58 Best Restaurants in Sacramento and the Gold Country, California

Allez

$$ Fodor's choice

The tale of how the couple running this spot for to-go or dine-in French food became husband and wife says all you need to know about their passion for beautifully crafted cuisine—he won her heart with his escargot sauce. In a casual space with ocher walls, six utilitarian stools at the wine bar, and a few tables inside and out, the two serve baguette sandwiches; salads; crepes; stews; and entrées like coq au vin, cassoulet, and pork tenderloin.

4242 Fowler La., Diamond Springs, CA, 95619, USA
530-621–1160
Known For
  • All-day prix-fixe menu (a deal), plus à la carte
  • Sandwich, salad, and dessert lunch boxes
  • Many vegetarian and gluten-free items
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.

Allora

$$$$ Fodor's choice

The husband chef at this East Sacramento restaurant recognized for its singular concept and chic, deep-green aesthetic creates nimbly plated Italian-tinged cuisine his sommelier wife and co-owner pairs with international wines from mostly Italian grapes (the California Nebbiolo selection alone is epic). Seafood is a specialty on the three- to five-course prix-fixe tasting menu, which always includes exceedingly fresh and tender oysters, alluring pasta dishes, and often voluptuous entrées.

Canon

$$$ | East Sacramento Fodor's choice

Farmhouse meets semi-industrial open-kitchen chic at this light-filled restaurant whose executive chef found success in the Midwest and the Napa Valley before returning to Sacramento, where his culinary career began. Carefully chosen produce and proteins go into shareable small plates and larger platters that might include crispy octopus, vegetables à la plancha (seared on a metal plate), or smoked roasted lamb.

1719 34th St., Sacramento, CA, 95816, USA
916-469–2433
Known For
  • Alfresco patio dining in good weather
  • Seasonal cocktails with fresh herbs and fruit
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch

Recommended Fodor's Video

Element

$$ Fodor's choice

The menu describes this restaurant inside an ivy-covered redbrick building as "a comfort kitchen," but the term doesn't do justice to the sophistication displayed in the cuisine and presentation. Dinner items on the seasonally evolving menu have included mushroom dumplings in a shiitake ginger broth, diver scallops with pureed cauliflower and bacon jam, hanger steak with smashed fingerling potatoes, and a corn polenta bowl with asparagus and mushroom gravy.

Ella Dining Room and Bar

$$$$ | Downtown Fodor's choice

This swank restaurant and bar near the Capitol is artfully designed and thoroughly modern. The California–French, farm-to-table cuisine changes seasonally, but typical dishes include oysters on the half shell, steak tartare, and wood-fired bone marrow and entrées like wood-fired beef tenderloin and poached or pan-roasted fish.

Fixins Soul Kitchen

$$ Fodor's choice

A cheery, sometimes boisterous vibe prevails at this ode to Black cuisine and culture that former NBA star and past Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife, Michelle, founded in a high-ceilinged, quasi-industrial space 3½ miles southeast of the Capitol. Expect heapin' helpings of soul food's greatest hits—gumbo, shrimp and grits, oxtails, and fried chicken, catfish, and pork chops among them—that you can pair with sides that include hush puppies, black-eyed peas, candied yams, and collard greens (with turkey necks).

Grounds

$$ Fodor's choice

From potato pancakes for breakfast to grilled rib eye for dinner, this bustling bistro with a series of wainscoted rooms and an outdoor back patio has something for all palates. Lighter grilled vegetables, chicken, sandwiches, salads, and homemade soups always shine here, as does heartier fare that might include elk medallions and prawns, forager-mushroom risotto, and cioppino with a relatively delicate yet full-flavored broth.

Imperial Hotel Restaurant

$$$ Fodor's choice

A 2023 refresh of the Imperial Hotel's ground-floor dining space made the most of its existing charms—tall ceilings, original woodwork, exposed brick walls—enhancing these elements with Gold Country memorabilia, sturdy tables, leather chairs, and metal chandeliers. More important, the owners brought in a chef capable of achieving their aspiration to create offhandedly intricate dishes based on ingredients grown as near as the culinary garden out back.

JoMa's Artisan Ice Cream

$ Fodor's choice

The smell of waffle cones will guide you to this town treasure whose Portuguese-Swiss namesake has been making ice cream since she was a young lass. Handcrafted flavors include Chill'n Cherry Chip (cherries and dark chocolate) and Wake Up Murphys (coffee, cocoa, and fudge).

Localis

$$$$ | Midtown Fodor's choice

Exquisite plating and compelling, at times piquant, flavor combinations are the trademarks of this restaurant whose chef-sommelier owner, Chris Barnum-Dann, won the debut (2021) season of the culinary-competition TV show The Globe. The open-kitchen choreography of Barnum-Dann and his team deftly preparing one intricate dish after another (12 courses, prix-fixe) lends the proceedings a balletic air.

