This entry refers to a departed business that has closed or left town. All information here is for historical reference only.




The current location in University Mall. The former second location location at the northeast corner of 2nd & G St. It was in the Terminal Hotel building which was torn down and replaced.

825 Russell Blvd. in University Mall (On the east end.)
Sun-Thu 11:00AM-9:00PM
Fri-Sat 11:00AM-10:00PM
Martin & Genoveva Ayala
Price Range
Main Dish $8-$13 Drinks $1-$3
Payment Methods
Cash, Credit Card (Currently unable to accept American Express or Discover)

La Esperanza is a Mexican sit-down restaurant in Davis. They used to have a location downtown, but that restaurant was closed when the Terminal Hotel building it was housed in was demolished and replaced by the Chen Building. Their second restaurant, formally named La Esperanza II, remains and is located in the University Mall near Blood Source and Fluffy Donuts. You can eat there, phone in a pick up order or take food to go. There are daily lunch specials and run coupons in the Entertainment Book. There is also an arcade machine at the entrance with a variety of games to play.

As for the food they serve your standard Mexican gringo fair. Several users welcome the fact that its the only full service sit down Mexican in Davis while others think the food is "bland", "gross", or lacking in quality. For the vegetarians, the refried beans are not vegetarian so go with the pinto beans.

La Esperanza is to Mexican food as Denny's is to American. You go to Denny's for a breakfast slam, you go to La Esperanza for rice, refried beans, and a tortilla with cheese, meat, sour cream, and guacamole in some form. La Esperanza is unbelievably consistent, service is quick, the waitresses are all very polite, and the food is going to be the same every time you order it. It is not exotic, it is not unique, and it is definitely not somewhere you should go for a nice dinner.

That said, their prices are high for what they serve. However, if you're looking for something that won't tear up your stomach, or surprise you, La Esperanza is a solid choice, and the generous portions make up in some degree for the price. This is a great place if you need a business lunch, an informal dinner, or take-out during your lunch hour.

This location was formerly the Antique Bizzare. After helping with the UC Davis Sprint Triathlon one day, the Yolo Amateur Radio Society went to the II branch for lunch.

They are closing August 28 because the owner wants to retire.

The Goodbye message


You must be logged in to comment on this page. Please log in.

This place is a bit hidden but the food is OK. The nachos cost about 8 bucks but they can feed three people. The are gigantic. They must weigh around six pounds. They've also got a salsa that's very tomato soup-esque.

Vegetarians beware: their refried beans are not vegetarian. Go with the whole pinto beans instead.

Someone confirm this. —TusharRawat

I asked about it seveal years ago, and at that time, the beans did contain lard. —RyanCastellucci

A huge waste of money and time. Limited menu; high prices. Go to Gardenia's instead. -TonyMagagna

Well, there's no truly authentic mexican food to be found anywhere in Davis, although there's definitely moments of it at Guad, Taqueria Davis and El Mariachi. However, I think the menu is far better at La Esperanza than Gardenia's. Gardenia presents an illusion of choice on their menu, but really they just switch up the sauce and whether it's in a tortilla or not. La Esperanza is a bit more traditional gringo fare, but at least it's dependable and made with a larger variety of ingredients. Even though there's limited variety of salsas, they are more flavorful and interesting at La Esperanza. (Also the best in town is probably at El Mariachi or Dos Coyotes.) La E also has decent lunch specials, as well as a 2-for-1 coupon in the Entertainment Book. -jr

2006-01-07 10:45:27   Their food is good, nice portions, quick service. —CindiDrake

2006-04-16 00:17:21   Friendly atmosphere, decent food. Could be cheaper, but whatever. A welcome change from the DC, I say. —TusharRawat

2006-04-21 20:06:09   I have been a fan of La Esperanza since moving to Davis many years ago. Unfortunately, my admiration of La Esperanza is beginning to fade. I think that the biggest problem with LaEsperanza is that it is located in a strip mall. I was a big fan of the old downtown location. The dark dining room, neon lights, and tabletops decorated with advertisements from local businesses gave La Esperanza a small-town feel. The food was never really fantastic but the location and ambiance made it a great place to eat. The food was hot and the beer was cold and the place was always packed.

The location at the U-mall just doesn't measure up to the old downtown location. Even the food lacks flair. I am proponent of the "combination dinner". A taco, tostada with rice and beans is the perfect Mexican dinner. The rice and bean at La Esperanza are good. Not spectacular...not bad...just good. A little melted cheese on the beans would certainly be a big plus. I went for the tamale and burrito combo. The tamale was delicious. I would order a plate of those with a pitcher of beer and be content for a week. The burrito was abysmal. It was a red chile/beef mixture with no flavor. I would avoid the beef burrito forever. Bottomless chips and salsa are a big plus. They serve two types of salsa: mild and hot. I recommend heading straight for the hot. Use the chips as a shovel for the rice and beans.

