Circuit Court Sacramento
Centro Cocina Mexicana
2730 J Street
of the great things about being demi-semi-self-employed is that there
is always time to go out for lunch. No 2 o'clock meeting to rush back
to. No reason not to have a beer with my meal. The only problem is finding
other no-account deadbeats who've also emptied their change jars and would
like nothing more than to spend the cold, hard coin on a hot and spicy
meal after it has been turned into bills by one of those machines in the
Liz and Craig D, a college professor, came to my rescue, even though,
technically, they both have jobs.
We decided to go to
which is conveniently located and also known to be tasty. It is part of
the Paragary Group of restaurants that consistently dominate the Sacramento
"Best of" surveys, and are owned by Randy Paragary. How I wish
his first name was Gary! That would be almost as good as Nancy Ann Cianci
(say it out loud!), the wife of Buddy Cianci, longtime mayor of Providence,
Rhode Island, a former hometown of mine. A colorful and beloved character,
that Buddy: He was mayor for 21 years, most of which came after his first
felony conviction for using a fireplace log to beat the man who supposedly
had an affair with his wife (not Nancy Ann, a different wife, who didn't
rhyme as well). He was recently convicted of racketeering, also. At this
point, is he even allowed to vote, let alone run for office? But anything
is possible in Buddy's
town. Mr. Paragary is not so endearingly corrupt, but he gets my vote
anyway. He knows what he's doing.
is the kind of restaurant that actually uses high quality, fresh ingredients,
instead of just basing an ad campaign on the idea. This is obvious from
the very beginning: great salsas and good chips. Liz, who is not ashamed
to call herself a pork lover, got carnitas in the form of twin burritos,
which is certainly an ample portion size, and also makes it very convenient
if you want to eat half now and half later. On the inside, they are all
meat, all the time. And they happen to be jim-dandy, those carnitas, really
very good indeed. But here's the thing: If you've got two 100 percent
carnitas burritos, you need some equally dandy sides to go with 'em, because
that's a lot of pork to wade through uncut. And as Liz pointed out, the
accompanying beans were, well, not really very special. There was nothing
bad about them, but neither was there anything very flavorful about them.
If I had ordered that dish, I would have loved a big mound of vinegary,
crunchy salad, and some truly spectacular beans, as sides. But like I
said, the carnitas were first-rate.
Craig D had fish tacos.
He seemed quite pleased with his food (see photo), and I tasted it and
I was pleased, too. Our waiter, who was charming, handsome and helpful,
graciously accommodated the request to substitute lettuce for cabbage.
dish was the best of the pretty darn good lot, if you like a calamari
salad, and boy do I. Cephalopods, you are not safe around me! Especially
when you are grilled just to the point of perfect doneness, touched with
the woody flavor of the grill, yet still so amazingly tender that it is
possible to cut you with a fork...There is no contest: I've never had
better. I shared, but grudgingly. Grilling in general seems to be an almost
miraculous cooking process, imbuing all things with a big, round, outdoor
flavor. Take zucchini: nutritious, but bland. Grilled, it becomes something
way more interesting. Can someone explain this?
is a thoroughly pleasant place to eat, drink, or otherwise spend time.
It has a dedicated bar area, with many delish specialty drinks, including
tequilas infused with the juices of fresh fruits, and an intriguing decor,
with lots of bright color balanced out by a few vintage motorcycles. Our
waiter, charming, handsome and helpful, said that it's quite the scene
there on a weekend night, but that despite this, he's still single. I
find this hard to believe: No one with posture this good could remain
unattached for long.
Centro was headed
for the 4 dog zone, but I had to knock it down to 3 in deference to Liz's
troublesome beans. Beans are important. Beans are basic. Beans are serious.
Viva el frijol!
Magistrate Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org