The news sounded like sacrilege to those who champion Sacramento’s homegrown restaurants. Garth Brooks was in town, playing a whopping six shows over five days for more than 80,000 hootin’ and hollering fans at Sleep Train Arena. And Brooks could’ve had his pick of local restaurants, all no doubt eager to show the biggest country music star in the world that Sacramento’s home to some very special eats.
So where did Brooks plan on getting his grub on during his extended stay in Sacramento?
“I’ll probably go to In-N-Out Burger, ’cause we don’t have ’em, and then I’ll probably go to In-N-Out Burger,” said Brooks, in a press conference with local reporters before his run of shows.
Hello, Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital of the universe, with its impeccably fresh ingredients and gifted chefs with culinary styles for miles. Brooks likes to strike the everyman pose, but supporting a fast-food chain instead of the mom-and-pop shops was a missed opportunity to mingle with the locals and enjoy some grub.
Had Brooks opted to poke around Sacramento’s restaurants, we would’ve recommended starting at South, the Southside Park eatery with tasty fried chicken and homespun foods, and a husband-wife ownership team. Shoot, their saga in dealing with city red tape to get open could’ve inspired a song. Or, Brooks could’ve started his local culinary tour at Chando’s, because, hey, who doesn’t love tacos?
Plenty more musicians are coming to town, especially with the outdoor concert season coming sooner than you can say, “’Cause I’ve got friends in low places.” Here are some restaurants that we’d pair with the pop, rock and country stars on Sacramento’s music calendar:
Train (May 21, Toyota Amphitheatre): Members of this pop-rock band probably take Riedel stemware with them on the road. They’ve released a line of wines named after various tunes in the Train catalog (“Drops of Jupiter California Red,” “Hella Fine Merlot,” et al.) and even shot a video at Napa’s Shafer Vineyards. Given their collective love of the grape, a trip to Iron Grillis in order, where they can surf ’n’ turf it up or choose from other meaty options to go with their wine. But one of the main reasons the band should go here is because of the free corkage. Got to ease that daily tour budget, right?
Nickelback (June 23, Toyota Amphitheatre): Few rock bands generate as many snickers as Nickelback, and the easy punch line would be to send them to Johnny Garlic’s in Roseville, the Guy Fieri joint that embraces all that’s amped up in mainstream chain restaurants (pass the Donkey Sauce, bros!). But instead of directing Nickelback to Flavor Town, we think these Canadian rockers would surely savor a stop at Kupros Craft House. The midtown bar and grill is known for its poutine, a dish favored by Canadians everywhere, which in this case comes with twice-fried potatoes, Lucky Dog gravy and curds.
Lady Antebellum (June 25, Toyota Amphitheatre): Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott has long professed her love of corn dogs – it’s from all those gigs at county fairs, y’all. And if Scott’s still in need of a corn dog fix, better direct that tour bus to Wiener Works since the California State Fair doesn’t open until July 10. Wiener Works has all the corn dogs Scott could hope for, plus more than a dozen styles of beer-steamed hot dogs, sausages, huge portions of chili fries and more.
John Mellencamp (July 26, Sacramento Community Center Theater): Mellencamp’s another musician who likes to strike a heartland pose and is perhaps nonplussed by fancy-pants restaurants with chefs that plate food with tweezers instead of a spatula. So, in honor of “Jack & Diane,” we’re sending Mellencamp to Whitey’s Jolly Kone in West Sacramento, where he can suck down some chili dogs with one of their frosty peach shakes.
Ariana Grande (Sept. 6, Sleep Train Arena): The pop star with the perma-ponytail went vegan in 2014, and at this point in her career probably has a personal chef catering to her food needs on the road. But if she wants to venture away from the arena while in Sacramento, or prefers to send a minion on a food mission, Garden to Grill has Grande covered. The menu of this vegan cafe in midtown, formerly called Plum Cafe, includes a risotto burger which was namechecked in November in a Buzzfeed list of “21 Juicy Burgers That Will Change Your Life.” The offerings include tacos, pizza, “chicken” strips and other munchie styles that are familiar to both vegans and Nickelodeon fans.
Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.