Here are five restaurants we recommend for a nice evening out—once you determine what type of in-laws you have.
You spend 24/7 with the ankle-biters, so when the in-laws visit, you’re ready for a babysitter and a fancy night on the town. However, Grandma and Grandpa are crazy about the kids and won’t hear of leaving them at home. Slocum House in Fair Oaks offers your group the perfect compromise. This beautiful, historic restaurant, set back in a lush bower of trees and well-manicured shrubs, happens to harbor a quirky collection of clucking chickens. It’s also located across the street from a great community park. So while you and your spouse are sipping sparkling wine and nibbling on the chef’s beignets de fromage, the grandfolks and kids can chase chickens and hurl themselves down the slippery slide at the park. Just remember to call them when dinner arrives.
7992 California Ave., Fair Oaks, (916) 961-7211; www.slocum-house.com
Joe’s Crab Shack
You’re blessed to have good-humored, fun-loving in-laws. Take them to Old Sacramento’s most entertaining dining establishment—Joe’s Crab Shack. Settle in at one of Joe’s wooden picnic tables, outfitted with a large silver bucket and a fat roll of paper towels. Enjoy your family-style salad and “Crab Daddy Feast” as you speculate on the origins of the restaurant’s garage-sale kitsch wall decorations and giggle about the waiters’ crass t-shirts (emblazoned with phrases like “Bite Me” and “We Catch Crabs”). But the real fun begins with the dancing—a grinning group of waiters prances into the middle of the dining room, where they perform a series of vivacious dance routines. And the best part? Your in-laws can grab someone’s shirt-tail and join into a line dance as it snakes loudly through the restaurant. Bring your camera.
1210 Front St., Sacramento; (916) 553-4249; www.joescrabshack.com
They’re Conservative and Quiet
They want to talk politics, income taxes and pricey retirement communities. Your father-in-law brought his three-piece suit, and is asking for a snifter of fine brandy. Head quickly to Hawks, where you can relax in the soothing, elegant dining room and gaze out at the flower-bedecked and tranquil Quarry pond. As you discuss the kids’ college funds, savor Hawks’ “modern American” menu items, constructed from locally sourced ingredients and presented with painstaking care. The chefs’ foie gras terrine will complement your father-in-law’s brandy, and the pan-roasted Idaho red trout would be perfect with Flora Springs Chardonnay (you’re in luck—it’s on the menu). Save room for the warm, delicate Meyer lemon soufflé, served with candied ginger crème anglaise.
5530 Douglas Blvd., Suite 110, Granite Bay, (916) 791-6200; www.hawksrestaurant.com
Tuk Tuk Restaurant
The in-laws relish eclectic cuisine. Pack ’em up and take them to the startlingly beautiful and exotic Tuk Tuk Restaurant, located in Natomas. Named after a Southeast Asian auto rickshaw, this well-patronized establishment cranks out some of the best (and most interesting) Thai food in the Sacramento region. Start your meal with the delightful miang kam, a popular Thai street food snack. Composed of lettuce leaves piled with bits of sweet coconut, lime, peanuts, ginger and shrimp, it’s formed into a loose taco and dipped into a sensational tamarind sauce. Make sure to request one of the restaurant’s low, wooden booths, padded with soft, tasseled pillows—and settle in for a very exciting meal.
4630 Natomas Blvd., #150, Sacramento, (916) 575-7957; www.tuktuksac.com
They Like the Glitz
If your mother-in-law wants to wear her little black dress and sip cocktails, take her to Roseville’s Crush 29, one of the ritziest joints in the region. Thronged with well-heeled patrons and offering up a smorgasbord of quaffable beverages, this pretty restaurant will fit the bill nicely. It also has the added benefit of a solid and sophisticated menu, including customer faves like the grilled filet mignon with porcini cream sauce; and the pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. Our advice? Leave the kids at home.
1480 Eureka Road, Roseville; (916) 773-2929; www.crush29.com