Sacramento Magazine May 2023

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Yosemite’s Vernal Fall

Overflowing with Adventure

This past winter’s epic snow means world-class, historic waterfalls in Yosemite this year. You won’t want to miss it!

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SACMAG.COM May 2023 7 Table of Contents / Staff Box / Editor’s Note / Contributors May 34 YOSEMITE IN THE SPRING Roaring waterfalls backdrop the splendor of the park.
50 STORYTELLING, SPICE & EVERYTHING NICE Romance writer Julie Soto heats up the page. By Catherine
61 OUR WEDDING Who Pays For the Big Day? Popping the Question
By Krista
By Luna Anona and Angela Knight gabriel
Sunrise over Yosemite Valley




75 HEROES AND VILLAINS Brent Trayce Sands’ comic book superheroes


84 FRESH CHOICE Paste Thai in Davis

86 TOOLING AROUND Chefs’ favorite gadgets

88 DINE Restaurant guide


Upper Yosemite Fall

Mad Dog Market
Raising chicks
program 23 E XPLORATION GAMIFIED Visit Placer’s interactive invitation 24 SUSTAINABLE SAC Don’t trash it, compost it 27
Can cryo help
Romance writer Julie Soto
Cryotherapy for pain
day bliss )
curry with chicken from Paste Thai )
gabriel teague

Experience That Leads To Excellent Results

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Education Profi les Special Section

10 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE May 2023 What’s Happening in Sac? Get Local Updates In Your Inbox Every Weekday. SIGN UP ON In this issue and online / May 2023 SACMAG.COM Vote Now! Nominate your favorite business for this year’s Best of Sacramento. The Nomination phase is April 10–June 11, 2023. The Finals phase is July 3–Aug. 6, 2023. Results will be published in the October 2023 issue.  SACMAG.COM/BOSVOTE
Learn about schools that are working hard to engage children’s minds and help them flourish. See pages 84–87.




JULY 14 • 8PM


JULY 29 • 7:30PM

JUNE 2 • 8PM
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Dennis Rainey


Krista Minard


Gabriel Teague



Darlena Belushin McKay


Marybeth Bizjak


Sasha Abramsky, Luna Anona, Mark Billingsley, Diana Bizjak, Cathy Cassinos-Carr, Kara Chin, Sena Christian, Marcus Crowder, Ed Goldman, Dorsey Griffith, Angela Knight, Elena M. Macaluso, Reed Parsell, Kari L. Rose Parsell, Bill Romanelli, Thea Marie Rood, Nora Heston Tarte, Mari Tzikas Suarez, Catherine Warmerdam, Sara E. Wilson



Debbie Hurst


Kat Alves, Gary and Lisa Ashley, Mike Battey, Beth Baugher, Francisco Chavira, Debbie Cunningham, Wes Davis, Terence Duffy, Tim Engle, Kevin Fiscus, Kevin Gomez, Aniko Kiezel, Ryan Angel Meza, Tyler Mussetter, Stephanie Russo, Rachel Valley, Susan Yee



Lisa Bonk


Duffy Kelly, Victor Obenauf, Carla Shults


John Facundo



Dan Poggetti



Riley Meyers


David Benvenuto



Stephen Rice



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STORY IDEAS Have you spotted something appropriate for editorial coverage in Sacramento Magazine? Please submit as much information as possible about the subject to Darlena Belushin McKay at Keep in mind that we maintain a relatively strict local boundary— Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties— and our lead times run long, with most issue lineups completed four months prior to publication.


If you are interested in contributing to Sacramento Magazine, please send information to (writers) Krista Minard, or (photographers and illustrators) Gabriel Teague, Include a cover letter, résumé and links to previously published work.

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National Treasure

Ilove Yosemite. When I was growing up, we camped and hiked there, and we once had a memorable spring break campout that involved dinner at The Ahwahnee. We watched snow fall outside the soaring windows, then headed back to our tent for a very cold night. Also, my junior high school wilderness club did several Yosemite trips for hiking and cross-country skiing. Mr. McPherson was a generous leader, giving up his weekends to take other people’s hormone-addled 13-year-olds into the woods—and he managed to keep us all safe. Some of my clubmates had never been to Yosemite or anywhere remotely wild. I remember their awe at El Capitan, Half Dome, the still-running falls even in autumn, the bears (a mama and two cubs) up a tree in Little Yosemite Valley on a backpacking trip, and the clear night skies so heavily salted with stars.

I’ve been many times since. My husband, Mike, and I planned a February trip this year, which we canceled the week graupel fell in Sacramento, El Dorado Hills saw actual snow and Yosemite—and the rest of the Sierra—got buried. We canceled our rescheduled trip in March; park still closed. Then, on our second re-booked March trip, even though Yosemite Valley was open, we were shut out by a re-closure of Highway 120 due to overnight snowfall. We hunkered down at Rush Creek Lodge, waiting for the road to open. After morning ice melted, we cruised out to Hetch Hetchy . . . then Mike developed possible COVID symptoms. Mission scrapped. We drove home wearing masks, open windows whirling springtime air through the car. Not surprisingly, too little too late. Mike tested positive when we got home, and within two days, I had a fever, a positive test and a long-passed deadline to meet.

So this issue’s Yosemite story was hard-won. Thankfully writer/avid hiker Phillip Reese reported the trails portion of it, and I had plenty of knowledge from previous trips. Art director/wilderness lover Gabriel Teague had an Easter-weekend trip booked for Curry Village (a heated tent cabin), so he checked for updated info—and shot lots of fabulous photos, including the cover. Just in time to ship files to the printer.

May is usually one of the best times to visit Yosemite, before it’s thronged with summer crowds. Waterfalls roar louder than ever; wildflowers have burst into bloom. This year, the park may close again if falls flow too big or rivers rise too high. All that snowpack has to go somewhere! If you can’t get in this month, it’s OK. The splendor will still be there later.


Coming up on June 8: Sac Mag has teamed up with Sky River Casino to throw a whiskey party at California State Railroad Museum. More than 20 whiskey expressions will be available for tasting. For more information, go to sacmag. com/whiskey.

Sacramento Magazine’s free newsletter goes to email subscribers every weekday. Catch the latest updates in dining, arts and entertainment, wine, recreation, health and more. You’ll also find links to other community news and resources and social media posts that have caught our eye. Subscribe at


Phillip Reese

An assistant professor of journalism at Sacramento State, Phillip Reese has spent much of the past 18 years writing and reporting for The Sacramento Bee. He’s backpacked and hiked more than 450 miles in Yosemite since 2016. “I once had the Mist Trail all to myself,” he says. “I got up before the light, put on my headlamp and made it to Vernal Falls at sunrise. One of the best hiking experiences in my life—a few minutes of solitude at one of the world’s most popular vistas.”

Rachel Valley

Photographer Rachel Valley has shot for Sacramento Magazine’s food and dining sections for years. This month, her assignment took her to Paste Thai in Davis, where she got gorgeous shots of green curry with chicken, mango salad, curry puffs and the curry pastes made by chef Douangchay Luanglath. “I photograph food, people enjoying food, and the talent that creates the food,” Rachel says. “I feel very lucky to be surrounded by the things that bring me inspiration, camaraderie and deep satisfaction. I’m pretty much in hog heaven.”

Kevin Fiscus

“Anytime I work with a talented pro in the studio is a good day,” says photographer Kevin Fiscus. “I try to visually tie in their experience in some way. Julie Soto had acting experience, so I knew I could lean into the theatrical aspect. Her novel celebrates love, and there’s a certain flower element, so I wanted to surround her in flowers with soft light and focus. Leaning into romance, I created a fantastical setting with hand-painted backdrops and warm sunlight to create the romance feeling. Julie was such a pro!”

Editor’s Note
Gabriel shooting the cover
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Oh, the excitement downtown on April 15 when the Sacramento Kings won NBA playoff game No. 1 against the Golden State Warriors, 126–123, to take their first playoff victory in 17 years! Crowds packed DOCO outside Golden 1 Center, where jubilant fans exiting the game mingled with those who had taken advantage of the free outdoor watch party, dubbed Section 916, on L Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Amid chants of “light the beam!” revelers wearing Kings shirts, waving purple flags, yelling, hugging, singing and dancing, converged happily on neighboring businesses. Lines stretched out the doors at downtown bars and restaurants as Sacramento celebrated its home team.

The 916

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inside: Mad Dog / Chicken Raiser / Collecting Chanel / Trash Talk
gabriel teague

New Dog in Town

A new East Sac market celebrates local creators.

When space became available in East Sacramento’s Sutter Park new-home development in 2022, Jennifer Music Quillici’s entrepreneurial spirit lit up.

Named Mad Dog Market in a whimsical nod to Quillici’s two golden retrievers, the shop sells everything from gourmet food and coffee to pillows, towels, tote bags (some imprinted with images of dogs, of course), candles and soaps. However, while you’ll find lines such as the popular Stonewall Kitchen out of Maine, Quillici’s real passion is featuring the work of local artisans. Stop into her shop and you’ll find work by painter Susan Ballenger and photographer Diane Hill along with scrumptious finds such as Carmazzi Caramel Corn; Earth & Vine marinades, dressings and jams; Better Than Brittle peanut brittle; and FatCat Bakery cookies and scones. Carrying the goods of local artists and entrepreneurs—all based in the Greater Sacramento area—is important to Quillici, a Sacramento native. “I believe in supporting the dreams of small business owners and working together to spread the word of new businesses,” says Quillici,

The 916 20 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE M ay 2023
create + gather
Jennifer Music Quillici with dogs Henry and Hudson

who also touts nearby Casa restaurant and Mad Dog Market neighbors Druthers Co ee & Wa es and Poppy by Mama Kim any chance she gets. “One of the best ways to encourage support is to give it.”

Quillici is enjoying building connections with the community. “My customers say this is like a destination place,” she says. Quillici fosters that sentiment by holding events such as her Painted Rock Valentine’s event where she, along with help from pals Ballenger and Hill, had residents at Oakmont of East Sacramento, a nearby retirement community, paint rocks in honor of the holiday. Quillici later hid the rocks in Sutter Park and invited kids to fi nd them. Each child was invited back to the store for hot cocoa and a bag of caramel corn. “My goal is to have one event per month,” she says. Check her website or subscribe to her mailing list to learn about monthly events, classes and tastings. 533 53rd St.; (916) 813-5135; maddog; @maddogsutterpark

Mother Hen for Hire

For many youngsters, babysitting is a time-honored starter job. Sacramento teen Savannah Story is getting her first work experience in a slightly different way: as a baby-chick sitter.

The 14-year-old recently hung out a shingle (OK, she actually posted a flier on the fence of her family’s East Sac home) advertising her services. For $30, she will raise a chick from a defenseless 2-day-old covered in fluff to a fully grown 10-weekold ready to live with other chickens in an outdoor coop.

The Brookfield eighth-grader has a lot of experience caring for chicks. She was only 3 when her mother started keeping chickens in the backyard. At first, Story entertained the family fowl by pushing them in the front yard swing and taking them on wagon rides. Eventually, she assumed most of the family’s chicken-keeping duties.

Then she realized she could put her poultry knowledge to good use by offering her services to people who want backyard chickens but don’t want the hands-on work of raising them from baby chicks to adulthood. “They need a lot of care,” Story says, noting that chicks have to be kept indoors until they’re at least 6 weeks old. “They need water, food, a heat lamp, and you have to clean their cage.”

They also need that essential mothering ingredient: love. Story plays classical music for the chicks and lets them sit on her lap while she does homework. When they’re 6 weeks old, she takes them outside to a fenced-in pen and allows them to run around on the grass. For socialization, she introduces them to her family’s flock and supervises to make sure they don’t get pecked on. By the time the chicks are 10 weeks old, they’re ready to go to their permanent home.

Story simply loves her fowl charges. “Chickens are my favorite animal,” she says.—MARYBETH BIZJAK


Every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., Mad Dog Market holds product tastings and hands out recipes inspired by the products.

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create + gather
Savannah Story


The Soigné Side of Costume Jewelry

Achance find at a garage sale in the ’90s turned Hector Lopez into a devoted collector of Chanel costume jewelry.

Co-owner of the French-centric boutique #Panache in East Sacramento, Lopez fell hard for the magnificent artisanship he saw in the single earring he purchased that day. His current collection, mostly earrings but also necklaces and jeweled bags, includes 150 or 200 items sourced from across the globe.


“Chanel is a label that has a heritage,” says Lopez. “Anyone who hears the name Chanel knows exactly what it means: things that are exquisitely made. I connect with these pieces because of their artistry. What attracts me to them is that they have been touched by so many hands.”

Lopez is referring to the highly skilled artisans at Paris atelier Maison Gripoix who mastered the art of making bijouterie from poured glass, a signature style that cemented a decades-long partnership with Chanel.

Lopez says earrings are fun to collect “because they fit everyone.” A single pair of vintage Chanel costume earrings can run a couple thousand dollars or more. But their true value lies in their beauty, according to this collector.

“These are just costume pieces with no diamonds or emeralds or anything. But to me, they are very special because they are glass and they are very fragile,” says Lopez. “I’ve homed in on the Chanel label because I believe in it. It’s not just the earring I’m buying; it’s the history and the talent.”

The 916 22 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE M ay 2023
gabriel teague
WHO: Hector Lopez COLLECTION: Chanel Earrings

Say YES To Help Youth

PRIDE Industries has long prided itself on working with underrepresented populations, helping create career pathways for those with disabilities and other barriers to employment through a businessto-business service. The social enterprise also has a workforceinclusion department to support people looking for jobs.

Despite more than 5,000 employees working to achieve PRIDE’s goals, the company noticed a gap in services: one that could serve a community coined “opportunity youth”—those ages 16–24 who are disconnected from school and work.

“We decided to work with some funders to close that gap,” says Jennifer Luebke, chief workforce inclusion officer for PRIDE.

That is how a special arm of the organization called YES (youth employment services) was formed. To qualify, participants need to meet the age requirements, live or go to school in either Sacramento County or Placer County, and identify with at least one of several known barriers to employment (disability, homelessness or PTSD, among others).

The age requirement was created because statistics show that when a person with barriers to employment does not integrate with society and get started in the workforce by their late 20s, they are more likely to end up incarcerated.

The two-year initiative started in July 2022 with 12 youth. By the end of February, 50 young people were enrolled in the program and

Exploration Gamified

What do a trip to Commons Beach, a beer from Dueling Dogs Brewing Co. and the Placer County Museum have in common? Each of them is a stop on the new Visit Placer Explorer Pass.

Travel destinations have started using gamification to incentivize visiting—and interacting with—local places by offering swag in exchange for checking in using your phone’s geolocation feature. The Explorer Pass is an all-inclusive app-like home page that asks users to check in to historical checkpoints and museums, regional parks and popular hiking trails and

getting matched to internships with local companies. By the end of year one, PRIDE plans to have 75 youth enrolled.

“When we make a difference in the life of someone who is young . . . and we can get them set in that right direction, it’s so powerful and meaningful for that person’s life and its trajectory,” Luebke says.

In year two, the program will pair its 75 existing participants with 75 new participants in a one-to-one peer counseling format. That will be in addition to the continued workforce support provided by PRIDE. After year two, the goal is to continue the program by securing additional funding.

To recommend a youth for the program or if you have a business open to working with YES, contact assistant manager Carlos Perez at carlos.perez@—NORA HESTON TARTE

wineries and breweries. Each check-in earns points toward Visit Placer items, including a sticker, hat and mug—and entry into a raffle for a grand prize package. The winner will be announced Nov. 15.

The pass itself isn’t an app—there’s no download required. Instead, when you sign up for the pass online (, a text message will shoot you a link to the page. Simply save it to your phone’s home screen and it’ll work like an app from there. Open it when you’re at a participating business to get credit.

This version of the program is unique in that it’s all-inclusive; most similar programs are reserved for food and/or drink only. Take, for example, the

Sacramento Brewery Passport. This passport isn’t free like the Explorer Pass. Instead, you pay a fee, then collect stamps from participating locations. Once you have as few as four stamps, you can start trading them in for free prizes. Those who visit all participating locations receive a map of the region, tracing their brewery discovery route.

