Dinner and a Bookstore – a Perfect Summer Pairing (And, yes, another giveaway!)


The weather’s warm, and you don’t feel like cooking. Dinner out sounds good but, well, a little boring. Try this favorite SacFoodie summer pairing: Dinner and a bookstore. Bury your nose in a NYT bestseller or a literary favorite, and then stroll the local streets, basking in the Sacramento sunshine, and enjoy a fantastic outdoor dinner. Sound like a perfect outing? 

Within a few blocks of each other in Midtown Sacramento, there are three wonderful bookstores, each with its own personality: Time Tested Books at 1114-21st St. is floor-to-ceiling books, complete with ladders to reach the highest offerings; The Book Collector, 1008-24th St. offers sidewalk bargain books and other gems indoors; and La Raza Galleria Posada, 1022-1024 22nd St. (note: they’re moving in August) offers not just books, but also Latino art, clothing and accessories. The really lovely part? All three are within easy walking distance of each other – and over twenty restaurants.


Ah, yes, the foodie part. We had our work cut out for us with so many choices! Should we eat at Azul, Lounge on 20, or walk across the street to Original Pete’s Pizza? There’s the Vintage Café, Hashi and Cervantes just a few steps from Time Tested Books. For something really special, we could try The Waterboy or The Broiler, or for more casual fare, there’s Capitol Dawg, Hot Rods Burgers and Jack’s Urban Eats. And that’s only a sampling of what’s available.

I had my research assistants with me (i.e., my kids), and after a lengthy discussion, we decided to eat at Tapa the World, located at 2115 J St. Like shopping for books, eating tapas offers a multitude of experiences, depending on what you choose. So, for this culinary adventure, we sat on the sidewalk patio and sampled:

food pic

• Tortilla Espanola (hands down, my favorite tapa – in fact, this was my daily go-to food while studying in Spain)
• Grilled Vegetables topped with balsamic reduction and Romesco sauce, as well as queso Manchego (THE most delightfully salty sheep’s milk cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain)
• Paella Mixta, a small portion of traditional (and delicious) paella with generous amounts of seafood, chicken and chorizo, as well as a side of salad
• Tapa Burger (again, that queso Manchego!) with crisp, golden patatas bravas (perfectly fried potatoes)

The great thing about dinner and a bookstore? It will be your own unique pairing. In fact, this week, a group of us will head out to Roseville for a special “dinner and a bookstore” outing. New York Times best-selling author and Sacramento resident James Rollins will be signing books on Thursday, June 25 from 7-9 PM at the Barnes & Noble located at 1256 Galleria Blvd. Leave a comment here by noon on Wednesday, June 24, and you could win a copy of his new book, The Doomsday Key, personally signed by him!

Now, I just need to decide where we’ll be having dinner. All suggestions welcome!

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39 Comments so far ↓

  • Charlene | Jun 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    There is NOTHING better than a good book with a good meal – except with hubby, of course 🙂 Love James Rollins. Have been a fan since the beginning the Subterranian. Would love to have a signed copy of his newest The Doomsday Key.

    As for dinner – nothing beats quality French Onion Soup followed by Prime Rib and an Idaho Baked Potato – where ever you can find it in your town.

  • Kasi Kirby | Jun 22, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Ahhhh The food sounds so good. But when James is here in Houston at Murder by the Book, he can walk across the street to the Volcano, and have some real Mexican food tapas…Also a great glass of Red Wine on Me, cause I’ll be there waiting for him to sign my copy of The Doomsday Key

    So Jim, here’s the offer to buy you a glass of red wine, before you sign ALLL: those books

  • Christopher Smith | Jun 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    A little out of the way maybe, but I recommend the Mongolian BBQ on Greenback and Fair Oaks. I’m a bit too plebeian to be considered a “foodie”, but I think I speak for many of my fellow plebs when I say that Mongolian is an all-time favorite.

    James Rollins is an all-time favorite too, so feel free to send that book my way. 😉

  • Amanda Edgell | Jun 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    The Tapa Burger looks delicious!

  • Dekz | Jun 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Leave a comment here to win?

  • Sarah Gilbertson | Jun 22, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I loved this article!!! Makes me wish I lived in Sacramento!!! The pictures are absolute gorgeous, by the way! All in all, great entry….about my two favorite things…food and books. 🙂

  • Sherry | Jun 22, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I wish I could help with the suggestions, but I’m not much help. I would definitely love to win an autographed James Rollins book – my husband and I both love his books!

  • Devon | Jun 22, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Great post! I love bookstores! Reading is one of my favorite things to do when I get a free second. I will have to check out these bookstores when I can get to midtown. And the pictures of the food are making me hungry 🙂

  • Kristy Jones | Jun 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    That sounds like a perfect evening out. A perfect evening in would be curled up in front of a fire with James’ new book. Hint, hint 😉

  • Truitti | Jun 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I LOVE going out to eat and hitting a bookstore !! In fact, that is what my friends and I will be doing this Thursday in Roseville. Going to see James Rollins and the start of his Doomsday Key tour. Hum, thanks for reminding me to check out the restaurants around the Galleria.

  • Mary Ann Carpenter | Jun 22, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Food and Books – two of my favorite things!

    I don’t know what restaurants are there, but if one has Shanghai Soup Dumplings/Xiaolongbao – that’s with the soup INSIDE the dumpling – I would choose that!

    James Rollins hooked me with ‘Map of Bones’ and I’ve been devouring his work since!!!

  • donnabelle hutt | Jun 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Well, the food looks delish… and if I could get someone to watch my toddler, I’d much enjoy burying my nose in some books and shoveling some of that fare into my mouth! Also… I guess if I ever moved any closer to the place… San Antonio, do you have any places like this… hmmmm…

  • Erin | Jun 22, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    So, I’m no foodie but I like pizza. Especially with pepperoni & black olives. If you haven’t tried that combo yet, you should.

