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Midtown Sutter, History and Today

Midtown Sutter might be Sacramento’s best kept secret. The renowned entertainment corridor has a friendly neighborhood atmosphere where you can find theatre, live music and a treasure trove of locally owned restaurants and bars. The area is crowned by the historic Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, an adobo-stucco construction that includes a replica fort that provides exhibits and living history interpretive services. 

When you visit the thriving Midtown Sutter, we invite you to think about the many generations of people who lived on this land before us. Sutter has changed a myriad of times in our history and will continue to change. Read on to learn about the history of Sutter, and places to explore today to fully experience Midtown Sutter. 

History at Sutter

The iconic Sutter’s Fort Park sits in the heart of Midtown, and is an area that has been the homeland of the Nisenan people since time immemorial. If you grew up in Sacramento, chances are you took a school field trip here to learn about what life was like for the pioneers in the mid-1800s, but how much did you learn about the lasting devastating impacts on the area’s original Native residents? 

Recently, California State Parks has recognized the need to reexamine the past at this National Landmark and confront the unbalanced perspective of John Sutter and his legacy, along with other settlers. You can find the plans of California State Parks to change the way history is interpreted at Sutter’s Fort to share a more inclusive and historically accurate history in their Sutter’s Fort Interpretation Master Plan. 

Long before colonizers ever set foot on Californian soil, Native peoples’ had created a mature and highly managed landscape. In the early 1800s, the colonization of California had reached the Native villages of the Sacramento River valley.

From 1839 to 1849, Sutter’s Fort was the economic center of the first permanent European colonial settlement in California’s Central Valley. Its founder was John Sutter who named his vast Mexican land grant “New Helvetia.” 

During that time, the Fort catalyzed patterns of change across California. Native peoples felt these changes most significantly as their lives were transformed by the Fort’s presence. Many different Native people helped build the Fort, and their exploited labor made the Fort’s many industries possible. In 1848, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill started the gold rush that ultimately undermined Sutter’s businesses at the Fort and led to an even greater exploitation of Native people across California.

Sutter Today 

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is often a memory for many schoolchildren who visited the park across generations in Sacramento. If you have never been to Sutter’s Fort or perhaps only went as a kid, we invite you to come back to reminisce about your school day field trips, learn a more inclusive and accurate history, and enjoy all the amenities offered.

Visitors to Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park are welcome to explore the historic structures and living history museum at their own pace with a self guided tour, and can find a map and brochure available at the kiosk. 

When you visit, plan your day to also visit the State Indian Museum (only a three-minute walk away). All the exhibits and photographs on display are presented with respect for those who went before us on this land and continue to live in California communities today.

Although Sutter’s Fort and the State Indian Museum are the best places to learn more about the history of Sutter, we encourage you to also explore the Sutter Midtown area and experience how it has evolved into a thriving district with restaurants, bars, live entertainment shops, and of course some of the best brunch in Sacramento! 

Exploring Sutter Midtown you will find understated elegance and well curated experiences that reflect a variety of the best of what Midtown has to offer. Plus visits are a breeze with easy freeway access and plentiful street parking in the area. 

Here are some of our favorite places to visit inside Midtown Sutter. 

Barwest | @mybarwest

2724 J Street

Visit Barwest to find a modern day neighborhood sports bar and restaurant that serves up delicious burgers, hot wings, beer, cocktails, wine and more. Check out this spot to gather with your friends to watch the next ballgame! 

 

Blue Cue | @therealbluecue

1004 28th Street

Featuring karaoke, darts, multiple pool tables, and a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere, the large, brick-walled space is bolstered by traditional bar cuisine combined with a wide selection of spirits and cocktails.

Café Bernardo | @cafe.bernardo

2730 Capitol Avenue

A casual dining concept based on the European tradition of cafe dining, Cafe Bernado is a longstanding local favorite featuring a farm-to-fork menu with house made bread, pasta and dessert. Come here for an inviting atmosphere for any moment. 

