Stories / Awards

America's Classic: Frank Fat's

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

May 06, 2013


806 L Street, Sacramento, CA 
Owners: the Fat Family

Frank Fat’s is a political landmark in California, once known as the “Third House” and one of Sacramento’s oldest restaurants. It serves Chinese-American food and is renowned for honey- walnut prawns; Frank’s-style New York steak (grilled, sliced, and smothered in sautéed onions and oyster sauce); Fat’s brandy fried chicken; and banana cream pie.

Kevin Hefner, writing about the restaurant’s 70th anniversary in 2009 in Capitol Weekly, said: “The restaurant often was the site of political meetings that, according to some, sometimes accomplished more than those in the Capitol. The most notable of these deals was the “Napkin Deal” of 1987, written on the back of a napkin by the participants that defined a multimillion-dollar pact between the lawyers, insurers, doctors, and business interests over tort reform.”

Willie Brown, former assembly Speaker and San Francisco mayor, recalls that it was the place legislators would go to find a “pigeon”—a lobbyist who would buy them a meal. That’s changed a bit with political reform, but it’s still a popular hangout and a local favorite. Brown has his own booth and still stops in every time he has business in Sacramento. Governor Jerry Brown is also a frequent visitor.

The founder, Frank Fat, came to California from China in 1919 as a 16-year-old. He worked various odd jobs for 20 years, mostly in Sacramento, before opening his namesake restaurant in 1939 near the capitol. Today the Fat family also operates three other successful restaurants in the Sacramento region: Fat City in Old Sacramento and Fat’s Asia Bistro in Folsom and Roseville.

The America's Classic award is given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned.