s Crab Shack, The Virgin Sturgeon


1. Slocum House
2. The Firehouse
3. Delta King Pilothouse
RUNNERS-UP: Il Fornaio, La Bohème, La Provence Restaurant and Terrace, The Melting Pot

Restaurant To Take Mom

1. The Firehouse
2. Mimi’s Cafe
3. Slocum House
RUNNERS-UP: Danielle’s Village Crêperie & Gallery, Delta King Pilothouse, Scott’s Seafood

Restaurant That Makes You Think of New York

1. The Firehouse, Morton’s, The Steakhouse and Moxie (tie)
2. Esquire Grill and Max’s Cafe (tie)
3. Biba, Dominick’s Italian Deli and Noah’s (tie)

Salad Selection

1. Fresh Choice
2. Jack’s Urban Eats
3. La Bou
RUNNERS-UP: California Pizza Kitchen, Ettore’s, Mimi’s Cafe, Pluto’s,
Tower Cafe

Sandwich Shop

1. Togo’s
2. Subway
3. The Beach Hut Deli
RUNNERS-UP: The Bread Store, La Bou, Quiznos


1. Scott’s Seafood
2. Red Lobster
3. Joe’s Crab Shack
RUNNERS-UP: Fins Market & Grill, The Firehouse, Rudy’s Hideaway, Rusty Duck


1. La Bou
2. FatCat Scones and Starbucks (tie)
3. Fox & Goose Public House
RUNNERS-UP: Bella Bru, Ettore’s

Special-Occasion Restaurant

1. The Firehouse
2. Biba
3. Slocum House
RUNNERS-UP: Masque Ristorante, Morton’s, The Steakhouse

Sports Bar

1. Mandango’s Sports Bar and Grill
2. Players Sports Pub & Grill
3. Joey B’s
RUNNERS-UP: Family Sports Pizza & Grill, Hangar 17 Bar & Grill, Mark & Monica’s Sports Grill & Pizza


1. Morton’s, The Steakhouse
2. Carvers Steaks & Chops
3. Chops and Outback Steakhouse (tie)
RUNNERS-UP: Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus, Cattlemens

Sunday Brunch

1. Delta King Pilothouse
2. Basil’s by the Lake (Radisson Hotel Sacramento) and Slocum House (tie)
3. The Cliff House
RUNNERS-UP: Dawson’s (Hyatt Regency Sacramento), Tower Cafe


1. Sunflower Drive-In
2. Fresh Choice
3. Andy Nguyen’s
RUNNERS-UP: Juliana’s Kitchen, Latitudes, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Whole Foods Market

Wine List

1. The Firehouse
2. Enotria
3. Morton’s, The Steakhouse
RUNNERS-UP: Biba, Il Fornaio, Masque Ristorante

Wine Bar

1. Enotria
2. The Firehouse
3. Il Fornaio

Editor’s Picks

Best Banana Cream Pie: Cafe Vinoteca
Sweet banana slices meet up with vanilla custard and a flaky crust. Grab a fork and dig in. It’s so good, you’ll want seconds. 3535 Fair Oaks Blvd.; (916) 487-1331

Best Deep-Dish Pizza: Chicago Fire
With mozzarella, tomatoes and tons of spices on a moist, flaky crust that towers an inch high at the edges, this deep-dish pizza takes 45 minutes to bake to perfection. Go for the combo, with pepperoni and sausage. 614 Sutter St., Folsom; (916) 353-0140

Best Island Cuisine: Jerk Chicken, Sweet Fingers Jamaican Restaurant
Sweet Fingers’ jerk chicken—moist, fragrant and falling-off-the-bone tender—gets a nice hit of sweetness from sugar and allspice in the marinade. (Order this and you won’t go hungry: It comes with salad, rice and beans, deep-fried plantains and a hefty hunk of cornbread.) 1704 Broadway; (916) 492-9336

Best Cupcake: Carrot Cake Cupcake, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
A moist cupcake with a medley of grated carrots, raisins and walnuts is liberally topped with a rich icing that cracks ever so slightly as you sink your teeth into its creamy goodness. These scrumptious little cakes contain no animal ingredients, so everyone, including vegans and those allergic to dairy or eggs, can indulge. 1900 Alhambra Blvd.; (916) 455-2667

Best Explosion of Taste and Texture: Ensalada de Jicama, Taqueria Taco Loco
The special ingredient in this massive salad—jicama—provides substantial crunch. Lettuce, onion, tomatoes, black beans and chicken or steak are piled high and topped with guacamole, sour cream and tangy balsamic vinaigrette, creating a heavenly mix of textures: crispy, creamy, smoky. 2326 J St.;
(916) 447-0711 or 195 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom; (916) 351-8354

Best Vegetable Soup: Rick’s Hacienda
Generous chunks of celery, carrots and potatoes accompanied by wide noodles make this chicken broth-based soup hearty enough for a meal. Simple flavors give it a clean taste. 3330 Fruitridge Road; (916) 428-1344

Best Traditional Cheese Pizza: Roma’s Pizzeria
Gobs of mozzarella and tomato sauce coalesce to a nice, sweet flavor; a thick crust gives heft. You’ll be uttering mangia! in no time. 5743 Franklin Blvd.; (916) 421-1881 (and other locations)

Best Use of Iceberg Lettuce: Eastern Empire
The minced chicken with lettuce cups at Eastern Empire combine cool, crunchy iceberg with warm, tender meat—mildly spicy, with a hint of mint. 460 Howe Ave.; (916) 646-1698

Most Beautiful Dessert: Chocolate Orange Cream Cake, Konditorei
With its delicately crafted layers of orange-rind cream, chocolate cake and chocolate cream, Konditorei’s chocolate orange cream cake tastes as good as it looks. 2710 Fifth St., Davis; (530) 758-1331

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Cafe Milazzo
With marinara sauce—not too much, not too little—and meatballs seasoned and browned just right, Cafe Milazzo’s spaghetti and meatballs will remind Italian diners of their nonna’s cooking. It’s best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine. 4818 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 454-3400

Best Cinnamon Roll: Sweetie Pie’s
Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, these ooey-gooey sugar-and-spice delights make the drive to Placerville worth every mile. 577 Main St., Placerville; (530) 642-0128

Best Dessert To Share: The Puff, The Broiler Steakhouse
For The Broiler’s “puff,” a massive sphere of puff pastry is split in half, stuffed with a softball-sized scoop of French vanilla ice cream and topped with a river of hot fudge sauce. It’s like a profiterole on steroids. 1201 K St.; (916) 444-3444

Best Quesadilla: Centro Cocina Mexicana
Quesadillas de papas y queso Oaxaca (potato and Oaxacan cheese), served with roasted tomato salsa and guacamole, are melt-in-your-mouth delights sure to inspire you to eat every last bite. Buen provecho! 2730 J St.; (916) 442-2552

Best Asian Buffet: Wonderful Restaurant
For $6.99, choose from hundreds of Asian dishes at this Marysville buffet. Chinese favorites include chow mein, fried rice, Mongolian beef, mu shu pork, Kung Pao chicken, and prawns with honey-walnut sauce. Wonderful is wonderful indeed. 724 J St., Marysville; (530) 749-2382