Fish Face

Dining News: 'Magpie Visits Revealed Remarkably High Consistency in Food Quality'


With Magpie Cafe's move to a new and larger space over the summer, is it still as good? Sac Bee dining critic Carla Meyer gives her two cents:

Magpie visits revealed remarkably high consistency in food quality and comfortable places to sit in a space I initially found too austere...

One can and should order the excellent burger, which is new to this location and already has evolved since the summer. The first burger was bigger, had cheese and was becoming too unwieldy to make for a place that’s not a dedicated burger joint, Roehr said. Diners often wanted to customize, creating 10 different experiences for every 10 burgers.

Magpie now offers one burger experience, which involves a house-baked brioche bun with a dark patch atop it courtesy of a grill flipover. The Niman chuck patty is cooked just past medium, so the salt and char tastes come through prominently. Brightened by mustard aioli and house dill and bread and butter pickles, and then peppered by arugula, this burger’s missing nothing, even with no cheese.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

I've had several meals in their new space - including the aforementioned burger at a recent lunch - and all of my experiences have been delightful.


Magpie Cafe is located at 1601 16th Street, and can be found online at

More News:

‘Culinary concourse’ proposed for downtown Sacramento - Downtown Sacramento’s historic D.O. Mills Bank Building could become a farm-to-fork showplace featuring a dozen high-end eating spots under plans being floated by the owners of the ornate, century-old building...The idea is to replicate the feel of San Francisco’s Ferry Building or the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, where multiple restaurants and related businesses operate synergistically in the same space, said Valerie Mamone-Werder, business development manager with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

Eat ’n’ drink: The local look ahead - The Food World is chatting with speculation: What trends will heat up and take off in the new year? Could there be another pastry as trendy as the Cronut? Will a fresh new cocktail push the shrub off the bar? Is there a step up from sous vide cooking? We asked a well-informed Kurt Spataro, Chris Tucker and Whitney Johnson for their 2016 forecasts for Sacramento. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Dig IPAs? Track 7 Brewing to host legit IPA ‘Invitational’ during Sacramento Beer Week - The city’s most popular local brewery, Track 7, will host its first ever Invitational Festival this year during Sacramento Beer Week. Nick Miller in Sac News & Review.

Roll-it-yourself: Hand rolls, Fish Face Poke Bar - Fish Face Poke Bar gets a lot of love for its DIY poke bowls, but its sushi is pretty genius as well. A few hand rolls ($4) are always ready to go. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Hidden Breakfast Gem: Harry’s Cafe - Harry’s Café serves Chinese, Vietnamese, and American food, all of which is a reflection of owner Harry Luong – a Chinese man who grew up in Vietnam and moved to the United States in search of the American Dream. While the lunch and dinner options are good (try the oxtail stew), it’s the breakfast options that keep me coming back. Tony Cervo in Sac Press.

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Dining News: RIP Noodles & Co.'s Midtown Location


Well, that was fast.

Noodles & Co., a chain restaurant serving noodle dishes from all over the world, closed its location on 16th street.

The location was open less than 6 months in the new Legado de Ravel building at 16th & O streets.

By Thursday evening, the exterior signage had already been taken down, and a sign on the door read:

We're sad to say we're closing our restaurant in Sac Midtown. We have enjoyed serving all of you through the years and appreciate your loyal support.

A phone call to the phone number on their Facebook page goes to a pre-recorded message that says in part:

Thank you for calling Noodles & Co. This restaurant has closed. We have enjoyed being your neighbor...

The location has also been removed from the restaurant's corporate Web Site.


Earlier on Thursday, Noodle & Co. reported a loss of $9.8 million for the quarter and told investors that they would be closing 16 restaurants by the end of the year. There's no word if this closure was one of the 16.

Despite the closing of the midtown location, fans of Noodles & Co. can still find the restaurant at Loehmann's Plaza, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove Citrus Heights, Roseville x2 and Rocklin.

Thanks to loyal Cowtown Eats readers for tipping me off to the restaurant's closure.

More News:

Why an Oregon brewery is coming to midtown - Midtown Sacramento is getting a new brewery, but only for one night. Deschutes Brewery from Bend, Ore., will hold an "ultimate craft beer block party" as a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. The family-friendly event will be held Nov. 14 on Capitol Avenue from 17th to 19th streets. It's scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. All proceeds from the "street pub" will benefit Runnin' for Rhett, a nonprofit that offers fitness programs for adults and children throughout the Sacramento area. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Sharetea Davis - This Bay Area Taiwanese tea and boba shop opened its new Davis location on Oct. 8 to long lines. Popular drinks include traditional items like the mango and passion fruit green tea, the matcha red bean milk tea or the Okinawa pearl milk tea, as well as modern, inventive flavors like Oreo milk tea, Taro ice blended with pudding, or kiwi fruit tea with ice jelly. In Sactown Magazine. (Fifth Item.)

