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Feb 5, 2008 08:18 AM

Fresno's Top 100--Let's make a list!

Hi Fresno hounds! Hubby and I were talking the other day after reading Savuer magazine's 100 list. It is a list of snack foods, dishes, restaurants, products, etc., that the editors of the magazine put together as their favorite 100 things every year. We always enjoy reading it because it gives us ideas of things to buy or try. I was thinking that it would be fun if Fresno hounds made a list of 100 things that are spectacular to eat in Fresno.

Please make your nominations as specific as possible, a particular dish at a particular restaurant is good, or something specific you can buy at a market, or an item that you can get here that is hard to find in other places.

I'll go first...(and these are in no particular order, so #1 is not better than #2)

-The raspberry beignet at Le Parisien: the single best pastry I think I have ever eaten

-Shrimp zarandeado at Don Pepe's: shrimp quickly sauteed in a spicy tomato sauce, so messy and so good!

-Chicken mole burrito at Numero Uno: like no other mole I have ever had, but thick and rich with large chunks of perfectly cooked chicken

-The strawberry stand out on Herndon: can't wait to see their open signs!

-The citrus lady at the Vineyard Farmer's Market: she sells these Page tangerines that are out of this world, so good!

Ok, I'm sure I'll think of some more later, but that is a start! Please add on your favorite things to eat in Fresno!

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  1. This looks like fun!!

    The first two (also in no particular order) that pop into my head because they seem rooted to Fresno are:

    -Sweet potatoe fries (Max's or Slates)
    -Stockholm 75 or Royal (originally from The Daily Planet, they are usually best ordered at a bar in Tower)

    Another (but not final) thought:

    -Santa Fe Basque Hotel & Restaurant

    1. Great idea, gbg, I'll double up on a couple of yours and give a few more:

      -Al Pastor and lengua tacos at Don Pepe's, al pastor torta (add some cilantro, pickled jalapenos, squirt or two of lime, then alternate bites with the rojo and verde salsas). Second the zarandeado.

      -The tomato lady at the Vineyard Farmer's Market, try the ones with the purplish shoulders

      -Chile verde or chicharon's con verde at Zamora's, also both styles of tripas tacos (fried and chewy)

      -Chinese chicken salad at Jim's Chinese on First St. just north of Sam's Deli

      -Banh mi #21 at Paradise Pho (double meat, cilantro and peppers) on First south of Clinton

      -Fish tacos at El Toro at Shields & Cedar (grated cheese and pricey, but gotta have em)

      -Posole at Taco Rapido, Tulare & First

      -Karl's special fancy burrito at Sal's (Fresno & Alluvial)

      -Rock shrimp and brie appetizer at Ripe Tomato

      -Hot and Sour soup at Thai Royal Orchid, or the coconut based soups, or.... hell, anything on the menu.

        1. re: cocktailqueen77

          Damn you're quick cq77, I was just kicking myself wondering how I missed this one.

          1. re: PolarBear

            Thanks!! I have to thank my BF, he came home with takeout from Imperial right after I posted.

        2. Comming out from behind everyone's shoulders for a second...

          1. T&D WILLEY FARMS BLOOMSDALE SPINACH - A luxury ingredient in itself!!! And on of the best reasons to be part of the local CSA.

          2. WESTBROOK WINEFARM, FAIT ACCOMPLI - Located in the Sierra Foothills just 30 minutes away from Fresno is one of the state's greatest wines. Even better - only a few people know it exists so we can still buy it.

          3. LA CABANA in NORTH FORK - 40 minutes away in North Fork lies one of California's greatest ethnic restaurants, ranks up there with La Superia Taqueria in Santa Barbara.

          4. IL GARDINO ORGANICO - The local chef secret is their Spicy Field Green Mix. Makes a green salad Masterpiece.

          5. CRACKED PEPPER BISTRO'S EGGPLANT NAPOLEAN - I hate Eggplant, but will eat this dish all day... don't tell him I wrote this.

          6. WHOLE FOOD'S CHEESE SELECTION - Yes, I know, a corporate grocery. I teach wine classes way to often and one day I strayed off course from WholeFoods to purchase my cheese at a local (?) owned "Gourmet Market" only to find a selection similar to Savemart. Therefore, I have to put WholeFoods in as a City Treasure even though it is TOTALLY AGAINST everything I believe in.

          7. ERNA'S ELDERBBERRY HOUSE - Um, duh. Yeah I know I used to work there, but com'on... What blue collar town can tout that they have a Five Diamond, Five Star Estate only 45 minutes away. As many times as I hear it - "But it is sooo expensive?" I have to reply "So What!!! San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Napa Valley all have many that they support - for example New Orlean (a major foodie city) doesn't even have one!

          8. LUCY'S LAIR - Maybe not the best example of Ethiopean Food, but at least we have an example.

          9. THE VINEYARD FARMER'S MARKET - I have been to numerous farmer's markets all over the country and have always worked for establishments that support local farmers. Felix and the Vineyard Farmer's Market are easily in the top 3 or 4 farmer's markets both fo9r quality and fun.

