Dining News: RIP Italian Stallion Grill, Hello EastSMF Restaurant


EastSMF, by the owners of the now defunct Monticello in Davis, have opened in East Sac, reports Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag.

Like Monticello, EastSMF (the name pays tribute to the restaurant’s East Sacramento location and the capital city’s airport) boasts an ever-changing seasonal menu using produce from local farms, with the bulk coming from Fiddlers Green Farm in Brooks, owned by Jim Eldon, who was a part owner of Monticello. Currently, EastSMF's menu offerings include sautéed mussels in a curry coconut broth; a beet salad with black radishes and a sherry Dijon vinaigrette; buckwheat crepes with “wild and civilized” mushrooms including chanterelle and shiitake varieties, Gruyere and crème fraiche; and a lavender Meyer lemon crème brûlée for dessert.

While the Gruska’s downsized from their Davis locale—EastSMF seats about 40 in the main dining area and about 20 in the bar compared to Monticello's 85-seat dining room—Rhonda says they are happy with the clean, modern vibe of their new location with its open kitchen, mint green walls, and chocolate brown and stainless steel accents. They also have patio seating, something they always wanted but never had at Monticello.

Read the entire story in Sactown Mag.

That spot has housed a number of restaurants. Most recently, it was Italian Stallion Grill, which opened in January 2014 and according to Yelp reviews, closed in April 2015.

EastSMF is located at 3620 J St. and can be found online at http://eastsmf.info/.

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Beer Run: Calibrating our palates with cookies, of all things - coff if you want, but this was serious business. Cookies paired with premium beer, whether it’s a hopped-up and dank IPA, a silky smooth stout or a fruity sour, has become something of a trend. A few weeks earlier, I attended a cookies-meets-beer event at New Glory Craft Brewery and the cookies were all but gobbled up and gone by the time I got there. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Maligned for decades, MSG comes back - Plenty about monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, is puzzling and peculiar. Indeed, many would argue that the ongoing assault on this ubiquitous flavor enhancer is just wacky. MSG has its defenders, including some of Sacramento’s top mainstream chefs, but unless you’re a hardcore foodie or culinary insider, probably everything you’ve heard about MSG is wrong. Is it possible that many of us have expended far too much time and energy through the years awkwardly asking about it at Chinese restaurants, avoiding it whenever possible and repeating claims about it that have long since been debunked? Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Thai cuisine takes a few unusual turns at Sawasdee - Sawasdee’s take on green papaya salad (som tam) held wonderful heat and texture. The shredded papaya had been traditionally prepared in a mortar with tomato, long bean, garlic, peanuts and lime juice in well-orchestrated harmony. “This is a great combination of flavors,” Norm said. Agreed. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

New local coffee shop in the works, with a familiar face - A co-founder of Insight Coffee Roasters has left the company and plans to open his own local cafe next month. Lucky Rodrigues left locally owned Insight last October. The decision was driven largely by a desire to spend more time with his family, according to Rodrigues, who said he wasn't sure of his long-term career plans at the time of his departure. "I just kind of jumped off the cliff," he said. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Local coffee shop closing in February - A local coffee shop with indoor play areas for children will permanently shut its doors in February. Java Mama Folsom confirmed the decision on its Facebook page. The store at 2776 East Bidwell St. opened in January 2014. Its final day of business will be Feb. 26. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: The Jungle Bird by Tank House Owners to Take Over Kru Space

Jungle birdWhen Kru Sushi, by Billy Ngo, leaves its current space, Tank House owners Melissa and Tyler Williams will open The Jungle Bird, reports Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Kru initially expected to retain the spot at 2516 J St., likely for a restaurant with a slightly different concept. But on Tuesday, Kru chef and owner Billy Ngo confirmed he won't be involved in the new business.

Ngo said he once planned to redo the concept for Red Lotus, his midtown dim sum restaurant that closed in 2011, at the Kru space. Red Lotus was at 2718 J St. With Kru's move and the expansion of Fish Face Poke Bar, his other restaurant, he decided to wait.

