El Patron Cinco de Mayo Festival

This weekend, you could put on a sombrero and drink a Corona Light like a guero. Or, you could go to the best Mexican restaurant in town and enjoy the widest selection of premium tequila in the area. It is up to you, hombre.

El Patron at 66th and Folsom is one of our few establishments serving gourmet Mexican cuisine, and they will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo all weekend. With more than 40 brands and 100 different 100% agave tequilas, you owe it to yourself to enjoy a taste of real cultura Mexicana. Check out the schedule of events.

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Lucy’s Taqueria

Before I get into the disappointment that is Lucy’s Taqueria, I’d like to discuss a matter of some import: namely, what is a “taqueria” exactly?  Many terms are tossed around when naming Mexican restaurants and Mexican businesses of all sorts, so I wanted to give you a quick reference guide that might help you navigate the Spanish language businesses in your area.  Oh, come on, no need to thank me, I’m just happy to be here.

Here’s a quick list of some of the more common nomenclature used in Spanish language businesses for your reference (NOTE:  if any native Spanish speakers wish to correct me or add some nuance to these definitions, please, please, please let me know.  Your help is appreciated.):

Mercado-  store, but esp. grocery store

Carniceria– meat market, typically selling raw meats and prepared foods

Taqueriaoriginally referred to street vendors who specialized in Mexican food like tacos or burritos, but now indicates a small, informal, short-order style restaurant serving a variety of Mexican fare

Cocinalit. kitchen, fig. used in the name of many restaurants to give that “homey” feel

Cantina– termed used liberally by white people who open Mexican restaurants chains who focus more on the margaritas than they do on the food Continue reading “Lucy’s Taqueria”

Tastes from across Mexico

I had the good fortune to catch the last night of Presenting Mexico, a three-day tasting from Chef Ramiro Alarcon at El Patron Bar and Grill.

For $20, we had a brief culinary discussion and a hearty sampling of dishes from 8 different Mexican states. My favorite was the Michoacan Pescado Blanco de Pasquero, a white fish baked in egg, served with a smoky red pepper sauce with Sopa de Melon, cold melon soup. Everything that I tried, from the Guerrero inspired Chiles Campanos, marinated green chiles stuffed with queso fresco, to the Sinaloa Sopa Verde, a traditional green soup with fish and clam, was a reminder that Sacramento is sorely lacking for high quality, adventurous Mexican dining that offers atypical dishes and new flavors.

Tequila tastings were also provided by Trago tequila. Unfortunately, they ran out of the Reposado, but their Plata has a fruity aftertaste with little raw alcohol burn. Their Anejo is aged a year in bourbon barrels, imparting a deep, sweet carmel flavor on top of the fruit. Both were excellent and presented in tall rectangular bottles with great angles, sure to stand out at a bar and scream “Taste me and look classy, I’m expensive but worth it!.” The bar featured at least 30 other 100% agave tequilas, including great brands such as Chinaco, Don Julio (including the 1942 reserve!) and Centenario.

El Patron Bar and Grill
6601 Folsom Blvd
(916) 455-8945

Mid-town Taqueria: 1 out of 2 ain’t bad

I’m not the only one who doesn’t think Mid-town Taqueria, the aforementioned taco joint recently risen out of the ashes of Sidewalk Pizza on 38th and Jay, is actually located in midtown, right? By most people’s reckoning midtown is bordered on the East by either biz 80 or Alhambra, and maybe even by 28th, putting Mid-town Taqueria and Sidewalk before it in East Sacramento. Anyway, it is definitely a taqueria so at least they got it half right.

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West Sacramento: Mexican Mashup

There are many things that West Sacramento is known for: river views, the port…westness. Now you can add one more thing to that list. West Sac is a haven for great, unpretentious Mexican fare. On almost every street corner there is a family run taco shop or burrito barn just waiting to treat you to cross-border delicacies with minimal flair.  Here’s a quick rundown of some joints you can try: Continue reading “West Sacramento: Mexican Mashup”

No more Cobbler for you

Out walking the neighborhood, my wife and I noticed that soul/BBQ restaurant The Cobbler was gone, replaced by a new Mexican joint called “Cantina el 7 Copas.” Does that mean “Seven of Cups” restaurant? Like it’s Tarot-themed?

We never got around to eating at The Cobbler, but with that and the bad news (for me) about Sidewalk, it’s almost time to ask: Are tacos becoming the next crepes?

J Street Sidewalk Pizza gone

UPDATE: 7:12 pm – My wife informs me that I misinterpreted her IM earlier, and that the change is official at the location formerly known as Sidewalk Pizza. It’s a taqueria. Sniff. Mmmm, tacos…

I had recently seen what I assumed was a facelift in process at Sidewalk Pizza on Jay street. My wife passed by the spot earlier today and reports that actually what’s going on is that the location is changing over to a Mexican restaurant. Pizza is one of those things — like burgers — that one person can be in love with, and the next guy absolutely hates. Sidewalk on Jay was one of my absolute favorite pies. I’m sad to see it go.

Interesting discussion about this at Yelp… speculation that it was going to be part of the La Fiesta/La Favorita enterprise, accusations of blindsiding the staff. It never seemed like business was very good at Sidewalk but it always seemed like a good location for eats. Plus as my wife just pointed out, it’s hard to complain about another Mexican joint.

A White Rose By Any Other Name is “La Rosa Blanca”

When one thinks of culinary excellence, one thinks of Auburn Blvd.  One just can’t help it.  It is inevitable that one be drawn by the fine wafting odors of Sacramento’s “street of dreams” when hunger rattles one’s belly. Be it Taco Bell, Mountain Mike’s Pizza or the unnamed restaurant in the bowels of the Clarion Hotel, gastronomic greatness exudes from every street corner.

I kid, of course. Auburn Blvd is simply an asphalt ribbon of sleaze with a few gems floating in the muck, and lucky is one who finds the gem without getting a little bit of the sleaze on him.  One of those gems is La Rosa Blanca, a speck of a place wedged among a pawn shop a ubiquitous flophouse style motel and the Deseret Thrift Store (RULDS2?). Continue reading “A White Rose By Any Other Name is “La Rosa Blanca””

L Wine Lounge & Zocalo

Last night found the Mrs. and me sampling the new L Wine Lounge and Urban Kitchen. We had been invited to an opening event for the joint and thought it an interesting destination for a Sunday night. We arrived at the location (18th and L St. in midtown) around 7pm and gave the place a once over; decorations were sparse but tasteful, very modern and angular (and almost 100% purchased from this catalog ). We were plied with wine immediately and given the broad choice of “white or red.” We went for the red which was an unpresumptuous shiraz/cab blend that followed a little gravelly and finished with a Jeff Gordon-like flare that one usually associates with only the finest clamatoes. (Honestly, the wine was fine, not particularly memorable, but pleasant enough to drink.)

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Pancho’s Mexican Grill

Pancho Villa
Gnl. Francisco Villa,
“El Centauro del Norte”

I live by a few simple rules, and one of them is: If “Al Pastor” is on the menu, I order it. That pastor makes some spicy delicious pork.

Earlier this week I decided to finally check out Pancho’s Mexican Grill, which is right in my neighborhood. Named after Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa, the “centaur of the north,” it’s your typical taqueria, with a large menu full of specialties. (The menu’s design could use some typographic hierarchy, would be my only comment–when you visit you’ll see what I mean.)

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