Paragary's Midtown

Dining News: 'Dining Experience Disappointed Overall' at Iron Horse Tavern

Iron horse tavern

Iron Horse Tavern is very popular. I've tried to eat dinner there about six weeks after it opened, and was told the wait at about 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening was 45 mins. (We opted to eat elsewhere.)

But is it good? The Sac Bee's Carla Meyer gives her verdict.

There’s just that one hitch to the obvious success of Iron Horse, which serves American comfort food with Asian and Mexican inflections and marks another expansion move by brothers Mason, Alan and Curtis Wong (Cafeteria 15L, Ma Jong’s, Mix Downtown) and their corporate chef, Christian Palmos. Although there were bright spots during our visits, and the space impressed, the dining experience disappointed overall.

Several dishes at Iron Horse were under-seasoned, most notably the beef short rib “strogi.” Though the rib meat was cooked well, giving in easily to a fork, the pappardelle noodles below it lacked flavor beyond that of unsalted boiled water...

It’s hard to think of another new restaurant in recent history whose popularity stood in such contrast to its food quality. It’s not as if the place still just draws first-timers. A friend told me she’s visited Iron Horse several times, and although the food does not impress her, she returns because pals want to meet for drinks and appetizers.

When considering its whole package, it’s not that hard to see why Iron Horse would attract repeat customers. Prices for specialty cocktails (all $10), appetizers ($13 or less) and entrees (most below $20) are reasonable even without happy-hour discounts (half off appetizers, $3 off specialty cocktails), and the food portions are substantial.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

To punctuate the fact that people seem to love Iron Horse, Good Day Sac's Cambi Brown recently tweeted about her love of the restaurant.

While we're on the subject of Iron Horse Tavern, their new location at the Sacramento airport is now open. I can never get the names of the terminals straight, but it's in the non-Southwest terminal.

Iron Horse Tavern is located at 1800 15th St. (R & 15th streets), and can be found online at

More News:

Paragary’s new chef promoted from within - Paragary’s restaurant has promoted executive sous chef Paul DiPierro to chef de cuisine, the position recently vacated by Scott Ostrander, who has taken a job at the Inn at Park Winters...A Rio Americano High School graduate, DiPierro received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in St. Helena. Before Esquire Grill, he worked at St. Helena’s acclaimed Restaurant at Meadowood and at Sacramento’s The Kitchen. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Scott Ostrander is a Chef on the Move - Yet, Ostrander yearned to stretch even further with his vision of using unique ingredients. He recently accepted the job as executive chef for Inn at Park Winters, a special events facility with its own farm. Ostrander has nostalgia for those early days in his career, when he picked fresh basil for his menu, but plans to take the concept to all-new levels. He’s excited to work with ingredients that might include cover crops, edible weeds or flowers from herbs that have gone to seed — items often discarded in traditional restaurant kitchens. Amber Stott in Comstocks Mag.

Carolina’s Mexican Food - Hungry downtowners will have another place to go south of the border when Carolina’s Mexican Food opens its sixth location at 9th and J streets across from Cesar Chavez park at the end of October. In Sactown Mag. (Third Item.)

Block Butcher Bar - The midtown charcuterie hot spot Block Butcher Bar is expanding with lunch service, which is slated to start Nov. 1. In Sactown Mag. (Fourth Item.)

Sacramento Bee reporter’s work appears in ‘Best Food Writing 2015’ - This past April, Sacramento Bee food and wine writer (and now “critic at large”) Chris Macias spent a day with Tim Hanni in the wine educator’s Napa Valley home and discovered a few fascinating things. For one thing, Hanni is an iconoclast whose views are at odds with California’s surprisingly conservative wine culture. For another, the certified Master of Wine is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a swallow in 23 years, yet has found a way to flourish in a profession that’s all about swirling and tasting. Macias’ profile of Hanni is included in the just-published “Best Food Writing 2015,” edited by Holly Hughes, the 16th edition of the anthology (Da Capo, $16, 320 pages). Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: 'Dining Experience Disappointed Overall' at Iron Horse Tavern" »

Dining News: Goldfield Trading Post Closed Temporarily Last Week Due to Rodent Infestation


Goldfield Trading Post was closed for three days due to a rodent infestation, reports Marin Austin on FOX 40.

