We all enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant, but there are times when we yearn for something a little more exciting than a quiet nosh with a pleasant companion. If you are seeking a more entertaining dining experience, consider one of the following:
Oz Korean B.B.Q.
If you like the idea of preparing your own meal—at a restaurant—make a special trip to Oz Korean B.B.Q. Gas grills embedded in the center of Oz’s marble tables enable adventurous diners to cook their own (raw) meat—marinated boneless short ribs, chicken, pork strips and scallops are just some of the choices available—that they then gobble up with an exciting line-up of side dishes, from spicy, crunchy kim chee and sesame-kissed strands of lotus root to silky-smooth sautéed spinach and crumbled tofu. Yes, it’s messy and smoky, but that’s what makes it so entertaining. Your kids will love the experience. Just make sure they keep their hands away from the hot grill.
3343 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento, (916) 362-9292; www.ozkoreanbbq.com
Committed foodies: Save your pennies and make a reservation at The Kitchen, Sacramento’s most exclusive and thrilling “eatertainment” venue. This is a multi-hour dining experience, where guests are invited to explore the restaurant’s kitchen and talk with chefs as they work. The open kitchen is a vibrant stage, where chefs perform a riveting, educational—and often hilarious—cooking performance for guests, utilizing high-quality ingredients and explaining techniques as they go. Diners are encouraged to ask for seconds if they are smitten with a particular menu item, and chefs are happy to work around anyone’s food limitations. Reservations are hard to come by, and the meal is one of the priciest in town, but the experience is well worth the hassle (and assault to your wallet).
2225 Hurley Way, #101, Sacramento, (916) 568-7171; www.thekitchenrestaurant.com
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre
If you’re a theater lover, Garbeau’s has a sweet deal for you. Arrive early, and you can enjoy an upmarket gourmet meal before the evening’s performance begins. Selections include a filet mignon with green peppercorn compound butter; fresh tagliatelle pasta with duck and portabella mushrooms; and seared rack of lamb with a port reduction and dried cherries. Service is efficient, the mood is romantic and the meal is a wonderful appetizer for the evening’s entertainment, be it a play, musical, comedy act or live jazz performance.
12401 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, (916) 985-6361; www.garbeaus.com
Benihana in Citrus Heights has enthralled local diners for years with its impressive culinary hijinks. Guests are seated at communal tables equipped with Japanese-style steel grills, and each table has its very own chef. Wowing his audience with rapid-fire slicing, dicing and expert flinging of dinner ingredients into the air, he also tends to the meat and vegetables sizzling enticingly on the grill in front of him. Guests enjoy the performance while sipping Japanese onion soup, devouring the food as it comes off the grill and getting to know each other. (Be prepared to sit with strangers unless you come in a large party.) Hibachi steak, shrimp, filet mignon and salmon are just a few of Benihana’s specialties, but the real reason to visit is the dazzling cooking show.
5489 Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights, (916) 961-2791; www.benihana.com
The Melting Pot is one of the few restaurants in the region that encourages its visitors to play with their food. Eating fondue means lots of food-dunking—into hot cheesy mixtures, fragrant stocks, bubbling oils and, of course, melted chocolate. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Consider, for example, the flamboyant tableside preparations (watch waiters set alcohol on fire, then pour pretty blue, liquidy flames into your fondue!) and for us sports fans, there’s always the fondue-stick jousting. (Watch the eyes.) This dining experience is certainly entertaining, especially when you’re with a large group of friends.
Sacramento: 814 15th St., (916) 443-2347
Rocklin: 6839 Lonetree Blvd., (916) 443-2347