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If you live in the Sacramento area and you like Mexican food, you've probably heard of Garcia's Mexican Restaurant, as they have received many rave reviews in the local media, and they are considerd by many Sacramentans the finest Mexican restaurant in the area.  Now taste is a matter of individual preference, and I really can't state, in my opinion that Garcia's is the best Mexican restaurant in Sacramento, but I can tell you they serve delicious, fresh food at very reasonable prices.  

Photo:  Garcia's, located at 6049 Madison Ave. in Sacramento.  

Garcia's is one of those restaurants that when you walk in the door, you immediately feel at home, as you're greeted with a friendly smile and you immediately get a sense that the staff plans to treat you like an invited guest.  You don't need a special reason or occasion to dine at Garcia's, but if the occasion is special, Garcia's is up to the task, as they have the expertise, the atmosphere and the facilities to cater to any special occasion.

Photo:  Flanked on the left by my friend Dan, our friendly waitress Amber takes our orders.

For us, our visit on Saturday, June 17, 2006 was a special occasion, as I was celebrating my 25th year anniversary at work.  Imagine, working for the same company for a quarter of a century... Yikes!  As a "thank you" for all your years of service, the company allows you to pick out a gift, and then you're allowed a dinner, with a spending limit of $200.00, which is generous.  For my service anniversary gift, I chose of Fuji S5200 digital camera outfit, which is a very nice gift.  As far as dinner, you can eat anywhere, anytime you like, but the only stipulation is that you invite your boss, or another manager along.  In my case, inviting my boss Niki M. was an easy thing to do, as we work well together, we have a lot in common, and are almost personal friends.  Small world, as Niki and I attended are both Merced locals, we graduated from Merced High School within two years of each other, and now 35 years later, we both wind up in Sacramento, working together.

Besides my boss, my party consisted of my wife Sharlene, daughter Casey, Casey's future grandmother-in-law Sandy, friends Dan and Bev, and myself.  There were many others that I would have liked to invite, but you can't always get what you want...

Photo:  I'm not sure how to label the decor of Garcia's, but its modern, elegant and makes you feel at home.  Right

Photo: The full service bar at Garcia's.  Note the friendly bartender in the blue shirt, as he waves to me as I snap the photo.  I guess he suspects that he'll be on the internet.

On a Saturday evening, Garcia's can get very busy, so I did two things to help alleviate any potential crunch:  1) I made reservations in advance, and 2) We scheduled an early dinner, for 1700.  Arriving at 5 O'clock, we nearly had the place to ourselves, but by the time we left a couple hours later, the restaurant was starting to get packed.

I'm not sure how to describe the decor of Garcia's, as with the exception of the bar, it is definitely not Mexican.  I guess I won't even try a description, as you can judge it for yourself by looking at the photos.  Maybe I could use a over-worked phrase like "contemporary modern California, Mexican-oriented bistro?"  Whatever the decor style is, it is comfortable, elegant, intoxicating, spotlessly clean, and will make you feel at home.

Immediately after we were seated, our friendly and cute (very important) waitress Amber arrived, and with her came bowls of chips, and two varieties of fresh, in-house-made salsa, a "salsa cruda" and a cheese-based dip, with lots of jalapenos.  She took our drink orders, and left us to explore the elegant menu.

Photo:  This cute (very important quality in a waitress...) waitress can carry all of this with one hand.  She's a better woman than I am, a man.

Photo: Amber serves our meals, and in her left hand, she holds the huge tortilla salad that Bev ordered.

I was a little surprised at Garcia's menu, as I thought the dinner menu would be more extensive.  Besides the usual side dishes, hour d’oeuvres, salsas and the likes, the dinner menu features only about a dozen entrees, and does NOT include menudo or posole.  Garcia's Mexican Restaurant is not open for breakfast. The lunch menu is a little larger, with probably about 20 items on the menu. I did take the opportunity to quiz our waitress Amber about the menu, and she mentioned that the menu was purposely kept on the small side, as they prefer to concentrate on what their customers like, and they want to ensure that every dish is prepared to the highest possible standards.  Well, I can't fault Garcia's  on the philosophy, as when I pay for a meal, I demand quality, quality and more quality.  At Garcia's, you won't be disappointed, as the three "q's" are part of the dining experience.

