For more than 30 years, the chefs of De Vinci’s Elk Grove have been hard at work perfecting the traditional Italian recipes that stock their deli counter. They begin every morning with their hands floury, crafting doughs that will form the base of housemade foccacia breads, cheese-filled ravioli, and custom sandwiches. Joined occasionally by a fluffy ravioli mascot in a toque, staff combine dishes into prearranged packages ready for the family dinner table or parcel out single dishes by the pint, quart, gallon, or 10-gallon hat.
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.
Mammoth portions of sandwiches, comfort fare and classic breakfasts test table strength within the log-cabin interior of Lumberjacks Restaurant. After perusing the lengthy menu, patrons can gaze up at the towering façade of roasted turkey clubs ($8.99), whose three layers of toast house bacon, american cheese, lettuce and tomato. A chili burger ($8.99), topped with cheddar and onions, doffs its uppermost bun to chivalrously greet suiting mouths. A slow-braised post roast with vegetables and gravy ($12.99) assumes its honored position among dinner entrees, arriving at tables with a choice of a side as well as soup or a custom-made lettuce amalgamation from the salad bar.
Ensconced in a densely decorated western motif replete with old wagons and cowboy boots, the guests at Fanny Ann's Saloon nibble selections from a menu chock full of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and more. Ravenous guests can engage inert mouth muscles with a round of buffalo wings, which traipse across the tongue with piquant louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese ($7.99). The culinary team cooks up a whimsical Jiffy burger coated in creamy peanut butter and bedecked by bacon and jack cheese ($7.79), as well as an Island burger, which greets the palate with a flavorful crew of teriyaki sauce, mayo, swiss cheese, and a juicy pineapple ring ($7.79). The Presidential sandwich unites hot grilled turkey and bacon with cheddar cheese ($7.69) and the No. 51 Tex-Mex hotdog partners Texas-style chili with an oasis of onions and cheese ($4.99).
Visitors wrap empty hands and hungry mouths around Togo’s freshly crafted selections that stock a menu of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Since 1971, Togo’s has been pairing meats, veggies, and cheeses with freshly baked artisan bread to create such handheld meals as The Clubhouse, with apple-wood-smoked bacon, turkey, and cheddar cheese, and Uncle Tony’s Italian, which cloaks salami, capicola, and ham in parmesan bread ($5.99 each).