A cinematic feast: 8 food films more palatable than ‘Burnt’ - In “Burnt,” Adam gets some blowback for his bullying, but not enough to make storytelling sense. Elsewhere on the jerk front, Adam seems to lack regard for his customers, or food in general, apart from its ability to win him Michelin stars...As a film-turned-food critic, I can recommend the movies (available for home viewing) below over “Burnt.” We’ve also designated each film’s pièce de résistance, or its most mouth-watering or story-defining moment. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Fish Face: Addicted to poke - The strength of the poke lies in the utter freshness in every piece of seafood and produce served. Ingredients are respected and smartly executed. Service is friendly and informative, which is great as those used to stagnant sushi menus may be daunted by the sheer number of options as to what fish goes with what sauce goes with what add-ons...All I can say is that if Kru didn’t solidify Ngo’s role as Sac’s seafood master, Fish Face certainly does. Garrett McCord in Sac News & Review.

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Dining News: Fish Face Poke Bar Announces Second Location


When Fish Face Poke Bar launched on R Street, Billy Ngo and his partners said that the R street location would be the first of several restaurants.

Now, the Sac Bee's Bob Shallit has the details on the second spot for the popular poke bar:

A poke bar run by Sacramento chef Billy Ngo is taking one of three remaining retail spots at the 4-acre culinary hub at 6241 Fair Oaks Blvd., and a gourmet “farm-to-fork” specialty market and a wok eatery are committed to the others...

“Everybody in town wanted” to recruit Ngo, said Dave Herrera, a Colliers International broker who is handling leasing for Davis.

Ngo said he was drawn to the “cool energy” at Milagro, noting that he knows several of the other restaurant operators opening there.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

Ngo, who with his partners also own Kru and an upcoming, yet unnamed restaurant at 31st & Folsom, explained to Cowtown Eats that unlike his earlier attempts at expansion, Fish Face did not require a lot of his time. Ngo had previously opened Pork Belly Grub Shack with Aimal Formoli of Formoli's Bistro (which they sold) and Red Lotus (where I had my wedding rehearsal dinner, which has closed), but he said the two restaurants required too much of his time. Ngo has also brought in San Francisco chef Ricky Yap to run Kru while he spends more time expanding his empire.

I look forward to more Fish Face locations across Northern California.

More News:

Empress Tavern Impresses - After a long awaited opening, Empress Tavern definitely delivered on flavor and creativity. Be careful though, the chicken spinning on the rotisserie is hypnotizing. I know what I’ll be ordering next time! Aimee Darville on Girls on the Grid.

Feast Q&A: Sacramento twin brothers cook up tasty side job - In July, the brothers introduced their sweet-earthy Burgess Brothers bottled barbecue sauce to the shelves of local grocery stores, including some Safeway, Save Mart and Raley’s/Bel Air locations. A portion of proceeds from each bottle sold goes to the Firefighters Burn Institute. Last month, the brothers rolled out a new food truck. The truck will appear Sept. 26 at Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall. We caught up with the brothers, who are Sacramento natives and McClatchy High School graduates, at their restaurant. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

A classic is still with us - With sentimentality in mind, we hurried over to [Simon's] for its signature dish, brandy fried chicken ($9; thighs only, please), and a heaped plate of chef’s special fried rice ($9). The dark crust on the chicken was crunchy and heavily seasoned, the meat inside moist and steaming. It’s long been one of the best dishes in town. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee. (Second item.)

Burger battle winner suggests extreme toppings aren't always better - The winning creation chosen by judges at Thursday's Sacramento Burger Battle wasn't topped with macaroni and cheese, an egg or some unpronounceable seasoning. Its most extreme element was arguably a house-made sauce similar to Thousand Island dressing. But employees of Pangaea Bier Cafe, which won the judges' choice award, said extreme frills weren't necessary. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Small Fire Temporarily Closes Rio City Cafe


A small kitchen on Monday night forced Rio City Café in Old Sacramento to close for the week, general manager Scott Meier told Cowtown Eats on Wednesday morning.

Nobody was injured in the fire and the damage was minor. Meier is now awaiting inspection so he can reopen the restaurant, hopefully on Friday.

Another notable restaurant closed by a kitchen fire was Ella back in January 2014 when a grease fire closed the restaurant for a weekend.

When Rio City Café reopens, they'll continue to serve what they're calling their Gold Rush Menu, a BBQ-themed menu running through Old Sac's Gold Rush Days celebration on Labor Day Weekend.


Rio City Café is located at 1110 Front Street in Old Sacramento, and can be found online at

Thanks to the team at About a Bite bakery for the tip. Make sure you check out their new location on K Street behind the Hyatt.