Last Friday, officials with the county Environmental Management Department shut down the saloon-style restaurant after reportedly finding a dead rodent on the floor next to the ATM machine, seven rodent droppings on top of boxes of sugar and salt, 10 droppings beneath beer taps and two dead cockroaches beneath beer taps...

Goldfield's owner Bret Bair says Goldfield was only closed for three days.

"Rodents entered our [venue] after our landlord opened up the walls to do work on the second floor of the building. [We have since] fixed the problem by patching the walls so there are more no entry points for rodents," Bair said.

Watch the entire video below, or read the entire story on FOX 40.

According to the Sacramento County's Food Facility Inspection Web site, Goldfield was closed after it failed an inspection on Friday, Oct. 2. Among the findings were:

  • Observed dead rodent on floor of room located next to ATM machine
  • 7 rodent droppings on top of boxes of sugar and salt of dry storage shelf in back walk-in refrigerator area
  • 1 dropping on top of container of dry food container in middle prep room
  • 1 dropping on clean inverted hotel tray on shelf in middle prep room
  • 2 droppings on shelf with clean hotel trays in middle prep room
  • 15 droppings on floor of middle prep room, 2 droppings on top of kitchen dishwash machine
  • 2 droppings on top of chemical containers near kitchen dishwash machine
  • 20 droppings on floor of kitchen dishwash machine
  • 4 dropping on floor next to small
  • ice machine
  • 4 droppings on floor beneath uniform storage area
  • 4 droppings in breaker closet
  • 10 droppings on floor of near soda syrup rack area
  • 10 droppings in cabinet beneath beer dispensers.

The restaurant was reinspected the following day and failed again, per county reports.

  • More than 20 rodent droppings in and on condiment rack (salt and pepper shakers, sugar and sweetener containers) under metro shelves in back room.
  • More than 50 droppings on floor below rack 
  • Partially consumed (gnawed open) sugar packet in condiment tray.
  • More than 20 droppings on floor below dish machine drain board - back corner.
  • 1 live adult cockroach found in dry storage room after moving condiment rack out from under metro shelf.

The restaurant was again inspected on Monday, Oct. 5 and passed. "No evidence of an active vermin infestation was found," said the report.

Honestly, it's not unusual to have restaurants closed due to vermin infestation. Obviously, you'd prefer that they not happen, but it happens to both good restaurants more often than you think. I've eaten at Goldfield, and despite their temporary closure, I'll eat and drink there again.

Goldfield is located at 1630 J Street, and can be found online at

More News:

Chef Scott Ostrander leaves Paragary’s - Scott Ostrander, who helped reopen Sacramento’s Paragary’s restaurant in after its $1 million makeover, has left the restaurant. Ostrander has taken a new job as executive chef for reservation-only dining events at the Inn at Park Winters, a resort in rural Yolo County. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

What to expect from Sacramento's coffee week - Here's an excuse to ramp up your standard caffeine jolt this afternoon. Sacramento's Specialty Coffee Week kicks off today and will run through Oct. 18. Some locally owned businesses will offer special items all week. You can also expect a variety of unique events held daily. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Five buzzworthy events to check out during Specialty Coffee Week - From tutorials on how to brew the best cup at home to a three-course meal paired with coffee, and a java-centric barista competition, here are five ways to celebrate Sacramento’s caffeine craze during the second annual Specialty Coffee Week. Gregory Allen and Jessica Rine in Sac Biz Journal.

Specialty Coffee Week 2015 Guide - As America’s farm-to-fork capital, Sacramento’s affection for quality coffee comes as no surprise. Specialty coffee attempts to celebrate farmers across the world and their tireless efforts to grow delicious and sustainable coffee. For the second year, Sacramento has set aside a week to celebrate coffee’s journey from farm to cup with a myriad of educational opportunities. We’ve collected a slice of the happenings so that you can celebrate Specialty Coffee Week and stay caffeinated all week long. A.C. Scott on City Scout Mag.