Centro Cocina | @centrococina

2730 J Street

Centro crafts all their dishes from scratch – from salsas, to masa and corn tortillas, slow-cooked meats, and hearty soups. The bright and colorful interior highlights items sourced from Mexico providing a festive and casual atmosphere.

Harlow’s | @harlowsnightclub

2708 J Street

Harlow’s is one of our favorite venues for nationally renowned musicians and acclaimed local acts. For more than 35 years, Harlow’s has featured some of the best live music for every type of fan from blues to soul to rock ‘n’ roll. 

Ink Eats & Drinks | @inkeats

2730 N Street

This tattoo-themed restaurant and bar is known for their Bloody Mary Bar and quality brunch fare! Ink offers an approachable yet inspired menu, great prices and down-to-earth attentive service. 

Paragary’s | @paragarysmidtown

1401 28th Street

Opened in 1983, Paragarys is considered a Sacramento dining staple, serving generations of locals over the years. Known for its delicious seasonal cuisine in a beautiful setting, this restaurant is perfect for your next dinner date.

The Red Rabbit | @sacrabbit

2718 J Street 

The Red Rabbit’s mission: raising the neighborhood bar. They believe in seasonal and local, creating their cocktails from the ground up with housemade syrups, fresh squeezed juices, and fresh herbs. Enjoy their farm-to-table food selections, the artisan cocktails, sourced beer and wine. 

Tea Bar & Fusion Café | @ilovetbar

2700 Capitol Avenue

At Tea Bar you’ll find create-your-own wraps and bowls, snacks like avocado toast and edamame, and frozen, iced, or hot teas all made with the freshest ingredients. Stop by for lunch or a snack before catching a show at B Street Theatre.

B Street Theatre | @bstreettheatre

2700 Capitol Avenue

Over the years the B Street Theatre has introduced more than 100 original plays. Located at The Sofia, this gorgeous theatre keeps audiences laughing and crying, and critics raving. 

From the Historic Sutter’s Fort, to delicious farm-to-fork dining, and even live entertainment, Midtown  Sutter has it all. We would love to hear from you about what you learn and experience while exploring the area. Do you agree with us that it may be Sacramento’s best kept secret? Tag us in all your adventures @exploremidtown on social media.

10 Reasons Why You Should Live in Midtown

 A walk in the neighborhood has a whole new meaning when you live in Midtown. Living in Midtown means being a short walkable distance to restaurants. It means the Farmers Market is often your grocery store. It means brunch on weekends. And that coffee shops are often also your office. The perks of being a Midtown resident are endless.

Here are our top 10 reasons why you should live in Midtown!

1. Foodie haven

         

 There is a reason Sacramento is known for being the farm-to-fork capital! From mouth watering brunch (check out our blog on our Favorite Brunch Places in Midtown), to fresh and locally sourced entrees, to several  amazing dessert shops to satisfy any sweet tooth, Midtown is bursting at the seams with talented restaurants and cooks. Foodies are in absolute heaven when visiting the grid.

2.  Endless coffee chops

When you live in Midtown the neighborhood coffee shops are often an extension of your office. I mean, what is a city without some great coffee shops?! If you’re looking for a coffee place in Midtown, we got you covered, read our blog on Iconic Coffee Shops so you can become a Midtown coffee connoisseur.

3. The Midtown Farmers Market is in your backyard

Not to brag, but Midtown has one of the most impressive Farmers Markets in California, spanning more than five blocks and featuring more than 160 plus vendors. Who needs Walmart or Safeway when you can stroll down to the Farmers Market every Saturday to get fresh vegetables, home-made bread and the most gorgeous flowers to place on your kitchen table.

To make the most of your visit at the Farmers Market, you’ll want to check out our blog that has everything you need to know about the Midtown Farmers Market!

4. Beautiful parks & free workout classes

How great and safe a community is, can often be measured by their public parks. Midtown Parks features six beautiful parks (Fremont Park, Winn Park, Sutter Park, Truitt Park, Marshall Park and Muir Park) complete with beautiful art and engaging programming.

