Sac eats the world

The city’s diversity is the source of its (edible) pride

The word’s out: Sacramento has amazing food. We’re the capital of California, yes, and we’re also a capital of agricultural America. A quarter of the nation’s food is grown in the Central Valley. It only makes sense that the metro crowning today’s fertile crescent—with quick access to fresh produce—would be cooking up new culinary ideas.

But, as everyone who lives here knows, we’re much more than an ag town. And to become known as a worthy food destination requires more than farm-to-fork branding.

Think of some of the world’s best food cities: London. New York. Lima. Istanbul. Hong Kong. What do they all have in common? It’s certainly not that they’re sitting next to farmland.

To become a restaurant haven worth traveling to, a city must welcome not just tourists, but travelers seeking a permanent home. Immigrants. It must welcome new people, customs and ways of approaching the same old ingredients, serving not just scrambled eggs but also jidori eggs, egg tarts, quiche, huevos rancheros and Afghani eggs. The frisson between time-honored traditions creates new, exciting ones.

Long before Donald Trump’s presidency, California welcomed immigrants, and in these uncertain times, has opened its borders as a sanctuary state. Sacramento in particular has served as a welcoming outpost for far-flung newcomers. Multiple times, it’s been called out in lists of the most diverse American cities.

The edible fruit of that melange is visible driving through Little Saigon or North Highlands, in our proliferation of Vietnamese, Korean, Afghani, West African, Moroccan and Slavic restaurants and groceries.

Here are just a sampling of the stories behind Sac’s immigrant-owned restaurants and the journeys their chefs and businesspeople went through to arrive here. Your plate has traveled a long way to your fork—not just from the farm. Ω