Fresh Food Faux Pas in Davis: The “Farm to Fork Capital of the World”

Sysco at Co-op
Sysco Truck delivers to the Co-op

By Rhonda Gruska

We just got back from visiting our son in one of our favorite food cities, Portland. Shortly after our return I went into one of my “Davis is not a food town” rants when some poor unsuspecting person said something about the high quality of a local eatery’s cuisine.

The rant went like this: the sad reality is, here in the Farm to Fork Capital of CA, in Yolo County, and definitely in Davis, the food served at most restaurants is coming off a Sysco truck (even at the Co-op!).

We find that ironic, given the fact that our local farms provide ingredients for many excellent restaurants in SF and a growing number in Sacramento.

Based on what we know (and we personally know a lot about what goes on in restaurants in Davis and learn more every day from our customers and our staff) there is little to be proud of in the food department in Davis.

The individual politely listened to my rant, thanked me for the information, and then asked me to consider writing a food column to help educate eaters. I was thrilled with the positive response and, as I live, breathe, and eat food, saw this challenge as something I could really sink my teeth into.

Yes, I will do it! And what better venue than the Davis Vanguard, a grassroots media organization that promotes critical analytical thinking and discussion about what is going on in our community?

In my first column, I want to find out if you aware that when you eat at a place that can’t tell you where the food came from, chances are extremely high that a majority of the ingredients, or even the menu items themselves, come from Sysco or some other corporate food purveyor? Sysco Corp. made news last December when it merged with US Foods.

Sysco is one of 10 channel partners with Entegra, a subsidiary of Sodexo, with 193 distribution facilities serving approximately 425,000 customers. During fiscal year 2013, the company generated record sales of more than $44 billion. Sodexo operates the food service at UC Davis and many other institutional food service operations.

Sysco has grown so large because commercial ingredients and prepared foods are not only cheap, but efficient.

While chefs have long relied on shortcuts like canned tomatoes, it’s entirely different to pass off one of Sysco’s ready-made salads, sides, entrees, and desserts as housemade. Commercially prepared foods can be purchased in bulk and stored in a freezer for months. Then you save money on labor by not having to hire what we call “a real cook.”

For example, a potential hire with what appeared to be a decent amount of cooking experience on his resume came in for a stage (cooking audition) and asked Tony, “Where do you get all of these sauces?’ “Uh, we make them,” Tony replied.

The bottom line in the food industry these days is that even if you aren’t at a fast food joint, chances are you could be paying for a meal that requires nothing more than the ability to “heat, assemble, and serve.”

We change our menu constantly, sometimes daily, using fresh, local, organic, ingredients. Our food and labor costs are high, but we think our customers are worth it (and we eat here every day and want to stay healthy, but that’s another article).

Needless to say, knowing what we know, it’s very difficult to dine out in “the farm to fork capital of the world.” When we do have time and money, we support restaurants similar to ours.

As our bartender son in Portland informed us, “Many people, who work in the food and beverage industry in Portland, consider themselves artisans. They perpetuate artisanship by supporting other artisans.” A former Monticello employee who recently opened a restaurant in Portland told us, “If a Sysco truck drove up, it would destroy our credibility in Portland.” Now that’s a “food town.”

As the owner of Monticello, a seasonal cuisine restaurant in Davis, along with my spouse, Chef Tony Gruska, and local organic farmer Jim Eldon, we live the “Farm to Fork” life. Tony’s culinary philosophy is that great cooking starts with great ingredients. And great ingredients come from small farms like Jim’s Fiddlers Green in Capay Valley.

Tony was recently included in Sac Town Magazine’s Home Grown Edition and was referred to as one of “the regions fiercest champions of the farm-to-fork movement.”

Monticello’s menu incorporates the most beautiful and flavorful seasonal produce, reflecting a serious commitment to the sustainable future of Yolo County and the region.

Prior to the restaurant in Davis, Rhonda and Tony owned the Monticello Bistro in the farming community of Winters and Tastebuds Catering.

About The Author

Related posts

112 Comments

  1. Frankly

    Rhonda – Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am a food and beverage snob that has a lot of frustration over the lack of choice and lack of quality in our restaurant scene. And I cringe when I think about the World Food Center and how unsophisticated we are in this business. If you travel anywhere else in this country to any city worthy of national recognition there is likely to be a strong local food and entertainment market.

