Rounding Up the New Restaurants


Left to right: Spin’s Turkey Burger, Short-Rib Tacos at Gogi’s, and Star Ginger’s Spicy Thai Chicken Soup / Photography by Gabriel Teague and Kira O’Donnell


he all-American burger gets seriously creative at midtown’s Spin Burger Bar. Owned by brothers Fred and Matt Haines of 33rd Street Bistro and Riverside Clubhouse, Spin has a playful bicycle theme, with several stationary bikes where diners can race while waiting for their food. The imaginative burger lineup includes a lamb and hot Italian sausage burger with mango curry sauce and Brie, and a turkey burger slathered with pomegranate ketchup and (wince) Miracle Whip. You’ll pay extra for optional toppings such as fig jam, tzatziki, fried eggs or mac ’n’ cheese. Sure, you can order a traditional burger, but why not venture outside your carnivorous comfort zone? 1020 16th St., Sacramento; (916) 233-3633;

A dramatic renovation transformed a midtown Japanese restaurant into a
cozy neighborhood steakhouse called Hads Steak & Seafood. Potatoes wrapped in foil, old-fashioned cocktails and salad-inclusive dinners
catapult you back to an earlier era. Here, the focus is on meat, and lots of it. Try the tender slab of prime rib or flavorful aged rib-eye. The menu includes a hefty surf and turf as well as a traditional crab Louis. But the best reason to visit this congenial spot is for its goopy banana cream pie, so comforting and delicious. 1925 J St., Sacramento; (916) 446-3118;

At GoGi’s Korean BBQ, located in a kiosk outside The Park Downtown complex at 15th and L, Mexican and Korean cuisine mingle deliciously. GoGi’s is a stationary takeoff on an L.A. food truck, serving palm-size Asian-fusion tacos stuffed with Korean barbecue short rib and zingy kimchee coleslaw at $2 a pop. You also can order your tacos filled with chicken, tofu or spicy pork, or opt for a more substantial burrito that, for $5, features the same fillings in a bigger package. Turnaround time is blessedly quick. 1116 15th St., Sacramento; (916) 442-7333;

Midtown’s Tex Mex Bar & Grill dishes up an attractive selection of (you guessed it) Tex-Mex items, from the intriguing Chimayo salmon cooked in a cornhusk to fried oyster nachos with crispy yucca chips. Noteworthy choices include the moist housemade tamale swathed in a complex, earthy chile sauce and the feisty ancho chile Colorado. Chicken dishes I tried, including grilled chicken fajitas and enchiladas verdes, tasted wonderfully fresh but woefully bland. 2326 J St., Sacramento; (916) 273-4930;

Sergio’s Steak & Seafood is a raucous Folsom trattoria that dishes up generous portions of lusty food. The ambiance is old-style Italian: The candle-encrusted wine bottles, wicker bread baskets and overly familiar, black-clad waiters reminded me of the famous scene in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp when the dogs enjoy a romantic moment over a bowl of spaghetti. Speaking of spaghetti, Sergio’s version (fettucine alla Bolognese) is robust and satisfying. So’s the huge slice of lasagna Ferrarese: silky fresh pasta layered with meat ragu, Parmesan and lavish quantities of béchamel. Sergio’s doesn’t take reservations, so arrive early or plan to wait for a table. 322 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 983-4300;

East Sac’s Star Ginger has been packed since opening day, thanks to the reputation of chef/owner Mai Pham of Lemon Grass Restaurant fame. The menu, inspired by the street foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and India, features standouts such as slow-roasted Kurobuta pork bánh mì. Made with cucumber, cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeño peppers, pickled carrots and daikon on a soft, warm roll, it provides a lively circus of flavors and a lingering heat on the palate. Other faves: vegetarian Jungle Curry, a Thai yellow curry full of fresh vegetables, chickpeas and big blocks of soft tofu; and a complex, satisfying chicken and egg noodle soup called Thai Kao Soi, enlivened with fried shallots and lime. 3101 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 231-8888;