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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dining in Davis: Fish’s Wild

In Review: Fish’s Wild
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Food: ***
Ambiance: **
Cost: $


Food and ambiance quality
**** I’m dining here every day
*** Almost like eating at home
** Better than my roommate’s cooking
* Only if I’m starving

$$$$ chancellor $20+
$$$ professor $15-20
$$ graduate student/alum $10-15
$ undergraduate $5-10

When in college, one learns to be a scavenger. For those who have surpassed the convenient era of swipes at the UC Davis Dining Commons (DC), finding a meal that is both cost-effective, healthy, large enough to fill your stomach, and within biking distance from campus can be a difficult feat. Luckily, Fish’s Wild, a new restaurant located on Second Street, manages to encompass all of these ideal college-meal essentials.

The restaurant had its grand opening in early December 2011. It specializes in fish tacos and other tasty seafood dishes. The Davis location is one of two; the other is located in Torrance, CA.

After three days straight of eating at the DC, I tend to treat myself to a meal out. However, like many college first-years, I am on a budget, meaning that even multiple trips to McDonald’s per week would break the bank. Therefore, I’m often hesitant to try new places, because I never know whether or not I’m going to leave the restaurant with a half-empty stomach and a completely empty wallet. I can honestly say that neither of those were the case after eating at Fish’s Wild.

Last week, a few friends and I decided to try the new restaurant, and I was immediately pleasantly surprised to see a banner hanging out front stating that UC Davis students and staff are given a 20 percent discount.

The ambiance, while nothing spectacular, was tasteful and pleasant. Upon entrance, I was given a tropical vibe, as the décor includes a hanging swordfish and the restaurant was very brightly lit. It is by no means a formal establishment; we ordered our meals at a register and were given numbers to place on our table.

The most notable thing about the menu, besides its wide variety of seafood items, is the fact that all of the meals were a little less than $10, with one or two exceptions. Because I’m a self-professed picky eater, I passed up the mahi-mahi, catfish, tilapia and trout.  Instead, I opted for a fail-safe two-taco combo, which included fries and a drink for about $8.

The casual restaurant setup was unexpectedly enjoyable. The food was prepared in a very short amount of time, and the cashier (who also brought us our meals) was very friendly. Though it was a little reminiscent of a fast-food joint, the self-serve beverage system allows you to get as many re-fills as you want and take your drink with you when you’re done — and you can cut the cost of having to tip a server. Furthermore, despite the restaurant’s informality, it was extremely clean.

When the server brought our food to the table, I must admit I was surprised. Expecting two small tacos and a handful of fries, I was presented with two very generously-stuffed tacos, one with shrimp and the other chicken, and a hearty amount of thickly cut French fries. My friend’s meal was also quite an eyeful; the $9 chicken salad she was presented with was mountainous compared to any salad I’ve ever seen.

After digging in, I immediately confirmed that the food was money well spent. As finicky as I am about food, I happily munched on my meal, alternating the tacos with one of my friends. After we finished our meal it took a collective effort to devour the salad, which was topped with grated Parmesan cheese and sliced chicken with a hint of teriyaki.

As if I haven’t already underscored the generous portions, I must reiterate that despite the fact that I split my meal with a friend, my hunger was satisfied by the end. Additionally, I was the “I’m-not-feeling-gross-and-sluggish-because-of-greasy-food” satisfied. The tacos were stuffed with both meat and veggies, and the French fries were a big step up from oily fast-food fries.

Though I was slightly disappointed by the lack of dessert options on the menu, I realized that the type of restaurant didn’t call for such. It is extremely casual, and from what I saw, it is patronized by older couples and families. The floor plan is very open, with a large window encompassing the front of the restaurant, a few booths on the far left and right sides, and small tables in between. The four flat screens hanging on the walls above the booths, which were conveniently turned to the football game, were a nice touch.

Ultimately, my dining experience at Fish’s Wild was a positive one. Though the meal was by no means five-star cuisine, it was affordable, filling, and a healthy alternative to many of my other recent eat-out choices. I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy seafood, clean establishments, money conservation and carry-out drinks.

KELSEY SMOOT can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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