1800 L St, Sacramento, CA | Directions 9581438.575046 -121.483426
Neighborhoods: Central Sacramento, Midtown
Great food, indifferent service – Camareros in Spain are models of good manners. Spanish food requires an ambience of hospitality and sociability. Aioli Bodega should change its name from "Espanola" to "NewYorque" or "Parisiense," big cities where lackluster service is tolerated and customer retention is not a priority.
Not the best place for New Year's eve – The food is great, the bartender was friendly, but the waiter was impatient, impersonal and rushed us through dinner. Instead his focus was on the big crowds coming in for dinner, the regulars, the favorites. I have been to this restaurant many times and have had some of the best romantic experiences, however this New Years in was a different experience. I feel a restaurant should spend their focus on all customers, not just on the regulars.
Great Food, Yes, Great Place to Network, Surely – The other day, I met a business client at Aioli?s for lunch and had their steak sandwich with a glass of exceptional red wine, which had cherry undertones. My client and I had lunch on the back patio, which was very enjoyable under the coliseum of trees. The deal was sealed. In general, Aioli?s is a great place to conduct business, as it is frequented by business folk and California law makers alike. It seems every time I come in here, someone is making a deal at the table beside me. Reda Bellarbi, the owner, is at the heart of all of this action, connecting the people of Sacramento with one another. He has on several occasions connected me to CEOs, other leading business figures, and business networks in Sacramento, and is also well known for his philanthropic network around town. His restaurants and wine bars support a large number faith and community charities, which have likely resulted in his extensive professional network. Yes, I recommend this place for food, service, and decor, but the networking potential of this place can not be overlooked.
Home Away from Home – I treated myself to dinner the other night and decided that downtown Sacramento was the place to be. Naturally, I came to Aioli Bodega Espanola Restaurant, a.k.a., Aioli?s, as I have come to know the owner, Reda, and many of the long-time servers by their first names, and they have always made me feel like I?m part of a big Mediterranean family. Living thousands of miles away from home, and away from your oldest and best friends, people who treat you like family tend to readily grow on you, and so I come back on a regular basis. This is a family of chefs, sommeliers, philosophers, and kings.
Much of this big family comes from Algeria, France, Morocco, Spain, and Mexico, bringing forth a great number of otherwise hard to find fresh and delicious recipes. On this particular visit, I thought I?d try the lamb shank, which prompted me to write this review, as I have only had such a well prepared lamb one other time. The other time was at the base of Franz Joseph Glacier in New Zealand, commonly known as the home of the best lamb in the world. In both cases, the lamb was cooked to perfection, falling off the bone, as if it was cooked in a stew marinade for hours, despite being prepared in less than 20 minutes during peak hour. It was accompanied by tender vegetables and complimentary bread and hummus, and of course several Heineken beers.
Some other perks include live classical guitar music towards the weekend, a discrete outdoor garden patio, changing and permanent art, including a hand-pounded copper bar, artistic copper lighting, murals, large impressionist paintings, and photography. And just when you think it couldn?t get any better, there is also Aioli?s at The Grand Wine Bar, two blocks towards the Capitol rose gardens, and Aioli?s in Davis.
Best Paella – I come here just for the Paella. I have sampled their menu extensively, and the food is great, but once I tasted the paella, I was hooked. I need my monthly (at least) paella fix now. Great atmosphere, lovely decorations. Great for large groups. Lovely wine selection. Gigi, the waiter, is very personable.
Perfect Date Night – I took my girlfriend out here recently because I had heard about this tapa restaurant before, and I was pleasantly surprised! The restaurant had a dim-lighted romantic feel to it to help woo the date. They also included some live Spanish music to help add to the overall experience. The tapa selection was large, but our waiter helped us pick some of the favorites at the restaurant along with some great red vino. The food was tasty, I think more tasty than other tapa places I have been to in Sacramento. Afterwards, you can take your date down two streets to The Grand Wine Bar for an after minute drink and then onto the rose gardens at the Capitol for the perfect date. Overall, I recommend coming here if you get a chance, and if you live farther west than mid-town Sacramento, there is also an Aioli?s in Davis. Bon appetite!
Excellent Service and Even Better Food – First of all, let me say that Aioli has the best service. Their servers were friendly and attentive. Also, I was promptly seated. The wine list was extraordinary. I sat at the bar, which was well kept, lively and clean. I ate the award winning paella. It was excellent. I indulged in a chocolate soup for desert. This is one of the most incredible restaurant experiences that I have had in Sacramento (It was like dining in Spain!) I frequent 4 and 5 star restaurants, and I am so impressed with this place in comparison to the other places I've had dinner. I am recommending it to all of my friends and family. You must go.
Tasty Tapas – This restaurant so charmed me on a first visit with some ladies who lunch this spring, that I returned 4 more times over the next few weeks with my husband who agrees it is a great place for tapas. I'm not a big fan of paella, and previously hadn't found a tapas restaurant in Sacramento that I would return to, but this paella is great. I had grilled prime rib eye steak in a glazed sauce with anchovies and it was OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD!!!! I did, in fact, swoon an evening I ordered the grilled baby lamb chops. And then there was the lunch when I ordered the grilled double breast of chicken with red pepper flakes in a
wild mushroom & sweet sherry sauce and garbonzo puree, which was quickly grilled and served quite right, still juicy!! With the large servings, you will not go hungry. Lunch at Aioli?s for my husband and I precludes dinner that day. We haven?t yet found a dish that we weren?t fond of. Being anglophiles and lamb hounds we also liked the grilled lamb sausage with coca bread. I haven't tried the braised lamb shank in tomato and onions served with flageolet beans. I will try again today and persist until I reach that goal. Meantime, Viva Spain!! Viva Aioli?s!
My Favorite Restaurant – I love, love, LOVE this place! I probably eat here at least 5 times a month. The bartenders and waitresses are always helpful and happy! They also have subtle live Flamenco guitar. You can't beat that! The atmosphere is great, the decor is tres chic and the bar's full of people to watch!! Great place!!
Best Spanish restaurant in Sacramento – Visited Aioli Bodega Espanola after being recommended by coworker with this exact phrase "any dish in the menu will delight you" and make sure you try one of their two paellas. So, we visited on Friday and i must say that the food, service and their Paella Valenciana (saffron rice with shrimp, seafood & chicken & pork sparerib) were amazing. Jason, our server, took his time to name the most popular dishes, a few of which we tried. Specifically, we tried Salmon con Accento Catalan, pan seared salmon, encrusted with hazelnuts in a fresh herb sauce Paella con Hungos, and saffron rice with truffled mushroom & dry aged Manchengo cheese. Their imported beers are also very goods. Make sure you visit this restaurant if you want to enjoy authentic Spanish food.
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