          10. PITTMAN FARMS - Mary's Free Range ask your butcher for them, there is a real difference for not much more in price.

          11. STRAWBERRY STAND ON HERNDON - I second the motion on that GBG.

          12. NYFD - What can you say... He's a New Yorker and he owns a Deli!

          13. FOIE GRAS - In any restaurant anywhere in town (or State). We are about to loose our Constitutional Rights to eat one of the most amazing luxury ingredients known to man.

          14. FRESNO STATE VANILLA ICE CREAM - It may not be the best to the rest of you, but I am addicted to it.

          I know I could type all day. But I will wait to add on!

          7 Replies
          1. re: cshack_21

            Chris, you make me laugh. But very good list!!!!

            I'll add some:

            (1) the tahin ov hatz (tahini bread) from Occasion Deli. This is an Armenian yeast/sweet bread that is delicious and addicting. Used to be you could only find it in LA (Glendale in particular). Go talk with Rose (Vartouhe) - the owner - and also try the cheese buourek. The deli is located at Fresno and Gettysburg - to the left of Fresno Deli.

            (2) the strawberry stand at Clovis and Shepherd

            (3) pretty much any shrimp dish at Don Pepe's - but like GBG I am partial to the zarandeado

            (4) the croissants at Le Parisien - so good I haven't even made it to anything raspberry yet

            I'm sure I'll think of more.

            1. re: cshack_21

              CShak_21 wrote, "14. FRESNO STATE VANILLA ICE CREAM - It may not be the best to the rest of you, but I am addicted to it."

              Oh, yes. You nailed it on the head with this one...I second the motion.

              1. re: cshack_21

                Had a feeling that was you, Chris, even before I got to your username as I scrolled down the list, like tavmark said, enjoyed the yuks. A couple of your items brought back some questions I've had for some time.

                Pittman Farms, free range chicken I assume, do they also sell eggs? Would love to find a local connection for farm fresh, like your spinach analogy, they make all the difference in the world!

                Foie Gras, again making assumptions, is Whole Food our only source in these here parts?

                Finally, I found duck confit (leg/thigh) a couple of years ago at Whole Foods for making cassoulet (hard to find since). Wasn't all that impressed, my time is too limited (i.e. too lazy) to make my own, any options? TIA


                PS Third the FSU ice cream, would add don't limit your choice to just the vanilla

                1. re: PolarBear

                  PB -

                  I am unaware of Pittman Farms doing Eggs. I think there is an organic egg farmer that has a booth at the Clovis Farmer's Market. I can't remember his name but we bought eggs from him last year. It is tough to find good free range chicken eggs. Duck eggs are a great alternative with a slightly more rich and flavorful yolk. The best scrambled eggs in the world come from duck eggs betten to a froth with sour cream and finishing off with a touch of White Truffle Oil. When making them constantly fold the center of the pan to the outer edges of the pan in a circular pattern trying to cook the eggs without them becoming solid for as long as possible. (oops wrong thread-my brian kept going).

                  Foie Gras - I don't know of any sources at retail. We get ours from Sonoma through the Chef's Helper. Not a lot of grocers are comfortable selling it anymore.

                  Duck Confit - Order duck legs from the meat market and make it yourself. Nothing can compare, I have tried several French imports to no avail. Give a local chef a call to make it for you. Not cheap but definitly worth it if you have a little Bloomsdale Spinach floating around. Would proably cost anywhere from 6 to 7 dollars per leg for high quality done in rendered duck fat confit, don't settle for doing it in vegetable or canola oil and always cure it prior to confit.

                  1. re: cshack_21

                    Great tips, thanks much Chris. I did pick up some duck fat at a market up in SF, so I guess I'll give it a shot at home. Also, thanks for adding La Cabana to the list, it is truly a hidden gem in our area. Lunch there is good, but the dinners are great with the specials changing nightly, iirc.

                    1. re: cshack_21

                      You can purchase Foie Gras at Bentleys. They sell it pre cooked and rolled in cheese cloth, as well as fresh. A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to get a couple of the Kobe Steaks they had, and topped it with Foie Gras ....mmmmmm

                  2. re: cshack_21

                    Just wanted to mention that I saw Willey's gorgeous Bloomsdale spinach at Kristina's Natural Ranch Market yesterday. It's sold loose in bulk by the pound ($5.99/lb.)

                    Kristina's Natural Ranch
                    761 E Barstow Ave, Fresno, CA

                  3. Great! Look forward to this. My 40th high school reunion is this summer. It would be great to have the list and to meet you all at that time.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Ah, young grasshopper, as we speak plans are in the works for my 45th from Roosevelt HS this year. This sounds like the ultimate opportunity for the local, loyal and faithful hounds to have their own reunion. Anyone interested email me at dlw38 AT sbcglobal DOT com and we'll try and put together a houndfest. Really looking fwd to meeting an old expat like you Sam, with so much to share regarding the history of our area.



                      1. re: PolarBear

                        I would love to meet Sam! I will send you an email asking to be on that reunion list. Thanks, PB.