    In this Food Channel time we live in, I see a tremendous opportunity to change… leveraging all that Davis is so fortunate to have. I have previously talked about food tourism… sort of a mini Napa Valley of high quality fresh food production, preparation and service.

    But here is what I see causing such a barrier to us moving forward on this.

    First, there is education like you are providing here. And bravo to that!

    Then there is Measure J/R that limits the commercial real estate that could otherwise be used to expand our local food industry.

    Lastly, there is shifting demographic of older people and college students… neither that are terribly fussy about food quality and are more apt to focus on price. It is the young professionals and young families that provide us the bubble of excitement for great food and drink.

    As we considered expanding our business economy, there is going to be a great opportunity to leverage the expansion of our local consumer market base for food. I hope we can take advantage of that.

  2. Frankly

    Rhonda – Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am a food and beverage snob that has a lot of frustration over the lack of choice and lack of quality in our restaurant scene. And I cringe when I think about the World Food Center and how unsophisticated we are in this business. If you travel anywhere else in this country to any city worthy of national recognition there is likely to be a strong local food and entertainment market.

    In this Food Channel time we live in, I see a tremendous opportunity to change… leveraging all that Davis is so fortunate to have. I have previously talked about food tourism… sort of a mini Napa Valley of high quality fresh food production, preparation and service.

    But here is what I see causing such a barrier to us moving forward on this.

    First, there is education like you are providing here. And bravo to that!

    Then there is Measure J/R that limits the commercial real estate that could otherwise be used to expand our local food industry.

    Lastly, there is shifting demographic of older people and college students… neither that are terribly fussy about food quality and are more apt to focus on price. It is the young professionals and young families that provide us the bubble of excitement for great food and drink.

    As we considered expanding our business economy, there is going to be a great opportunity to leverage the expansion of our local consumer market base for food. I hope we can take advantage of that.

  3. Tia Will

    Rhonda

    I too really appreciated the article and will be looking forward to more.

    Frankly

    I could not help but smile at two of your points.
    1) The thought that measure J/R really has anything to do with expansion of the local food industry when
    restaurant turnover such as we have now is already rapid and allows plenty of opportunity for new restaurants.
    Monticello itself is the result of one such turnover. No new construction needed.
    2) The thought that young professionals and young families are the principles in excitement for great food and
    drink when both you and I are well past that phase and are both appreciative of fine food.

    1. Frankly

      1) Disagree. My work gives me a great understanding of the lack of commercial real estate to support quality restaurants. One thing is a lack of space. A quality restaurant will need a sizable food preparation area and enough tables to cover the customer turnover needed to provide the revenue to cover the cost of the higher quality fresh ingredients.

      2) There are exceptions, but I know many Davisites in their 60s and 70s that tell me Davis has plenty of great restaurants. It is clear they no longer get out much.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i have always been surprised how mediocre the food is in davis compared to other similar locations. not sure i agree on the size. berkeley has some outstanding food in tight quarters.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          In the entire history of Davis, there have never been more restaurants and I am sure the quality now is higher than ever. Maybe there are other places which have it better. But they probably always did.

          1. Don Shor

            Seriously. When I moved here, there were maybe four restaurants. Giant Hamburger, Sambo’s, Straw Hat Pizza, Honorable Gee’s. Symposium opened the next year, which was a huge improvement in the restaurant scene. What we have now is a small number of very good restaurants, and a plethora of student-oriented chain restaurants. I see that the site of Dimple Records is being developed into two more pizza/sub places.
            One thing Frankly has noted before is the absence of restaurants capable of hosting larger groups for meetings. But there’s no question Davis has a greater diversity of food options than ever before.

          2. Frankly

            Diversity?

            Sure, if you like pizza and Tia food.

            We lack higher end sit down and be served restaurants and we lack venues with space enough for group dinners and lunches.

            We also lack larger entertainment venues where more people can congregate together. For example, larger bars where larger entertainment acts could perform.

            Seasons, Monticello, Tucos, Our House. That is about as close as we come.

          3. Davis Progressive

            i agree that there are more restaurants rich. what i question is whether we have good food – i really can’t think of a single restaurant i would drive to davis just for the food.

          4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “i really can’t think of a single restaurant i would drive to davis just for the food.”

