Spice it up

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Dreamers: Food-based businesses tend to do well in the Downtown Business Partnership’s Calling All Dreamers competition, which lets the public vote for a business it wants to see open downtown. And then it actually opens: candy shop Andy’s Candy Apothecary and Metro Kitchen + Drinkery (see Dish page 18) are both direct results of the annual contest.

The latest is the Allspicery (1125 11th Street), which opened last week selling more than 200 spices, herbs, blends, chiles, fancy salts and more. The downtown shop’s walls are lined with jars full of some familiar names, like cumin and sage, as well as more unusual offerings, like urfa biber, epazote and ras el hanout. The idea is that instead of driving out to all of Sacramento’s ethnic markets—or ordering spices online—you can buy all the seasoning for your Thai or Ethiopian or Israeli recipe in one place, by weight.

Voting for this year’s contest starts soon. Among the semifinalists: Cru Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker; Gaucho Garcia, a South American fast-casual eatery specializing in empanadas; Milk and Sugar Lab, which would make made-to-order ice cream using a special frozen surface; Oblivion Comics & Coffee, a cafe pairing comics and artisanal toast; Pop Shop, an old-timey soda fountain from Burly Beverages (see Drink Me); and the Crafted Cream, a soft serve-focused, contemporary dessert bar from Puur Chocolat. Yeah, it all sounds pretty absurdly hip. Sacramento 3.0, right? Read more at http://downtownsac.org.

Lunchable: It’s been months since Block Butcher Bar (1050 20th Street) first promised lunch service, but it’s finally here. You can now head to Block for sandwiches, salads, charcuterie and supposedly “grown-up Lunchables” for a grab-and-go option. In partnership with Liquidology, Block will also serve cold-pressed juice and juice-based cocktails.

Yet another poke shop: Yeah, yeah. I know. How could we possibly care about another build-your-own poke bowl place? Well, Zuma Poke & Lush Ice (730 Third Street in Davis) is the only place in the region to also serve true Hawaiian-style, premarinated poke. Zuma further shows its island dedication with Hawaiian beers and boozy, soju-infused shave ice.

Market news: The Midtown Farmers Market recently expanded another block down 20th toward L Street. That means more room for farmers’ summer bounties and more nonfarmers selling crafty wares.