How many cities can you say offer free park programming almost every day throughout the Summer? Read about our Fresh Air: Fremont Park series to learn more about our everyday exercise programming at Fremont Park. Or plan to visit Winn Park on Wednesday to find great local artisan and food vendors, live music, yoga and yummy food trucks (pssst I heard that sometimes they even have a wine garden!) Learn more about all our parks at MidtownParks.org.

5. Walk & bike everywhere

Sacramento is one of California’s most accessible major cities, and Midtown in particular provides many different options from scootering to biking that make traveling to and around our central city effortless.

Read our transportation blog for more tips and information on how to travel the grid like a pro!

6. Fun nightlife

How many cities can you say have a bar inside a pink Victorian house? Whether you are partying in the Golden Hub or the Lavender Heights District or perhaps catching some live entertainment in the Sutter District we have unique bars and fun nightlife that make Sacramento an exciting place to go out on the town. Time to diall up your besties for a night of dancing!

7. Art around every corner

It is impossible to drive down a street in Midtown and not spot a beautiful mural on the outside of a building or even in unexpected places like an electrical box.

Initiatives like Art in Unexpected Places and Wide Open Walls have made Midtown a destination for art lovers and artists. The art not only beautifies our city, it helps represent our diversity and culture in Sacramento.

8. Dog friendly

How does the saying go? Happy dog, happy life? Living in Midtown is a dog’s dream, complete with dog friendly patios, events like the Pooch Parade that highlight our cute puppies and of course our favorite dog park: The Truitt Bark Park.

9. Midtown Love

     

 In Midtown we like to use the phrase Midtown Love, which means being in action to actively celebrate, include, and proudly protect our fellow community members. In Midtown we have no place for prejudice, sexism, racism or bigotry. We only have space for learning, love and inclusivity. You’ll often see our banners hung up on our light poles in Midtown that showcase our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Learn about other ways we are spreading love in the grid in our DEI blog!

10. A city lifestyle that you can afford

For many living in a city is a pipe dream because of how expensive big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose have become in recent years. Living in Midtown is the perfect balance of city and suburban … and you’re bound to see many Victorian homes living in Midtown too!

Now that you know the perks of living in Midtown are endless; click any of the available properties in Midtown below to find your next home.

Follow us on @exploremidtown to find new happenings, businesses and events happening in Midtown! If you #exploremidtown remember to tag us, we may share your photo on our social media!

12 Black-owned Businesses to Support in Midtown Sacramento

Uplifting Black business owners while finding new favorite spots to eat and shop? We’re here for it. Supporting and shopping at Black-owned businesses in Midtown is one of the easiest (and by the looks of our list below, the hippest) ways to elevate and support entrepreneurs in our small business community.

Our list of more than ten Black-owned (and co-owned) businesses in Midtown will help you shop local and build economic vitality and diversity in Midtown. Whether you are looking for a beer to watch your favorite football game or want to connect with your community while sippin’ coffee, there is something for everyone on our list. Keep scrolling to find incredible businesses to check out on your next visit to Midtown! 

Streets Pub & Grub | @streetspubandgrub
1804 J St

A classic English sports pub on J street near the entertainment district of Midtown, Streets Pub & Grub has trivia, karaoke, and a casual all-encompassing menu. This is a fun patio to people-watch later in the evening as the entertainment in Lavender Heights heats up.

Midtown Bakery | @midtownbakery
2301 J Street

A desserterie tucked into the most adorable Victorian home on J Street, Midtown Bakery has cakes, cookies, brownies, and pies. Make this a stop before or after the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturdays for fresh morning pastries.

Pressed Record Cafe | @pressed916
1725 L Street

Pressed Record Cafe offers a sanctuary for audiophiles to enjoy yummy food (including their famous presses, their twist on a panini sandwich) and drinks paired with the greatest music that was ever pressed to vinyl. Enjoy their beautiful patio or lose track of time digging through their bins of records.