    Oh, and I’m just about to finish Sandstorm, which is amazing. I got it from the library and there’s something that almost looks like a signature in the back, but I can’t really tell.

    Winning a signed copy of the Doomsday Key would make my life… and I’d finally be able figure out if the “signature” in this book is real, or not. Help solve the mystery! =)

  • JT Long | Jun 22, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    If you are in the Galleria area, then Fountains has some great selections – Tres Agaves taco appetizers from the grill for $2, pear-gorgonzola pizza at CA Pizza Kitchen and any flavor of gelatto. That will put you on the couch reading a book.

  • Colleen | Jun 22, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Oh, I miss working in midtown. I shared an office in the late 80’s @ 16th and J. Original Pete’s just a short walk, or Spaghetti Factory. I love how mid and downtown are undergoing beautiful updates. So books & food? Perfect combo, imho.

  • Maribeth Eggleston | Jun 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    The best dinner and a bookstore is in Denver. The Tattered Cover bookstore is in the middle of many wonderful resturants in Cherry Creek shopping district. Check it out on your next trip to Denver.
    I hear they have one in LoDo too.

  • Donna | Jun 23, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Used to love a good meal on the patio at the Tower Cafe and a trip to Tower Books. It had great people watching too!

  • Sadye yezbak | Jun 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

    You wrote about two of my favorite things to do, eating and reading. I am planning a staycation in downtown Sacramento so I will be checking out the bookstores and the restaurants that are close by.

  • Mary | Jun 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked browsing your blog posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  • Ben Kopf | Jun 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I’ve devoured James Rollin’s books almost as fast as I do a bowl of good gumbo. I can’t comment on eateries in your area but if you are ever in Ithaca NY, I recommend Maxie’s for Po’Boys and more, Thai Cuisine for Asian, Madeline’s for dinner with a European flair, and John Thomas Steak House for good old ‘mercan chow. There are many other great food stops in Ithaca.
    Love to win that book – like James I’m a huge iPhone fan and managed to snag the first 3GS in our area. And like a true gadget freak I have read all his works on my Sony eReader (and just downloaded D-Key today). Cheers!

  • web design in miami | Jun 24, 2009 at 3:08 am

    At first I thought this post was about restaurant-bookstores combos and thought: hey, wouldn’t that be… well, dumb ? Reading while eating ? And then who’s gonna buy that book if you got mashed potatoes all over it ? 😉
    Anyway, I simply adore bookstores with character. Not those big soulless chains but the old mom’n’pop style.
    I’ve never been to Sacramento but after reading this, I won’t pass up the opportunity, if one arises.

  • spanish lover | Jun 24, 2009 at 6:15 am

    wow!!! food and books together, what a lovely combination. i just love these things. thanks for such a wonderful site.

  • 2mara | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

    leaving a comment to enter the contest 🙂

  • Terry Rodgers | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

    James Rollins is great!

  • sallyhanan | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Yum, yum, yum! I lived in Spain for ten months, and your photos are making me drool. Sign me up to win that book. I’ve been wanting to read James Rollins for ages.

  • Debbie | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Mmmm…sounds good. I would love to win a copy of James Rollins’ new book!

  • Sharon Castleberry | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Ohhhhh! Now I’m hungry and what a perfect read! It’s the best of all possible combination!

  • Kallie Owens | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Nothing better than cruising a bookstore or trying a new place to eat. Wait. There is. Curling up with a new book and glass of wine AFTER you’ve been out to dinner and cruised the bookstore…

  • Steve | Jun 24, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Sounds like great fun. What could be better than dinner and a trip to the bookstore? Yes, I would love to win a signed copy of Doomsday Key, since James Rollins isn’t coming to my local B&N. I’ve read everything else and can’t wait to get into this one.

  • Lisa Huber | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Just discovered James Rollins’ Sigma series earlier this year – LOVE it.
    Absolute page turners – good for summer, or fall/spring/winter reading 🙂 I just bought Last Oracle and am patiently waiting for the weekend so i can thoroughly wallow in it.

    btw – great site! I found out by following James Rollins on Twitter.

  • Tim Byrd | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:11 am

    James Rollins has been a huge inspiration for my own modern pulp adventure writing. He’s one of my favorite writers.


    Tim Byrd

  • Corey Huddleston | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Love James Rollins and this place looks like a great joint! Food looks great.

  • gary | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:37 am

    yum, great food and a great book. I want to win!

  • Ron Castro | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:50 am

    James Rollins and his novels are a treasure in my circle. Good food and good reading = Quality of Life!

  • Erin Lynn | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Love James Rollins and the restaurants look great.

  • Austin Sailors | Jun 24, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Read all of the Sigma Series and loved it! Can’t wait to read Doomsday

  • Dustin Hampton | Jun 24, 2009 at 10:11 am

    The food looks pretty good. I have all of James’ books, both Rollins and Clemens. Excellent stuff 🙂

  • Diane | Jun 24, 2009 at 11:08 am

    ok. I just LOVE James Rollins… I really like how accessible he is, having received several personal emails. I enjoy his books–the characters are exciting and very real.

    LOVE your blog! James had a note to read your blog, and I LOVE it. I also have research assistants… mine are 15, 9, 8, 7 and 5! With that many kids, the only reading time I get is, ahem… in the “facility.”

    xoxo Keep Rockin’!

  • Lesley | Jun 24, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I love Jacks (and Capitol Dawg for that matter) but my favorite right now is Luigi’s Pizza by the Slice. YUM!

    Sign me up for a free book!