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Sacramento Food Tour – Local Roots

When I signed up for a Sacramento food tour I was looking for redemption. Not for myself but for Sacramento. I knew there had to be more to Sacramento than Old Town. My fellow AFAR Ambassador Jenna Francisco of This is My Happiness lives in the region and I knew from her that this area has lot to offer, yet I had not experienced any of it.

Sacramento K Street

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In came Local Roots. A Sacramento Food Tour company that explores neighborhoods of California’s capitol via the most important sense there is…taste! At the heart of the company is Lisa Armstrong, a foodie, and traveler who was inspired to launch her company after visiting Chicago and learning that 75% of the food products in restaurants there came from the Sacramento area.

Sacramento Farm

Sacramento Valley (along with San Joaquin) is known as the nation’s breadbasket due to the incredible amounts of food that come from the farms in the region. More than 230 crops are grown here as well as it being the primary source for a number of food products throughout the United States, including tomatoes, almonds, grapes, cotton, apricots, and asparagus, walnuts, and almonds. In fact, there are 6,000 almond growers that produce more than 600 million pounds a year, about 70 percent of the world’s supply!

Ah I digress, all this food talk, I could go on for hours…but back to Local Roots.

I decided to do the Gourmet on K Culinary Walking Tour with the hopes that walking between eating sounded healthier!

I met my guide, Ashley, and the rest of my group at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Strange place to start a food tour? Well, actually not. The Hyatt Vines restaurant inside the hotel run by Chef Michael Grands cooks everything from scratch with products that are locally sourced, some coming from the garden created right outside the restaurant. The hotel chefs also shop from the local farmer’s markets.

While we chatted with Chef Grands (who had recently come from the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC) we were treated to a small sampling of the magic coming from the kitchen. A pacific salmon with quinoa, Asian pear, endive, mushroom and olive oil sauce. It was divine.

Salmon at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento

After this lovely beginning, we headed out to K Street where we would be spending the rest of the afternoon. Ashley began to tell us about the revitalization of The Kay (written in the “old style” of writing the address). This had been one of the main streets in Sacramento. Gold miners hopped off boats (more like abandoned) and hopped onto stagecoaches or any other means to get them into the hills and hunting for gold.

By 1850, 33 ships had been abandoned and left at the foot of K. These were transformed into stores becoming one of the most bustling shopping areas in the state with lots of retail history. As we got to know more about the history of the street, I also benefited from the additional color the lovely ladies in my group added. They had all grown up in the Sacramento area and had great stories to share, I could not have asked for better tour mates!

My K Tour Guide and Mates

Our next stop was a beautiful wine bar called Downtown & Vines. It is the only wine tasting spot in downtown (lucky us!). They feature local Amador Valley wines and serve as the only tasting room for many of the wineries. We sampled some great ones (in this part of California, Barbera is king) paired up with local cheese and sun-dried tomatoes from the region.

Downtown & Vine Wines

Our next stop was Tequila Museo Mayahuel. I know. You are starting to wonder if this is a drinking tour!? But trust me, despite the fact Mayahuel is a tequila museum, the food here is killer.

We were greeted by a tequila sommelier (yes, they exist!) who brought us a drink called “Si Sabe México” with watermelon and other tasty ingredients. We drank this along with a sampling of some of the restaurant’s most popular options. And it was at this point I began to wonder if my dinner plans for the evening were going to be spoiled…

Si Sabe México drink at Mayahuel

I am not going to detail every spot we stopped at, that is the secret sauce of the tour and I think you should take the tour! As we made our way up The Kay we learned about the history of the buildings along the way including one of the original department stores that were designed after Paris’s Printemps and a church modeled after the Holy Trinity Church in Paris (a tour after my own heart!).

After several stops, we landed at a relatively new spot that was celebrating it’s one year anniversary that very night. Blackbird Kitchen and Bar is a local pub with great food. We had a small sampling of some of their menu items including fresh oysters, rice croquettes and a simple cheese plate that was anything but simple. Served with a black pepper glass using isomalt, the blue cheese was to-die-for.

Blackbird Cheese Plate

Our last stop (and the one that sealed the deal for my inevitable dinner cancellation) was at Ambrosia Cafe where we had a delectable tiramisu. We discussed our journey and shared our favorite dishes while the afternoon wound down.

