Not a Fan of Dine Downtown

By Ashley Robinson

I don’t like being a downer when it comes to Sacramento’s restaurant scene. For one, what good does it to tell people where not to spend their money while the economy suffers? And two, I eat out at restaurants too much to make enemies with the good people who work in our city. I like them, I think they like me okay, so why mess that up with a crabby blog post?

However, I’m no fan of the annual marketing dining events in Sacramento.

I think they are poor representations of the service and quality of food the participating restaurants normally provide during the rest of the year.

So events like Dine Downtown are decent-enough marketing tactics to get people from outside the area to come and check out new eateries. Especially right after the holiday season. I get it. They lure them in with discounted prix fixe three-course menu prices. They sometimes offer up special dishes they normally wouldn’t serve.

But from my limited experience with Dine Downtown – I say limited because I could only do so much – the dinner service was rushed. The restaurants were trying to hustle in as many people as possible and the quality customer service one can normally expect from the business was shuffled out. Waiters were stressed, the hostess was curt, and the whole place was chaos.

The food tasted more like wedding-style “chicken-salmon-veggies” turn-and-burn than the thoughtful presentation and taste regular customers are accustomed to.

Plus, the portions were noticeably smaller.

Also, $30? Come on. At places like Red Rabbit and Blackbird, you can get a filling and quality meal there for less-than-or-equal to the set $30 price.

My recommendation is this…

  • Go any other time of year.
  • Take that list of fantastic restaurants participating in Dine Downtown and start checking them off, one-by-one.
  • Go to them on some other Saturday night.
  • Enjoy their happy hours.
  • Make an event out of it.
  • Enjoy the food and the amazing wait staff.

Don’t go during Dine Downtown and be turned off for the rest of the year because you had bad service or your chicken on celery root puree was bland. Don’t let your opinion of a place be defined by this piddly event. Don’t let yourself think you are getting a better deal, because you’re not.

The better – the best – deal is exploring and supporting Downtown/Midtown restaurants all year long to truly appreciate what they have to offer.


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