More News:

Plunge into poke – it’s really cool - In terms of culinary trends, 2015 will be remembered in Sacramento as the Year of Poke. Variations of this Hawaiian seafood salad have long been a staple of local menus, be it as a starter course at Bandera or nestled in the fish counter at Oto’s Marketplace. But now, the raw seafood dish known as poke (pronounced “po-kay”) is primed to become the new shawarma, shabu shabu or other dish du jour. The poke craze in Sacramento was kicked off by Fish Face, the poke bar run by Billy Ngo of Kru at R Street’s WAL Public Market. Since opening in early July, Fish Face has processed up to 120 pounds of fresh tuna daily – sometimes selling out of product – to meet its customer demand. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Beer glassware: It’s not just about what you drink - Why do you drink beer? Your answer will have a lot to do with how you drink beer. If you consider craft beer to be an engaging sensory experience and if you’re committed to seeing, smelling and tasting your beer, then the glassware into which it is poured will be an important consideration. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Foundation Restaurant & Bar: Uneven but stable - One of the real winners is Foundation’s Big Ol’ BBQ burger. There are four burgers on the menu, but the waitress assured us this was a good one. She was right: Topped with sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, two big strips of bacon and house-made barbecue sauce, it was a winner. The beef flavor came through well and the bun held up despite the oceans of sauce and juice that poured forth. Stock up on napkins for this one...Foundation is perfectly fine, if a bit uneven in execution. It’s a good option for lunches and drinks and, come 2016, or whenever the arena opens, it should be packed to the rafters. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

Berry nutty: Strawberry Fields 4EVER, WholeHearted Juice Co. - Try the Strawberry Fields 4EVER ($11 including $1 deposit for the 16-ounce bottle), which delights with almonds, strawberries, cacao butter, dates, vanilla, ocean minerals and sea salt. It's slightly sweet, salty and nutty with a quiet reminder of chocolate-covered strawberries. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Tales and Ales: A Red Solo Cup Anniversary Party - Come celebrate 56 years of enchantment at Fairytale Town, Sacramento’s favorite (and only) storybook park. On the evening of Aug. 29, Fairytale Town welcomes all generations of fans to an anniversary party. While the kids enjoy Fairytale Town’s countless attractions, adults can join local craft breweries in unlimited beer tasting. Fill up your red Solo cup as many times as you want from some of the featured local breweries, including Lost Coast Brewery, Oak Park Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Track 7 Brewing Co. and more. Sara Stidham in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: Broderick Midtown Sets Opening Date


Broderick Restaurant's new midtown outpost is expected to open on Wednesday, reports Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Broderick Roadhouse opens its new location in midtown Sacramento this week, filling space vacated by a short-lived Wahoo's Fish Taco outlet.

The restaurant in the L Street Lofts building will open on Wednesday. Expect something similar to Broderick Roadhouse in West Sacramento, which opened in 2012 and will stay open.

Read the entire story in Sac Biz Journal.

Based on my Facebook feed, it looks like Broderick's already started holding preview nights on Monday, so a Wednesday opening is probably pretty solid.

There are a couple other tidbits related to Team Broderick (officially Working Class Heroes) to share:

  • Congrats to Team Broderick, who won this past weekend's Sactown Wings Festival's Best Overall Wings in Sacramento award.
  • Saddle Rock, which will soon replace Capital Dime, has been holding pop ups around town to build buzz for the place. In early August, they were the guest chefs at the Plates Cafe monthly dinner, and this past weekend, they did a pop up brunch at Localis. Follow them on Facebook to find out where they'll be next.
  • This one's a little dated, but Jess Milbourn (formerly of West Sac's The Eatery) announced he left Broderick in May. He's hinted that he has a new venture coming.

Broderick Midtown is located at 1820 L St, Sacramento.

* Photo via their Facebook Page.

More News:

