Midtown Meanderings



Does it still count as a road trip if you’re at home? Probably not. But this does fit under the overall objectives I had with the “Life in Northern California” section of my travel blog so why not.

Yesterday was a federal holiday for many, Presidents Day, including me, which is partially why I built my time off around this weekend. We had literally nothing planned beyond getting at least 6 miles of walks in. We over-achieved at 8.3 while never really leaving my neighborhood, and somewhere along the way I decided it was a good day to just capture my stomping grounds, something I’ve never done before.

The neighborhood of Sacramento I live in is called Midtown. The west border of Sacramento is the Sacramento River, with Yolo County and West Sacramento on the other side of it. Downtown starts at the river, and Midtown is the first neighborhood to the east of it. It is roughly 1/3 of a larger central area known as “the grid” due to the straight line intersections of lettered and numbered streets. Lettered streets run east/west, numbered streets run north and south. I live on 20th Street between N and O Streets.

Midtown is the most walkable neighborhood in the region, meaning it’s the easiest area to live in and not own a car. Related to that, it’s the most “mixed use” area of Sacramento as well; lots of residences exist above retail shops, offices and restaurants.

We started our morning as we always do, a stop at Peet’s to get coffee to take on Paul’s first walk of the day. Peet’s is at the end of a building called MARRS: Midtown Arts Retail & Restaurant Scene, which is on 20th between J and K. It’s the other block I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that’s been shut down to traffic to allow for more seating. It was quite empty at 7am but kinda pretty with the lights still on.

We’d walked 2 miles and were almost home when we decided we’d go out for breakfast. There are a handful of good breakfast places within 7 blocks of my house but I chose Crepeville because it was cold and wet and I knew they would have good outdoor seating for those circumstances, as you can see from the tents outside of it below.

This is at 18th and L. We chose the one on the right above. As you can see below, we had the whole thing to ourselves.

Despite the name, their crepes are more savory so I tend to do those when I’m there for dinner. Omelets are my default breakfast item here. My only deviation was salad instead of potatoes, being very aware of how much I’ve eaten so far on vacation!

It wasn’t until we got home from the first walk that it occurred to me to make it a neighborhood blog day, so when we went out again at 12:30pm we went back to 20th and K where MARRS begins (and got another coffee of course). This intersection marks the center of Lavender Heights, a subsection of Midtown and the official “gayborhood” of the region.

And just to make it crystal clear where you are, the crosswalks of this intersection are done in rainbow colors. Above is Faces, the most infamous gay club in the city, and has a solid mainstream following as well (I’ve actually never been in it that I can recall!). Below is The Depot, a bar, with dance club Badlands next door. The Mercantile is a bar on 20th and L one block away, and that’s pretty much the whole scene here.

Across the street from MARRS is an old funeral home that’s been used for many things, including being home to the Sacramento News & Review from 1995-2009. I worked in this building when I was there as HR Manager from 2003-2006. After they moved to Uptown/Del Paso Heights, this housed a video game company for awhile. It very recently became the home of the Sacramento LGBTQ Center, which was in a old Victorian on L Street around 20th for many years prior to that.

Further up on K between 24th & 25th is my favorite Mexican restaurant, Tres Hermanas. I discovered it around 1995 and have been coming with some regularity ever since. I took Ash here for his first time about 3 weeks ago and as we passed it he said he would like to go back. So that become dinner plans. The bartender lives upstairs we learned when we returned.

A block up from there at K/26th is St. Francis, the only Catholic Church in the area. Across the street from that, below, starts Sutter’s Fort.

John Sutter founded this in 1839 as the first non-indigenous community in the California Central Valley, and its history includes associations with the Donner Party, the Gold Rush, and the forming of the city of Sacramento around it.

There’s now a nice park that surrounds it, bordered by K, L, 26th and 28th Streets.

The fort itself is a museum.

I always feel weird taking photos of other people’s houses but this is one of my favorites in the area, and is very recently restored. It was pretty rundown and had been on the market a while (at the low low price of $995,500). The new owners did a splendid job of restoration. It is at the corner of 21st and T Streets which starts the ironically named neighborhood of Poverty Ridge.

Photo of the Poverty Ridge neighborhood sign

Poverty Ridge is a neighborhood just south of Midtown but still in the central area of the grid. It’s known for it’s big houses, some Victorian but mostly Craftsmen. According to the story, it is also the highest elevation in the city – and it’s the smallest of hills, really. But with downtown bordered by two rivers, Sacramento and the American, it used to flood quite a bit before the levies were built. In the late 1800s – before these houses were built – the poorer citizens of Sacramento who did not live in raised houses (of which mine was one) would seek the highest point in the city when the water came. Hence the name: poverty ridge. Somehow it stuck.

Having skipped lunch, we went out again around 4:30 for an early dinner. We stopped by CVS first at 17th & K to pick up something for Ash, although he changed his mind about it by the time we got there. But it put us in a position to take this photo of where I work at 19th & K Streets. Disability Rights California is a nonprofit law firm that provides a wide range of advocacy for people with disabilities. We have just under 300 employees in over 25 offices across the state. This is headquarters with about 80 people in it pre-pandemic. We will see how many stay home permanently when this is all over. My office is upstairs, that far window on the left in this shot. I had my first interview here the day after Dan and I put in an offer on the house. I was working from home at the time; it never in a million years occurred to me that I could work 4 blocks from where I lived.

As we said we would, we returned to Tres Hermanas for dinner. Ash got the same thing he got the last time, a chicken enchilada and taco, above. Carnitas is my default dish here – I usually don’t even look at the menu – but decided to do something different and went for the crab enchiladas, below. I never thought I’d say I may have a new favorite dish here. It was wonderful.

No Midtown excursion is complete without a stop at this institution: Rick’s Dessert Diner, at J and 24th. This has been around since the early 80’s, originally in a much smaller place on K Street in the block west of where Tres Hermanas is. It moved here around 2014 I believe – probably 3x the size and they really heightened the retro feel of it.

But the selections haven’t changed: lots and lots of yummy dessert items, with long lines to boot. I was pleased to see the takeout-only version is still going strong during the pandemic. It would be a shame if this place didn’t make it. We opted to go light and shared a chocolate mousse torte, which we ate after Ash finished his bridge game much later – watching another episode of Downton Abbey of course.

And that is a decent taste of my beloved Midtown. I’ve lived in the Sacramento region since 1988 and have lived all over (this is my 12th neighborhood). I can safely say this is by far my favorite.

We will take Paul out for his first walk in a bit then head to San Francisco and Santa Cruz after that. See you on the other side.

I'd love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.