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 origin story of Poor Red's Bar-B-Q sounds like a movie plot. In 1948, Kelley's Bar was put on the table when its then-owner anted up in a poker game. Red Sadler was the winner, and he named the joint after himself, of course. Today, the kitchen still sears the ribs and steaks that have made the restaurant a perennial favorite since the 50s. The bar's signature drink, called the Gold Cadillac, is a blend of Galliano liqueur and creme de cacao and named for the car of the first couple who ever took a sip.
Moises Rodriguez is not only the owner of Que Viva; he's also the entertainment. On Friday and Saturday nights, he serenades guests with his flamenco guitar playing as they dine on Mexican dishes such as handmade tamales, carnitas, and grilled chicken breast in red chile mole. Chefs craft each dish using fresh ingredients selected by hand at a restaurant wholesaler each week by co-owner Isabel Rodriguez. Isabel's influence also shines in the restaurant's brightly decorated dining room, which features colorful flowers and carved wooden birds. On the outdoor patio, patrons eat while enjoying the warmth of the sun or the shape of a cloud that looks like an old boss falling out of a chair.
Inspired by the fresh crepes that sizzle on griddles across France, Alma and Edi Zildzo form CrepeTown Cafe & Grill’s from-scratch batter into thin pancakes and fill them with classic sweet and savory fillings culled from local farmers. Though crepe architects specialize in classic French fixings such as béchamel and gruyère cheese, North American flourishes such as ahi steak, chipotle salsa, and the occasional bald-eagle tear also congregate within the crepe’s fluffy confines. Customers can complement their edible envelopes with sips from gourmet coffee drinks made at the espresso bar and sweet treats such as pastries and ice cream.