Wednesday, April 28, 2010

California Road Trip Dining Sacramento: Magpie Cafe, Ravenous and One Speed

Should you find yourself traveling through the central state heading north or south along the I-5 or 99 freeways, here are a few restaurants with easy access from both freeways with excellent food. I would gladly frequent any of these places were they in LA.  

Magpie Caterers & Market Cafe
1409 R Street
Suite 102

Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 452-7594
Monday-Saturday 7:30AM-9PM

Magpie Cafe is located just a few blocks east of the 5 as you head through downtown Sacramento.

Magpie is located in the newly restored Perfection Bakery Building, near the railroad tracks and not far from Capitol Park.  The interior retains the industrial feel of the old bakery building, lofty ceilings, brick walls, exposed beams.  They have added huge windows for quality people watching and to tempt passers-by with both table and counter service.

Owners Janel Inouye and Ed Roehr, with backgrounds in catering and Italian cooking, offer food that focuses on seasonal ingredients, particular those native to Central and Northern California.

Appetizers.  I am always tempted by charcuterie, and was excited they offer cured meats with no nitrates.  Nitrates aggravate my migraines, as evidenced by the great Turkey Dog/Migraine Era of 2009.

Also exciting is their list of sides. Spending 2010 with a preoccupation on eating more healthfully with vegetables front and center in my diet I now scour every menu I come across for vegetable sides. Brussels sprouts, winter greens, asparagus...

I visited Magpie in mid-March, basically still winter. And the day's menu was stacked with comfort foods.

C ordered the penne with asparagus, mint and aged jack cheese. It was really delicious, a little more comforting that one might predict from the descriptor, but delicious and generous with the asparagus.

I ordered two sides. Creamy polenta squares above. Served with roasted red bell peppers, really wonderful, warm and substantial.They look crispier in the picture than they really are, even the outer top layer had a beautiful give to it. This would make great car food, easily eaten by hand.

Cavolo nero was the winter green of the day, cooked with balsamic vinegar and something fairly sweet. These had a lovely sweet and savory taste to them, and the bowl was huge. Great side to share.

N ordered Magpie's mac n' cheese, covered deep in crunchy roasted breadcrumbs and gorgeous thick toothsome chunks of bacon.  I can picture spoon feeding this to my husband while he drives. No, I do not cut his meat for him.

7600 Greenhaven Drive
Suite 23

SacramentoCA 95831
(916) 399-9309
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11:30-2PM
Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5-9PM

You will find Ravenous in a suburban neighborhood called Greenhaven, south of downtown. One block west of the 5, exit on Pocket Road.

Ravenous is super easy to find off the 5 freeway. Located in an unlikely little mini-mall and open for lunch and dinners.  We ate early on my last visit and it was packed. Every table taken by the time we left, and all but two of the bar seats occupied. The price is right. Click on the link and check out their menu.

Quoth the raven, nevermore.

Ravenous is a beautiful little cafe, art nouveau inspired with a lot of love and attention to detail.  The above beautiful mirror sits behind a bar serving solely beer and wine.  


Above is the separate nightly specials menu.  I like having the specials written down, I take my time ordering and having all my choices concretely in front of my face helps me make the best choice.

Mom insisted we share this appetizer off the regular menu. Grilled Haloumi cheese, arugula, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar on baguette.  An order includes four of these haloumi and baguette beauties, and oh my were they delicious.  Arugula, thickly sweet balsamic, drizzled olive oil. I admit to being kind of full before my entree even arrived.

Focaccia style bread basket.

Tempted by the lamb but just having eaten lamb for Easter dinner, so I forced myself to try the duck from the main menu.  The description of this is not on their website and my images of the main menu are illegible, but trust me it was great. Almost a crunchy crust on the outside of the breast and a basil aoili dripped over the veggies.

Mom, being an unrepentant red meat lover, ordered the rib eye. And I will be damned if that delicate creature didn't all but clear her plate. I think she took home a paltry 2 oz of that giant piece of beef to nibble at lunch the next day. She has a hollow limb where she stores her food for winter. Because she certainly doesn't store it on her ass. Sorry, Mom. Just saying.

The food at Ravenous is wonderful, rich and hearty.  Not a place to get food to go.  But if you happen to be ravenous while driving south of  downtown Sacramento, stop in for a leisurely and well deserved meal. I don't want to forget to mention that Ravenous offers mussels cooked three ways: with ginger, tomato & basil, paprika, sherry and cream, and also sauteed with shallots, parsley and white wine.  All 12.95.

4818 Folsom Boulevard
SacramentoCA 95819
(916) 706-1748
Tuesday-Friday 11:30-10PM
Saturday and Sunday 9AM-10pm

One Speed is located in east Sacramento just east of the 99 freeway and a couple blocks north of the 50.  

One Speed is a casual cafe with a nice bar in an older Sacramento neighborhood, next door to a small hardware store and across the street from a likely little dive bar. You know the kind of neighborhood. It might remind you a little of Mayberry.

We convinced everyone to meet us for Sunday brunch before we left town. Check out the link for their more travel worthy lunch options.

There were so many delicious items on the menu it was hard to choose.  One Speed is the more casual cafe of Chef Rick Mahan, owner and chef of my favorite downtown Sacramento restaurant, The Waterboy. The focus at One Speed is on local ingredients and artisan pizza.

More menu items for your perusal. Nothing I saw at brunch could really be eaten on the road, but lots of lunch items could, and certainly one of their pizzas with hand tossed thin crust would be a wonderful departure from fast food or gas station foraging.

My obsession with side plates knows no bounds.

Both D and I ordered poached eggs with corned beef hash, and it was like no corned beef hash I have ever had. The baby potatoes were roasted and the corned beef cut into long sliver-chunks, mixed with julienned bells peppers and onions, topped with a little sage butter sauce. I broke open my eggs and let the yolk soak through the potatoes and corned beef.

Sue had French toast and bacon.  I stole bites from her plate when she was looking away and she didn't even slap my hands.

Mom ate gnocci carbonara. Applewood smoked bacon, parmesan cheese, sauteed spinach and sage.  This was incredible.  Definitely a destination dish.

I love eating in Sacramento. My people know good food, and there is nothing lacking in the Sacramento culinary scene.  Another thing I always notice about dining in Sac is the quality of wine lists even at the simplest cafes.  I assume proximity to both the Napa & Sonoma wine regions as well the lovely Sangiovese-heavy Amador county wine country influences this.  Eating and drinking in Sac always makes me a happy girl, if sometimes a little overfed.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Liz!

These places look all so tempting. I'll have to take road trip there and hopefully hit one of them places, like Magpie, the pasta dish looks yummy.

Thanks for sharing.

Love to hear from you, thanks.


Kristine G said...

i could soooooo go for some of that haloumi right now. will have to check out these places if i am ever in sac-town. :)

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Food, she thought,

Thanks for the thoughts on places around Sacramento. The Mac and Cheese looks amazing (as do many of the other dishes :).

Which local So Cal places do you enjoy that have Nitrate-free Charcuterie? Thanks.

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Stacy G. said...

I am a Sacramento native, and your choices are spot on for must-eat stops in my hometown. I love each of these places deeply. Thanks for the blog!