Placer County also offers seasonal passports for the Wine & Ale Trail. The 2023 summer one is dubbed the Sips & Suds Passport and is valid from May 15 to Aug. 31. The $40 passport rewards buyers with complimentary tastings and other extras at participating locations instead of opportunities to earn swag NORA HESTON TARTE

SACMAG.COM May 2023 23


Don’t Trash It Compost it. It’s the law.

Hey, Sacramentans, those used tea bags and co ee fi lters that up until now you have been putting in the trash? Become an even better citizen by redirecting them to the organic waste bin, formerly known as the yard waste bin.

In so doing, you will be joining the city of Sacramento’s composting program. Others throughout California are doing the same, due to a relatively new state law mandating public composting.

For almost a year now (since July 1, 2022), the city of Sacramento has been encouraging people to put all “food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings” into the organic waste can. Collection is weekly, as it is for garbage; recycle bins continue to be emptied every other week.

What does municipality-run organic-waste collection do in terms of sustainability and the environment? Here are benefits listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its Sustainable Management of Food webpage:

• Organic waste in landfi lls generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting food waste food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced.

• Compost reduces and, in some cases, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.

• Compost promotes higher yields of agricultural crops.

• Compost can help aid reforestation, wetlands restoration and habitat revital-

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ization efforts by improving contaminated, compacted and marginal soils.

• Compost can be used to remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste in a cost-effective manner.

• Compost can provide cost savings over conventional soil, water and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable.

• Compost enhances water retention in soils.

• Compost provides carbon sequestration.

Sacramento’s and other California cities’ implementation of compost-collection programs is largely linked to 2016’s Senate Bill 1383, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. The legislation mandates that organic waste disposal in landfills will be reduced 75% by 2025. SB 1383 also calls for at least 20% of surplus food to be offered to people in need, again by 2025.

While supplies last, Sacramento continues to hand out (upon request) plastic food-waste pails for free, with a maximum of one per household. My family has used one since the program’s launch last year. The pail, 11 inches high and about 9 inches deep and wide, fits in a refrigerator, although we keep ours on our dryer and empty it often. It’s looking a bit stained by now, but it does the job.

Don’t have or want a pail? The city suggests you can instead use “a bowl, paper bag, BPI-certified compostable plastic bag, or repurposed kitchen container such as a coffee tin or yogurt tub to collect food scraps.”

The obvious question is what specifically qualifies as organic waste? The city says: fruit and vegetable scraps; bread, grains and pasta; coffee grounds; dairy products and eggshells; meat and bones; fish and shellfish; leftover food; coffee filters and paper tea bags; greasy pizza boxes; paper plates and takeout boxes (uncoated, no plastic or wax lining); paper towels and napkins; and wine corks (natural).

What’s specifically not allowed: plastic and plastic bags; liquids; pet waste; cat litter; diapers; diseased plants; treated or painted wood; Styrofoam; wax-coated or plastic-lined takeout containers and cups; wax- or foil-lined paper cartons (including juice, soup and soymilk type boxes); single-use utensils; single-use coffee pods; ash or dirt.

For more information, including about composting by apartment buildings and businesses, visit public-works and click on Recycling and Solid Waste.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 25
The legislation mandates that organic waste disposal in landfills will be reduced 75% by 2025.

Your baby, your birth center.

Choosing the right foods. Deciding on a safe exercise routine. Creating a birth plan. As a mom-to-be, you have a lot of planning to look forward to. Fortunately, Dignity Health’s Family Birth Centers have a whole team of experts ready to safely guide you throughout your journey—from our 24-hour onsite OB/GYN doctors and specially trained nurses, to our doulas and board-certified lactation specialists. We even have virtual classes to help you prepare for the big day.

Learn more about the amenities available at each of our Family Birth Centers and how we’re delivering humankindness at

Cold as Ice

Could a simple treatment, based on a concept as old as time itself, be the answer to treating acute and chronic pain?


SACMAG.COM May 2023 27 0523
Cryotherapy chamber: Unsplash inside: People are warming up to cryotherapy.

It’s a go-to first-aid remedy, right? Ice cubes, ice packs, frozen bags of vegetables, ice frozen in Dixie cups, tubs of ice water: Regardless of the delivery system, cold is often what we immediately turn to for sprains, strains, swelling, general aches and pains.

Effective as cold is at relieving pain, however (and history shows it was a common treatment as far back as 2,500 B.C. in ancient Egypt), ice has its drawbacks. As anyone can tell you who’s spent an evening trying to finish algebra homework while dunking a sprained ankle, gained on the soccer pitch, in and out of a sloppy bucket of ice water. Or anyone who’s sat in the office, with a sciatic nerve flare, ice pack tucked into a waistband, and slowly turning it into a sodden mess. The problem with ice is, well, it melts, especially as it sits against your warm skin, so its usefulness is always on a downward trajectory. Not to mention it morphs into a time-eating hassle if you need to ice continuously, either to heal an injury or for a chronic condition—and so you might just give up.

But finding a safe approach to managing pain is crucial to us as individuals, and it is also at the forefront of our national conversation as we struggle with the fallout from the opioid epidemic. Cold is both an ancient and natural approach; it isn’t addictive; it’s not ingested or invasive. But is there a way around the drippiness and inconvenience?

One alternative treatment getting more attention is cryotherapy, which delivers cold efficiently, in a matter of minutes, as either liquid nitrogen or all-electric cold-air technology. It got its start in Asia in the 1970s, initially as a remedy for arthritis, and then spread to Eu rope, where it was discovered— and transported overseas—by American visitors. Although not approved by the FDA, cryotherapy is increasingly endorsed by professional athletes and celebrities alike, and cryo units are popping up in sports training facilities, U.S. military bases and even people’s homes. What are the benefits? The risks? Is it something you should consider?

HOW WE GOT HERE—To understand the circuitous route pain management in the United States took, you really have to go back to the 1950s, says David Copenhaver, M.D., a professor at UC Davis and

chief of pain medicine there. It was the mid-20th century when the idea of “better life through pharmaceuticals” was born. “They were seen as portable, youthful, with almost magical powers,” Copenhaver explains, “and subsequently, morphine products became a mainstay of pain management.”

Fast-forward to the ’60s and ’70s and the formation of the first national pain association, which considered multidisciplinary approaches but for which opioids were key. “We had a good handle on cancer-related pain and thought, ‘Could it translate to noncancer pain, to chronic pain?’ And it has now played out,” he says. While opioids are still useful during and immediately after surgery, long-term use has of course been disastrous for patients—and even entire towns and communities across the country. Copenhaver ticks off the complications that are now commonly known: The body develops tolerance and needs ever-increasing doses; too high a dose results in death. But there are more subtle problems with opioid use that are life changing, and not in a good way. Chronic use disrupts circadian rhythms and destroys sleep; according to Copenhaver, it also drops testosterone levels “into the basement” for both men and women, resulting in serious alterations in

mood. Lastly, research shows morphine products “alter biochemistry in ways that were unknown,” he says, “(including) reductions in the immune system and the ability to fight off cancer.” The irony that a class of drugs that were—and still are— useful in treating cancer pain may have inadvertently caused more cancer is not lost on the medical community.


Today, the pain clinic at UC Davis, as an example, offers a creative and fascinating course of nondrug pain management treatments that include aquatherapy, massage, physical therapy, targeted injections of steroids, nerve-burning procedures, even a high-tech pacemaker that can be inserted into your back or a belt to wear around your sacroiliac joint. Teams of medical professionals can also help you deal with your pain through mindfulness and meditation. Cryotherapy is not offered there, but Copenhaver confirms many professional athletes regularly use cryo and ice baths or immediately wrap inflamed knees or ankles in ice. “There is plenty of data that skeletal-muscular pain that comes from inflammation is relieved by cold/ice,” he says, but he stops short of a full-throated recommendation. “It’s relatively safe if it’s skeletal-muscular, but even then, there might be a tendon tear.”

28 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE M ay 2023 Wellness
David Copenhaver, M.D.
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His major caveat, then? Get a diagnosis. In the same way opioids were handed out as a blanket pain reliever, alternative pain treatment has the potential for relieving the pain but not getting to the problem itself. “Pain is our bodies’ alarm system,” he says. “But you need to know why the alarm is going o .”

THE CASE FOR CRYO—Tyler Fehr, general manager of US Cryotherapy in Roseville, is quick to say cryo is not approved by the FDA, and as a result, practitioners must be careful what health claims they make about it. But what he can say is it is “a natural anti-inflammatory” and is much safer than opioids or other drug treatments.

“From what I’ve seen, in the last 10 or 15 years, people are a lot more knowledgeable, and they see the negative side e ects of pills,” he explains. He claims that “cryo also improves mental clarity and sleep patterns.”

According to Fehr, most people trying cryotherapy don’t know what to expect. “Ninety-nine percent of the people who come in have no clue what it is,” he says.

“They’re not familiar with it and just want to know, ‘Does it help?’”

So Fehr and his sta of eight do a lot of education with clients, as well as doctors and physical therapists (and many of the latter now regularly send patients to the cryo clinic after surgery or when traditional physical therapy ends). This involves explaining the two delivery systems: The fi rst is a full-body chamber, a small cold room in which you stand for a prescribed amount of time; it is akin to an ice bath or a “polar bear” plunge but without the water. The second is a localized treatment: A small, wandlike tool blows very cold air on a specific part of your body—a rolled ankle, a sore knee, an arthritic lower back, a strained shoulder—and is most comparable to those messy ice packs at home.

“My go-to way to describe it is ice can only get your skin to a certain temperature, about 55 degrees,” Fehr says. “And

if you’re icing for 20 to 25 minutes with an ice pack, the whole time it’s on your skin, it’s getting less and less cold. Our three-minute local cryo treatment—which is allnatural pure cold air— drops your skin temperature to 35 or 40 degrees. In three minutes, you can get 20 degrees colder than an ice pack.”

What does this cold therapy do for your body? Fehr explains that “it gets 2 to 3 centimeters deeper, closer to the root of the issue,” which temporarily reduces blood flow to the a ected area. “When the blood flow goes back, that’s when the real recovery occurs, because it’s flushing out the infl ammation.”

Fehr says the deeper cold therapy reduces the time it takes to heal. “We really speed up the body’s natural recovery system. If you’re a student athlete and you have a sprained ankle, and the doctor is telling you you’re out for four to six weeks, we can cut that down. And you really can’t overdo (the cryo)—75% of our

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Tyler Fehr

clients come in three to five times a week. The more someone can do it, the better.”

Athletes also use cryo as a preventative tool—either the full-body chamber or localized treatments—because cutting inflammation lessens the likelihood of an injury. It’s for this reason professional teams are having cryo units installed for their players to use on a regular basis. “We are manu facturing our own systems now, and we built a chamber for the Golden 1 Center. I had the chance to tour the new training facility and it’s right there in their practice room,” Fehr says, adding his company has installed cryo units in about a dozen NBA facilities, as well as the locker rooms of the Minnesota Vikings and several MLB teams.

What about the need for a diagnosis before treating pain? In general, people are well aware of their medical conditions, Fehr says. “Most clients who come in say, ‘I’ve tried it all.’ They’ve been through the medical/clinical side, and cryo is often a last resort.”

One example is Whitney Mariner, who

lives in Penryn and has been coming to the Roseville clinic for three years. She is 36 now, but at 25, during surgery to remove a brain tumor, she su ered a stroke that a ected the left side of her body. When COVID hit and the gyms closed down, she stopped her physical regimen and developed increasing pain and sti ness on her left side. “My husband heard about cryo— that it was supposed to be good for the brain and body,” Mariner says. “After the first treatment, I felt so much better. The pain went away and my flexibility improved.” She continued treatment for several weeks, a combination of the chamber and locals, with good results, but then her husband said, “Is cryo really helping, or is it in our minds?”

To experiment, she quit for a month, and all the pain and sti ness immediately returned. “So I bought a year membership,” she says, adding she continues to come four or five times a week. “It keeps me loose—I was super-sti on that side. And before cryo, my left foot would turn purple, the circulation was so poor. It

doesn’t do that anymore.” She is also pain free and takes no medications. “After my stroke, I was on so many drugs,” she says. “I’m so glad now to be drug free.”

Clients must fi ll out extensive medical questionnaires before receiving cryo treatment, and certain conditions preclude the full-body chamber entirely (such as pregnancy) or require a signed letter from a treating physician (such as a pacemaker or any heart-related condition). “But no matter what, anyone can benefit from something we o er,” Fehr says. “If you are pregnant or have a heart condition but you have lower back pain, you can still get a localized treatment.”

And leave to go back to the o ce with a dry waistband.


An array of professional athletes and celebrities have publicly confirmed they regularly use cryotherapy. Here are a few:

● Steph Curry

● LeBron James

● Cristiano Ronaldo

● Usain Bolt

● Will Smith

● Alicia Keys

● J ennifer Aniston

● Daniel Craig

32 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE May 2023 Wellness CallToday! 916-500-KIDS(5437) Youareour Hero 6-500-KIDS(5437) u are our HappyMother'sDay fromyourfriendsatBubblesDental
Whitney Mariner

Yosemite Spring in the



Anyone who has followed the weather knows what happened in Yosemite National Park this year. Mounds of snow fell, the park closed for three weeks, and the photos emerging of Curry Village made the tent cabins look like thick-frosted gingerbread houses. But at press time, the park was open—as were most roads in—and all that snowfall had turned the waterfalls into wild, roaring cascades of raw power. The splendor of early-spring Yosemite might be surpassed only by later-spring Yosemite. But before jumping in the car, check the conditions. With 240% of average snowpack in the Tuolumne and Merced river watersheds as of April 1, Yosemite Valley could be overwhelmed by water between now and July as that snow melts. Between those fabulous falls and the rising river, there may be parts of the valley that are simply inaccessible. Check the park’s social media (IG: @ yosemitenps) and website ( for the latest information before you go.

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36 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE May 2023 Map Horsetail Fall Bridalveil Fall Yosemite Falls Nevada Fall Vernal Fall Glacier Point HalfDome El Capitan Mirror Lake The Ahwahnee Curry Village Yosemite Village Yosemite ValleyLodge Tunnel View Happy Isles Merced River О 1 О 2 О 3 О 4 О 5 mariah quintanilla

Yosemite Village

Yosemite Visitor Center and Theater, Yosemite Museum, Indian Village and The Ansel Adams Gallery make for enriching stops, revealing a wealth of information and history through exhibits, interactive signage and lots of artifacts. At the museum, a short, free film with stunning footage introduces folks to the splendor of the region. The Ansel Adams Gallery is packed full of Adams’ famous photography of Yosemite (and other beautiful wildlands) as well as works by other artists and photographers. The gallery also includes books, handcrafted items and gifts. The Village Store is fun to explore for souvenirs—coffee mugs, T-shirts, hats—and carries camping gear (forget your flashlight?) as well as groceries so you can create your own picnic to enjoy beside the Merced River. Also nearby, Degnan’s Kitchen makes towering sandwiches and typically has a crock of soup or chili going; you also can grab an espresso drink.


For the past three years, reservations have been required to enter Yosemite National Park. Not so this year. Entrance fee is $35 and good for seven consecutive days, or get an annual pass for $70. You still should get reservations to stay overnight—campgrounds and lodges fill up fast once the spring and summer seasons get underway.


Let an expert tell you about Yosemite by participating in a valley floor tour. Take an open-air tram in good weather or a heated bus if it’s cold, and you’ll learn about the history of the park, as well as its rock formations, granite landmarks, flora and fauna. Each tour runs approximately two hours.

