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What are the five eateries someone new to Fresno should try immediately?

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As I wrote in my Friday Bee column last week, I recently celebrated my 10-year anniversary as a Fresnan. Also, my sister just accepted a job and moved here. Both had me thinking back to being a Fresno newb and exploring the city for the first time.

In my case, I was luck to meet some cool peeps who took me to some under-the-radar jewels of the city. In my sister’s case, my wife and I are trying to introduce her to the best Fresno has to offers.

So, of course, one of the first places we took her for dinner was Dusty Buns Bistro (pictured). As we drove home that night, remarking how wonderful Dusty Buns was as always, I tried to pin down a list of five local eateries a Fresno newb needs to experience. My list — for a variety of food types and experiences — would include Dusty Buns (so good), Doghouse Grill (a staple), Keith’s Box Car Cafe (my current addiction), La Elegante (tacos to die for) and Me-N-Ed’s (it’s a Fresno icon). I’m not saying these are the five best restaurants in town, rather these are five that I’d want to share because they’re interesting, historic, trending, etc.

I figured this would also make a good blog topic. So I turn it over to you all: What are the five local eateries you’d recommend a new Fresnan taste immediately?

Responses to "What are the five eateries someone new to Fresno should try immediately?"

marcel says:

Here are 5 (of many) to get your Sis going… http://apithanypictures.com/series/mom-pops-of-fresno/

There is a 6th (part of this first series) which I have still to edit.

Cathy Lookabaugh says:

I would also say Salsa’s in Clovis, Sal’s and Bobby Salazar’s are top in my book, and local people. Mad Duck is also great. Oh, and Forestiere’s (Clovis) is very good. If you want to travel south, just a little bit, our fav Chinese food, hands down, is Cho’s, a family run restaurant in Selma.

Derek says:

Me-N-Eds
Max’s
The Cosmopolitan
Elbow Room
Triangle Burger

Plenty of good choices out there. I look forward to seeing other lists.

bradley says:

Limon
Meze House
Parma
Thai Country
Rudy’s Chicken Man

Laura says:

Mooyah in Merced
Marat’s Kitchen in Fresno
Luna’s in Clovis
The Million Elephant in Fresno
Mr. Sushi 2 in Clovis

NICHOLAS SANTANA says:

1:THE CRAWFISH SPOT CLOVIS CA

2:DUSTY BUNS BISTRO FRESNO CA

3:LELA’S RESTAURANT FRESNO CA

4:GUISSEPPI’S CLOVIS CA

5:WASSABI SUSHI FRESNO CA

CherryPi says:

Lucy’s Lair
Dusty Buns Bistro
Come and Get Em’ Chicken & Waffles
Dog House Grill
Ooi

Kristin says:

Guadalahara(spelling wayyy wrong). but the place by the 99 freeway/shields.

heard about the fat burgers??? at palm and herndon–saw a pic–wowowo.

darn that Acapolco is not open anymore—i remember standing on the stairs looking down at my dad and saying hi. they also had a pantyhose dispenser back then—think 1970′s era.

John Doe says:

TaKo BBQ Korean Fusion Food Truck
Dusty Buns Bistro Bus
Tsing Tsao Chinese – Clovis
Japanese Kitchen – Clovis
Cool Hand Lukes – CLovis

Jackki says:

Castillos
Dusty Buns
El Pescador
Chans
Angelos

Steven Barra says:

Here are my five, Mike:

1) Tokyo Garden
Fulton and San Joaquin-Fresno
http://www.tokyogardenfresno.com
-Where else can you dine and it feel like Tokyo circa 1955 AND have Godzilla watch you drink a Singapore Sling?

2) Alla’s Armenian Deli and Restaurant
3051 East Ashlan Avenue Fresno, CA 93726
(559) 221-1161 (NW corner of Ashlan and First)
-Probably the best and most authentic Armenian restaurant in Fresno. It’s a mother/son team: She cooks and he greets. A very charming place and they are charming people

3) Joe’s Steakhouse
831 Van Ness Avenue (At Inyo under the double spiral parking structure) Downtown Fresno
http://www.joessteakhouse.com
-Although they feature steaks, they make the best hamburger in Fresno! Plus they support local industries: They host monthly wine dinners, featuring local vintners or Central California vintners (includes Paso Robles) and they carry Fresno’s own Tioga Sequoia Brewery.