VIDEO: Specialty Coffee Week - Specialty coffee week is underway with a number of fun and educational events, at Temple Coffee Roasters. Tina Macuha on Good Day Sac Part 1 | Part 2.

Continue reading "Dining News: Goldfield Trading Post Closed Temporarily Last Week Due to Rodent Infestation" »

Dining News: Now Open Downtown - Gina's Filipino Cafe


Gina's Filipino Cafe, the first restaurant on the grid serving Filipino fare, opened for business on Monday at 1011 12th St.

Gina Ramirez, the eatery's owner, said in a short interview on Monday afternoon that she plans to serve lumpia (think egg rolls), embutido (a Filipino meatloaf) and pancit (Filipono rice noodles), among other items. It being her first day and apparently pretty early in the restaurant's planning process, details were still being nailed down, though she said that Filipino fare would likely start being served next week.

Ramirez also said that the restaurant plans to serve pastries and hot American and Filipino breakfast dishes.

From the outside, the previous restaurant's signage was still up, and there seemed to be little if any interior renovation work done.


The restaurant replaces 1011 12th Espresso Bar, which according to Yelp reviews, closed in May 2015.

After Espresso Bar closed, Ramirez said the building owner invited her to take over the space and open a restaurant. This is the Ramirez's first foray into the restaurant industry. Prior to owning Gina's Filipino Cafe, Ramirez worked as a realtor.

The restaurant seems to be a family affair, with Ramirez's son assisting her on their opening day.

In my discussions with her on Monday, it sounded like many of the details have yet to be finalized. However, I plan to support this small business as they get off the ground, and I look forward to another lunch option in that part of town.

Gina's Filipino Cafe is located at 1011 12th Street, and will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.

More News:

Going to Roseville's new Dunkin' Donuts? Read this first - Earlier this month, the company announced a Sept. 29 opening date for its new location at 5010 Foothills Blvd. But now, the opening has been pushed back until Oct. 6. Opening-day festivities begin at 5 a.m. and will include special events such as giveaways and a cup-stacking contest. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Favorite Sacramento Restaurants 2015 - When you are a food blogger, critic, or writer, the number one question has got to be, "What are your favorite restaurants in town?" To that end, I hereby submit my current list. The last time I did this was in 2011 and a lot has changed. In another 18 months, even more so with the 30-50 new restaurants expected thanks to the new arena. Catherine Enfield on Munchie Musings.

Haines brothers plan entertainment patio at new Pavilions restaurant - Sacramento restaurateurs Matt and Fred Haines are embarking on what might be their most ambitious project: a 3,600-square-foot eatery, called The Grove, with an equally large patio area at the Pavilions Shopping Center on Fair Oaks Boulevard. The brothers just signed a lease for the space and are excitedly talking about making it a regional draw as an entertainment locale as well as an innovative farm-to-fork dining spot. The projected opening date: March of next year. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

Sacramento's Best Patios - Hot August nights. Indian summers. Delta breezes. We have many reasons – and many seasons – to seek out the patio life in Sacramento. There’s a luxury and a freedom that comes with dining al fresco. You can laugh louder, hear one another, feel the sun (or the shade) and engage in some people-watching at the street happenings. Featuring Paragary's Restaurant, Temple Coffee, LowBrau, Coin Op and Oak Park Brewing CompanyMichelle Labi-Klonecke on City Scout Mag.

Brew News - This week Ruhstaller reintroduces Hop Sac, its wet-hopped ale, to local markets like Nugget, Corti Brothers and the Davis Co-op. Produced annually, Hop Sac features two versions this year—one made with hops from its farm in Dixon and the other created with hops from Utterback Farm in Sloughhouse. Although they use the same recipe, each of the smooth, refreshing beers is distinct. In Sactown Magazine.

Continue reading "Dining News: Now Open Downtown - Gina's Filipino Cafe" »

Dining News: Sellands, Paragary, Lowbrau & Star Ginger Coming to Golden 1 Center


Continuing its commitment to support local businesses, the Sacramento Kings and Legends Hospitality announced the initial set of restaurants that will serve fans as they attend events at the future home of the Kings.