Read the entire story in the Sac Biz Journal.

This is the first I had read that the space was supposed to become a Red Lotus. Ngo told the Sac Bee in August 2014 that Kru would be replaced by a "new sushi-only concept that is intended to showcase the craft at the very highest levels."

Sorich also reports that Kru expects to move into its new, larger location adjacent to Obo' Italian in June.

As for The Jungle Bird, information was not immediately available about the concept. However, The Jungle Bird is a tiki drink invented in the 1970s in Kuala Lumpur. With Tiki bars again rising in popularity, my money is that we'll have more rum and tropical drinks on the grid.

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Craving of the week: The Mill’s Waffle-in-Hand - The waffle, which is served from 7 a.m.-noon every day, is made in the same few minutes it takes to make your cappuccino and can be placed on a plate with sides of maple syrup, house-made butter or jams in flavors like pluot. But we think it's at its best when ordered the same way they do in Belgium: plain, in hand and on the go. Either way, no waffling about this breakfast treat: We give it two sugar-coated thumbs up. Tori Masucci Cummins in Sactown Mag.

Hawks Provisions & Public House expands with brunch - Brunch fans have another place to check out soon: Hawks Provisions & Public House. The Sacramento casual outpost of the Granite Bay fine dining destination, Hawks Public House (1525 Alhambra Boulevard) will start brunch service on Sunday, February 7. The menu is pretty compact—seven small plates and seven mains to choose from—with a European bent. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing to open taproom in midtown - Fieldwork Brewing, which exploded on the craft beer scene in the Bay Area a year ago and rose to lofty heights among aficionados, has signed a deal to open a taproom in midtown Sacramento. The new branch is considered a significant step in the city’s burgeoning beer scene and a contribution to its growing reputation as a craft beer hotbed. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Dining review: Dos Coyotes, 25 years, enduring quality - Turns out the food does not require embellishment at Dos Coyotes, a counter-service, Southwestern-food chain founded in 1991 in Davis by Southern California transplant Bobby Coyote (not his government name, but the only one he uses professionally). Dos Coyotes’ chicken, marinaded with citrus and herbs before being charbroiled, is consistently tender. Its shrimp is juicy and its green chili sauce, made with New Mexico hatch chilies, carries a sneak-attack touch of heat. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Downtown Roseville business changes hands - A Dash of Panache, of the region's few remaining tea parlors, has new owners. But tea won't disappear from the downtown Roseville store. Husband-and-wife team Paul and Debra Gillman bought the business at 217 Vernon St. from Scott Alvord. Escrow closed Feb. 1. Terms were not disclosed. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Updated Opening Dates for Malt & Mash, El Rey at 7th & K

Malt and mash

Malt & Mash and El Rey by Bob Simpson and Trevor Shults, will open in March, they announced in a help wanted ad on Craigslist.


El Rey, opening early­ March, will feature a high­ energy, cocktail driven dining experience with tacos anchoring the menu.

Malt & Mash, opening mid­ March, will be an intimate Irish pub that pays tribute to the building's historic past

The hiring fair will be from Wednesday, Feb. 10 to Friday, Feb. 12 starting at 10 a.m. each day at The Assembly at 10th & K.

Click here for more information.

Back in September 2015, the venues were expected to open in November, but as we know, restaurants almost never open on time.

When they open, Malt & Mash and El Rey will be located at 715 K Street.

Photo via Facebook.

More News:

Fieldwork Brewing Co. to open Midtown taproom - Get ready for more craft beer, Midtowners. Fieldwork Brewing Co. is coming to the Handle District. It’ll be the Berkeley bewery’s first additional taproom, taking over the skinny, 1,436 square foot space between the Press Bistro and Zocalo at 1805 Capitol Avenue. Co-founder Barry Braden said they’re shooting for a summer opening. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Sacramento Bacon Fest 2016 - Sacramento Bacon Fest 2016 closed out a week of bacon-covered goodness with its 5th Annual Chef’s Competition. Twelve of Sacramento’s favorite chefs donned their aprons, gathered their knives and headed to Mulvaney’s B&L to battle it out for the coveted title of Bacon Fest Champion. Of course, on the other side of the kitchen, Sacramento feasted on some of the best bites in the city. We gathered. We ate. We conquered. Bacon Fest, we miss you already. Jose Barajas in City Scout Mag.

