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Who do you want to survive? [Fresno]

"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion." George Bernard Shaw

That quote has been running through my brain lately, had to google to find the author. What kindled the whole thing was realizing, given the accuracy (or rather lack of) demonstrated recently by all of our so called fiscal wizards on affairs to date as they attempt to predict what business models are going to survive, and comments from people I trust (i.e. the dedicated hounds on these boards), is it at all possible to make predictions and/or form an effective plan of action?

Distilling it down, I seem to hear a consensus that:

1. Most chains will survive due to having a solid capital base.

2. High end independants will fail more due to high operating costs and a reduced customer base.

3. Low end (read mostly ethnic) will do better or at least survive as more cash strapped customers are driven to their establishments.

The above are by no means supported by any studies (at least to my knowledge), but if there is any basis for them I'd like to put together my own personal rotation list of places I don't want to disappear. I was thinking of maybe a Top 10 list, for example:

1. Zamora's at 950 N. Fresno, for well.... about everything

2. Jim's Chinese, First St. just north of Sam's Deli - Chinese Chicken Salad (and much more)

3. Smokey's - Tulare & D St. - BBQ ribs, collard greens, Basa fish sand/dinner, & much more

4. Cafe Leon - Ashlan & Blackstone, - huevos rancheros, and much more

5. Julia's - Divisadero & H - huevose rancheros, and much more

There are other obvious ones, Don Pepe's, El Toro Cafe, Hunan, Imperial Garden, Sam's Deli, and on the higher end Parma and Trelio in Clovis, but at least for the time being, it seems their loyal customer base is keeping them out of danger.

I'd love to add La Cabana in North Fork and Don Fernando's up in the foothills, but I couldn't realistically have them on any sort of regular rotation.

So, the challenge to the local hounds, who do you want to see the rest of us support on a regular basis to get through this economic clusterf*ck (all credits to Jon Stewart)?

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  1. Dang, PB, I wish i could be there to personally try to help support your choices!!! I've been hit hard, but would love to come back to Fresno and eat at every place on your list. And at some other places. And at some of your places more than once.

    1. Hiya PB-

      It would be a crime if a 'Q joint in the California heartland, recommended by a 'houndly denizen of same heartland ,were to go by the wayside. So just in case the Mrs. and I get back to your neighborhood sometime, tell me more about Smokey's and their ribs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Greg used to own some restos up in WA state, and decided to return home not too long ago. Here's a previous thread:


      2. PB I have to add Bedrosian's Armenian Deli to that list. Johnnie Bedrosian (owner) Is a wonderful old sole (85yrs) I stopped in tonight for a jar of his Torish. My gramma had an Armenian friend who taught her a recipe that was very similiar to Johnnie's. I just recently discovered this place and am hooked. Don't expect speedy service as it's just Johnnie and his cook Alla. (Torish is pickled calliflower,cabbage,carrots, celery in a ouart jar to die for) He even gave me a starter recipe so I can make my own. We'll see!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jeff Avis

          Well Jeff, you've hit another one I like, and you're right his Torish is pretty dam good. I have to say though, my Tabbouleh is better. I hand pick the leave so no large stems get in. :)

          1. re: Jeff Avis

            Damn, I just picked up a jar in the market to try making a faux muffaletta olive salad. Thanks for the tip on Bedrosian's.

          2. 6. Sweet Ginger (Thai, Shaw & Marks NW)

            7. Thai Royal Orchid (Herndon & First SW)

            8. Mediterranean Grill & Cafe - shish kebab salad, gyros, falafel (Tulare & U)

            9. Triangle Drive In - all about the cheeseburger (Belmont & Hwy 99)

            10. Topicale Ambiente / Puerto Marquez - pupusas (Fresno & McKenzie NW)

            1. PB, hubby has a friend who lives near Marshall Station. She says that Don Fernando is no longer associated with that restaurant. She met the lady who is the new owner. Sure would like to know if he is still in the restaurant business.

              11. Gem of Thailand (Blackstone/Herndon)
              12. Ripe Tomato (Fig Garden Village)
              13. Toledo's (Blackstone) for Margaritas and mariachis on Sunday. Food, passable.

              Why isn't Giulia's as good as it used to be? Maybe because Tony isn't there any more.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Gail

                Thanks for the update on Sr. Madrigal, Gail. If any hounds are up in North Fork and are inclined to stop in at La Cabana, his brother might know if he plans to stay in the business.

