Bistro 33

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= Service =

There have been many complaints about the mediocre or horrible service provided by the staff, especially when it comes to the bar. Stories include ridiculously long waits for food, being ignored, and drinks that never arrive after being ordered. Once a customer was accused of trying to rip the establishment off when he complained about the terrible service to the management although another customer claims that getting things on the house is possible. There are some who claim that the service has been consistently good though.

bistro2.jpg bistro1.jpg wikiwesh1201.jpgThe Fountain

226 F Street
(Historic City Hall at Third and F Street)
Sun 8am - 10pm
Mon-Wed 11:30am - 10pm
Thu-Sat 11:30am - Midnight
[WWW] includes menu, specials, & events
Direct link to menus: [WWW]breakfast and [WWW]dinner and [WWW]wine
(menu is in a picture, not very accessible)
Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

Bistro 33 (some refer to it as "The Beast") features a bar, regular seating, a banquet hall, and an outdoor terrace for parties or patio dining. The Redevelopment Agency, architect Robery Lindley, and the Haines brothers, restaurateurs of [sacramento]33rd Street Bistro and [sacramento]Riverside Clubhouse in Sacramento, renovated Davis' Historic City Hall to create this new restaurant. Bistro 33 accepts reservations. It's not a bistro in any known sense; this place would be better described as casual fine dining.

Want avoid trouble while eating and/or drinking here? Check out the Bar Taboos page before entering.

  1. Food
  2. Alcohol
  3. Service
  4. Entertainment
  5. Historical details
  6. Gallery
  7. Recent Reviews


The lunch and dinner menu are the same (see link to menu above). Starters range from $2.95 for a cup of soup, to $28.95 for a New York Striploin. It is possible to get calamari for ~$3.33 during happy hour though. Salads are in the $7-12 range, each of the six wood-fired pizzas is $12.95, and there are eleven different panini, ranging from $8.95 to $11.95. There are ten vegetarian options ranging from $5.95-$14.95, and several non-vegetarian entrees ranging from $13.95 to $20.95. The kids and dessert menus are not listed on their online menu. The kids menu items are grilled cheese, chicken fingers, mini corn dogs, all with smiley fries, and pasta alfredo and cheese pizza without fries. Kids' items come with a beverage. The desserts include creme brulée and cheesecake.

As of December 2008, there is a $4.00 charge for sharing, and an 18% gratuity is added for parties of six or more. Bistro gets busy, so you're best off making reservations during peak hours. If you make reservations, make sure to specify whether you want indoor or outdoor seating. They only accept 3 forms of payment for any one table, so be sure to bring cash if you want to split the bill.

They also serve breakfast on the weekends from 9am-2pm; see the link above.

See a review of local burgers in [WWW]Davis Life Magazine.


$4.50 for a draft beer, $5.50-$8 for martinis (depending on what you order, of course). Wiki users have noted the shot size to be somewhere between 1oz and 1.5 oz. Their wells are Smirnoff, Bombay, Bacardi, Jose, and J&B. Like every other bar, when you order a drink and don't specify a certain brand, the alcohol in the well is used. So, make sure to name your brand if you want otherwise.

Cocktails, as listed on the menu, are usually made with Grey Goose, as specified. The prices for vodka are in line with the more expensive brands. The fact that they use (cheaper but arguably as good) Smirnoff grates people who demand a better name vodka for the price charged.

Certain drinks cost more depending on the style in which they're ordered, without a clear pattern. While they charge $1 extra for straight up martinis (no ice), they also charge $1 extra for whiskey with ice. An employee claims these charges cover the additional 0.75 oz of alcohol that is added when these drinks are ordered in these respective styles. The "straight up" charges are controversial amongst both patrons and the [WWW]restaurant business in general. The major argument for charging extra is that people would prefer extra alcohol to a half-filled martini glass, and the major argument against is that martinis shouldn't have ice by default (and should be brought in an appropriately sized glass, and not automatically super-sized). In that sense, "on the rocks" martinis can be considered discounted by a dollar, but they are not marketed that way. No one has independently verified whether whiskeys on the rocks are poured with enough more alcohol to match the up charge, but such an experiment would put any controversy to rest.