            Ultimately, that is a matter of individual taste and options you might have elsewhere. Yet, I know downtown Davis at lunch and dinner times is regularly full of people who come here from 10-50 miles for a meal. A family I know that lives in Orland will usually (go out of their way and) stop in Davis on their way to the Bay Area for a bite to eat. I asked them (a couple months ago) where they last ate, here, and they told me Mikuni Japanese Restaurant. I know they also stopped for drinks at Bistro 33 not too long ago, but that was on a visit to Sacramento.

          5. Frankly

            I agree with DP. I think people come for the vibe, but not the food. Although fuji Sushi gets a lot of people coming from out of town for the “all you can eat” buffet. Personally I think people are silly since their sushi is no better or worse than other restaurants, and eating sushi should not be a “stuff your face” event, and most of it is rice, and the standing in line misses the time-value-money calculation.

            If Davis had more places that would cause people to come from out of town for the food like Winters has done, it would benefit all city retail.

            Funny that I am complaining that a little city like Winters has restaurants worth driving to, but not our much larger city filled with captive customers and surrounding people that would otherwise come pay us a visit.

  4. Tia Will

    Rhonda

    I too really appreciated the article and will be looking forward to more.

    Frankly

    I could not help but smile at two of your points.
    1) The thought that measure J/R really has anything to do with expansion of the local food industry when
    restaurant turnover such as we have now is already rapid and allows plenty of opportunity for new restaurants.
    Monticello itself is the result of one such turnover. No new construction needed.
    2) The thought that young professionals and young families are the principles in excitement for great food and
    drink when both you and I are well past that phase and are both appreciative of fine food.

    1. Frankly

      1) Disagree. My work gives me a great understanding of the lack of commercial real estate to support quality restaurants. One thing is a lack of space. A quality restaurant will need a sizable food preparation area and enough tables to cover the customer turnover needed to provide the revenue to cover the cost of the higher quality fresh ingredients.

      2) There are exceptions, but I know many Davisites in their 60s and 70s that tell me Davis has plenty of great restaurants. It is clear they no longer get out much.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i have always been surprised how mediocre the food is in davis compared to other similar locations. not sure i agree on the size. berkeley has some outstanding food in tight quarters.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          In the entire history of Davis, there have never been more restaurants and I am sure the quality now is higher than ever. Maybe there are other places which have it better. But they probably always did.

          1. Don Shor

            Seriously. When I moved here, there were maybe four restaurants. Giant Hamburger, Sambo’s, Straw Hat Pizza, Honorable Gee’s. Symposium opened the next year, which was a huge improvement in the restaurant scene. What we have now is a small number of very good restaurants, and a plethora of student-oriented chain restaurants. I see that the site of Dimple Records is being developed into two more pizza/sub places.
            One thing Frankly has noted before is the absence of restaurants capable of hosting larger groups for meetings. But there’s no question Davis has a greater diversity of food options than ever before.

          2. Frankly

            Diversity?

            Sure, if you like pizza and Tia food.

            We lack higher end sit down and be served restaurants and we lack venues with space enough for group dinners and lunches.

            We also lack larger entertainment venues where more people can congregate together. For example, larger bars where larger entertainment acts could perform.

            Seasons, Monticello, Tucos, Our House. That is about as close as we come.

          3. Davis Progressive

            i agree that there are more restaurants rich. what i question is whether we have good food – i really can’t think of a single restaurant i would drive to davis just for the food.

          4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            “i really can’t think of a single restaurant i would drive to davis just for the food.”

            Ultimately, that is a matter of individual taste and options you might have elsewhere. Yet, I know downtown Davis at lunch and dinner times is regularly full of people who come here from 10-50 miles for a meal. A family I know that lives in Orland will usually (go out of their way and) stop in Davis on their way to the Bay Area for a bite to eat. I asked them (a couple months ago) where they last ate, here, and they told me Mikuni Japanese Restaurant. I know they also stopped for drinks at Bistro 33 not too long ago, but that was on a visit to Sacramento.

          5. Frankly

            I agree with DP. I think people come for the vibe, but not the food. Although fuji Sushi gets a lot of people coming from out of town for the “all you can eat” buffet. Personally I think people are silly since their sushi is no better or worse than other restaurants, and eating sushi should not be a “stuff your face” event, and most of it is rice, and the standing in line misses the time-value-money calculation.

            If Davis had more places that would cause people to come from out of town for the food like Winters has done, it would benefit all city retail.