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Ansel Adams Gallery Yosemite Museum Degnan's Kitchen
Valley Floor Tours: National Park Service


It’s a hike—and then some! Experienced, wellprepped hikers can take the 14-mile-plus trek up Yosemite’s most iconic rock formation. It’s a gain of 4,800 feet in elevation, with the final push a grasping pull along cables that are typically placed in late May. (This year, it may be a little later.) It’s an enticing challenge with a spectacular payoff: panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and High Sierra. But know your limits! The need for fitness and preparation cannot be overstated—people have to be rescued every year. Permits are required, and handed out via lottery; there’s a limit of 300 per day. Reservations for permits can be made at or by calling (877) 444-6777. Learn more at

Mist Trail to and Nevada О 1

This is one of the most famous day hikes in America for good reason. The scenery is unmatched and the photo opportunities are abundant. But it is also a strenuous, 6.4-mile hike that gets very crowded and can even feel dangerous.

Get started at the Happy Isles Trailhead near shuttle stop #16. Cross the bridge and follow the signs. The paved trail climbs gradually at first for about 1 mile, where you will encounter a rustic footbridge. This is a great spot for a photo, with views of Vernal Fall to the east and the Yosemite Valley to the west. Many people stop

and turn around here but, if you can, it is worth going farther. For the next ¾ mile, the trail steepens and narrows, with dirt and rock replacing pavement. Every step brings Vernal Fall more into view. You’ll likely start to feel the mist—the trail’s namesake. The trail gets even steeper as you climb to the top of Vernal Fall. You will probably be amid dozens of others coming and going. Once again, Yosemite hiking requires your patience as you safely navigate uneven footing, steep inclines and lots of people.

At the top of Vernal Fall is the peaceful Emerald Pool and more

Vernal Fall
This is one of the most famous day hikes in America for good reason.
It,s an enticing challenge with a spectacular payoff.

Vernal Falls

views of the valley. Some people will probably be swimming in the pool. You should not. People have died getting too close to the edge of the falls.

It’s another tough 1½ miles to Nevada Fall. If you can handle it, you will climb right beside the fall and then, at the top, you can take a rest and look out yet again over the valley.

After summiting the falls, either go back the way you came or, for new scenery and fewer crowds, take the John Muir Trail back down, stopping for more big views at Clark Point. The trail intersects with the Mist Trail at the footbridge.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 39
Nevada Fall

О 2

Happy Isles Loop

This is a pleasant, short—but not dramatic—hike by the Merced River.

Take the free park shuttle to stop #16 or, for a longer walk, head southwest from Curry Village until you arrive at the Happy Isles Bridge.

Turn to the right to quickly arrive at the Happy Isles Art and Nature Center, which features a variety of exhibits, along with art workshops. Explore the area around the nature center and you will come across a nifty outdoor exhibit about rockfalls at Yosemite. The Merced River is close at hand, and there are tranquil spots on the small “isles” that give this area its name. If you double back after this little stroll, you’ll walk just over ½ mile.

You can also cross the bridge at stop #16 and then turn left to follow a flat, wide trail that follows the Merced River. While the surrounding trees offer cool shade, don’t expect to see much big mountain scenery on this hike. It is a peaceful walk through the woods.

The trail loops around the Upper Pines campground and then after about a mile deposits you back at the road, where you should have little trouble finding your way to the shuttle stop.

Happy Isles Art and Nature Center
There are tranquil spots on the small isles ,, that give this area its name. ,,


The park operates a free shuttle within the valley and beyond. Hop on, hop off—it’s the easiest way to travel, and it delivers riders straight to all the favorite valley hot spots, including museums, visitors center, lodges, campgrounds, El Capitan and the meadow, Curry Village, Happy Isles and Mirror Lake.

Curry Village

Of the 13 campgrounds in Yosemite, Curry Village is one of the most popular, with pitch-your-own tent sites; a “glampground” with heated and nonheated tent cabins; hard-walled cabins (with or without bath); and rooms in the Stoneman House. The area also has a general store, mountaineering school, bike and raft rentals, several dining options, an ice cream shop, Peet's Coffee, amphitheater and ranger programs. The on-site outdoor pool has been closed and will hopefully open in time for summer.


The Yosemite Conservancy runs a number of programs, including art classes (watercolor, acrylic, journaling), naturalist-led walks, birding, stargazing, trail rehab, junior ranger activities and more.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 41
Of the 13 campgrounds in Yosemite, Curry Village is one of the most popular.


This centrally located lodge has 245 rooms and lots of amenities, including bike rentals available on-site. The lodge’s food court, Base Camp Eatery, supplies a broad variety of grub. Make the rounds for pizza, pasta, burgers, soups and premade salads. The controversial Starbucks—popular as it was—has closed, possibly permanently. Also at the lodge, the Mountain Room delivers terrific views of Yosemite Falls, and it has a menu that includes prime cuts of beef with classic sauces such as béarnaise, mushroom and blue cheese butter.



The Ahwahnee

This landmark hotel has been closed for the past few months while undergoing a renovation for seismic stability, a kitchen overhaul and an update to its air-conditioning and heating system. Built in the 1920s on the site of a former Miwok village, with views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls, The Ahwahnee was designed for the affluent traveler, with luxurious Persian rugs, grand furniture, imposing beams and vast common areas with floor-to-ceiling windows and fireplaces tall enough to stand inside. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places, and although it has been remodeled numerous times over the years, it still feels period-appropriate and lavish. Today’s decor leans more toward Native American chic, but several of the original rugs adorn the walls, and it’s no stretch to imagine guests dressed in 1930spopular butterfly sleeves and boleros. Reserve one of the rooms or suites in the main hotel or a cottage on the property. The majestic dining room was not yet open at press time; when you can (maybe as soon as July), go for dinner. It’s simply gorgeous.

The Ahwahnee is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It,s simply gorgeous.
All photos courtesy of Aramark Destinations



Just outside the park’s south entrance, the Tenaya lodge in Fish Camp has more than 300 rooms, plus some darling cottages where you can cozy up in seclusion. The twobedroom Explorer Cabins opened a couple of years ago—they’re a fabulous option for families. Other pluses: the Ascent Spa, because nothing feels better after hiking than a moisturizing body treatment and massage, and several restaurants on-site. Also available, Yosemite 360 Tours are led by a knowledgeable guide and will take guests into the valley, Mariposa Grove and the Tuolumne high country once the snowpack melts.

Rush Creek Lodge

Just outside park boundaries on Highway 120, Rush Creek Lodge is the newest addition to Yosemite’s indoor lodging options. Opened in 2016, it’s a beautiful property that lies about a 40-minute drive from Yosemite Valley and provides easy access to Hetch Hetchy. With 143 rooms, including villas that are spread throughout the compound, Rush Creek is well set up for couples or families: saltwater pools open 24/7, year-round; evening s’mores; a game room with pinball, pool, foosball and more; an outdoor play area with a doughnut swing, climbing tunnels, zip line and a fabulous hillside chute slide; and a dedicated recreation desk where you can sign up for activities including stargazing, arts and crafts and nature tours. Although the address for Rush Creek says Groveland, it’s actually 20-plus miles up the mountain from Groveland proper, and the only place around for miles. So its restaurants and tavern are convenient (the burgers and Philly cheesesteak are especially good!), and the general store comes in handy for snacks, over-the-counter medications, espresso drinks and plenty more (T-shirts, water bottles, locally made jewelry and artwork). One of Rush Creek’s best assets is its spa, which has been designed to replicate the Yosemite experience with waterfalls to sit beside and stand beneath, heated tile beds (like lying on sun-baked granite), an aromatherapy sensory room, a hot/cold shower, a 165-degree Himalayan salt dry sauna and a eucalyptus steam room that will clear your sinuses. The spa menu includes massages, magnesium foot soaks and other delights.


Away from the valley, 27 miles out on Highway 41, the pretty and historic Wawona Hotel was closed part of last season due to fire. The Victorian-era lodge has 104 rooms, a dining room, golf course, tennis courts, pool and horseback riding stables. Stay here and we promise you’ll see deer. Lots and lots of deer. Also in Wawona, the Yosemite History Center takes visitors back in time with its collection of historic buildings.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 43
One of Rush Creek ,s best assets is its spa, which has been designed to replicate the Yosemite experience.
Rush Creek: Kim Carroll / Wawona: Aramark Destinations / Tenaya: DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.


The park encompasses 1,187 square miles, far more than just the valley, and within its boundaries live multitudes of deer, coyote, raccoons, rodents, birds and—wait for it—up to 500 black bears. They’re out, and they’re hungry. If you see one, stay at least 100 yards away. Keep food—and anything that looks like it could be food (sunscreen, for example)—out of your car and stored in one of the park’s bear-proof lockers. Watch for wildlife as you’re driving, too, and keep to the speed limit. This will help you stop in time should an animal pop out in front of your vehicle.

Up to 500 black bears live in the park. They ,re out, and they ,re hungry.


Storm damage has closed this majestic grove of giant sequoias, but we believe it will open this season to allow visitors to forest bathe and admire the stately trees. In the southern portion of the park, it’s home to more than 500 mature giant sequoias and when open is accessible via shuttle from the Welcome Plaza near Yosemite’s south entrance (arrive early!) or a 2-mile hike (each way) on the Washburn Trail or Mariposa Grove Road. You cannot drive your own car unless you have a disability placard.



ОTunnel View to Inspiration Point

This 2.3-mile trail has gorgeous views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall, but parking is often a challenge and the climb to the top is steep.

You’ll start at the famed Tunnel View lot on Wawona Road, where millions of photographs have been taken. It will be very crowded. Breathe deep, be patient and try to find a parking spot before heading up the trail to Inspiration Point.

The trail climbs about 1,000 feet over the course of 1.2 miles. The views, even more than the trail grade, are likely to slow your progress. There are gaps in the trees and overlooks throughout the trail that serve as great spots for rest and reflection.

Inspiration Point itself creeps up after you’ve walked about 30 minutes. It offers similar wonderful views as can be found next to the tunnel a mile south—but without the noise and stress of passing vehicles and buses.

Most people turn around here but, if you have more time, the Pohono Trail continues uphill for several more miles, regularly hitting famous points and overlooks.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 45


Yosemite Falls

This is a spectacular but difficult 6.6-mile climb to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, rising more than 2,500 feet from the Yosemite Valley floor.

The trail begins at Camp Four, near shuttle stop #7. The switchbacks start early—you’ll climb 1,000 feet to Columbia Rock in the space of just 1 mile, with sweeping views of the valley as your reward. This is often the most crowded part of the trail (many families attempt it with their children), so be patient as you navigate around fellow hikers.


The next ¾ mile isn’t too hard. The trail flattens a lot and even curves downhill for a bit, until Upper Yosemite Fall dominates your line of sight. This is the highlight of the trip for many. Take your time and try to find a spot for photos and lunch. If you turn around here, then you will finish your hike in about four hours—or faster, if your pace is less leisurely.

For those continuing on, the next 1½ miles consist of brutal switchbacks and another 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Early in the climb, you’ll probably feel the cool mist from the falls. The reward for reaching the top is panoramic views of the valley—and a sense of wonder about how modestlooking Yosemite Creek can feed such a massive waterfall.


They’re flowing, in some cases past blobs of snow, and as the days warm up, they will really get to roaring. Yosemite Upper and Lower, Vernal, Nevada, Sentinal, Bridalveil, Horsetail . . . even some that haven’t run much in years will be on full display. This year promises to be spectacular—and dangerous. A variety of lookout points and hikes put visitors in close proximity to the falls. Stay vigilant, and don’t lose your life for a selfie.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 47
The reward for reaching the top is panoramic views of the valley.
Vernal Fall


Should you find yourself in the northwest corner of the park, take the drive into Hetch Hetchy. It’s a beautiful valley, flooded into a reservoir in 1923—with the construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam—to supply water to the Bay Area (a controversy to this day). Photos of the Hetch Hetchy valley before the construction of the dam show its remarkable resemblance to the Yosemite Valley, with granite walls, waterfalls, forest-lined meadows and the Tuolumne River flowing through. More than 250 miles of hiking trails exist within the Hetch Hetchy area, ranging from the 2-mile round-trip trek to Lookout Point to a 29-mile multiday excursion on the Laurel/Vernon/Rancheria Loop. The Rancheria, Tueeulala and Wapama falls are all flowing now. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight hikes. Along the road to Hetch Hetchy, the 100-yearold Evergreen Lodge has 88 cabins in the woods and, like its sister property Rush Creek Lodge, maintains a restaurant, tavern and general store.

More than 250 miles of hiking trails exist within the Hetch Hetchy area.
Footbridge: Kim Carroll

Mirror Lake Loop Trail

If you aren’t feeling up to a strenuous climb out of the valley but still want to spend much of the day hiking, this 4.4-mile trail is a popular choice.

Take the free park shuttle to stop #17 to reach the trailhead. Much of the hike is paved. Scenery is typical for the valley, with breaks in the massive trees offering occasional glimpses at the canyon rims.

The trail is likely to be crowded. You’ll probably see many cyclists— they can ride most of the trail before parking near the lake.

Calling Mirror Lake a “lake” is a little generous. It’s more of a wide, calm place in the creek. Around May, it becomes a popular swimming hole. The relative lack of current—double-check before you jump in— makes it a fun place for families to cool off while looking up at Half Dome.

You can either take the mostly paved trail back to the shuttle stop or opt for a slightly more rugged dirt trail that completes the loop.

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О 5
Julie Soto
SACMAG.COM May 2023 51
Author Julie Soto on romance, fan fiction and how to write a great sex scene. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN FISCUS

acramento native Julie Soto, 35, is a natural storyteller. An award-winning playwright (her musical, “Generation Me,” won Best Musical at the New York Musical Festival in 2017), she turned to writing online fan fiction six years ago, crafting unexpected storylines for some of her favorite literary characters, including Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” series. The selfdescribed fandom nerd’s success with fan fiction has earned her legions of followers (her most popular work has attracted 1.5 million unique views online) and established her as a fresh talent in this unique literary category. Soto’s debut novel, “Forget Me Not” (Grand Central Publishing), a smartly conceived—and rather steamy—modern romance, will be released in July.


The books that shaped me most were “The Hunger Games” books and a lot of the fantasy series that I grew up with, like “Harry Potter.” Also, Jane Austen was big for my teenage years. I wasn’t a huge reader except for the things that I just latched onto and couldn’t give up, books like “Ella Enchanted.” But really, a lot of my reading habits developed as an adult.


I’ve been doing theater since I was 6 or 7 years old. I was involved with River City Theatre Company. I did a couple of shows at St. Francis High School. Theater is probably why I wasn’t reading books, because I was always listening to show tunes and getting storylines from that. Musicals were such a big influence. I was a huge fan of “Hairspray” when it came out and also “Les Misérables.” Theater was such a passion. I grew up wanting to be an actress and wanting to tell stories, and I feel like I’m still doing that as I’m creating characters and inhabiting them as I write.

IT SEEMS THAT MANY OF THE INFLUENCES FROM YOUR HIGH SCHOOL YEARS ARE STILL A PART OF YOUR WORK TODAY. It’s true. For example, I have always loved Jane Austen. “Pride and Prejudice” is one of my favorite books, and that’s like the bible from which a lot of romance is written. I can defi nitely see that influencing me. Also, listening to musicals and hearing stories that looked nothing like my life really broadened my interests and storytelling capabilities.


“The Auction” is not my fi rst work of fan fiction, but it is the best known. It has some dark, “Hand-

SACMAG.COM May 2023 53
“Romance is about joy and the joy of falling in love and all the different ways that someone can fall in love and find love and keep love.”

maid’s Tale”-type of themes, so it’s not for everyone, certainly. Luckily, fan fiction has a great way of searching for things you want to read and also exclude things you don’t want to read.

Fan fiction is really a labor-of-love situation where people who are huge fans of something, whether it’s “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” even video games, will take a small character that was barely mentioned or even a better-known character and write novel-length pieces about them out of complete curiosity and love of the source material. A lot of it is about stretching your storytelling capabilities without the pressure of publishing.


Spicy is a delicate way to say there is explicit sex in this book. It could be one sex scene or it could be books that are extremely close to erotica, so it’s a broad indicator, I would say. In fan fiction, we call a story that’s just about sex “smut.”


