When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item?which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"?to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson?s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.
The food truck turned restaurant known as La Mex Taqueria may be the brainchild of George Azar, but in truth, the eatery is a family affair. Azar was originally inspired to open a taco truck by his grandfather, who sold tacos in his native Mexico City. Azar's uncle Rogelito, meanwhile, put his heart and soul into a restaurant that never got off the ground. Even Azar's choice of business partner had familial ties—Pete A. Cornejo, Jr. is Azar's brother-in-law, and Cornejo's father, aunt, and grandfather are all steeped in the culinary world. With all these experts by his side, it's no wonder that Azar finds it easy to infuse mouthwatering flavor into his signature tacos.
He begins with a double layer of corn tortillas, which he fills with a choice of nine meats ranging from standards of chicken and grilled steak to the more exotic tongue, tripe, and beef cheek. After sprinkling on cilantro and onions, he lets his customers decide the spiciness with the shop’s self-serve salsa bar. The tacos headline a menu of Mexican staples, including burritos, ceviche, sopes, breakfast specialties, and fresh guacamole that's only made the minute it's ordered. As customers savor their meals with imported Mexican beers, three flat-screen TVs show the sporting events and critically acclaimed static channels of the moment.
Every month, Florez Bar & Grill's bartenders reach for a new bottle of premium tequila to pour tastes for the restaurant's Tequila Tuesdays. Drinkers learn about the difference between a?ejo and reposado tequila and which varieties flavor certain cocktails best. However, that's just a taste of what's available at Florez. Chefs cook up a full menu Mexican classics, from homemade tamales to carnitas tacos and shrimp fajitas, as well as select American dishes, including turkey-club sandwiches at lunch.
The mariachi band that entertains on Friday nights and Sunday mornings also mixes it up: though the ensemble calls themselves "Mariachi Tradicional," they've been known to break out into Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" given the excuse. The mornings are also made special by Florez's breakfast. It's served until 3 p.m. each day for any late risers or confused time travelers, and the Sacramento News & Review named it the Best Under-the-Radar Mexican Brunch in 2013.
Three Sisters spins recipes honed over time into authentic, homemade Mexican meals. Along with the menu's traditional burritos and tacos, chefs call into existence more inventive eats, such as the vegetarian desert tamales, which they stuff with veggies, pasilla cream, and a sprig of mint. Patrons sup inside the eatery, take in the breeze around outdoor tables, or enjoy the meals at home with delivery, pickup, or teleportation.
Stepping into 524 Mexican Restaurant is like entering a sunset—golden walls melt into rich burgundy and orange accents as heat rises from classic Mexican cuisine—slow cooked carnitas, carne asada steaks, and warm enchiladas. Red wall sconces radiate light upward, illuminating waiters who unload starters, such as bean and cheese dip, and pour traditional soup into the mouths of the eatery’s wall-mounted masks.
There’s no stopping the aging process, short of becoming a vampire or finding the elusive soda fountain of eternal youth. But at Celia's Face & Body, licensed aesthetician Kelley offsets the physical signs of aging with facials that use ingredients such as warm paraffin masks and organic-fruit acids to improve skin’s texture. A line of Yon-Ka Paris products uses marine extracts, fruit acids, and essential oils to further rejuvenate epidermises. Luxurious facial packages can include aromatherapy back scrubs or neck-and-shoulder massages.
Beyond facials, Kelley pampers clients with bodywork sessions such as the citrus body buff, which exfoliates bods with citrus body masks more effectively than running through a lawn sprinkler filled with salt and OJ. The certified massage therapist also soothes achy muscles with massages that can incorporate deep-tissue and hot-stone massage techniques.