California’s central valley is sometimes called the breadbasket of the world. This bountiful area is known for its supreme agriculture and meat offerings. Growers, ranchers, and wineries thrive here in vast numbers, and at the heart of it all is the city of Sacramento.
As the capital of California, Sacramento has a lot to offer outside of politics. Thanks to its perfect location between the Sacramento and American Rivers, it’s a foodie haven. You’ll find farm-to-table offerings here that are like no other place in the world. Its sushi, burgers, steaks, and vegetarian options rival world-class gourmet locales like France or Italy.
So choosing the best restaurants in Sacramento isn’t easy, but I think I’ve done it. From Michelin starred favorites like The Kitchen to lively joints like Station 16, there’s a restaurant on this list for everybody.
2225 Hurley Way, Sacramento, CA 95825
A low-rent strip mall next to a laundromat is the last place you’d expect a Michelin star restaurant that’s sold out every night for the last twenty years. Yet there it is!
With a prix-fixe, seasonal menu created by Chef Kelly McCown, this farm-to-fork restaurant is sure to impress. They work with local ranchers and growers to attain the best of the best ingredients.
The menu changes regularly, so there’s no telling what you’ll get, but chances are you’ll love whatever it is. From local buffalo mozzarella with sunchokes and persimmons to butter-poached beef tenderloin from a local ranch, eating at The Kitchen is an experience you won’t soon forget.
806 L St, Sacramento, CA 95814
A short jaunt from the state’s capital sits what some have dubbed the “third house.” This Chinese-American gem of a restaurant is perhaps known best for the back booth legislative deals that happen within its walls. Politicians certainly have a good palate, though.
Retro-styled and speakeasy-like, Frank’s Fat has been around since 1939, and since then, it’s featured a delightful but unexpected blend of American and Chinese dishes.
Start with a happy hour martini, then enjoy a plate of Yu Kowk, Frank’s special dumplings filled with beef and pork. In true vintage American fashion, you can end your meal with a slice of pie. I’m partial to the banana cream, but I hear the chocolate is equally divine.
Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
3135 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95816
Imaginative and modern, Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine is a top-notch sushi restaurant not far from the California Capitol building. Owned and led by Chef Billy Ngo, this restaurant is committed to sustainable and local ingredients whenever they can find them. Paired with an excellent bar selection, it’s hard to beat the experience here.
I’m a sucker for authentic Japanese whiskey, which you’ll find in one of my all-time favorite cocktails, the Kat Daddy. Equally delicious is the fish. The nigiri specials are always on point, and I suggest you try them, but if you prefer a specialty roll, the firecracker and the sunshine rolls are excellent options.
2000 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95811
In Midtown on Capitol Ave, you’ll find The Waterboy, a warm and friendly restaurant that doesn’t skimp on quality. After a trip to France, Chef-owner Rick Mahon opened the restaurant in 1996. Focusing on the cuisines of Northern Italy and Southern France, Mahon created a space that serves incredible meals in a modern environment.
It’s hard not to be impressed by this restaurant, from their veal sweetbreads, rosemary focaccia, and incredible duck confit to their excellent wine selections. Their menu revolves around local ingredients and changes seasonally, but you can always count on The Waterboy to provide a meal you’ll want to repeat.
The Firehouse Restaurant
1112 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814
In business for close to 60 years, The Firehouse Restaurant is a Sacramento staple. Located in the heart of old town, not far from the Sacramento River, you’ll find this sophisticated yet unpretentious steakhouse. With its cozy brick walls, rich upholstery, and elegant feels, it’s the perfect location for a romantic evening or special night out.
The Firehouse Restaurant is known for its extensive wine list, which you’ll want to take advantage of. I enjoy a glass Daou Cabernet Sauvignon with their filet mignon at almost every visit, but also delicious is the rack of lamb, and you can never go wrong with their oyster selection.
Ella Dining Room & Bar
1131 K St, Sacramento, CA 95814
In the heart of Sacramento’s downtown, not far from the convention center, sits Ella Dining Room & Bar. This local favorite is comfortable yet refined with antique wood overhangs alongside soft and modern hanging lights. Whether you’re hosting an event or just want to enjoy a luxurious lunch, Ella is the ideal spot.
