Best restaurants and food in Davis, Woodland and Winters, CA

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Pupusería La Chicana’s torta Cubana with its adobada, carne asada, ham, cheese, fried egg, beans and pickled jalapeños, sits ready to eat on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 in Woodland.

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From the greater Sacramento region’s best Mexican food to the bike-friendly town surrounding a world-renowned research institution, Yolo County has culinary diversity in spades.

Everything from inexpensive, cheesy pupusas to high-end omakase sushi thrives in this expansive county west of Sacramento. These four restaurants are the best in Yolo County.

In fact, they’re among Top 50 Restaurants anywhere in region, according to The Sacramento Bee’s guide published on Nov. 18. Peruse the full list, then vote here for favorites that didn’t quite make it. We’ll update the guide in mid-December with five “readers choice” picks.

BUCKHORN STEAKHOUSE

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John Pickerel opened Buckhorn Steakhouse in Winters about 35 years ago. The restaurant’s early years were focused on persuading patrons to make the 45-minute drive from Sacramento or farther for a steak, like this 24-ounce rib eye. Florence Low Sacramento Bee file

$$$ — AMERICAN

The catalyst behind Winters’ original ascent as a dining destination, Buckhorn remains an old-timey Western steakhouse with plenty of character and flavor. Stuffed buffalo heads, antler chandeliers and framed shooting targets loom over diners at John Pickerel and Melanie Bajakian Pickerel’s esteemed restaurant in a converted downtown hotel. More casual Buckhorn BBQ + Grill outposts throughout the region popularized dishes like the steakhouse chopped salad (char-broiled tri-tip, onion strings, candied walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles over mixed greens). Half the fun of going to the steakhouse is ordering cuts one can’t find at most restaurants without an in-house butcher, like the baseball top sirloin in a peppercorn-cognac sauce. The adjacent DeVilbiss Room, opened by the Pickerels in May, also offers more upscale private dining for groups of up to 100.

2 E. Main St., Winters. (530) 795-4503.

HIKARI SUSHI & OMAKASE

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Hikari Sushi & Omakase co-owner Sithu Tun prepares rolls in a former ice cream sandwich shop in July 2022. Benjy Egel [email protected]

$$$ — JAPANESE

Zin Khine and Sithu Tun prepared rolls at the Davis Food Co-op for 15 years before finally launching their own restaurant in a converted Cream ice cream sandwich shop in May. There’s no kitchen, so belly up to the eight-seat bar or one of two tables as the two skilled chefs slice and serve a limited menu of expertly-sourced fish. Two-hour, $125-per-person omakase service is the only weekend option, but customers can taste their way through à la carte items like the “fishbowl” (bright orange salmon roe over sushi rice, served in a miniature goblet) or uni from Hokkaido on Tuesday-Thursday nights. While the menu changes daily based on Hikari’s seafood shipments, one can depend on XL sashimi platters with an optional kick from Half Moon Bay Wasabi.

110 F St., Suite A, Davis. (530) 564-4356.

KUJI ASIAN GRILL

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Kai Jung, chef and co-owner of Kuji Asian Grill in Woodland serves his tofu stir-fry on a tray Friday, March 9, 2019. Renee C. Byer [email protected]

$$ — KOREAN

Kai and Suji Jung brought their names and talents together to open Kuji just down the street from Pioneer High School in January 2019. Both owners were born in South Korea (though Kai grew up in Davis) and met while cooking at a hotel on Hawaii’s big island. Kuji weaves together both Pacific cuisines seamlessly in its casual, cozy Gibson Plaza home. Plate lunches anchored by crispy salmon or gochujang-marinated pork slices are buoyed by sides of rice, kimchi and bacon bit-topped macaroni salad, all made from scratch in-house. The fried chicken sandwich is as fantastic as it is innovative, a super-juicy chicken katsu slab layered between galbi sauce, a funky slaw and peppery aioli on thin-sliced toast. Kuji is putting its own local stamp on a pair of cuisines already known for adaptation. Lucky Woodland.

1801 E. Gibson Road, Suite A, Woodland. (530) 665-6097.

PUPUSERÍA LA CHICANA

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Pupusería La Chicana’s torta Cubana with its adobada, carne asada, ham, cheese, fried egg, beans and pickled jalapeños, sits ready to eat on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 in Woodland. Hector Amezcua [email protected]

$ — LATIN/SOUTH AMERICAN, MEXICAN

Melted cheese oozes out from moonlike cornmeal pockets at nearly every table outside Pupusería La Chicana. You can’t come here and resist ordering pupusas, El Salvador’s national dish, stuffed with everything from carnitas to potatoes to a tea leaf-like herb called chipilín for less than $4 apiece. Grab one along with cinnamon-dusted sweet plantains, a pastelito (Salvadoran empanada) and greater Sacramento’s best yuca fries in the all-encompassing especial plato Salvadoreño. Pupusería La Chicana’s many Mexican options are no less stellar, particularly the torta Cubana with its adobada, carne asada, ham, cheese, fried egg, beans and pickled jalapeños.

25 Purity Plaza, Woodland. (530) 668-0270.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.