They have the following beers on tap as of 7/20/2010:


There have been many complaints about the mediocre or horrible service provided by the staff, especially when it comes to the bar. Stories include ridiculously long waits for food, being ignored, and drinks that never arrive after being ordered. Once a customer was accused of trying to rip the establishment off when he complained about the terrible service to the management although another customer claims that getting things on the house is possible. There are some who claim that the service has been consistently good though.


Echoing its eclectic interior design, the diversity of entertainment has led supporters to laud the Bistro for being versatile, and its detractors to criticize it as having a chaotic identity crisis. Sports fans can watch games every night on the two flat screen TVs. There's a pub quiz on Monday nights with a $50 gift certificate for the team that comes in first, and six other prizes for the remaining winning teams. Reservations are recommended for teams of up to six. See [WWW] for details and to sign up for the weekly newsletter full of Pub Quiz hints. Also, on Friday, popular Ryan Hernandez can be seen performing on the upper terrace. Folk musicians and other forms of entertainment can be spotted as well.

Andy Jones and Brad Henderson host the Poetry Night Reading Series on first Wednesday of the month (and the third Thursday of the month at John Natsoulas Gallery.) Featured readers have included Davis residents Joe Wenderoth, Clarence Major, Sandra McPherson, Hannah Stein, Rae Gouirand and Eve West Bessier, and Sacramentans Terry Moore, BL Kennedy, Jeff Knorr and Joshua McKinney. Traveling poets such as Richard Beban, James Ragan, and Kim Addonizio have also made appearances. Poetry Night begins at 8pm, and an open mic follows the featured poet at around 9. For more information and to be added to the mailing list, visit [WWW], and see the "Poetry in Davis" group on Facebook.

Historical details

As a look at this page's history will reveal, Bistro 33 has attracted a great deal of controversy since it opened. The first few months were particularly shaky, and the dominant complaints dealt with the unseasoned service. Since then, there have been major changes in the management, and several staff members (sixteen to be exact) have the benefit of having worked there since the restaurant opened. Server DrewKyler has taken an active role in this wiki page and has made food recommendations, and responded to user's criticisms. For those who are still concerned about the service, the wiki comments suggest that Bistro33 has been pretty good about compensating customers when servers err. Importantly, The General Manager has vocally welcomed customer feedback, feeling it suits the restaurant in the long run, and the customer on the spot.

Because of the page's popularity, it became the front of general food service debates including the economics of food pricing, the price of drinks, temporary authorization charges on credit cards, and tipping. This riveting dialogue was cleaned up in March 2007, and comments from 2005 were moved to Bistro 33/2005 Reviews, setting the precedent for archiving of potentially antiquated comments across the wiki. If you've had a more recent experience at Bistro 33, you are encouraged to update your comments below.

Bistro held a Wiki Wednesday in the Spring of 2007, giving out free food and wine to whomever showed up.


Click any photo to see full size

food1.jpg food2.jpg food.jpgFettucine with Seared Prawns in a Sweet and Spicy Mamou Sauce. . 14.95 fries.jpgSweet Potato French Fries:Appetizer

pitcher.jpgThe 12 dollar Mojito Pitcher

dessert.jpgTriple dessert:Creme Brulee, Choc Moose, Cheesecake dessert1.jpgBirthday Surprise burger.jpgTillamook Cheddar Cheeseburger


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Recent Reviews

2010-01-29 12:17:41   This place has good food and a very nice outdoor patio which is fantastic on a beautiful Davis day. The service is often very poor. They used to have Old Rasputin Imperial stout on tap which is an excellent brew (now there is no reason to go there). Overall I dont go here much because it is too expensive and the service is so poor, however the food and ambiance are nice. The presentation of the food is original and interesting, I like that. —DagonJones

2010-03-29 16:00:26   They hit the home run in Davis-The outside patio is very cool-The service is young, helpful and good. The food menu covers about all you would be hungry for and bartenders Johnny and Nate could tend in Manhattan. A bit more hip and a lot more friendly than most places in Davis. —BillBlades