            Funny that I am complaining that a little city like Winters has restaurants worth driving to, but not our much larger city filled with captive customers and surrounding people that would otherwise come pay us a visit.

  5. D.D.

    I don’t understand why some people think that older people are not fussy about their food quality. That sentence puzzles me. Some focus on price, others scour the ingredient label. We also look at the menu for the little heart symbol, among other indicators of healthy choices. We ask our food servers i a polite tone, about the sauces on our menu item, and where the baby greens on our salad came from.

  6. D.D.

    I don’t understand why some people think that older people are not fussy about their food quality. That sentence puzzles me. Some focus on price, others scour the ingredient label. We also look at the menu for the little heart symbol, among other indicators of healthy choices. We ask our food servers i a polite tone, about the sauces on our menu item, and where the baby greens on our salad came from.

      1. South of Davis

        I’m a little younger than Frankly and Tia and tend to call “older people” over 75.

        I’ll bet anyone that the Denny’s in Woodland has more people over 75 eating dinner on average than the Kitchen in Sacramento…

          1. David Greenwald

            The owner, who caters our fall event, said they are remodeling and will be open in a month.

          2. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

            The sign on the front door says they are closed for one month for painting and remodeling.

        1. tj

          Ciocolat — Appearances and prices can be deceiving. I bought a French fruit tart there that looked good but had gone bad, rotten on the inside, not edible.

          The Aggie reported a couple of years ago on Ciocolat’s difficulties passing a restaurant inspection. The place was loaded with mice and rat droppings, the sink in the kitchen for hand washing was out of commission, amongst other issues. The descriptions of sanitary problems were rather sickening.

      1. South of Davis

        I’m a little younger than Frankly and Tia and tend to call “older people” over 75.

        I’ll bet anyone that the Denny’s in Woodland has more people over 75 eating dinner on average than the Kitchen in Sacramento…

          1. David Greenwald

            The owner, who caters our fall event, said they are remodeling and will be open in a month.

          2. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

            The sign on the front door says they are closed for one month for painting and remodeling.

        1. tj

          Ciocolat — Appearances and prices can be deceiving. I bought a French fruit tart there that looked good but had gone bad, rotten on the inside, not edible.

          The Aggie reported a couple of years ago on Ciocolat’s difficulties passing a restaurant inspection. The place was loaded with mice and rat droppings, the sink in the kitchen for hand washing was out of commission, amongst other issues. The descriptions of sanitary problems were rather sickening.

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    We don’t have to become Portland to improve, and there can be modest improvements at even “casual” food places. I think of Texas Roadhouse BBQ, which makes its dressings and such onsite, and cuts all its meat onsite.

    I didn’t see here the mention of cost, which really impacts younger people, older people, and working families. They just don’t have the budget for the $14 artisan salad.

    Further, I’ve read that if everyone ate “organic”, we couldn’t feed our population. Just sayin.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “I’ve read that if everyone ate “organic”, we couldn’t feed our population. ”

      how so? right now, organic is relegated to small farms because of the demand. but if we moved to completely organic, that of course would change. too many people think small and inside the box.

  8. TrueBlueDevil

    We don’t have to become Portland to improve, and there can be modest improvements at even “casual” food places. I think of Texas Roadhouse BBQ, which makes its dressings and such onsite, and cuts all its meat onsite.

    I didn’t see here the mention of cost, which really impacts younger people, older people, and working families. They just don’t have the budget for the $14 artisan salad.

    Further, I’ve read that if everyone ate “organic”, we couldn’t feed our population. Just sayin.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “I’ve read that if everyone ate “organic”, we couldn’t feed our population. ”

      how so? right now, organic is relegated to small farms because of the demand. but if we moved to completely organic, that of course would change. too many people think small and inside the box.

  9. tj

    Years ago I asked for the wilted spinach salad at Applebee’s. The server said they were out of salad. This seemed odd so the server explained that the salads each come in plastic bags, trucked in periodically from a warehouse
    somewhere. Last Sunday at Bistro 33 I asked for a sandwich without cheese; the server explained that “all the sandwiches are made in the morning” so the melted cheese could not be removed. I wonder who or where the sandwiches were made.

    On the plus side, overall, are there less food borne pathogens in food made in warehouses in mass production?

