Buy local: Sacramento

A student’s guide to eating, drinking, shopping and partying local

Dad’s Kitchen is a walk from City College and has great, cheap eats and a nice patio.

Dad’s Kitchen is a walk from City College and has great, cheap eats and a nice patio.

Photo By Anne Stokes

You’re in college. You’re educated. You “think outside the box.” You know that shopping locally, and not at chain stores, is a means to boycott sweatshop labor abroad and keep your dollars in the community. And you’re a Sacramentan now: time to learn about the city’s locally owned and independent businesses.

There are environmental impacts, too, when you shop, eat and party locally. Significantly fewer resources are required in the production, packaging and transport of locally produced and recycled goods. Casting Sacramento votes with your wallet promotes the vitality, longevity and diversity of your cityscape.

Here are 30 great neighborhood haunts where you can nosh, splurge or get down.


Old Soul at the Weatherstone
812 21st Street
(916) 443-6340

Old Soul Weatherstone has one of the best patios for drinking coffee, plinking on the Internet or chatting with friends. Owners Tim Jordan and Jason Griest, the founders of roasting facility and bakery Old Soul Co. (located in the alleyway off of 18th Street between L Street and Capitol Avenue), have turned the old Weatherstone into a beautiful house: simple but elegant food, and live music by night, barbecue on Friday evenings, and always great coffee and breakfast pastries.

Andy Nguyen’s
2007 Broadway
(916) 736-1157

It’s not often a family-owned businesses stays in one location for 30 years, but Andy Nguyen’s is that a place. Everything they serve is vegan, and meat eaters are none the wiser, as the fake-meat substitutes could fool even the most carnivorous of frat boys. Go with a group so you all can share the food, family-style.

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op1900 Alhambra Boulevard
(916) 455-2667

With the most stringent buying policies of any co-op in California, you will not find any GMOs, high-fructose corn syrup, or trans fats in the store, period. The Co-op does the label-reading for you. Even more impressive, their produce department is the only all-organic one in the country. And you’ll find that most of the flavorful, colorful fruit-and-veggie specimens are grown locally.

The Shack
5201 Folsom Boulevard
(916) 457-5997

The Shack is the best sub sandwich for lunch near Sac State. The place is one of those rare finds with a fantastic beer selection, too (including Rubicon IPA, for you over-21 students), and scrumptious pub fare. You’ll always find the owner, Gary Sleppy, in the kitchen, and every Thursday night The Shack flexes its culinary muscle, offering a themed prix-fixe meals with wine and music.

Dad’s Kitchen
2968 Freeport Boulevard
(916) 443-3237

Dad’s began as a sandwich shop on 13th and S streets and expanded into a more upscale doppelganger on Freeport Boulevard near Sacramento City College. Sam and his son, Zac, and Zac’s wife, Alison (now parents themselves), are the triumvirate responsible for the killer food and atmosphere. Three words: biscuits and gravy.

Fox & Goose
1001 R Street
(916) 443-8825

Undeniably the best breakfast in town, Fox & Goose also serves up excellent food all day long. But it really kicks butt at breakfast, which many argue is worth any wait. Monday night is an open-mic night, and local bands typically play on Friday nights. There’s free coffee while you wait for a table on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

La Trattoria Bohemia
3649 J Street
(916) 455-7803

A Czech woman and Italian man fell in love, and the result is La Trattoria’s first-rate menu. The Czech dumplings are to die for, and the pizza tip-top. Art nouveau prints adorn the walls and the atmosphere is understated and simply romantic. This place is a great bike-ride away from Sac State’s campus, so maybe a romantic bike date is in order?

L Wine Lounge and Restaurant
1801 L Street
(916) 443-6970

The only place where a $12 burger is worth every penny. Head chef Ame Harrington’s lamb-and-mint burger is the best thing you ever sink teeth into; if you get an “A” on your chemistry final, reward yourself with a night at L. The menu changes to accommodate the organic produce of the season, which usually is local.

Taylor’s Market
2900 Freeport Boulevard
(916) 443-6881

Surely smaller than the co-op and not as exclusively organic or local, Taylor’s is family owned and boasts an old-fashioned butcher shop and an unsurpassed grab-and-go fridge full of fresh gourmet goodies. Impress your date with a picnic with Taylor’s treats.

Tres Hermanas
2416 K Street
(916) 443-6919

Cuffs Urban Apparel is locally owned and has all the cool new threads at good prices. Oh, don’t forget to visit Cuffs on Second Saturday.

Photo By Shoka

Sonia, Norma, Dora y el hermano, Sergio, have been serving the yummiest Mexican food in town since 1996. The chicken mole will make you cry happy tears, and their outdoor patio is welcoming and relaxing, perfect for chips and salsa.


1617 16th Street
(916) 442-1800

Part local co-op featuring independent clothing and jewelry designers, and part vintage boutique, Atelier was founded by Melissa Hemmens (Threaded Heart), Amy Hemmens (Naik Fur) and Lindsay Rickman. This wonderful shoppe is another sustainable-business model that makes a difference in our community, and its fun events also lend themselves to Sacramento’s culture. Keep an eye out for their live-music events.

Bows and Arrows
1712 L Street
(916) 444-3606

When actress Chloë Sevigny came to Sacramento recently, this is where she went shopping! They’ve got the goods, handmade or vintage, and owners Trisha Rohmberg and Olivia Coehlo, both designers themselves, hawk their own one-of-a-kind works for cheaper than the Gap would sell a one-of-a-million garment—even though the Gap had it made in a sweatshop.