Drip Espresso | @dripespresso
1004 24th Street

A Black-, woman-, and sister-owned coffee shop on 24th Street, Drip Espresso is on a mission to center espresso, community and culture. Come connect, learn and engage with your friends and community while enjoying delicious drinks and pastries with ingredients sourced locally from BIPOC, women, or LGBTIA+ vendors. 

D20 Dental | @d2odental
1816 L Street

Sacramento’s first dental spa, D20 Dental, is a green dentist practice committed to minimizing their environmental footprint while offering their patients a spa-like tranquil setting including relaxing aromatherapy products, noise cancellation headsets and five star service. Book an appointment today to optimize your dental health in the most relaxing setting possible. 

Locs2Lashes Hair | @locs2lashes
1812 J Street,  Suite 2

A salon on J Street, Locs2Lashes specializes in natural hair care, locs and braids including butterfly locs, soft locs, knotless braids, box braids and more. Elevate your hair and experience great service from a Sacramento braider and licensed cosmetologist. 

Studio 64 Photography | @studiio64
805 16th Street

A fully equipped photography and rental studio, Studio 64 offers artists the tools and properties to help photographers and videographers achieve their dreams. The uplifting studio is a judgment-free zone that allows members to build their skills and portfolio without breaking the bank. 

Bloom Photography | @bloomphotographyca
1812 J Street, Suite 22

Live out your dream photoshoot with Danielle, founder of Bloom Photography, a California wedding and portrait photographer who is passionate about documenting and capturing love during every phase of life behind her lens. 

The Flamingo House | @flamingosac
2315 K Street

One of Sacramento’s most vibey bars, Flamingo House located on K street, renovated an old Victorian home painted pink into a fun social club/bar. Dance the night away with friends sippin’ on delicious cocktails in their lounge area or enjoy their spacious back patio and flamingo-inspired decorations. 

Brandon’s Barbershop | @brandonsbarbershop3
916 21st Street

With nothing but stellar reviews, Brandon’s Barbershop located on 21st offers professional grooming for men, women and children. The barber shop is known for its precise cuts and shaves, excellent customer service and friendly atmosphere. 

Waxing Crescent | @thewaxingcrescentsac
1009 22nd Street, Suite 100

If you’re anxious about body waxing, Waxing Crescent on 22nd Street specializes in thorough, non-rushed, minimal pain body waxing. Jazmin Davis, owner of Waxing Crescent, greets every client with open arms and loves to work individually with clients to clear up issues about their skin. 

Soul Shine Bodywork | @soulshine_bodywork
2528 I Street

If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately, relax and ease your tension at Soul Shine Bodywork, where they offer massage therapy and Reiki healing. Combining massage therapy with energy healing is sure to make your soul shine! 

 

In addition to the businesses listed here, there are more than fifteen Black-owned microbusinesses that are vendors at the Midtown Farmers Market and Wednesdays at Winn Night Market. Highlights include Black Lily Naturals with incredible candles and body butters, Sankofa Center with accessories and wraps benefiting AIDS/HIV awareness, Yummy Honey featuring local honey, Black Coffee Roastery, Ink Black Cat Apothecary and AstroloTea Herbal Blends both with tea, and Yisreal Family Farm

When you support Midtown businesses, you are part of celebrating our diverse culture, creativity and vibrancy of Midtown. Don’t forget to follow these businesses on social media and check out their websites. Share your photos on Instagram and tag us @ExploreMidtown for a chance to be featured!

A Dessert for Every Sweet Tooth at Midtown Sacramento’s “Sweet Spot”

Psst…want to know our favorite places for delicious desserts? It’s no secret that the 2400 block of J Street has emerged as a real “Sweet Spot” for sugary treats in Midtown. Dreamy and delicious ice cream and doughnuts (some plant based), rich european style chocolates and pastries, iconic cupcakes, and the best dessert shop for 34 years running are all on one block in Midtown. An easy stroll in the heart of Midtown – along with a parking protected bike lane in front to encourage cyclists – tempting treats available at these five shops are sure to satisfy every sweet tooth.