La Esperanza may not be on the top of my list, but it is still on my list. —GruntledMonkey

2006-04-22 00:01:13   The University Mall is the only shopping center in Davis that is not a strip mall, so I don't think you should blame La Esperanza for being in a strip mall. —NickSchmalenberger

2006-05-12 11:48:47   I really liked eating dinner here. It seems to be more of a family restaurant because when I was there with a friend, there were about 5 or 6 families that came. For the amount of food you get, I thought the price was reasonable. Yea it's not as cheap as one of the Taquerias but you are also paying for the service since it's sit-down. The service was excellent, friendly, came by in decent intervals, refilled our chips. The only complaint I have is that it was dim in the restaurant. Maybe they were trying to save on energy? (If so I applaude them) —JoAnnaRich

2006-12-31 00:40:11   The nachos are by far the best in town and I HIGHLY recommend them. Make sure you order the plate with the meat, as they have two different nacho plates on their menu and their isn't much description to help distinguish the two. —RussellAnderson

2007-03-04 18:53:25   i don't know what people are talking about, but this place has about the worst mexican food in davis regardless of price, and its not like the mexican food in davis is that good. The quality of the chicken in the fajitas is about the same as in a 2.99 chicken teriyaki meal at a fast food joint, grisly and fatty. The flavors were just ok, but considering all the meals are around 9-12 bucks, this place might be one of the worst deals in town. My brother had a two taco plate for 9 bucks that was comparable to the tacos you can find in Davis taquerias for 1-1.50 per taco. on the plus side their chips were freshly fried.—MattHh

2007-04-16 21:00:50   I agree with GruntledMonkey. That is, the downtown location was much better. I think the food was even better. Maybe different cook? It definitely had a better atmosphere, and as a student at UCD back when it was around, proximity to downtown Davis bars was clutch! It's certainly not the most authentic Mexican food around but I never expected there to be authentic Mexican food in Davis. Go to Woodland for better Mexican food. —ryman

2007-04-16 21:43:05   I miss the downtown one. Great food and was a piece of Davis history. —HeatherFlood

2007-04-19 15:52:48   a hidden treasure for burrito lovers! expensive, but so so so worth it. My favorite is the vegetarian wet burrito. HAIL BURRITOS! —JuliaRoseFurman

2007-04-29 09:55:20   I love this place. —WilliamLewis

2007-05-01 12:57:54   This place is the worst Mexican restaurant I've tried in Yolo County. Nacho cheese sauce? Enchilada sauce that tastes like it comes from a Swanson's TV dinner? That's hardly an exaggeration. I'm surprised by the chorus of approval I've read in other comments here. I know that there's so little here in this town to get excited about food-wise, but have our expectations sunken so low in Davis that we call this good food? —RickEle

2007-05-27 15:07:39   This used to be my favorite mexican restaurant. The food is great and there is quick service. Anyways the atmosphere has gone down hill over the last few years. The allow to many families with screaming crying kids whose parents just ignore it. If you go there try to sit on the side near the register to avoid the screaming kids. I hate people who fail to control their kids, and they all seem to come here for dinner. —dancohen

2007-07-19 15:31:41   This place was good about 10 years ago in downtown , bad bad service and americanized mexican food horrable if you paid me i would not eat here again —dickjones

2007-09-20 21:52:35   Bravo Dancohen. Well done. I agree that restaurants allow "to(sic) many families with screaming crying children" in them. Similarly, Wikis seem to allow too many idiots to write assinine comments, such as critizing a restaurant for the clientele that chooses to come there, rather than the food the restaurant serves. Personally, I think all restaurants should start posting big signs announcing who they'd like to limit seating to. We can start with those pesky gay people, move on to right wing conservatives, of course limit families with kids, and how about a big blanket policy that prohibits Dancohen from everyplace. —mediator

2008-01-06 09:55:24   Even if you're not a vegetarian, I'd still go with the pinto beans anyway. It's a healthier alternative, and it happens to be good! —thelonepiper555

2008-04-02 13:05:30   Obviously, some of you have not tried the chicken avocado tostada. The avocados are always perfect and flavorful. I come here once a month with a friend who likes this as well because we can talk and not feel rushed. The service has always been great as well.

I agree that there it doesn't have the same ambience when it was downtown. But, that doesn't stop me from going. —LokiAbbi

2008-04-09 11:34:38   Gross gross gross enchilada. The whole thing tasted like a frozen dinner. My friend's burrito looked good, but who knows how it really tasted. Too expensive for crappy food. —Kiran

2008-05-22 00:37:05   After reading all the reviews about this place, I decided to give it a go anyways. It doesn't take much to impress me, and i generally love mexican food, even americanized chipotle mexican food. After reading somebody say that that chicken avocado tostada was really good, I decided to order it for myself with rice and beans. 11 dollars. It was horrible. Everything was extremely bland, and the tostada looked horrific. it didn't even look close to appetizing. The chicken looked and tasted funky, the actual tostada was falling apart, rice didn't seem very fresh, just bad overall. Waste of money, waste of time. Go the extra distance and eat at guads or chipotle. this place is a bust. —film