A lot of it comes from doing a lot of reading and figuring out what doesn’t make your eyes roll. It’s almost like writing an action sequence. If you watch enough action scenes, you know what makes it interesting and what makes it surprising or unique. So you read explicit scenes and pick up on the language you don’t like.

“S picy is a delicate way to say there is explicit sex in this book.”

I do think the fan fiction community is fi ne with a lot of specific words that the traditional book publishing community fi nds quite jarring. I get feedback from readers that I have a certain way with words when it comes to the spicy scenes. But for me, at least, when I’m writing spicy scenes, the story comes fi rst. I don’t put a sex scene in just for the sake of it.


I IMAGINE YOU HAVE SOME OPINIONS ABOUT THAT. Women should be allowed to read and write whatever they would like to, especially if it’s not hurting other people and everyone reading is a consenting adult. I think there is a lot of “protect the children” and “protect the women” and virtue signaling in the world these days.


The romance genre is usually defi ned by a happy ending and a plot that centers on fi nding love or the fight against fi nding love. That really aligns with my views. For me, romance is about joy and the joy of falling in love and all the di erent ways that someone can fall in love and fi nd love and keep love.


I think the view on what women deserve and what they want has shifted in the past 50 years, even in just the past 10 years. Until maybe the last decade, the alpha male was really the main romantic interest in romance novels. He was someone who was jealous and maybe a little rough and would kill for [his lover]. And that fantasy still exists for some people. But more and more, women are fi nding and enjoying books with men who fall in love fi rst, not the “Iwish-he’d-choose-me” stories.

Even more than that, romance is not just women and men nowadays. There’s so much romance for the queer community, for the nonbinary community. There are more characters of color in romance books and more POC writers who are telling their stories. I think so much has changed for the better.


I am ready. I cannot wait for the day when there would be fan fiction online about Ama and Elliott from my novel “Forget Me Not.” Or maybe something about a smaller character. That would mean so much to me. It’s a di erent kind of community, the fan fiction community. It’s so different from the romance community or the community of people who read published books. I’m very hopeful that it will happen.


There’s more than one romance animating Julie Soto’s debut novel, “Forget Me Not,” about a steamy affair between a wedding planner and a florist. The author, who grew up in Sacramento’s River Park neighborhood, has written a love letter of sorts to her hometown by inserting some of her favorite local businesses and locales—some with their real names, others with fictional ones—into the storyline. (This magazine even gets a mention.)

Much like native daughter (and fellow St. Francis High School alum) Greta Gerwig did with her hit film “Lady Bird,” Soto found inspiration in the places of her youth. “Greta opened my mind to thinking of Sacramento as a character in my writing,” says Soto. “This book could have taken place anywhere, but being able to ground it so thoroughly in the town gave it a life of its own.”

In the novel, J St. Donuts is based upon STANELY’S DONUTS at 37th and J streets. “That’s my Sacramento doughnut shop, for sure,” Soto says. NATURE LOVE , the nail salon just down the street from Stanely’s, is a favorite of Soto’s, as is DIRTY BIRD ESTHETICS , a midtown waxing salon owned by close family friend Meghan Vanderford. “When I told her I was putting the name of the shop in the book, she cried.” The book’s fictional flower shop, Blooming, is based on Soto’s recollections of buying prom corsages at RUST FLORIST on Folsom Boulevard (now the Italian restaurant Allora). Soto also gives a shout-out to RELLES FLORIST, “one of the biggest names in flowers in Sacramento.” Scenes are set at the venerable SUTTER CLUB as well as THE WILLOW BALLROOM , an event venue in the Delta town of Hood that’s owned by friend Angelica Whaley, whom Soto consulted on the book. And, of course, there’s the MCKINLEY ROSE GARDEN . “One of my best friends lived across the street from the park, and I remember seeing weddings there on the weekends. It’s such a beautiful and interesting place.”

SACMAG.COM May 2023 55



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Couples Reflect on Their Engagement Day Happily E verAfter
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Yesterday’s rules are gone.

efore there can be wedding bells, there are wedding bills. Back in ye olde days, the bride’s parents typically covered the wedding costs, signing one last check before she rode off into the sunset as a Mrs. (Not to rain on the parade, but this benevolent tradition is mired in misogyny: Historically, the practice was for a bride’s family to give the groom’s a dowry for accepting the “burden” of a bride and providing for a woman. For a while there, weddings were sort of like Dowry Lite. Yikes!) But times have changed: For one, we’re all waiting longer to get married. In 1920, the average woman got married at the age of 21, and men at 24. Today, most people are walking down the aisle in their 30s. The Public Policy Institute of California reported in 2021 that the average age of first marriage for women had surpassed 30, while published that the average age overall for Californians getting married was 33. It’s also worth mentioning that we “burdens” now represent 50.7 percent of the college-educated workforce, overtaking men in 2022, according to a Pew Research Center report. And often, the notion of “the bride’s family” doesn’t apply: Many weddings have no brides (or two brides).


o now who pays? Is tradition the outlier?

The older we get, the less financial support we receive. “Couples in their mid 30s tend to cover most of the wedding costs on their own [in Sacramento], where younger couples are supported by their parents. Couples that are older pay for the wedding themselves, no matter if it’s their first or second wedding.”—Sandy Stringer, wedding and event planner of Strings and Champagne Events (

Whoever has the funds foots the bill. “It is more common for couples to be paying for their weddings themselves. In fact, the budget often becomes a collaboration of funds from the couple and each of their parents. Gone are the days of the wedding costs to be covered by an assumed party. To put it simply, the wedding events are typically paid for by the party who can afford to pay for them.”—Kate Whelan Pesci, president and lead event consultant of Kate Whelan Events (katewhelan

When parents do contribute, it’s often a group effort. “I am still seeing contributions from the parents. I am seeing couples contribute to match what their

Liz Cordis, 34, and Jamie Cordis, 34

Wedding date: Oct. 22, 2016

The scene: A high-desert boho lakeside ceremony in the Eastern Sierra tucked between the towns of Mammoth and Bishop: Think succulents, natural beauty and unfussy fun.

Guest list: 65

Splurge item: The catering and menu—people are literally still talking about the potatoes au gratin almost seven years later.

Was it worth it? Yes! (Carbs are always worth it.)

How they saved money: Rather than renting plates for the evening, they thrifted mismatched vintage plates, and the groom’s mother put together the bouquets and the boutonnières.

As a wedding gift, a friend who is also a photographer offered wedding photography services at a discount.

parents are contributing.”—Kendall Erlenbusch, owner and creative director of Kendall Melissa Events (

So what’s worth splurging on?

Set the scene (and the table). “I would say that 40 to 60% of most budgets are spent on a combination of venue and catering: These tend to be the most important categories for a successful event.”—Pesci

Go big on fun and capturing memories. “Splurging on videography, music (DJ or band) and a great catering team would be my suggestion. There is no party without good music; the event will flow a lot better if you work with a great caterer; and a video just captures the day in a different way than photography— you can practically relive it.”—Stringer Whatever you think is important is what’s important. “I always tell my couples to choose their top two things that are important to them and focus on that. Is it photography and food? Is it florals and entertainment? As we go through the planning process, if I find that my couples start focusing on something that was not part of their top two, I ask them to re-evaluate why they want to extend their budget, and if it is a ‘want to have’ or a ‘need to have.’”—Erlenbusch

Who paid? The couple split the cost down the middle.

Their two cents for couples planning (and paying) for a wedding: “Don’t get caught up in other people’s feelings when deciding your guest list—the more guests you have, the more you’ll spend. A smaller guest list can help make your wedding more affordable. It’s difficult when distant friends or family get upset that they

aren’t invited, but throughout the planning, you have to remind yourself that the day isn’t about them—it’s about you and your soon-to-be spouse.”—Liz In hindsight, is there anything they wish they would’ve been able to splurge on, or would’ve rather don e without? There were a few people they wish they could have invited. If money were no object, the guest list would have been much longer.


Blair Salt, 34, and Brady Renner, 35

Wedding date: Jan. 26, 2018

The scene: A glamorous Friday night at an old pickle factory converted into a venue space in downtown San Antonio, Texas.

Guest list: 110

Splurge item: Good wine (the bar was stocked with Crémant and Bordeaux red) and craft beer in kegs. The party didn’t stop at the wedding—the couple also splurged on a honeymoon to the Galápagos with a luxury yacht cruise around the islands.

Was it worth it? Yes!

How they saved money: They skipped traditional wedding rings, using their engagement rings (both bride and groom wore engagement rings) to exchange on the big day, kept flowers to just bouquets and, in lieu of wedding favors, made a modest donation to the two

nonprofit animal rescues where they adopted their dogs. The pair also chose tapas instead of a sit-down dinner, and Blair baked their wedding cake: “That was not a budgetary choice, but rather a desire on my part.”

Who paid? The couple footed the majority of the bill, while their parents contributed around 20 percent as an unexpected gift. They did have a traditional wedding registry, so their honeymoon was partially funded by gifts from their guests via

Their two cents for couples planning (and paying) for a wedding: “Do what is important or meaningful to you and skip anything you don’t care about, no matter how ‘traditional.’ And don’t invite people you don’t care about

just because someone else thinks you should.”—Blair

“Don’t go into a ton of debt for it.”—Brady

“I’d say go into debt if it’s really important to you.”—Blair

“Just make sure it’s low-interest debt.”—Brady

In hindsight, is there anything they wish they would’ve been able to splurge on, or would’ve rather done without? Nope.


No matter who’s footing the bill, there’s always a budget. Here’s how to keep it affordable:

Ditch the favors. “More often my couples are eliminating favors. Favors can be an opportunity to bring some personality or share parts of your story as a couple with your guests, but often personalized or monogrammed items are tossed aside and not worth the extra expense.”—Pesci

Make a guest list and check it twice. “Consider keeping your guest list small enough to host at a private dining space at a restaurant. Most restaurants will already have tables, linens, chairs, etc., and some even provide centerpieces. Some will not charge a site fee but instead have a food and beverage minimum. is means that your dollars will go further toward food instead of hard goods.”—Pesci

DIY, but don’t let DIY become D-I-Why Did We Do is Again? “[For my own wedding], I am crafty and have a vision, so I took on more DIY to create centerpieces that spoke to me and required very little help from an outside vendor. We thrifted our colorful goblets, thrifted

Jacob Gutiérrez Montoya, 37, and Elio Gutiérrez-Montoya, 36

Wedding date: Sept. 2, 2017

The scene: A sharp black-tie affair at The Sutter Club. “People look at us and think we’re bougie, and we just wanted to lean into that all the way,” Jacob explains, laughing. Founded in 1889, it’s one of the oldest private clubs in California; theirs was the first gay wedding in the club’s history. (Swanky doesn’t mean stuffy, though: Instead of a champagne toast, guests celebrated their union with tequila shots.)

Guest list: 111

Splurge item: Flowers, including floral chandeliers overhead and flower vases on every table, plus the pièce de résistance: a dramatic flower wall, all designed by a floral designer whose resume includes— seriously—Oprah Winfrey’s events. “At one point, we were thinking about getting married at The Plaza in New York City, and

our gold votive candles, and we made personal centerpieces that we intertwined with the garland and florals that the florist provided. We also made our own napkin rings and added a sprig of rosemary to the napkins. [To my clients], I always say you can thrift, fi nd Facebook Marketplace deals, etc., but do you have the room to store these items? What will you do after the wedding? Are these items that you can reuse in your house? If the answer is no to all of the above, then I wouldn’t recommend that they try to DIY. Also, does your schedule allow you to DIY, or will you overstress yourself trying to get this done? A lot happens in the last month of the wedding, so if you have not prepared earlier to get these projects done, you will fi nd yourself unnecessarily overstressed!”—Erlenbusch

Nature may be able to off er a better backdrop than anything you can buy or make. “What does your venue already have that you can lean into? [At my own wedding], we had spectacular views, so we didn’t feel that we needed to go overboard on florals to enhance the already gorgeous space.”—Erlenbusch

a wedding held there had a flower wall, which inspired me to want this statement piece. I wanted there to be a fresh, live element.”—Jacob Was it worth it? Yes!

How they saved money: They got by with a little help from their talented friends. People had suggested they hire a band, but the couple shares a performing background, and they have a long roster of pals with pipes. “We asked our friends to sing, and everyone killed it.”—Elio Who paid? The couple paid for it themselves. “We had a rule: If we couldn’t pay cash for it, we wouldn’t do it. We didn’t go into debt for our wedding at all.”—Jacob Their two cents for couples planning (and paying) for a wedding: “ The guest list can be so stressful. We went through all of our contacts, and we didn’t invite people who didn’t know us as a couple. It was important that everyone there had touched our relationship at one point and could be there to celebrate our growth as a couple in that moment.”—Jacob “It’s easy to get caught up in the details,

but at the end of the day, you’re married! That’s the main thing. We never lost sight of that.”—Jacob

“I think everyone should have a wedding video. I would 100 percent encourage others to make sure they have a video. We watch our wedding video every year on our anniversary or when we’re feeling down. So if you’re thinking about no videographer, I would give it a second thought.”—Elio

Pro tip: If you’re on a budget, pick a venue that can provide its own decor.
Jacob and Elio

In hindsight, is there anything they wish they would’ve been able to splurge on, or would’ve rather done without? When the time at the venue was up, they were asked if they wanted to rent the space for an additional fee, but it was beyond their planned budget. The group moved the party a few blocks away to a karaoke bar. It was still a blast, but an additional hour or two at the venue would be their only wish-list item. “I did have a small sense of sadness leaving The Sutter Club, because I didn’t want the day to end. It truly was one of the best days of our lives. Plus, I was sad to leave the flowers.”—Jacob 1/3

Jewelry company Jean Dousset surveyed 1,850 newlyweds in 2019 and found out that fewer than 1 in 5 weddings were paid for by the bride’s family, and nearly half of couples paid for the weddings on their own.

12,000 couples in the United States reported an average wedding budget of $30,000 in 2022. In California, that number jumped to $37,000.


of the 12,000 couples surveyed by hired a wedding planner.

The average wedding size was 117 guests in 2022 (up from 105 guests in 2021 and approaching the average pre-pandemic head-cou nt of 131 in 2019). —

The flower wall at Jacob and Elio’s wedding A member of the wedding party was a hit in a T. rex costume


Matt Perotti arranged for a photographer to document his engagement to Bianca Almeida.

Question THE

Will you marry me?

ose four words are enough to make anyone emotional, as well as nervous, excited, nauseated, ecstatic and a host of other adjectives.

According to an article posted on wedding website e Knot, “bigger and better” engagements are trending this year. So how does one go about popping the question these days? Answer: Unique proposals a re in—picture getting down on one knee, on a rooftop covered in greenery, with the sun setting, while a videographer captures every second. ere’s a lot of pressure to get the proposal right. Should you take photos? Yes, if you want to preserve the moment or share it on social media. e couples we talked to documented their proposals; in some cases, the proposer hired a photographer on the sly. Do men still present women with an engagement ring? Of course, but that question doesn’t apply to everyone.

Here, seven couples share their engagement stories. Spoiler: ey said yes.


Five years ago, Bianca Almeida started a new job at a utility company. She ate lunch by herself because she hadn’t made any friends yet. Secretly, she thought Matt Perotti, one of her co-workers, was handsome. She approached the table where he was eating lunch one day and asked if he watched “ e Bachelor.” at conversation turned into many more.

“ at 30 minutes at lunchtime was all we had. It was all we looked forward to every single day,” Almeida says. ere were a couple of

time was all we had. It was all

Here are seven stories of beautiful engagements, complete with sunsets, beaches, bridges and—in one case—a little mud.

missed proposal opportunities before Perotti fi nally popped the question. ey talked about getting engaged in 2019, but Almeida’s dad had recently passed away, and then COVID put everything on hold. Perotti also planned to propose on a trip to Maui, but the ring wasn’t ready in time. Almeida kept getting her nails and hair done—just in case—until Perotti told her she could relax.

Last year in January, Perotti planned a weekend in Sonoma, one of the couple’s favorite places. It was windy and the power had gone out. ey walked around the almost deserted Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen; Almeida was wearing boots with heels, despite the mud and horse droppings. She wanted to go home.

