I recently spent a day eating in Old Fair Oaks, a short trek inspired mostly by my desire to eat cookies at Dianda’s Italian Bakery and Cafe and a nut burger from Sunflower Drive-in. Dianda’s is an old-school Italian bakery — apparently a Sacramento outpost of the Dianda’s in San Francisco’s Mission District — that specializes in traditional Italian-American cookies, pastries and cakes. These kind of Sinatra-era treats can be hard to find in Sacramento, so when I had a hankering I headed east.
Strongly recommended are the delightfully chewy meringue cookies with marzipan filling and sliced almonds and pine nuts on top. The butter cookie pinwheels with maraschino cherries are also very tasty, although my young son who was pulled in by the pretty chocolate and cherry decorations on the butter cookies kept asking for bites of my almond meringues, affirming their superiority.
After having your elevensies at Dianda’s you’ll need to kill some time while you wait for the next meal; there are plenty of antique shops, access to the American River, and a couple of parks. Then: Sunflower Drive-in. This places serves classic California hippy food: nut burgers, nutty tacos, falafel, millet burger, avocado and cheese sandwiches, whole wheat tortilla and black bean burritos, smoothies, juices, and milkshakes. Since the 90s, this kind of food has been pretty hard to find in Sac, so Sunflower is well worth the trip. It would be ideal to ride there on the bike trail.
Dianda’s Italian Bakery and Café: 10131 Fair Oaks Blvd
Sunflower Drive-in: 10344 Fair Oaks Blvd