These three dining spots have good food and great charitable missions.

The mini-meals offer big tastes.

It’s worth looking into the past to see what Sacramento was all about, like this restaurant, open since 1952.

New Cafe Bernardo delivers taste and tradition

New cheese and charcuterie shop opens to an enthusiastic East Sac customer base.

With its hearty plates of Mexican comfort food, El Pueblo Meat Market and Taqueria/Deli in Winters strives to keep things simple and old-fashioned.

Do not let appearances fool you. The sign out front promising “home cooking” delivers in a big way.

We show up for dinner early on a Sunday evening, knowing it’s the best chance to snag a table before the sun sets and the crowds come, as they surely will.

Louis Valente has put in his time learning at the feet of his mentors and is ready to rock midtown with sushi of the highest order.

“I sent my English teacher a love letter and she corrected it,” quipped Rodney “I Get No Respect” Dangerfield in “Back to School.” The 1986 comedy is about a successful but uneducated businessman who goes to college and learns some life lessons.

To assess Zocalo, the stylish, upscale and ever-popular Mexican restaurant in midtown, it’s worthwhile to put it in context.

Part of the pleasure of dining at ethnic restaurants is the exploration factor.

When it comes to Indian cooking, fans of these exotic yet welcoming flavors often start by asking whether we are talking about southern or northern India. It’s a key question, for the ingredients, the seasonings, the overall approach can vary noticeably according to where you are on the map.

How about a parade of sweets for lunch, making it possible to indulge in midway fare while waiting for the 2014 edition of the California State Fair?

The Texas-based owner of hundreds of restaurant properties executed a trade in downtown Sacramento on Tuesday.

Three visits resulted in three varied experiences — from spot-on to inedible.

Brunch draws a crowd at Rio City Cafe.

In the nearly seven years Ella Dining Room & Bar has graced our downtown dining scene with an exciting and original brand of urban elegance, the restaurant has had four chefs, three general managers and one very hands-on family.

As California’s mobile food truck industry flourishes, state tax officials try to ensure this new wave of small business owners are dishing up sales tax

Chada Thai and Taste of Thai, two well-respected restaurants, are essentially next door to each other on Broadway. Both have ardent supporters and detractors. So which is better?

Pleasant surroundings don’t mask ho-hum food.

For several years, I have watched with some degree of fascination as Sampino’s Towne Foods opened, adapted, evolved and prospered.

A meat-lover’s choice with a focused menu

Summaries of recent dining reviews

There’s so much to explore at Quan Nem Ninh Hoa.

Summaries of recent dining reviews

Striking it lucky: finding a time-tested game with the right food on the spot

In the site of an old Carmichael restaurant, new pub goes beyond the British Isles for its menu.

Stepping into the Hong Kong Islander restaurant gives a diner the feeling of stepping into the Chinese culture.

It’s a simple question with a complicated answer: Why do people like chain restaurants?

Mariachi music poured out from behind the closed doors of Carmelita’s Mexican restaurant, flooding the handsomely tiled entrance and echoing off the stone facade of the two-story building. Woo-hoo, there’s a party going on inside!

First Impressions visits dining spots in the region that are new or have undergone recent transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? Email us at

If you could carve out a little dream for yourself, a romanticized life that revolved around beautiful food, a small town, an unhurried pace and simmering fanfare for the work you do, wouldn’t it be nice to have it look something like this?

We wanted to catch America’s Cup fever, so we headed to San Francisco to check out the Summer of Racing and see multimillion-dollar catamarans with seven-story-tall masts zip around the bay.

It is tempting to be cynical when it comes to Hock Farm Craft & Provisions. The name, for one thing, came out of nowhere to be the coolest restaurant name ever.

First Impressions visits dining spots in the region that are new or have undergone recent transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? Email us at

Looking from the parking lot through an oversized window into the kitchen, I stopped to watch one very focused chef handling a heavy, smoking pan as I headed toward the front door.

The eyes of Sacramento's food community are fixed on Noah Zonca who left perhaps the city's most prominent chef position to stake his claim as a restaurateur.

The parking lot at Whole Foods Market in Folsom looked like an SUV-owners convention the other day, a reflection of the surrounding demographic. Perhaps ironically, it's the same parking lot where 1,000 locals camped overnight in anticipation of the store's grand opening in October 2011.

If you show up at Kru on a Sunday or Monday, you're apt to rub elbows with some of the finest chefs in town. They come to pay respect to Buu "Billy" Ngo, the 32-year-old, Chinese-born chef-owner who just happens to be doing the most interesting and dynamic Japanese food around.

Some folks go into the restaurant business because they can cook, others because they are good with people, and still others based on their ability to dream up a concept and sell it to the public.

We went on a walkabout inside the Cost Plus World Market to discover some of its seasonal food items that could complement a backyard barbecue or picnic in the park.

I like to think of it as a healthy and necessary respite, stepping away from fine (and not-so-fine) dining, going much more casual, saving plenty of money, but not necessarily lowering our standards for quality cooking.

We found Sushimono Japanese Cuisine & Bar next to a sandwich shop and near a Starbucks in the Quail Pointe Shopping Center in Fair Oaks. Grabbed a table, looked around, the server was right there.

Suvijak Bedahasdin, or "T," as everyone calls him, lived in Thailand for 26 of his 31 years. Now that he is a restaurateur – the first location is in Davis – he has devoted himself to serving food he knew and loved in his home country.

Have you ever had one of those sinking feelings upon walking out of a casino?

Rio Linda is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Sacramento, but it's a world away.

This midtown interpretation of a German beer hall is one of the most exciting and popular newcomers on the local food and bar scene that I can remember, bringing new life, great expectations and all the anticipated little flubs, fumbles and foibles of a place run by two smart and endearing guys who have never done anything remotely like this before.

First Impressions visits dining spots in the region that are new or have undergone recent transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? Email us at

The review of Pork Belly Grub Shack should require a Purple Heart rather than stars.

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