For years, we’ve attended special events in Sacramento’s downtown area, taking in shows at the old Crest Theatre, the Wells Fargo Music Circus, the Community Center Theater as well as the old B Street Theatre complex.
For dining and nightlife, we’ve always targeted the Old Sacramento area or Midtown Sacramento for nice restaurants, bars and après-theater forays. We stayed clear of the K Street mall area and surrounding streets, thinking the area “too gloomy and no action.” I’m here to tell you — all that has changed with the opening of the Golden 1 Center in fall 2016.
Since the new arena opened as home to the Sacramento Kings basketball team, downtown foot traffic is up well over 10 percent; on nights of King’s games and other big shows, foot traffic can increase much more, turning the area into a lively people-scene. Like King’s rookies in training camp each season, new restaurants and nightspots have popped up near the flashy new performing arts center; 13 new restaurants have opened near the arena, with nine more soon to follow. Those numbers add up to more than 100 restaurants populating the downtown district.
Notes Michael Ault, head of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, “Downtown Sacramento has really evolved into a vibrant, one-of-a-kind dining experience. From the Old Sacramento waterfront into downtown and midtown, we’ve become somewhat of a mecca in recent years with some of the country’s most talented chefs taking advantage of our abundant local, fresh ingredients. As a result, high-quality restaurants are proliferating — from casual eats to special occasion dining — and more are on the way.”
A few personal suggestions in the downtown area around the Golden 1 Center:
• The Diplomat Steakhouse, 1117 11th St, offering prime meat dishes and seafood, and tasty appetizers like raw ahi sushi with avocado and mango guacamole on fried wontons. “They are very popular” noted bartender Joel, in the 10 days the new steakhouse has been open.
• Echo and Rig Butcher & Steakhouse, in the Sawyer Hotel, 500 J St., a new, classy restaurant with both dining room and outdoor patio, getting great reviews.
• Tequila Museo Mayahuel, offering fine Mexican food including a tequila museum at 1200 K St.
• Frank Fat’s — the old standard with beautiful décor and fantastic fried rice, 806 L St.
• Sauced, serving up BBQ and brews, just east of Golden 1, 1028 7th St.
• Capital Hop Shop, a new taproom with lots of hoppy options, 1431 I St.
Old Sacramento, just to the west of the arena, remains a center of dining and noshing options. On the waterfront, the Rio City Café, 1110 Front St. and the Pilot House Restaurant on the grand old riverboat Delta King (built in 1923 in Stockton), at 1000 Front St., offers riverfront views, nostalgia and fine food. The Firehouse, always a favorite at 1112 2nd Stt., Knobs and Knockers, 1203 A Front St., serves up German beers, pretzels and knockwurst (downstairs, music on the weekends will signal the location), and Fanny Ann’s Saloon, 1023 2nd St., with quick beers and great burgers, are all good options.
In Midtown, the new $29 million Sophia Theater complex recently opened at 27th Street and Capitol Avenue, attracting lively crowds with a 250 seat Mainstage Theater and a 365 seat adjoining Children’s Theater, first class and intimate venues. Nearby, venture to Paragary’s, 1401 28th St., with the coolest outdoor garden, dining and drinks area and varied, reasonable menu, or Biba’s, 2801 Capital Ave., for classy decor and fine Italian dishes.
Desserts? Don’t overlook the old standby, Rick’s Dessert Diner, at 2401 J St., where fresh, delicious pastries, tortes, cheesecakes, pies and cakes will round out your gourmet downtown evening.
Walking, parking? Sacramento’s Old Sac/downtown/midtown area has become eminently walkable, and surface lots and parking decks are sprinkled throughout the area. For big events at Golden 1, we usually park in public parking lots under the I-5 freeway in Old Sacramento, near the California Railroad Museum. Uber, Lyft, cabs, pedicabs and RT light rail also serve the area, should walking between destinations become a bit too far.
For more information, on downtown happenings and business guide, go to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, downtownsac.org, (916) 442-8575. For events at the Golden 1 Center, Music Circus, the Community Center Theater and the Sophia Theater, go to Visit Sacramento, visitsacramento.com, (916) 226-5783.
Contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in the west.