Best food in Sacramento: Readers pick favorite restaurants

The Sacramento Bee’s food writers named 42 of the region’s 50 best restaurants earlier this month. Now customers have their say.

Over the past two weeks, more than 1,000 readers told us about the snubs and exclusions from the original list to round out the Top 50. Out of all the restaurants in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties, readers decided these eight deserved to make the cut.

See the full list here.

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Anthony’s Italian Cuisine

1518 W. El Camino Ave., Sacramento

Anthony’s Italian Cuisine’s lasagna is one of the most popular dinners at the Sacramento restaurant. Xavier Mascareñas [email protected]

Red-and-white checkered tablecloths are just the start. Anthony’s is a traditional Italian pasta house, content to throw around words like tetrazzini and mostaccioli in a town where few others still do the same. Yet it’s no nonna behind the scenes: Owner Abe Ruiz, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Jalisco in the 1980s and promptly began washing dishes at a Italian restaurant, opened the Discovery Plaza institution in 2004 and continues to run it with his wife Patty and five kids. Pizza, seafood and chicken or veal plates round out a step back in time with a distinctly Californian backstory. Read More:


7600 Greenhaven Dr., Suite 23, Sacramento

Cacio e pepe pasta at Cacio in the Greenhaven in Sacramento. José Luis Villegas Sacramento Bee file

Cacio could well be the Greenhaven neighborhood’s best restaurant — no others were selected by critics among The Bee’s Top 50; readers nominated it and the last restaurant on this list. Industry veterans Jonathan Kierksick and Katie Kinner-Kiersick opened their understated Italian restaurant in 2018 after years at high-end restaurants such as Grange, Piatti and Esquire Grill. Named for the simple Parmesan-and-pepper pasta that he cooked her early in their relationship, Cacio’s daily shifting menu might include orecchiette with housemade fennel sausage or prawns, arugula and preserved tomatoes over fregola on a given night, always with a strong wine list. A limited number of takeout slots typically fill up quickly, so place your dinner order online as soon after noon as possible. Read More:

Flour Dust Pizza Co.

People really like Flour Dust: Bee readers voted Mano and Stefanie Vrapi’s year-old pizzeria the region’s best in a December poll, and it still has five stars on Yelp after more than 200 reviews. An Albanian immigrant and graduate of Bivero Pizza Academy in Florence, Italy, Mano dreams up inventive flavor combinations on pies like the Ali’s Special (crushed pistachios, ricotta, goat cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, habanero honey, fresh basil and red onions) or the Kami (housemade Italian sausage, puréed Calabrian peppers, spicy feta sauce, mozzarella, red onions and Parmesan), with a robust salad selection for the health-conscious. The Vrapis started selling Flour Dust pizzas out of a converted 60-year-old truck in 2016, and continue to roll it out for catering gigs from Davis to El Dorado Hills.

Jamie’s Broadway Grille

427 Broadway, Sacramento

Chris Kahue, left, and Kevin Piombo talk over lunch at Jamie’s Bar and Grill on Broadway street in 2006. Kevin German Sacramento Bee file

Jamie’s seems, in theory, like the kind of restaurant Sacramento might have lost during the pandemic. A venerable, signless dive known for its large, juicy cuts of meat, tight quarters and old-timey ambiance, the 62-year-old restaurant’s future has been murky since it was listed for sale in 2018 after patriarch Jamie Bunnell’s death the previous year. The garlic steak sandwich made with filet mignon and award-winning clam chowder have migrated to the back patio and takeout containers, though, and many longtime fans have done their part to keep the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives darling alive. Don’t miss a specials board with nearly as much steak and seafood as the permanent menu.

Koshi Ramen Bar

3581 Truxel Rd., Suite 2, Sacramento

A long, narrow strip in Natomas Marketplace, the 2-year-old Koshi has quickly jumped to the top of Sacramento’s ramen scene. It’s a mix of old and new at John Tran and Debbie Cun’s restaurant, with full-length windows and flat-screen TVs offset by wooden shutters and clay pots. Tonkatsu and black garlic ramen are the stars, both made from a 12-hour scratch pork broth, though people rave about grilled whole squid starter and unagi over rice as well. Sister restaurant Koshi Eats in south Sacramento’s Delta Shores shopping center carries a slightly expanded ramen list plus sushi and bento boxes.

Mezcal Grill

1620 W. El Camino Ave., Suite 172, Sacramento and 5701 Broadway, Suite C, Sacramento

Mireya Valencia’s backyard carne asada cookouts evolved into south Natomas’ original Mezcal Grill in 2009, and the Uruapan native celebrated her restaurant’s 10-year anniversary by expanding to Tahoe Park. Mezcal Grill draws influences from all 32 Mexican states as well as Cali-Mex cooking, but Valenica’s roots shine through in Michoacán-style carnitas, pozole and menudo. You’ll also find Mexico City-style molletes — open-faced sandwiches topped with refried beans, melted jack cheese and meat — as well as avocado toast fashioned from bolillos, the bread normally filled with torta fixings. The bar lives up to its name too, with more than 70 different tequilas or mezcals.


Multiple locations

RB In Season 4.JPG
Sushi chef Taro Arai makes a sushi creation with rice, green onion, jalapeno peppers, lemon, tuna and rum that he called “Volcano Rice” at Mikuni restaurant in Sacramento in 2011.

Taro Arai’s local sushi chain — outposts include midtown Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Davis, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks and Arden Fair Mall — is a date night staple for good reason. Mikuni is extremely approachable for sushi newbies (with ramen and bento boxes for the fish-averse) and still respected by seasoned eaters. A finely-tuned curbside pickup system has helped staff pump out $90 takeout platters of mixed nigiri or sashimi throughout the pandemic, or simply drop one of several dozen items under 500 calories from a karui — Japanese for “light” — menu. There’s something for every group, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t enjoy their meal at Mikuni.

Phở Bác Hoa Viet

3110 Bradshaw Rd., 6645 Stockton Blvd., Suite 300 and 7600 Greenhaven Dr., Suite 9, all in Sacramento

Owner Huan Pham holds a chicken banh mi, the second most popular item next to their pho, at Phở Bác Hoa Viet on Stockton Boulevard. Paul Kitagaki Jr. [email protected]

A reach that once spanned West Sacramento to Placerville has shrunk, but Huan Pham’s local chain still has plenty of loyalists in its 30th year of business. Phở Bác Hoa Viet’s walls are adorned with pictures of the brave souls who successfully completed the cheekily-named Pho King Challenge (2 pounds of noodles and 2 pounds of meat in under an hour, no standing up). While soup remains the main draw, a long menu delves into banh xeo tacos, ube wontons and banh mi topped with sunny-side-up eggs. Bonus points for being one of Sacramento’s best vegetarian-friendly Vietnamese restaurants.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

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