Lola

$$$ Fodor's choice

Riffing off the calculated flamboyance of its namesake, the gold-rush-era celebrity Lola Montez, the National Exchange Hotel's restaurant flirts with excess—long turquoise banquette benches, wall-mounted Persian rugs, swooping brushed-bronze lighting fixtures—yet retains its composure. The chefs show a similar knack for incorporating unexpected elements that enliven but don't undermine dishes like pan-seared salmon, fried chicken, and a double-cut pork chop.

Restaurant Josephine

$$$ Fodor's choice

Something special transpires nightly at this ground-floor restaurant inside Auburn's 1894 redbrick Odd Fellows Hall that transcends the romantic, softly lit space and French bistro–inspired fare. Caviar, fresh oysters, steak tartare, and duck-liver mousse are typical starters, perhaps leading into moules frites (steamed mussels and fries), grilled Duroc pork chop, or pan-roasted fish with foraged mushrooms, all prepared from the heart by chef-owners Eric Alexander and town native Courtney MacDonald.

1226 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA, 95603, USA
530-820–3523
Known For
  • Simple, elegant desserts
  • Classic cocktails and updates
  • French, other European, and California wines
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: ​Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch

Smith Flat House

$$$ Fodor's choice

Carefully sourced ingredients from local purveyors, meticulous execution, and the setting at a former mine site 3 miles east of downtown have made this restaurant a hit among locals, Gold Country tourists, and Tahoe travelers. Wild-mushroom Bordelaise appetizer, jambalaya risotto, and the Black and White entrée of filet mignon and perfectly grilled prawns are among the staples on the seasonally changing menu.

Taste

$$$$ Fodor's choice

A serendipitous find in downtown Plymouth, Taste serves eclectic modern dishes made from fresh local fare. The signature mushroom "cigars"—sautéed shiitake, crimini, and oyster mushrooms rolled with goat cheese in phyllo dough and served with porcini sauce and white truffle oil—are a small-plate staple, and seared day boat scallops, filet mignon, duck leg confit, and a grilled pork chop with foraged mushrooms are examples of the sustainably sourced, creative entrées.

The Kitchen

$$$$ Fodor's choice
The chefs and front-of-house staff at this perennial favorite with a prix-fixe menu pull out all the stops to deliver a multisensory gustatory experience. The flamboyant presentation of courses as a series of "Acts"—not to mention the dramatically lit, flower-bestrewn dining room's intentionally buoyant atmosphere—might distract from the modern American cuisine were it not so well conceived and prepared with such panache and precision.

The Waterboy

$$$ | Midtown Fodor's choice

Rural French cooking with locally sourced, seasonal, high-quality, often organic ingredients is the hallmark of this upscale, white-tablecloth, corner storefront restaurant that's as appealing for a casual meal with friends as it is for a drawn-out romantic dinner for two. Among the mains, try the steak, duck breast, or seasonal seafood, and save room for one of the palate-cleansing desserts.

Timmy's Brown Bag

$ Fodor's choice

The music-loving owner of this downtown shop mashes up ingredients with verve and imagination—a recent grilled purple grapes and feta specimen with micro-herbs, dry-roasted peanuts, and pear vinaigrette is but one example. Regulars rave about three frequently appearing messy-good sandwiches (ask for a fork), namely the banh mi; the chicken satay with harissa cucumber slaw; and the Spam and kimchi with grilled pineapple, chunky chili sauce, and peanut butter.

451 Main St., Placerville, CA, 95667, USA
530-303–3203
Known For
  • Grilled tacos ahogadas (with spicy chili sauce)
  • Top-line ingredients
  • Mainly to-go (just a few tables)
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed. No dinner

Alchemy

$$

A casual spot on the eastern edge of town, Alchemy serves sturdy comfort food like meat loaf, pan-seared fish, and mushroom bourguignon over polenta. Fried calamari with roasted jalapeños and a Caesar with smoked-Gouda croutons are among the starters that pair well with the many Calaveras County wines on the list.

191 Main St., Murphys, CA, 95247, USA
209-728–0700
Known For
  • Alchemy burger with blue cheese
  • Lunch-only sandwiches
  • Mildly pricey for dinner but reliable
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed. No lunch Mon., Tues., and Thurs. (but check)

Aria Bakery & Espresso Cafe

$

For a place as small as it is, this bakery-café produces a staggering array of sweet and savory pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desserts you can enjoy with a well-brewed (if not always swiftly made) coffee, espresso drink, or tea. The croissants are golden and flaky, the quiches moist and filling, and the scones large and flavorful; the breads for lunchtime sandwiches include sourdough, focaccia, and polenta wheat.

Auburn Alehouse

$

Inside the historic American Block building, which dates from 1856, you can see this craft operation's beers being made through glass walls behind the dining room, which serves burgers, fish-and-chips, short rib and fish tacos, salads, sandwiches, and other decent gastropub fare. Gold Country Pilsner, Old Town Brown, and Gold Digger IPA are all Great American Beer Festival award winners.