Local businesses will include:

  • Paragary Restaurant Group, with brands Centro, Paragary's and Cafe Bernardo likely serving Centro Street Tacos featuring corn tortillas handmade on the concourse, Paragary’s wood fired pizzas and Café Bernardo burgers and shakes.
  • Selland Family Restaurants, likely serving Wood fired pizza with chicken, bacon, goat cheese, jalapeños, mozzarella, parmesan and arugula. 
  • Lowbrau, likely serving Housemade bratwurst with bier cheese and duck fat fries.
  • Star Ginger, likely serving Thai BBQ chicken banh mi sandwich with sriracha aioli, pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeño.

First, the new arena deserves credit for adding local restaurants into the mix for in-arena dining. I hope the restaurants offer arena-exclusive items that you can't get at their regular restaurant. If I want a standard banh mi from Star Ginger, it'll be more convenient and cheaper to get it at her storefront. The next level will be dishes that can only be purchased at the arena.

What went unsaid today is what restaurants will be near the arena. Many restaurant insiders fear that you may be able to eat at Selland's inside the arena, but will be stuck eating at Hooters or ESPN Zone before or after the game. I hope the Kings continue their commitment to local restaurants as they fill in the space around the arena also.

More News:

Chicago Fire pizzeria chain sails along with Windy City flavor - Schnetz is the 48-year-old CEO and corporate chef of West of Chicago Restaurants Inc. In 2003, he opened his first Chicago Fire pizzeria on Folsom’s historic Sutter Street. Today, his company also oversees Chicago Fire restaurants in midtown Sacramento, Roseville and in the Palladio at Broadstone shopping complex south of downtown Folsom. Combined, the eateries employ about 230. In February, Schnetz plans to open a fifth local Chicago Fire outlet in Elk Grove. Beyond that, he’s contemplating pizzerias in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and locales outside California. Mark Glover in the Sac Bee.

Starbucks unexpectedly closes downtown store ... and plans more alcohol sales in region - In other Starbucks news: here's an update on plans to offer alcohol at additional Sacramento-area Starbucks stores. Multiple locations have already applied to sell beer and wine. According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's website, some of the most recent applications include stores at 4033 Cavitt Stallman Road in Granite Bay and 1790 Auburn Ravine Road in Auburn. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Mahoroba Bakery Featured On Public Television - Mahar­­oba Japanese Bakery was recently featured on Public Television’s A Few Great Bakeries. I caught it the other night on KVIE. Yes, I’m a supporter of public television and local businesses. Mahoroba in Sacramento was prominently featured along with some of the finest ba­­­keries in the United States. From the Columbus Baking Company in Syracuse, New York to the Minerva Bakery in Mckeesport, Pennsylvania. Greg Brown on SacramentoLand.

September is Food Literacy Month! - It's a big month for my friends over at the Food Literacy Center. It's Food Literacy Month! That means a lot of activities and money from Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Weeks helping them out. Oh, and they are busy voting for Veggie of the Year too. Catherine Enfield on Munchie Musings.

Continue reading "Dining News: Sellands, Paragary, Lowbrau & Star Ginger Coming to Golden 1 Center" »

Dining News: RIP Sushi Paradiso


Sushi Paradiso has met the same fate as the two other restaurants that preceded it in that space - Table 260 and Trio.

The sushi restaurant located at 826 J Street closed over the last month. A For Lease sign was visible in the window during a visit on Monday evening.

The restaurant didn't leave any parting messages on the door or on their social media platforms, which had been dormant for over a year.

The Sac Bee recently described the restaurant as "Ho-Hum" in  Nov. 2014:

At this point, I cannot recommend it as a viable option simply because the quality of the food does not hold up to superior competition like Lou’s Sushi. The dinner scene lacks the vibrancy and urban style of a place like Mikuni. Why would you eat at Sushi Paradiso? Most people need more of a reason than 50-percent-off rolls.