    1. Mark West

      Most food borne illnesses arise during food storage, not the initial preparation. It is primarily a function of the microbial population that takes time to build up to a level sufficient to cause harm. If anything, I would expect to see more problems with warehouse production, delivery and storage as opposed to kitchen production and immediate service. That of course assumes that the basic ingredients are stored properly in the kitchen.

  10. tj

    Years ago I asked for the wilted spinach salad at Applebee’s. The server said they were out of salad. This seemed odd so the server explained that the salads each come in plastic bags, trucked in periodically from a warehouse
    somewhere. Last Sunday at Bistro 33 I asked for a sandwich without cheese; the server explained that “all the sandwiches are made in the morning” so the melted cheese could not be removed. I wonder who or where the sandwiches were made.

    On the plus side, overall, are there less food borne pathogens in food made in warehouses in mass production?

    1. Mark West

      Most food borne illnesses arise during food storage, not the initial preparation. It is primarily a function of the microbial population that takes time to build up to a level sufficient to cause harm. If anything, I would expect to see more problems with warehouse production, delivery and storage as opposed to kitchen production and immediate service. That of course assumes that the basic ingredients are stored properly in the kitchen.

  11. DavisBurns

    We are at Little Prague last Friday before it closed on Sunday. I hear it will become a pizza and subs place. It would be nice to have another option. We have more than enough pizza places. Monticello is my favorite restaurant but since I started buying a veggie box from Robert Ramming’s Pacific Star Garden, I find I have to cook most nights to keep up with the bounty.

  12. DavisBurns

    We are at Little Prague last Friday before it closed on Sunday. I hear it will become a pizza and subs place. It would be nice to have another option. We have more than enough pizza places. Monticello is my favorite restaurant but since I started buying a veggie box from Robert Ramming’s Pacific Star Garden, I find I have to cook most nights to keep up with the bounty.

  13. South of Davis

    Rohnda wrote that her son said:

    > “Many people, who work in the food and beverage industry in
    > Portland, consider themselves artisans.”

    I’ve always liked this clip of a Portland couple ordering chicken:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErRHJlE4PGI&feature=kp

    All joking aside, thanks for the information. It would be interesting to have a follow up article on the (growing) number “organic” products that are the same as the old products except for a new label and a higher price.

    It is nice to know that Rhonda is making an effort to use fresh food. If a friend ever suggests that we go to a chain restaurant I’ll tell him that we can microwave a couple frozen dinners from Safeway at have a similar quality meal prepared the same way for a lot less…

  14. South of Davis

    Rohnda wrote that her son said:

    > “Many people, who work in the food and beverage industry in
    > Portland, consider themselves artisans.”

    I’ve always liked this clip of a Portland couple ordering chicken:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErRHJlE4PGI&feature=kp

    All joking aside, thanks for the information. It would be interesting to have a follow up article on the (growing) number “organic” products that are the same as the old products except for a new label and a higher price.

    It is nice to know that Rhonda is making an effort to use fresh food. If a friend ever suggests that we go to a chain restaurant I’ll tell him that we can microwave a couple frozen dinners from Safeway at have a similar quality meal prepared the same way for a lot less…

    1. Frankly

      Organics and farm-to-grocer-to-fork trends have helped a bit taking a bite out of these big dogs.

      But as long as there are people needing to save a buck the markets will be dominated by those larger companies that leverage economies of scale.

      I yelled at one of my well-off Davis friends who bought two bikes from Dixon Walmart until he explained that his two kids keep getting their more expensive bikes stolen and the cheap Chinese bikes don’t get ripped off as much, and if they do, he can just purchase more.

      Sometimes cheap makes sense.

    1. Frankly

      Organics and farm-to-grocer-to-fork trends have helped a bit taking a bite out of these big dogs.

      But as long as there are people needing to save a buck the markets will be dominated by those larger companies that leverage economies of scale.

      I yelled at one of my well-off Davis friends who bought two bikes from Dixon Walmart until he explained that his two kids keep getting their more expensive bikes stolen and the cheap Chinese bikes don’t get ripped off as much, and if they do, he can just purchase more.

      Sometimes cheap makes sense.

  15. Darcie

    I completely agree! Davis has the opportunity to have some of the freshest food, straight from the farm, in restaurants. I am especially concerned by this, as I have a food allergy to corn. Any restaurant accepting preservative-laden food from the Sysco truck is off limits to me. This leaves possibly Monticello, which I admit I have yet to try, and perhaps one or two other locations in town.

