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Mar 8, 2008 06:04 AM

Hotel Food Recs for Fresno

I'll be in Fresno in April. Whats the best hotel in the area? I'm staying for a wedding and have 1 lunch and 1 dinner to eat out. Where should I go?
Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  1. While Fresno is not the San Francisco of the culinary world, I think you'll find that there is a lot of interesting stuff to eat here.

    Could you help us out by giving us some guidelines for what you're looking for to eat for your lunch & dinner? Any particular types of food you like or want to try? Price range? Upscale or downscale?

    12 Replies
    1. re: alanstotle

      Fresno yes...Having lived in "the city" for years and now residing in Portland Oregon I'm really spoiled! Still I thought the Hounds could help!
      I'm kind of open on the food. Upscale is my initial response before I started wondering if there is a place with a eally good fish taco (Baja style) Portland is lacking in that department. Price isn't really an issue. Where would you take an out of town guest to show off Fresno fine dining? Not looking for best burgers or pizza. More like....Steak, seafood, sushi...Fun ethnic (can always squeeze in a fish taco or 2 between meals)
      The hotel...Looking for Fresno's finest. Google didn't offer much info. I haven't been to Fresno in about 15 years it looks like it has grown considerably and any input is really helpful!

      1. re: tammimcd

        Okay food first.

        Cracked Pepper Bistro, Bistro Rustico or Trelio (last is in Clovis) - more on the upscale end but the food is outstanding.

        Don Pepe's - anything shrimp, but they also have basic tacos, burritos, etc. - down scale.

        Sushi - Sakanaya - based on personal experience - but would recommend Wassabi based on what I've heard from a number of people.

        Indian - North India Bar and Grill (technically in Clovis)

        As for hotels - although we have a Courtyard here, most of the "nicer" establishments would be along the lines of Hampton Inn, Extended Stay, etc. Two of the major chains - Hilton and Marriott I think - just built properties on Herndon (the major east/west thoroughfare through town)- I want to say one is called Summerville Suites or something like that,. Just not positive if they're open yet. We don't have any "boutique" hotels along the lines of SF.

        1. re: tammimcd

          Well the nicest hotels used to be downtown (Hyatt), but I think the nicest hotels now are the Hilton Homewood Suites and Marriott TownPlace Suites on Herndon between First and Fresno Streets. They were just completed recently, so they are brand new and in a great location! You are close to the freeway as well as to the major streets. The hotels are literally next door to each other, and were built at the exact same time, so it is whatever you prefer.

          As for the food, you are in chow heaven if you stay there! For breakfast, right at the south-east corner of First and Herndon is Le Parisien Cafe, a superb French bakery. The two couples who own it and another outlet in Fresno are French ex-pats who know how to make a mean croissant! The crepes are very good and you can get savory or sweet. Of course there is the pastry case stuffed with eclairs, chocolate croissants, beignets, and other goodies. They serve breakfast and lunch with salads, sandwiches, and soups as well (the french onion is great).

          For excellent Thai food, and I mean more than just your ordinary Thai, there is Thai Royal Orchid at south-west corner of First and Herndon. Amazing seafood selection and everything so fresh you wonder where they could have gotten it! The owners, Sutee and Jerry (his wife), are gracious hosts and if you tell them what you like, they will bring out whatever is best that day. Also, the mango salad is delicious! I am not sure if you get good Thai in Oregon, but this spot is worth your time.

          For fine dining, I would suggest Cracked Pepper Bistro. It is a tad farther than the other two places, but not far at all. It is at the south-west corner of Shaw and First. It is in a strip mall, but please don't let that discourage you, the owner has done a great job of minimizing that fact and the interior is very nicely done. You must get the eggplant napoleon, even if you normally don't like eggplant, because it has the great flavor of eggplant without all the mushiness. I also really like the gnocchi there, whatever salad is the special, and of course the molten lava cake for dessert. Others highly recommend the flatiron steak and pork tenderloin. The escagot is also very nice, with a slight twist on the typical presentation.

          For some great Mexican food, you should hop over to Don Pepe's for awesome shrimp dishes. It is further from your hotel, but not too bad for shrimp zarandeado, or veracruzana. They are at Blackstone and Gettysburg.

          As for the fish taco, I know Polar Bear has a great recommendation for that. I will let him tell you, or try to find his post.

          1. re: glazebrookgirl

            Ok, found the fish taco posting...

            And I see tavmark beat me to half the recs! Well, great minds think alike!

            And we do have one fabulous boutique hotel, but it is not technically in Fresno. Erna's Elderberry House has won zillions of awards and is the Fresno area's best fine dining and lodging, but it is in Oakhurst, which is a bit of a drive from Fresno.

            1. re: glazebrookgirl

              Thanks so much to all of you!l!
              Cracked Pepper Bistro's menu looks divine and I don't think I'll pass up on those fish tacos at La Torta.. Out of curiousity whats Pangea like? We actually have 1 extra lunch that a large group will be attending. I heard about it from some folks here (but I wouldn't exactly call them foodies) I couldn't find online menus for BIstro Rustico and we are trying to stay in Fresno. Is Don Pepe's open for lunch? I'll try and find menus!
              The hotels...Probably leaning more towards the Hilton. Thanks again!

