Food & Drink

Mexican-style raspados de frutas are sweet and spicy.

Mexican-style raspados de frutas are sweet and spicy.

Photo By wes davis

3. Try every flavor of Hagen’s Freeze

Hagen’s Orange Freeze, an heir to the Sacramento freeze tradition started by Merlino’s Freeze, has evolved far beyond the classic orange flavor. The current flavor list includes more than a dozen options, including peppermint, root beer, blackberry, mango and mint chip—all made on-site daily. It could take a while to try them all, but you can always order two flavors per cup. The smallest size costs $2.78 and is big enough for two people to share.

Hagen’s Orange Freeze, 2520 Walnut Avenue in Carmichael; (916) 489-7842.


4. Drink a fair amount of wine

When most people think of drinks at the California State Fair, which runs July 12 to 29, they likely think of gallon-sized sugary sodas or plastic cups filled with watery Budweiser. Really, the fair’s grown up in recent years. Check out its lush beer and wine garden if you’re not convinced. Tucked away from the rides, baby animals and crispy fried heart-attacks-on-a-stick, exists an impressive menu of of vintages and craft beers from breweries and wineries across California, Washington and Oregon.

California State Fair, Cal Expo; 1600 Exposition Boulevard;


5. Savor squash blossoms

You don’t need to speak Spanish to know that Lalo’s Restaurant’s flor de calabaza quesadilla is just fancy talk for a delicious corn tortilla stuffed with squash blossoms, iceberg lettuce, crema and gooey cheese. It’s both satisfying comfort food and something deliciously unexpected. Bring $10 and wash it down with a fruity horchata and maybe a tostada on the side, and you’ll still have a considerable chunk of change left in your pocket.

Lalo’s Restaurant, 5063 24th Street; (916) 736-2389.


6. Maintain your diet with soft-serve

Roseville’s Baagan cafe makes soft-serve that is raw, vegan, sugar free and delicious. Seriously delicious. The cafe purees frozen bananas—and only bananas—into a cool, creamy treat made to order and topped with your choice of yummy extras. We recommend the chocolate soft-serve with fresh strawberry sauce or the regular banana soft-serve with caramel made from agave nectar. At $3.47 per cup (plus extra for toppings) you can afford to make this low-calorie dessert your regular summertime reward.

Baagan, 910 Pleasant Grove, Suite 160 in Roseville; (916) 771-2117,


7. Fire up the grill after hours

“Sactown is perfect for the midnight barbecue, because the weather is so comfy after being so brutal all day long.”

—Christy Savage, producer of Trash Film Orgy

8. Learn a Japanese tea ceremony

Visit the 66th annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar on August 11 and 12. A staple event since 1947, the two-day bazaar welcomes more than 40,000 people annually. Besides getting a taste of traditional Japanese food, there will be workshops on flower arranging, Odori (classical dancing), demonstrations of tea ceremony and taiko-drum performances.

Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar, Buddhist Church of Sacramento; 2401 Riverside Boulevard; (916) 446-0121,


9. Get your takeout buzz on

The pies at Hot City Pizza is in the 80th percentile, if you’re into grading pizza à la the SAT. And it’s garlicky, which is a plus in my book. But what puts this East Sac hole-in-the-wall over the top and into “A” territory is its remarkable draft- and bottled-beer selection. Here’s the trick: Tell your spouse or partner or whoever has you chained down that you’re going to grab takeout and order the mojito pizza (mint, chicken, lime, garnish, duh!). Then stay for a couple pints while you wait. Be wowed by the Sculpin on draft, stay for the sours. Bonus tip: Sunday is IPA day, with $2 pints.

Hot City Pizza, 5642 J Street; (916) 731-8888;


10. Season fruit with salt and pepper

Along with a menu of hot food, Raspados de Frutas Naturales El Manantial offers an eclectic selection of cool desserts for the summer. Raspados de frutas refer to a shaved-ice dish with your choice of natural and sweet tropical-fruit toppings. Those accustomed to the taste of salted and peppered tropical fruits will enjoy escamochas, a blend of salt and Mexican chili powder with fruit such as diced pineapple, watermelon, mango, papaya and strawberry. Cuidado, this dish is not for weak stomachs.