In business for over twenty years, Ella features a variety of contemporary American dishes. Their fresh salads featuring local ingredients are ideal for the lunchtime crowd, but if you’re looking for something heavier, you have to try their fried chicken. It’s delightfully crispy, and the housemade hot sauce isn’t to be missed.
2005 11th St, Sacramento, CA 95818
For family-friendly comfort food, look no further than South. Located inside Sacramento’s Southside Park, immediately south of downtown, this homestyle restaurant features all the favorites you’d expect to find in the southern US, from fried chicken and biscuits to jambalaya and banana cream pie.
Owner N’Gina Guyton isn’t trying to reinvent the food scene with gastronomical creations. You won’t find strange remixes of old-school favorites. Instead, Guyton focuses on her family history to serve up southern staples that you can’t beat. For me, it’s all about their fried catfish with a side of mac n’ cheese.
2031 S St, Sacramento, CA 95811
California contemporary is the best way to describe the food and ambiance at Localis. This restaurant is a bit different from other eateries, thanks to chef/owner Christopher Barnum-Dann who holds tightly to his beliefs around local and seasonal ingredients.
In Midtown Sacramento, Localis features a seven or twelve-course tasting menu that changes every day. However, the team here is happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions. Whether you’re vegan, dairy-free, or have a gluten allergy, just let them know when you reserve. They’ll happily prepare a gourmet, allergen-free meal featuring the best local ingredients.
1518 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818
“Wordly fusion” is how owner James Seyman describes the eclectic mix of dishes on Tower Cafe’s menu. Voted the best brunch in Sacramento year after year, I can’t get enough of the eggs, homemade pastries, and bloody mary’s here; my guess is you’ll feel the same.
Tower Cafe opened in 1990 next to the historic Tower Theater in downtown Sacramento. Its lush, plant-adorned patio is my favorite place to dine, but the inner restaurant is also a gem. There you’ll find a fun and eclectic mix of quirky art that keeps guests visually entertained throughout their brunch.
Whether you try the famous french toast or the blueberry cornmeal pancakes, you’ll love your entire experience at the Tower Cafe.
Bacon & Butter
5913 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95820
Serving up authentic homestyle American breakfast loaded with plenty of, you guessed it, bacon and butter, this Sacramento staple is worth a morning visit. Quaint and casual with family-friendly vibes, Bacon & Butter offers all of the breakfast classics, like flapjacks, hash browns, and biscuit sandwiches smothered in house gravy.
Run by executive Chef Zoelin, featured on the Food Network, Bacon & Butter sits in the Tahoe Park neighborhood. Everything in this farm-to-table restaurant is locally sourced and served oversized. You could easily share a plate with a friend, but you probably won’t want to. The food is that phenomenal, and there’s no place in the city to get a better cinnamon roll.
Hawk’s Public House
1525 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95816
If you’re looking for a hip and high-end dinner, look no further than Hawk’s Public House. Located in East Sacramento near the Sutter Medical Plaza, this gastropub-style restaurant offers a broad selection of shareable plates, local brews, and craft cocktail creations.
Owned by husband and wife team Holly Hawks and Michael Fagoni, Hawk’s Public House emphasizes local ingredients presented in modern ways. From their marinated olive appetizer to their almond wood-grilled New York Steak, everything on the menu is worth a try.
Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining
2226 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95818
Traditionally, an Izakaya is an informal Japanese pub. If you combine that with a high-temp charcoal grill, you get Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining, and yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Casual and hip, this restaurant is a great place to take a few friends. You can share incredible grilled meat skewers, a few rounds of sake, and a bowl of pork belly ramen.
Chef and owner Craig Takehara runs this gem in Southside Park. You might find him operating the binchotan charcoal grill that reaches up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit! That sort of flame power lends smoky deliciousness to every bit of meat and vegetable it touches. So whether you’re craving shishito peppers or want to try the kurobuta pork jowl, you won’t be disappointed.
1601 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
Magpie birds are a staple in California’s central valley, and so is the Magpie Cafe. This innovative, sleek, and inviting restaurant sits outside Fremont Park in Midtown, Sacramento. Unlike many eateries in the area, Magpie Cafe isn’t so meat-forward. They offer plenty of carnivore-friendly options on the menu, but they really specialize in their vegetables.
