The quiet chatter and clinking of plates and glasses fills the air inside Café Bernardo on a crisp, spring morning. A similar scene may be taking place else in Davis at the exact same time, but there is something special about this small café on 234 D Street during its brunch hour.
The casual, yet cheerful atmosphere keep customers coming back, and this loyalty makes Café Bernardo continue to thrive. Café Bernardo Davis is actually only one of five locations. They’re all owned by the Paragary family, who are long-time restaurant owners in Sacramento. They hold some of the capital city’s best bars and restaurants, such as Monkey Bar, Paragary’s Oven, Centro, Esquire Grill and R15. With a breakfast menu to satisfy both your sweet and savory cravings, and coffee so delicious and aesthetically pleasing you must savor every sip, it’s no wonder that Bernardo’s is a town favorite.
Chatting with my girlfriends about life, boys, and everything in between, we anxiously look over our menus and try to decide what we want to order. This is something I like to call “brunch anxiety.” Everyone suffers from it at some point, and it’s a very stressful few minutes.
With the amount of variety the Bernardo menu offers, there are so many different directions one can take. We watch in giddy anticipation as other dishes are walked past us. A golden plate of scrambled eggs and glistening slices of Amaretto French Toast passes us, and I immediately think, “yum!” I ended up opting for something more classic, though, which was a bacon and avocado omelet with Jack cheese, served with herbed potatoes, toast, and jam.
With my first bite of the omelet, I noticed how fresh and authentic it tasted. In fact, I learned their whole menu is. They cook with local and seasonal produce, cheeses, and trans-fat free oils. They also have the best of the best when it comes to their meat, which includes cage-free Vega eggs, free-range chicken, and Niman Ranch beef.
The omelet was very fluffy, and I was pleasantly surprised with how generous they were with the bacon and avocado. Both were well-proportioned, too, and intertwined nicely with the melted Jack cheese in every bite. The herbed potatoes are perhaps my favorite. So much that I could probably eat a whole plate of them by themselves every weekend. They are crisped to perfection, with loads of flavor and seasoning. Lastly, the slices of sourdough toast provide a nice balance to the meal and to the aesthetic of the brunch presentation.
The quality of the locally roasted coffee, and the incredible potential for the perfect photo opportunity is a dream for any coffee addict. I have tried many items on their coffee menu, but perhaps my favorite is the Café Latte, served in the well-known “Bernardo bowl” as some people call it. Holding and drinking from it is half the fun. Once taking a sip from the foamy cup, the flavors and aroma of the bold, roasted coffee provided instant gratification.
The richness of the Café Mocha is a strong second favorite of mine, and provides for another great photo-op for sure. To pair with these hot drinks I had to try their black bottom cupcake, which was as luscious and decadent as it looks. A perfect ending to any well-rounded brunch.
No matter how long the line gets or how many people fill this small café, one always feels cozy and at home here. That’s something I feel is important for students attending UC Davis, a place that has become our “home away from home.”
Being able to rely on a brunch spot with quality breakfast, reasonable prices, and a great atmosphere meets all the criteria for a great brunch spot. If it’s fuel you’re looking for, a hung-over feast with friends, or a first date, Bernardo’s and the Paragary Restaurant group has you covered. For as long as I can remember they have always been, and I know they will always be, a staple here in Davis.