There are other issues. During one visit, several items on the menu were not available; some had been discontinued altogether, but the menu had not been revised. That just feels like a lack of effort. The chirashi sushi – a selection of fish set atop rice – was sub-par. The fish didn’t taste fresh, especially the salmon, and the rice had clearly been sitting for too long and was dry and dull.

Sushi Paradiso originally opened in early 2014. I ate there several times at the beginning and also found the restaurant looking for a crowd. I distictly remember loving the house-cured salmon roe, though apparently that delightful ingredient wasn't enough to keep the restaurant afloat.

Sushi Paradiso is owned by Hoon "Mike" Jang, who also owns Sensei Sushi in Rancho Cordova. A late night call to Sensi Sushi was not answered.

More News:

Paragary’s: Pretty on the outside - With Scott Ostrander (formerly of another Paragary restaurant, Esquire Grill) leading the kitchen, the dishes also match the interior’s beauty. Though not quite tweezer food, Ostrander’s plates boast dots of sauces, little leaves for color and other flourishes. Yes, the $29 scallops look like they should cost $29. The $25 chicken ballotine looks like $25. With the atmosphere and excellent, attentive service, a night out at Paragary’s should feel like the ideal special occasion destination. Too bad the food is generally underwhelming. At times, crushingly so. Nothing is awful. You won’t walk away from Paragary’s repulsed, but you’ll likely walk away wondering why you didn’t spend the evening somewhere else. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival: Events from rarefied to earthy - As Sacramento’s third annual Farm-To-Fork Celebration, which kicked off Wednesday, eats and drinks its way toward culmination on the Tower Bridge with a multicourse meal Sept. 27, let’s spotlight five must-do events among dozens on offer. Find details and tickets at Allen Pierleoni and Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

California Craft Brewers Showcase wows with 'can you top this?' beers - Held last Saturday afternoon on Capitol Mall under a splotchy, smoky, orange-brown sky, with the skeleton of the new downtown arena looming to the north, the California Craft Brewers Showcase served as the final blowout for the two-day California Craft Beer Summit. The summit was all bout speeches and symposia, but the beer did the talking on Saturday afternoon, and the nature of the event seemed to inspire a “can-you-top-this?” attitude in the breweries. Daniel Barnes in Sac News & Review.

It was hopping at California Craft Beer Summit - The inaugural California Craft Beer Summit kicked off Friday at the Sacramento Convention Center, as 2,000-plus turned up to learn, taste and rub elbows with a mix of commercial brewers, retailers, suppliers, home brewing enthusiasts and consumers. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

On the Hunt for the Elusive Rare Beer - Looking to boost your rare-brewski cred? The easiest way is to drop by local bottle shops and grocery stores on a regular basis and strike up a conversation with the beer buyer. These people can tell you what’s trending, what’s all hype and no substance, what’s coming in next and what they’re hiding in the back for discerning customers. This technique works best when you’re looking for a trendy but not super-rare beer (I got Clown Shoes’ Photosphere Phil this way) or a beer with a time-limited but widespread release. (Think any of Firestone Walker’s Proprietor’s Reserve Series.) A couple of weeks back, the buyer at Roco Wine & Spirits slipped two Crux Fermentation Project beers in my hand and advised me to post photos of the bottles on social media. “They are Instagram gold,” he told me. Diana Bizjak in Sac Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: RIP Sushi Paradiso" »

Dining News: The Definitive Profile of Randy Paragary


Thousands of words have been written about Randy Paragary over the last few weeks with the debut of his namesake restaurant Paragary's Midtown. But none is as good, revealing or complete as this article recently posted by Sactown Mag.

Here's a tidbit from Patrick Mulvaney:

And the learning didn’t stop when they left. Patrick Mulvaney says that he turned to Paragary frequently when he first started his own celebrated establishment Mulvaney’s B&L. “The first couple of years I would call and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’ The phone call was always returned promptly and he’d say, ‘Here’s the answer’ or ‘This is a big one—come down to Esquire and you buy the wine and I’ll buy dinner.’ ” That, he adds, is how Paragary deals with all his workers when they move on.