Refreshing watermelon salads, deep-fried delicata squash, and other tempting vegetable dishes make this an excellent spot for vegetarians and vegans. For those who prefer it, though, their fried pork belly is phenomenal, as is their single patty burger. Served up with crispy fries, it’s always a winner.
2416 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816
Tres Hermanas is an excellent spot for authentic Mexican cuisine with bright-colored walls and a fun, casual vibe. Whether you’re craving chips and guac or slow-cooked carnitas, you’ll find it at Tres Hermanas.
Located in Midtown, not far from the State Capitol Museum, Tres Hermanas offers both indoor and outdoor seating making it perfect for everything from a first date to a family outing.
I’m especially fond of their margaritas. Unlike other Mexican restaurants that rely on overly sweet mixes, Tres Hermanas makes theirs traditionally, with unsweetened lime juice and plenty of tequila.
1215 19th St, Sacramento, CA 95811
Mulvaney B&L gets its name from the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, where George Bailey learns his business “Bailey Bros. Bank & Loan” is a community staple that brings people together. Chef Patrick Mulvaney and his partner Bobbin attempt to do the same with their new-American restaurant.
Inside a historic firehouse in Midtown, Sacramento, you’ll find a menu that changes daily to feature local growers, ranchers, and wineries.
Servers here are well-educated on where the food comes from, giving this restaurant a downright fantastic community vibe. Whether they’re offering an heirloom tomato salad with warm mozzarella or prime rib, you’ll be glad you visited.
Canon East Sacramento
1719 34th St, Sacramento, CA 95816
Dining at Canon is a bit like going to your friend’s house for dinner; if your friend happened to live in an elegant, upscale farmhouse and was a renowned chef, that is.
With a welcoming but upscale aesthetic, Canon is an East Sacramento favorite, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Here, you’ll find small but innovative tapas-style plates and seasonal cocktails.
Chef Brad Cecchi serves up platters ready to share with unique ingredients. There are scallops a la plancha, horseradish heirloom beets, artfully preserved pickles, and half-roasted duck served with sticky rice and strawberries. Though these dishes may sound borderline strange, and you may be hesitant, I promise the experience at Canon is always excellent.
Mikuni | Midtown Sacramento
1530 J St #150, Sacramento, CA 95814
Sacramento isn’t on the coast, but that doesn’t mean its sushi scene is without merit. Mikuni Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Midtown sits on the Market Square side of Arden Square. It’s hip and bright with a lit bar and industrial style, complete with exposed ceiling beams. But where this restaurant excels is with its sushi.
The BBQ tuna with red or white sauce is a favorite amongst regulars, but also delicious is the Albacore Pepperfin. Despite its trendy interior, Mikuni is also family-friendly. They offer a full kid’s menu and a family menu made for sharing.
Grange Restaurant & Bar
926 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814
Tucked inside the historic Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento, you’ll find the Grange Restaurant and Bar. With high ceilings and distinct 1920’s charm, this restaurant has long been linked to business and pleasure. Known as the “room where it happened,” the Grange has a history of being the space where deals are made as politicians enjoy dinner and drinks.
The food here is all farm-to-table fresh, relying on seasonal veggies and high-quality meats. It’s not your typical hotel restaurant, to say the least. You’ll find high-end appetizers like Tsar Nicolai Caviar, as well as local delicacies like Niman Ranch pork chops.
1689 Arden Way Suite 1065, Sacramento
Seasons 52 is a chain, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off. Unlike other chain restaurants, Season 52, as their name implies, relies on seasonal ingredients and a lengthy list of 52 featured wines. With a focus on healthy cooking, this restaurant is excellent for those who want a delicious meal without too much caloric density.
Located within the Arden Fair Market, Seasons 52 offers incredible salads, soups, and seafood in an environment that’s somewhere between upscale and casual. Their filet and lobster entree is consistently incredible, as is their creamy polenta side dish. Of course, the menu changes with each new season, so there’s no telling what you’ll find. That said, the options are always divine.
1116 15th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
Casual comfort food with a distinct urban flair is what you’ll find at Cafeteria 15L. This eclectic restaurant is ideal for dining regardless of the Sacramento weather. They offer an air-conditioned patio and delightfully decorated interior with industrial fixings and mismatched chairs.
