It’s so good to be here with you. Really, the pleasure is all mine. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than six months but not quite a year that I have been writing to you about local restaurants. I’m sure if you’ve followed throughout you could get a good idea where I live, because while I’m down to experiment and try new restaurants, I’m not as willing to explore the Sacramento’s outer regions. I feel I have tried almost every kind of food available in the six-mile region, and while it could be said I’m easy to please, I’m glad that for the most part I haven’t had to write a negative review. Congratulations to you, Sacramento restaurants. People don’t refer to this city as a dine-out town just because of the abundance of eating establishments.
This week, instead of spending money and then trying to convince you to try a spot out, I’m going to save a couple bucks and remind you of all the great restaurants I visited in the first volume of this column. Don’t worry; it’s not another “best of” list, but rather a refresher on what’s fresh—and, of course, what’s not.
In my time at the dinner table that is Sacramento, by far the one restaurant where I wish I could eat every day is Tamaya, located at 2131 J St. It is the best sushi in town, and they crush the competition across the board. One of my biggest peeves with sushi restaurants is that some places use the same sauce(s) on every roll to the point that everything starts to taste the same. That is not the case with Tamaya, which has an extensive menu and equally creative pairings of flavors. The prices match or beat any other sushi restaurant, and their quantities are ridiculous in the best way possible. I had a sushi spot I frequented regularly, but after one meal at Tamaya, I haven’t been back. Trust that.
From the uncooked to the slow-cooked, my most memorable review has to be my visit to Sandra Dee’s (601 15th St.). My Southern state experience doesn’t venture out of Austin, Texas, so you could say my BBQ palate is amateur at best, but Sandra Dee’s has turned me out. When friends come to town, it’s where I take them—and needless to say, they get turned out too. Their ribs literally fall off the bone, and their BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Their Po’ Boy sandwiches are packed with flavor, their fried chicken is flawless and their seafood is everything I’ve mentioned and then some. I’ve been countless times since and have never had anything short of an incredible meal. Deciding what to eat is hard enough, but choosing a side order even more difficult when faced with options like mac and cheese, hush puppies, red beans and rice and more. As the saying goes, “It’s all good.”
I suppose from the slow-cooked, a good segue would be cooked on a spit? Opa! Opa! was the biggest surprise of all the spots I have reviewed. I’d driven by this place hundreds of times, but I couldn’t get past the decor from the outside. It looked like it could be a chain restaurant, but I couldn’t have been more off. There aren’t many affordable lunch/dinner spots that can boast a menu created by an in-house chef, but Opa! Opa! not only has an incredibly dense menu, it is also very unique from other Mediterranean restaurants. They definitely had fun with the menu: alongside Mediterranean mainstays like the beef and lamb or chicken gyro, they also offered up interesting dishes such as a Greek meatloaf (lamb) and pita pizzas. I still have flashbacks to my barbecued leg of lamb sandwich and the rich feta and goat cheese spread. Opa! Opa! is located at 5644 J St., don’t sleep!
With the good comes the bad. Coincidentally, the one bad review I gave is to a restaurant that is no longer open. My apologies to Fins. I didn’t know my words held so much weight in this town, but you honestly didn’t think that white linen tablecloths, high prices and red plastic baskets would be a winning formula, did you?