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Anything to eat in Visalia?

We were shopping in Visalia today and got hungry. I noticed quite a few cute, independent cafes that upon a closer look were either for sale or had closed. The only restaurants I saw (on Mooney) were chain or franchise spots. I could have kicked myself for not checking with Chowhound before we left. But I took a chance and ended up in a Mexican place on the boulevard that served Guadalajara style. Perhaps 4 of the 12 tables were occupied. When I saw the Mexican couple next to us had left a good bit of their food on the plate, I asked them how the food was and they said okay but the look on their face said YUK. I was already sorry I stepped foot in this place. Mexicans don't leave half their dinner on the plate when they leave. Chips were served before the meal and the salsa was more like the water that is served with fish cocktails
. They did have a salsa bar but that stuff wasn't very good either. I ordered enchiladas verdes and the sauce was again watered down, the chicken stuffing also contained potatoes and onion, the beans could have come out of a can and the rice was bland and no flavor. I left half of it on the plate..dog food. Now, In case I have to go back there, please tell me what is worth the stop or at least where not to stop. Thanks.

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  1. Visalia is a great place to visit! I have eaten at both Acequia on Main (211 W. Main) and Cafe 225 (225 W. Main). Both are really good. I think Acequia is a little more high end and I tend to eat at Cafe 225 a little more often although I only get to Visalia only two or three times a year. You can't go wrong at either. Please report back,

    1. Here is my post from a few months ago:

      just had dinner at Pita Kabob tonight (2226 s mooney) and it was EXCELLENT ! Little strip center but good food, excellent staff, clean, huge portions. We had the mezza plate (hummus, baba ganoosh, dolmades, tabouleh, falafel, tzatziki, pita bread) and then chicken kabobs (I would have had lamb but my friend...can't. eat. lamb.) She also had salad and rice, both of which looked OK but why? When there is all this other good stuff to eat? BTW, the baba ganoosh was VERY smokey. Good.

      Pita Kabob
      2226 S Mooney Blvd, Visalia, CA

      1. Hi Patricia,

        If you're looking for Mexican food I would recommend Chapala's Mexican Restaurant at 1737 W Caldwell. Southbound on Mooney Blvd, turn East at Caldwell. The restaurant's is down about 1/4 mile located on the righthand side..
        I love their Stuffed Shrimp wrapped in bacon, yummy! The service there is always friendly and the food is great. My mom loves their seafood.
        If you're looking for quick traditional Mexican food try Amigos (www.getamigos.com). Love their carne asada. They're at 5113 W Walnut Ave.
        I would also recommend Pita Kabob -Mediterranean food - for a change of pace (www.pitakabob.com).
        The only items I've ordered there so far, for my hubby: the Combination Plate - $13.79 - which consists of : beef, chicken & lamb kabob ($1 extra for the lamb), rice pilaf, greek salad (I add feta cheese to it another $1 extra). It also comes with pita bread & two dipping sauces - love the garlic sauce!
        We're going to be heading down to San Diego sometime next month. What Mexican restaurant would you recommend for us? We're going to be staying near "Old Town". Your recommendations appreciated, thanks =)

        3 Replies
        1. re: bebe07

          Hi Bebe,
          Thanks for all the info on Visalia, I'll pass it on to my kids in Lemoore.
          I'm flattered that you'd take my recommendations for Mexican food in SD.
          My personal favorites have been reviewed on this board quite a few times so you can do a search and see what you think.
          Super Cocina at 3627 University probably has the greatest variety and most everything is delicious, the staff and owners are great and very helpful. You can sample dishes from their buffet before you order them. Very authentic and don't let the neighborhood scare you, just go in the day time. $
          I love Mama Testa's at 1417 University in the Hillcrest area. Here you can taste tacos from many states in Mexico. I love the Muchos Machos with pasilla chiles and oaxacan cheese. Do try a side of their potatoes, perhaps in lieu of beans and rice? And the salsa bar is something to rave about. $$
          Aqui es Texcoco is my to die for and not to miss barbacoa place. South of San Diego, in Chula Vista but worth the effort. They are located in a strip mall at 1043 Broadway in Chula Vista. This stuff is addictive. $
          You'll be in the Old Town area and I have to say I think most of the places there are tourist traps. I can't think of any in the area I'd recommend.
          I know you'll have a great time, it's considerably cooler down here. ;-0) We'll be waiting for your reviews.

