When you want the best, you go to the source. Sacramento California, is America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, where farm-fresh eating is de rigueur. Walk into any of the many locally owned restaurants in the city, and you’re likely to find special menu items with seasonal ingredients from farms, ranches, breweries, and wineries within 50 miles of the city.
Restaurants such as Mulvaney’s B&L, Ella Dining Room and Bar, and Grange Restaurant and Bar are the top dining experiences in the city. Chefs shop at farmers’ markets every day and tailor their menus to fit what’s fresh. Accompanying craft cocktails feature unique ingredients for new creations as well as fresh takes on the classics.
However, you don’t need to go to four- or five-star restaurants to find a memorable meal in Sacramento. Head to Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Company, a locally owned restaurant and bar in a converted Quonset hut, and you’ll likely see a customer drop by with oranges just picked from the tree that will find their way into cocktails.
Sacramento is no stranger to the food spotlight – from the annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration in September that draws 50,000 people to its signature events to the local favorites featured on Food Network such as Jim Denny’s, The Golden Bear, and even a food truck or two, the city is in its heyday as a food destination.
The resurgent interest in food comes as Sacramento embraces its agricultural heritage. The city and its surrounding region have 7,000 to 8,000 acres of boutique farms as well as large agriculture industry. California’s capital city grows so much food, that about 80 percent of it is exported. Sacramento farmers make so much rice that a large portion of it is shipped to Japan for use in sushi, 80 percent of US-produced caviar comes from just outside the city, and Sacramento is the clearinghouse for almond growing in the central valley, which accounts for 80 percent of the world’s almond production.
When it comes to what grows, Sacramento isn’t limited to produce. Midtown restaurant Lucca is owned by the same people who own Lucky Dog Ranch, which humanely raises cows that are grass-fed, antibiotic-free and provide excellent beef used in restaurants and sold at some of Sacramento’s 50 farmers markets.
One of Sacramento’s legacy industries is beer. Once home to the largest brewery west of the Mississippi, Sacramento’s German and Swiss immigrants were some of the foremost brewers in pre-Prohibition America. Though beer production went largely dormant after Prohibition, in the past decade Sacramento has experienced a brewing Renaissance and now boasts more than 30 area craft breweries. J-E Paino, owner of Ruhstaller Brewing Company, is fond of saying “We grow beer”. The hops used in the company’s beers are grown right outside the city, and other breweries follow suit. After the beer production is done, leftover grains are sent to farms for use as feed, one step in ensuring that the agricultural bounty gets maximum use.
Wine is as big in Sacramento as food, and Sacramento is centrally located in California’s wine country. Appellations including Amador, El Dorado, Lodi, and Calaveras are just a quick trip to the foothills, and the award-winning wines of Clarksburg such as Bogle Vineyards are just a 15-minute drive from downtown Sacramento. One of the top US producers of sake, Gekkeikan Sake, is also local to Sacramento.
There are many food tour options and classes in Sacramento. They include tours of the Ruhstaller hopyard, wine country tours, exploration of Sacramento history and food with Local Roots Food Tours, local farm tours, and even a “follow the chef” tour with the head chef of Grange, who leads tours of the Cesar Chavez farmers’ market before preparing a custom meal with the items purchased.
As the star on the map of California, Sacramento is home to world-class museums, the State Capitol, exciting outdoor adventure opportunities such as rafting and cycling, and Old Sacramento ( see more at sacramento rafting), the 28-acre historic district that was the epicenter of the California Gold Rush. When you come to Sacramento, you get the authentic California experience.