2010-04-23 11:09:38   Service is hit or miss. Last night I was at the bar and waited for a looong time before the bartender even looked at me. He only helped the floozies with lots of cleavage showing. —SFNative2006

2010-04-25 11:53:22   This place sucks, and I have given it so many chances that I feel like a fool. To start, the service is some of the worst around. The bartenders are not at all attentive, I have never been to bistro33 at a busy time for them. Don't they depend on tips to live? I have sat at the bar for a half an hour before unserved, another time I came in at 5:30 for happy hour, and wasn't addressed by the server until 5:45 and she told me that it was too late to order happy hour food, even though the happy hour runs till 6pm. The food is usually just bland, and overpriced, and the calamari came out to us cold and greasy on more than one occasion. I guess what kept me coming back was they have five dollar glasses of champagne, but it's not worth it! —mollyringwald

2010-04-27 12:22:11   I have never had a poor meal - food wise. The service can be rather "hit or miss"; on that I agree with some of the other reviewers. And the bartenders are usually agonizingly slow - even when the place is pretty quiet. And that's just a crying shame. I've even had to ask the server to forget about the after dinner cocktails (after ordering it) because the service from the bar was just too slow. And that's just money off the bill (the owners should concern themselves with that), and less of a total for the tip (the servers should concern themselves with that). All of that aside, however, the food is usually very good. The patio is a gem - perfect for pleasant Davis spring and summer evenings. —browneyedblues

2010-04-29 15:27:21   Their homemade donuts are sooo good. I think their food is pretty decent and a good place to go if you want to go out for a real dinner with friends. service can be slow but only because they always seemt o be so crowded. Food is definitely overpriced. Their breakfast is really good and their donuts are homemade. Absolutely delicious! Service is fine but can be slow due to the large volume of people that always seem to be eating there —Ldish949

2010-04-30 01:58:42   I need to comment on this page after tonight - the service here was absolutely terrible. This was the first bar I have ever been to where the bartender actually insulted me. I was standing next to one of the "regulars" waiting for a drink, and he noticed how long I had been waiting. It was about 25 minutes of a wait on a somewhat crowded night - unreasonable compared to every other bar in Davis. The regular asked the bartender to come help me out and the bartender, Angela (as I remember her name; it was the only female employee there), replied to the both of us: "I don't know him, he looks like he doesn't tip." Needless to say, I was completely insulted. I left this bar and I will refuse to ever bring my own money or let any of my friends bring their own money here again. I would like to see the management or employees comment on this situation; however, I doubt this will ever happen, because it seems as if the management here could not care less for the quality of the service they provide to the customers. —james1

2010-05-07 01:30:28   And Sysco strikes again. —CasualyInfomred

2010-05-08 23:56:43   Bring back the Columbian and the Shiitake Fettuccini, and I'll reconsider my role as a Bistro33 regular. —kg18

2010-05-17 17:45:42   I graduated from law school a few days ago and several friends and myself booked the upper terrace of Bistro for the night of our grad so we could have all our families sitting outdoors etc. We booked this in March, and signed a contract for the terrace. In addition to saying on our contract (which we committed to spend over $1k on) that we had booked the terrace, we were at Bistro the day before speaking with management to finalize orders etc and everything seemed to be in order. The day of, we arrive after graduation and find that we have been bumped into some weird back room that is dark and air conditioned and another party was enjoying the gorgeous 75 degree afternoon while our grandparents sat in weird booths without real tables or chairs in our little dark private room. Turns out, bistro had issued THREE identical contracts for the upper terrace for the same evening, and although ours was signed months in advance of the other parties now sitting on the terrace, they got there first so we could not get the spot we signed up for first. It honestly was one of the worst mistakes I have ever heard of at a dining establishment. The managers tried to be accommodating, and they reduced our bill substantially, however, we would have much preferred to have the experience we contracted for and we were all very disappointed that this happened and our families were unable to enjoy the al fresco experience. I would have much rather been given what we wanted and were more than willing to pay for than to have what we got at a price reduction. Really very unfortunate.