          1. re: P Macias


            I know this has nothing to do with Visalia, but having grown up in Chula Vista (and based on Kare's reviews) I went to Aqui es Texcoco the last time i was there and have to agree - it's really good. :)

            1. re: tavmark

              I wish I had known you were in town. Please let me know when you get down here next time. I love Texcoco. We don't have anything like it anywhere in San Diego. If I were to recommend a singular San Diego chow experience this would be it. The taste lingers and sticks in your brain and makes you want to return. The salsas are some of the best I've ever tasted and I always leave with some of the red sauce and use it on everything! It's similarly as addictive as the eggplant ap at Cracked Pepper Bistro in Fresno. It's actually dangerous to live in such close proximity. So, I'm not surprised you liked it! Let me know when you're in town.

        2. Back in 2002 or 2003 I remember having a solid meal, if unimaginative meat, at the Wine Press... Escargot, Pate.. some kind of Mesclun salad, Sweetbreads, Creme Brulee... decent wine list. All prepared & served very competently.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            You would be referring to the Vintage Press, which was *the* place in Visalia and one of the best within 100 miles in the 60s through 80s. We haven't been in probably 20 years and unfortunately don't recall much talk of them since.

            1. re: PolarBear

              You are right... it was the Vintage Press.

              1. re: PolarBear

                It's been several years since we've eaten there, but my opinion is they have gotten over priced for what they serve now. They are no long the fine friendly place they were in the '80.

            2. We don't get down to Visalia very often and when we do we're usually restricted to the downtown area so I've kept a record of a few places on Main St. that have been good in the past. IIRC, dimsumgirl has has a couple of good experiences in this area, but again we haven't been back for a while.

              Acequia on Main
              Cafe 225
              Aleiandras Mexican Restaurant

              A few others that hounds have mentioned:

              Mr. Gable's (one block north of Main Street at the Fox Theater)
              La Dolce Vita (character owner-chef),
              Hagopian's Deli - kebab sands
              The Depot
              Colima's on Main Street - supposed to have good fish tacos


              1. I have visited Visalia weekly for 5 years and usually have lunch, occasionally dinner. For restaurants, downtown is entirely independents, mom-and-pop and family-owned and there is plenty of free covered parking a block off Main; Mooney is mostly franchises and chains (boring predictable food -same as the ones in your town- so why bother?).

                I have had at least 2 meals in the past 6 months at all of these places. If open for lunch and dinner and I recommend only one, that has been the better meal in my experience. If a downtown restaurant is not listed, it doesn't mean I haven't been there... Unless specifically noted, I recommend the following as being Tasty, Consistent, and Reasonably-Priced:
                FUGAZZI (wraps, pastas, really delicious salads, many wines by-the-glass)
                127 W Main St (559) 625-0496
                <http://fugazzisbistro.com&gt;‎ ;
                TOMMY'S (continental menu, good food, not cheap)
                130 N Encina St (559) 627-6077
                <http://tommysdowntown.com‎> ;
                VINTAGE PRESS (continental menu, gracious service; world-class wine list; a Central Valley institution)
                216 N Willis St (559) 733-3033
                CAFE 225 (sandwiches, pastas, various grill items - all good)
                225 W Main St (559) 733-2967
                <http://cafe225.com‎> ;
                ACEQUIA (new owners improved menu, lowered prices - outstanding burgers!)
                211 W Main St (559) 739-1039 <no site>;
                BREWBAKERS (micro-brewery with pub food)
                219 E Main St (559) 627-2739
                <http://brewbakersbrewingco.com‎> ;
                HENRY SALAZAR'S (up-scale Mexican)
                123 W Main St (559) 741-7060 <no site>;

                JACK & CHARLIE'S (up-scale comfort food; absolutely delicious)
                204 E Oak Ave (559) 738-5752
                VINTAGE PRESS (see lunch listings)
                CAFE 225 (see lunch listings)
                LL STEAKHOUSE (big portions; excellent winelist)
                401 E Center Ave (559) 627-1126 <no site>;

                Hoping your dining experiences are happy and satisfying!

