Over Nine Decades of Excellence
The tradition and eating excellence at “The Español” began at 114 Jay Street in 1923. For several years “The Español” was a Basque boarding house owned by Castro Arrate and Victoriano Urratia. During those first years, most of the tenants were sheepherders who hired out to local ranchers. It was during these years that Mamerto Fernandez became a partner by buying out Mr. Urratia.
The menu at that time was designed basically for the hearty boarders. Such exciting foods as lamb fries, oxtail stew, pig knuckles, tripe, chicken, veal and of course lamb chops were mealtime specialties.
In the early 1930’s, Ancil Hoffman (the legendary Sacramentan and manager of the late Max Baer) took over ownership of the building. Little by little outsiders were introduced to the boarders’ food and “The Español” became a favorite restaurant of many “Old Time” Sacramentans. In fact, many celebrities were/are frequent visitors, such as Actress Ann Sothern, Actor Leo Carrillo and daily visits from Secretary of State Frank Jordan, Sr. and Max Baer.
Early in 1952, the building at 114 Jay Street was sold and the original owner of “The Español” Castro Arrate, retired. However, the chef, Joe Trueba, with his close friend Joe Martinez formed a partnership and moved the restaurant into the Commercial Hotel at Third and I Streets under its present name. The restaurant continued its excellence in Old Sacramento under this partnership until 1959, at which time Babe Luigi bought “The Español,” with brother Mario as manager and added a new Italian flair to the already popular restaurant. In 1965 the redevelopment of Old Sacramento forced the move of this restaurant to its present location at fifty-eighth and Folsom Boulevard. In August of 1978, Willie DaPrato, a West Sacramento grocer for twenty-nine years, became a partner. With the retirement of Mario in 1982 and the departure of Willis in 1985, The Español Restaurant is owned and managed entirely by the Luigi family.
Babe, Perry, Paula, and Karen now bring you the combination of two cultures, serving you Italian food, Basque-style for your enjoyment. “The Español” is proud to serve you in its friendly atmosphere which has kept customers and employees like Mary Trabazo (an employee since 1936) happy for three generations.
We hope you enjoyed this trip into the past, but more importantly, find your visit to “The Español” warm, friendly and tasteful.