These are the 5 best restaurants in downtown Sacramento: Where to eat downtown

Downtown Sacramento has been hit hard during the pandemic, yes, but it’s still home to some of Sacramento’s best restaurants, from high-end concepts near the Capitol to more affordable Japanese spots near residences.

These five downtown spots were named among The Sacramento Bee’s 2022 Top 50 Restaurants, the full list of which was released Nov. 18. All restaurants in the guide are listed alphabetically and unranked; read more about this decision here.

Is your favorite downtown Sacramento restaurant missing from this list? Write it here. The top five voters in the region will be added to the Top 50 guide in early December.

BINCHOYAKI

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Binchoyaki’s hamachi carpaccio has creamy avocado and a tangy ponzu sauce. Andre Seng aseng@sacbee.com

$$$ — JAPANESE

There’s a world of Japanese cuisine outside of sushi, and Craig Takehara and Toki Sawada are determined to help customers explore it through their Southside Park izakaya. Chef Takehara is best known for his yakitori – skewered pieces of chicken, beef or vegetables grilled over binchotan charcoal at 900 degrees. Binchoyaki has three menus with dozens of options, so here are a few highlights to point you in the right direction: bacon-wrapped mochi skewers, ebi shinjyo-aje (shrimp and scallop fritters that look like they’ve been transported here from space ), a house specialty topped with bluefin tuna called krispy rice, a pickle platter with sake prunes and cherry tomatoes, dry mushroom ramen called tori mazeman, and homemade matcha ice cream made with soy milk. If you don’t know, ask. Servers aren’t shy about giving recommendations or even taking it upon themselves to add dishes they know you’ll love.

2226 10th Street, Sacramento. (916) 469-9448

Camden Spit and Pantry

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Salt Cod Fritters at Cadmen Spit and Larder on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in Sacramento. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

$$$ — BRITISH

Oliver Ridgeway combined the attention to detail of Grange, where he had been chef, with the flavors of his native England when he and his wife Tia opened Camden Spit & Larder in late 2018. Gingham creates a sense of well- being and the natural light diffused by the metal luminaires makes the brasserie awake. Named after the son of the Ridgeways and the hip London neighborhood, Camden’s business lunch traffic gives way throughout the day to happy hour crowds and Golden 1 Center goers. The fully-wrapped sausage rolls with curry ketchup are a must anytime of the day, and the English dip sandwich is a cheeky horseradish take on the French-inspired classic. An eight-layer banoffee bar made with Berkeley-based TCHO chocolate is the highlight of the dessert menu.

555 Capitol Mall, Suite 100, Sacramento. (916) 619-8897.

ELLA DINING ROOM & BAR

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Mesquite Grilled New York Steak with Patatas Bravas, King’s Trumpet Mushroom, Pickled Nardello Peppers and Pedro Ximenez Glaze at Ella in Sacramento on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The restaurant is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Randall Benton rbenton@sacbee.com

$$$$ — CALIFORNIAN

Fifteen years later, Ella is still downtown Sacramento’s ultimate restaurant for date nights, fancy lunches, and post-conference indulgence. Everything is upscale at this Selland Family Restaurants establishment, from the service to the decorative dishes to the central glass wine cellar reminiscent of Netflix’s “You”. Yet in true Sacramento fashion, you’ll still see people dressed in San Francisco 49ers jerseys and Supreme sweatshirts sipping oysters and munching on Elverta-based Sterling Caviar, knowing their money is good here no matter their clothing. Some of Ella’s specialties have become the hallmark of Sacramento’s dining scene at this point — wood-fired marrow bones, steak tartare and one of the best gin and tonics around — and more could be on the way. The Mendocino black cod is tender, while the long sides of hand-cut pappardelle tease the palate throughout – earthy wild mushroom stew in one bite, rich whipped ricotta in the next. Closed for most of the pandemic, Ella has understandably stayed busy since reopening, which is no small feat in downtown Sacramento these days.

1131 K St., Sacramento. (916) 443-3772.

BARN

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Short rib of beef at Grange on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 in Sacramento. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

$$$$ — CALIFORNIAN

Getting a meal of the day right is hard enough. Grange does all three, plus happy hour and room service for guests at the 196-room Citizen Hotel. It seems a bit more relaxed than in pre-pandemic times, but it’s still a go-to spot for grilled branzino dinners and white-collar work lunches. The Grange Power Lunch special exemplifies the latter point and offers a few different tastes with the soup of the day, side salad, half sandwich (try the Italian beef for a rare Sacramento twist on a Chicago classic), and a mini chocolate cake. The best thing about the house burger, available during lunch and happy hour, isn’t the extra-crispy bacon or the bourbon barbecue sauce or the Corning-based blue cheese or Masami Ranch beef. It’s the restraint Chef Dane Blom shows in balancing each flavorful ingredient so they feed off each other rather than flood the palate. The side of oregano-dusted thin fries is a close second, though.

926 J St., Sacramento. (916) 447-2700.

KODAIKO RAMEN & BAR

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A bowl of citrus shio ramen is served at Kodaiko Ramen & Bar on K Street in Sacramento on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. Daniel Kim dkim@sacbee.com

$$ — JAPANESE

Sacramento’s best ramen is hidden in plain sight in a brick-walled basement just steps from the Golden 1 Center. Kru’s mastermind Billy Ngo and ramen extraordinaire Takumi Abe smash it down to the classics like a cloudy tonkotsu that carries all the deep flavor one could hope for from a three-day paitan. Yet Kodaiko stands out for its more eccentric bases such as lemon shio or a staple mushroom paitan enriched with cashew cream. The Twin Peaks Orchards Hot Honey Fried Chicken Salad with Peaches makes a great non-ramen option, and a chilled tofu appetizer called hiyayakko with sweet pepper jam and a sea of ​​crunch will convert even soy dodgers.

718 K St., Sacramento. (916) 426-8863.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as breaking general news and investigative projects. A native of Sacramento, he previously covered affairs for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.


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