Restaurant News & Reviews

Tres Hermanas sister to open Mexican restaurant on J Street next month

Dora Saenz helped start Tres Hermanas before moving to Three Sisters' kitchen 18 years ago.
Dora Saenz helped start Tres Hermanas before moving to Three Sisters' kitchen 18 years ago. Sacramento Bee file

Dora Saenz helped her sister Sonja open Tres Hermanas on K Street 21 years ago, then ran Three Sisters Mexican Kitchen Y Cantina on Folsom Boulevard alongside her sibling Norma for the last 18 years.

Now it's the third sister's turn to do it on her own.

Dora will open 3 Hermanas in a self-described "hole in the wall" at 3260 J St., Suite B, in the next three to four weeks, she said Tuesday.

The third sister got the others' blessing to open her own business and purposely chose a slightly different name to avoid legal issues, she said. The kitchen at Three Sisters gradually shifted toward Southwestern food over the years, Dora said, as she lost some battles with Norma.

"I want to feel I’m in charge," Dora said. "Over (at Three Sisters), we have two different opinions. She says yes, I say no, she says no, I say yes."

Saenz, 50, plans to introduce a northern Mexican dish called chile pasado (rehydrated, crushed chiles mixed with other spices and meat or cheese) as well as salsa ground in a molcajete and beans and rice the way her grandmother prepared them. She wants to eventually hire someone to make tortillas in-house, she said.

3 Hermanas will be neighbor to Club Raven and Thai Palace in an East Sacramento shopping center and seat 48 people inside, plus another 20 on a front patio.

Saenz initially considered moving near 16th Street and Broadway and even put in an offer for a space currently housing a midnight restaurant. But a bloody fight broke out one night as she dined there, which she took as a sign from God that she shouldn't open her business at that location.

Another Sacramento restaurant, Bacon and Butter, announced Sunday night it would open in the old Formoli's Bistro six blocks away from 3 Hermanas.

The Bee's Benjy Egel is launching a new effort to cover Sacramento's dining and beer scene. Please send tips and story ideas by email at, on Twitter @BenjyEgel or by phone at (916) 321-1052.

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