Black Bear Diner's breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus teem with mountainous portions of homestyle eats, and the restaurant’s dining room abounds with carved wooden bears. House-made corned-beef hash and eggs ($8.99) sidle onto breakfast plates with an entourage of country potatoes and a fresh biscuit. Sandwich crafters design savory bread stacks such as the classic Reuben ($8.99), which bridges slices of grilled rye with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a handful of suspension cables. Broccoli- and cheese-stuffed chicken breasts ($9.99) ensconce themselves in bacon, and platters of meatloaf ($10.99) appear alongside a supporting cast of sautéed vegetables.
Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic Drive-In didn’t acquire its nationally recognized name until 1959—six years after its inception in 1953. Today, the franchise operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic Drive-In specializes in made-to-order American classics, including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades. Sonic Drive-In’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: best value menu, best milk shake, and best drive-thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
The culinary artists at Tortilla Flats serenade palates with an eclectic mix of both inventive and regionally authentic Mexican dishes. Tacos jaliscienses sweeten a beef-and-chorizo blend with pineapple and cabbage, and the molcajete flats ignite a flavor explosion of steak, grilled chicken, shrimp, and cactus in a housemade sauce. Early risers can sate morning cravings with breakfast specialties such as chorizo omelets or eggs with cactus and onions. Like a robot assembly manual written in invisible ink, the menu also presents a daunting challenge: the 2.5-pound burrito supreme stuffed with chicken, beans, rice, and lettuce, all buried under a generous helping of sauce, cheese, olives, guacamole, and sour cream. Tortilla Flats’ shareable Iguana margarita loosens inhibitions with 12 ounces of tequila and two Coronas.
To support the community both local and global, Matteo's Public packs its menu with homemade ingredients from local farmers and ranchers and employs sustainable business practices. The napkins are made from recycled paper, the patio garden is chemical-free, and the trash is all composted, then used as feed for free-range irascible muppets. Start off your appetite's scrumptious stay-cation with brew battered mushrooms ($7.99), made with the “beer O'the day,” before orally deconstructing a Matteo's pub burger ($13.99), which swipes its half-pound patty locally from Niman Ranch. Matteo's chickpea burger ($9.99) arrives topped with a lemon dill dressing and is made so close to home that, at some point, it must be encouraged to get a job and move out. For those who don't put much stock in a name, try the stinky mac 'n' cheese entree ($10.99), which gracefully welcomes chicken or shrimp (add $5.00) into its crunchy breadcrumb and bacon shell.
The chefs at Ninja Sushi wield culinary skill like a sword, cutting a menu of sophisticated sushi and Japanese entrees preceded by starters such as edamame ($3.95), calamari ($6.95), and fire balls of spicy red tuna and crab ($9.95) for a more adventurous nibble. Rolled sushi offerings include the irresistible Bad Boy roll and its renegade posse of spicy tuna, cucumber, and chili sauce ($10.95). Paying homage to famous local cylinders, the Sacramento roll blends salmon, masago, and the restaurant's trademark sauce ($9.95), and the philly roll packs east coast flair with salmon, avocado, and cream cheese ($7.95). Evening guests fill up on traditional entrees such as chicken teriyaki ($13.95) and vegetable tempura ($10.95).
Chefs in tall red toques flip and sautee behind Kobe Teppanyaki & Sushi’s tableside grills, where their Japanese teppanyaki techniques create steaming medleys of seared seafood, meat, and vegetables. Away from the stainless-steel hibachi stations, diners slide into tall leather-backed chairs or sidle up to the mosaic-inlaid bar to peruse a menu of chicken katsu, lobster teriyaki, and specialty sushi rolls, such as the tempura-fried fancy salmon roll, which can only be eaten on the salmon’s wedding anniversary.
By the time Marco Ramos opened Casa Ramos in 1997, he had been working in the restaurant business for 15 years. While working at his cousin's restaurant in Seattle, Marco soaked up invaluable, hands-on lessons about how to run a business. He draws upon that experience at Casa Ramos, where he and his staff serve time-tested family recipes that date back to his years in Mexico City.
In the kitchen, cooks prepare specialties such as Molcajete—chicken and beef strips sautéed in a mildly spicy sauce—and Carnitas Uruapan—slow-roasted Uruapan-style pork in a Mexican sauce. The fajita salad—a Ramos family favorite that's carved into their family tree—combines fresh greens, mushrooms, sliced eggs, avocado, and steak or chicken.