Located downtown, it’s a perfect stop after a trip to the State Capitol Museum, which is only steps away. I’m a massive fan of their ahi poke for lunch, but their salads and sandwiches are also fantastic. If you’re there on a weekend morning, their brunch is also worth a try. The malt waffles are delicious, as are their selection of breakfast skillets.
921 V St, Sacramento, CA 95818
Lo/Fi offers old-school lunch counter vibes not far from Southside Park. This informal restaurant is the brainchild of chef Bryan Widener, who has a passion for simple food done well. Sandwiches, tacos, and salads abound here, and so far, everything I’ve tried is worth a repeat visit.
The Tommy’s Cubano is a favorite with its seared spam and habanero jack cheese, but I realize spam isn’t for everybody. So, if you’re looking for something with less pork, try the late-night drive-through tacos filled with vegetarian chorizo. Or, hit Lo/Fi up for weekend brunch, and enjoy their “sqauashamole” toast, featuring marinated beets and honey nut squash.
2028 H St, Sacramento, CA 95811
Moxie Restaurant is a Sacramento favorite for upscale, American fare. This celebratory restaurant is located near the New Era Park neighborhood and not too far from downtown. This celebratory restaurant features a revolving menu that consistently delights.
The service isn’t always fast, and the restaurant certainly encourages you to take your time, but that’s part of the experience. Excellent and creative meals that feature high-end cuts like swordfish, salmon, and lamb are always cooked to perfection. And the ambiance is charming. It feels a bit like you’re in an Italian joint in 1930’s Manhattan.
Allora – Italian Restaurant
5215 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95819
Allora mixes the flavors of Italy with Californian ingredients. Their wine-centric take on dining creates an exceptional experience perfect for celebrations of all types. Whether it’s your birthday, anniversary, or date night, Allora is a good pick.
Located in East Sacramento, not far from the university, this restaurant focuses on sustainability and chic ambiance. Their pasta dishes are delightful, as is their selection of local fish. Perhaps best of all, you can pair everything with the perfect wine thanks to the skills and knowledge of co-owner and Sommelier Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou.
1501 14th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
Directly across from the State Capitol, you’ll find TableVine. This lively restaurant features farm-to-table meals in a casual setting. Decidedly unpretentious, TableVine is a phenomenal pick if you want to enjoy good wine and great food in an atmosphere that’s simple but elegant.
The menu here changes seasonally, but it never fails to impress. With items like risotto laced with black garlic and pomegranate or beef short rib grits, the food is always comforting and delicious. Perhaps the best dish, though, is their famous clam chowder. Warm and creamy, if it’s on the menu when you get there, I highly recommend you try it.
1118 16th St, Sacramento, CA 95814
If you’re looking for seafood in Sacramento, you have to try Station 16. Located in the downtown area, this restaurant has an unlikely history. With zero experience, a retired firefighter and his girlfriend decided to open a restaurant. Their goal was to provide great seafood in a fun and lively environment.
They accomplished the goal, and the now-married couple continues to create fun experiences for everyone who walks through Station 16’s doors. Whether you try the lobster mac n’ cheese, crab cake croquettes, or the blackened salmon, this casual seafood restaurant is never short of fantastic.
Sacramento is a foodie haven filled with exceptional farm-to-table offerings. Given its proximity to vineyards, farms, and ranches, It’s hard to find better meats, fresher vegetables, or more fantastic wines anywhere else.
If you happen to be visiting Sacramento with a group of friends and family, you might want to check out some private dining rooms in the area!
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!
Best Restaurants in Sacramento
- The Kitchen
- Frank Fat’s
- Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
- The Waterboy
- The Firehouse Restaurant
- Ella Dining Room & Bar
- Tower Cafe
- Bacon & Butter
- Hawk’s Public House
- Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining
- Magpie Cafe
- Tres Hermanas
- Mulvaney’s B&L
- Canon East Sacramento
- Mikuni | Midtown Sacramento
- Grange Restaurant & Bar
- Seasons 52
- Cafeteria 15L
- Moxie Restaurant
- Allora – Italian Restaurant
- Station 16
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