Awful Annie's

$

One of Auburn's favorite old-time breakfast and lunch spots entices patrons with waffles, pancakes, Monte Cristo French toast, and a slew of egg dishes you can wash down with an award-winning Bloody Mary or two. Feast on burgers, sandwiches, and more Bloody Marys for lunch.

13460 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA, 95603, USA
530-888–9857
Known For
  • Hearty breakfasts
  • Grandma's bread pudding with brandy sauce
  • Town-hangout feel
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Break Even Beermakers Kitchen & Beergarden

$

On some sunny weekends, it seems like half of Amador City has dropped by this small brewery's front porch or umbrella-shaded back patio to enjoy beers that include one made entirely from Amador County hops. The chef, who has a talent for making the familiar unusual, times seasonal items like cornmeal-breaded asparagus fries to local farmers' harvests, with pickled eggs, hot honey walnuts and dates, risotto croquettes, and a sausage-and-kraut plate counting among the year-round possibilities.

14141 Old Hwy. 49, Amador City, CA, 95601, USA
Known For
  • Community milieu
  • Range of beer flavors
  • Grab-and-go items, beers by the can
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed. No lunch Thurs. and Fri.

Cafeteria 15L

$$ | Downtown

The exposed brick, reclaimed wood, and natural light streaming through large-paned windows of this easygoing comfort-food hangout make a great first impression. Favorites like tater tots (in truffle oil), French onion soup, and chicken and waffles (with pecan butter, maple syrup, and pork gravy) prove simultaneously familiar and intriguing.

Camden Spit & Larder

$$$ | Downtown

Upscale London haberdasheries reportedly inspired the aesthetic of this impeccably designed, pressed-metal-ceilinged paean to spit-roasted, Brit-influenced meat dishes. Near Golden 1 Center and Downtown Commons, it's a place to share small offerings like sausage rolls, steak tartare, and local caviar and crumpets (Sacramento is a center of caviar production) before proceeding to salmon, spit-roasted chicken, or English meat pie.

555 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA, 95814, USA
916-619–8897
Known For
  • Winston's Hour (as in Churchill) menu weekdays 3–6
  • Wine, beer, and cider selection
  • Craft cocktails incorporating seasonal fruits, herbs, and vegetables
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch Sat.

Charles Street Dinner House

$$$

Centrally located Charles Street, its rustic decor heavy on the wood and Old West adornments, at once evokes both the gold-rush days and the 1980s, which is when it opened. The extensive straightforward menu includes hand-cut steaks, honey-barbecue baby back ribs, several pasta dishes, chicken, pork loin, lamb, a few well-adorned burgers, and some vegetarian options.

Cirino's at Main Street

$$

With exposed brick walls, a tall ceiling, and a well-worn bar and floor, Cirino's serves up a vast menu of hefty Italian American favorites like Corsican rosemary chicken, steak à la Gorgonzola, and pork chop Milanese. The bar crew, which slings the signature Bloody Mary and other specialty cocktails, is as friendly as the rest of the team.

213 W. Main St., Grass Valley, CA, 95959, USA
530-477–6000
Known For
  • Old-school recipes
  • Homemade soups and sauces
  • Family-friendly attitude
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.

Diamondback Grill and Wine Bar

$

The decor signals more ambitious fare, but massive half-pound burgers and sandwiches like the Ultimate Grilled Cheese with smoked bacon and tomato between three slices of sourdough bread are what this restaurant inside a late-19th-century stone-walled building is about. Locals crowd the tables, especially after 6 pm, for the ground-meat patties, beer-battered onion rings, and veggie burgers.

Ficelle

$$$

If you're in Winters on a day this self-proclaimed "delightfully random place to eat" is open, try to score a seat (no reservations) to enjoy internationally inspired small plates that might include chicken tostadas, marinated lamb, empanadas, or baked eggplant. With a few tables indoors, plus counter seating on stools and more tables outside on a wooden deck, Ficelle, run on the whim of its European owners, lives up to its motto.

5C E. Main St., Winters, CA, 95694, USA
530-795–9593
Known For
  • Festive ambience
  • Alfresco dining
  • Fanciful flavors
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.–Wed. No lunch

Fig Barn Coffee Cafe

$

Breakfast salads, avocado toast, and caffeine several ways are on the menu at this jovial café that’s also a good stop for sandwiches and charcuterie, hummus, and bagel boards. You can eat indoors or watch Main Street’s comings and goings out on the patio.

9506 Main St., Plymouth, CA, 95669, USA
530-268–9808
Known For
  • Cinnamon rolls and other baked goods
  • Well-crafted coffee drinks
  • Local wines and beers
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No dinner

Gold Dust Pizza

$

Zesty pies like the Miner Moe's BBQ Chicken with red onions, pineapple, bacon, and cheese make this casual spot a few steps off Main Street a fitting choice, particularly for lunch or a midafternoon snack. You can also build your own pizza or order a sandwich; there's some indoor seating, but when the weather's good most folks eat outside on the front patio or the creek-side one in back.