Ambrosia Cafe Tiramisu

Thanks to Local Roots, Sacramento had redeemed itself big time. I was hooked and wanting to visit the other neighborhoods in the city as well as the surrounding area. There is deep history and new movements in sustainable agriculture. Sacramento is the Farm to Fork capital and I was beginning to see why.

If you are anywhere near Sacramento, I strongly urge you to stop and take the time to explore a bit. Don’t go to Old Town! Go on a Local Roots food tour or take their farm tour where they visit 3-6 farms in the region (I am waiting for the hot weather to pass and then I am going on this one!). This little company is all heart and run by really good people.

[Disclosure: I benefitted from a media discount towards the price of my tour, but opinions here can’t be bought, this is entirely my own, unbiased view.]

See more about Sacramento in my Sacramento Souvenirs & Gold Country Wanderlist on AFAR. Also, I found this great book on the food, culture, and history in this region, it looks fascinating. Check out Edges of Bounty if you are interested.

How about you? Have you ever been to Sacramento? Were you aware of its history?

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33 Comments

  1. I have yet to go to Sacramento but my sister and dad have been stressing how good this one sushi restaurant is there – Taro, I think it was called. But a food tour sounds like another reason to go!

    Murissa

    1. @Murissa, oh I must try the sushi place on a future trip and you must do one of the tours, they are awesome!

    1. @Walker, the drink was so yummy and I was amazed to learn the history of a place that has such an impact on the food we eat.

    1. @Jen, thanks! Farms are really interesting to photograph, I am sure you probably have plenty you could take photos of outside OKC!

  2. Well, I have not been to any of the places you mentioned, but they all look great. Obviously, I need to take this tour of my own hometown! Midtown (just a few blocks from where you were) has lots of great wine bars, cafes, and restaurants. Next time you need an excuse to get away from the Bay, let’s explore some of those places! 🙂 And yes, I have said it before but I’ll say it again..Sacramento has fantastic food.

    1. @Jenna, you are so on! You really should go on this tour just for the history, but the food was great too!

  3. What a fascinating post! Your first sentence had me cracking up. We did a wonderful walking food tour in Carrboro, NC a couple of years ago and I loved it. I will keep this in mind if I ever make it to Sacramento! And that tiramisu has me drooling – one of my all-time favorite desserts.

  4. Well, well, there are definitely some places I still haven’t tried out here in Sacramento… thanks for the recs!

  5. We say that food and dining are experiential because we touch all five senses. But the great food is just the start. Our food tours uses great food as an opportunity to connect with other people on the tour, the diverse restaurant chefs and shop owners, the city we visit, and even the local farmers who provide the ingredients. And before you can say ‘quatro formaggia’, guess what? You’re helping to strengthen our community. Create a moment, a destination and a memory within your hectic life, where for four hours you will be transported on a journey of food, fun and discovery, feeling refreshed and energized. Well-fed, too!

  6. I have been dying to go to Sacramento. I love that you decided to post about local eateries, they are some of my favorite places to go when on vacation, you never know what you are going to get.

  7. Now those are the fun things to do! Try different foods 🙂 I’ve never been to this area before, but when I do head that way, I’m glad that I know the GOOD places to go to eat!

    1. @Gina, I recommend a trip. Since so much of the food available in the US comes from this area, it is interesting to get to know it better!

  8. Great food pictures…such unique and elegant items. I have to say though the barn pictures is the most mouth-watering for this somewhat country girl. So breathtaking with the blue sky and clouds. You have a fabulous phone/camera.

  9. I don’t know that much about the history of the area but one thing I do know about is food. I love it.. I really love good food, well prepared quality food made from quality ingredients. I try to make sure that I sample the local foods that an area is famous for in every place that I travel to.

  10. I don’t know when this artical.was first published, but several of the businesses mentioned are gone. An accurate update might be useful. LOCAL ROOTS IS AWESOME.

    1. @Tom, thank you so much to bringing this to my attention. It has been a while since I did the tour, so I will update this asap! I appreciate the comment!

  11. We were in Sacramento recently and were booked on your food tour. Unfortunately, it was sooo hot that day, even for Sacramento, that Local Roots cancelled the tour. I was disappointed, but we will do it the next time we are out there.

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