Food & Drink picks
SN&R writers dish out their picks for the area's best summertime eats and drinks, including steamed hot dogs, vegan burgers and a canned vodka cocktail
The Old American Classic
Nearing its 50th anniversary, The Wienery sticks to the basics, with nearly 30 variations. It makes steamed hotdogs (Caspers frankfurters)—Shroom Dog to Summer Dog, Sloopy Frank to The Five Alarm Delight and Fiesta Dog to the Double Dipper. Homemade sandwiches and sides are terrific. A rotating selection of soups, including the daily specialty, navy bean, always satisfy. But it’s summertime, which means a welcomed rite of culinary passage: a hotdog and a beer. The new owners of the East Sacramento institution assumed responsibilities of the throwback tiny diner in February. They added a first: Seven beers are offered on tap for $5.75 per pint. The Pabst Blue Ribbon is cold, light and refreshing, too, at $2.50 a pint. 715 56th St.; (916) 455-0497. J.R.
Energize and Chill
Maple-Oat-Milk Iced Latte
There are few hot weather experiences as satisfying as a big cup of iced coffee; that first cooling sip can make your entire day. In Fair Oaks, the new Pause Coffee House on Madison serves an array of stylish iced coffee drinks. At the top of the list is their maple-oat-milk iced latte ($5.50), with just enough sugar to fix your sweets craving without going overboard. The creamy-yet-healthy addition of oat milk adds a layer of earthiness that takes it to the next level. Feeling the lag of a hot afternoon? Make it a triple. 8121 Madison Avenue in Fair Oaks; pausecoffee.house. S.S.
A Slice of the Sweet Life
The Real Pie Company
Can you think of a better summer dessert than freshly baked pie? The Real Pie Company, which recently reopened just off Broadway at 24th, offers a generous selection of both sweet and savory pies. You’ll find all of the venerable classics here: chocolate cream, coconut cream and butterscotch banana. Berry lovers will rejoice over the “Jumbleberry Pie,” ($5.25/slice or $27/whole) a swoon-worthy blend of blueberries, raspberries, cherries and marionberries piled into a flakey, buttery crust. Welcome to your new favorite summer indulgence. 2425 24th Street; realpiecompany.com. S.S.
Bottomless IPA, Berryessa Brewing Co.
Berryessa Brewing Co. co-owner Chris Miller brewed his Bottomless IPA ($5), specifically for Mother’s Day, but hopefully he’ll keep it on tap all summer. Miller describes the IPA, which is gluten-free and carb-free, as a “beer mimosa” alternative to those endless carafes of orange juice and champagne. With a light and crisp finish, it certainly goes down easy, but watch it, mama, with an 8 percent ABV, it delivers a mighty kick. 27260 Highway 128 in Winters; berryessabrewingco.com. R.L.
The Chewy Jewish Treat
Russ’ Special Bagel, Solomon’s Delicatessen
While you may have to wait until later in the summer to nosh at the Downtown Sacramento Solomon’s Deli, an outpost has already opened in a space in Davis recently vacated by Hot Italian. The Russ’ Special (named after the late Russell Solomon of Tower Records, natch) has house-smoked salmon sourced from Sunh Fish and bagels baked in Sacramento and transported daily across the Yolo Causeway. The silky fish is complemented by piquant pickled red onions and encased in the chewiest, densest bagel this side of the Hudson. Unlike a fluffy Noah’s bread bomb, these compact beauties are boiled before they are baked, in the traditional Jewish fashion. Until the Sac location opens, the Davis Solomon’s is worth the schlep. 500 1st Street in Davis; solomonsdelicatessen.com. B.G.
British Soul Food
Pasties (pronounced pass-tees) are savory British pastries, associated with coal-miners, not strippers. The baked shortcrust semicircles stuffed with meat and vegetables can be served cold in warm weather without any loss of satisfaction. The Pasty Shack’s been making pasties, including the original style associated with Cornwall, England, since 1948. The East Sacramento institution, for decades located next to Club 2-Me, makes a mean Cornish. The classic is super simple: diced lean beef, diced potatoes and onions. Here you will also find California-ized versions: Chicken-and-Veggies, Mexican, Chile Verde and Vegetarian. All choices are worthy, but none more so than the Bavarian—ground beef, chopped red and white cabbage, bell pepper and onions. It’s great for a quick on-premise lunch or dinner or during a visit to the Club 2-Me. 4716 J Street; (916) 454-9630. J.R.
Instant Asian Goodness
Taiwan Best Mart’s Frozen Dumplings
Sacramento is home to some of the state’s best Asian cuisine, though decent home delivery is a little harder to find. How about the next best thing: handmade Asian dumplings, frozen fresh and ready whenever you want them. Enter Taiwan Best Mart, a tiny deli-style shop on 10th Street near W Street. Here you can grab a huge bag of frozen dumplings for between $14 and $18. Be sure to check out the pork-shrimp wontons ($16), which are ready to be dropped into hot broth on a moment’s notice for an epic five-minute dinner. 2219 10th Street; taiwanbestmart.com. S.S.