There’s still time (maybe) to book a perfect Valentine’s meal - People who truly care about Valentine’s Day made their plans before the clock struck 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1. The rest of you are unmotivated or simply don’t love enough. But we’re here to guide, not judge. So we have rounded up remaining dining – and entertainment and lodging – options for Feb. 14 and the Long Weekend of Love, or what single people call Presidents Day weekend. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

National Tater Tot Day taken seriously at Tank House - National Tater Tot Day was Tuesday, Feb. 2, and there are a few things you should know, including this: We eat 70 million pounds of them every year….In observance of Tot Day, he and his crew have added six more variations, to be sold only on Tot Day. All eight will be $6 per serving. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Wine Symposium brings crowds, expense accounts to downtown mix - If you ambled into your favorite downtown restaurant Wednesday for lunch, you probably walked away moments later with your tail tucked between your legs, suddenly aware that 14,000-plus wine industry folks were all at lunch simultaneously. Restaurants large and small were packed on P Street, jammed on J and crowded on K like no other day on the calendar. All because of the 22nd annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, an event that attracts delegates with lanyards on their necks and expense accounts at the ready. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

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15 Most Popular Happy Hours of January 2016


Here are the 15 most popular Sacramento happy hours of January 2016 (based on page views) on Cowtown Eats:

  1. BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse (Last month's rank: 1)
  2. Bento Box (Last month's rank: 2)
  3. Chicago Fire (Last month's rank: 3)
  4. Cheesecake Factory (Last month's rank: 7)
  5. Zocalo (Last month's rank: 4)
  6. Hook & Ladder (Last month's rank: 11)
  7. Firestone Public House (Last month's rank: 9)
  8. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (Last month's rank: 6)
  9. Burgers & Brew (Last month's rank: 12)
  10. Fat's Asia Bistro (Last month's rank: 5)
  11. 33rd St. Bistro (Last month's rank: 8)
  12. Lucca (Last month's rank: 14)
  13. Buffalo Wild Wings (Last month's rank: 10)
  14. Blackbird. (Last Month: Unranked)
  15. Broderick Restaurant & Bar (Last month's rank: 15)

Thanks for visiting Cowtown Eats! We had more than 55,000 page views and nearly 23,500 unique visitors.

I also want to give a special shout out to Ernesto's Mexican Food for generously sponsoring Cowtown Eats and keeping the lights on here. 

Thank you all for coming. If you have any tips/suggestions/thoughts, please e-mail me at Darrel@CowtownEats.com

Don't forget to check back daily for new posts and Cowtown Eats resources like the Cowtown Eats on TwitterFacebook and the Sacramento Happy Hour Map.

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Dining News: Skool on K Sets Opening Date

Skool sac

Skool on K, the Sacramento outpost for a San Francisco-based seafood restaurant, is scheduled to open on Friday, Feb. 12, it announced on Facebook.

Here's how Skool describes themselves:

Skool Restaurant - a new Californian fish-focused restaurant that consists of two husband and wife pairs, Toshihiro and Hiroko Nagano and Andy Mirabell and Olia Kedik.

Skools cuisine is fish focused and embodies a variety of unique clean flavored dishes cooked with Japanese ingredients. Skool also offers a variety of meat, gluten free and vegetarian dishes.

We aim to create a bountiful, ever-changing community of great food and company.

The restaurant has yet to post a menu on its Web site, but assuming its menu is similar to its San Francisco sister restaurant, appetizers will start at $8, and entrees will cost between $20 and $30. I wouldn't be surprised if real estate costs allowed the Sacramento restaurant to be a little more affordable. Time will tell.

