The Sacramento Bee’s 2022 Top 50 Restaurants guide just came out, and it includes a handful of destinations in Auburn, Granite Bay, Roseville and Rocklin.
These five Placer County restaurants are among the region’s 50 best, according to The Sacramento Bee food and drink reporter Benjy Egel. All restaurants in the guide are presented in alphabetical order and unranked; read more about that decision here.
Don’t see your favorite local restaurant on this list? Write it in here. The five highest vote-getters from across the region will be added to the Top 50 guide as readers’ choice nominees.
$$ — LATIN/SOUTH AMERICAN
Roseville’s ascendent dining scene got another boost from the November 2021 opening of the region’s only all-Peruvian restaurant. Former La Huaca power couple Giancarlo Zapata and Marleny Chávez do an admirable job showcasing their home country’s cultural and geographic diversity, such as a Chinese-influenced fried rice dish known as chaufa aeropuerto taypá. A former high-end hotel chef in Lima, Zapata gives Peru’s captivating street food thoughtful plating — beef heart anticuchos in an ají panca (red pepper) marinade looked great against the backdrop of a rectangular white dish complemented with a huacatay (Peruvian mint) dipping sauce. Don’t forget to peruse the dessert case near checkout for Chávez’s pastries, including passion fruit cheesecake and orange, gelatinous torta helada.
1079 Sunrise Ave., Suite O, Roseville. (916) 666-7998.
$$$$ — CALIFORNIAN
Among Placer County’s flock of elegant fine-dining restaurants, Hawks stands apart. It’s traditional in most senses — white tablecloths, dim lighting — while embracing local sourcing and the large portions American customers have come to expect. It’s a fancy meat bonanza: nearly all mains are centered around some hunk of exquisitely-cooked animal, and the housemade charcuterie plate stands apart with citrus pork rillettes, bacon-wrapped liverwurst and a variety of pâtés. Chefs, co-owners and couple Molly Hawks and Mike Fagnoni often embrace a single seasonal side — English peas, say — and apply it to multiple mains, like a moist roast Mary’s Chicken on a creamy bed of orzo. Warm, delicate brioche beignets are delectable when dipped in the accompanying salty caramel sauce.
5530 Douglas Blvd., Suite 110, Granite Bay. (916) 791-6200.
$$$ — MEXICAN
It all starts with the tortillas at Monterrey natives Patricio Wise and Cinthia Martinez’s renowned Mexican restaurant. Blue corn beauties made fresh in-house serve as vessels for high-end tacos filled with scorched octopus, fatty chicharrón or diced sweet potato. Switch over to eight-inch flour tortillas for quesadillas like the Toby’s Special, the favorite of bartender Toby Kinney, filled with Oaxaca cheese, Mazatlan-style shrimp, bacon and beer cheese sauce. You’ll need a bigger tortilla still (and an appetite) for the Twenty Dollar Burrito, a pandemic-borne monstrosity with terrific smoked carnitas, fried chicken, rajas con queso and peanut chipotle aioli atop a layer of refried beans and grilled cheese. Nixtaco also opened Roseville’s first distillery last year, so don’t leave without asking Kinney for a taste of the housemade vodka.
1805 Cirby Way, Suite 12, Roseville. (916) 771-4165.
$$$ — FRENCH, EASTERN EUROPEAN
French and Eastern European cuisines meet on thrift shop china in Restaurant Josephine’s dark, cottagecore dining room. While Carpe Vino alumni Courtney McDonald and Eric Alexander haven’t yet brought much from their 5-acre Placer County farm to their two-year-old restaurant (eggs from their daughter Josie’s hens being an occasional exception), McDonald’s past life as the Foothill Farmer Market’s general manager ensures they won’t hurt for fresh, seasonal produce. A seasonal peach salad hits all the right notes by pairing the best of Newcastle-based Twin Peaks Orchards’ stone fruit with creamy stracciatella, salty Bayonne ham, the bite of arugula and a lemon verbena-honey dressing. Restaurant Josephine is perhaps most interesting when it leans on Alexander’s family roots in former Soviet countries; hexagonal vareniki stuffed with English peas and farmers cheese are a delight, and nowhere else will you find duck liver mousse garnished with baby Siberian pine cones and caramel made from their sugar.
1226 Lincoln Way, Auburn. (530) 820-3523.
$$ — AFRICAN/MEDITERRANEAN
Wally Matar’s twin Rocklin restaurants (a third is in Emeryville) are nothing if not homey. Frosty beer mugs, simple decor and Matar’s convivial attitude help create a welcoming ambiance, as do complimentary lentil soup and baklava. The halal burgers and burritos on Wally’s menu may extend that familiarity, but customers should look for dishes from Matar’s native Lebanon like the zingy pomegranate molasses chicken or super-garlicky toum with thin pita. Lebanese flavors are perhaps most directly felt in the fattoush salad, spiked up with a healthy amount of sumac imported from Matar’s homeland.
4800 Granite Drive, Suite B-11, Rocklin. (916) 824-1201.
2110 Sunset Blvd., Suite 600, Rocklin. (916) 580-0850.
This story was originally published November 22, 2022 6:00 AM.