GOOD EATS 2: The Scrubs Café Experience

Our Student Writer Dines Out in Health Sciences District

Allyson Tsuji in Scrubs Cafe
The author inside the delicious (and spacious) Scrubs Café in the Health Sciences District. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)


Welcome to our new Scrubs Café! From the brightly colored sign panel over the door, to the squeaks of shoes on shiny floors, to the smell of oven-hot pizza — everything about this place is fresh and inviting.

The university built the café at the same time as the Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration Center next door, across from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The café’s development coincided with UC Davis’s takeover of campus dining operations from Sodexo, and thus Scrubs is the first new campus-operated restaurant. It opened in April, replacing the old Scrubs in an older veterinary school building.

I met up with Kraig Brady, director of Hospitality and Dining Services, for lunch at Scrubs one recent day. I left the bustling cafe with a satisfied stomach and a full Scrubs experience to tell.

When I walked in, I first noticed the wide windows that give customers a view of the back patio, with the arboretum as a backdrop. Then I smelled the food — an inviting spread of spinach and artichoke pasta bake, cream of tomato soup and fresh vegetables, among other offerings.

“We have the privilege of serving the doctors and students at the No. 1 vet school in the world,” Brady said. “It’s a sense of pride that we’re their restaurant, so we need to be the No. 1 restaurant in the world.”

photo of Scrubs Cafe
Scrubs is located amid veterinary medicine and other health sciences buildings. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Scrubs also features made-to-order foods such as flatbread pizza, paninis and burgers. In addition to lunch, Scrubs serves breakfast until 11 a.m. every day. Customers can order morning meals such as pancakes or huevos rancheros, make their own yogurt parfaits or choose from an omelet bar.

After a quick tour of the building (which also features a salad bar, Peet’s coffee bar, minimarket and microwave station), Brady and I found a table behind a group of staff and faculty. A table over, a girl ate a packed lunch; along the wall sat students with coffee and laptops.

“The new facility allowed us to get an expanded menu and a larger dining room and more of a community space. It’s a one-size-fits-all kind of a place,” Brady told me, indicating the people around us.

Over steaming slices of turkey pesto flatbread, Brady explained how Scrubs can offer the campus a more varied menu, now that it is run by UC Davis Dining Services.

“We can do whatever we want, whenever we want — we’re not stuck with any long-term agreement. We can make changes,” Brady said.

This independence also gives Scrubs the opportunity to support local farmers. For much of its produce, the eatery works with campus providers and alumni in the agriculture industry. Davis-based Vega Farms, owned by two generations of alumni, is one of the many “Aggie Grown” sources for Scrubs produce.

After saying goodbye to Brady, I took one more glance around the place. As I wandered around, I could hear happy chatter between bites of food. Outside of Peet’s, I noticed the walk-up coffee window for people in a hurry or with pets, and in the marketplace, I saw customers browsing for quick snacks. Scrubs really is one-size-fits all, I decided — it has something for everyone.

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Allyson Tsuji, Dateline,

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