Petra, Sacramento, California

After our trip to hot and humid Oxford, Mississippi, for David and Taylor’s wedding (and for the Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour), we returned to Washington and asked, “Where can we go that’s even hotter than Oxford — and than here in DC?”  Why, Sacramento, of course.

Nancy and I took an afternoon flight to Sacramento, and, with the time change, arrived in the late afternoon.  We got our car and  made it to the hotel at around 5:30.  We were ready to eat by 6:00 (9:00 Eastern).  Our only problem, aside from being tired, hungry, and generally bedraggled after a long flight, was that it was 103 degrees outside.

The temperature is an important factor in restaurant choices.  The heat and humidity had led directly to our choice of Bouré in Oxford.  Once in our hotel in Sacramento, Nancy and I checked Yelp and Trip Advisor and the concierge’s list of nearby restaurants.  We studied the angle of the sun and the availability of shade.  We chose Petra, a small Greek spot on the opposite side of the square block from our hotel entrance.

Petra is an informal place.  You order at the counter, receive a cold beer (a dependably good Lagunitas IPA in this instance), find a seat, and wait for your food.  Nancy and I both ordered souvlaki platters.  Nancy characteristically ordered the chicken.

petra n

I normally order lamb souvlaki, but at Petra, they have pork souvlaki on the menu, and, pork being on offer, I characteristically ordered the pork.

petra j

Both were delicious.  Nancy declared that her chicken was the best chicken souvlaki she had ever eaten: moist, tender, and flavorful.  That mine was the best pork souvlaki I’d ever eaten is less impressive, as I’d never had pork souvlaki before.  But it was good by any standard; again, moist, tender, and flavorful.  And there was a lot of it.

The rest of the food was good, too.  The rice was fine, the salad was fresh and loaded with Greek goodies, and the tzatziki was particularly good, with nicely crunchy cucumber.

The arrival of the food was accompanied by an invitation to have another beer.   Have you ever said “No” to a second beer on a day of airports and 103 degree temperatures?  I didn’t think so.  I have not and did not here.   I switched to a Phantom Bride IPA, which I’d never tried before, and which was a good choice.  It was cold and refreshing, with a light citrus  and hops flavor, and it lifted my spirits.

All in all it was a very good meal at a very good price.

It was so good that we went back for lunch the next day, Thursday.  It was scheduled to be 107 degrees, so we naturally took a 10K (6.2 mile) walk around Sacramento.  Regular readers will recall that Nancy and I have a project to do “volksmarches” — the 10K walks sponsored by the American Volksport Association — in all 50 state capitals.  We picked up the printed directions and followed them by the highlights of Sacramento — the capitol, the frontier area, the riverside, historic homes — lots of nice areas.

As you read this, you’re thinking that we must be crazy to go for a 10k walk on a 107 degree day.   Crazy like foxes.  When we started early in the morning, the temperature was below 70, and was in the low 80s when we finished.  Not bad at all.  A dry heat can be miserable — like an oven in the shade, in the sun as if the broiler were on.  But the temperature drops steeply at night, and rises as the sun rises in the sky.

As it was, we were able to finish our walk, rest for a bit, and go back to Petra for an early lunch.  Nancy was satisfied with an order of the tzatziki and bread,

petra n1

and found it as good as the evening before.  I stepped down from the souvlaki to a gyro, which turned out to be packed with meat, as well as fries (!), tomatoes, onions, parsley, and tzatziki.

petra gyro

I pulled the fries out of the sandwich and ate them separately.   I’m not a fan of fries in sandwiches: the bread contains enough carbohydrates, and they provide no textural interest.  It was a very good sandwich.  Petra’s tzatziki really is good.  It brightens the gyro — and everything it touches — considerably.

I really enjoyed Petra on both visits.  There certainly are fancier and more contemporary places to dine, but if you just want a good meal and a good cold beer on a hot day, you can hardly do better.  Give it a try.


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