Brewing coffee at home is a crapshoot of ratios, freshness, and equipment. Instead of waking up to smell the home-brewed coffee, start leaping out of bed in a streaking sprint to the Coffee Garden to expose your nostrils and fuzzy slippers to the flowerful fragrance of roasted bean juice. Perk up in the midmorning sun amid a potted jungle of greenery on the back patio with a signature cup of coffee ($1.50 for 12 oz.) or an indulgent mocha ($3.25 for 12 oz.). When high noon hangs above, halt sweat beads in their browed beginnings with an iceberg's worth of iced tea ($2.25 for 24 oz.) or a cold café au lait $3.50 for 24 oz.).
Next door to the historic Colonial Theatre, the chefs at Cafe Colonial plate up burgers, fries, and nachos for hungry omnivores and vegans alike. Daiya cheese can be subbed in for dairy cheese, and Boca replaces beef with a simple request. The kitchen has also become known for whipping up a mean Indian frybread taco garnished with refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. On weekends and weeknights, the café plays host to artistic events, live bands, and movie nights.
What started as a hobby for Biba Caggiano became a culinary career when she relocated to Sacramento with her family in 1969. During the move, she brought along a practiced knowledge of Old World cuisine, which she gleaned from her mother while growing up in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. After teaching a handful of classes at a local cooking school, she began fully dedicating herself to gastronomic pursuits, publishing cookbooks of her signature recipes, studying culinary traditions throughout Italy, and hosting an internationally syndicated cooking show, Biba's Italian Kitchen.
She opened Biba Restaurant in 1986, devising a menu of authentic Italian cuisine that changes seasonally, much like a snowman’s ability to survive. Her chefs blanch homemade pastas, pan-roast sea bass, and braise veal shanks for an osso buco alla milanese that Frommer's proclaimed as "excellent." With a commitment to freshness, Biba sources her ingredients from local farmers and producers, including Del Rio Botanical and Ports Seafood.
The menus brim with refined dishes, and the décor to "make [diners] feel instantly at home." In addition to its yellow walls, the recently renovated main dining room, according to the Sacramento Press, features hand-painted Italian silk sconces and crema marfil marble.
Inside Espanol Italian Restaurant, wood-paneled walls, floral curtains, and checkered tablecloths transport guests to a homey Italian kitchen. Friendly servers dote upon guests who tuck into heaping portions of tender pork chops or pastas such as ravioli and fettuccini alfredo. Once meals end, servers deliver cannoli and other traditional desserts, and whisk away plates to be licked clean by hungry dishtowels in the kitchen.
The Midtown hot-dog haven offers a dazzling display of bun-clad hot-dog and sausage dinners. The menu boasts 10 types of links, including the basic beef frankfurter ($3.49), a Polish sausage ($4.69), a steamed vegan dog ($3.49), and a crispy corn dog ($2.59, available in vegetarian, too). Customize your dining delight with any of Capitol Dawg's 45 plus toppings (up to $1.50 each) or opt for one of the specialty dogs, such as the Tesla Dawg ($4.19), loaded with mustard, chili, and onions, or the El Senador Dawg ($5.59), a Sonoran-style bacon-wrapped dog nestled under a cozy blanket of pinto beans, cheese, jalapeños, grilled onions, and chopped fresh veggies. Dogs can also be paired with french fries and a fountain drink to form a mighty meal ($7.39+) or matched with one of their succulent sides, such as beer-battered onion rings ($3.49) or sweet-potato fries ($3.49) for a customized creation.
Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse pairs handcrafted brews with a menu of specialty pizzas, pastas, burgers, and salads. The six different beers on offer include the Old Town Red—a malty, ruby-colored brew—a traditional Bavarian wheat ale, and the Uptown Blonde. Along with the eatery’s signature pies, guests can sample popular entrees such as house-made lasagna, New York steak, and fish and chips—a dish native to the United Kingdom, where French fries are called “chips” and chips are called “lorries.”