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10 Favorites Mexican Restaurants in Sacramento

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Whether you're fond of a sit down meal with a pitcher of margaritas or prefer a grab-and-go approach, Sacramento has a diverse selection of Mexican restaurants. Some are a little hard to find but worth the adventure. Other locales have long family traditions, feature live music, specialty tequilas, unique décor or all of the above.

 

1. Azul Mexican Food And Tequila Bar

Among the “new bred” of midtown restaurants where the food is innovative and the atmosphere lively, Azul features live music and a popular free chips and salsa bar. Among house favorites are the reasonably priced luncheon appetizers like the quesadilla ($4). Fish dishes are all the rage, particularly the mahi mahi burrito and shrimp taco. Taco Tuesdays is a great deal with $1.25 tacos and $2.50 draft beer.

Azul Mexican Food And Tequila Bar
1050 20th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
916-447-4040

2. Chando's Tacos

Often described as the “quintessential taco stand,” Chando’s packs in a crowd a lunchtime — and at other times, too. But that’s not to say there’s a long wait. Chando, the owner, often takes the orders and the staff is prepared. The service is fast and the food is fresh and portions plentiful. The flavor in meat gets praised often, and one of the best deals is a sizable bag of fresh tortilla chips and ideal pico de gallo for $1.

Chando's Tacos
863 Arden Way.
Sacramento, CA 95816
916-641-8226
www.chandostacos.com

3. Centro Cocina Mexicana

Located in arguably the most lively midtown restaurant district, Centro is likely the most energetic eatery in the area. Tequila enthusiasts are in nirvana because more than 150 selections of tequilas are offered and margaritas feature fresh lime juice. The menu is vast and includes: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, pozole, fresh fish, grilled meats and poultry dishes. The decor is eclectic and the bar is adorned with Mexican folk art from the state of Oaxaca.

Centro Cocina Mexicana
2730 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
916-442-2552
www.paragarys.com/go/prg/locations/centro

4. El Amigo

Tucked behind the mall anchored by Rite-Aid and Save Mart on Folsom Blvd., El Amigo is a family style restaurant in a horrible location. But like many successful ethnic restaurants it does well despite its locale because diners of Hispanic heritage frequent it. Three dishes are among the signature offerings: mole chicken enchiladas, cemerones rancheros and the super burrito. Two notes: the restaurant uses tongue and when a server says the plates are hot, he or she means it.

El Amigo
5722 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95819
916-451-8482

5. El Patron Bar & Grill

Through the years, the location has been home to several ethnic restaurants, with El Patron attracting a steady neighborhood and Sacramento State crowd. Carnitas and molcajete get praised off, but it’s $1 Tuesday Taco Night that defines a great deal. Four kinds of taco are offered complemented $1 Bud Light and $3 Margaritas. It’s a popular offer but it’s not overly crowded.

El Patron Bar & Grill
6601 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95819
916-455-8945
www.patronbarandgrill.com

6. El Novillero

Now 41 years old, the family owned restaurant is often crowded and renowned for its vast menu and large portions. House favorites include chile verde with regulars praising the spicy and salty consistency. Carnitas, chimmichangas and carne asada are among other favorites. El Novillero may be the only Mexican restaurant in Sacramento that serves pickle chips. Despite its popularity, don’t fret — the parking lot is huge.

El Novillero
4216 Franklin Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95820
916- 456-4287
www.elnov.com

7. Island Tacos

Best described as the quick place to get a street taco, this is a fresh, no frills, hole-in-the-wall (read parking lot) kiosk with just the basics, tacos to burritos. The meat-onion-cilantro mix works and the fresh salsa is a treat. It’s so small (less than 100 square feet) there’s no indoor seating and only a few plastic tables outside. As such, take-away is the best. Burritos and quesadillas are huge.

Island Tacos
5096 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95819
916-451-2210

8. Nopalitos Southwest Cafe

Opened in 1992 by the husband/wife team of Dave and Rose Hanke, Nopalitos is little corner joint that’s become a neighborhood icon. Rose handles the counter and cash register while Dave is her behind-the-scenes counterpart. It’s breakfast and lunch only, Monday through Friday. It’s fresh stuff and some of the best in town. Breakfast staples include chile verde and machaca. A steady, daily lunch crowd has its favorites, too, with a variety of specials and “quick-hits” like rice bowls with various choices of meat and vegetables.


Nopalitos Southwest Cafe
5530 H St
Sacramento, CA 95819
916-452-8226
www.nopalitoscafe.com

9. Oscar's Very Mexican Food

Next to McClatchy High School, Oscars is a “institution” for burrito connoisseurs, particularly two varieties, the breakfast burrito and California burrito made with french fries, not refried beans. The burritos are huge (easily two meals) and prices are right for tight budgets. Parking is limited as is seating. Lunch phone orders are popular because they’re ready when you arrive.

Oscar's Very Mexican Food
3061 Freeport Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95818
916-443-8310

10. Zocalo

Housed in the renovated Arnold Brothers Building, which was built for a Hudson car dealership in the 1920s, the restaurant is tastefully decorated with classic foliage and stylish furniture and high ceilings. Signature dishes are highlighted the enchilada en mole, but there’s plenty more even the simple house staple, cilantro rice, prompts return customers. There’s a generous daily Happy Hour featuring $2 Naco Tacos and margaritas with real lime juice and agave nectar. Regulars particularly rave about the blackberry margarita.

Zocalo
1801 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95811
916-441-0303
www.zocalosacramento.com

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