A stranger told Almeida to move because a photographer was waiting nearby to shoot a proposal where she was standing. “I looked at Matt and said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” en he got down on one knee. “I think I blacked out,” she says. “I don’t even remember what he said. I couldn’t believe it. It was so special.”

“[ at stranger] defi nitely gave away my whole plan and then joyfully walked away like he’d done a good deed for the day,” Perotti says, “but it was funny and made for a good story.”

Afterward, they had a lavish meal at Layla in the MacArthur Place hotel. Perotti says, “We were like little kids with stars in our eyes.” A stranger (not the one who tried to ruin Perotti’s proposal) paid the couple’s hefty tab; no one has taken credit.

Almeida and Perotti work from home now, and they’re still employed with the same company. ey continue to eat lunch together every day.

eir wedding was set for April 14 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, with a reception at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg.

Local wedding officiant Cindie Wilding sometimes has to turn couples away; she’s that busy. But she couldn’t say no to Maddie and Krystina Koepke when they asked her to perform their wedding ceremony on Oct. 7 on Sentinel Beach in Yosemite National Park.

ey’d found Wilding’s contact information on e Knot. Wilding reckons she’s performed more than 600 weddings in the past 13 years, with more than 60 of them taking place in Yosemite. It was important for Maddie and Krystina, who live in Nebraska, to hire LGBTQ+-friendly vendors to help them plan their wedding in California.

e couple met on Tinder in 2020. Both fresh out of other relationships, they matched immediately. ey spent the fi rst couple of weeks texting and talking on the phone—hello, COVID. eir fi rst date included takeout sushi and crime documentaries.

Krystina proposed to Maddie on a scenic hike in Phoenix that included Maddie’s friends; they were in on the plan. She hid the ring in her backpack during the hike, transferred it to her pocket and got down on one knee. She’d secretly purchased the ring. (She told Maddie she was saving the money to buy a bike.)

On that fall morning in Yosemite, it was just Maddie and Krystina, Wilding, a photographer and that stunning scenery. ey saw only four other couples getting married that day. Krystina wore a suit, Maddie a dress. ey shared a ham sandwich in the car and changed into casual clothes. Later, the couple celebrated on the deck of their rental house with wedding cake and champagne. the their


Sarah Kolb met her husband-to-be, Dan Kolb, on what was supposed to be someone else’s fi rst date.

Sarah’s friend had connected with someone she’d met online (who turned out to be Dan’s friend) but wanted reinforcements in case the meetup went south. Sarah was a last-minute replacement when another friend got sick. Dan showed up to round out the group. at was more than 22 years ago.

In 2021, Sarah and Dan started talking about getting married. “For the longest time, we just didn’t feel like getting married was necessary. We had already made the commitment to each other. We’d been living together for 16 years; we were everything but legally married,” Sarah says. “And then Dan said why don’t we just get married and that was our little moment of let’s just do it.”

Another unscripted proposal took place when Dan told his future father-in-law, who was visiting from Hawaii, that it was time. e three of them were at a restaurant and Sarah got up to use the re stroom. Dan picked that moment to tell Sarah’s dad that they wanted to get married. Sarah could tell something had changed when she got back to the table.

“Obviously, I wanted her dad’s approval, but I had an instinct he would be excited about it,” Dan says. “We talked about it and then we kind of all talked about it together …”

“And then the wedding planning com menced,” Sarah says, fi nishing Dan’s sentence.

“I think everyone’s initial reaction was shock because they never thought it would actually happen because we’d insinuated that it wouldn’t,” she says.

“It’s not within the parameters of what’s considered normal,” Dan says.

Doing things differently worked for the Kolbs. ey were married on Feb. 2, on what they’ve always thought of as their anniversary. Dan is grateful that he can introduce Sarah as his wife now.

Stephanie and Matt Rhoades attended Chico State around the same time, but they never ran into each other. She worked in the campus bookstore, which Matt frequented, but they didn’t meet there. She probably attended a few backyard parties at his house (they discovered later), but they didn’t meet there, either.

ey met on Bumble, the online dating app, after they’d both graduated from college. Stephanie saw Matt’s profi le, which stated that he’d attended Chico State (even though he got his graduation date wrong), and thought, “I would have recognized that smile and those blue eyes.”

Making up for those missed moments, they went on three dates in one week. ey’ve been together since then.

It was five years before Matt proposed on a road trip in September 2021. “Matt likes to take his time,” Stephanie says. e morning of the proposal, the couple got an early start. Matt was eager to get to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast, but he said he wanted to check out a Nordstrom near their hotel so he could purchase a new shirt and dress shoes.


At dinner, Matt spent some time in the bathroom secretly communicating with the photographer he’d hired to hide on the beach where he planned to propose. Stephanie feels silly that she didn’t realize what was happening—the spontaneous shopping trip, all those minutes in the restroom. Matt’s heartfelt proposal included a walk on the beach (sans shoes), a well-timed sunset and that sneaky photographer.

e two were married on Sept. 10, 2022, on their sixth-year-dating anniversary.

Young Angie Eserini

watched a kid fall off his bike and thought, “I should check to see if he’s OK,” and also, “He’s not riding his bike very well.” at boy was Garrett Spencer and he was fi ne. ey were both 7 years old, both in the second grade, and they were neighbors.

Spencer remained Eserini’s best guy friend through elementary, middle and high school. “I could always talk to him no matter what,” she says.

Eserini developed more-than-friend feelings for Spencer the summer after their sophomore year. eir text messages became fl irty and also confusing. Were they friends? Were they boyfriend and girlfriend? A trip to the movies (“Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise), which should have been no big deal for the longtime friends, developed a date vibe. But did they want to risk losing their friendship?

ey dated for a solid seven years before Spencer proposed, leaving no doubt they could handle the change in their relationship status.

Last anksgiving, Eserini traveled to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate Spencer’s stepmother’s birthday with his family. Eserini says she knew a proposal was on the way, but she didn’t know when. at morning, they went snorkeling and then dressed up for what Eserini thought would be holiday photos on the beach.

Picture a beautiful sunset in Cabo. A family friend who happens to be a photographer arranges everyone according to height except for Spencer and Eserini. She’s not sure why she didn’t suspect right then that everyone but her was in on Spencer’s secret. He dropped to one knee, as if he had fallen, holding the engagement ring, and told her he’d loved her since eighth grade.

Eserini says Spencer received a lot of pointers from his stepmom and step-grandmother because he wanted the proposal to be perfect.

Spencer will have the opportunity to once again tell Eserini how he fell for her all those years ago when they’re married on Oct. 7 at Monte Verde Inn in Foresthill.

In 2020, Janelle Mills had been on the dating website eHarmony for about three months before she clicked on Sean Mills’ profi le. His photos reflected that he had children, but their faces were blurred to protect their privacy. Janelle respected that.

She reached out to Sean and then left on a solo trip to Donner Lake. Sean replied within a day and they exchanged phone numbers. Janelle estimates their longest call lasted three hours.

ey decided to meet at a Starbucks. Both took turns getting coffee at the drive-thru, then parked their cars “copstyle” and chatted.

Sean told Janelle that his wife had passed away from cancer in 2014. ey had two sons and a daughter together. Janelle was impressed by the love he had


for his late wife. He’d gone through the unthinkable but had no fear. She felt like the lucky one to have found him, but she worried about being accepted.

Janelle had been a single mom for 14 years. (She has one son.) With her fi rst marriage, she didn’t experience a real proposal. She ordered her own wedding ring from the Spiegel catalogue.

She’d also been a caretaker to an aunt who died from cancer. “ at completely turned my world upside down. And that was my aunt and to think about those kids losing their mom, and this man losing his wife,” Janelle says. “I loved hearing him talk about his late wife because he had so much love for her. And that, ultimately, I tell him time and time again, is the one thing that really made me fall in love with him, because he is all about love.” Before she died, Janelle’s aunt had promised Janelle she would get a second chance to fi nd love.

Sean proposed to Janelle at sunset on Fair Oaks Bridge. She was surprised. His late wife’s sister was in on the secret and took photos of the couple. Before he proposed, Sean asked Janelle’s dad for permission to marry her.

ey were married on Nov. 12 in Loomis, with a pond, an apple orchard and longhorn cows as backdrops. It was an intimate wedding. Janelle says she was on “cloud nine.” Sean’s youngest son was the ring bearer. eir children passed the box holding the wedding rings to each other and back to their parents, creating a circle of love.


A mutual friend introduced wedding photographer Ryan Greenleaf to Tommy Abeyta in March 2012. ey went bowling and then watched “ e Hunger Games.” Greenleaf says they haven’t done much bowling since then. ey’ve been busy with other things. ey’ve lived together for about 10 years and purchased a house, and the couple share two dogs. When it was time to propose, Greenleaf asked Abeyta to do the honors. “I’m in the wedding industry. I don’t want to plan a proposal,” Greenleaf told Abeyta.

In 2017, Greenleaf was hired to shoot a wedding in San Diego, and Abeyta accompanied him. ey visited Coronado Island, where Abeyta dropped to one knee, ring in hand, a photographer hired by Abeyta waiting nearby. Greenleaf recalls he said, “Oh my God. What are you doing? Get up.” He was completely surprised and also worried that someone might shout something derogatory. He asked the photographer to take their photos at a more private location, so he could relax and be in the moment. Greenleaf agrees it’s difficult being on the other side of the lens.

It’s also difficult to be the photographer trying to capture a proposal, he says, and way more frightening than photographing a wedding. You have to be discreet and get the right angle. People constantly walk into the frame. It’s difficult to plan.

Prior to Coronado Island, Abeyta made a special visit to Greenleaf’s parents and told them he was going to propose to their son.

e couple wanted to get married in 2020, but COVID changed their plans. ey’re not in a rush. Greenleaf would love to have a lavish wedding, but his vision doesn’t match their budget. ey’ll likely choose a small wedding with close family and friends. Another wedding photographer will have to worry about getting the perfect photo on that day.

“cloud nine.” Sean’s youngest son was the ring bearer. eir children passed the box on Fair Oaks Bridge. Sean proposed to Janelle at sunset

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Mariposa County below the snowline is not to be missed. Wild owers such as purple lupine, golden poppies and white Mariposa lilies paint the hillsides and valleys. Highway 140 through e Wild and Scenic Merced River Canyon o ers roadside picnic areas, hiking opportunities and whitewater rafting for the more adventurous. Visit for your trip planning needs!

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Heroes and Villains

SACMAG.COM May 2023 75
Sacramento has its own comic book superheroes courtesy of Brent Trayce Sands, whose entrepreneurial endeavors have expanded to stores, videos and more. Bravo 05 23
inside: Getting to know Anthony “Impound” Endsley and Lady Monarch kevin gomez jr.
Brent Trayce Sands shows off his comic
in his store, Impound Comics.

Hidero Yamasuki considers himself a connoisseur of comic books and all things anime. So when the 22-year-old was seen leafing through the latest issue of the comic book “Impound” while sitting at DOCO, he was asked how it stacked up against the titans of the industry: Marvel and DC Comics.

“I think the quality of the book, from the art to the color to the story, is definitely cool. There’s definitely no difference between this and the mainstream books,” says Yamasuki, a midtown resident. “The fact that ‘Impound’ is based in Sacramento is even better. That’s valid. I’m a fan.”

Yamasuki had just purchased the comic book from Brent Trayce Sands, who came up with the character and opened Impound Comics store in 2021 to feature his growing series of comic books. That number has now reached five, with a sixth coming in May. The business is growing as fast as the superpowers of his characters—so much so that Sands opened Anti-Hero in Arden Fair mall this past July. Impound Comics sells only t he series created by Sands, while his Arden Fair store is more of a traditional comic book store that sells books from the major publishers such as Marvel, DC and Image, plus toys, game cards and other merchandise.

Sands, 34, says he has a business agreement with DOCO operator CBRE , which takes a percentage of sales in lieu of a traditional leasing agreement. That’s allowed him to focus on expanding his comics universe rather than just growing the bottom line.

“That agreement is helping me grow the brand. When I started, I didn’t have that many books, but [CBRE] believed in the vision,” Sands says. “They were like, ‘We’re willing to take a risk on your company because we think you have something that could eventually become a Sacramento touristy thing.’ It makes sense in DOCO, and for the Sacramento Kings, to have a Sacramento superhero. It’s all about community. That’s where that idea came from.”

In April, Sands took another leap to expand the brand, hiring more employees to run the DOCO store so he could move to Hollywood and be closer to publishers, television and animation studios, and merchandising

experts. “If this whole thing is going to become what I want it to be, then I had to make the move,” Sands says. “I need more people to see it, so I took the leap.”

His first comic book series, Impound, is based in Sacramento and centers around Anthony “Impound” Endsley, a tow-truck driver by day, an amateur mixed martial arts fighter by night trying to make it to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Without spoiling too much of the origin story in Impound #1, Endsley is offered money to take a dive in an MMA fight but instead beats the local champion. That incurs the wrath of a Sacramento crime lord named Christ Jones, who exacts his revenge by attacking Impound’s family. The rest of the story line features Impound developing his powers to avenge what Jones and others have done to him. Sands has branched out with five additional comic book series, featuring characters with names such as Lady Monarch, Blasted and Decymus.


“Impound was pulled from Spawn (Image Comics) and ‘Mortal Kombat’ (video game and movie), and ‘Pulp Fiction’ was a big inspiration on this story, too,” Sands says. “He’s pretty much a melting pot of my favorite things. Impound is more like (Marvel’s violent vigilante) Punisher, more of an anti-hero, especially in the more recent books. He’s got a lot of rage, and if you’re in his way, you’re probably going to die. I don’t have too many ‘true blue’ heroes. Lady Monarch is true blue and Blasted is more on the true-blue end. Everyone else is either an anti-hero or true villain.”

The “Lady Monarch” series also takes place in Sacramento; the cover of the debut book features the titular superheroine sitting on Tower Bridge. The book’s logo is scripted in the font used by the defunct Sacramento Monarchs WNBA team, although the main character has nothing to do with basketball, Sands says.

Lady Monarch is the alter ego of Brooke Bolton, a social media influencer who discovers she is the reincarnated Egyptian goddess Ma’at. Superhero strong, she can fly and control cosmic energy. Brooke is the first name of Sands’ sister, and Bolton is an homage to Ruthie Bolton, the Sacramento Monarchs’ most famous player.

“I love dropping Easter eggs into my work,” Sands says. “True comic book fans eat that stuff up, and if Sacramento residents see something familiar in the books, then that’s even better.”

Blasted is his newest superhero and was born and raised in Stockton. Blasted’s main superpower is called melanokinesis. He can manipulate the ink from his tattoos to turn the images on his body into weapons. The debut book comes out May 6.

“Blasted is based on Acat of Mayan mythology,” Sands says. “I once saw a guy on Instagram with a tiger tattoo, and he did a Photoshop effect where he pulled

SACMAG.COM May 2023 77
Brent Trayce Sands’ first comic book series is based in Sacramento and centers around Anthony
“Impound” Endsley, a tow-truck driver by day, an amateur mixed martial arts fighter by night.


the tiger off. I t hought that was cool. No comic book character is 100 percent original. Marvel and DC have characters that manipulate tattoos, too, but none of them are heroes; they’re all villains and had nothing to do with the Mayans, and they didn’t hit.”

In Mayan mythology, Acat was the god of tattooing. The belief was that if a Mayan had a tattoo of a god, then he would be given some of that god’s power. Blasted has crossed swords inked on his back. When he needs them, he reaches for them, and the swords appear in his hands ready for slicing and dicing bad guys.

Sands says pre-orders of Blasted’s debut comic book have exceeded pre-orders of all his other series combined. “He’s been a force taking us to a next level,” Sands says. “[The number of] my TikTok followers—186,000 as of early March—has basically doubled since we announced the launch was coming.”

Sands’ experience as a concert and club promoter has served him well in creating social media buzz around his comic book business. The money he made from royalties and managing Sacramento-based R&B singer MarMar Oso seeded Impound Comics’ startup. About a year ago, Sands was able to concentrate full time on Impound Comics.