In addition, as the servers brought trays of appetizers out to us, multiple times when we asked them what things were they said they didn't know. Clearly, the (mostly fried) blobs we were being served were not things they have on their normal menu. It was very disconcerting for us especially as there were many vegetarians in our group and we couldn't even learn what some things were let alone whether or not they were made with meat... —soledad101

2010-05-17 17:52:37   Bistro 33 = Denny's with a liquor license. —soledad101

2010-06-07 00:29:28   it's regular food that's quite pricey. nice atmosphere though... —melamazing

2010-06-07 10:09:32   They recently changed their Kennebeck fries - no longer buying them from a vendor, but are, instead, producing them in-house. Bad move. The new ones taste terrible - think old, over-done, tasteless fast food fries and you get the picture. To Bistro 33: Go back to the old item, guys. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

What is broke, however, is the bar service. Why does it take so long for the bartender to draw a couple of beers, mix up a vodka cran and squirt a couple of Sprites into a glass? Why? We waited almost 15 minutes for our drink order to arrive. The appetizer was already half gone before our first cocktails arrived. Maybe it's a staffing issue, I don't know - but they need to fix it. Designate one bartender to dinner orders and two more to handling the bar itself - patrons that "belly up".

Love the food and the ambiance is still excellent, but the excrutiatingly slow bar service is making me go elsewhere to spend my hard earned money.

2010-06-20 16:17:04   Like hundreds of other locals who pay the $$$ to enjoy the food and atmosphere @ Davis Bistro 33 - WE ARE DONE! Terrible, rude service, especially the bartenders and hostesses - do they train them to dis the patrons who give them the best business and $$?? We are giving our business to very nice Fuzio and anybody but Bistro 33. Stick a fork in them!! —lindalukas

2010-06-26 13:48:53   In my experience, the servers are polite and friendly. The quality of the food is fairly consistent. One drawback is that several of the women bartenders who have left or are leaving—Angelica, Jillian, Bonni—are being replaced by guys. Bar managers need to remember that
most bar patrons are straight men who like to talk to women. Bonni tended bar on Saturday mornings and was replaced by a guy who
should probably stick to waiting tables. There is hope. A popular woman bartender at KetMoRee and Pasta? was hired at Bistro 33
initially as a hostess and server and, we hope, eventually a bartender. I'm not against guy bartenders. Nate is a great bartender.
It's more fun when both men and women are behind the bar. —nowhereman

2010-07-12 08:45:52   Honestly, I have to say that Bistro's food is mediocre at best. There are plenty of options in Davis that provide better food at better prices with better service. The only things Bistro has going for it are its location and general atmosphere. I still don't understand how my wife talks me into eating here time after time... every visit has ended up in disappointment. This past weekend, I got into it with the hostesses during Sunday brunch because of their inconsistency with their dog rules. I was seated at the upper patio with my Beagle puppy (he wasn't actually on the patio, he was tied to my chair and sitting on the grass), not I understand that people might not like to eat when there is a dog nearby, but that's why I was at the upper patio, away from everyone else and seated by another couple of (college age, White) girls with their larger, Boxer sized dog. Just for reference, their dog was on the patio. The Hostess came out and said, "If you want to eat here, you have to tie your dog up to the tree and you can have a seat over here on the lower patio. we don't have any servers for that area." We figured, fine... lets see how the puppy does. I was a little confused/perturbed as the girls with their dog were enjoying mimos, appetizers and eventually meals, getting serviced by not 1, but 3 different male workers along with I assume the manager on duty (guy was in a dress shirt) on the upper patio that supposedly had no service to it. My dog being a puppy ended up starting to whine, as he could see me, but not be near me (separation anxiety). I ended up eating my brunch on the dirt next to my dog to keep him quiet, as to not bother the other people trying to enjoy their food, while my wife sat at our table alone. When I finished up, I decided to bring him over the wall and sit next to me as I waited for the check. Sure enough one of the hostesses pranced her way out to inform me of their dog policy once again. I told here I was waiting for the check and would be leaving shortly. After paying I went inside to speak to the Hostess about their inconsistency with their dog policy, and their only reply was, "Oh, we didn't know they had a dog since they were seated at the top patio." My reply was, "That's what I've been trying to tell you people, I wanted to sit up there too so my dog could be next to me." "Sorry sir, That area has no service, you order at the bar and seat yourself." "Then why were they getting serviced?" "Oh, they probably couldn't come in because of their dog." So I wait for this conversation to sink in for a bit, and I realized that the logic was just out of their grasp. I explained that would have been fine with that option from the start. I subsequently asked to speak to the manager on duty, but low and behold, he was nowhere to be found... he was outside bringing out more mimosa's to, and petting the girls' dog. So if you ever plan on having a meal with you dog in tow, be sure to be college age, white or have breasts. Or any combination of the 3, and you're fine. Otherwise, patronize somewhere else. —Aaron.Curtin