When it opens, Skool on K will be located at 2319 K Street and can be found online at http://skoolonkstreet.com/.

Previously: San Francisco Seafood Restaurant Opening in Midtown

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Bay Area brewer opening Sacramento taproom in midtown - Berkeley-based Fieldwork Brewing Co. will open a taproom in midtown Sacramento, the company confirmed on its Facebook page Wednesday night. It's scheduled to open this summer at 1805 Capitol Ave., which is next to Zocalo. The new taproom will offer a rotating variety of beers, according to the Facebook post. A listing on LoopNet says the space covers 1,460 square feet. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Expansive - Two local restaurants opened new locations this month. Korean spot YD House opened its second restaurant called YD Tofu House (5609 Freeport Boulevard). There’s no extra emphasis on tofu at YD Tofu House, though. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review. (Second item)

Breakfast of Champions - When you need a sugar rush to start your day. Featuring Sweet Dozen, Ettore’s European Bakery, Nido, Freeport Bakery and Estelle’s Patisserie. Marybeth Bizjak in Sac Mag.

Fatties only: King Cake - New Orleans native Charlie Harrison will make one ($15-$25) for Old Soul Co. and Freeport Bakery offers a plain or praline version ($15.95-$20.95). They come with miniature babies baked inside. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

Coffee Plus - When you go to a coffeehouse in the morning, generally the most you can expect is a scone or a muffin to go with your pour-over or single-origin espresso. Not so at Old Soul Co., Bloom Coffee & Tea and The Mill. Marybeth Bizjak in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: LA-Based Angel City Brewery Enters Sacramento Market

AngelJust as Sacramento craft brewers are expanding regionally and beyond, craft breweries from other areas are entering the Sacramento Market.

Angel City, whose brewery is located in the Arts District just six blocks from LA's City Hall, was founded in 1997 by Michael Bowe, a homebrewer who won the prestigeous “California Hombrewer of the Year” award in 1995 and 1996.

The brewery has since been purchased by Alchemy & Science, an "independently operating” subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company, which brews Sam Adams.

The two beers hitting Sacramento are the Angel City Pilsner and the Angel City IPA, which received an 85 from Beer Advocate. The Pilsner did not receive a rating from BA. To give you a sense of scale, Track 7's popular Panic IPA has an 86 on Beer Advocate.

Locally, their Web site says the beers can be found at:

  • The Grange
  • University of Beer
  • Rio City Cafe
  • Kupros Bistro
  • Alley Katz

I haven't tried these beers, but it's always good to have more choices.

For more information, visit http://angelcitybrewery.com/.

More News:

Pizza Port arrives - Pizza Port has arrived. One of California’s most coveted craft breweries has made a retail foray into the increasingly crowded Sacramento craft market. I spotted Pizza Port’s distinctive cans recently at Curtis Park Market and Capitol Beer & Taproom. The latter will host a Pizza Port launch party/tap takeover Feb. 11. Hook & Ladder has it on draft. If you’re curious about a brewery that has won numerous medals at World Beer Cup and twice captured “Small Brewpub of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival, be sure to check out these beers. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Old-school excellence: Biba’s - Now that construction at the nearby Sutter Medical Center has finished (and before construction on both a new hotel and the new B Street Theatre venue begins) it’s the perfect time to rediscover this pinnacle of fine dining or eat there for the first time. Garrett McCord in Sac News & Review.

Simon’s says ‘not guilty’: Former employees accuse owner of stealing tips, unfair business practices - Three former employees have sued the 16th Street mainstay and its renowned proprietor, Simon Chan, in an unfair business practices lawsuit that’s potentially headed for a summer trial, says plaintiffs’ attorney Gaurav Bobby Kalra. Kalra filed the suit on July 9, 2014, in Sacramento Superior Court. The 14-page complaint alleges that Chan made servers pay for customer credit card fees out of their own pockets, garnished their tips to pay undocumented workers under the table, and fired or “constructively discharged” the three plaintiffs after they protested. Raheem F. Housseini in Sac News & Review.

