From January 11-21, 35 Sacramento’s finest restaurants are offering special 3-course dining experiences for just $35. From short ribs to crab boils, participating Dine Downtown restaurants are serving up dishes that will make you glad you live in the Farm-to-Fork Capital.
However, your taste buds won’t be the only thing that’ll be satisfied — your conscience will be, too! One dollar from each Dine Downtown meal will support social services and food literacy programs in the Sacramento region.
Sitting prominently along the Old Sacramento Waterfront, Joe’s Crab Shack is a familiar eatery for many who have dined around Sacramento. It’s seafood-turned-comfort food, with an explosive sense of atmosphere — an order of a shark-themed drink is served with whimsical yelling; apparently everyone in attendance is celebrating a birthday; seemingly apropos of nothing, staff collectively breakout into “La Macarena,” and disco lights intermittently spin up during this sea-themed experience. It’s a restaurant in a perpetual state of celebration.
It’s no wonder then that Joe’s Crab Shack has joined the festivities during Dine Downtown, offering a nautical-mile’s worth of seafood goodness with choices of five entrees, four appetizers, and two mouth-watering desserts.
A personal favorite of mine, this squid is fried to a crunch and served as rings with a side of marinara. This is a plate that compliments Joe’s extensive and eclectic drink menu perfectly.
For those seeking one more taste of land before embarking on this seafaring journey, appetizer offerings include crisp greens in the form of a garden salad — a classic salad offering with all the usual suspects: lettuce, tomato, ranch, et. al. — and a Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, house-made croutons, parmesan, and the classic dressing of historic namesake. Of course, no meal could be complete without garlic bread, and once again Joe’s offerings have you covered.
Cedar Roasted Salmon
Served with white rice and seasonal vegetables — mine came with a savory serving of steamed and seasoned broccoli — this salmon option is perfectly soft and cooked to perfection.
Other Fish in the Sea
Other entrees include the Shrimp Trio, imagine a mega-sized version of a fish and chips basket, the Crab Cake Dinner, which pairs the same as the Salmon, the cornucopia-in-a-pot known as The Steamer loaded with one pound of mussels, an additional pound of clams, a half pound of shrimp and a side of garlic bread! If you’re not in the mood for sea food, this is the wrong pla—I mean, Joe’s also offers their terrific Top Sirloin with sweet potato fries and seasonal vegetables to please all pallets.
Mini Campfire S’mores
The Campfire S’mores plate is something to behold, and sure to bring back memories of camping as a kid. You’ll smell this sugary goodness arrive to the table before you even get to cut into this slice of chocolate cake set between two graham crackers and topped with a chocolate bar and a freshly-toasted marshmallow.
Mini Crabby Apple Crumble
The Crabby Apple Crumble includes no crab but tastes like its fresh from grandma’s kitchen! This classic, soft, and crumbly treat comes with a side of vanilla ice cream and is sure to please even the pickiest eaters!
A new addition to the mouthwatering restaurant week tradition, The Diplomat Steakhouse offers a taste of its refined American cuisine for a steal this Dine Downtown Restaurant Week. Decked with moss walls, ultra-modern furnishings, a cozy fireplace, and a patio with an iconic view of the State Capital, it’s no wonder that the elegant establishment, opened in April 2018, is a hotspot for the suit-wearing crowd found in this part of downtown — lobbyists, legislators and the like.
However, there’s no need for a black tie or fancy title to enter their doors. At only $35, the prix fixe menu introduces both new and familiar Diplomat items that are sure to entice the diverse crowd that inherently comes with the restaurant week. And it seems that the first time’s a charm. Chef Chris Manning executes traditional steakhouse fare with intense flavors and presentation pizazz. Simply put, The Diplomat is positioning itself to be a Dine Downtown menu to beat.
If you head to The Diplomat on a rainy night, opt for this comforting bowl of yum. Nestled in an elegant wide-rimmed bowl, the buttery seasoned base is elevated with two generous portions of lobster claw meat.