Babes Ice Cream & Donuts @babes_vegan
2417 J Street | Open every day 8 am – 9 pm  

Already a hit among dessert aficionados, the newly opened dessert shop was founded by the owners of the popular Pushkin’s bakery and offers 100 percent vegan and gluten-free ice cream and donuts in addition to plant-based milks at the espresso bar. 

Ginger Elizabeth Patisserie @gingerelizabeth
2413 J Street |Open Tuesday through Saturday 7 am – 3 pm, Sunday 8 am – 3 pm

This shop is the famous Ginger Elizabeth’s second location in Midtown and offers locally-made desserts and breakfast pastries (and a selection of her melt-in-your-mouth chocolates of course), all made from fresh, carefully sourced ingredients. Note that Ginger Elizabeth has one of the best hot chocolates in the nation according to Yelp!

Icing on the Cupcake @icingonthecpcke
2416 J Street| Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am – 7 pm, Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

With an amazing array of cupcake choices, brownies, pies and more, this sweet shop also offers custom cupcakes, desserts for weddings, and even offers set-up services for an eye-catching dessert bar at local events.

Midtown Bakery @midtownbakery

2301 J St | Open Saturday and Sunday 8 am – 2 pm

The latest addition to this sweet block, Midtown Bakery offers cookies, brownies, cakes, scones, and muffins, all nestled into the cutest little Midtown historic home there ever was. This boutique desserterie is also a hot spot on Saturday mornings before or after the Midtown Farmers Market for their French Puffs, a light butter muffin doused in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. 

Rick’s Dessert Diner @ricksdessert
2401 J Street |  Open Monday through Thursday 10 am – 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am – 12 am and Sunday 11 am – 11 pm

Opened in 1986 and voted #1 in the “Best Desserts” category by Sacramento magazine readers for 34 consecutive years (in addition to many other accolades), Rick’s has a welcoming vibe and retro atmosphere. The dessert shop offers a dazzling variety of European and American desserts (such as cakes, fresh fruit tarts and tortes, decadent chocolate desserts, cheesecakes and more), all made fresh daily from scratch. Open late into the evenings, custom cakes are also available to make any occasion extra special.

While not on the same block on J Street, there are plenty of other dessert shops and tasty treats available to enjoy nearby including late night churros at Cantina Alley, refreshing pineapple frozen Dole Whips at The Jungle Bird, lovely natural wines and snacks at Ro Sham Beaux, and beautiful coffee and tea options at Drip Espresso, just to name a few.

Parking is plentiful near the Sweet Spot and adjacent parking protected bike lanes make it easy to park your bike and then peddle off the sugar. To learn more about other transportation options

Remember to take a photo of your sweet finds and tag #ExploreMidtown. Follow us on Instagram @ExploreMidtown for more tasty treats!

10 Iconic Midtown Coffee Shops

True or false: Coffee makes everything better. If you’re like us, coffee is as essential to the day as your morning routine. Looking for a caffeine boost before heading to the bustling Midtown Farmers Market on a Saturday? Or are you plotting a midday escape from your work, or perhaps catching up with an old friend at your local neighborhood cafe? With so many ways that coffee intertwines with our day-to-day lives, it’s imperative to have the best spots scoped out around town. The good news is, Midtown Sacramento has you covered.

Midtown’s coffee—and tea—scene is buzzing with locally owned shops, serving sustainably sourced beans, many of which are roasted on site or at local Sacramento roasteries and presented beautifully with creative fusions as well as tried and true blends. Many shops also feature locally made pastries, each with their own unique spin.

Having a cup of coffee can be a powerful ritual and everyone’s perfect coffee shop looks a little bit different. For some it might mean a moment of peace with minimalist ambiance and calming herbal tea, while others might be seeking a bustling dog-friendly patio with a robust food menu for the perfect connection time with a friend, or you might be looking for a spot to hunker down and work with plant covered walls, deep booth seating and outlets galore.

The best thing about grabbing a coffee or tea in Midtown is that there are so many spots to choose from and you don’t have to settle on just one. To make it easy, we have compiled a list of ten iconic coffee shops and cafés in Midtown for you to try out.

