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Davis report on Tucos (long, not positive)

Jan | May 18, 200505:12 PM

I’m beginning to think that the owner of Tucos Wine Market & Cafe in Davis has been writing the wonderful things about his establishment on this site.

In the past, I have posted only favorable comments on We live in the Sierra Nevada foothills and we love many of the restaurants up here. This posting is not positive.

Last Monday, we arrived in Davis for an evening at Mondavi Center, and we just wanted to pick up something nice to take to our hotel for lunch. Based on chowhound postings, we thought of Tucos. Plus, we like to try local places, not the chains. As with most places in Davis, parking is at a premium and the traffic enforcement cop immediately came by to mark our tire for the 1-hour limit. Little did I know that we would need almost that entire hour before we could leave.

After about 40 minutes — I waited in the car that long because I thought my husband was probably tasting wines inside — I went in Tucos to see what the holdup was. My husband was sitting on a bar stool waiting for our order. He related that it took about a half hour to get a menu. When he had asked to see a menu for takeout, he was told that there weren’t any, but that she would get him a menu from customers seated at the only table occupied at the time. Then the server went to that table and took their order, a process that took at least 10 minues after which time she returned with no menu. Upon being told again that there was no menu, my husband asked how a person could know what to order without a menu. The server ignored the question and went on about her business. Eventually, a cook came outside to remove the menu from the glass wall box with days and hours open listed. Next, the server made a copy of this, apparently the only menu in existence, and handed it to my husband, who then ordered 2 sandwiches to go, an order of bread pudding to share and 2 decaf coffees. The menu is extremely limited as is the heavily advertised oyster bar. The sandwiches were what they called “house-cured” tuna on ciabatta ($7.50 each). More than 15 minutes later, he was handed his bag, a total of 55 minutes from the time he went inside. Only then did the server and the chef apologize for the delay. I could have cured my own tuna in that length of time.

Yes, yes, he should have left after a 10-minute wait, asking to speak to the manager first. But my kind husband had heard my raves about Tucos and he wanted to be certain that I got to taste some of the food there. While the sandwiches were fresh, there was absolutely no taste. We sprinkled on salt twice just to get something to taste. Maybe there’s a high blood pressure problem in the Davis enclave. We can’t think of another reason for no seasonings whatsoever.

Any positives? The bread pudding ($6.50) with its caramelized pecan topping was very good (maybe it’s made elsewhere). Tucos ad in the Mondavi Center Program reads, “Wine shop, tasting room, gourmet cafe, cheese bar, oyster bar, specialty market.” Whatever you get out of that description, be aware that almost none of it applies, and what little does is in such miniature form that you barely know it’s there. In another listing of Sacramento area restaurants, Tucos management writes, “An eclectic alternative, Tucos has the best food in Davis.” Depending on your definition, it might be eclectic, but be assured there is much better food in Davis at a number of places featuring a wide variety of cuisine. Not fancy by any means, and it’s takeout, as an example, for dinner we picked up falafel on pita at Sam’s, a tiny hole in the wall just behind Chocolat, which is on B Street. At $4.99 each, they were wonderfully spicy and included fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce on very fresh pita. Yummm! And the whole process took less than 10 minutes. Keep your “eclectic,” expensive, no service places. We’ll head for Sam’s or any one of a dozen or more other places next time and be very grateful for good food at reasonable prices with friendly servers. And if you need something to top off the meal, there’s always Chocolat with its sublime desserts and coffees.

My main reason for writing this is to offer these ideas: 1) It’s now obvious that restaurant owners/managers post on this site. The raves about this place were completely unfounded. Workers were not trained to produce menus or food in a reasonable time. Taste was not part of the equation except when it came to dessert. Most of all, where was the manager to express some type of consideration to our plight? And 2) It appears that there might be an attitude against the elderly. My husband is 71 years old and maybe he didn’t look cool enough either to understand what Tucos is trying to do or to even deserve service. Tucos has a long way to go, but we won’t be there to find out if they make it.

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