AFCO Eats | Lauren Shortliffe in Sacramento, CA

When my sister moved to Sacramento a few years ago, I decided to make it a personal mission to familiarize myself with the rich and soulful dining scene of our state capitol. It doesn’t hurt that my sister is quite the foodie herself, always eager to expose me to her favorite spots in town while reveling in my impressed awe and shared excitement. Our most recent visit lead me to try Hawks Public House, which not only my sister recommended but the infamous Michael Bauer recently dubbed as the venue for “one of the best meals [he] had” in his Top Restaurants in Sacramento piece.

We began with “hawk-tails” and I thoroughly enjoyed the Eastern Thai Crested Gimlet (Bombay East Gin, Thai basil, kaffir lime, coconut, Thai chili), which quickly caught my eye as I was preparing my tastebuds to leave for my beloved Southeast Asia three days later. This cocktail was a spicy stunner and a treat within itself, making me even more excited for what was yet to come.

To eat, we chose the Celery Root and Cheddar Soup (beets, apples, brown butter), Little Gems (Fuyu persimmons, watermellon radish, red onion, sunflower seeds, pecorino), Grilled Rapini Bruschetta (kumquats, fromage blanc), Housemade Bucatini (hazelnut pesto, butternut squash puree, pecorino tartufo) and Whole Fried Branzino (herb and olive salad, chili garlic vinaigrette). The soup and house-made bucatini were the standouts for me, with the first providing satisfying mouthfuls of a delicious blend of sweet and savory and the bucatini perfectly grooved to capture as much of the tasty sauce as possible, cooked to the ideal level of bite of course.

I can typically forgo dessert but couldn’t resist the Gingerbread Panna Cotta (sugared cranberries, gingerbread cookie) and Sweet Cream Gelato (olio nuovo, sea salt, hazelnut crumble) this time. I can almost never say no to panna cotta, and I’m glad I didn’t this time. The flavors were a perfectly light mix of holiday spice and sugary-tart cranberry sweetness.

I could go on but I’ll leave it at that. Get yourself to Sacramento and start experimenting with the bevy of amazing dining destinations at your 2-hours-away fingertips! The produce is fresh and local as can be and the restaurant industry is a thriving inspiration lead by a strong community of passionate and artful individuals truly living their craft.

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