    While my position is a selfish one, I still don’t understand why the farm to fork movement isn’t bigger here! We support this for our school district through the Davis Farm to Schools program. Why not for the rest of us? Thanks for writing this, and I look forward to more discussion of the topic!

    1. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

      Darcie – I too don’t understand why the “Farm to Fork” movement is not bigger in Davis. After all UCD is THE largest AG University in the U.S. and has such a prestigious reputation AND we have such wonderful farms in and around Yolo County. One would think that Davis and Yolo County would be a hopping place for the Farm to Fork movement. I know that UCD is working on this and I hope it takes off. As a parent I am glad that DJUSD supports this, but it needs to move beyond that into the community and the university.

  16. Darcie

    I completely agree! Davis has the opportunity to have some of the freshest food, straight from the farm, in restaurants. I am especially concerned by this, as I have a food allergy to corn. Any restaurant accepting preservative-laden food from the Sysco truck is off limits to me. This leaves possibly Monticello, which I admit I have yet to try, and perhaps one or two other locations in town.

    While my position is a selfish one, I still don’t understand why the farm to fork movement isn’t bigger here! We support this for our school district through the Davis Farm to Schools program. Why not for the rest of us? Thanks for writing this, and I look forward to more discussion of the topic!

    1. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

      Darcie – I too don’t understand why the “Farm to Fork” movement is not bigger in Davis. After all UCD is THE largest AG University in the U.S. and has such a prestigious reputation AND we have such wonderful farms in and around Yolo County. One would think that Davis and Yolo County would be a hopping place for the Farm to Fork movement. I know that UCD is working on this and I hope it takes off. As a parent I am glad that DJUSD supports this, but it needs to move beyond that into the community and the university.

  17. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    One thing strikes me as an opportunity for restaurateurs in Davis, especially those which are locally owned: They ought to form some sort of buying coöperative, where they could strike a deal with one or more local farms, guaranteeing to purchase X amount of fruits and veggies, Y amount of meat(s) and Z amount of eggs or poultry, and so on, every year.

    If they did that sort of thing, it would be good for them, as they would have a fresh, local source. And it would be good for the farmer(s) who would have a ready market to sell their goods. (They might even include the Davis Food Coöp in this partnership, where the Coöp would agree to buy all of the excess production in a given season.)

    Where it would be hard for a single restaurant to have sufficient demand to make this kind of thing work, it seems doable if all or most of the local restaurants agreed to participate. Also, because restaurants regularly go out of business, if you had dozens of them all in as a “buyer’s club,” every time one or two went bankrupt, the rest could take up the slack until new restaurants replaced the closed businesses.

  18. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    One thing strikes me as an opportunity for restaurateurs in Davis, especially those which are locally owned: They ought to form some sort of buying coöperative, where they could strike a deal with one or more local farms, guaranteeing to purchase X amount of fruits and veggies, Y amount of meat(s) and Z amount of eggs or poultry, and so on, every year.

    If they did that sort of thing, it would be good for them, as they would have a fresh, local source. And it would be good for the farmer(s) who would have a ready market to sell their goods. (They might even include the Davis Food Coöp in this partnership, where the Coöp would agree to buy all of the excess production in a given season.)

    Where it would be hard for a single restaurant to have sufficient demand to make this kind of thing work, it seems doable if all or most of the local restaurants agreed to participate. Also, because restaurants regularly go out of business, if you had dozens of them all in as a “buyer’s club,” every time one or two went bankrupt, the rest could take up the slack until new restaurants replaced the closed businesses.

  19. D.D.

    Village bakery, esp. the one by the train station, ciocolat, cafe bernardo’s, zia’s, there’s a few more that seemed to have fresh ingrediants. At least one of those places grows some of their own food.
    Used to really love dos. Nice staff, wonderful food.

  20. D.D.

    Village bakery, esp. the one by the train station, ciocolat, cafe bernardo’s, zia’s, there’s a few more that seemed to have fresh ingrediants. At least one of those places grows some of their own food.
    Used to really love dos. Nice staff, wonderful food.

  21. D.D.

    Davis is a superb location to grow your own food and gleen food from the city trees on the greenbelts. Good stuff. With a little patience, even a small patio can grow enough tomatos for a person to have sauce all winter. Find a sunny spot. We grew mint & basil as ground cover on our front lawn area. We had a shared lemon tree in our neighborhood, too. Lots of opportunities in your wonderful climate.

