California's vibrant state capital—and its neighboring Yolo County—are in the heart of one of America's most fertile agricultural regions. Over the past two decades, Sacramento has established itself as the country’s "Farm-to-Fork Capital," with a growing culinary scene (including a shiny new Michelin star) worth traveling for. If you’re a die-hard foodie, put Sacramento on your travel list—here are four reasons why.
1. Try the freshest produce, at the source
Sacramento is at the center of the farm-to-table agricultural and culinary movement, which focuses on the seasonality and locality of produce to ensure that every ingredient served up is fresh, organic, and naturally grown. Restaurants around the world have begun to take on farm-to-table practices in some form, but Sacramento is leading the charge thanks to its exceptional natural bounty and local champions.
Visit Sacramento’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival in September has become one of the premier food events in the country and showcases the incredible food and agriculture of Northern California. Expect live music, cooking demonstrations, regional wines and craft beers, and delicious local cuisine—served at a communal feast across the city’s iconic Tower Bridge.
2. Dine sustainably with Mulvaney’s B&L
Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant goes beyond exceptional dining. Chef Patrick Mulvaney and his wife Bobbin have made it their mission to champion the important roles of agriculture and the culinary scene in public health policy. Each week, his restaurant team visits one of the farmers markets around Sacramento to assess the ingredients that are in season and then develops a menu accordingly. In summer, these markets can take place up to six times a week in multiple locations around the city. Patrick works directly with primacy producers to source almost everything that is plated or poured, including international ingredients, such as their Central American coffee, which comes from a small, family-owned farm frequently visited by the chef himself. The result? A sustainable menu full of flavor and finesse, ranging from potato gnocchi with buttery Yosemite mushrooms to seared sea scallops and Tasso ham.
3. Eat at affordable Michelin-approved restaurants
It was announced in late May that three Sacramento restaurants—Canon, Frank Fat’s and Mother—earned Michelin Bib Gourmand awards. While Michelin stars are largely associated with fine dining, the Bib Gourmand ensures that restaurants in all price ranges can be recognized for quality. Inspectors judge on five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency between visits.
4. Taste your way through Yolo County
Affectionately known as the farm to Sacramento's fork, Yolo County neighbors Sacramento and is home to the original farms that sparked the organic movement back in the '70s. Yolo has a craft beer trail, boutique wineries, dozens of farm-to-table experiences, and some of the highest quality olive oil in the country. Fun fact: Yolo County is also the largest producer of short grain rice outside of Japan. Check out The Woodland Dinner on Main—an annual event in the fall that brings hundreds of people together to dine communally, pioneered by Juan Barajas, executive chef and owner of the Savory Café in Woodland. (Tickets for 2019 are sold out.)