(Updated 12/27/2021) Description and review of dining at the Rio City Cafe, located on the Old Sacramento Waterfront.
You can’t beat the view sitting on the patio overlooking the river at the Rio City Cafe in Old Sacramento. The combination of location and consistently good food has kept the restaurant going strong since it opened in 1994.
Rio City Cafe fits right in with the Old Sacramento rustic vibe as it was designed to replicate a steamship warehouse of the late 1800’s. The large number of windows makes the interior dining area both open and airy.
Dining at Rio City Cafe during the early evening break in the program of the Sacramento Music Festival has become an annual tradition. Friends from the Bay Area visit me each year over the Memorial Day weekend to attend the festival. We have found that having a nice and relaxing dinner helps rejuvenate us so we can continue partying on into the evening. We always make reservations for 5:30 p.m. well in advance.
See related post: Sacramento Music Festival – 2017
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If the weather is nice we always choose riverfront dining on the outdoor patio. However, there has been more than one occasion over the years that the heat or cold and damp weather made us more than happy to sit indoors.
This year the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed sitting outside as we dined. The river was quite high and running fast due to our recent very wet winter. The river is likely to stay that way until the unusually large snowpack in the mountains melts over time.
During the Sacramento Music Festival the restaurant’s menu is somewhat limited – but the selection has never left us wanting. This year we ordered and enjoyed the Red Crab & Shrimp Louie, Jambalaya and Grilled Monkfish.
I enjoyed the Red Crab & Shrimp Louie Salad (crisp Romaine, tomato wedges, sliced cucumber, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, lemon, scallions, Louie Dressing ($23). It included generous portions of both crab and shrimp and paired nicely with glass of white wine.
The Jambalaya (pan seared prawns, daily fresh fish, chicken, Andouille Sausage, pickled sweep peppers and scallions tossed in Creole style sauce over Jasmine Rice) ($22) was also enjoyed. However, the comment was made that there seemed to be more chicken than other ingredients in the dish.
The Grilled Monkfish (with fresh heirloom tomato sauce, black mussels, basil emulsion, black tobiko and fried basil, served with roasted new potatoes and seasonal vegetables) ($32) was a bit of a disappointment. The seasonal vegetable – in this case the green beans – were “spicy” hot. My friend would not have ordered the dish if the menu had given any clue about any type of “heat”.
As always, the service at Rio City Cafe was excellent. The Sacramento Music Festival is a particularly hectic time for the Rio City Cafe wait staff – but we have always found them both attentive and helpful.
See related blog posts: 2022 Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week and Annual Sacramento Restaurant Reviews Recap (2017)
What has been your experience at Rio City Cafe?
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