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.
At London Best Fish & Chip, a family of fishmongers works behind the scenes to dish up a menu of fresh Neptunian nibbles, from crispy fried fish and golden chips to oysters, prawns, scallops, and whole crabs. Entrees scuttle up next to sides such as hushpuppies, coleslaw, and potstickers while salmon fillets and chicken strips nest between pieces of bread. Guests nosh on oceanic delights in the restaurant's casual dining room, where doodled napkins cling to the walls like barnacles and nautical knickknacks sing sea shanties.
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.
It is not just the pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas that keep guests coming back to Pete's Restaurant and Brewhouse—the hand-crafted beers also play a major role, quenching thirsts with flavors ranging from the Uptown blonde’s light layers of honey to the highly hoppy profile of the Skinner’s Horse IPA. Pete’s team keeps meals in balance by offering food-and-beer-paring suggestions, assuring diners that the Midtown ale harmonizes with fish tacos and that the Old Town red—a malty, medium-bodied amber ale—improves coordination for slam-dunking meatballs.