So, once again, I find myself with a long lull between posts. Writing a blog is harder than it seems, but once the post is finished, it’s a rewarding task and gives me a sense of accomplishment and hope for further productivity. I found myself about 1.5 weeks ago writing about how to realistically set up a staples pantry and kitchen equipment collection. Unfortunately, it got into five pages long when it was only halfway done and needed some serious editing, A-A-A-A-AND I never got back to it. However, before that post, I wanted to detail the wonders that make up Franklin Boulevard so here we go…
Well, tomorrow starts IFBC, the International Food Blogger Conference. Well, it actually starts today with a pre-conference excursion to UC Davis. It sounds pretty cool – learn all about Mootral and have a delicious prime rib dinner after; I thought about participating. However, mobility issues prevailed when I saw the part about the tour of the beef farm then dinner at the GATEway Gardens. Had to pass. It’s okay; I work for UC Davis so, maybe, I can convince someone to let Staff Assembly do the same thing the next time we host the quarterly CUCSA meetings (don’t worry about what it means; it’s really not interesting as far as food is concerned). If nothing else, it gives me an idea to bring to the next Staff Assembly meeting.
I do look forward to learning more about successful blogging. Gabriel was being encouraging this morning by talking about how much I’ll enjoy this conference. Honestly, I look forward to just getting myself back on track, even once a month, so, maybe, just interacting with several other bloggers will help me do that. The IFBC website has a spreadsheet of blog posts submitted by attendees that mention Sacramento – more than one mentions looking forward to what we have here, especially the culinary side (no surprise – it IS a food blogging conference after all!). I, too, planned on posting about Sacramento, especially since I live here, but, again, hadn’t gotten around to it until now.
Anyway, I often see suggestions to partake in some of our more popular eating establishments, like Mulvaney’s B&L, Biba and Ella, not to mention the delectable delights of Ginger Elizabeth and Ettore’s. In fact, I hope those who thought far enough ahead made reservations at The Kitchen (that would’ve been an awesome conference excursion – super-expensive but awesome with a big group of food bloggers in attendance at the same time). We may not be the Bay Area, but we do have some amazing food purveyors (and driving and parking aren’t an issue here like in the City). I love going to Corti Brothers for a rare treat of prosciutto di parma or smoked salmon. Even the Nugget market chain has provided unexpected discoveries of items that I wouldn’t typically find at a Safeway or Raley’s (cones of the addictive Popcornopolis Popcorn and packs of buttery Graceful Cookies, to name a couple).
My focus, though, is on some of the longstanding local eateries on Franklin Boulevard, not the higher-end/fancier/more popular venues. Now, I will admit that when I first started traveling along Franklin, I thought, “Hmmm…doesn’t seem too safe; I don’t know if I want to be here,” but I guess I’ve gotten used to it over time and, well, there are places I want to dine and things I want to buy that are on Franklin.
First – a couple of Mexican restaurants Gabriel and I like to frequent, El Novillero and Caballo Blanco. Both are family-owned restaurants that have been around for 40+ years; there’s something noteworthy about local businesses that have survived this long, never mind that, as restaurants, they’ve demonstrated success where many restaurants have failed. There’s nothing fancy about either one; you won’t find anything “fusion” or with the latest lingo attached (“farm-to-fork,” “locally-sourced,” etc.). El Novillero has a 4-star average on Yelp. Caballo Blanco hasn’t fared as well (3.5 stars). Still, we’ve greatly enjoyed going to both. There really isn’t anything in particular I’d recommend; we’ve liked everything we’ve tried.
Gunther’s Ice Cream. Oh, we do love Gunther’s! It’s across the street from Pangaea Bier Café (which is also noteworthy, but I’ve only been there once so I don’t have a lot to say; however, it’s often frequented by the back-of-house staff of several of Sacramento’s uber-popular restaurants so I think it’s likely also worth a visit). Gunther’s is another local favorite that has been serving up its own ice cream since 1940. I grew up in LA and lived in San Diego for six years before moving here. We didn’t have ice cream shops like this in Southern CA (and, no, the places that have popped up in the last few years don’t count). When it’s a hot day, the line for Gunther’s extends way out the door. It’s totally worth it, though. Some personal favorites of mine are the salted caramel macaron ice cream sandwich and a 50/50 of raspberry and lemon freezes with vanilla ice cream in the middle. Gabriel is especially fond of their eggnog during Christmas season. I can’t stand eggnog and even I find this one tasty.
Roma’s Pizzeria. Again, like El Novillero and Caballo Blanco, there’s no gimmick or latest fad to their menu yet the small parking lot is frequently full with cars waiting for spaces to open up and many patrons inside – another testament to its popularity. It, too, is family-owned and has been in business since 1973.
Morant’s Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen. Okay, so it’s not a restaurant, but this place is so cool! The counter is full of many different sausages – several they make themselves on-site – and there are also accompaniments available around the store. I don’t really have a lot to say about them. Morant’s is how I came to be on Franklin Boulevard in the first place many years ago. New to the area, I was looking online for various places to food shop that weren’t standard grocery stores and found mention of Morant’s, which piqued my curiosity so I had to make the trek out there to check it out.
La Superior Market. Also not a restaurant, but they do have a hot food counter inside with seating. One of my favorite things about going here is they make their own tortilla chips (not to be mixed up with the one on Stockton Boulevard where I discovered they don’t make their own tortilla chips). It’s just pretty cool to be able to get a bag of freshly-made tortilla chips (and they’re good chips, too!). They’ve also got some pretty good tacos. I’ve tried chicken, carne asada and carnitas, but I think the carne asada is my favorite. I never liked raw onions until I came here and had their tacos with raw chopped white onions and cilantro on top. I do miss the tacos de chicharrones en salsa verde I used to be able to get in SD, but these will do instead.
Savory Fried Chicken. I don’t know how well known they are, but they are way down south on Franklin (even from my house which is near Franklin). It’s totally worth the trip, though, if you’ve ever had their chicken. It’s a Filipino restaurant and, again, is often full. They used to have a second location on Elk Grove-Florin, but I guess that location didn’t do so well as it didn’t stay open for very long. Savory Fried Chicken has only been around for the past 4-5 years, but they seem to be doing pretty well (well, except for that second location).
I guess what is common among the places I listed (other than being on Franklin Boulevard) is they sell food without needing to add the latest catchphrases. On Gunther’s website, you’ll find they simply state they make their own ice cream. There are no nauseating claims of being “handcrafted,” “house-churned” or “small batch.” Harsh words, I know, but I am so tired of reading food descriptions containing such terminology. I once recall reading somewhere many years ago a guy responding to a question of why he would order a cheese pizza. He said that a good pizza should be able to stand on its own without a bunch of toppings (plus you get to know what the pizza is really like by stripping away all of the other stuff). I feel the same way about menu items described with trendy phrases because it makes me wonder what is actually the quality of the food.
Another favorable point is none of these places are out of reach for everyday folk like Gabriel and me. Yes, we’ve been to Biba and Ella and Mulvaney’s and enjoyed all of them. Ella’s customer service is exemplary. Mulvaney’s has these wonderful monthly Monday night dinners with a prix fixe menu served family-style. They also introduced me to what a good cabernet sauvignon tastes like (I always hated all the ones I tried before that). However, given a choice, I’d really rather go to a place where I’m comfortable, enjoy the food and atmosphere and know we’re not going to be faced with a huge bill. Okay, I’ll admit I do still want to go to The Kitchen someday. What can I say – I love food!
#kakainna #elnovillero #caballoblanco #gunthersicecream #romaspizzeria #morants #lasuperior #savoryfriedchicken #ifbc #socalval