At-movie dining is catching on in Sacramento, beyond - The hot link cost $8.50, and the equally tasty Ruhstaller 1881 red ale – a beer that’s substantial without being heavy – ordered with it was $9.50. That’s pricey considering it costs $18 to enter the theater. But convenience costs. We also liked the chicken tenders ($7.50), which were crisp and not too greasy. Aside from these items, however, the Esquire’s food selections, including Freschetta pizza and White Castle burgers, do not differ much from what’s available at other theaters. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Coffee house’s shrub drink is worth cultivating - The shrub is actually an old, old drink that has been rediscovered and revamped by a new wave of cocktail artisans and discerning foodies. The Mill’s version is nonalcoholic and drinks more like a craft soda. To the uninitiated, the most notable flavor note is the vinegar – it’s tart in a way that will soothe some and jolt others. But no one denies its palate-pleasing finish that sweeps over the tongue in a way that is crisp, dry and refreshing. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Heirloom tomatoes meet arugula, basil and bacon — as pizza toppings - The news: Instead of ending the run of the Pizza of the Month for July — the Heirloom Tomato and Pancetta Pizza — Guerrera has decided to keep it through August. That’s because of the stunning quality of the heirloom tomatoes she’s finding at farmers markets. “They are looking so beautiful that we will continue serving the pizza,” she wrote.The e-newsletter goes on: “We start with a thinner-crust dough for a medium pizza. Then we add mozzarella and top it with a selection of heirloom tomatoes (these could include Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, Green Zebras or even the yellow Dagma’s Perfections). We then add pancetta, in the form of applewood-smoked bacon. When the pizza comes from the oven, we sprinkle on fresh arugula and basil.” Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Gastronomicon: Revisitng crust knuckles with Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites Pizza - We paid $11.99 before tax and delivery charge for a one-topping large. Was it worth it? Not really. You could argue over the novelty, but when I can get larges from Domino’s for $8 apiece and feel better about actually eating them, that’s what’s gonna happen. Save this pizza for those mired in the stuffed-crust life. Anthony Siino in Sac News & Review.

Construction Starts on Jimmy John’s in Natomas - Construction has started on a new Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches slated for Natomas Town Center. As reported by THE NATOMAS BUZZ in May 2015, the new eatery will be the first franchise for the sandwich chain in the greater Sacramento area. On Natomas Buzz.

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Dining News: Empress Tavern Sets Opening Date


Empress Tavern, Sacramento's most heavily anticipated restaurant, will open at the end of the month, the Sac Bee's Chris Macias reports on Twitter.

Empress is latest effort by Chefs Michael Thiemann and Matt Masera, the team behind the always packed vegetarian restaurant Mother on K Street. The restaurant, located in the basement of the Crest Theater, is expected to focus on rottisserie meats such as smoked prime rib, turducken and porchetta. The bar will be focused on gin, with several local beers on tap and a charity tap, where proceeds go to a local charity. Click here to see a longer menu preview in the Sac Bee.

While prices have yet to be revealed, Thiemann also says that the price point will be below that of the nearby Ella.

The Empress management and staff has long been hired and trained. On a recent visit to Mother, the Empress bar manager was keeping busy by running the cash register, waiting for Empress to open.

The team behind Mother has other concepts in the pipeline, including Maiden, an ice cream parlor, and Queen's Market, a fish shop.

When Empress Tavern opens, it will be located at 1013 K Street, and can be found online at

More News:

First Impressions: Fish Face and Metro Kitchen on the R Street Corridor - The fresh-tasting ahi and smoky-flavored (and cooked) octopus arrived in generous portions in plastic cups. From the point where one first digs in, to about midway into the cup, there’s just enough sauce on the fish to enhance its flavors. But at cup’s bottom, where the fish had been sitting in sauce, things grew overly salty. (Since we visited a few weeks ago, Fish Face has switched to metal bowls for eat-in orders.) Carla Meyer and Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Sacramento Burger Battle sells out quickly; event announces competitors - Six weeks before some of the area’s best chefs compete for bragging rights and burger supremacy at Cesar Chavez Park downtown, Sacramento Burger Battle has already sold out. In just its fourth year, the Burger Battle has gone from an unknown event organized by a self-proclaimed burger junkie to a must-attend gala for foodies. The 2015 rendition takes place Sept. 17, but just last week, the last of the 900 tickets were gobbled up. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Chef changes at Pangaea Bier Cafe - Chef Robb “Rossi” Venditti quietly left Pangaea Bier Cafe earlier this month to launch a new catering company with chef Aimal Formoli of Formoli’s Bistro, according to Pangaea’s new chef Brett Stockdale. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Morgan’s on Main - Jeff and Kellie Morgan, the husband-and-wife team behind the Woodland-based hospitality company Yolo Eats, will open this new restaurant in downtown Woodland in the fall. According to Yolo Eats general manager Brett Gardenhire, Morgan’s on Main (which takes over the space previously occupied by a steakhouse called Hoof and Fowl) will invoke an “old-world industrial feel [and] a modern wood approach” with wrought iron and saddle leather accents, wooden table tops and suspended beams in the dining room. In Sactown Magazine.

Pop-Up Dinner at Block Butcher Bar - Monday Supper is back at Block Butcher Bar on Monday, August 3. Monday Suppers offer a pop-up dinner experience at Block’s intimate hideaway where Chef Allyson Harvie presents a 4-course meal paired with spirit-forward cocktails by Bar Manager, Karina Martinez. We spent the last 5 days with Chef Allyson and Karina as they prepared for Monday Supper, from farmers market trips to hanging tomatoes and testing cocktails. Susan Yee in City Scout Magazine.

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