Sands graduated from Sacramento State with a degree in fi lm and has written, directed and produced a seven-minute animated video of the fi rst Impound comic book. A second Impound video just dropped, and more videos, and a video game, are in the works, he says.

Representation is important to him, he says, and it’s why his fi rst two characters—Impound and Lady Monarch—are Black. The fact that they’re both based in Sacramento was important, too, he says.

“Where else was I going to make them from?” Sands asks. “Since I was born and raised here, that just made sense. In the beginning, I wanted a hero that looks

like me, but they’re not all [Black], though. Seraph is from the Philippines. Decymus and Alyna are aliens. Blasted is Mexican. In the books, Impound’s lead Sacramento Police detective, Carol Moseley, is Indian American, and Cautious is Irish. We have diversity in our universe because Sacramento is so diverse. Adding representation is important.”

Sands is responsible for the stories and the dialogue. He farms the illustrations out to five illustrators around the world. His main artist is Philippines-based Vash A. Sands says he and Vash have never actually spoken. Instead, they trade ideas, rough drafts and fi nal products over the internet.

“We communicate over the WhatsApp app,” Sands says. “I’ve never spoken to him, and we’ve been working together for two-and-a-half years. I don’t know if he even speaks English or if he’s ever been to the United States.”

Sands handles the bulk of his social media e orts from the Impound Comics shop in DOCO, producing between two and four TikTok videos every day, along with other content. He doesn’t sit at a computer and bang away on scripts. He already has the three-year original story arc fleshed out for Impound and writes dialogue after Vash comes up with the art panels. Then the final product is shipped to a Michigan-based printer specializing in comic books and sent back for distribution to Sands’ ever-growing customer mailing list and to stock Sands’ two stores. Each comic book takes between three and six months to go from concept to fi rst drafts to fi nal proofs and o to the printers. Sands’ goal is to bring out one book every month from each of his six series.

“Six books is enough to grow, but I have more ideas,” Sands says. “A short-term goal is always more books. But we also just got our fi rst toy deal with a small company (Zig Studio 3D based in Omaha, Nebraska) that’s just starting out, too. But we’re both at a stage where we need each other. They’ll be producing toys for Impound and Blasted.”

Through Sands’ imagination, hard work and marketing prowess, the Impound Comics universe is growing and has already achieved legitimacy thanks to Anthony “Impound” Endsley and his friends and foes.

“My goal when people saw my books is that they’d become like true comic book fans and would feel like they were missing out, like they’d look at it and say, ‘Oh my God, am I behind on something new?’” Sands says. “I didn’t want people to tell we’re clearly an (independent). I think I accomplished that goal.”

And, in the parlance of his young fan and customer, Yamasuki, that’s valid.




Redux—Who can forget the 1990 Hollywood hit that catapulted Julia Roberts to stardom?

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” hits all the high notes of the movie, which paired a corporate raider (Richard Gere) with a free-spirited streetwalker (Roberts), and adds a score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Relive the fairy tale when the national touring production comes to SAFE Credit Union PAC. broadway

MAY 13

MAY 13 – 14

MAY 19 – 21

Bella Voce—Experience one of the world’s most celebrated voices when Andrea Bocelli: Live in Concert graces Golden 1 Center. The multiplatinum-selling Italian tenor, known for bridging the classical and pop music worlds, performs from his wideranging repertoire: arias, love songs and crossover fan favorites that have made him an international star. With Sacramento Philharmonic and Chorus.

It’s a Small World—

The small city-suburb of Rancho Cordova celebrates its ethnic diversity in a big way at the 14th annual International Festival, aka iFest . Enjoy global food and drink at this free family fest, plus art, kids’ activities and a showcase of live music and dance performances representing the myriad world cultures that call Rancho Cordova home. At Village Green Park. cordovacoun

Gardens of Delight—

For an upclose look at some of the most gorgeous gardens and homes in the city, take in this year’s East Sac Garden Tour on Mother’s Day Weekend. The annual benefit for David Lubin Elementary School includes a tour of several stunning properties in the Fabulous 40s, an on-campus boutique, art show and cafe, and a wine garden and silent auction at Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. eastsac

Let’s Dance—

Sacramento Ballet wraps up its 68th season with Emergence , featuring the intense and athletic “Agon,” George Balanchine’s midcentury ballet that represents the apex of his long collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky. Also on tap: three world premieres by critically acclaimed choreographers Caili Quan, Stephanie Martinez and Adam Hougland. At The Sofia.

SACMAG.COM May 2023 79
Matthew Murphy; below
Create & Gather; below middle: Tony Nguyen
MAY 2 – 7 MAY 12


Vacanza Romana is a restaurant created of love and admiration of Italy. Inspired by the city of Rome, the true Italian melting pot, where the beautiful hills of the North meet the coastal slopes of the south. Our mission to to value Californias high quality local ingredients and serve with in a cuisine with the upmost respect to Italian tradition, but open to new possibilities through techniques and flavors.


Classic Carbonara: 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Guanciale, egg yolk and fresh made Bucatini. Dolce Stefanía: Ricotta, burrata and sage filled caramelle pasta with parmigiano, candied walnut powder, and browned butter.



Family is one of the most, if not the most important thing in our lives. It is for that reason we created this restaurant. A place where families & friends can come together, over food & drinks, and show why the best memories are made around the table.



Brunch Burger: Pure angus beef beef patty with two fried eggs, hickory smoked bacon, melted cheese, tomato, red onion, lettuce and aioli on a toasted brioche bun.

Maui French Toast: Flambéed Sliced bananas with six thick slices of cinnamon vanilla battered French toast, coconut, macadamia nuts and salted caramel.





Don’t Miss! The Mimosa House RANCHO CORDOVA: 3155 ZINFANDEL DRIVE (916) 970-1761 EAST SAC: 5641 J STREET (916) 400-4084 ROSEVILLE: 761 PLEASANT GROVE (916) 784-1313 EL DORADO HILLS: 2023 VINE STREET (916) 934-0965 FOLSOM: 25075 BLUE RAVINE ROAD (916) 293-9442 GOLD RIVER: 2180 GOLDEN CENTRE LANE (916) 822-4145

Nominate your favorite business for this year’s Best of Sacramento

The Best of Sacramento survey is now live. Cast your votes for your favorite businesses and individuals! This year’s voting takes place in two phases— nominations and finals—so remember the dates listed below.

Nomination phase

April 10–June 11

During this time, voters will write in their nominations for all categories.

Finals phase

July 3–Aug. 6

The finals start after the write-in votes are tabulated. The names of people and businesses that have received the most write-in votes will be displayed so voters can click on their final choices.

Winners Announced

Oct. 2023 Issue

Results will be published in the October issue of Sacramento Magazine.

Roman Holiday

If you can’t get to Rome this spring, consider the next best thing: a visit to VACANZA ROMANA , the new Italian restaurant in El Dorado Hills Its menu is a virtual tour of Roman cuisine by way of Northern California. Try the fried artichoke with pecorino cream, the cacio e pepe (house-made pasta with pecorino cheese and cracked black pepper) or the vibrantly colored grilled octopus (shown). It’s all, as they say in Italian, squisito. 2023 Vine St., El Dorado Hills; (916) 673-9620;


inside: Light, Fresh Thai / Tools of the Trade

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05 23
lyda mock/go gold
Grilled octopus with butternut squash puree Parmesan mashed potatoes

Fresh Choice

If a chef I respect raves about a restaurant, I tend to take notice. So when Kathi Riley Smith—once the executive chef at San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe—told me about Paste Thai in Davis, I suggested we go there for lunch. “I don’t think I’ve ever had Thai food made with fresher ingredients,” she said.

We were joined by a mutual friend, longtime caterer and cooking instructor Roxanne O’Brien. Kathi let Rox do the ordering—“as long as we get that cashew thing,” she said. That cashew thing turned out to be stir-fried cashews with onions and roasted chili sauce, which Roxanne ordered along with a crazy-long list of other dishes: fresh spring rolls, fried tofu, salt-and-pepper calamari, Thai fi sh cakes, stir-fried Chinese eggplant, and green curry with shrimp and scallops.

I learn a lot when eating with industry people like Kathi and Roxanne, with their sharp palates and extensive food knowledge. Kathi complimented the freshness of the fried fi sh cakes and calamari. “I’m really picky about fryer oil,” she said. “Look at the color of this calamari—no dark bits from old oil.” She was equally impressed with the delicate fried Thai basil leaves that garnished one of the dishes—“I’ve never had that before.” Both Kathi and Rox noted with approval that Paste Thai makes its own curry pastes from scratch. Summing up her impres-

sion of the meal, Kathi said, “Everything is super fresh tasting.”

A few weeks later, I was in the kitchen at Paste Thai to meet the owners and fi nd out how they do things. Douangchay Luanglath, the chef, makes all the restaurant’s curry pastes—red, green, yellow and panang—by hand twice a week. She demonstrated the process for me, using an enormous clay mortar and pestle to grind fresh galangal root, ka r lime leaves, garlic, shallots, dried Thai chilies, shrimp paste and salt into a thick, smooth puree that she would later stir-fry in oil and combine with coconut milk to make red curry sauce. Co-owner Penprapa Athiprayoon explained that the paste’s texture is better when it’s made by hand, rather than in a food processor. Most Thai restaurants don’t bother to make their own, she said; they buy it premade.


The two women opened Paste Thai last June. Before that, it had been a casual spot called The Chicken Hawkers, serving takeout Thai street food. Luanglath worked as the chef there for owner Deo Suwan.

Athiprayoon moved to the United States from Thailand with her family when she was 20 and learned to speak English working at a restaurant her parents owned in San Francisco’s Mission District. She later got a job in the airline industry, and for a brief while, she and her then-husband owned a Thai restaurant in San Jose. Retiring early from the

airlines, she moved to Davis, where she met Luanglath (who goes by the American name Kim). When Suwan closed The Chicken Hawkers, the two women decided to team up. “I opened this restaurant because I loved Kim’s food,” said Athiprayoon. “I couldn’t see Kim not cooking anymore because her food is so good.”

They serve things you won’t fi nd at most Thai restaurants, such as crispy house-cured pork belly stir-fried with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), egg custard over sticky rice, and curry pu s, a laborintensive appetizer of laminated pastry dough fi lled with curry chicken or sweet taro paste. For a while, they o ered house-made coconut ice cream, served Thai street food style with bread and sticky rice, but American diners didn’t go for it, so now they serve Thai coconut pudding and sticky black rice with mango for dessert. The house specialty is something called “chicken rice,” another popular Thai street food. Paste’s version features poached Mary’s Organic chicken, served over rice that is cooked in chicken broth with lots of garlic and ginger. Luanglath recently returned from a lengthy visit to Thailand and Laos, where she went to soak up new culinary inspiration.

While there are plenty of Thai restaurants in Sacramento, Kathi Riley Smith is happy to drive to Davis to eat at Paste Thai. “This is so di erent from the heavyhanded Thai food you usually get,” she said.

At Paste Thai, the food is authentic, upscale and made from scratch.
564-7051 rachel valley
Mace Blvd., Davis (in El Macero
Green curry with chicken Douangchay Luanglath, Deo Suwan and Penprapa Athiprayoon
SACMAG.COM May 2023 85
Chef Douangchay Luanglath makes all the restaurant’s curry pastes by hand twice a week. Mango salad Curry puff s Crispy house-cured pork belly stir-fried with gai lan (Chinese broccoli)

Tooling Around

Ask any serious cook if they have a favorite kitchen tool or gadget and you’re liable to hear plenty of strongly held opinions about the best silicone-tipped tongs, the perfect sauté pan or the ideal immersion blender. For fun, we asked three local chefs about the one kitchen item they just can’t live without. Here’s what they had to say about the indispensable implements that make working in a hectic restaurant kitchen easier.—CATHERINE WARMERDAM


Executive chef, Allora

For Deneb Williams, who helms the kitchen at upscale Allora in East Sacramento, there is no separating him from his most reliable tool: a 10-inch chef’s knife with a folded Damascus steel blade. “I’ve had it for something like 30 years—so long that I don’t know the brand because the markings have long ago worn off,” he says. “When it’s in my hand, it feels like it’s part of me. It goes where I go.” In fact, Williams transports it back and forth to work in a Craftsman toolbox. He can’t imagine working with any other knife. “The weight and balance of a knife is the thing you get used to the most. I’m far more precise with this knife than any other. It fits my hand perfectly. I’ve used this tool more than anything else in the world.”


Head chef, Lola’s Lounge

t Lola’s Lounge, the eclectic panLatin restaurant on the edge of midtown, chef Janey Tozier swears by the ostonera that owner Lola Serrano-Class picked up for her on a recent trip to Puerto Rico. The small, paddle-shaped device, made of wood with brass hinges, has one job: to smash plantains for making tostones, those heavenly fried plantain disks that are a staple of Latin American cuisine. “I love this thing so much. It has become my favorite tool,” proclaims Tozier, who had previously been using a metal tortilla press for the repetitive task. “We slice the plantains, then smash them and fry them again, and this thing really helps the whole process go so much quicker.” As for Serrano-Class, she loves that the simple gadget keeps her eatery “authentic to our Puerto Rican heritage.”


Culinary director, Urban Roots Hospitality Group

he kitchen tool most favored by Greg Desmangles is perhaps underappreciated by home cooks: a scale.

“It’s a humble tool, but simple things like that are the cornerstone of our kitchens,” says the chef, who first started using a scale to portion out roast turkey for sandwiches at Pangaea Bier Cafe a decade ago. Today, scales are used regularly at Urban Roots Brewery & Smokehouse to measure everything from the smoked meats for sandwiches to the cheese that goes into the mac and cheese sauce.

“In my opinion, measuring by weight is the most accurate way to keep a recipe the same, because doing t by volume can get a little subjective. The scale always works, so we don’t have to guess,” explains Desmangles. “In this business, consistency is key, and our scale is our biggest tool when it comes to consistency.”

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As a reader service, Sacramento Magazine offers the following list of noteworthy restaurants in the Sacramento region. This is not intended to be a complete directory, and not all restaurants profiled appear every month. Before heading to a restaurant, call or check its website to make sure it’s open.


BENNETT’S AMERICAN COOKING At this comfortable neighborhood hangout, the food is like homemade, only better: things like braised short rib with mashed potatoes, lasagna Bolognese and chicken enchiladas. There’s something for every taste, from avocado toast, available all day long, to prime rib (weekends only). 2232 Fair Oaks Blvd.; (916) 5159680; L–D–Br. American. $$$

CAFE BERNARDO AT PAVILIONS The menu offers straightforward fare guaranteed to please just about everyone. Breakfast includes huevos rancheros and eggs Bernardo, while lunch and dinner feature chewy-crusted pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and substantial entrees such as pan-seared chicken breast with mashed potatoes. 515 Pavilions Lane; (916) 922-2870; B–L–D. New American. $$

LEATHERBY’S FAMILY CREAMERY Go for the ice cream, all made on the premises and used in shakes, malts and towering sundaes. 2333 Arden Way; (916) 920-8382; L–D. Sandwiches/ice cream. $

THE KITCHEN Part supper club, part theatrical production: This is like no other restaurant in Sacramento, and it’s Michelin starred. You need to make reservations months in advance for the multi-course dinner. The food is complex and mind-blowingly creative. 2225 Hurley Way; (916) 568-7171; the D. American. $$$$

WILDWOOD RESTAURANT & BAR At this restaurant, New American and global cuisine shares the menu with an all-American burger. The spacious patio is a great place to grab a drink and listen to live music. 556 Pavilions Lane; (916) 922-2858; L–D–Br. American/global fusion. $$$

ZÓCALO This Mexican restaurant is one of the best places to while away an evening with friends over margaritas. The menu has regional Mexican specialties such as tacos de cazuela, a casserole-ish concoction of steak, chorizo and cheese served with house-made tortillas. 466 Howe Ave.; (916) 2520303; L–D–Br. Mexican. $$


RESTAURANT JOSEPHINE The seductive aroma of food roasting over a wood fire is one of the first things you notice at this French dinner house. The menu has a bistro bent, with mainstays such as steak frites, French onion soup, duck liver mousse and escargots and mushrooms “en cocotte.” 1226 Lincoln Way; (530) 820-3523; D. French. $$$



bastion of Buddhist-inspired vegetarian cuisine serves food that is fresh and flavorful. 2007 Broadway; (916) 736-1157; L–D. Vegetarian/Asian. $

SELLAND’S MARKET-CAFE Choose from an array of appetizers and hot items along with crowd-pleasing side dishes and pizza. This high-quality takeout food can be a real lifesaver on nights when you’re too busy to cook. 915 Broadway; (916) 732-3390; L–D–Br. Gourmet takeout. $$

TOWER CAFE This place is a hot spot on weekend mornings. Regulars swear by the New Mexico blueberry cornmeal pancakes and the thick-cut, custardy French toast. Breakfast is all-American, but lunch and dinner have a global flavor. 1518 Broadway; (916) 441-0222; B–L–D. World fusion. $$


MATTEO’S PIZZA & BISTRO The menu is compact, and there’s no skimping on first-rate ingredients.