Raspados de Frutas Naturales El Manantial, 1620 W. Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento; (916) 376-0906;


11. Toast Midtown Cocktail Week

Pay homage to the bartenders and mixologists of our region at the fifth-annual Midtown Cocktail Week. For seven nights, August 12 through 19, designated bars and restaurants including Paragary’s Bar and Oven, Cosmo Cafe and Level Up Lounge will serve specialty cocktails. There will be bartending classes open to the public, as well as industry-only workshops. At the Mixology Competition, local bartenders will vie for the title of top cocktail creator. As home of the region’s signature White Linen cocktail, created by Rene Dominguez at Ella Dining Room & Bar in 2009, there is a reputation to uphold. Bragging rights don’t hurt, either.

Midtown Cocktail Week,


12. Achieve vegetarian nirvana

A few summers back, Andy Nguyen’s Nirvana Lemon Salad was my go-to lunch. It’s nothing fancy—just grilled vegetarian “beef” served atop a carrot and daikon slaw with mint, cilantro, crushed peanuts and a sesame-soy vinaigrette dressing—but the resulting salad seems transcendental. Light yet satisfying, it tastes as bright and tangy as a cool summer morning. What better way to take the heat off a scorching Sacramento lunch break?

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


13. Get thee to Gunther’s

“I’m on my way to get some Gunther’s ice cream right now. I was going to get either cookies and cream or maybe just plain chocolate.”

—Stephanie Ercolini, fundraiser for nonprofits

14. Cook outdoors

“I’m a chef myself, so I think of grillin’. Grilling all, all summer long. Steaks, hotdogs, hamburgers. Whatever I can get.”

—Scott Howard, chef at The Ranch House in Yuba City

15. Save room for barbecued shellfish

“My favorite foods at summertime are watermelon, pineapple and barbeque, and the [state] fair food and barbequed oysters.”

—Christina Monaco, paralegal

16. Drink smoothies for breakfast

“I am kinda on the healthy tip right now, so I like to eat organic fruits and vegetables throughout the summer and make smoothies for myself.”

—Gabriel Limon, Bath Fitter trade-show representative

17. Eat dessert for dinner

“Dinner is popsicles in the summertime.”

—Jodi Smith, alcohol and drug counselor

18. Go bananas

Chiquita says the average American eats 27 pounds of bananas a year, but don’t let that stop you from squeezing in a few more at Sacramento’s annual Banana Festival. The event offers music and children’s activities, but the real appeal is the food. Journey beyond basic banana chips and breads to sample banana lumpias, taffy, pudding, burgers and even banana ice tea. Orange you glad you put the Banana Festival on your calendar? It’s on August 18 and 19.

Banana Festival, William Land Park, 1401 Sutterville Road; (916) 320-9573;


19. Lick an avocado popsicle

Frankly, the idea of an avocado-lime popsicle didn’t seem very appetizing at first. Isn’t that just frozen guacamole? Then I remembered how much I love guacamole. When I actually tasted the avocado-and-Kaffir-lime popsicle, made by Fat Face gourmond Jaymes Luu and sold at Bows & Arrows, all bets were off. The combination takes the best elements of both ingredients—creamy avocado and tangy lime—and combines them in an icy treat that’s more refreshing than anything you’d put on tortilla chips. An absolute taste heaven!

Bows & Arrows, 1815 19th Street; (916) 822-5668;


20. Battle triple-digit temps with a Merlino’s Freeze

“Must have a Merlino’s Freeze when it gets hot. There is nothing better. Strawberry and orange are my favorites, but they’re all good.”

—Edie Lambert, KCRA 3 News Anchor

Keep a close watch on your food at the dog-friendly Juno’s Kitchen & Delicatessen.

Photo By wes davis

21. Learn your wines

If you’re like me and don’t know the difference between a pinot noir and a chardonnay, a trip to Old Sugar Mill might be in order. Representing eight wineries, Old Sugar Mill brings a chance to educate your palate on a variety of vineyard flavors. It’s open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., so there’s no excuse not to drop by.

Old Sugar Mill, 35265 Willow Avenue in Clarksburg; (916) 744-1615;


22. Dine with your dog

There’s no more perfect combination than an excellent meal with your most treasured companion: the dog. Juno’s Kitchen & Delicatessen offers sandwiches, burgers, main dishes and salads to fit the bill. Grab a bottle of wine or beer from a neighborhood shop, then swing by East Sac’s most relaxing, four-legged-friend friendly dinner experience. The burger—tomato jam instead of sliced ones!—wins, as do the occasional specials. If the dog’s being cranky, grab something to go. Four paws up for Juno’s.

Juno’s Kitchen & Delicatessen, 3675 J Street; (916) 456-4522;