Trendy tacos

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Bring it, Bay Area: An upscale taqueria opened in Oak Park last week, in the same two-block radius as other hip businesses like Vibe Health Bar, Old Soul and Oak Park Brewing.

The spacious La Venadita (3501 3rd Avenue) features exposed brick walls, vibrant colors, plenty of seating, vintage light fixtures and a cocktail menu. Concept-wise, there isn’t anything in Sacramento quite like it. It feels trendy, but not fancy. Service is casual, counter-style. Prices fall below Mayahuel, Zocalo and Cielito Lindo Gastronomy, as does the ambition of the menu. There’s no steak dinner to be had here.

Instead, there are a few tacos ($3.50), including carnitas, cheese and pico de gallo in a crispy shell; and fried fish with arbol aioli and the usual fixings. An intriguing vegetarian option: a quesadilla ($7.50) with criminis, asparagus, goat cheese and poblano cream. Mole fans should take note of the dinner-only enchilada ($12) with chicken, mole coloradito, black beans and rice.

La Venadita comes from Tom Schnetz, a Sacramento native who owns a few popular restaurants in the Bay Area. Last year, he helped open the Cinders, a bar on Auburn Boulevard with craft cocktails. He has a reputation for opening concepts in still-developing neighborhoods on the cusp of their explosion.

If his expansion through the Bay Area is an indication, expect more.

Curry time: We got a few new Indian restaurants in the past few weeks. I’m particularly excited about Sahej India Grill (3025 West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento), for one of those it’s-a-small-world reasons. I went to their restaurant in a suburb of Atlanta multiple times and always walked away impressed. Here, the family will also serve pizza, some loaded with curry sauces and other Indian ingredients.

There’s also Kabab N Tikka (7622 Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights), which replaced Bamiyan Afghan Restaurant. The space looks more upscale now, specializing in Pakistani-Indian cuisine.

Kabab King (4740 Natomas Boulevard in Natomas) is also new and also specializes in Pakistani-Indian food. In addition to the expected curries and tandoori dishes, it serves a few naan wraps.

Lifetime supply of doughnuts: You could win daily free sugar rushes in exchange for getting a tattoo of the Donut Madness (2648 Watt Avenue) logo. Enter the contest in the shop through Friday, May 20. Read more on SN&R’s blog, Page Burner, at