The pizza crust is damned good, attaining that chewy-crispy-airy trifecta. Other good choices include pasta, steak, salads and burgers. Enjoy a meal and seasonal cocktail on the lovely back patio. 5132 Arden Way; (916) 779-0727; L–D. Pizza/American. $$


LEATHERBY’S FAMILY CREAMERY For description, see listing under “Arden.” 7910 Antelope Road; (916) 729-4021; L–D. Sandwiches/ i ce cream. $


PANGAEA BIER CAFE While it’s known as a beer cafe and bottle shop, this casual spot also serves up tasty bar food, including a burger that has taken home top honors more than once at Sacramento Burger Battle. 2743 Franklin Blvd.; (916) 454-4942; L–D. American. $$

Origami Asian Grill’s rice bowl with chicken


BURGERS AND BREW The casual, publike restaurant uses high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and serves an interesting selection of beers and ales. 1409 R St.; (916) 442-0900; L–D. Burgers. $–$$


This hip sushi bar serves its sushi with a side of sass. The dense menu offers appetizers, rice bowls, bento boxes and sushi rolls. 500 First St.; (530) 756-2111; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $$

THE MUSTARD SEED Dinner selections feature elegant California cuisine, ranging from crab-stuffed Idaho trout to shrimp and sun-dried tomato risotto. Wines are reasonably priced and exclusively from California. 222 D St.; (530) 758-5750; mus L–D. New American. $$–$$$

OSTERIA FASULO This restaurant has a beautiful outdoor courtyard, and the menu is proudly Italian, with wonderful pastas and robust meat dishes. Try the vanilla panna cotta for dessert. 2657 Portage Bay East; (530) 758-1324; L–D. Italian. $$$–$$$$

PASTE THAI This hidden gem, located in a busy strip mall, offers the cleanest, freshest Thai around. Everything is made in-house, including the pastes that go into the exquisite curries. 417 Mace Blvd.; (530) 564-7051. L–D. Thai. $$

SEASONS This attractive, upscale restaurant showcases seasonal products; the menu changes every three months. Pizzas are great; so are the bountiful salads. But you’ll find the kitchen’s real talent in its creative appetizers and limited entrees. 102 F St.;

(530) 750-1801; L–D. New American. $$–$$$


BINCHOYAKI Small plates of grilled meats, fish and vegetables are the stars at this izakaya-style restaurant. But you can also order ramen, tempura and other Japanese favorites. 2226 10th St.; (916) 4699448; L–D. Japanese. $$–$$$

BURGERS AND BREW For description, see listing under “Davis.” 1409 R St.; (916) 442-0900; burgers L–D. Burgers. $

CAFE BERNARDO For description, see listing under “Arden.” 1431 R St.; (916) 930-9191; cafebernardo. com. B–L–D. New American. $$

CAMDEN SPIT & LARDER This swank brasserie in a modern, glass-walled building near the Capitol appeals to lobbyists, lawyers and legislators with its gin-forward cocktails and a menu that’s an interesting mash-up of British chop-house classics, English schoolboy favorites and elevated pub fare. 555 Capitol Mall; (916) 619-8897; camdenspitandlarder. com. L–D. Steakhouse. $$$–$$$$

THE COCONUT ON T With Thai dishes made from fresh ingredients, this little restaurant is a popular spot for creative twists on staples such as pad thai or drunken noodles, as well as curries, rices and rolls. Sweet potato fries and fried calamari are house favorites, too. 1110 T St.; (916) 822-4665; coconutont. com. L–D. Thai. $

DAWSON’S Located within the Hyatt Regency, Dawson’s has dark-paneled walls, elegant linen-draped

tables and a convivial bar. It’s a great spot for a martini and a New York steak. You can’t help but enjoy the lavish attention showered on you by the professional wait staff, and the food is undeniably sophisticated. 1209 L St.; (916) 321-3600; dawsons D. New American. $$$–$$$$

ECHO & RIG Situated in the lobby of The Sawyer hotel, this outpost of a Vegas steakhouse is sleek and unstuffy. Prices are considerably gentler than at most other steakhouses, but the quality of the meat is high. In addition to standard cuts like filet, NY steak and rib-eye, you’ll find butcher cuts such as hanger, bavette, skirt and tri-tip. 500 J St.; (877) 678-6255; B–L–D–Br. Steakhouse. $$$

ELLA This stunning restaurant is an elegant oasis compared to the gritty hustle and bustle outside. From the open kitchen, the staff turns out innovative dishes and old favorites. The emphasis is on seasonal, local and artisanal. 1131 K St.; (916) 4433772; L–D. New American. $$$$

FOX & GOOSE PUBLIC HOUSE This tavern plates up some of the best breakfasts in town, along with pub staples like beer-battered fish and chips, Cornish pasty and Welsh rarebit. 1001 R St.; (916) 443-8825; B–L–D. English pub. $–$$

FRANK FAT’S Downtown Sacramento’s oldest restaurant, Fat’s is a favorite of the Capitol crowd. The restaurant is well known for its steaks—especially Frank’s Style New York Steak—and its brandy-fried chicken. This is Chinese cuisine at its most sophisticated. 806 L St.; (916) 442-7092; L–D. Chinese. $$$

KODAIKO RAMEN & BAR This below-ground ramen shop takes the Japanese noodle soup to a whole new level. Ingredients are organic, and almost everything is made in-house. For a fun experience, sit at the six-person ramen counter and chat with the chefs. 718 K St.; (916) 426-8863; L–D–Br. Japanese/ramen. $$–$$$

MAGPIE CAFE This restaurant has a casual, unassuming vibe, and its hallmark is clean, simple fare that tastes like the best version of itself. 1601 16th St.; (916) 452-7594; B–L–D. Californian. $$

MAJKA PIZZERIA + BAKERY This little takeout shop offers only one style of veggie pizza per day. But oh what a pizza it is! It features organic, whole-grain sourdough crust and toppings sourced from local farmers markets and small farms. When the weather’s nice, pick up a pizza, a bottle of natural wine and a couple of chocolate chunk miso cookies and head across the street to Fremont Park for an alfresco meal. 1704 15th St.; (916) 572-9316; lovema L–D. Pizza. $$

MIKUNI JAPANESE RESTAURANT AND SUSHI BAR For description, see listing under “Davis.” 1530 J St.; (916) 447-2112; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $$

THE 7TH STREET STANDARD Located inside the Hyatt Centric, this is an unabashedly big-city restaurant. Chef Ravin Patel’s menu has a modern California sensibility, using fresh ingredients, classic French techniques and a healthy dash of South Indian flavors. 1122 Seventh St.; (916) 371-7100; the7thstreetstan B–L–D. Modern American. $$$

URBAN ROOTS BREWING & SMOKEHOUSE At this brewery, a massive smoker turns out succulent meats—brisket, ribs, turkey and sausage—in the tradition of the great barbecue houses of Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee. Sides include collard greens, mac and cheese, yams and poblano cheese

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grits. Sit indoors or out at long picnic tables. 1322 V St.; (916) 706-3741; L–D. Barbecue. $$

WILLOW Located in The Exchange hotel, this elegant restaurant specializes in southern Italian and Mediterranean Sea cuisine, with a focus on pastas (all made in-house). 1006 Fourth St.; (916) 938-8001; B–L–D–Br. Italian. $$$


ALLORA Modern Italian fare with a heavy seafood bent is the focus at this sophisticated eatery. Tasting menus come in three, four and five courses, with caviar service and in-season truffles offered at an additional cost. Extensive vegetarian and vegan options are also available. 5215 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 538-6434; D. Italian. $$$$

CANON With Michelin-starred chef Brad Cecchi at the helm, this breezily chic restaurant offers an ambitious menu of globally inspired sharable plates. Much of the menu is vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, but you can also order from a small selection of hearty meat, poultry and fish dishes. 1719 34th St.; (916) 469-2433; D–Br. Global/New American. $$$–$$$$

THE HOUSE OF AUTHENTIC INGREDIENTS The food here is simply first-rate. Everything from soups and salads to curries and stir-fries is made with care and precision. 4701 H St.; (916) 942-9008; thaiatsac. com. L–D. Thai. $$–$$$

KAU KAU Hawaiian soul food is on the menu here, with island faves such as loco moco, house-made Spam musubi and lomi-lomi salmon bowl. 855 57th St.; (916) 431-7043; L–D–Br. Hawaiian. $$

KRU Chef/owner Billy Ngo produces high caliber, exciting Japanese fare. The restaurant has a craft cocktail bar, outdoor patios and an omakase bar. (An omakase cocktail pairing is also available.) 3135 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 551-1559; L–D. Japanese. $$$–$$$$

MATTONE RISTORANTE When Sacramento’s famed Biba restaurant closed its doors, a few alums struck out on their own to open this Italian eatery. It’s a worthy successor to Biba, serving freshly made pasta and classic Italian fare such as calamari fritti, veal marsala and chicken cooked under a brick. 5723 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 758-5557; L–D. Italian $$$–$$$$

THE MIMOSA HOUSE This local chain offers a comprehensive lineup of breakfast fare: omelets, Benedicts, crepes, waffles, burritos and, of course, mimosas. The rest of the menu is similarly broad, with burgers, salads, grilled sandwiches and Mexican “street food.” 5641 J St.; (916) 400-4084; mimo B–L. American. $$

OBO’ ITALIAN TABLE & BAR This casual Italian eatery is beautifully designed and efficiently run. There are hot dishes and cold salads behind the glass cases. But the stars of the menu are the freshly made pastas and wood-oven pizzas. There’s also a full bar. 3145 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 822-8720; L–D. Italian. $$

ONESPEED Chef Rick Mahan, who built his stellar reputation at The Waterboy in midtown, branched out with a more casual concept at his East Sac eatery. The bistro has a tiled pizza oven that cranks out chewy, flavorful pizzas. 4818 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 706-1748; B–L–D. Pizza. $$

ORIGAMI ASIAN GRILL This fast-casual eatery serves

Asian-flavored rice bowls, banh mi, salads and ramen, along with killer fried chicken and assorted smokedmeat specials from a big smoker on the sidewalk. 4801 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 400-3075; origamiasian L–D. Asian fusion. $–$$

SELLAND’S MARKET-CAFE For description, see listing under Broadway. 5340 H St.; (916) 736-3333; L–D–Br. Gourmet takeout. $$


AJI JAPANESE BISTRO This casually elegant restaurant offers an innovative menu of Japanese street food, interesting fusion entrees, traditional dishes such as teriyaki and tempura and—yes—sushi. There’s a short, approachable wine list, sakes and a full bar serving handcrafted cocktails. 4361 Town Center Blvd.; (916) 941-9181; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $–$$

ALMIGHTY BISTRO This all-gluten-free restaurant has a large menu that includes salads, sandwiches, tapas and small plates, large plates and lots of meatless options. You’ll find bluefin tuna poke, baby kale Caesar salad, avocado toast on an everything bagel, grass-fed burgers, short ribs, falafel, shiitake beans & rice—a tremendous variety for every dietary need. 4355 Town Center Blvd.; (916) 510-1204; almighty L–D–Br. Gluten-free global. $$

C. KNIGHT’S STEAKHOUSE An upscale dinner house serving steaks, chops and seafood, this restaurant offers classic American fare that’s stood the test of time. Make sure to order the Green Phunque, a tasty side dish that’s like creamed spinach on steroids. 2085 Vine St.; (916) 235-1730; cknightssteakhouse. com. D. American steakhouse. $$$$

MILESTONE This unstuffy eatery serves great takes on comfort-food classics like pot roast and fried chicken. It’s straightforward, without pretense or gimmickry. The setting is like a Napa country porch, and the service is warm and approachable. 4359 Town Center Blvd.; (916) 934-0790; milestoneedh. com. L–D–Br. New American. $$–$$

THE MIMOSA HOUSE For description, see listing under East Sacramento, 2023 Vine St.; (916) 9340965; B–L–D. American. $$

SELLAND’S MARKET-CAFE For description, see listing under “East Sacramento.” 4370 Town Center Blvd.; (916) 932-5025; L–D–Br. Gourmet takeout. $$

SIENNA RESTAURANT The menu includes a playful melange of global cuisine, including fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, stone-hearth pizzas, inventive appetizers and a stacked French dip sandwich. 1006 White Rock Road; (916) 941-9694; siennarestau L–D–Br. Global. $$–$$$


BOULEVARD BISTRO Chef/owner Bret Bohlmann is a passionate supporter of local farmers and winemakers, and his innovative food sings with freshness and seasonality. 8941 Elk Grove Blvd.; (916) 6852220; D–Br. New American. $$–$$$

JOURNEY TO THE DUMPLING This Elk Grove eatery specializes in Shanghai-style dumplings, along with Chinese dishes such as green onion pancakes, garlic green beans and salt-and-pepper calamari. 7419 Laguna Blvd.; (916) 509-9556; journeytothedump L–D. Chinese. $$

Blood orange margarita from OBO ’ Italian Table & Bar

LEATHERBY’S FAMILY CREAMERY For description, see listing under “Arden.” 8238 Laguna Blvd.; (916) 691-3334; L–D. Sandwiches/ice cream. $


For description, see listing under “Davis.” 8525 Bond Road; (916) 714-2112; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $$



For description, see listing under “Davis.” 4323 Hazel Ave.; (916) 961-2112; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $$

SHANGRI-LA A fun restaurant reminiscent of Palm Springs in the ’50s, this establishment boasts an expansive, retro resort-style patio and a menu teeming with inventive cocktails. Come for Baja fish tacos, ahi poke or a towering burger, and find plenty of other vibrant dishes made from local, seasonal ingredients. The space was formerly a mortuary, and the owner, Fair Oaks native Sommer Peterson, saw to its transformation, which revealed original concrete floors and brick walls. 7960 Winding Way; (916) 241-9473; D. American. $$


BACCHUS HOUSE WINE BAR & BISTRO With a seasonal menu packed with innovative, globally influenced dishes, this restaurant has plenty to choose from. 1004 E. Bidwell St.; (916) 984-7500; bac L –D–Br. New American.


