Dining News: Owners of The Cinders to Open Oak Park Taqueria


Brothers Tom and David Schnetz grew up in Sacramento. The former went on to open five successful restaurants in the East Bay. The later became a successful Sacramento construction expert.

Now, the two brothers have partnered on a second Sacramento establishment - an upscale taqueria and cocktail bar in Oak Park, reports Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

The menu will likely include a mix of tacos with Niman Ranch meats, tortas, tamales and soups along with beer, wine and cocktails using tequila and mezcal...

He worked for a couple of San Francisco restaurants, then opened his own place – Doña Tomás – in the Temescal district of Oakland in 1999.

His next venture, in west Berkeley, was an upscale taqueria called Tacubaya, which will be the model for the Oak Park operation.

Schnetz has three other restaurants – Flora, Fauna and Xolo – clustered at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.

The restaurant does not yet have a name. Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

* Photo via Google Street View.

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Taqueria to Inhabit Historic Oak Park Building - A successful Bay Area restaurateur with Sacramento roots is preparing to open a taqueria in a now-vacant building at Broadway and 35th Street in Sacramento's Oak Park neighborhood...Schnetz is partnering with his brother, David, in the yet-to-be named business...A specific date has not yet been set, but Schnetz is planning on a February 2016 opening. Dennis Shanahan on FOX 40.

Sacramento’s Oak Park Neighborhood Seeing Revitalization - Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood was once one of the most popular neighborhoods in Sacramento with local shops and businesses within walking distance from homes. Then Oak Park experienced a downturn as many businesses and homeowners left. Now the neighborhood south and east of Downtown Sacramento is experiencing a revitalization. An old building will soon house a new space, home to a new taqueria run by Dave Shnetz and his Bay Area restaurateur brother Tom. Kelly Ryan on CBS 13.

Sacramento bartender spent months making nocino liqueur - Not only is Ryan Seng the head bartender at the four-star Grange restaurant inside the Citizen Hotel, he’s also an accomplished alchemist. The proof is his handmade batch of nocino, more than three months in the making. “I played around with it for awhile,” Seng said. “I’m really happy with how the flavor turned out.” Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Feast gift guide: 15 (mostly) local ideas ready for wrapping paper - The holiday gift-giving season will be out of the oven shortly, a merry post-Thanksgiving feast of hunting and gathering that somehow seems to arrive at the table each year before we do. It’s not too early to cook up ideas for stocking stuffers, host gifts and under-the-tree presents for your favorite food enthusiast. To help, we’ve prepped some dishy ideas. In the Sac Bee.

Pizza restaurant plans Howe Bout Arden location - A build-it-yourself pizza chain is coming to the Howe Bout Arden shopping center, where a massive redevelopment plan is in the works...The address posted on Facebook says MOD Pizza will fill suite 180, an address that previously belonged to Baja Fresh. The Mexican restaurant closed its Arden Way location this past summer. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Dining News: Owners of The Cinders to Open Oak Park Taqueria" »

Dining News: Now (Soft) Open - Meet & Eat


Cowtown Eats first brought you a sneak peek at Meet & Eat, a new Curtis Park restaurant by the owners of Cafe Dantorels, last week.

Since then, it's held its soft opening.

Sac Biz Journal's Sonya Sorich paid a visit took a look at the menu:

The current menu, which displays words such as "artisan" and "organic," features a variety of interesting options. Morning selections range from french toast ($10) to breakfast tacos ($12). Later in the day, a "taco bar" option features three tacos served with tortilla chips for $13 to $15.

There's an assortment of salads, burgers and sandwiches as well. Many include unique twists, such as the veggie sandwich ($13) that filled with beets and eggplant and served with fries. The salmon salad ($13) is equally intriguing, as its toppings include paprika-filled green olives.

Read the entire story in Sac Biz Journal.

The Sac Bee's Bob Shallit also has a couple more details on the place:

The plan is to offer “high-end” burgers and tacos, salads and a lot more. Breakfasts, traditional and European style, also will be served. Once its alcohol permit is awarded, the restaurant will have 24 craft beers on tap along with a diverse wine selection.

Read the entire article in the Sac Bee. (Third item.)

From what I hear, the liquor license will be in place before Thanksgiving. I look forward to giving the place a try.

Meet & Eat is located at 3445 Freeport Blvd.