Cuffs Urban Apparel
2523 J Street
(916) 443-2881

Another vintage and handmade boutique, this one owned by Lacadia Olsen, which hosts dope music and art events on Second Saturdays. Cuffs also helps reduce consumerism by offering stylish recycled clothing and locally stitched or silk-screened duds.

Buff Castle
1115 21st Street

This is the new vintage boutique that opened in Olipom’s old space. Buff Castle, a collection of clothes, accessories, handmade goods, and curios, will make you giggle, nostalgic, and gush while you browse. It’s got that personal touch.

Cheap Thrills
1217 21st Street
(916) 446-4103

From the façade, you might think this place only sells outlandish costumes and swinging zoot suits. Not so! It’s filled with room-upon-room of cool vintage gear and everyday wear. Plan on spending a long time perusing their many great finds.

Rag Doll Vintage
2318 J Street
(916) 930-0409

For the guy and doll who love that rockabilly style, or for anyone who is looking for retro clothes from the 40’s through 80’s, this art gallery/boutique is your new outfitter.

Sacramento Antique Faire
21st Street between W and X streets

Second Sunday mornings
(916) 600-9770

It costs $3 to enter, but the eye candy’s worth it, and you’ll likely find a treasure to take home from the ramshackle rows of antiques under the freeway. The Sacramento Antique Faire happens once a month, on Second Sundays, and the farmers’ market down the street at 6th and W provides another fun way to support your neighbors.

1618 Broadway
(916) 446-3973

These guys have a huge vinyl section (as does The Beat on 17th and J streets) and lots of great used music and posters, too. They used to be located on the K Street Mall but had to move, and their new location is on Broadway in the old Tower Video building. Here’s a great place to buy alternative and underground music.

the book collector
1008 24th Street
(916) 442-9295

In the heart of Midtown, this particular bookstore is owned by the nicest couple, Richard and Rachel Hansen, and is known to have author and activist lectures and music shows on occasion. Hell, you might even be able to find that course textbook used!

United State
1014 24th Street
(888) 743-0273

The Javalounge is rad for live music, coffee, other drinks, beer and wine.

It’s a one-stop shop for hip urbanites: clothing, art, skate decks, books, records, CDs, DVDs, and the occasional live deejay (not for sale). Check out their rad selection of T-shirts.


Fire Escape Bar & Grill
7431 Madison Avenue
in Citrus Heights
(916) 967-5464

Fire Escape is a bar out in the suburbs where you can see rock, punk and indie bands for cheap. Not every show is all-ages, so call ahead to be sure. The Fire Escape serves good food and drink, too, and is a haven for local and touring punk bands.

Club Retro
6521 Hazel Avenue
in Orangevale

Exclusively all-ages, this Family Christian Center operation’s got a big stage, upstairs VIP room, café, lounge and light show. It’s gigantic compared with the coffee shops that offer a corner of a room to do shows—they have a capacity of about 500. Shows usually on the weekends only.

The Boardwalk
9426 Greenback Lane
in Orangevale
(916) 988-9247

The Boardwalk is a fully stocked bar and grill doubling as an all-ages venue, and puts on all kinds of rad shows most nights of the week. They’ve been at it for 20 years, and this is the go-to club for touring rock bands. Good times.

2416 16th Street
(916) 441-3945

Disclosure: I co-own Javalounge with my husband. Plastered with Skinner’s imaginative paintings of monsters and mythological creatures, family-owned Javalounge hosts something for everyone, from hip-hop to kids’ songs. A black superman is painted on the wall bearing the inscription “Ain’t no justice,” and this business attempts to respond to that problem.

Luna’s Café
1414 16th Street
(916) 441-3931

Another conscientious establishment, Luna’s serves our corner of the world healthy food and the best in music, and has been doing so for 25 years. A new reason to revisit their entertainment calendar: Natalie Gordon of Agent Ribbons books the gigs. That’s right: live bands on multiple nights during the week, poetry readings and all sorts of all-ages fun, right in the heard of the city.

True Love Coffeehouse
2315 K Street
(916) 448-5683

Kevin and Allison Seconds, punk- and pop-scene veterans, still work tirelessly, bringing awesome bands and great coffee drinks to the Sac masses. Go out and show some love at their new upstairs location, in the pretty white Victorian. Many will argue that the big patio out back is the best place to chill and drink coffee in Midtown.

R5 Records
2500 16th Street
(916) 441-2500

From the wreckage of Tower Records, Russ Solomon resurrected one store: R5 Records. And it stands alone: local and national bands of all genres blast eardrums during in-store shows, giving Sactown one more option for all-ages music.

Luigi’s Fun Garden
1050 20th Street
(916) 552-0317

The newest and most anticipated addition to our all-ages repertoire is Luigi’s Fun Garden. A lot of the bands are cutting-edge indie outfits, and Luigi’s makes some of the best pizza in town, and has done so at their Stockton Boulevard location for over 50 years. What’s more, there are Pacman and Cruisin’ World games, and air-hockey table, in the back room.

Inferno Pizza
2424 16th Street
(916) 443-8343

Pizza is an afterthought at this karaoke bar and venue, whose light displays and disco balls can distract. They book lots of punk, indie and hip-hop shows, and on some nights, you can rock the mic yourself.

Delta of Venus
122 B Street in Davis
(530) 753-8639

A hippie haven in a big college town and, hippie or not, you won’t be able to resist the DOV omelet at breakfast. They’ve got one gem of a show coming up: Not just for treehuggers, the place is a go-to on most weekends for live shows and good times for all-ages. Worth the drive from Sac, or the bike ride from Davis.