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  • Allen Pierleoni /

    The juicy, straightforward burger at Chargin’s Bar & Grill has add-on options, including avocado, bacon, pickle chips and coleslaw.

  • Allen Pierleoni /

    “Inferno scallops” at Sushimono in Fair Oaks, a dish where heat meets sweet.

Go-to’s: an all-American burger and scallops with some heat

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 - 12:04 pm

We all have our go-to dishes at certain restaurants, and it’s always a treat to revisit them when we’re in the neighborhoods. We sat down to two of ours over the past couple of weeks:

The hamburger is seemingly simple in concept but deceptively complex in execution. At first look, it’s a sandwich of bread, meat and a few condiments. But the variables that go into making it can expand exponentially, and the choices and considerations add up quickly. What kind of meat? How do you cook it? How about the bun? What do you put on it? And so on.

When we’re in the mood for a straightforward burger, one of our destinations is Chargin’s Bar & Grill in East Sacramento. The burger is cooked on an iron griddle, and is big and juicy and just a little greasy. It’s plopped on a perfectly sized soft-chewy bun from Bella Bru bakery, with raw onion, lettuce, tomato and pickle chips ($7). Add cheese for an extra 50 cents, and add avocado and bacon to that for $1 more. Sides are homemade potato salad and coleslaw.

We get the ultimate version and heap coleslaw on top of those other condiments. The result is a double handful of delight, crunchy and soft, warm and delicious, with juices running down our fingers and on to the plate. Better grab a cold Stella Artois in a cold glass to help with the process. And a few napkins. Get it from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Chargin’s, 4900 J St., Sacramento; (916) 454-1524.

In a 180-degree turn, we head for Sushimono Japanese restaurant for its “inferno scallops.” Five fresh ocean scallops are cooked tempura-style and show up covered in two sauces. The crisp, delicate shells hold the steaming, succulent seafood until the morsels are ready to be dipped into the sauces. Crunchy and soft meet sweet and hot ($6.50). Gone in 60 seconds, or a little longer.

Sushimono, 5349 Sunrise Blvd. (at Madison Avenue), Fair Oaks. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; (916) 536-9885

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

Read more articles by Allen Pierleoni

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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