Greg Sabin

Food Writer

About This Author

Greg Sabin is a nationally published food writer, actor, improvisational comedian, banjo player and financial planner. He does not wear hats.

Articles by this author

C’est Splendide

No restaurant around Sacramento is quite like Franquette, the French-inspired bistro in West Sac’s Bridge District. Combining French dishes, coffee and wine with a California casualness, this year-old business fills missing pieces in the local culinary scene.

But first a question. Where have all the French restaurants gone? Look around and you need one hand to count the places focused on Gallic gastronomy. Arden-Arcade’s Plan B Restaurant is a standout with its insanely good mussels. A few others might come to mind.

But since the closure of Café Rolle in 2019, and given the popularity and trendiness of foods from previously overlooked cuisines, French cooking isn’t having a moment.

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Seeds Of Tomorrow

On a winter’s afternoon, golden light casts shadows over a fence that marks the Harper Junior High School garden. I walk with Meghan Covert Russell, executive director of the Davis Farm to School program, and Garry Pearson, who coordinates garden volunteers. Green tips and soft leaves of garlic, spinach, beets, sugar snap peas, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower unfold on the ground.

As we walk the garden rows, wider than normal to allow access, Pearson says he sees kids with their counselors come to the garden to “just veg out.” Covert Russell explains how the garden, “especially after COVID, connects students to each other and their school sites again. They get their hands dirty, and have the best time pulling weeds.”

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Savory Sounds

When Joe and Kai Gilman opened their restaurant, Twin Lotus Thai, early in 2022, they had no intention of turning it into a music venue.

Joe says the business was an “empty-nest” project for his wife Kai. But the humble spot in College Greens quickly became one of Sacramento’s best jazz rooms.

How did this transformation happen within 12 months? It’s no mystery once you know the Gilmans.

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Neighborhood Vibe

When restaurant partners Chris Sinclair, Raphael Jimenez Rivera and Matt Brown created Bodega, they wanted an East Coast feel with Caribbean flair. It’s a taste of home they can share with their West Coast neighborhood.

“In New York and New Jersey you can get Puerto Rican food, Caribbean food almost everywhere,” Sinclair tells me. “It’s as common as tacos are out here on the West Coast.”

The neighborhood approves. The reception has been stellar since Bodega’s August opening. Diners come from around the corner and across the region to visit the Pocket shopping center where the restaurant sits.

Despite rave reviews, Sinclair thinks of Bodega as a humble neighborhood bar and family restaurant. “Two of the three owners live in the neighborhood, and all of us have kids,” he says. “We want neighbors to come out for a lively dinner, families to come over after the soccer game, and everything in between.”

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Sail Away At Jayna Gyro

Jayna Gyro is easy to miss. The corner of Alhambra and Folsom boulevards sports several chain eateries, and, without a closer look, Jayna Gyro blends in and disappears.

But take that extra look. You’ll learn this new Mediterranean restaurant paints outside the lines of “fast-casual” and brings an unexpected level of sophistication.

Jayna, the third California restaurant of Yusuf Topal and his ownership partners, improves the relationship between casual and fine dining. It’s no wonder. Topal’s other restaurants, Tarla Mediterranean Grill in Napa and the first Jayna Gyro in Emeryville, sit proudly in the upmarket and quick-eats categories.

Sacramento’s version of Jayna blends the best of these worlds. It’s an order-at-the-counter place with a narrowly focused menu and small drink menu. But lurking in the peripheral vision is an interior bright with touches of the Greek isles.

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