  22. D.D.

    Davis is a superb location to grow your own food and gleen food from the city trees on the greenbelts. Good stuff. With a little patience, even a small patio can grow enough tomatos for a person to have sauce all winter. Find a sunny spot. We grew mint & basil as ground cover on our front lawn area. We had a shared lemon tree in our neighborhood, too. Lots of opportunities in your wonderful climate.

  23. D.D.

    Shout out to Steve’s outdoor patio. When my babies were born, we drove from Natomas to Davis just to sit in Steve’s patio & enjoy a beer & slice. Thank you, Steve. Great family atmosphere & kind staff, and plenty of high chairs!

  24. D.D.

    Shout out to Steve’s outdoor patio. When my babies were born, we drove from Natomas to Davis just to sit in Steve’s patio & enjoy a beer & slice. Thank you, Steve. Great family atmosphere & kind staff, and plenty of high chairs!

  25. Davis Senior

    Using this article as a plug for her restaurant is amusing, but if this is the Vanguards choice of food reporter, I’m disappointed. Using Monticello’s management, food, and service as a benchmark for “quality” makes the article ludicrous. We ate at her place in Winters. Twice. Both times were dining disasters. When she moved to Davis we gave Monticello a try, as did three of our neighbors. Later we compared experiences, and none of us chose to return. We eat out a lot, and we have expectations for quality and service. I agree that Davis lacks restaurant choices, but let’s be real, it is a college town and it caters to students … fast and inexpensive dining. Mulvaney’s in Sacramento is a good example of the type of restaurant we would like to see more of in Davis.

    1. Frankly

      I love Mulvaney’s Building and Loan!

      Yes. There are actually quite a few very good restaurants in Sacramento. There will be more as the new Kings arena is built.

  26. Davis Senior

    Using this article as a plug for her restaurant is amusing, but if this is the Vanguards choice of food reporter, I’m disappointed. Using Monticello’s management, food, and service as a benchmark for “quality” makes the article ludicrous. We ate at her place in Winters. Twice. Both times were dining disasters. When she moved to Davis we gave Monticello a try, as did three of our neighbors. Later we compared experiences, and none of us chose to return. We eat out a lot, and we have expectations for quality and service. I agree that Davis lacks restaurant choices, but let’s be real, it is a college town and it caters to students … fast and inexpensive dining. Mulvaney’s in Sacramento is a good example of the type of restaurant we would like to see more of in Davis.

    1. Frankly

      I love Mulvaney’s Building and Loan!

      Yes. There are actually quite a few very good restaurants in Sacramento. There will be more as the new Kings arena is built.

  27. Jim Frame

    Seasons, Monticello, Tucos, Our House. That is about as close as we come.

    What about Osteria Fasulo? It’s just down the street from your place. The first time I ate there we had a superb meal. The last time it wasn’t memorable. And it is (or was — it’s been awhile) pricey.

    Monticello is great, though I’m mostly there for lunch with colleagues. My wife and I have dinner there occasionally.

    I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite hangout in Davis: Crepeville. Haute cuisine it’s not, but the food is good, plentiful and inexpensive (though they recently raised prices). And a couple of their outside tables are, in my opinion, the best spots in downtown to enjoy a meal, some fresh air, and a glass (or two!) of iced tea. I spend way more time there than I should.

    1. Frankly

      Osteria Fasulo – Yes, I forgot about my friend Leonardo’s place. My wife and I used to walk there for dinner several times a year. That way we could enjoy a bottle of wine… or even 1.5 bottles… and not have to leave the car parked at the train station and take a taxi home. OF had some service issues for a while and we stopped going. Time to give it another try.

      But the larger point here is the huge opportunity we are missing to make Davis a food destination. There is no good reason that Davis does not have several restaurants that end up on the food channel… other than the no-growth land preservation obsession that prevents a supply of commercial real estate.

      If I was the Anderson family I would work with the city to build a building supply and hardware store on the 25 city-owned acres at Mace surrounded by community gardens (think about all those customers right there), and re-develop that entire block of G street between 2nd and 4th… leaving in the design the potential for the train tracks to be re-located one day… and replace it with this (including a satellite Ace hardware store like at the Covell/Anderson shopping center):

      http://www.napa.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

      http://oxbowpublicmarket.com/

      But that is just me thinking of all the money I would make and how I would revitalize the downtown.

