Our Locals' Most Recommended F2F Restaurants
Sacramento, California is 'America's Farm to Fork Capitol.' But what does that mean?
If you click here, you can read as the city's most famous local chefs give their take on what that distinction means. But we'll defer to The Kitchen's Kelly McCown, who said it best: "On the east coast, a chef writes a menu, then finds a product. In Sacramento, the chef gets the product delivered [straight from the farmer], then writes the menu."
Ella Dining Room & Bar
Ella was, by far, the most recommended spot in all of Sacramento. Vivek Ranadive who owns the NBA's Sacramento Kings proclaimed, 'Lunch at Ella is really healthy, with lots of fresh ingredients that you know came straight from the farm.'
Ella's Chef Rob Lind laid it out cleanly, 'I think we've got the most beautiful restaurant in all of Sacramento. The setting is incredible, with floor-to-ceiling windows and our menu changes by day and by week based on seasonality. It's a rustic elegance. There are no white tablecloths. You can come in in a suit and tie, or walk-in in shorts and flip-flops and feel comfortable no matter what.'
The Crocker Art Museum's Lial Jones shared, "The Waterboy has been around for twenty years. It's always consistent, good, food. California Farm to Fork. Rick Mahan is just a great owner and chef. The Waterboy is just a really wonderful place to go. It's my Cheers."
When Visit Sacramento asked local chefs, 'What restaurants are doing Farm to Fork really well?' Mulvaney's B&L was almost always included. Chef Patrick Mulvaney says, 'We're seasonal to the nth degree because we have that kind of access.'
Ginger Elizabeth Hahn's 'Ultimate Day in Sacramento?' "I would stuff my face at Kru." We couldn't agree more. It was the best sushi we've ever tasted. Chef/Owner Billy Ngo shared, 'We do sushi, but we also incorporate a lot of little cool things from local farms. They will bring stuff up to us and then we have to come up with a new dish based on the stuff they bring. We do really cool small plates and dishes with all their produce, and that's what makes us different."
"The Kitchen can take it to another level, which is quite impressive," gushes the Food Literacy Center's Amber Stott.
The Kitchen Chef Kelly McCown shared what makes them stand out. "When you come to The Kitchen, it's your night. You can do whatever you want. If you want cookie dough, you can come take it out of the freezer. If you want to come on up and help us cook, you can do that too. Recently, one of our guests wanted a Grilled Cheese with some 40s of Old English. Our whole premise is that it's your night, and it's a big, gregarious dinner part when you're here."
Chef Michael Thiemann shared, "Empress Tavern is my nod to the Crest Theatre, which has been around for a hundred plus years. Its original name was Empress Beauty and I wanted to create something that felt like it has been unearthed, or that it's been open for a hundred years. I wanted it to be carvery, simple, really homey food that's cooked well, with the responsibility of keeping it real local."
"You see this guy Brad Cecchi who runs Canon on 34th Street. He started with us at Mulvaney's, then went to The Grange and after that, went to Cleveland to open Urban Farmer. He got his Michelin Star, and now he came back home," shared Patrick Mulvaney. Sacramento's chefs know talent when they see it and Brad, Clay, and Canon were recommended highly and often.
Identity Coffee's Lucky Rodrigues shared that, "Mother is a vegetarian spot on K Street that is one of the more unique restaurants in Sacramento. It's a vegetarian spot and their chefs are outstanding. It's this teeny, funky little - maybe fifteen seats - spot right on K Street in Downtown. Michael, who's the dude that runs that place, is just this awesome chef. Mother is legit!"
Chef Michael Thiemann gave a bit more context on their mission: "We wanted to be focused on the cooking, the vegetables, and highlighting the seasons and being a representation of what's available in town at that moment. Our menu is basically a grab bag of whatever we get delivered fresh throughout the year. I wanted Mother to be Sacramento's quintessential restaurant."
The Selland Family's OBO' and Selland's Market Cafe
In addition to owning Ella and The Kitchen, Selland Family Restaurants operates OBO' Italian and Selland's Market Cafe. Ella's Rob Lind shares that, "The Selland Family embraces the Farm to Fork culture of Sacramento. We have one guy who goes to the Farmer's Market with a Selland Family and he takes orders from each chef. Literally, tomorrow he's going to grab me a case of artichokes, a case of avocados, two gallons of lemon juice and some mandarin oranges. We have a presence at each Farmer's Market as much as we can, just hand selecting ingredients."
Hawks Provisions and Public House
Canon's Chef Brad Cecchi says Hawks Provisions and Public House is playing a big role in reshaping East Sacramento's food scene. "There's this resurgence of people who understand food a little bit better, and a younger demographic that's moving in. There's a more progressive cuisine that's coming this way, which has given us in East Sacramento the ability to develop our own identity within Sacramento's broader food scene."