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Paragary’s marketing chief moves to start-up - Long-time Paragary’s marketing director Callista Polhemus has a new gig. Starting Monday, she’s taking over promotion duties for Requested, a start-up launched by Sonny Mayugba, her one-time boss at the Paragary Restaurant Group. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

So bubbly: High Mountain Tea Creama, ShareTea Davis - Because it's from the birthplace of boba, we expect Taiwanese company ShareTea to craft pretty legit tapioca drinks, even amid its rapid expansion across the United States. Luckily, the Davis post meets those lofty expectations. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Sienna New American Grill - This elegant El Dorado Hills restaurant, which offers over 20 bourbon options on its menu, is hosting its first Bourbon Dinner Nov. 19 with a lavish four-course meal and drink pairings. Heather Kemp and Johanna Pugh in Sactown Magazine. (Fourth Item.)

Happy Hour Hound: Club Pheasant - I can easily see myself heading to West Sacramento for happy hour or a proper dinner at Club Pheasant in the near future. While I was there I overheard customers raving about the lamb stew and steak sandwiches, both of which I’m excited to try. Club Pheasant’s happy hour is Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m.–6 p.m. Ronnie Cline in Submerge Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: Now (Soft) Open - Meet & Eat" »

Dining News: Critical Consensus Forming on New Blackbird?


Blackbird reopened in late February. In the last several weeks, the region's two largest newspapers have printed reviews of the place, and their conclusions largely mirrored each other.

First, Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee:

The new version’s food, at its best, shows admirable amounts of creativity and finesse. Even dishes that need more work, such as the steak dinner (on the tough side) or the pasta (a bit goopy), are relatively minor misses that could be resolved by taking a look at execution and consistency...

For a restaurant on the comeback trail, Blackbird is headed in the right direction. In the past, I have questioned whether Lampkin, ever the artist, can give the kitchen the kind of commitment and focus it needs in the months ahead.

For now, it’s a work in progress for Lampkin, who brings something different to the local restaurant scene. Her food has its own style. She has a passion to make Blackbird 2.0 flourish. Once this restaurant settles in, it could be poised to truly distinguish itself this time.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

Second, here's Garrett McCord in Sac News & Review:

Chowder fries are nifty in theory—fries covered in bay shrimp, bacon and parsley, then doused with chowder—Blackbird’s play on poutine. A lack of acid and serious sogginess issues mar it from being a landmark dish, however. Steamboat oysters are served with caramelized leeks, Parmesan and plenty of bacon, and demand attention...

Wagyu beef tartare is a good measure of what’s going on in the kitchen, and Blackbird’s is certainly promising: Served with quail egg, paprika and artichoke confit, one cannot help but blush at the taste...

The drama surrounding Blackbird’s 2013 closure certainly left a bad taste in many mouths, yet like a phoenix, with as much radiance and fanfare, it’s now risen from the ashes and brought itself back to life. Some tinkering certainly needs to happen—a bit more thought and balance in the food, to be sure. However, the restaurant effuses a vibe that it’s striving to overcome obstacles, both past and present, which makes this eater excited to return again and again.

Read the entire review in Sac News & Review.

As for me, I've only been there once for happy hour, and found their fish taco extremely well done. That experience, along with these generally positive reviews, have convinced me to give them another shot. But I'll wait another month or two for them to fix their execution issues first.

Blackbird is located on 9th St. between J and K streets, and can be found online at

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VIDEO: El Dorado Hills restaurateurs take on music giant, pay for principles - When Mark and Karoline Platt, owners of Sienna, an upscale restaurant in El Dorado Hills, decided to disagree with music licensing giant BMI, they had no idea how costly it would get. "We paid them for what we feel it's worth," Mark Platt said of their decision to send a check to BMI for $63.50 instead of the $2,100. BMI wanted. Dave Marquis on News 10.

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Dining News: 'Dramatic, Impressive Cuisine' Under New Chef at The Kitchen


Earlier this year, John Griffiths replaced Noah Zonca (who left to eventually open Capital Dime) as the chef and face at The Kitchen. So how's he doing? Sac Mag's Kira O'Donnell has the details.

I found it to be a quieter, gentler-on-the-senses evening. The demonstration-style dinner rolls out much the same way it always has: visually stunning, diner-inclusive and packed with colorful ingredient information. But there is a respectful emphasis on the food and minimal glitzy theatrics. Griffiths connects nicely with his guests, guiding them thoughtfully through his menu, but his softer demeanor and passionate interest in his dishes, mixed with a dry, clever wit, makes for a more subtle dining experience...

Swapping chefs at an established, high-profile restaurant can be a dicey affair. Selland admits that some longtime customers of The Kitchen are grumbling about the new, toned-down ambience. But I would encourage anyone interested in sophisticated farm-to-fork dining to visit and sample the dramatic, impressive cuisine that Griffiths and his talented staff are plating up. I think you’ll find that the changing of the guard at this Sacramento restaurant institution has been a successful one.

