IFBC 2017 International Food Blogging Conference
If you are attending the IFBC 2017, welcome to Sacramento! You are in for a treat! Besides partaking in the best food blogging conference in the country, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of California’s capital city and the ‘Farm to Fork’ capital of the world. While you are attending the conference, I hope you have time to experience the diverse food culture of the area. Great food, wine, and craft beer are just the beginning. In addition, there are a great many worthwhile places to see. Here is a brief rundown of some of my favorite downtown places to eat and destinations you won’t want to miss.
Places to Eat
By no means complete, here is a short list of spots to eat within walking distance of the host hotels and the Sacramento Convention Center. In no particular order:
Hock Farm Craft and Provisions
Hock Farm Craft and Provisions features a short menu that changes with the season and reflects what is local, seasonal, and delicious. It starts out with some very inviting starters, like the Grilled Bread with Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata. The selection of small plates, in fact, looked so good, we thought about making a meal out an assortment of them and calling it a night. Perhaps on our next visit, we will opt for a few starters and drinks in the lively bar. For my last outing in question, the evening special proved to be too enticing…Seared Albacore Tuna with Wax Beans and Romesco Sauce. The fish was very fresh and was cooked to perfection. The accompanying sauce was slightly spicy and incredibly flavorful. I was further delighted by a couple of slices of smoked eggplant underneath that added even further dimension to the dish. Hock Farm and Provisions is open for lunch and dinner with a limited menu between 2:00-6:00. http://www.hockfarm.com
The Empress Tavern is located in the basement of the historic Crest Theater. The restaurant’s name is in honor of the original Empress Theater as it was called when it was built in 1921 as a vaudeville venue. The chef/owner, Michael Thielmann, has created an eclectic menu featuring reimagined classics that pairs with a great cocktail menu and a very respectable selection of craft beers. The entrance to the restaurant is just to the right through a pair of impressive wooden doors, just below street level. As you enter, you can turn left to go to the theater, or right to descend the elegant red staircase into the restaurant. I love the feel of the cavernous interior space they have created. It was like walking into another era. The smell of popcorn that permeated the air as we walked in made us hungry for a box of popcorn. Fortunately, popcorn was among the offerings on the appetizer menu. No ordinary popcorn mind you, it is prepared (tossed) tableside to order with salt and truffle butter. The truffle theme continued for me with the truffled fries that accompanied my Queens Rotisserie Chicken served with arugula and chimichurri sauce. The Empress Tavern is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner only on Saturday, closed on Sundays. https://www.empresstavern.com
At Cafeteria 15L the emphasis is on comfort food that is served in an eclectic industrial designed space that features outdoor patios, a lounge space, private dining areas and a large central dining area. Open for lunch and dinner during the week. Brunch is served only on the weekends. Small plate menu only between 2:00-4:00. http://cafeteria15l.com
Vines Cafe (located inside the Hyatt Regency)
A perfect and convenient spot for breakfast and lunch located right next door to the Conference Center. They have a lovely buffet as well as your standard breakfast and lunch menu. Vines Cafe is open from 6:00 AM- 2:00 PM. https://sacramento.regency.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/VinesCafe.html
Ma Jong’s Asian Diner
Ma Jongs is an Asian theme restaurant from the MAC Hospitality Group that includes Cafeteria 15L, Iron Horse Tavern, MIX Downtown, Firestone Public House and The Park. The food here is a combination of several Asian cuisines. It is not exactly authentic, but it is tasty, and it is popular. If you are looking for late night dining, they are open until 2:30 AM on Friday and Saturdays. http://www.majongs.com/index.html
The Waterboy is a real gem, with a menu inspired by the cuisines of northern Italy and southern France. It is a ‘white tablecloth’ kind of place, but it is warm, comfortable, and inviting. Waterboy is a perfect spot if you are looking to treat yourself to something special. It gets busy here, reservations are recommended. http://www.waterboyrestaurant.com
Shady Lady Saloon
When you visit the Shady Lady Saloon, you are stepping back in time to a 1920’s speakeasy. The Shady Lady was named one of the top 25 “Best Bars in America” according to Esquire magazine. Go for the cocktails and decor, stay for the live music (5 nights a week) and very respectable menu. http://www.shadyladybar.com
Devine Gelateria and Cafe
Although you can get a sandwich and coffee in addition to an ever-changing selection of baked goods, the Gelato is the star attraction! http://devinegelateria.com/#home
Fine dining located in the Citizen Hotel http://www.grangesacramento.com
Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails. Casual dining, including vegan options. http://capitolgarage.com
Taking in the Sights
If you are lucky enough to spend some time here before or after the conference (or if your significant other needs something to do while you are attending the conference), here are some fun things to do and see:
The Capitol Building
The Capitol Building sits on a 40-acre park, which includes a World Peace Rose Garden, many species of trees, and plantings from around the world. The Capitol building is open on weekdays from 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM and weekends from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. Guided tours begin hourly, or you can take a self-guided tour. Check the California State Capitol Museum web site for more information here.
Old Sacramento is an eight-block section of downtown located about one mile from the Capitol. Although it can be a bit touristy, you will not want to miss it if you have the time. The area boasts of several museums, most notably the California State Railroad Museum, and the California Automobile Museum. The whole area is like a trip back in time to the California gold rush. The area is also home to numerous shops, and restaurants. Every kind of dining can be found here from pizza to fine dining. I was recently stopped dead in my tracks when I stopped to have a plate of extremely respectable Mie Goreng (Indonesian fried noodle) at Bali Kitchen. For more information on Old Sacramento, check out the website here.
Lastly, if you are downtown and you find you have needs that room service just can’t deliver, here are some places you might find useful:
CVS drug store 1701 K St. Sacramento, Ca. 95811
Grocery Outlet 1700 Capitol Ave Sacramento, CA 95811
BevMo 1700 J St. Sacramento, CA. 95811
Have I missed anything? I am sure I have, please feel free to add any tips in the comments section! Thank you, and enjoy your conference!