Growing up in Sacramento in the 1980s, I could easily count the number of Thai restaurants. Today, keeping count is almost impossible. The region supports around 100 Thai places. And it’s not just a city thing. I’ve seen Thai restaurants in Susanville and Alturas.
It’s no wonder. Signature Thai flavors pull together sweet and savory, sour and bitter. Fresh vegetables and rich, pungent sauces deliver satisfying fare. Rice dishes, noodle dishes, curries and small bites create varied and exciting meals any day of the week.
Midtown is a special place. Ask anyone who’s lived, visited or worked there. It’s a fun, funky, homey, bustling village. It’s got abundant history and a bright future. But ask a handful of long-time Sacramentans what that history is, or what the future looks like, and you’re likely to get several different answers.
Local historian William Burg can talk about colorful characters, crime and architecture. Brian Crall, founder of Sacramento Comedy Spot, has run a successful arts organization in the heart of Midtown for a decade. He can describe the joys and challenges of trying to succeed in the part of town that many outsiders treat as a “party house.”
Sacramento has an impressive lineup of burger options during normal times. Willie’s Burgers, Flaming Grill Cafe, Burgers and Brew, Squeeze Inn and Pangaea Bier Cafe all boast some notable burgers. Each one, and many more that I haven’t named, brings its own unique take on the humble burger, and serves it up with an admirable lineup of beers and sides to boot.
Locals can count ourselves lucky that the selection is still broad—and the quality is still high. Even after we’ve seen several burger-slinging favorites like Jim Denny’s, Nationwide Freezer Meats and Tiny’s close during the last few decades, many old joints remain, while new purveyors have hit the scene.
With more shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, and fewer options to interact with local food-service small businesses, it’s harder and harder to enjoy a simple trip to get a sandwich or grab a cup of coffee. Dining rooms are off limits and the weather is just a bit too cold most days to dine outside.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever to find those quick grab-and-go outposts that offer safe and convenient locations with delicious food and customer care.
We’ve seen more than a few food fads in the last decade. Most of them, for the betterment of the local food scene, have stuck. Food trucks appear here to stay. Poke joints, though fewer in number than before COVID shutdowns, are still plentiful and delicious. The resurgence of old-school barbecue seems like a permanent fixture on the West Coast.
The latest of these fads is, without a doubt, Nashville hot chicken. Four restaurants have opened in the last year that serve the geographically specific and orally intense chicken dish. It’s a niche, but one that is deliciously filled by the flavorful and sometimes overwhelming fried chicken first made famous in Music City.