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

While you wait for Sacramento temperatures to drop, here are tips of where to dine al fresco.

Family’s restaurant brings Mexico to midtown Sacramento.

This Carmichael restaurant may be small, but its menu is big.

The refurbished space offers plenty of sports memorabilia to peruse over your beer or cocktail.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco draws a crowd in midtown

Now and then, we come across a small restaurant operated by sincere, passionate people whose family heritage and recipes are the foundation of their business. So it is with Third Strike Cafe in West Sacramento.

Turkish cuisine isn’t that unfamiliar after all.

A vacation affords the chance to hit spots all over Northern California.

Let’s celebrate this most American of holidays – the Fourth of July – with a classic American dish – pizza.

Babylon City Market is one of this town’s mom-and-pop ethnic restaurants.

Father’s Day is Sunday, but many dads like to treat it as a weekend-long celebration, beginning tonight right after work. Rightfully so, but their significant others may disagree, and that’s where gender differences can stop by for a visit. After all, some would claim it’s as simple as women loving shopping and men loving explosions, but not us.

This stylishly casual cloth-napkin restaurant twists the barbecue concept.

The restaurant Mother on K Street downtown has been a hot spot for vegetarian diners since opening in January, but there are other vegetarian and vegan destinations, too – Sunflower Drive In, Bodhi Bowl, California Fresh, Plum Cafe and Anna’s Vegan Cafe to name some. The website is dedicated to “helping vegans find restaurants for themselves and their non-vegan friends and family.”

A change of ownership doesn’t change the menu of made-by-hand dishes.

You say you want a Revolution

The casual cousin of a more formal restaurant brings a French flair to Midtown.

Bamiyan is a welcome oasis offering Afghan cuisine.

CrepeTown 2.0 in Shingle Springs is larger, brighter and more welcoming than the original. It also has a bigger kitchen, with an expanded menu and staff.

While RezKu's ability to challenge OpenTable's dominance is far from being determined, it's clear that the tech world loves nothing more than the disruption of established power structures.

Fahrenheit 250 could be the new candidate for BBQ greatness.

At the Roseville cafe, the Broaster is ready — an iconic dish rarely seen hereabouts.

‘Homemade’ is the key at two Mexican restaurants

Koreana Plaza Market is hosting a feast.

‘Gourmet’ sandwiches take a twist at midtown lunch spot.

Roma Pizzeria II will celebrate 33 years in April. Not much has changed over the decades, and the regulars like it that way.

Cafe Fina owner Dominic Mercurio opened 25 years ago with a menu that reflects his Sicilian heritage.

A bite at a neighborhood diner, a bite at a British pub.

New Citrus Heights sushi restaurant has a sense of excitement and fun.

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

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.

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

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.

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?

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

The mini-meals offer big tastes.

New Cafe Bernardo delivers taste and tradition

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

“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.

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

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?

Brunch draws a crowd at Rio City Cafe.

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