Moveable Feasts Favorites close,...
Willie’s, the Sacramento burger institution, is a three-restaurant, two-generation juggernaut that has kept thousands of locals well fed and happy for three decades. Opened in 1991, with one small Downtown location, the brand grew. Now each Willie’s has its own identity and owner.
The original location, 16th and Broadway, is a boisterous gem. Slinging Willie’s signature burgers (hammers) and chili burgers (slammers) late into the night, the spot is a magnet for after-concert goers, restaurant workers and hungry neighbors.
Madar Afghan Food and Bakery is tucked into a strip mall on the corner of Marconi and Fulton avenues. The little restaurant brings Afghan flavors and American expectations together in a smart and delicious package.
How smart? So smart I was convinced Madar was part of a chain. It’s not, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. From the slick logo font, focused menu and navigable website, this place doesn’t feel like a small, independent restaurant. It’s a machine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dozen Madars in Northern California over the next few years.
Madar opened in April 2020. That was a tough time, one month into COVID-19 restrictions. But the crew at Madar persevered.
All In The Family
Odds are you’ve driven by Adamo’s Kitchen without knowing it. The tiny Italian restaurant at P and 21st streets in Midtown doesn’t stick out, and that’s how owners Chiara and John Adamo want it. Theirs is a neighborhood joint with just enough seats for those in the know.
Opened in the summer of 2014—“I only remember because we doodled our names and date in the soft concrete when we were renovating” Chiara tells me—Adamo’s was not a restaurant that aimed for a big splash.
Yet, through nine years of hard work and considerable skill, the Adamo family curated passionate patrons who come from near and far for handmade pastas, all-day sauces, and the Mama and Nona recipes that fill the menu.
John and Chiara Adamo, father and daughter, never owned or ran a restaurant before, but it was something they always wanted to do. When brother and son Polo returned in 2016 from cooking at Gary Danko, one of San Francisco’s most prestigious restaurants, the family operation was complete.
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.