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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Best bar and pub: Sophia’s Thai Kitchen

The popular Thai restaurant was voted as Davis’s best bar by UC Davis students


By MADELEINE YOUNG features@theaggie.org

Sophia’s Thai Kitchen was voted as Davis’s Best Bar and Pub by students with 42.6% of this year’s vote. Sophia’s has been a cornerstone of downtown Davis since 1995 and was actually the first Thai restaurant in Davis according to its founder, Kevin Wan. The restaurant’s bar didn’t open until 2001, after Wan graduated from UC Davis in 2000.

“I love being a place where people have made memories,” Wan said. “We get many Davis residents and UCD alumni who come back and say ‘We had our first date here’ or ‘We came here every week during college.’ Some even have brought their college-aged kids back after I’ve seen those kids in baby carriers. It’s pretty special to know you hold a special place in people’s formative times.”

The tropical bar has a lively atmosphere, and its deck often features a live DJ and disco ball on many weekend nights. Wan talked about what makes Sophia’s a special place in the Davis bar scene. 

Courtesy of Kevin Wan

“As a bar, we strive to be everyone’s third space, a place you go when you aren’t at home or work,” Wan said. “We are very much a Davis bar, opened by a UCD grad and 27-year local, and [everyone] who works here lives in Davis.”

In addition to great drinks, the restaurant and bar also holds trivia nights, hosts local bands and serves great food that is popular among students. 

“We’ve [had] the pleasures of [bringing] a lot of firsts to Davis — first trivia night, first mojito on a drink menu,” Wan said. “We’ve brought lots of live music from bands big and small, The Lumineers played on our deck, as well as Lord Huron, Dawes and The Head And The Heart.”

Wan expressed his gratitude for winning Best of Davis but also paid tribute to the other bars in Davis that didn’t make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s an honor, but the feeling is mixed because I am sad some other bars didn’t make it through the pandemic,” Wan said. “The Davis bar scene definitely isn’t the same as it once was. I hope over the next year or so, some more bars will open up and [the] Davis nightlife can return to having the thriving, bar-hopping vibe it once had. I miss those days.”


Written By: Madeleine Young features@theaggie.org