Woodland’s Main Street gains momentum - Foodie experiences have popped up in downtown, including fine dining at Morgan’s on Main, sandwiches and beers at Stack’d and Brew’d, and new ownership of the Savory Cafe. Ellen Garrison in the Sac Bee.

Bumping up minimum wage helps workers, costs businesses and customers - There’s a price to be paid for raising the minimum wage. At one local Mexican food chain, it’s 14 cents a taco. Businesses and nonprofit groups have been adjusting to the state’s new $10 minimum wage since it superseded the old minimum wage of $9 an hour on Jan. 1. Some have raised prices or fees. Others have cut back hours. And many are thinking about the increases still to come. Hudson Sangree and Mark Glover in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: LA-Based Angel City Brewery Enters Sacramento Market" »

Dining News: Vampire Penguin Natomas Sets Opening Date

Vampire Penguin, the fast growing shaved snow and desserts eatery, is scheduled to open its new Natomas location on Feb. 20.

The Natomas location will be the seventh outpost, with locations serving South Sacramento, Downtown Sac, Elk Grove, Berkeley, San Mateo and Reno.

Vampire Penguin also briefly had a store in Davis, but it closed after less than a year.

The restaurant's main attraction its unbelieveably light shaved snow. Much like a Cold Stone, diners can chose their own flavor combinations or choose from specials curated by the staff.

Previously, they had tweeted that they planned to soft open on Feb. 13, but that tweet has been deleted. However, if you're in the area, you might want to check in and see if they're ready a couple days before their official opening.

When it opens, Vampire Penguin Natomas will be located at 3620 North Freeway Blvd (near the Buffalo Wild Wings and Buch Hut Deli) and can be found online at http://www.vampirepenguin.com/.

More News:

The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs - This desserterie with locations in Fair Oaks and Roseville, best known for its melt-in-your-mouth ice cream “puffs,” began serving milkshakes on Friday, Jan. 15. Tori Masucci Cummins and Anna Petkovich in Sactown Mag. (Fourth Item.)

Quick Bites in the Capital Region: 5 hotspots for fast-casual dining - Sacramento is teeming with local restaurants and semi-local chains that aim for value and efficiency. Here are some of our favorites, featuring Thai Canteen,  Buckhorn Grill, Krush Burger, Tako Korean BBQ and Duc Huong Sandwiches. Tyler Forvé in Comstocks Mag.

Meet the folks behind V. Miller Meats - Shank, shoulder, sirloin, riblets and legs. Sausages, porterhouse, spare ribs, tenderloin, chuck, patties and skirt steak. What do these have in common? They describe the by-products of whole animal butchery. Eric Miller and Matt Azevedo of V. Miller Meats recently opened their specialty whole animal butcher shop in East Sacramento. One of only about thirty across the United States, the pair believe that Sacramento is an excellent location because of the rapidly expanding specialty eateries, farmers markets, local farms and culinary shops in the Sacramento area. Corky Oakes in Valley Community News.

Icing on the Cupcake opens in Midtown, long live cupcakes! - Wait, aren’t cupcakes dead? Apparently not quite yet. Icing on the Cupcake opened a new Midtown outpost at (1730 J Street), taking over a chunk from the former Gifted Gardener space. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Counter Culture: Exotic flavors, uncompromising heat at Indo Cafe in Old Sacramento - Jim is from south Texas and works the front of the house. Tessa is the cook who grew up in Tegal, a city in the Central Java Province of Indonesia, and came up in the family restaurant, learning Indonesian and Chinese cooking from her mother. The from-scratch dishes have a distinct homemade feel and are from family recipes. Jim and Tessa source many of their imported seasonings from local Asian and Mexican supermarkets, and many vegetarian dishes populate the menu. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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