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The Wool Growers Los Banos (Basque)

e
Ed Jul 13, 2000 01:20 PM

The trip from the Bay area to Fresno is one of the great unsolved problems of life. There is an almost physical necessity for a meal somewhere in the course of it, and no really compelling places to eat.

One of the options is the Wool Growers Basque Hotel in Los Banos. I needed to take a non-driver halfway to the city for a hand off last week, and we settled on the Wool Growers as the "meet for lunch" spot.

Basque food, for those who are not familiar, is served family style, and consists of certain expected, unvarying items. At dinner time, an additional choice is also added. The lunch was excellent. The soup, salad, fries and beans were top drawer. The lamb stew was only so-so, and the lamb chop rather lacking is flavour, but the pork chop was top drawer, and made up for it. The salad dressing excited particular comment.

Basque restaurants only serve at certain hours, and you need to be ready for a really big meal. When you meet these conditions and find yourself near Los Banos, Wool Growers is an excellent bet. You have to get off the main road, and go downtown to H Street to find it. Ask for directions.

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    Lumi Jul 13, 2000 06:36 PM

    OMIGOSH!! I went to the Woolgrowers 20 years ago as a "just starting out" new engineer working for the feds, we always ate there for dinner, and boy was the food delicious...sounds like nothing has changed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lumi
      t
      Tom Hilton Jul 21, 2000 03:46 PM

      One of my fellow Sierra Club trip leaders goes there after every trip (and has for 20+ years). I haven't tried it yet; I'm always hungry long before I reach Los Banos.

      1. re: Tom Hilton
        s
        Scott Jun 2, 2001 02:14 PM

        Just stumbled on the Woolgrowers' last week; I can tell you the following: I have never been a fan of lamb but would have eaten every bit of the lamb stew (it was described as being a bit lackluster in this thread...). I had the pork chops which were great, two large, thick-cut chops done but not overdone. My wife had the lamb chops which were prepared the same as the pork: lots of garlic, salt & pepper, maybe some bread crumbs, then pan-fried perfectly. They were delicious. The waitress steered me away from the tri-tip; looking back it makes no sense to order anything but the lamb here. The salad does have a dressing made from scratch and not like anything I've ever had--terrific. The bread was average and I would have liked to have the option of a wine "upgrade" but I know that cutting down the options keeps the price low. $14.00 a head, all included. Don't miss it, don't eat lunch the day you go.
        -Scott

        Link: http://www.parlornews.com

        Image: http://www.parlornews.com/Art/pnchead...

    2. k
      Ken Natzke Jan 15, 2001 09:59 AM

      I will have a group of 25 in Los Banos on Feb 12,2001.
      What can I expect as far as menu and price/

      1. d
        Dan Cunning Mar 14, 2001 05:38 PM

        Living in Lake Havasu Arizona, the only real thing I miss about the San Joaquin Valley is the Wool Growers.
        When it come too food and atmosphere there is none that compares. I can't wait for my next visit!!

        1. j
          Jennifer Fish Wilson Jun 2, 2001 11:39 PM

          The Wool Growers was featured in the latest edition of Saveur magazine. Special section called "The Saveur Road Trip: California". Includes recipe for their Lamb Stew.

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