                We dropped Giulia's years ago, too pricey and we make most of what they have better at home.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  Same here, we haven't been in a few years. The last time, Tony was gone and the food was bad. Giulia is still there the last I heard. We loved their mussels and veal chops. Pricey, yes, but the quality was there...and I don't do either mussels or veal chops at home. :-)

              2. PolarBear: Great topic! My list:
                1. Thai Royal Orchid
                2. Limon
                3. Don Pepe
                4. Cracked Pepper Bistro

                Haven't had enough opportunity to try your #s 1-5 but these are the top four for me!

                3 Replies
                1. re: dimsumgirl

                  Sweet Ginger Thai (Shaw & Marks)
                  Lily's (Blackstone & Shaw)
                  Cracked Pepper (Mission Village)
                  North India Grill (Clovis)

                  1. re: FAT Traveler

                    Stopped in to the new location of El Toro Cafe tonight at my son's request .for their fish tacos. Mind you I'm still kinda stuffed from my noon meal of Menudo at La Placita. Well just to let you know nothing at El Toro has changed other than their location and our favorite waitress and friend Linda's hairstyle. Of course we'd like to see El Toro Cafe on the top ten list. My son had to roll me out of there and drive me home I was so full!

                    1. re: Jeff Avis

                      I'll gladly confirm your assessment, Jeff. Stopped in for fish tacos for lunch last Thursday and picked up a quart of chili to take home. The place was close to being full shortly after the noon hour. Note that they now have a banquet room in the back that can accomodate large groups for parties, meetings and the like. And yeah, Linda's new 'do looks great.

                2. I would be devastated if these places closed:

                  -Le Parisien (where would I get my raspberry beignet?)
                  -Taco Grande (the chicken torta is amazing, I've never had another one quite as good)
                  -Limon (we may personally be keeping them in business)
                  -Dutch Brothers (their mocha is amazing and I hate Starbuck's mocha!)

                  Of course I second many others, especially Don Pepe's, Zamora's, Cracked Pepper, Sam's Deli, etc.

                  1. Second (or third!!) all of the response's!! It has been increasingly devastating for the independantly owned restaurants here in Fresno. Even before the economy took a crash it was hard on the owner's; high rent, payroll, increasing food/beverage costs, etc. Here is a couple of my fav's that haven't been mentioned....in no particular order...

                    1. The Patio Cafe (Fig Garden)...great fresh food, top-notch eggs benedict
                    2. The Beerock Shop (Bullard/West)...love the burger & broccoli salad (beerocks, of course)
                    3. Bistro Rustico (Palm/Bullard)...homemade butternut squash raviolis & bread, plus all the desserts
                    4. Guadalara's (Weber)...milanesa & carnitas, best after a late night!!
                    5. Mike's (Marks/Shaw)...consistently great chicken parmigian & fettucini carbonara

                    Here's to support!! My stomach is up for the challenge!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cocktailqueen77

                      Just remembered more...

                      6. Max's (Bullard/West)...sweet potato fries, and great service
                      7. Cuca's (Downtown & Tower District)...homemade corn tortillas & milanesa
                      8. Shepard's Inn (Downtown)...fried chicken w/ TONS of garlic (OMG), one of the best blackened catfish I have ever had

                    2. 1 & 2: Trelio and Cracked Pepper Bistro (Clovis). The food and service at both are spectacular. (Trelio's onion soup is the best soup I've ever tasted.)

                      3 & 4 North India Grill (Clovis) and Brahma Bull (Fresno). My choice for Indian food. I don't know much about that cuisine, but I've enjoyed the food and service at both the times I've eaten there.

                      5. Thai Royal Orchid

                      6. Arsenio's Mexican fast food. Not so much for me (although I do like their shredded beef burritos), but for my 16 yr-old stepson. Nowhere else can I feed him as much for as little cost as I can here. When he starts a growth spurt, he eats anything slower than he is.

                      7. Julia's (on Divisadero in downtown) - tasty, hole-in-the-wall Mexican food. Good service, good food.

                      8. Sweet Tomatoes on First, just north of Herndon. When I have a massive jones for soup and salad lunch, ST is my home.

                      9. Sam's Deli - On (First? Fresno?). For all your Italian food and wine needs, plus great sandwiches.

                      10. The Meat Market (Fresno on Ingram and on Fowler & Teague in Clovis) - good prices on meat, friendly counter help, and the only place I know of to buy the delectable Dirty's Potato Chips (i enjoy their low salt version.)