Read the entire story in Sac Mag.

I paid my first visit to The Kitchen just as John Griffiths became chef. My thoughts on it are coming in a future post.

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Roseville restaurant owner missing; business closed - The speculation about the mysterious disappearance of the prominent Roseville developer behind the city’s Sammy Hagar-themed restaurant engulfed the city Tuesday, as fellow business owners wondered aloud whether the seemingly stable owner is a victim of foul play, was in an accident or just needed time off the grid. The last confirmed sighting of developer Stephen Pease, 57, was Nov. 3 when he checked out of a seaside motel in Fort Bragg. In his absence, Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar & Grill closed its doors Sunday – temporarily, according to a note left on its door. Ed Fletcher in the Sac Bee.

Grange's master of cured meats leaving Sacramento for Cleveland - Sacramento’s about to lose one of its star sous chefs and go-to guy for some of the best charcuterie in Sacramento. Friday will mark the final shift for Brad Cecchi of Grange, who wowed many a local palate with his handcrafted prosciutto, salami and other cured meats. Cecchi (pictured above, right) is off to Cleveland, where he’ll serve as executive chef of the upcoming Urban Farmer, a farm-to-table styled steakhouse run by the Sage Restaurant Group of Denver. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Popeyes planned for former Jack in the Box in Roseville - Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will open one of its restaurants in Roseville at 1100 Douglas Blvd. The site had previously been a Jack in the Box restaurant. Mark Anderson in the Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Dining News: 'Dramatic, Impressive Cuisine' Under New Chef at The Kitchen" »

Daily Dining Deals: Sienna, Squeeze Inn West Sac, Pizza


Sienna in El Dorado Hills is one of the rare upscale restaurants that will feature the occasional half off deal. I've been there for happy hour before heading out to the IMAX theater, and had a great time. Here's your chance to give them a try for half off.

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Looking for more deals like this? Check out the Cowtown Eats guide to saving 50 percent at good restaurants.

Daily Dining News: Billy Zoellin's Bacon & Butter to open on May 20

Billy Zoellin, the chef formerly at The Golden Bear when it was featured on Food Network's Diners, Dives and Drive Ins, new restaurant is opening on May 21. Located on 21st between K and L streets, Bacon and Butter fills the space formerly occuped by short-lived mexican resturant Mezkal. Sac Press's Brandon Darnell has more:

Bacon and Butter, located in the same building as Club 21 at 1119 21st St., will serve breakfast, lunch and brunch in a space designed to make diners feel like they are in their grandmothers’ kitchens.

“The name came because I was thinking about what you do, and it’s your bread and butter,” the 28-year-old Zoellin said Tuesday. “And then I thought, ‘What’s better than bread?’ For me, the answer was bacon.”

In addition to The Golden Bear, Zoellin worked at The Kitchen and two restaurants run by local restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney.

Read the entire article in Sac Press.

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Planned Bento Box adds to Sacramento's sushi row - Jonathan Kim, owner of the two Bento Box restaurants, is opening a new location later this year in downtown Sacramento. The location will take 5,600-square-feet at the ground floor of the office building at 1600 K St. Mark Anderson in the Sac Biz Journal.

Brunch on the horizon: One week to get ready for Mother's Day dining - Sacramento has plenty of brunch options, and we traversed the region looking for them. We focused on quality cooking, interesting and meaningful menu options, fair prices, setting with service. We ordered omelets whenever we could, for the omelet done right indicates solid technique, attention to detail and an appreciation for proper seasoning. We landed in Auburn, El Dorado Hills and Old Sacramento, midtown and downtown. We even found restaurants serving excellent but underappreciated brunch fare within minutes of Tower Café, where folks line up for 30 minutes or more to get a table for brunch. Featuring Dad's Kitchen, Sienna, Hot Italian, The Eatery, Maranello, Bistro Michel, Taylor's Kitchen, Restaurant Thir13en, Latitudes and the Delta King. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Dining review: Mostly hits, a few big misses at Grange - My first meal under Ridgeway was excellent, though I don't remember much from the farm – it was all about the sea. The salmon was a thing of beauty – thick, rich in color and "undercooked" to perfection. Crispy skin on one side gave the fish an extra textural component, yet it was cool and tender and succulent in the middle. It showed exactitude and maybe a touch of moxie. The carne asada dish that day was something special, too, showing that this chef took to heart his time cooking in New Mexico. The Southwestern flavors were intense, exciting and thorough...Grange is not amazing. The food is good and sometimes very good. The service can still range from very good to pretty good, with routine table maintenance sometimes falling short. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Daily Dining News: Billy Zoellin's Bacon & Butter to open on May 20" »