Photo Credits: Markus Kaeppeli / Aggie. Students enter the recently opened Latitude Dining Commons and Market at the Tercero housing area.
International food from Latin America, Asia, Europe, India, Middle East showcased in new dining commons
Latitude, located on Bioletti Way south of Hutchinson Drive, nestled alongside the residential buildings of Tercero and catty corner from SciLec, opened on Jan. 15. The new dining commons, featuring international cuisine, will help reduce stress on other dining commons.
“I love the intermingling of so many different cultures and the way the grand opening brought so much excitement to the school campus,” said Camilla Barbaduomo, a first-year global disease biology major.
The “Latitude restaurant celebrates the diversity of the UC Davis community by featuring an exquisite menu of international dishes scratch-made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients,” according to the UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services.
“You will find that the focus of this location is the diverse cuisine,” sad Felipe Becerrai, assistant director of residential dining, via email. “This location does not have the regular items found in other dining rooms. Items like cereal, pizza, burgers and chocolate chip cookies, these will continue to be available for anyone looking for them at our three other locations.”
Latitude features a two-story dining area — open 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–8 p.m. Monday through Friday — and a retail market open 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“It was very exciting to see our team come together after months of preparing for the opening day,” Becerrai said. “It was also very rewarding to see the reactions from our residents and anyone else walking in for the time.”
Latitude accepts meal plans and Aggie Cash and access is not limited to UC Davis students. The general public is invited to dine at Latitude, and Lot 40 is open for off-campus visitors to park.
According to Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED) — a national, multidisciplinary architecture, engineering and design firm — the design of the Latitude Dining Commons is “inspired by the sun-drenched agricultural heart of the state.” Specifically, Latitude is characterized by “exposed structure, pitched roofs, and large expanses of glass on the eastern and southern elevations.”
“The space is beautiful, the architecture and design are modern and artistic,” Becerrai said.
The building’s sustainability level is LEED Gold, according to HED’s website. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, “is the most widely used green building rating system in the world […] available for virtually all building project types, from new construction to interior fit-outs and operation and maintenance,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC website. Many other buildings on campus, such as the MU, also have LEED certification.
“I enjoy the design of Latitude,” said Vinal Chand, a first-year communication major. “It allows you to eat outside when it’s nice weather. I really enjoy how there is a lot of seating, as opposed to the other DCs where seating is harder to find.”
Seating 500 people, Latitude’s construction cost amounted to approximately $26 million, according to the HED’s website.
“The process was long and very involved as this was a major project that involved
multiple departments,” Becerrai said. “Overall the issues that came up were not out of what you’d expect for a project this large.”
In choosing to offer a diverse array of international foods, Dining Services is responding to years of feedback from students.
“We find that international food is regularly at the top of the requests received,” Becerrai said. “Latitude was an opportunity for us to offer inclusive menu items that represent the diversity of our Student Resident population.”
Latitude’s executive chef, Roger Thompson, alongside staff members, spent more than a year crafting over 300 recipes, according to the UC Davis website.
“During the planning process, we tried to identify areas of the world with strong culinary recognition, that would allow us to showcase a delicious sample of international cuisine for our guests,” Becerrai said.
Barbaduomo said that she enjoyed trying meals she was not familiar with.
“I love the high energy in the dining commons,” Barbaduomo said. “Everyone is very excited and eager to try new things. I also liked that it pushes me out of my comfort zone, as someone who usually likes to eat things I am familiar with. Latitude has expanded my horizons, and introduced me to new foods.”
Now, Latitude chefs have a catalog of 90 dishes they can replicate and serve. Visitors can indulge in dishes like Pupusas con Pollo, an El Salvadorian chicken filled flatbread; Espinacas con Garbanzos, chickpeas with baby spinach; Shawarma beef and lamb, a Middle Eastern dish of grilled meats, vegetables and yogurt sauce; Jeera Chawal, an Indian cumin-infused basmati rice or Nikujaga, a meat and potato stew from Japan.
“Our chefs took over a small kitchen on campus for about a year, where they tested multiple recipes gathered from international cooking books, family recipes from some of our team members and online searches,” Becerrai said. “After multiple samplings presented to staff and students, we agreed on the menu cycle you see today.”
Chand also said he enjoyed the food options.
“I really liked the quality of the food,” Chand said. “I love the variety of how there’s different parts of the world and different tastes.”
So far, Latitude has received “very positive feedback” and the menu options and recipes “have been well received,” Becerrai said.
Aside from the dining area, Latitude sells an extensive array of food that can be taken to-go at their retail market.
“I love the market,” Chand said. “They have nice food that’s accessible. They have different types of food in comparison to other markets. It’s more convenient because they have more meals as opposed to snacks.”
The Latitude Market “offers artisan and custom sandwiches and sides, fresh sushi bar, hot-food and cold-food bar, made-to-order drinks and shakes, rich gelato, and pre-made to-go meals, snacks, treats, and drinks,” according to the UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services.
Looking toward the future, Becerrai said Latitude “will continue to explore foods that represent different areas of the world, and will continue to do our best to showcase them in Latitude.”
“We are constantly looking to improve the dining experience of our guests,” Becerrai said. “Latitude is just another way for us to accomplish our mission to provide a dining experience that is least stressful and the most enjoyable part of our student’s day.”
Written by: Aarya Gupta — firstname.lastname@example.org