Opening and running a restaurant is a very challenging business, but residents of the Sacramento region benefit from the determination of intrepid culinary artists. A number of outstanding eateries opened locally during 2014, with sweet and savory offerings sure to please any palate.
Oak Park Brewing Company
Sacramento, CA 95817
Based in a renovated brick building from the 1920s, this restaurant and brewery just opened in November 2014. Owners Dave Estis and Tom Karvonen started out home brewing beer for fun, but quickly developed a following of supporters who ultimately helped crowdfund them into business. While unique and excellent beers may have been the original focus, the culinary offerings at the brewery warrant equal praise. The menu changes daily, with offerings like Moroccan chicken, winter squash soup, a bison burger with locally sourced seasonal toppings and tomato chutney and rabbit stew made with stout, bacon vegetables and garlic. Sample a farm-to-fork salad of baby kale, peppery arugula, beets, goat cheese and brie vinaigrette, but leave room for a brownie made with OPBC’s own imperial stout and a pomegranate reduction.
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4391 Gateway Park Blvd., Suite 650
Sacramento, CA 95834
Former U.S. Marines Michael Donoho and Jeff Belaski had a soft opening for the eatery during the summer of 2014, the menu of which is built around Belgian liège yeast dough waffles. Chef Donoho creates savory concoctions including a waffle studded with lardon, pork belly braised in cider, burrata cheese, egg, cilantro and tomato. Those preferring a sweeter taste enjoy the decadent favors of the Smor’Tella, a cacao waffle, bananas Foster, Nutella, graham cracker and toasted marshmallow. Local, organic and farm-to-fork ingredients are also used in unique salads and specialty items made just for kids. Enjoy a Bloody Mary, organic soda, fruit-infused mimosa or perfect cup of java from Liberty Coffee Roasting Company. Currently open for breakfast and lunch fare, the plan is to add dinner service soon.
Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery
1015 9th St.
Sacramento, CA 95624
Blackbird has a full bar and large, rotating selection of bottled and tapped beers, but even teetotalers flock to the place for the excellent food. Try the Captain’s Chowder, a savory powerhouse of mussels, clams, squid, pollock, potatoes and clams that are smoked in-house. Pork Cali tacos are made with kimchi and Sriracha, and a cheese plate includes manchego, olives, pears and pomegranate. Vegan dishes are also available, such as blistered shishito peppers sprinkled with coriander and a basil sorbet made with poached d’anjou pears. The business is also a gallery for the work of talented local artists.
2332 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
Modeled similarly like a traditional German beer garden, this cool spot opened in Midtown in early 2014. The entire place is outdoors, perfect for the temperate weather in Sacramento, but does shut down when it is raining. The setting makes it a rare local spot where dogs are welcome to sit with you as you dine and drink. With 32 rotating taps, there are plenty of unique beers to sample; the restaurant menu is more limited but offers tasty foods that match the ambiance perfectly. Savory Belgian waffles, served with warm German potato salad, are available with prosciutto and fresh house-made mustard or with turkey, ham, cream cheese and a raspberry-chipotle pepper sauce. Sausage platters with sauerkraut are popular picks, as is the Derfinater Dog, a cheddar-stuffed frankfurter that is covered in bacon, deep-fried and served with a special house garlic sauce. On the lighter side is the delicious cucumber and sweet onion salad, made with a dressing of sour cream, dill and vinegar.
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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.