“He does have a kindness that not everyone is aware of,” says Spataro. “Usually, you see it when individuals ask for help. They might be employees, they might be friends, whatever. He can be kind and generous in that way. A lot of people don’t see that because he doesn’t make a big deal about it.”

That mentoring and largesse has pushed him to be called the godfather of Sacramento’s ever-growing restaurant culture enough times to make the moniker stick.

If you want to know why the dining scene is the way it is in Sac, read the entire story by Anita Chabria.

They also have a great infographic of the Paragary "coaching tree" and how he's touched so many restaurants in Sacramento.

More News:

Booze coming to another theater - Alcohol might be coming to the movie theater at Folsom's Palladio at Broadstone. The theater, Palladio 16 Cinemas, has applied for a license to sell beer and wine, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Potted plant desserts are a thing you can now buy in Sacramento - It may look like a shovel plunging through a potful of dirt—disturbing whatever green thing is trying to grow—but it’s actually tiramisu. With a shovel-looking spoon. Yeah. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

The Firehouse Restaurant - Life just got a little sweeter at The Firehouse Restaurant, which unveiled three new desserts on June 5 created by pastry chef Kam Golightly, who joined the Old Sacramento establishment in April and whose résumé includes stints at Oakland’s Oliveto Restaurant & Cafe and Yountville’s Redd (which Esquire magazine listed as one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2006). Tori Masucci Cummins & Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag. (Fourth Item.)

Continue reading "Dining News: The Definitive Profile of Randy Paragary" »

Dining News: Pigs & Pinot Event at Cask & Barrel on Friday, 6/26


If you haven't been to Cask & Barrel recently, you're missing out.

(Disclosure, they're an advertiser, but I really do love them. This is not a paid post.)

Executive Chef Gabriel Glasier, Pastry Chef Kristel Flores and the rest of the team are turning out some of the most inventive and creative food in Sacramento. And that's before you even get to their BBQ, which is smoked for 7 hours and then cook sous vide for another 48 or 72 hours (depending on the meat).

But here's your chance to sample the restaurant without too much of a commitment.

On Friday, June 26, Cask & Barrel will have a Pigs & Pinot event, where the chef will roast a 60 pound Berkshire pig from the Heritage Group in a Caja China Box. (I didn't know what one was either. Basically, it's an aluminum box with coals on top. The pig will cook in approximately 5 hours. One way to visualize it is a way to do a Hawaiian pig roast, but above ground. Here's more info.) In addition, the chef told me recently he will likely season it Filipino style. He'll also go whole hog and serve trotters, ears and other parts of the pig as treats at the event.

With that delicious pork will be wine tasting with 12 pinots from California and around the world, curated by Matthew Lewis of WineCentric. The first wine on the list? A premiere cru from Beaune-France. That bottle itself costs $60.

The event is only $15. To get tickets or for more info, visit

More News:

Paragary's reveals 'drastic' remodel - A simple goal dominates a remodeled Paragary's restaurant: Don't be boring. "It just didn't keep up with the competition. It became boring. We don't want to be boring anymore," local restaurateur Randy Paragary said of his flagship restaurant at the corner of 28th and N streets in midtown Sacramento. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

A healthier truck stop - Saba Rahimian’s Granola Girl food truck is finally ready for business. The former yoga teacher started her Granola Girl brand in February 2014, at first selling superfood-charged granola online. Then, last fall, she planned to unveil a food truck selling a mix of granola bowls, juice and hot food—with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options—but got bogged down in mechanical and permit-related delays. Until now. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

About a Bite Bakery - This local bakery, which specializes in mini confections, plans to open its first storefront on K Street at the end of June, replacing the former Blush Ultra Lounge nightclub next to Tequila Museo Mayahuel. Tori Masucci Cummins & Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag. (First Item.)

Restaurant app lets you pay more to get to the head of the line - A locally developed app that allows users to name their own discounts at restaurants has added a new feature — the ability to pay a premium in order to get to the head of the line. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Dining News: Pigs & Pinot Event at Cask & Barrel on Friday, 6/26" »