                1. Mr. Gable's closed in 2006 (now Tommy's); La Dolce Vita closed in 2007; Hagopian's is excellent for lunch (forgot to mention them and must remember to go there again soon - they are a couple of blocks out of my usual operating zone).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: YnrDynr

                    Thanks to all of you for the great info. I've already returned home but I'm sending all the recs to my daughter in Lemoore. Believe me, she won't leave home without them. When I was there, it was an impromptu trip and I hadn't even thought about eating. DUMB. I was told to take PolarBear's advice on Fresno's Mexican food as absolute gospel. I believe.
                    Yes, the Vintage Press caught my eye immediately and upon a closer inspection it reminded me of the vintage places in Los Angeles and I was surprised to see it still open for biz. I checked on the CH board and didn't find any recs so I filed it. Might want to check it out for nostalgia, just for fun. I'm sure it was the place in it's day.
                    I'll pass my daughter's reports back to you guys. Thanks, again.
                    Hey, Nopal..great to see you on this board! How's Hawaii?

                      1. re: P Macias

                        This comment reminds me of our recent trip north on 101 when our favorite Pismo Beach stop at Mo's BBQ was blocked due to a car show and I vaguely remembered a Chowhound rec for tapas somewhere further up 101. Was it Gonzales or Gilroy. A quick run past downtown Gonzales did not reveal any possibilities but then where would that be in Gilroy because we had not printed out all those recommendations either. So it was a quick stop at a Starbucks to crank up the Ipad, then track down the Melanie Wong's Chowhound tapas rec for Gilroy and a quick scan of their website for location and happy campers we were.

                      2. re: YnrDynr

                        Hagopian's closed down in 2006. Richard wanted to retire.

                      3. Visalia Eats Downtown
                        Acequia on Main - Good when open, many times few people are there.
                        Cafe 225 - Average at best, but nice atmosphere, food and service just ok
                        Little Italy - Good service, quirky ambiance, excellent Italian food. Sometimes you will get Opera from the waitresses always busy.
                        Fugazzi - All about the Decor, food doesn't live up to the appearance
                        Alejandra's - Good, reasonably priced Mexican, Cheap abundant Nachos
                        El Tarasco - Mexican, I'll pass.
                        Henry Salazar's - Mexican with Flair, best of the bunch, decent price.
                        Tommy's - Nice decor, good food, overpriced.
                        Depot - Professional staff, old style steak house. Owner died what does that mean?
                        Jack and Charlie's - Off the beaten path downstairs in old Jail. Speakeasy style, excellent menu, best place in town BY FAR!!!!
                        Brewbaker's - Brew Pub, nered I say more.
                        Crawdaddy's - I keep trying them and they keep disappointing.
                        L & L - Steak that is disappointing, stay away from Bar, unless you want to feel like you are at the place on Earl.
                        Lum Lum's - old style pick up joint.
                        Canton - Best Chinese in town, valley. I don't go elsewhere since going there.
                        Colima's - Lot's of people swear by them, not me.
                        Rosa's - Been around forever, my first trip a few months ago didn't impress.
                        Taylor's Hot Dogs - Cheap, fast, old style hot dog stand. Just don't nring in car or you will never get smell out.
                        Main Street Cafe - Good food, good prices, good service, if you are looking for diner food, this is the only place in town to get it.
                        Vintage Press - Anniversaries, Birthdays, need to impress. Food generally good, but no Ruth's Chris or Morton's if you want to talk about the food.
                        Want good street food? You have to head north around the "Oval", but don't go after dark. Truly like being in Tijuana, lots of taco trucks, Houston Ave has lots of little stands.
                        Thai - Try Sai Sala Thai.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: thesebs

                          "Vintage Press - Anniversaries, Birthdays, need to impress. Food generally good, but no Ruth's Chris or Morton's if you want to talk about the food."

                          Has it really gone downhill that bad? When I ate there last in 2003 or 2004... the food was far superior to anything at those piece of crap chain places.. Ruth Chris & Morton's.... you aren't getting good Sweetbreads, Frog Legs, Foie or Salads at those boring, gussied up Diner chains.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            I think that compared to what they had during the '80s,the price isn't worth what you get now, mu opinion.

                        2. As this appears to be the most thorough, comprehensive thread on Visalia, are there any updates since 2008?

                          We're heading up to Sequoia Sun-Tues next week, and Bakersfield Basque (my stalwart standby) doesn't work for others in my group.


                          Mr Taster