Sure, it’s got a good beat. But can I eat bacon to it?

Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate through the smoked and sometimes boozy goodness that is Bacon Fest.

Bells, sirens and drums herald the ice cream at Farrell’s.

Michael Thiemann and company are within days of opening Mother, the vegetarian restaurant on K Street that already has whetted appetites and wowed devotees during a series of recent pop-up dinners.

Cielito Lindo, an aspiring upscale Mexican restaurant that opened in September, has a significant problem to overcome, partly because its menu and mostly deft cooking suggest elegance, while the building in which the magic happens is anything but.

For the new year, let’s remember that we Sacramentans are ideally positioned to get outta town. We have the unique opportunity to explore the dining and market scenes in destinations that are the envy of the world – Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and the San Francisco Peninsula, the Bay Area, the Napa and Sonoma wine countries, and the Monterey region, for starters.

Three of us ventured to Arthur Henry’s Supper Club & Ruby Room in Oak Park where you are obliged to cook your own food.

Ten days. Twenty-eight restaurants. Three courses. $31. It all adds up to the ninth annual Dine Downtown Restaurant Week – a chance for Sacramento food lovers to discover new restaurants and revisit old favorites.

All the dishes at this Granite Bay restaurant are from family recipes.

It was the year Sacramento’s food scene came into its own, shedding much of its inferiority complex about living in San Francisco’s shadow. In 2013, Sacramentans simply did what they do best: grew some of the country’s finest ingredients, cooked them with gusto, threw some hugely successful festivals – and never looked back.

A boulevard of broken restaurant dreams unfurls while driving down this stretch of south Sacramento.

The checks have been paid and the tables cleared as our adventures in casual dining close for 2013. For dessert, we’re serving this subjective list of the 10 places my lunch pals and I liked most this year, in order of preference.

While their strengths differ, 2013’s best servers all share a commitment and passion for service.

The oxymoronically hip and family-friendly Dad’s Kitchen in Land Park has expanded to Fair Oaks, into a venue twice the size of the mother ship. The key question is: Can an urban diner-type restaurant sell its concept of cool “American-style comfort food” in a rural-rooted town that hosts an annual chicken festival?

After multiple delays, midtown’s Der Biergarten — built from used shipping containers — eyes a January opening.

When Chris Tucker looked around for ways to challenge himself, try new things and elevate his game as bar manager at Hook & Ladder, he decided to start making cocktails in wood barrels.

I’m sitting at Orphan, a bustling east Sacramento breakfast and lunch eatery, looking down at a plate of perfectly cooked pumpkin pancakes. The morning light catches a wisp of steam billowing up from the table.

Classy fare and great views are a part of a holiday tradition.

The concept at Seasons 52, this health-conscious, calorie-aware, casual fine-dining restaurant at the Arden Fair mall, boils down to a message you may not want to hear: We are a nation of gluttons, we cannot control our impulses, and we hate ourselves when we can’t fit into our skinny jeans.

The barbecue wars have arrived in midtown. Stroll down a stretch of J Street and you can sense the tension simmering between one of country’s biggest barbecue franchises and the local upstart that could.

Advertising slogans can become footnotes to popular culture, such as two that were the face of multi-million-dollar ad campaigns in the 1980s and ’90s: “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner,” and “Pork: The other white meat” were effective in promoting sales, sure, but chicken sells itself.

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?

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.

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

Summaries of recent dining reviews

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?

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