CITY GUIDE: Midtown, Sacramento

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Tracy of Good Day Howard!

Sacramento seems to be the least loved of California’s big cities. It’s often called a ‘cow town,’ and thought of by those fancy cityfolk as podunk and tiny. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though. Sacramento is a hidden treasure trove of total awesomeness. Sacramento has proximity to the mountains, the beaches, and ‘the city’ (San Francisco), and at its heart is Midtown, one of my very favorite places on earth.

Midtown Sacramento is a 30-block grid surrounding the Capitol building, bounded by two rivers and two freeways, and filled with pretty old houses and lots of places to play. Midtowners don’t drive — everything you need is within walking or biking distance. By everything, I mean everything. I’ll never be able to share even half of the places to stop in Midtown – coffeehouses, salons, museums, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, parks, retail shops, tattoo parlors, theaters…and then, oh, the events! This place is too much fun.

One of best things about Midtown is the food. Try Spanish tapas at Aioli (that’s the shrimp special on my birthday last summer, above) or Tapa the World. There are literally (haha, not really) one million Mexican food restaurants on the grid, every single one of them delicious. I normally like the ceviche with my margarita at Azul, but that chimichanga was not bad, i.e. it was delicious.

Among our plethora of restaurants are a healthy handful of sustainable, local, farm-to-table dining options, with new ones opening all the time. A couple of my favorites are Grange (which reminds me so much of a New York steakhouse) and Mulvaney’s Building + Loan.

We also boast our own brewing companies and wineries! Visit Rubicon Trading Company on a Tuesday for $2.50 pints of their own brews (and cider!). Find one of Ruhstaller’s yummy beers at Bows + Arrows and a growing number of other local bars. Go wine tasting at Revolution Wines right on the grid and stumble home after.

So, there’s kind of a lot of drinking in midtown. Responsible, healthy drinking of course. But that’s not our only favorite vice. This is the land of the independent coffee house. Naked Lounge, Temple, Old Soul, Insight, Broadacre, Shine, Mangia…most roast their own beans, and some even have multiple locations! Our baristas take their craft seriously, making coffeehouses a second home to many.

We love us some art in Midtown. See what all the hip kids are making these days at Bows + Arrows, Verge, and Beatnik. Our Second Saturday art walk has turned into a city-wide festival of arts and crafts and general merry-making. I like to walk around Second Saturday people-watching; that’s the real art right there. You’ll also find art everywhere you look as you’re walking down the streets.

Midtown has some excellent vintage shopping. Stop by Cuffs, Thunderhorse, Crimson + Clover, and Bows + Arrows, and you’ll be sure to find something good. You’ll notice that I’ve already mentioned Bows + Arrows a couple times here. It’s one of my favorite Midtown establishments because Trisha and Olivia have created the most creative space for all the creative people to play! Part vintage shop, part art gallery, part cafe/bar, Bows also hosts live music, adult spelling bees, nerd nights, and community meetings. If something amazing is going to start up in Midtown, it probably begins here. This is also my favorite place to shop for jewelry — local designers Freya, Witt + Lore, and Heavy Metal are pretty much all you need in your collection.

With all our talented local musicians, we’ve got to have some good music stores too. Phono Select has all the records and the best customer service. The owner once played me records for 45 minutes to help me find exactly what I needed for a friend’s gift. The Beat is where to go for concert tickets and to browse the CD sale racks.

These are just some of the many, many reasons why I love my city. When you visit you’ll find even more to love if you just walk around the neighborhoods!

January 2, 2013