Food & Drink

Writers’ picks

Any time of the day is a good time for fried chicken and waffles from Mama Sue’s Kitchen.

Any time of the day is a good time for fried chicken and waffles from Mama Sue’s Kitchen.

Photo By william leung

Best bakery to get sliced bread with a smile

New Roma Bakery

There’s nothing like fresh bread to get a meal off to a great start, and New Roma bakes a number of varieties every day. The knowledgeable counter help can make suggestions, and they’ll slice it to order (or let you take it home to your own knife). They’ve also got a whole display case of baked sweet doughnuts and pastries. They stopped frying the pastries earlier this year, which means the goodies are both good and a little healthier than your run-of-the-mill fried Krispy Kremes. On Sunday afternoons, they sell off everything at half price. Come early and get in line. 1800 E Street, (916) 443-2346. K.M.

Best reason for bad breath

Onion and pepper chutney at Bombay Bar and Grill

Order samosas, pakoras or any deliciously fried appetizer at Bombay Bar and Grill and a trio of dipping options is delivered alongside. The sweet tamarind sauce and fresh mint chutney are familiar, welcome toppings. But the onion and red pepper chutney elevates your starter plate to something beyond the usual subcontinental fare. The freshly diced onions and peppers glow in a coating of red spices that look intimidating, but hardly burn. The savory onion provides a kick that will have you emptying the dish and asking for seconds to accompany the rest of your meal. 1315 21st Street, (916) 441-7100, www.bombaybarandgrill

Best tip jar

Old Soul at 40 Acres

Coffee shops and tip jars go together like, well, coffee and creamer. As ubiquitous as they are, we don’t feel obliged to drop a George Washington into the till every time we pick up our morning Joe. Except when we stop by the Old Soul in Oak Park. It’s just an unassuming glass jar, but the plea for “Tips to Further Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems research” is funny and direct. Come to think of it, we’d like to research that dilemma, too. So yeah—here’s a dollar for the cause. Seriously, let us know how that turns out, OK? 3434 Broadway, (916) 453-8540, R.L.

Best breakfast for dinner

Mama Sue’s Kitchen

When I was a kid, waffles were one of the few foods I would eat. I wanted to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That wasn’t possible then due to parental controls, but now, thanks to Mama Sue’s Kitchen, I can enjoy a waffle for any meal. A crisp yet fluffy waffle served with a piece of fried chicken is possibly the best combination of sweet and salty ever experienced. Mama Sue’s sides are plentiful, from collard greens to corn bread, and for dessert there’s tantalizing sweet potato pie. But really, nothing is better than chicken and waffles for dinner. 10113 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova, (916) 363-3977, J.C.

Best veggie taco fillings

El Papagayo

El Papagayo’s extensive self-serve salsa bar is enough reason for anyone to visit. (Seriously. Try the mango-cucumber salsa fresca. You will never look back.) Vegetarians have an extra reason to be loyal to this spacious, colorful restaurant: three types of veggie fillings! Escape the bean-and-cheese rut by topping your tortillas with grilled chayote squash, chile verde nopales (cactus), or papas al pastor (spicy potatoes). Try them in a burrito or taco, on top of a tostada, or mixed and matched on a combo plate. Bring your meat-chomping friends along for a traditional selection of carnitas, asada, and pollo. 5804 Marconi Avenue in Carmichael, (916) 487-7742, B.C.

Best waffle fries

Rubicon Brewing Company

The perfect fried potato is slightly crunchy on the outside and cooked but not greasy on the inside, which is why waffle-cut fries are the best of the best. They have plenty of surface area to get slightly crunchy, and the waffle pattern lets them cook quickly enough that they don’t soak up the grease. A perfect example of the waffle fry can be had—along with a great selection of eats and locally brewed beer—at Rubicon Brewing Company. It also makes a damn fine Reuben sandwich. 2004 Capitol Avenue, (916) 448-7032, K.M.

Bartender Charles Connoly is your guide to the delicious exhibits at Tequila Museo Mayahuel.

Photo By taras garcia

Best tequila sampling

Tequila Museo Mayahuel

If your favorite spirit is the one made out of agave, and drinking Patron, Cuervo and Cabo Wabo doesn’t cut it anymore, there’s a new place in town to tomar el tequila. It’s boldly called Tequila Museo Mayahuel, or “Mayahuel tequila museum.” In addition to serving tequila samples, Mayahuel also creates inventive margaritas and contemporary Mexican fare. 1200 K Street, Suite 3; (916) 441-7200; J.M.

Best cafe to be offline

Naked Lounge Midtown

The competition for best coffeehouse to hang out in and not be online proved surprisingly tough. Patrons at most spots preferred to have their laptops open, connected to the Interwebs but not each other. In our survey of local coffee lounges, Old Soul Co. scored points for the number of people actually talking to each other. Still, Naked Lounge Midtown pulled ahead after a recent morning, when the number of people reading an actual book (three) nearly equaled the number of people on their laptops (five). The number of people engaged in conversation? Two pairs of two. And the number of people reading a newspaper? Zero. Sigh. 1500 Q Street, (916) 442-0174, H.B.