2008-07-17 19:20:37   Easily THE best Mexican Restaurant in Davis. Everything on the menu is good. Having grown up in Vacaville they have the same style as cooking as the award winning Murillo's restaurant (the downtown location). Fresh Chips & Salsa, fluffy fresh mexican style red rice, Enchilada's with REAL Enchilada sauce, Torta's are great (try with mayo on one side, beans on the other, the best Nacho's I've ever had & a GREAT Chicken Avocado Tostada. I go at least every couple of weeks. —dc

2008-07-17 21:20:40   years ago when this place was downtown in the old Terminal Hotel building it was great. Always packed and a great vibe inside. Reasonable prices, horrible tasting tap water and great food. I would have to say that over the years in their University location the quality has stayed pretty much the same, the water certainly tastes just as horrible but the prices have just continually escalated to the point where I can't say I feel good about going there. Given all the options in Davis I can get equally as satisfying food for at least 6-8 dollars cheaper for two people. The atmosphere inthe University mall location is somewhat sad I have always felt. After 18 years of loving this place I must say that the last few times I've been dissappointed with the quality of the food and service and don't really believe it offers a good value. —loneshark

2008-12-06 17:33:15   Usually I am not to picky with food especially Mexican Food. I always feel the reviews on DavisWiki are from overly picky people. However my experience here WAS HORRIBLE!!! I don't even know where to start...I got the Carne Asada and it looked like it was cooked three days ago then microwaved just before they gave it to me. It was not even seasoned and was so dry that I couldn't even finish half of it.

My girlfriend got the a beef and chicken taco. The chicken taco was ok, but the beef taco was freaking horrible. We each ate only one bite. Then it took us 1/2 an hour to flag down a waiter to get us a check.


2008-12-06 17:36:27   I have to agree with others here. Not to lay it on, but my wife and I ordered something from here not long ago and the food was just awful. Eating there is a sadistic experience I wish not to repeat. —condemned2bfree

2008-12-24 19:46:36   I've always thought this place was totally underrated, but now I think it's even more awesome for being open on Christmas Eve. We were here earlier today. Most places in town were closed (or closed super early). Anyway, it was glorious. Huge portions and taaaasty! —CurlyGirl26

2009-05-12 15:39:39   This place is awesome. The two for $20 special they do on tuesdays is a great deal. Some of the best mexican food in town, and authentic. —DanSolo

2009-06-05 21:02:52   I always get a sombrero, it's always solid. It's best to eat it in a sitting as it saves kind of iffy, but folks have been known to take half home. The chips are warm, which is another nice touch! —StevenDaubert

2009-06-08 02:37:54   disgusting, non-authentic, overpriced, salty, "mexican" food. don't ever go here. —shopaholic

2009-08-10 19:12:32   La Esperanza gets a lot of bad rap from Mexican-food lovers. And I can understand why. However, after eating here many times for the sake of convenience, I've come to hold it dear and to appreciate the style of food they serve.

La Esperanza is to Mexican food as Denny's is to American. You go to Denny's for a breakfast slam, you go to La Esperanza for rice, refried beans, and a tortilla with cheese, meat, sour cream, and guacamole in some form. La Esperanza is unbelievably consistent, service is quick, the waitresses are all very polite, and the food is going to be the same every time you order it. It is not exotic, it is not unique, and it is definitely not somewhere you should go for a nice dinner.

That said, their prices are high for what they serve. However, if you're looking for something that won't tear up your stomach, or surprise you, La Esperanza is a solid choice. I have never had bad food from here, and the generous portions make up in some degree for the price. This is a great place if you need a business lunch, an informal dinner, or take-out during your lunch hour.

I give La Esperanza a 4 out of 5 stars, with a huge plus for consistency and excellent service, and minuses for price and homogeneity. —RDRIII

2009-08-17 16:14:16   La Esperanza has lots of signs around it saying it will be closing on August 28th.

I'd suggest you go and try the Mexican Sombrero before then, while you still can!

I'll miss La Esperanza a lot. Great service and nice owners, good deals if you know what to order (the only Mexican place in town where my girlfriend and I can eat dinner for under 13 bucks and leave totally stuffed), really great guacamole, rice, chips and salsa, and the only albondiga (meatball) soup in town.


2009-08-17 17:06:12   La is closing?!?!?!?!?Q!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?1 —StevenDaubert

2009-08-30 09:14:35   I will miss La Esperanza very much. I loved their warm salsa and the Albondiga soup was wonderful. Thanks to the Ayala family for 25 years and I wish them well. —PaulZindel

2011-08-04 14:55:27   Their chicken nachos were truly the $#@t. You could sit with 3 other people and all be stuffed by the time the mountainous plate was empty. —OldDavis73

2019-09-08 18:57:39   Digging up an old one but does anyone know how they made their salsa? Really miss it. —TaitK