Sacramento Eats: Magpie

Earlier this week I spent two days in Sacramento for a training workshop with California Volunteers. I had a free evening to walk around, so I explored downtown a bit, eventually ending up at the intersection of R and 14. My friend Daniel had recommended Magpie on a previous trip, so I stopped there for dinner.

I was excited, but I didn’t quite know what to do when I walked in the door. There was no host station, just a counter and a deli case in front of me, and a sign out front saying this was a catering company. Had it not been for the near-full restaurant, I would have assumed I’d be taking my food to go.

The menus: one for dinner, printed with the week’s date, and a wine/beer list, both clipped to panels from a produce box. I sat and read through every line waiting for someone to greet me–a little over 10 minutes. Not a great start.

But that’s when the experience really started. I asked for recommendations from the menu, but every description made it harder to choose, so I started with the Amber Ale from Eel River and a green salad, served with fresh watermelon radishes and a refreshing cider vinaigrette.

For dinner, I chose the risotto: Muscovy duck confit over the rice with truffle oil and aged jack cheese. With the whole-kernel corn, the flavor reminded me of a hearty corn chowder; it was incredibly rich and delicious.

Sitting at the edge of the patio with my camera, I drew a small crowd from passersbys on the sidewalk to my right. Everyone asked the same question: What is that?!? I answered, and after taking the first bite I confirmed that it tasted as good as it looked. Maybe even a little better.

A little note about the location: Magpie is next door to Shady Lady, among a row of businesses just outside of downtown. Also in the building: another restaurant, a bar, two hair salons and a small concert venue. It’s a happening little spot, with an eclectic mix of people. I loved the energy and engagement of strangers.

Thanks for the good time, Sacramento!

8 Responses to “Sacramento Eats: Magpie”

  1. Rebecca
    October 3, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Yay! Glad you tried Magpie. Next time you will have to try their desserts, which are also perfect 🙂

    • james
      October 4, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      Definitely! My friend Tracy went this weekend after I passed along the recommendation, and said the dessert was delicious. I usually don’t pass up sweets, but that risotto had a LOT of butter!

  2. A Girl and Her Fork via Facebook
    October 3, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Mmm, <3 the Shady Lady. Did you pop in there for a drink afterwards?

  3. Daniel
    October 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Looks amazing! This is a good example of how a restaurant with a great concept can do well. Thanks for sharing the story and pics. I’m incredibly impressed by the evolution of the food culture and the restaurant scene in Sac during the last several years. Keep us posted with more. I may just need to fit Magpie in on my trip back next week.

    • james
      October 4, 2011 at 5:52 am #

      Thanks for the recommendation, Daniel!

      Sacramento has quite a food scene – I look forward to future visits to explore further. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  4. Phillip
    October 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I have family in Sac, and have been meaning to get up there to pay them a visit. They tell me there’s a bunch of good food in town. Thanks for the tip!

    • james
      October 4, 2011 at 5:54 am #

      I was just talking with a friend tonight about just how many options there are in Sac – the lists of recommendations we’ve each received compares to those for SF. I hear there a few good food trucks, too!

  5. James Collier via Facebook
    October 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    I didn’t! I was so full from the butter and truffle oil that I decided to skip the drink…this time 🙂

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