Brasserie Capitale

A Taste of France in the Heart of downtown Sacramento

Photo courtesy Brasserie Capitale

Photo courtesy Brasserie Capitale

From the opulent velvet upholstery to the imported golden light fixtures and the sleepy jazz playing in the background, Brasserie Capitale's mood rivals the joie de vivre found in any Parisian bistro. The space is light and airy, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto a busy pedestrian mall, and it’s hard to believe it is in downtown Sacramento, not Montmartre or the Left Bank. The approachable menu is traditional French. Starters include rustic favorites: cured salmon, pâté and escargots.

One highlight was the French onion soup, the broth clearly simmered for hours to extract every molecule of flavor. Mains are also prepared with the same patience and precision. Quiche Lorraine was creamy and quivering, the steak frites shone in its simplicity, the meat well-seasoned and tender. Other delicacies are a roasted monkfish and grilled pork shoulder, as well as daily specials of coq au vin, bouillabaisse and cassoulet. Chantilly rum cake, crème brûlée and profiteroles are among desserts. Dozens of French wines and beers are available, as are classic cocktails such as the kir royale and French 75. Stop by the sister eatery next door, Cafe a Cote, for a coffee, pastry or grab-and-go sandwich.

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La Venadita

Urban design meets historic charm at gourmet taqueria

La Venadita, in the burgeoning Triangle District, welcomes families and hipsters alike with its artisan take on the traditional Mexican taqueria. Housed in a corner building that sat neglected for years, the reincarnation is open and airy, the exposed beams and original brick balanced with oversize windows, bright pink walls and Mexican artwork. A cheerful outdoor patio is dotted with vivid red chairs and tables covered in colorful floral oilcloth.

Photo courtesy La Venadita

Photo courtesy La Venadita

The menu features south-of-the-border favorites such as enchiladas and burritos, but the draw here are the tacos. The carne asada taco was impressive in its simplicity, the flavorful meat offset with the tang of citrus and the punch of red onions. The shrimp taco was equally indulgent, the briny, buttery shrimp cut with the bite of fried jalapeños. By far the hit was the popular vampiro --- chile-infused pork encased in fried cheese. The bar offers a bevy of craft cocktails, including the "a la Juanito" with chile vodka, lemon and bitters, and the "Maria Felix" with Aperol, bourbon and grapefruit bitters. Sunday brunch features dishes such as carnitas hash, menudo and chilaquiles.

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OBO' Italian Table & Bar

Neighborhood eatery offering rustic Italian cuisine in a modern, relaxing setting.

Photo courtesy OBO' Italian Table & Bar

Photo courtesy OBO' Italian Table & Bar

At the same time rustic and refined, simple and sophisticated, OBO' is a humble neighborhood bistro that is a welcome gem in an otherwise bland stretch of town. The interior is inviting and warm, with a white hex tile floor and a collection of wooden pizza peels dangling from the ceiling. A bright outdoor patio lines the perimeter of the building, its aqua tables and yellow umbrellas popping against the red brick exterior.

The menu is predominantly Italian, featuring pizza, pastas, entrées and sandwiches. Braised short ribs, doused in a tomato gravy, were tender, and paired well with the creamy Parmesan polenta. Chicken pesto campanelle was light and satisfying, the grassy sauce balanced by sweet corn and milky ricotta. With a bakery on site, desserts are a must. The chocolate cherry cream puff was indulgent yet delicate, the generous filling sweet but not cloying, while the chocolate budino could satisfy even the most hopeless chocoholic. The exclusively Italian wine list is comprehensive, offering dozens of wines by the glass, while several locally-produced beers are available on tap.

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