Dining Out: Good Friends

This may be the least comprehensive restaurant review ever. So don’t be surprised if I go off on a tangent or two.

Good Friends is located in South Natomas, in a small shopping plaza on the south-east corner of the I5 and West El Camino intersection. The location is close to several housing complexes and also the campuses of the University of Phoenix and the Art Institute of Sacramento. It’s a faculty favorite for the Arts Institute and, given that the Capital Film Arts Alliance also meets there, also for some of the filmmaking community. For that reason, I’ve eaten there multiple times in the last couple of years, but I’ve never actually read the menu. Hence, the limited review content.

However, there’s a good reason to skip all but the back page of the menu – that’s where the combination meals are described. They’re enough of a good deal, that if you’re looking for a hearty meal and not jonesing for something too specific, that’s what to order. I’m fairly sure that the rest of the menu is quite comprehensive, given that there are several other panels in the brochure-style document, but I have no idea what’s actually in them. There’s also a lengthy sushi menu that gets placed on the table – but I haven’t read that either, for two reasons: It’s not the back page of the regular menu, and it’s sushi (*shudder*).

The combination meals have an extensive list of primary dishes to choose from and lunch also includes fried rice, chow mein, an eggroll, the appetizer of the day, and a choice of egg-drop or extremely hot and sour soup. All of this for $6.95-$7.25–it’s a lot of food. But the dinner combination is even more voluminous, as the daily appetizer disappears in favor of a full extra order of sweet and sour pork – all for approximately $9.95. It’s essentially enough for two meals in one. I have both shared a combination dinner with a friend on occasion, and taken half home on other occasions. It’s actually too much for me to eat before a discussion-based meeting as I end up feeling close to that post-Thanksgiving, loosened clothing, basking in a recliner like a beached, overfed-whale-state.

It’s a friendly little place, with these huge meals coming out of a small facility, occupying just one, narrow plaza storefront. If you go there with a regular, you’ll witness people being greeted by name and a strong sense that people keep coming back, time and time again.

And speaking of names, although Good Friends does seem quite fitting, it also breaks all of the Chinese restaurant naming ground rules. Somewhere out there, a man with the Chinese restaurant naming chart is weeping over one list full of panda, jade, dragon, and bamboo, and another list full of palace, garden, house, pagoda, and delights. There’s some irony in the idea that Chinese restaurants can be named by making one selection from Column A and one selection from Column B. Or the combo name that doubles them up – try for example the Dragon House of Panda Delights.

That said, check out Good Friends and try a combo meal – or perhaps even read the rest of the menu. Not that there’s really any need.

Good Friends
2600 Gateway Oaks Dr
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 568-5100
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

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