Walnut Goat Cheese Salad
If you are eager to start your culinary adventure on a lighter note, this bowl full of greens is the choice for you. The candied walnuts are a highlight to the healthy starter.
Bacon-wrapped Bistro Filet
If you are a true carnivore, you’ve come to the right place. The palm-sized cut of beef is dressed with thick slices of bacon, drizzled with a port red wine demi-glace, and crowned with tender asparagus. For balance, a handful of roasted mini potatoes add starch to the meat-heavy meal.
If you’re a pescatarian, treat yourself to this colorful entree. A dish of textures, the salmon’s perfectly flaky flesh contrasts nicely with the crispy crunch of its skin. A bed of ginger carrot potato mash, crisp green beans, and raspberries add sweetness to the savory option.
Wrap up this Dine Downtown experience in a huge way with a pair of eclairs. Inches high, each éclair is layered with a rich layer of hazelnut pastry cream. Do savor each bite of these decadent beauties, but be warned — its custard will cascade swiftly onto your plate! A dollop of vanilla ice cream accompanies the sugar high.
Tapa the World is a neighborly midtown staple. It’s a place to enjoy great conversation all while experiencing smaller-portioned, traditional Spanish dishes. For me, I associate it as a place of one of my first dates with my now husband.
I had the great treat to preview their Dine Downtown menu and all of the dishes were unique and delicious. I arrived at 5pm on a Friday to a relatively quiet scene — a few people at some tables and the bar enjoying a glass of wine. By 5:45pm, people were flooding into the restaurant to meet with friends, enjoy date night, and celebrate birthdays.
For the special Dine Downtown menu, Executive Chef Marcos Murillo desired to highlight both some classic Spanish ingredients — the piquillo peppers as an entree, the Marcona almonds in the salad, the sobrasada tapa — along with a few seasonal touches – the pomegranate seeds in the salad, the butternut squash soup, and the Meyer lemon cake.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
An excellent option for a cold and rainy day. Because I was with people (and in public), I avoided licking my plate clean. However, the thought did cross my mind. I am a huge fan of butternut squash and I loved the creaminess of this dish.
Arugula Salad with Marcona Almonds, Quinoa, Pomegranate Seeds, tossed in a White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fresh, light, and flavorful. The sweetness of the pomegranate seeds helps balance the natural bitterness of the arugula.
Crostinis with Sobrasada and Fig Jam
Unfortunately, due to my gluten allergy, I could not indulge in this dish. My mouth was watering and my fellow taste testers had no problem enjoying my portion of the plate, noting the fig jam was prevalent but not overpowering.
Braised Short Ribs with Wild Mushrooms and a Tempranillo Glaze; Served with Creamy Polenta and Garlic Veggies
Recommended wine pairing: Peirano Estate Vineyards – Tempranillo – Lodi, CA (2015)
No knife needed. Overall, the short ribs were my favorite dish (much thanks to the tempranillo glaze). The polenta is a nice mild pairing to the rich flavor of the meat. The garlic veggies are a medley of zucchini, cauliflower, onions, and broccoli.
Spanish Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, Caramelized Onions & Manchego Cheeses; Served with a Citrus Saffron Sauce and Sweet Black Risotto
Recommended wine pairing: Tinto Rey – Rose – Zamora, CA (2017)
This flavorful vegetarian option is a wonderful example of authentic Spanish cuisine. The citrus saffron sauce is zesty, yet mild.
Sadly, neither of the dessert options are gluten free, but once again, my reliable fellow taste testers took one for the team (hard ask, I know).
Coconut Almond Bread Pudding with Cranberry Drizzled with Caramel Sauce
Sharing is caring and there is definitely room to share with this dish. It is dense and delicious without being overly sweet. The cranberries on top complete the delectable treat. And while it probably doesn’t align with your New Year’s diet, I say go ahead and give yourself a cheat day.
Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake
A seasonal and refreshing treat.