After our drinks were served, it was probably only about 15 minutes until our meals arrived.  It took Amber and another cute waitress (very important) to bring our meals to us, as they each had one of those big, round table-like contraptions that hold several plates and all of the accessories; they just planted them on the floor and dished out our meals from there.  They knew what everybody ordered, and got everything right the first time.  How do these folks remember this stuff?   They don't know us from Adam, yet they are able to match the order to the face on the first go-around!  Our food was fresh, hot, and it was very obvious that our food hadn't been sitting under some heat lamp, as the sauce was shiny, the aroma was heavenly, and steam, yes real steam, was still coming from our food.  Amber was right, in that Garcia's emphasises quality food, and pays attention to detail.

As per the norm in most Mexican restaurants in California, dinners include a small salad, rice, refried beans and the main course entree, served on the same plate.  I can't remember what everybody ordered, but Dan and I both ordered the same thing, which, in addition to the salad, rice and beans, consisted of three chicken burritos, that were filled with shredded chicken, spices, sour cream and cheddar cheese.  Dan recommended this dish to me, and after careful scrutiny of the dinner menu, it sounded like a wise choice.

Photo:  Clockwise, from left to right:  My boss Niki in the red, my buddy Dan, his lovely wife Bev, Sharlene, Casey, and Sandy in the right, foreground.  I was sitting between Niki and Dan, but I'm taking the photo, so...

Photot: Amber snaps my photo as I grin it up next to my boss, Niki.  Shame on you, Dan, for providing "rabbit ears" for the photo!!  Some friend...

Sharlene's order of tacos included an appetizer of tortilla soup, which she told me was excellent.  

For the next hour, we enjoyed an excellent meal, and outstanding conversation with a group of wonderful people. For me, it was very special to get together in an elegant restaurant like Garcia's, and celebrate my 25-year service anniversary with a special group of family, friends and co-workers.  The delicious food, elegant decor and attentive staff of Garcia's Mexican Restaurant made the occasion all the more special.

The served at Garcia's is excellent, but if you're looking for authentic Mexican food, you won't find it at Garcia's.  I would describe their food as Mexican-inspired California cuisine, as the food is DEFINITELY Mexican, but not what you'd find in Tijuana, Mexicali, Juarez, Mazatlan, or some of the other Mexican cities that I've visited.  The refried beans didn't include any lard, but try to find refried beans in Sacramento that include lard.  You have to go further south, to Merced or Fresno before lard starts to appear in beans.  I think Garcia's is searching for a niche in the Sacramento food chain, in that they want to prepare quality Mexican-style food, but altered to appeal to the taste of most folks living north of the border.  I would say that they have scored a bullseye on their intended target.

Photo:  Dan, Bev and Sharlene enjoy their delicious dinner.

Photo:  Sandy ordered tacos, and she makes the most of them.  Like the other women, she brought a good portion of her order home, and accidently left it at our house, so I "inherited" them, and became the benefactor.

Dinners at Garcia's are priced very reasonable, considering the quality, presentation and quantity offered.  Full dinners are priced in the $8.00 to $13.00 range, which naturally, includes unlimited chips and salsa.  Be advised that when you order a dinner at Garcia's, bring your appetite, as the portions are huge, and you will not go away hungry.  In fact, Dan and I were the only ones to finish all of our food (maybe because we were the only guys?...) and everybody brought home leftovers to enjoy at a later time.  I was advised by Sandy, Casey and Sharlene that their leftovers are fair game for me, so I suspect that I'll be enjoying Garcia's fine cuisine at work for the next two or three days.

Photo:  My dinner consisted of a Mexican salad, rice, refried beans, and the main entree, three burritos, filled with shredded chicken, spices, sour cream and cheese.  It is called a "Pollo Fandito" and it was excellent!

In short, we enjoyed the fine food, elegant surroundings, attentive staff, and friendly surroundings that Garcia's has to offer.  Our dining experience was very enjoyable, and we now understsand why so many Sacramentans rate Garcia's so highly.  Thanks to Garcia's , wonderful co-workers, family and friends, I had a service anniversary dinner that I'll remember for years to come...

Garcia's Mexican Restaurant
6049 Madison Ave.
Carmichael, CA 95608
916 344-3177

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