              1. re: tammimcd

                The last time I had the fish tacos at La Torta I wasn't that pleased, so I'm hesitant to stick with that reco. That said, I really like the baja style at Zamora's (on Fresno St. btw Olive & Belmont), be sure and ask Gabi for the special bottle of Nayar hot sauce. If you like them a la planche, the newly opened Lorena's one block east of Blackstone on McKinley is great.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  I'll second the rec. for fish tacos at Zamora. Having had one recently, I was astounded at how light & perfectly cooked the fish was. I'm normally a grilled-fish fish-taco kinda guy, but the fried fish taco at Zamora's was outstanding.

                2. re: tammimcd

                  Here are the links that have Pangea as a main topic. Food has been hit and miss, but I enjoy the small plate concept. Ideally you will have to order more than one items per person.

                  Don Pepe's is open for lunch. Not sure about the weekends.

                  Bistro Rustico (it's in Fresno on Palm and Bullard) does not have a website but their catering company does:, that might give you an idea of what the restaurant offers. I love both CPB and BR, so you can't go wrong with either one. BR does serve a very reasonable and delicious lunch, the vegetarian sandwich is amazing and only $9.

                  GBG and tavmark have pretty much covered all the rest!!

                  1. re: cocktailqueen77

                    Don Pepe's is open for lunch on weekends.

                  2. re: tammimcd

                    I think Pangea would be a mixed bag, some things they do they seem to do well, but not everything is a slam dunk. However, I can see how it might be nice for a large group.

                    Maybe some of the other hounds that have been to Flamenco or La Paella recently could give a report. I am pretty sure they both do tapas, and in the past have gotten good reviews and seem more consistent than Pangea. Pangea, though, is the hot new restaurant, so if the group is more into hipness, they might not be dissuaded from it.

                    1. re: glazebrookgirl

                      I have to say that my last two lunch experiences at Flamenco were not all that good. The food was okay, but not memorable. Service, although friendly, was slow (and we were the only people there.) Maybe dinner is better??

                      Try this link for Varouj' (Bistro Rustico) catering company. For some reason cocktailqueen77's link wasn't working.


          2. I'd just add a couple of more fine dining places not mentioned so far.

            We like to have dinner at Chef's Table. Our choice is to take a patio table near the fireplace. The chef used to be at the W in San Francisco.

            If you stay near Herndon and 41 you might also try Slates which is nearby. Coincidentally it is run by the father of the chef at Chefs Table.

            2 Replies
            1. re: FresnoFacts

              Wow you all are great! Thanks so much for all the ideas and links (love the links makes it so easy) I'm dying to hit up Zamora's I'm even wondering if we can drag the weddng group over there! (Naw probably not) I'll have to save room to fit in taco's when needed. Tough to choose a dinner spot. Slates may be too fussy for us but CPB and Chef's Table look right up our alley.
              Thanks again! I really appreciate the input!

              1. re: tammimcd

                Can't wait to hear how everything goes!! If you head to CPB I second GBG on ordering the Eggplant Napoleon - wonderfull taste and textures...but if you have a sweet tooth do not pass up the bread pudding, the last time I was there I had to fight for every last bite with my BF.

                The weather has been gorgeous lately so if you are coming in the near future be sure to make reservations for The Chef's Table on the patio - they book up quite fast when it is so nice outside (have to take advantage of it when we can!!).

            2. You may want to check out Campagnia's for dinner. I ate there recently and their food is still as consistent as ever. The ambiance is great--especially for large parties and the bar area. Our group had much fun---GREAT FOOD---without being stuffy. May be just what you are looking for. Plus their chocolate lava cake was divine....

              1. Trelio in Clovis (aka northeast Fresno) and Cracked Pepper Bistro are my two favorite places for fine dining. Both offer superior service and outstanding food in an intimate dining atmosphere, but never fussy or pretentious, and the owners are interested first in you and your enjoyment.


                You can't go wrong choosing either one. (I like Bistro Rustico as well, ditto on excellent service, I just think the Trelio and CPB menus offer a greater range of creativity for the chefs and diners.) If you go to CPB, and you enjoy lemon, please try to Meyer lemon sorbet. It is not to be missed! Same for the eggplant napolean--I dislike eggplant and I loved this. At Trelio, try the veal and black truffle meatloaf or the chimichurri grilled beef tri-tip. Absolutely outstanding! And don't miss the French onion soup if it's still on the menu. It's one of the most deliious things I've ever eaten.

                For lunch, two good choices for cheap'n'casual are: 1) Taco Grande on Blackstone and Minarets (the latter a few blocks north of Herndon Ave.) The chile colorado burrito is excellent! 2) Don Pepe's, a taco dive on Blackstone and Gettysburg. There's almost always a line, *everyone* comes to Don Pepe's. Try one of their tacos and you'll see why.

                If you like sushi, I recommend Wassabi on Herndon and First. (Wassabi is a few doors up from La Parisien bakery.) A caution: If you're accustomed to artisan-crafted, highest-end sushi, Fresno can't compete at that level. However, we can turn out a good sushi roll! LOL....

                For Chinese, the dim sum at Imperial Garden on Blackstone and MacGill (1 blk south of Herndon) is our go-to. My favorites are the Chinese broccoli, jellyfish (I know, it sounds gross, but its got the most amazing texture and it tastes good), har kow (shrimp in rice paper wrap), and shin mei (pork dumpling.) The dim sum are perfectly cooked, served piping hot, and are delicious! Last time there I ate off the regular menu and wasn't impressed, so now I'm back on the dim sum reservation.

                If you want the complete fine hotel/fine dining experience, then I echo GBG and Erna's Elderberry House (goofy name, I know) is for you. Reservations are a must and neither is inexpensive, but for the best of the best, this is it.