2010-07-16 17:27:47   The food is mediocre, and the service is terrible (talk about absentminded!), but if you sit outside, you can watch barn owls in the big tree. I ordered the "berry pancakes" and each pancake only had 4-6 tiny berries in the center. It was so lame! But I'd go back for coffee and barn owls. —JasperD

2010-07-20 11:58:17   Trivia on monday nights is fun, but be sure to get reservations. The bar tender can be somewhat sleezy. Service at the bar isn't very good either. Last time it took us 25minutes to get the bartender's attention so we could order drinks, and it wasn't ever very crowded at the bar. The food is good though, I would go back. —ucdavisstudent

2010-07-20 22:42:33   A note about the dog policy: According to the health inspector, having dogs within the areas that food is being served is a no-no. Bistro used to let smaller dogs on the patio (which I have), but large dog owners were never happy to find that their pooches were not welcomed when others could fit their companions beneath the tables (or in laps). So now there is a strict no pet policy within the gated patio (service dogs with papers excluded, of course). That is not to say that they won't turn a blind eye to the upper patio when it's not crowded if people want to enjoy a drink or appetizers with their pup, but for a server to come up to you and take your order you can't have your pet within the property. In which case all orders have to be made at the bar, and picked up there. You won't get the hands on, I'll-get-you-whatever-you-want service that people expect when dining out. Usually, someone will bring the food out, but again only if it is not too busy and they have the time. They do try to be accommodating, but of course helping one table out by bringing a second drink or ignoring a slumbering pooch makes others wonder why the restaurant isn't also making exceptions for them. But if you don't turn it into a big hassle, they are usually more than happy to help out. They even bring my baby ice water in his own dish, which he enjoys just outside the iron fence. —CynthiaPrice

2010-08-03 00:04:07   The Pub Quiz on Monday nights is often sold out and I appreciate that from 9:00 onwards the place is packed. However, there is rarely a sufficient number of staff to keep up with the demand. I arrived tonight at 8:35 pm and was sitting at a table waiting for someone (anyone!) to come by and take my order. Fifteen minutes later I was joined by two friends. Still no service. Five minutes later we were joined by three more friends at our table. Still no service. It eventually took 23 minutes before I had a chance to make an order. It was another 20 minutes before my beer arrived, meaning that I had waited 43 minutes for a single beer. I find this unacceptable.

I don't blame the servers, some of whom are extremely good at what they do; our server this week remembered my drink preference from the week before which is impressive. The management obviously want to make money from the Pub Quiz (they have prizes, and a quizmaster, to pay for) and that is their right. They recently instigated a two-item-minimum-purchase-per-person rule during quiz night. If they continue to keep the place understaffed, the two order minimum will also serve as a two order maximum as it is getting harder to get served more than twice during an evening. —KeithBradnam

2010-08-03 14:04:58   Their bartender Nathan is easily the worst excuse of a bartender I've ever had the misfortune of being served by. I went to trivia night and sat with my friends at the bar, where I ordered a non-alcoholic beverage and a bowl of soup and he promptly ignored me for the rest of the night even though I tried flagging his attention several times. —EliYani