THE VIRGIN STURGEON This quirky floating restaurant is the quintessential Sacramento River dining e xperience. A cocktail pontoon is connected to the restaurant, where you can drink and enjoy the breezy proximity to the water below. Best known for its seafood, The Virgin Sturgeon also offers weekend brunch. 1577 Garden Highway; (916) 921-2694; the L–D–Br. Seafood/American. $$


HAWKS Known for its elegant cuisine and beautiful interior, this restaurant has framed photos of farmscapes that remind diners of owners Molly Hawks and Michael Fagnoni’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients. The seasonal menu is full of delicious surprises, such as seared scallop and sea urchin. 5530 Douglas Blvd.; (916) 791-6200; hawksrestaurant. com. L–D–Br. New American/French. $$$–$$$$


CACIO This tiny restaurant has only a handful of tables. The fare is high-quality Italian comfort food, with an emphasis on pasta. Service is warm and homey, prices are gentle, and reservations (even at lunch) are a must. 7600 Greenhaven Drive; (916) 399-9309; L–D. Italian. $$

SCOTT’S SEAFOOD ON THE RIVER Located in The Westin Sacramento, Scott’s has a patio and a view of the river. For dinner, splurge on a lobster tail or choose a more modestly priced grilled salmon. 4800 Riverside Blvd.; (916) 379-5959; scottsseafoodon B–L–D. Seafood. $$$–$$$$


CHICAGO FIRE Oodles of melted cheese blanket the pizzas that fly out of the kitchen of this busy restaurant. Here, you get to choose between thin-crust, deep-dish and stuffed pizzas. 310 Palladio Parkway; (916) 984-0140; L –D. Pizza. $

FAT’S ASIA BISTRO AND DIM SUM BAR This restaurant’s menu focuses on Asian cuisine, from Mongolian beef and Hong Kong chow mein to Thai chicken satay served with a fiery curry-peanut sauce. 2585 Iron Point Road; (916) 983-1133; fatsasiabis L–D. Pan-Asian. $$

LAND OCEAN The menu hits all the steakhouse high notes: hand-cut steaks, lobster, seafood and rotisserie, entree salads and sandwiches. 2720 E. Bidwell St.; (916) 983-7000; L–D–Br. New American/steakhouse. $$$–$$$$

THE MIMOSA HOUSE For description, see listing under “East Sacramento.” 25075 Blue Ravine Road; (916) 293-9442; B–L. American. $$

SCOTT’S SEAFOOD ROUNDHOUSE This restaurant offers a solid menu of delicious seafood, from crab cakes and calamari to roasted lobster tail. 824 Sutter St.; (916) 989-6711; scottsseafoodroundhouse. com. L–D. Seafood. $$$–$$$$


CRAWDADS ON THE RIVER This riverfront restaurant draws crowds looking to party on the water during warm-weather months. Boats pull up to the restaurant’s deck, where you can sip a cocktail. The Cajuninspired menu includes fish tacos and several fun entrees. 1375 Garden Highway; (916) 929-2268; L–D–Br. Cajun/American. $$

MASULLO This gem of a pizzeria serves up superbly blistered, thin-crusted Neapolitan-style pizza with names like the Eileen (cremini mushrooms, bacon, mozzarella and cream) and the Jacqueline (potato, fontina and oregano). 2711 Riverside Blvd.; (916) 443-8929; D. Pizza. $$

MEET & EAT This casual neighborhood gathering spot offers something for everyone, from breakfast to a plentiful selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers and mains. 3445 Freeport Blvd.; (916) 476-3082; meet B–L–D. American. $$


HIGH STEAKS This Thunder Valley Casino restaurant is a meat lover’s paradise, offering up everything from an 8-ounce prime filet to a 26-ounce bone-in New York steak. Side dishes range from sweet potato casserole to five-cheese macaroni. 1200 Athens Ave.; (916) 408-8327; D. Steakhouse. $$$$

LEATHERBY’S FAMILY CREAMERY For description, see listing under “Arden.” 610 Twelve Bridges Drive; (916) 209-3757; L–D. Sandwiches/ice cream. $

RED LANTERN This attractive restaurant serves Asian fusion, dim sum and noodle dishes such as chow fun and Hong Kong pan-fried noodles. Lunch and dinner specials are good deals at this Thunder Valley eatery. 1200 Athens Ave.; (916) 408-8326; L–D. Asian. $$–$$$


BEAST + BOUNTY The beating heart of this chic restaurant is its open hearth, where meats and veg-

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etables are roasted over a wood fire. The meaty ribeye, served over potatoes roasted in the meat’s fat, is meant to be shared. So is the pizza, thin, flat and seductively charred from the wood-burning pizza oven. 1701 R St.; (916) 244-4016; eatbeastand L–D–Br. American. $$$

CAFE BERNARDO For description, see listing under “Arden.” 2730 Capitol Ave.; (916) 603-2304; cafe B–L–D. New American. $$

CENTRO COCINA MEXICANA Owned by the Paragary group, this is the restaurant that introduced Sacramento to authentic regional Mexican cuisine. Standout main courses include cochinita pibil, vegetables in pipian verde sauce and Oaxacan enchiladas. 2730 J St.; (916) 442-2552; D–Br. Mexican. $$$

HOOK & LADDER MANUFACTURING COMPANY Located in a Quonset hut, this restaurant is both hip and cozy. Despite the barlike ambience, Hook & Ladder is serious about food. All the pastas and desserts are made in-house. 1630 S St.; (916) 442-4885; hook L–D–Br. Californian. $$

LOCALIS Only the second restaurant in Sacramento to receive a coveted Michelin star, this little restaurant is known for its prix-fixe menu of inventive, ingredient-driven dishes. Chef Christopher BarnumDann works with local farms to source most of the menu within 100 miles. 2031 S St.; (916) 737-7699; D. Californian. $$$–$$$$

LOWBRAU BIERHALLE This chic yet casual watering hole serves house-made sausages, duck fat fries and stand-out beers. Long communal tables make for an experience that’s noisy and convivial. 1050 20th St.; (916) 706-2636; L–D–Br. Beer hall. $

MAYDOON This eatery offers wonderfully fresh Persian food, from hummus and dolmeh to shish kebob, koobedeh and fessen joon. The Maydoon bowl is a delicious delight: your choice of lamb, beef, chicken or falafel served with rice, cucumber, tomato and onions with house dressing and green sauce. 1501 16th St.; (916) 382-4309;

L–D. Mediterranean. $$–$$$

MOXIE This restaurant is more than two decades old but remains one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Its owners are known for their food presentations, lengthy verbal specials and eagerness to please: Basically, if you want something, they’ll prepare it for you—anything from surf and turf to meatloaf. 2028 H St.; (916) 443-7585. D. American. $$$

MULVANEY’S B&L Distinctive and cozy, this topflight restaurant exudes the generous affability of its owner, chef Patrick Mulvaney. It’s housed in a brick firehouse from the late 1800s, and the lush patio is a popular spot in warm months. The menu changes frequently and is focused on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. 1215 19th St.; (916) 441-6022; L–D. Californian. $$$

PARAGARY’S This legendary restaurant focuses on elegant, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. During the warm months, the serene patio behind the restaurant is the place to be. 1401 28th St.; (916) 4575737; L–D–Br. New American/Californian. $$–$$$

THE RIND At this cheese-centric bar, you can savor cheese in a number of ways. The menu includes variations on macaroni and cheese, cheese boards and creative grilled cheese sandwiches. 1801 L St.; (916) 441-7463; L–D. American. $$

THE WATERBOY This Mediterranean-inspired res -

taurant produces perhaps the finest cooking in the region. Chef/owner Rick Mahan honors local farmers with his commitment to simply prepared, highcaliber food. You can’t go wrong if you order one of the lovely salads, followed by the gnocchi, ravioli or a simple piece of fish. You’ll also find French classics such as veal sweetbreads. 2000 Capitol Ave.; (916) 498-9891; L–D. Mediterranean. $$$$

ZÓCALO For description, see listing under “Arden.” 1801 Capitol Ave.; (916) 441-0303; zocalosacra L–D–Br. Mexican. $$


HIMALAYA VEGAN ORGANIC RESTAURANT Situated in an out-of-the-way strip mall, this fast-casual eatery offers a side of peace with your vegan meal. The owner, a former Buddhist monk from Tibet, changes the menu twice daily; you get a combination plate with six separate vegetarian dishes, plus a cup of soup. Everything is fresh, simply prepared and clean tasting. 4160 Northgate Blvd.; (916) 622-5728; L–D. Vegan. $$

MEZCAL GRILL This excellent restaurant offers regional cuisine that draws from all 32 Mexican states. In addition to tacos and burritos, you’ll find “platillos especiales,” such as mole, and shareable “mocajetes”: volcanic rock bowls filled with protein, rice and beans. 1620 West El Camino Ave.; (916) 6464826; L–D. Mexican. $$–$$$

OYSTER BAR Here you can order raw oysters (both saltwater and freshwater), littleneck clams and scallops, by one or the dozen. The menu also features seafood towers, cooked seafood by the pound and

half pound, and a slew of seafood entrees. 4261 Truxel Road; (916) 468-6989; oysterbarsacramen D. Seafood. $$–$$$

YUE HUANG The dim sum here made Michelin Guide inspectors sit up and take notice. They gave this Cantonese restaurant a Bib Gourmand award, calling it a “hidden treasure.” The extensive menu includes peking duck pork buns, dumplings, shrimp balls and much, much more. 3860 Truxel Road; (916) 621-3737; L–D. Chinese. $$–$$$


THE BUTTERSCOTCH DEN You’re the chef at this dimly lit supper house, where you cook your own steak on a massive gas-fired grill in the middle of the dining room. Prices are gentle and the action wild as you compete with your friends to see who can come up with a perfectly medium rare hunk of meat. 3406 Broadway; D. Steakhouse. $$

FIXINS SOUL KITCHEN This bustling place, partly owned by former mayor Kevin Johnson, serves up friendly Southern hospitality along with delicious Southern fare, including chicken and waffles, gumbo, fried catfish, and shrimp and grits. 3428 Third Ave.; (916); 999-7685. B–L–D–Br. Southern. $$


THE FIREHOUSE Since opening in 1960, this has been Sacramento’s go-to restaurant for romantic atmosphere and historic charm. Located in a 1853

Croque madame from Paragary’s

firehouse, it’s white tablecloth all the way, and the outdoor courtyard is one of the prettiest in town. The food is special-occasion worthy, and the wine list represents more than 2,100 labels. 1112 Second St.; (916) 442-4772; L–D. Californian/American. $$$$

PILOTHOUSE Housed in the history-steeped Delta King riverboat, this is one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. On Sundays, it puts on one of the prettiest champagne brunches around. 1000 Front St.; (916) 441-4440; B–L–Br. American. $$–$$$

RIO CITY CAFE Located on the riverbank, the bustling restaurant offers stunning views of Tower Bridge. The menu changes seasonally and offers a wide selection of creative, solid dishes. 1110 Front St.; (916) 442-8226; L–D–Br. New American. $$


CATTLEMENS This classic Western steakhouse serves up big slabs of prime rib, porterhouse, T-bone and cowboy steaks, plus all the trimmings: shrimp cocktail, loaded potato skins, deep-fried onions and more. 12409 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 985-3030; cattle D. Steakhouse. $$$

J.J. PFISTER RESTAURANT & TASTING ROOM In addition to a tasting room where you can sample locally made premium gin, vodka and rum, this family-owned distillery also operates a restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The alL–Day menu features salads, sandwiches, tacos and boozy desserts. 9819 Business Park Drive; (916) 672-9662; jjpfister. com. L–D. Casual American. $$


AMY’S DRIVE THRU From the company behind Amy’s Kitchen prepared foods comes this fast-food operation serving healthy versions of your favorite burger-joint fare. The menu includes plant-based burgers, vegetarian chili, organic fries and milkshakes, as well as gluten- and dairy-free options. 1119 Galleria Blvd.; (916) 957-5868; amysdrivethru. com. L–D. Fast food. $

FAT’S ASIA BISTRO AND DIM SUM BAR For description, see listing under “Folsom.” 1500 Eureka Road; (916) 787-3287; L–D. Pan-Asian.


LA PROVENCE RESTAURANT & TERRACE This elegant French restaurant offers some of the region’s loveliest outdoor dining. The seasonal menu features items such as bouillabaisse and soupe au pistou. 110 Diamond Creek Place; (916) 789-2002; laprovence L–D–Br. French. $$$–$$$$

MIKUNI JAPANESE RESTAURANT AND SUSHI BAR For description, see listing under “Davis.” 1565 Eureka Road; (916) 797-2112; L–D. Japanese/sushi. $$

THE MIMOSA HOUSE For description, see listing under “East Sacramento” 761 Pleasant Grove Blvd.; (916) 784-1313; B–L. American.


NIXTACO Singled out by The Michelin Guide for a Bib Gourmand award, this taqueria is known for its authentic nixtamalized blue-corn tortillas (made fresh in-house), high-quality ingredients and inventive taco fillings. 1805 Cirby Way; (916) 771-4165;; L–D. Mexican. $$

PAUL MARTIN’S AMERICAN GRILL The bustling, comfortable restaurant is a local favorite. The kitchen offers a great list of small plates and robust, approachable entrees. 1455 Eureka Road; (916) 783-3600; L–D–Br. New American. $$$

ZÓCALO For description, see listing under “Arden.” 1182 Roseville Parkway; (916) 788-0303; zocalosac L–D–Br. Mexican. $$


BACON & BUTTER Lively and delightfully urban, the place is packed with fans of chef Billy Zoellin’s homey flapjacks, biscuits and other breakfasty fare. 5913 Broadway; (916) 346-4445; baconandbuttersac. com. B–L. Breakfast/American. $–$$

MEZCAL GRILL For description, see listing under “Natomas.” 5701 Broadway; (916) 619-8766; mez L–D. Mexican. $$–$$$

MOMO’S MEAT MARKET This no-frills, family-run business serves simply first-rate barbecue, smoked over wood in huge drums in the parking lot. Sides include pepper Jack mac ’n’ cheese, cornbread and deep-fried cabbage. 5780 Broadway; (916) 452-0202. L–D. Barbecue. $$


DRAKE’S: THE BARN Located in a stunning indooroutdoor structure along the river, Drake’s serves excellent thin-crust pizzas, along with a few salads and appetizers. You can get table service indoors or on the patio. But if you prefer something more casual, grab a folding lawn chair, find a spot at the sprawling outdoor taproom and order a pizza to go. 985 Riverfront St.; (510) 423-0971; drinkdrakes. com. L–D. Pizza. $$

FRANQUETTE This contemporary French café from the owners of Canon is an open-all–day, drop-in-fora-glass-of-wine kind of place. You can order a freshly baked croissant or tartine at breakfast, a salad, quiche or baguette sandwich for lunch, and something a little more filling—say, duck meatballs or a crock of boeuf bourguignon—at dinner. 965 Bridge St.; B–L–D. French. $$–$$$


L’APERO LES TROIS This chic, French-inspired wine tasting bar offers simple little bites, such as gougeres and black olive tapenade, to enjoy with locally made, small-batch aperitifs. 22 Main St.; (530) 402-1172; Wine bar. $$

PUTAH CREEK CAFE Settle into a cozy booth and order from a menu of elevated American fare, from country-fried steak to pan-seared cod. There’s also a massive oven out on the sidewalk pumping out fine pizzas. 1 E Main St.; (530) 795-2682; putahcreek B-L–D. American. $$–$$$

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Reproduction in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Prices quoted in advertisements are subject to change without notice. Sacramento Magazine (ISSN 0747-8712) Volume 49, Number 5, May 2023. Sacramento Magazine (ISSN 07478712) is published monthly by Sacramento Media, LLC, 1610 R St., Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95811. Periodical postage paid at Troy, MI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send change of address to Sacramento Magazine, 5750 New King Dr., Suite 100, Troy, MI 48098

SACMAG.COM May 2023 93 Rachel Valley
B & B burger from Bacon & Butter


Groundbreaking Girl Group

In the late ’60s, two Filipina-American sisters started a garage band in Sacramento. That endeavor evolved into Fanny, the first all-women rock band to record an LP with a major record label. Fanny released five albums over five years, toured with the likes of Chicago and drew praise from David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Todd Rundgren and others. A new documentary, “Fanny: The Right To Rock,” premieres on PBS KVIE on May 22 at 9 p.m. That same day at 6:30 p.m., a screening of the documentary will take place at the Crest Theatre, followed by a reunion of Fanny bandmates for a live performance. Free tickets are required and can be obtained at—DARLENA

94 SACRAMENTO MAGAZINE May 2023 Linda Wolf
Jean Millington, Nickey Barclay, Brie Darling and June Millington with Warner/ Reprise producer Richard Perry in 1969.