A Dramatic Buzz
B Street Buck Shot
The B Street Theatre has a fresh new bar offering to go with its fancy digs at Midtown’s Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts. Partnering with Ryan Seng of Can Can Cocktails for a custom canned beverage, B Street now serves its patrons the B Street Buck Shot, ($9) named after company director Buck Busfield. The Buck Shot is a refreshing blend of blood orange, lemon and rosemary, with a shot of 190-proof premium vodka. Grab the Buck Shot and a selection of Can Can’s other artisan canned cocktails at the B Street Theatre bar before show time. 2700 Capitol Avenue; bstreettheatre.org. S.S.
Best source for Japanese sweets and condiments
Temptation lurks in South Land Park in the form of red bean cakes, Ramune sodas, jelly-filled marshmallows and bento boxes. Since Oto’s expansion into this location in 2007, its meticulous grocery shelves have been loaded with imported goodies from Asia, primarily Japan. It’s a comprehensive marketplace with all manner of kimchi, rice cracker seasonings, sushi-grade fish and greens from the Central Valley such as yu choy, mizuna and shungiku. There’s even a section of Daiso kitchen supplies and doodads, including cute ceramic cats and fake eyelashes. 4990 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 424-2398; otosmarketplace.com. R.H.
Parisian Street Food
California Club Crepe
Does the thought of another tired lunchtime club sandwich make you roll your eyes? If you’re in Folsom, consider shaking it up with a California club crepe ($8.75) from Julian’s Patisserie. Packed with bacon, shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and avocado, then rolled into a beautifully thin crepe and served with a fresh green salad, this affordable lunchtime treat is paradoxically both filling and refreshing. You can even order online for quick pickup, along with a handmade French pastry. Talk about a midday win. 6610 Folsom-Auburn Road, Suite 7 in Folsom; julianscafe.com. S.S.
Mexican Morning Food
Mornings along J Street are always abuzz. Commuters, cyclists, folks on their way from daily services at Faith United or Sacred Heart. Midtown Taqueria has outdoor tables and a long, thin, single-seating counter that parallels the street. It’s as good a place as any to casually watch the world pass by while consuming a hearty breakfast burrito. There are meat options, including chorizo. But the vegetarian choice is lighter fare, albeit a beast of its own. It’s a monster mix of scrambled eggs, whole beans, cheese and fresh pico de gallo. The concoction is cooked on an ancient open grill in a tiny whirlwind of a kitchen and then launched into a large tortilla. It’s all rolled together into a heavyweight protein-and-carb fix. Cut it in half and it’s plenty for two, or a solo diner’s breakfast and lunch. 3754 J St.; (916) 452-7551. J.R.
Best carb-on-carb curry dish
Kao Soi, Thai Farm House BBQ & Bistro
Since last year, this sliver of a Thai restaurant next to a loud CrossFit gym has been serving consistently delicious street noodles and curries. But the dish I keep coming back for is the kao soi, a mix of the best things in life: noodles and noodles. The fatty, sweet curry swims with gushing egg noodles and sour bursts of pickles and onions, all crowned with crunchy noodles. Finally, you don’t have to decide between noodles and curry, fried carbs and ones that are marginally more nutritious. The kao soi lets you have it all. 1049 Broadway; thaifarmhousesac.business.site. R.H.
Have Doughnut, Will Ride
Stanley’s Apple Fritter
A bicycle ride on the morning of a soon-to-be-hot summer day requires proper nutrition. Fill your water bottle and take a snack. But what better way to get energy before the ride than with caffeine and decadence—an apple fritter from Stanley’s Donuts. All the favorites are found in the glass cases—jelly, chocolate old-fashioned, buttermilk, glazed. But the apple fritter is the best. The size of a bloated pancake, the fritter’s perfectly crisp outside is mated with an equally perfect doughy interior chockfull of soft apple. It’s likely best shared with a friend. A solo consumer might ride off into the sunset on the sugar rush. Also, beware. Sophia, who works most mornings, often sneaks free doughnut holes into takeout bags. 3710 J St.; (916) 454-3922. J.R.
A New American Tradition
Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle
The only thing more American than rejecting the metric system may be the burger. The latest rendition of the uber-popular sandwich, the vegan burger, is having a renaissance of sorts locally, thanks to Sacramento’s farm-to-table movement and the popularity of the scarily meatlike Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger. The Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle is the culmination of these forces. Brought to you by the organizers of the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, the GSVBB takes place through June 30, with more than 30 area eateries making their best vegan burgers for diners to vote on in several categories, including the House-made Vegan Burger, Portobello Burger, and Oil-Free Vegan Burger. Backbone Cafe, Brickyard Kitchen and Bar and The Patriot are among the participants; see the rest at theveganchefchallenge.com to plan out 30 days of going bananas over vegan burgers. (Full disclosure: SN&R is a sponsor of the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle.) S.