2010-09-02 12:12:13   good food —MBui

2010-09-19 02:14:07   Moderately priced restaurant with passable food. Service was a little on the slow side. But the buffalo wings had a kick and are worth going back for. —JohnBB

OWNERS GET BETTER BARTENDERS - I just left (at 5:30 pm on 9/28) and I could barely get the bartender's attention. He had a full bar. Bistro 33, get enough Bartenders during happy hour so that I don't have to circle around the bar hoping he won't ignore me. When I finally do get his attention, he's unhelpful, acts like he doesn't know how to make my drink, and then ignores me for five more minutes. I finally said forget it and walked out. RUDE! Do better. Why should people bother with an overpriced happy hour when they can't even get acknowledged? —DavisLurker

2010-10-18 20:14:53   In my experience the food here has gotten positively terrible. In a region with such beautiful meat and produce for them to buy commercial chicken wings pre seasoned is some kind of food crime. (and if they aren't commercial they taste like it which is worse!) Everything is cook by numbers. The salad dressings are glutenous and gooey. The photos on this page aren't even attractive. The nicest thing is the patio - especially on a chilly evening, but the food is really awful. Service is always nice and affable but
you can't eat the service. Never going again. —AHoffmann

2010-11-11 16:42:31   Great renovated historic building (the former Davis police station and City Hall); outdoor seating and fire very nice; food thoroughly average; service average; nice ambience and bar at the right times; forget about this place after 9:00 pm if you are not under 25 and thrilled by loud-ass music. —Flokkenfisch

2011-01-02 20:39:43   Once again, I dragged my husband to Bistro 33, with promises of a cozy atmosphere and yummy food. We hadn't been in a while, and it just sounded good. Too bad I was wrong, and he won't be taking me back there any time soon. We were seated right away, which was great. Then, after quite a wait, a water server breezed by stopping to fill up some water glasses. We did not see a waiter for quite some time, so by the time he did spot us, we were ready to order our lunch. The only drink ordered was a decaf coffee. My husband ordered soup as an appetizer. A long time passed with no coffee and no soup to a point my husband was feeling like the soup would be served with his burger (which he did not want). Finally, a manager (I am assuming) came by and asked if everything was alright. Told her about the decaf and soup, and she went to get it herself. She brought my husbands lukewarm soup, and the waiter showed up with my lukewarm decaf. I had ordered the mayo for my sandwich on the side, and when the sandwich was served, there was no mayo at all, so I had to wait for him to come back to get that. The fries used to be so delicious there, and now we received our fries that seemed to be from the bottom of the barrel — little, dark, soggy on the top, crunchy on the bottom bits. Our server waited to come around to offer me more coffee until the end of our meal, however, he did not charge us for the coffee..Not sure if that was an oversight or just complimentary, because he didn't inform us of the non-charge. It was definitely not the experience I was hoping for on this rainy day. —BonitaP

2011-02-12 20:18:30   Went here for dinner about a month ago with my boyfriend and his family for his 21st birthday. The atmosphere was nice, waitstaff was friendly and helpful, and the food was good. A bit pricey for my tastes but that might also be because I'm a broke college student. My boyfriend said he really liked the bar and the alcoholic drinks and that the bartender was really chill. The triple dessert IS TO DIE FOR... sooooo delicious. I split it with his mom and stepsister... all three were divine. The birthday surprise that they give you is like a block version of the chocolate mousse that you get in the triple dessert sampler, but with raspberry sauce as well. Later on that night, the bar turned up the music and made the front bar area more like a club, which was definitely a plus for me. I really like the versatility they showed. Definitely recommend coming here for dinner/dessert. =] —kimmisan

2011-03-11 23:37:06   This food was AMAZING! The whole experience threw me off a bit because I wasn't expecting the "prices", but it wasn't that bad. —daviscatu8

2011-03-24 17:03:14   They have the best Tomato Basil soup. Don't just get the cup get the bowl. Great on a rainy day!!! —YogiJen

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