Beyond the caffeine fix

Shine Sacramento


1400 E St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 551-1400

Good for: health-conscious fare, beer and wine, coffee and tea

Notable dishes: samosas, turkey-cilantro sandwich, vegan smoothies

In the burgeoning arena of Sacramento coffeehouses, there are few that offer substantial food options to go with their award-winning brews. Unless you want caffeine overload, there’s only so long you can lurk over that latte. Shine Sacramento, in the Mansion Flats neighborhood, offers not only a diverse menu of food, but wine and beer for those post-caffeine hours.

Situated in a roomy corner space with lots of windows, Shine is more than just a coffee house with eats. Its owners also hang local art and provide a stage for poetry readings, open-mic music and other scheduled events. It functions as a lively community hub in an area off the Midtown grid.

Food is served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days, then the staff takes a break before reopening for evening events. Most of the baked goods are from the Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery and include the usual array of scones, muffins and cookies. In addition, there is a stocked case of yogurt, juice and fruit.

A fruit pudding made with thickening chia seeds is an interesting breakfast option, topped with fresh seasonal berries. Vegan smoothies make another healthy start to the day, combining fresh fruit with agave nectar or coconut milk. The strawberry-banana version is especially fresh tasting.

Shine serves Temple coffee, but they also have an extensive menu of loose teas in single and blended varieties. The Cleanse brew, redolent of warm spices, is a lovely non-coffee option.

As lunchtime approaches, a variety of sandwiches, salads and boards are on offer. The turkey sandwich with cilantro pesto packs plenty of thick-sliced local Diestel turkey, organic Monterey Jack cheese and a well-balanced sprightly pesto of cilantro aioli. The bread, from Bella Bru Cafe, holds up well without being too tough.

There are two kinds of Indian samosa available: tandoori chicken with mango chutney or vegetarian with dill raita. They’re unusual looking, made as large flat triangles, and are grilled to order. Both feature a little bit of spice, but not too much. The chicken is finely minced and fragrant with cumin and cloves. The vegetarian version has lots of diced potatoes, carrots and peas and goes perfectly with the fresh dill in the yogurt dip. One is plenty for a light meal.

During the winter, Shine offers a daily soup, although they may be discontinued for spring. That’s unfortunate, since one special was an exceptionally good vegan tomato bisque made with coconut milk. It was silky smooth, with a little sweetness from the coconut and loads of fresh cilantro. The hint of spice gave it an Indian profile and a bit of zing.

The “boards” include choices like cheese and meat or sweet strawberry (wheat-nut bread, berries, cashew-date cream and pecans). We tried the hummus and veggie option, which came with carrot and cucumber slices and freshly grilled crostini. The hummus is a very smooth, pourable version with strong lemon and fresh cardamom overtones. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes adds a bit of heat.

Of the salads, the house blend is the better. It mixes organic greens with sliced almonds, dried cranberries and shavings of Parmesan with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s refreshing and well balanced and you can add turkey to make it more substantial.

The spicy Thai salad, on the other hand, is premade and sits in the refrigerator case. It doesn’t benefit from the advance prep. The cashews turn mushy and the tofu is too cold. The soy vinaigrette is a good match, but the chili heat can be overwhelming.

For the evening hours, there is a well-edited selection of primarily California wines and beers available.

The menu changes frequently, so be sure to check the specials board and ask what’s available. The staff is uber-friendly—if sometimes a bit leisurely—and the Wi-Fi password of “allonefamily” indicates the welcoming vibe. You can stake out a space at one of the many tables or chairs early in the day and stay through breakfast and lunch. It’s a delicious way to spend the day.