Sacramento Guide to Wining and Dining in a Recession

By Bethany Hill,

The economy is unstable and unemployment rates are painful, yet Sacramento’s restaurant scene continues to be irresistible. With that said, I think it’s time to examine one of the most effective ways to guard your moolah when dining out.

As a Sacramento native who is as equally obsessed with wine as I am food (okay – maybe wine has a small lead), it is extremely rare that I don’t strategically plan my dinner and wine to bond together like peanut butter and jelly.

Once you begin wine pairing with your meals, it’s not easy to get out of that mindset. Aside from the occasional decision to order a beer once and a while, you will more than likely find me sipping on a glass of vino if you catch me out and about in Midtown.

Being that my wine selection is as much a part of my dinner family as the protein, vegetable and carb, selecting a restaurant that meets both my foodie and vino desires is extremely important to me – so long as it doesn’t break my bank. I admit that the occasional splurge to The Kitchen, or Ella is well worth the money and experience, but for the most part, I’m on somewhat of a budget.

One of the most ubiquitous objections I have when dining out is the 200 to 300 percent mark-up on wines. When I see some crappy Kendall-Jackson on the wine list marked at $35, I get just a tiny bit frustrated. First of all, that winery doesn’t even produce very good wines (in my opinion). Secondly, I can find that at Raley’s or Safeway for $10. Thirdly, I know the restaurant purchased it at the wholesale cost of about $7 or $8 per bottle. Consequently, my resentment grows.

The worst part of this experience is when I’m scanning a wine list and I suddenly see one that I’m really excited about, only to find it’s three times the price I know it’s worth if I wasn’t at a restaurant – A $24 bottle of DeLoach pinot instantly transformed into a $72 bottle of Deloach pinot.

Let’s face it, I’m getting screwed. (Please note that I would be perfectly okay with a 30, 40, or even 50 percent mark-up. After all, they’re just trying to run a business. It’s hard enough to run a business in California as it is – I get that. But many restaurants have taken their wine mark-ups too far.)

Below is a guide to wine and dine options that won’t force you to empty your wallet for a bottle of wine. Bringing your own wine is not only more economical, but it enables you to drink what you want! Just make sure you don’t bring something that’s on the restaurant’s wine list – that would be uncouth!

Always Free Corkage
Bandera American Cooking: 2232 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95825
Favorite dish: grilled artichoke appetizer.

Iron Steaks: 2422 13th Street, Sacramento, CA 95818
Spearheaded by Willies Burger’s owner, Bill Taylor, this steak house is arguably the best steakhouse in Sacramento when considering quality and value. Favorite dish: Filet Mignon and twice backed potato.

Miyagi Bar & Sushi: 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd # 26, Sacramento, CA 95825

Fortune House Chinese Restaurant: 1211 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818

Marrakech Morroccan Restaurant: 1833 Fulton Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825

Sometimes Free Corkage
58 Degrees and Holding: 1217 18th St., Sacramento, CA 95811
No corkage on Sunday
Monday – Saturday, no corkage fee if you buy a bottle in their wine shop (which won’t have that ridiculous mark-up)

Zinfandel Grille: 2384 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95825
No corkage fee on Wednesday nights

Enotria: 1431 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815
No corkage fee on Wednesday nights

Cafeteria 15L: 1116 15th St., Sacramento, CA 95814
No corkage on Sunday

Taste Restaurant – a bit of a drive for Midtown dwellers, this restaurant is where you should go after a day of wine tasting in Amador. Corkage is free every second Thursday of the month. (Note: Taste was selected by the KCRA A-List as one of the top restaurants in the Sacramento area for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.)

Corkage under $20
The Press Bistro: 1809 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95811
$10 corkage

Moxie Restaurant: 2028 H St., Sacramento, CA 95811
$15 corkage

The Waterboy: 2000 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95811
$15 corkage

Il Fornaio: 400 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814
-$15 corkage

Crush 29: 1480 Eureka Rd., Roseville, CA 95661
$15 corkage

Pearl On the River: 1379 Garden Hwy., Sacramento, CA 95833
$15 corkage

Lucca Restaurant & Bar: 1615 J St., Sacramento, CA 95814
$15 corkage

If you know of any restaurants in Sacramento that have free or extremely inexpensive corkage that I didn’t mention, please email me at

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Posted by on Aug 12 2013. Filed under Food and Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments for “Sacramento Guide to Wining and Dining in a Recession”

  1. […] (Bethany Hill): Sacramento Guide to Wining and Dining in a Recession […]

  2. Lori VanHamersveld

    Thank you for the tips on the restaurant that encourage affordable wine drinking. We will frequent the restaurants you mentioned. Great article.

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