The Mill Sacramento | @themillsacramento
1827 I Street | Open everyday 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

The Mill provides great coffee, handcrafted tea, and a growing menu of house-made offerings to eat. A few things really stand out at The Mill–incredible herbal teas, the most instagrammable front windows with seasonal decor, and we insist that you try their signature Waffle In Hand to pair with your drink of choice. The ambiance is cozy and peaceful.

Temple Coffee Roasters | @templecoffee
2200 K Street | Open everyday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
1615 16th Street | Open everyday 6:00 am – 4:00 pm
2829 S Street | Open everyday 6:00 am – 4:00 pm

Temple’s three Midtown locations brew high-quality coffee drinks, are open late and serve local pastries from Midtown’s Pushkin’s Bakery and other gluten free treats daily. Your biggest challenge will be picking just one location. The 16th Street location has incredible access to one of Midtown’s most popular parks–Fremont Park, home of Fresh Air: Fremont Park programming. The K Street location welcomes you with a floor paved with pennies and breezy outdoor seating. The S Street location patio is an urban oasis with succulents and a wine bar next door, should afternoon coffee time spill into happy hour. The ambiance for all of them is busy and bustling with plenty of plugs at the 16th and S Street locations.

Old Soul in the Alley | @oldsoulco
The Handle District | 1716 L Street | Open everyday 6:00 am – 6:00 pm

This cafe tucked into one of Midtown’s special mural-filled alleyways behind 1716 L Street  features on-site baking and coffee roasting. Their specialty coffee drinks rotate every season along with their display of work by local artists. Added bonus, their menu is enough to make a full meal for a breakfast or lunch meeting!

Drip Espresso | @dripespresso
1004 24th Street | Wednesday – Sunday 7:30 am – 2:30 pm

Three sisters opened Drip Espresso in 2022 to create a space for coffee, community, and culture to come together. This Black-owned family business is not to be missed. Try their Cardi Rose, a cardamom and rose latte which comes hot or iced and don’t forget to grab a snack, like the Jaeda (named after their beautiful vegan powerhouse momma), featuring a black-eyed pea hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and crunchy garlic on toast.

The Trade Coffee & Coworking | @thetradecollab
2220 K Street | Monday – Friday 7:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Trade’s signature phrase is “Great ideas start at the Trade.” But this coworking space is anything but work with a side of coffee. At Trade, experienced baristas bring out the best seasonal or classic coffee drinks. We recommend the iced New Orleans Style and a photo with the pixelated Mona Lisa mural, by local artist JM Knudsen, out front.

Milka Coffee Roasters | @milka_coffee
1501 G Street | Everyday 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Speaking of iconic, a visit to Midtown must include a stroll through the iconic historic Victorian homes spread throughout the community. Milka is the perfect way to experience this Midtown cultural moment. Roasted and served right in their 1861 Victorian building, Milka Coffee feels like home. The simplicity, the play of light and shadows in the interior decor and the bright open patio make this a perfect spot to work or have an afternoon date.

Pachamama Café Orgánico | @pachamama_coffee
919 20th Street | Everyday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm

Located in the former Explore Midtown headquarters, this local roastery is 100% farmer owned. The shop roasts on site and serves organic coffee from smallholder farms in Africa and Latin America. They are on a mission to build a community dedicated to sustainable, quality coffee. We recommend trying the Honey Bear Cold Brew, though you can’t go wrong with their specialty drinks and seasonal delights.

Bober Tea & Coffee | @boberteausa
1801 L Street | Everyday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

Explore Vietnamese coffee and boba drinks from Bober Tea and take a photo with their iconic pink floral wall and swing, the perfect Instagrammable moment!

When it comes to the best coffee in Midtown, it may be too hard to choose. Whether you are an avid coffee drinker and looking for a new place to buy your regular cup of joe or someone that just enjoys getting a quality latte to take away, Midtown has something for everyone.

Be sure to check out each coffee shop’s Instagram and follow us on Instagram (@exploremidtown) for updates on new business openings, events, and more!