Sacramento is definitely under the radar. With its excellent coffee scene, many yoga studios, easy connections to the Bay area and ‘farm-to-fork capital’ status, I really appreciated the convenience of living there this past summer!
That being said, with Mexicans and breweries on every street corner, it’s not always been easy to make healthy choices. Over the past 4 months, I’ve really searched for the most health-friendly spots in the city. If you’re like me and will hunt down the best avocado toast and oat milk latte wherever you’re visiting, this post is for you. I still fully encourage you to enjoy some of the city’s best pizza and ice-cream. Because life (and especially travelling!) isn’t about being restrictive. And rest assured, I’ve certainly had my share of taco plates, pizza and indulgent brunches during my time here (and yep, my jeans are feeling a little tight!)
You can find my top Sacramento finds on my public yelp list here!
For a nice, light, italian-inspired weekday lunch or dinner, head to OBO’. They have a great deli salad selection for lunch that is not to be missed! I also really like their evening entrees; yes, there’s pizza and the like, but the portions are very reasonable and often packed with vegetables and interesting grains. It’s a little harder to navigate if you’re 100% dairy-free (hello cheese) but if you’re just looking for a fresh alternative to your average italian, this is your spot!
Ethiopian and Indian food are always great options for vegans and vegetarians in my opinion, and tend to offer dishes with lots of vegetables, less dairy and plenty of pulses and whole grains. Queen Sheba and Bombay are two local favourites. I really fell in love with the Ethiopian injera, which is much lighter than naan bread. Make sure you order the spicy red lentils. Bombai does a mean vegan dhal, too!
Brunch is a big deal here – but I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of steak or biscuits and gravy at 11am. My idea of brunch is more like poached eggs on toast with smoked salmon or avocado! Pushkin’s is a total must if you’re after a lighter option! It’s all gluten-free, and the bread is quite phenomenal. I love a good slice of real sourdough, but I was very impressed. I ordered the tofu scramble avocado toast, which was surprising in its flavor and texture! They also have a full vegan menu, so this place really caters to all.
For a vegetarian lunch, head to Mother. The nut burger on a wholemeal, homemade bun was a great choice, but my friend ordered a kale caesar, which I actually preferred! It has a cute front patio seating area and the menu is generally seasonal. Many of their dishes can be adapted for vegans, too.
Beast+Bounty recently opened and it’s hard to describe. A cocktail bar meets sharing plates with a side of instagram-friendly decor is my best approximation! Their vegan pizza and grilled octopus were really amazing – both in flavour and plating. It’s pretty expensive and the menu isn’t huge, but it’s well worth a visit for a celebration or special occasion. The emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients which cater to meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
I’ve got a real love affair with avocado toast (#basic), and my favourite version was from Chocolate Fish. The addition of za’atar and a drizzle of oil made all the difference. Vibe Health Bar is a little out of the way but does a mean version with pesto and has a selection of funky juices and smoothies too, if that’s your thing.
Most Mexicans offered the same sort of stuff – tacos, burritos, lots of chips and salsa and plates overflowing with deliciousness. I was often overwhelmed with options and ended up ordering too much or realising too late a better option was available. Where I found it easiest to make a healthier choice was La Venadita in Oak Park. I’d recommend Chando’s Tacos or Tres Hermanas, two local favourites, if you’re after a feast, but if you’re looking for a reasonable portion of (vegan) ‘impossible’ meat tacos, hit this spot! Whatever you do, I would always recommend trying to resist the abundance of chips and salsa (totally my weakness) and take anything home you couldn’t finish!
Poke is also a pretty big deal here – raw fish is all the rage. I really enjoyed the freshness of the poke bowls from Fish Face Poke Bar. Their small and medium bowls are adequate portions in my opinion, and there’s an option to have steamed rice (brown or white!) or not. I love the tailor-made aspect of poke. I even requested to taste a few sauces before ordering to make sure I was getting exactly what I wanted! There’s even a vegan tofu option on the menu, so everyone can join in.
Coffee is my jam, as you know. My favourite spot was Insight – the staff was always really friendly and they serve oatly oat milk, which was hard to find elsewhere. In fact, they’re still the only roasters who serve it in Sacramento. They also make their own almond milk, which is sweetened with dates. Their matcha is great too!
My second favourite coffeeshop was Chocolate Fish. Two out of their three locations don’t have wifi (and features a friendly ‘conversation encouraged’ sign on the front door!) which was a refreshing change (despite not being great for a working coffee). I loved their nitro cold brew and their almond milk café au lait. They were always really helpful and cheerful!
For juices and smoothies, Sun & Soil Juice Company are awesome. From the decor to the raw desserts and, of course, their smoothie selection, this cute spot should be on your list if you’re after something green. I really liked their La Vida Verde smoothie (spinach, celery, avocado, bell pepper, cilantro, salt, lime and cayenne!), which was basically like gaspacho. Yum.
If coffee isn’t your thing and you’re after a cool spot to have tea, I really enjoyed Tea Bar & Fusion Café. I had matcha but they’re known for their fusion teas, with exotic (hot and cold) flavours like ginger pear oolong and honeytea lattes!
Sacramento has an array of workout classes, gyms and yoga studios.
I joined Pipeworks, which is a climbing gym/crossfit box/yoga and pilates studio. The staff was really helpful and super friendly. I’m not a huge climber, but their walls and bouldering area were really popular with locals. The crossfit area was, too. They also have a great weights section, plenty of cardio machines, and lots of functional training space and equipment. I thought it was a great concept – your monthly payment gives you a huge range of choices and you could be doing something entirely different every day of the week!
My studio of choice was Zuda yoga, and it’s given a lot of praise by members for its signature vinyasa flow classes (great music!) and sense of community. I made some good friends and thought the teachers were down to earth and friendly. Get ready to sweat profusely in a really crowded room if you choose one of the busier vinyasa classes! They also had super cute merchandise and the studio itself is clean and welcoming.
I also joined P2O hot pilates in my last month in the city. A friend had mentioned that their classes bring a whole new meaning to ‘being fit’ (thanks Sadie!). Well, after 60 minutes in a heated, humid room, transitioning from jackknife crunches to burpees to glute bridges to level changes to side plank, I didn’t consider myself fit anymore! It’s the hardest class I’ve ever taken; talk about pushing your limits. I would definitely consider this to be more of a high-intensity class, which was very different from the kind of pilates I had practiced in the past. The classes are never overcrowded and the instructors also very friendly!
other cool spots
RIRE boutique – fashion and accessories
Strapping boutique – really fun gift and homeware store
Tower Cinema – cute old school movie theater; the matinees are only $7 and they frequently have classic film showings. The popcorn is really good, too.
Old Sacramento – a must-see on a visit; the historic district featuring remnants of the gold rush and supposedly home to California’s first business district, right on the waterfront!
State Capitol and its Rose Gardens: worth a stop for obvious reasons, but even if you don’t go inside the Capitol, the gardens around it are well worth a visit!
Farmers Market: there is an excellent farmers market on Sundays (under the freeway) but my personal favourite was the Saturday morning Midtown market. It’s smaller but less frenzied, and has more gift and takeaway foods on offer.