The Green Stars Project

Ethical Guide to Restaurants in Davis, CA

Or… Ethical Reviews of Local Businesses (California by Train, Part 2).

Since I’ve never really gone into it before, I want to say a little bit about how I research and write Green Stars reviews of restaurants, cafés, bars, stores, etc. I did look at Starbucks in a recent post, but smaller businesses are a different kettle of fish since you’re not dealing with a massive corporation and there’s often not so much information available online. Normally, a large part of the review is based on observations made on-site. This comes with the unexpected bonus of improving my detective skills and memory, or at least, perhaps, delaying the onset of senility. It may be helpful to think in terms of categories, such as sourcing, waste-generation, animal welfare, sustainability of raw materials, energy use, employees, societal benefit, and/or whatever’s most important to you. I’ll usually ask one or two questions that are relevant to whatever I’m thinking of purchasing, but avoiding judgement and Spanish Inquisitions.

I usually do some research online when I write a review, starting with a look at the  website, news items (I’ll often find a profile of the business or interview with the owner in a local paper) and perhaps social media. When relevant, I may do some research on outside suppliers related to what I bought (e.g., coffee beans, milk, pastry, beer, a particular farm, a clothing label, etc.). Sounds a bit daunting? It’s actually pretty easy, especially if you can start gently, just reporting on one thing that was good or bad. It might all seem like too much hassle, but I think it’s worth it for several reasons that I listed in a post last year on Eckhart Tolle.

So, let’s start with a town called Davis!

Davis Amtrak station. A nice thing about Amtrak stations (unlike airports) is that they are almost all located close to city centers.

Ethical restaurants in Davis, California

Davis (pop. 66k) is the main city in Yolo county (you read correctly), best known for being hot, bike-friendly, surrounded by agricultural land, and having a branch of the University of California (go Aggies!). This article from the Irish Times provides a good sketch of Davis, summing it up as Hippy Heaven, although I’m pretty sure you’ve seen hippier places.

Temple Coffee Roasters

Temple Coffee was fairly easy to review. It’s a modern company with a roaster in Sacramento and five cafés in the area, so they’re new enough and big enough to be savvy about transparency. It’s also useful to review an expanding company so that you can let them know what you like and where there’s room for improvement. A company is usually quite receptive at this stage of their development, and if you influence them to make one small change it could have a large impact as they expand.

Information gathered during my visit:

Information gathered online:

Room for improvement:

Overall score: 5/5 Green Stars.

(Here’s the review on Yelp.)

Village Bakery, Davis

The Village Bakery is a small, one-off bakery/pizzeria and was harder to review because there was no relevant information online, that I could find. I try not to pester staff but it was a quiet afternoon and the owner/baker was happy to talk.

Information gathered during my visit:

Information gathered online: None.

Room for improvement:

Overall score: 4/5 Green Stars.

(Here’s the review on TripAdvisor.)

Here are a few of the other places I reviewed in Davis, California:

(click on business names to go to the Green Stars review)

Mishka’s Cafe, Davis, CA:  4/5 Green Stars

Cloud Forest Cafe, Davis, CA: 4/5 Green Stars

Let them Eat Cake, Davis, CA: 4/5 Green Stars

Sun and Soil Juice Company, Davis, CA: 5/5 Green Stars

Until next time… Adiós!

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