      1. Don Shor

        If I was the Anderson family I would work with the city to build a building supply and hardware store on the 25 city-owned acres at Mace

        Maybe the Hibbert family could beat them to it.

        1. Frankly

          Maybe, but then the Andersen family seems to have more to offer the city in consideration of that land. I might be wrong about that.

          Or maybe the agreement would be for Ace to relocate and not have a satellite store downtown since Hibbert is already there.

      2. Alan Miller

        “leaving in the design the potential for the train tracks to be re-located one day”

        With federal tax dollars on an almost unimaginable mega-scale devoted to the people of Yolo County through the evil collaboration of a corrupt developer and corrupt politicians, because that is the only way it will happen. This one project funded by the federal government for a limited local purpose which has been fraudulently presented to the politicians and people of Yolo County dwarfs the waste of all local tax dollars countywide, yet the promises made to everyone have developers, bicycle advocates and the Lollipop Guild dancing in the streets. This is massive taxpayer waste. Take off your blinders, Yolo County, even the players are being played.

  28. Jim Frame

    Seasons, Monticello, Tucos, Our House. That is about as close as we come.

    What about Osteria Fasulo? It’s just down the street from your place. The first time I ate there we had a superb meal. The last time it wasn’t memorable. And it is (or was — it’s been awhile) pricey.

    Monticello is great, though I’m mostly there for lunch with colleagues. My wife and I have dinner there occasionally.

    I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite hangout in Davis: Crepeville. Haute cuisine it’s not, but the food is good, plentiful and inexpensive (though they recently raised prices). And a couple of their outside tables are, in my opinion, the best spots in downtown to enjoy a meal, some fresh air, and a glass (or two!) of iced tea. I spend way more time there than I should.

    1. Frankly

      Osteria Fasulo – Yes, I forgot about my friend Leonardo’s place. My wife and I used to walk there for dinner several times a year. That way we could enjoy a bottle of wine… or even 1.5 bottles… and not have to leave the car parked at the train station and take a taxi home. OF had some service issues for a while and we stopped going. Time to give it another try.

      But the larger point here is the huge opportunity we are missing to make Davis a food destination. There is no good reason that Davis does not have several restaurants that end up on the food channel… other than the no-growth land preservation obsession that prevents a supply of commercial real estate.

      If I was the Anderson family I would work with the city to build a building supply and hardware store on the 25 city-owned acres at Mace surrounded by community gardens (think about all those customers right there), and re-develop that entire block of G street between 2nd and 4th… leaving in the design the potential for the train tracks to be re-located one day… and replace it with this (including a satellite Ace hardware store like at the Covell/Anderson shopping center):

      http://www.napa.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

      http://oxbowpublicmarket.com/

      But that is just me thinking of all the money I would make and how I would revitalize the downtown.

      1. Don Shor

        If I was the Anderson family I would work with the city to build a building supply and hardware store on the 25 city-owned acres at Mace

        Maybe the Hibbert family could beat them to it.

        1. Frankly

          Maybe, but then the Andersen family seems to have more to offer the city in consideration of that land. I might be wrong about that.

          Or maybe the agreement would be for Ace to relocate and not have a satellite store downtown since Hibbert is already there.

      2. Alan Miller

        “leaving in the design the potential for the train tracks to be re-located one day”

        With federal tax dollars on an almost unimaginable mega-scale devoted to the people of Yolo County through the evil collaboration of a corrupt developer and corrupt politicians, because that is the only way it will happen. This one project funded by the federal government for a limited local purpose which has been fraudulently presented to the politicians and people of Yolo County dwarfs the waste of all local tax dollars countywide, yet the promises made to everyone have developers, bicycle advocates and the Lollipop Guild dancing in the streets. This is massive taxpayer waste. Take off your blinders, Yolo County, even the players are being played.

  29. Frankly

    Shout out to El Toro Bravo as having the best Mexican food in Davis and in the surrounding area IMO.

    I actually know an authentic Mexican person that eats there and he agrees.

  30. Frankly

    Shout out to El Toro Bravo as having the best Mexican food in Davis and in the surrounding area IMO.

    I actually know an authentic Mexican person that eats there and he agrees.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for