Most nights, instead of falling asleep, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat the next day. Usually, the spicier and more flavorful the better, which is why most of my foodie dreams revolve around tacos. So, I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite eats near Rocklin, CA based on really nothing more than taste, taste, taste. Enjoy! And be sure to comment below with any of your own local favorites I might have missed.

Don Quixote’s Mexican Grill

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Let’s start with the obvious – Don Quixote’s. It’s nothing super unique, but it’s your go-to meat and potatoes choice that’s the best bang for your buck when you’re looking for good, comfort Mexican food. Let it be known that their fish tacos are amazing. Being grain-free most of the time, I usually go for their burrito bowl, which is usually too much to eat in one setting. In case you’re interested, Bailey’s Burrito Bowl includes:

  • Black beans
  • Brown rice
  • Cheese
  • Grilled chicken
  • Lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Cabbage
  • Lime
  • Chipotle ranch sauce – a must have!
  • Green/habanero salsa

I highly recommend the habanero salsa. It makes my eyes water and my throat close up, which is always the sign of a true winner!

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Blaze Pizza

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All I can say is… how did I not know this place existed until six months ago? Fast fire-roasted pizza places are all the rage right, but Blaze trumps the list for its roomy atmosphere and all-you-can-eat-toppings for just $8. As someone who can’t normally eat pizza, I was ecstatic to discover their gluten-free crust option that’s, yes, still edible and unfortunately still $3 more. But now that I know this, it’s hard to resist going to Blaze every couple weeks. Here’s the scoop for Bailey’s Build-Your-Own pizza:

  • Gluten-free crust
  • Marinara sauce (half spicy/half regular)
  • Cheese (half mozerella/half feta)
  • Meat:
    • Chicken
    • Bacon
  • Veggies: (this part varies every time)
    • Chopped garlic
    • Roasted red peppers
    • Pepperoncinis or jalapenos
    • Artichoke hearts
    • Fresh basil
    • A pinch of sea salt & oregano
  • Drizzle: pesto!

And then you proceed to die of complete happiness. Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Orchid Thai

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Based on experience, I can assure you that both the curry bowls and the stir fried plates are incredible, but what I usually get is the chicken Chili Stir Fried, which has chili sauce, grilled chicken, fresh basil, water chestnuts, and stir fried red bell peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Plus, here you get a great view out the windows of the garden courtyard, complete with fountains. It’s the best.

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Bambu Desserts & Drinks

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Even though this store recently closed, I’m still in denial. I have to include it in this list because of how long it served Rocklin the best coconut smoothie in all the land. I was devastated to find the closest Bambu to be in downtown Sacramento now — and right when I was getting used to boba! (Best combo includes = coconut milk + strawberry boba pearls + coffee jellies.) Although my heart belongs to the coconut smoothie, my bond is not so strong that I’m willing to drive 30 minutes through rush-hour through traffic just to pick one up. So long, Bambu — you were in a class of your own.

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Arigato Sushi

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Yesterday, I got to introduce my friends to this place. They’d never had sushi before, and after ordering five rolls between the three of us, they were hooked. My personal favorite sushi (not sashimi!) rolls are the Pink Lady, Crazy Horse, 49er, and anything that has the red hot chili pepper symbol next to it. (The cool, healing properties of green tea mochi can help with that afterward.) Arigato has a great atmosphere for date night — it’s really dark and chic inside. And you can bet on hearing Adele’s “Hello” every time, which is always a plus…

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Chando’s Tacos

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Here’s a place that used to be a food truck and, due to popular demand, emerged in a restaurant-congested strip off Pleasant Grove a couple of years ago. Known for long lines at lunch hour and savory cuts of meat, Chando’s is my second choice after Don Quixote’s if I want a little bit better quality for a dollar or so more. Again, I tend to get the burrito bowl and then embellish it with ingredients swiped from the salsa bar — which include sated peppers/onions, limes, and an array of delicious salsas. Just be careful with the hot one!

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Rita’s Ice Custard

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When my housemate described Rita’s desserts as custard mixed with shaved ice, I admit, I wasn’t too intrigued. But then I happened to wander past it one smoking hot summer day, and I thought, “Why not?” The truth was it was different, but in a really great way. Kind of like when you get a new haircut that you kind of hate and love at the same time. I ordered the vanilla custard layered with watermelon shaved ice. Mmmm. Also, while we’re on this topic, why do Hawaiians call it shave ice without the “d”?

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Zocalo

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For my 28th birthday, I dragged a pile of friends here to meet in Zocalo’s huge party room. It was a great time. Although I was trying to eat grain and legume free at the time, that’s kind of impossible at a Mexican joint, so I splurged for the gluten-free corn tortillas and ordered chicken tacos ala carte. My brother, who’s notorious for ordering the most ritzy item on the menu, got some dish with dark chocolate and chili pepper infused sauce. I wish I remember the name of it, but you’ll have to check out the menu for yourself.

Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

Pluto’s

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Pluto’s and I are kindred spirits. It’s the non-Mexican go-to in my life for comfort food. Affordable and delish, Pluto’s offers 7-topping salads, savory sandwiches, garlic fries that are to die for, and lots of different sides. I once ordered a full Thanksgiving meal last November when I was out with my mom — turkey slice, mashed potatoes, and gravy. My favorite part about coming here is eating out on the patio and watching the pigeons flit from table to table. Rocklin pigeons are fatVisit their website here for hours and pricing.

Bagaan

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Bagaan may be the only vegan cafe I’ve visited so far, but it probably won’t be the last. Offering a variety of sandwiches, soups, and smoothies, it’s perfect for breakfast on-the-go or a light lunch. I got the sandwich, wrapped in rice paper, with jalapeno hummus as a spread and wasn’t disappointed! Visit their website here for hours and pricing.

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