Best place to get sloshed on a Thursday night

Crazy Sushi

Friday may be the beginning of the weekend for most of us, but Crazy Sushi has one heck of a deal for those who are looking to start the party a day earlier. Every Thursday from 5:10 p.m., Crazy Sushi offers $1 bottles of hot sake. Each bottle yields four or five shots of the warm elixir, depending on the pourer’s generosity. Crazy Sushi also offers a wide selection of specialty rolls and yummy bento boxes, but on Thursdays, the food takes a back seat to the sake. Kampai! 3100 Fulton Avenue, (916) 485-4060. J.C.

Best vegan ice cream experience

Here’s the Scoop!

Nowadays, vegan ice cream isn’t that hard to come by. Most grocery stores carry a few pints of Soy Delicious or a box of Tofutti Cuties. But ice cream on a cone? The kind you can eat inside an ice cream parlor on a summer day like a normal, ice cream-loving member of society? That’s a different story. Finding a dairy-free ice cream cone in Sacramento was a near impossibility until Here’s the Scoop! started selling Double Rainbow nondairy ice cream. It stocks multiple flavors. Try cherry with chocolate chunks or French vanilla or blueberry! Vegans, it’s time to step forward and answer the question, “Cup or cone?” 3051 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 446-4478. B.C.

Best carb buster

Orphan Breakfast House

It seems we’re not supposed to have any fun when it comes to food. No caffeine. No fat, sugar or booze. No. Carbs. Ever. Even if the term “refined grains” is verboten in your diet, we highly recommend busting the carb bank with a couple of slices of Orphan’s rosemary bread. Served in thick, lightly toasted slices, this piece of bready heaven is slightly sweet, slightly savory and all kinds of delicious. Get it as part of your morning nourishment. (The Rosemary Breakfast also includes three scrambled eggs and rosemary potatoes. We also love the Avocado Scramble). Or just order a plate on its own and ignore how the waistband of your jeans seems to sob in protest. 3440 C Street, (916) 442-7370, R.L.

Best take-out Thai

Thai Hut

Don’t get us wrong. Thai Hut is great for dining in, too. It’s got everything you’d want from a moderately priced Thai restaurant: wood-carved wall ornaments, fantastic pumpkin curry and mango sticky rice for dessert. But when you order to-go on your way home from work (Thai Hut is conveniently located near Madison Avenue and Interstate 80), you’ll often find something unexpected in your take-out bag. Sometimes it’s cake in a bright wrapper with a foreign logo. Sometimes it’s fruit cocktail or lychee nuts in syrup—perfect for making the lychee martinis you didn’t know you were craving until you saw the can. The random surprises add a bit of sweetness to days when you’re too slammed to cook. 5800 Madison Avenue, Suite K; (916) 348-1880; B.C.

Best masala dosa

Kaveri Madras Cuisine

Amid the mess of strip malls, car dealerships and lube shops on Fulton Avenue, lies a small slice of South India at Kaveri Madras Cuisine. This is good news for fans of the masala dosa, a staple of South Indian cooking. The dosa is sort of like a crispy burrito, round and stuffed with potatoes, peas and lentils. The masala dosa at Kaveri is sizeable, with an excellent crispy exterior and four different accompanying chutney sauces. There are also lunch and dinner buffets and a Kaveri Madras Indian grocery store next door. 1148 Fulton Avenue, Suite A; (916) 481-9970; H.B.

Best sites to scope out your midweek bender and

When you want to get piss drunk and eat cheap greasy food, there are two options in town to help you do just that: and Both have happy hour information listed by day (with varying degrees of accuracy), lively Twitter feeds and easy-to-read formats. Use both to find places to glutton yourself to oblivion, all while saving a buck or two., J.M.

Best dim sum you can’t get anymore

Red Lotus Kitchen and Bar

I may not be the “dim-sum slut” SN&R restaurant reviewer Greg Lucas claims to be, but the tummy wants what it wants, and mine is hot for Red Lotus. I’m not alone, either: In 2010, you all voted the place Best New Restaurant. One year later, just as we were going to press, Red Lotus announced its sudden closing. We will miss the braised pork belly with housemade kimchee wrapped in steamed-bun pillows of perfection, and the somewhat sweeter eel and shrimp dumplings in a puddle of cilantro-pistachio puree. And, oh! The cocktails were artisan amazements, too. RIP, Red Lotus. You will be missed. K.B.

Best catch of the day

Passmore Ranch

Hold on to your waders, folks! There’s a new sustainable, freshwater fishmonger in town. Located in the land of golf courses and housing associations, Passmore Ranch in Sloughhouse knows a thing or two about raising and selling fish. Not only can you find its white sturgeon, black bass, catfish and rainbow trout at local farmers markets and grocers, but chefs at restaurants like Ella Dining Room and Bar and Lucca look to the ranch to stock their pantries as well. Having witnessed the quality of fish that comes out of its tanks firsthand, the product is one this Alaska-raised gal can get behind. 13031 Meiss Road in Sloughhouse, (916) 688-3900, L.H.