Transition Sacramento: Changes on the Grid

By Ashley Robinson

I was super bummed when Spin Burger taped the brown paper on their restaurant windows. Their garden burger was the best in town, hands down. And the fries were spectacular. And all the accoutrements, the sauces, yum.

Although what is worse is that it is just another empty store front on 16th. (Remember Design Within Reach? What is that place? Nothing but a billboard.) I did hear a rumor that a restaurateur couple in town is going to take over the spot, which gives me hope.

I was not super bummed when CPK closed. I never thought it was a good fit. Those kinds of restaurants belong out in the ‘burbs. I ordered a salad once there for lunch. And while I waited forever to get my salad (which I had ordered 20 minutes before walking to the restaurant), I stood there and read the calorie count on the salad. Holy Moly! It was almost 1,000 calories. Some healthy choice. Hmph.

So, I didn’t go back.

Again, it will be replaced quickly. The de Vere Whites and the Wongs (of Ma Jongs and the Cafeteria) will be opening a sports bar there, an interesting choice considering De Vere’s and the Mix are on the same block. I guess Sacramento needs more places to watch TV when out socializing.

L's Back Patio

And then L Bar closed. They are saying it is only temporary, but with no opening date, I’m worried the place won’t open its doors again. Which would be the worst!

As much as I love that place, calling it my “Cheers” because everybody there knew my name, and my dog’s name (the back patio was perfect for tying up your pooch), I felt the last few months had been a sad reflection of what the L Wine Lounge used to be. Although they recently overhauled their menu, which was a great idea, because it focused on what they were good at: bar food, apps and cocktails, the wine menu had disintegrated. When sommelier Jonathan Klonecke left to do his own thing, mixologist Chris Tucker jumped in and made the place a fantastic place to get a topnotch cocktail. But the hours had shortened and the crowd had dwindled. The wait staff had a new dressed-down uniform and the wine club was shut down. I don’t know, it just felt like … “what happened?”

I hope the reopening, whenever it happens, will kick the place back into high gear. I do really love having a go-to place to meet up with friends for ‘tails or stems. And I love the family L Bar has created within their staff and regulars.

And just when I was thinking I should recant my response to Forbes’ stupid “Most Miserable Cities” list, I saw a sign up on the old Infusion tea place at K and 17th. The Squeeze Inn Burger Joint looks to have a new location there.  That’s kind of exciting. I personally have never eaten at the renowned Sacramento chain because the line was always too long, but I know people love it and I am happy to see that empty spot filled up. (However, how many burger joints are going to open in that area? Spin Burger, Hamburger Mary’s … now Squeeze Inn? I’m sure the ballerinas across the street love all the variety …)

And the new Italian café/bistro/whatever the heck it is in the old Le Petite Paris location looks like it is making SOME progress. I walked past there the other day and silently sobbed while pressing my face against the dusty windows. The building seems to have been divided in two – the spot where the little boutique used to be is now a fine linen rental shop. It looked beautiful, tables laid out with shining china, walls lined with exquisite swatches of cloth. The other side, which appears to be the future site of this Italian whatever was still under construction and covered in drop clothes. I still can’t get a feel for the vibe of the place. Will it just be a version of Hot Italian?

Even after a year of it being closed, I still very much miss the Little Paris of Sacramento. Sob! I want more places like that!

Scout Living

Moving away from the ever-changing culinary scene, another new spot in town I discovered last month was Scout Living, a new co-op of vintage homeware on 18th. Ooooh, I could spend all day there. The furniture is funky but elegant, the vibe is fresh and the couple that owns the place is so passionate that it is hard to not feel their enthusiasm for Sacramento. I wish I had lots of expendable cash to throw around that place. I am in need of a new mid-century arm chair for my boudoir!

Bows & Arrows closed shop on L and moved over to 19th, across the street from Safeway. Haven’t been there to check out the new digs, but I feel like every time I drive past the new vintage shop late at night, the place seems to be hopping with people out front, lights on and music going.

So! All is not lost, Sacramento. It seems we are just in a time of transition. It’s been said we are getting out of the recession and now recovering. So, maybe this is part of it. Maybe our Midtown scene is just moving, and shifting and experimenting.

And while I am philosophizing on the economic landscape of my Midtown, I would like to offer a few ideas: more places like Magpie (and open on Sundays!), probably less burger places, an old-school ballroom where you can get a good meal and do some classic dancing, Mulvaney’s open for brunch, and L Bar back open.

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  1. Lisa says

    The Kitchen (Selland’s)is coming to downtown or lower Midtown …. : )
    Magpie is considering opening for brunch on Sunday… : )
    The L Lounge had serious financial issues from beginning…with economy still tanking not surprised it closed.

  2. Chantel Elder says

    Bows and Arrows now has yummy food too! Lovin’ their crazy popsickle flavors.

  3. Gina says

    That is a thoughtful and great read. Thanks from a fellow midtown lover and her brood!

  4. Name says

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