Raised in Arizona, Mona Bahraini grew up surrounded by striking saguaro cactus, teddy bear cholla, and golden prickly pear. When she relocated to Sacramento, Bahraini brought her love for desert flora along with her, building a personal collection of more than 300 succulents, housed in a 500-square-foot apartment.
In 2017, an accident left Bahraini out of work. Stuck on the couch surrounded by her at-home oasis, she realized that her love for succulents was more than just a hobby—it was her calling. “I really wanted people to understand that plants are cool,” she says. “Succulents are literally prehistoric, so beautiful and strong.” The Sacramento local started hosting potting classes for birthday parties and mothers’ groups. The events took off and soon her passion transformed into a full-blown business.
Today, Bahraini owns and operates The Prickly Pear, a nursery and community greenhouse in Southside Park. “Our space is like a magical oasis in the middle of downtown,” she says. Walk down a narrow path behind a historic home to find a whimsical space marked by blooming wisteria, twinkling lights, and succulents of all shapes and sizes. “The best day to visit is Sunday when you’ll get to meet our three Nigerian dwarf goats,” says Bahraini, who loves inviting curious visitors into her shop—and showing them around her beloved adopted hometown.
It’s no surprise that one of Bahraini’s favorite things about Sacramento is its natural beauty. “One of its nicknames is ‘the City of Trees,’ and there are trees absolutely everywhere,” she says. “The vegetation is out of this world.” She recommends travelers get their bearings in Capitol Park. Developed by former California governor Leland Stanford in 1863, the greenspace includes a rose garden, an area dedicated to native plant life, and groves of flowering camellia trees. “It smells incredible,” says Bahraini.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Bahraini and her husband also enjoy sampling the ever-growing restaurant scene in California’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. Saturdays start at the Midtown Farmers’ Market, where the couple browses fresh produce and locally made crafts; Bahraini swears by leather goods from Sacramento-based craftsman Jake Castro. For brunch, it’s the buzzy Southern-influenced Bacon and Butter. “Their food is sustainably sourced, and the taste is out of control,” says Bahraini. Take her advice and order one of their fresh-out-of-the-oven Cinna Roll.
An ideal weekend afternoon might continue with wrangling some friends to hop on a self-propelled trolley with Sac Brew Bike or a drive to Folsom Lake to hike Granite Bay. In the evening, Bahraini recommends taking your pick of any of Sacramento’s “cool restaurants” and window shopping at the “tons of mom-and-pop shops.”
FIVE MORE FAVORITES
Hidden Gem: “The California State Library here in town is so underrated. The entire building is special, and I just love to go there. The Circulation Room has big, beautiful windows—it feels almost enchanted. The library is open to the public and you can explore the building’s three stories on your own, or you can take a docent-led tour to learn more about its history.”
Go-To Date Night: “The Sunshine Roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and green apple) at Kru is incredible. My husband and I have taken countless guests there, and they all agree it’s the best roll they’ve ever had. The restaurant is Japanese-California fusion and they focus on local sourcing and sustainability. The ambience has a sexy, playful vibe, and the bartenders are really fun.”
Favorite Sandwich: “South is just beyond—it’s one of my favorite restaurants and serves the ultimate Southern comfort food. Everything is traditional, but the owner puts a modern twist on things. They have a great brunch, but we usually go there for dinner, and every single time we get the Hot Chicken Sandwich. It’s a classic fried chicken sandwich, but with Green Goddess–style dressing. The taste is incredible.”
Amazing Cocktails: “The owner of Bottle and Barlow wanted to blend a barbershop with a bar, so he created a mix of the two. You can order a drink or get your hair cut. They make amazing cocktails—both alcoholic and nonalcoholic—and it’s very hip, welcoming, and not pretentious at all. Plus, they play great music late into the night. My favorite drink is the Cucumber Gimlet.”
Local Roasters: “My husband is a huge coffee fan—he drinks it all day long—and we think The Mill is the best spot in town. It's very warm and welcoming, with an adorable space. They roast their own coffee that you can pair with house-made seasonal syrups. The hand-held waffles with powdered sugar and honey butter are also really popular and tasty. My husband always orders their cold brew.”