Davis, a charming university town rich in cultural diversity, is home to a surprising number of restaurants. From Mediterranean and Korean cuisine to Greek, Nepalese and German cuisine, there’s a little something for everyone seeking an interesting dining experience.
Burgers and Brew by Crepeville
Davis denizens may be surrounded by terrific ethnic food, but they also love their hamburgers, especially the ones found at Burgers and Brew, located on the sun-dappled corner of Third and C streets. The lunch line starts forming early at this very popular restaurant, so arrive early if you want your burger in a timely fashion. Delicious (and very robustly-sized) options include the spicy bacon and jalapeno cheeseburger, composed on a locally-baked Village Bakery bun with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion slices and melted pepper Jack cheese; and the vegetarian-friendly smoked tofu burger. The turkey avocado melt (a sandwich) is also a great choice, as are the black pepper-flecked, extra-crispy fries.
403 Third St., Davis, (530) 750-3600
If you like Middle Eastern food, you’ll be thrilled to discover teeny Café Méditerranée, located on a quiet side street in downtown Davis. This former house has been gussied up with a dazzling paint job and lots of gauzy drapes, and the snug, shrub-encircled outdoor dining area is one of the prettiest in town. Café Méditerranée’s food is hearty and flavorful, and includes such briskly-selling items as the chicken shawerma (tender roasted chicken carefully sliced off a tall, vertical rotisserie and placed on a bed of rice) and the lamb and beef kebobs. Definitely try the kitchen’s refreshing taboule salad—prepared from roughly chopped parsley, diced tomato, bits of cucumber and soft cracked wheat—and the startlingly pink muhamara, a traditional spread composed of roasted red peppers, bread crumbs, chopped nuts and pomegranate molasses (spread it on the cafe’s warm pita bread).
Café Méditerranée, 113 D St., Davis, (530) 759-7007
2K Thai Food
Davis boasts its share of Asian restaurants, and 2K Thai is one of the best. The restaurant’s interior is cheerily elegant, with pretty pumpkin-colored walls, dark wood chairs and black marble tables. Intriguing Thai artwork adds a splash of vibrancy to the space, and the dapper waitstaff—outfitted in all black, with white ties—give 2K an upscale vibe. The sumptuous and coconutty tome kah gai soup, laden with sliced chicken breast, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir leaves and mushrooms, is one of the restaurant’s dreamiest menu items, along with the pad see-ew (fresh pan-fried rice noodles with egg and broccoli) and the moist, wonderful ped yang (Thai roasted duck on a bed of sautéed spinach and cabbage). If you’re a squid aficionado, dig into 2K’s yum pla-muek, a broiled squid salad seasoned with a citrusy bite of lime and tossed with cilantro and green onion.
223 G St., Davis, (530) 759-2255
The Mustard Seed
A Davis institution, The Mustard Seed offers patrons a unique and intimate dining experience. The restaurant, a former house, is composed of three tiny rooms, each containing only four or five tables. I especially like the snug middle room, with its warm wood-paneled walls, enormous brick fireplace and antler chandelier. On a warm day, definitely request the private, shaded patio out back—it’s a lovely little bower in which to enjoy The Mustard Seed’s very seasonal menu. Some of the restaurant’s “staple” items include a wonderful Caesar salad, with sundried tomatoes and a housemade crouton, and, at lunch, and almond-curry tuna sandwich. Dinner items may include such irresistible dishes as a macadamia-crusted Alaskan halibut with red Thai curry coconut sauce; and a honey-glazed quail stuffed with polenta, apples, leeks and bacon.
222 D St., Davis, (530) 758-5750
Aïoli Bodega Española
This romantic restaurant, with its soft, burnt orange-colored walls, deep, dark plum-colored ceiling and ethereal, filmy drapes, give one the sense of languishing in a luxurious cave. Whimsical copper wire-wrapped wine glasses dangle above the dimpled copper bar, and tables are draped with burlap cloth and rough brown paper. The earthiness of the ambience is reflected in the menu items, which feature big flavors and lots of texture. Tapas—Spanish “small plates” traditionally designed to be consumed with a glass of sherry or wine in Spanish bars—dominate the menu, and include the popular salpicon de pulpo, octopus with potatoes and roasted bell peppers; the merquez a la flamenca, grilled lamb sausage; and the puerco castilla, tender chunks of pork braised with raisins and pearl onions. Don’t miss the fantastic paella valenciana, served up in a sizzlingly hot black pan; or the roasted leg of lamb sandwich.
808 Second St., Davis; (530) 757-2766