Where there’s smoke

SN&R Illustration By Mark Stivers

Café au Crème

4340 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95820

(916) 736-2717

Are there any two foods with more opposite connotations than barbecue and espresso? The former is all about slow smoking, lazy days and gnawing ribs at hot-weather picnics; the latter is steam pressure and moving fast. And yet you’ll find them both in the same place at Café au Crème , a likeable if unusual barbecue joint/espresso bar on Stockton Boulevard. There’s a smoker and a haze out front, and a short but worthy barbecue menu. For us, the three-way dinner with choice of ribs, chicken, hot links and tri-tip, and two sides (we had brown-sugary baked beans and tasty mac and cheese) was plenty for two adults plus a kid. It had all the smoky flavor you could want—I especially liked the chicken, an oft-neglected piece—and a mild yet tangy clove-scented barbecue sauce. I’ve tried the espresso drinks and they’re fine, too, but in the dog days of summer, I prefer lazing about with some ’cue.