4) Old School House-Sanger
1018 South Frankwood Avenue (at HWY 180…on the way to Kings Canyon National Park)
http://www.facebook.com/schoolhousesanger
-Locally owned and locally sourced food. This place has a “boomerang” chef…a chef who grew up in Fresno County, went to Napa to learn and returned home. Amazing and creative meals await you there. The staff just can’t wait to meet you!

5) Salsa’s Mexican Grill
On Clovis Avenue in Old Town Clovis
http://salsasclovis.com
-Original Mexican recipes…many low-fat. Quite tasty. Try the Mahi-Mahi wrap or the Chile Relleno de Res (meat-filled chile relleno). It’s accented with raisins.

Hopefully your sister has a big appetite!

HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Richard says:

Mr sushi (tower location)
Tahoe Joe’s
Bulldog Grill
Churrasco Grill
Piemonte’s

Oh and Dusty Bunns

No chain restaurants here!

Mike Oz says:

Ahh man. I missed Sunnyside Deli. Love that place.

LV says:

Límon
Pinot Wine Bar
Dusty Buns Bistro
Me n Ed’s Coney Island
Mike’s Pizzaria

Katie O. says:

1. Castillo’s on Ventura and 6th. Best Mexican food, hands down.
2. Don Pepe, for a carnitas burrito.
3. Tokyo Steakhouse in Clovis. I suggest the Tokyo Crunch Roll with spicy sauce.
4. Ming’s in Tower
5. Pho 99 on First and McKinley

Ashley says:

Dusty Buns
Sam’s Italian Deli
Doghouse Grill
La Elegante
The LimeLite

There are so many fantastic options for local eateries that are “Must-Taste” for a newbie!! Below are a few more I think are quite yummy!!

***Max’s Bistro, The Elbow Room, Irene’s, Shepherd’s Inn, Richard’s Prime Rib***

Michael says:

Now that this blog has got me thinking about food, here are is a good top 5 (hey, there are many great restaurants in Fresno!) … (and not necessarily in this order):

1.) Mediterranean Grill

2.) Train Depot

3.) Tower Cafe

4.) Tacos Tijuana

5.) Santa Fe Basque

Michelle says:

1. Hunan Chinese Restaurant (Cedar & Herndon and another location Chef Liu just opened up in Clovis). The chef is world famous and used to cater to the President of China and several other big names, including Margaret Thatcher. Ask for the traditional menu (even though the Americanized menu is good as well).

2. Guadalajara’s on shields/99

3. Piemonte’s in Tower

4. Imperial Garden on Blackstone/Herndon for Dim Sum.

Danielle says:

(in no particular order)

Churrasco’s Grill
Sakura Chaya
La Elegante
Keith’s Boxcar Cafe/Doghouse Grill (these are similar to me and both so good, I just can’t choose one or the other)
Max’s/Elbow Room (same as above)

But I agree with Me & Ed’s, Tahoe Joe’s, Luna’s, and Wassabi being on the Top 5 too. Those are all my fave spots in Fresno, I think…

Stefanie Tholen says:

Yoshinos not the one in riverpark
wasabi off the hook
limelight
trelio’s
and last but not least, she has to go to the chuck wagon in sanger

Smokey Behr (@Smokeybehr) says:

In no particular order:

Robertitos: Best late night eats, and best of the fast Mexican food.

Elbow Room: Classic American fare.

Bobby Salazar’s on Blackstone: the best sit-down Mexican food.

Sun Sun Kitchen: Great Chinese food from what seems to be a hole-in-the-wall.

Shepherd’s Inn: Basque food served the same way it has been for decades. The Lunch is classic: It’s whatever the chef decides to fix, but there’s plenty of it. Make sure you get there early to get a seat.

If you expand to outside of Fresno, then there’s a couple more:

Chuckwagon in Sanger: Foot. Long. Chili. Dogs. Need I say more?

Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ (Merced and Visalia): How many places still have a mechanical bull?

Erna’s Elderberry House: Five-Star Cuisine with a Five-Star View

Marcus says:

El premio mayor Mckinley/and First east of Pho 99
King Torta
Deli delicious
Triangle
Colorado burger

Grace Solis says:

Original DiCicco’s

Garcia’s (McKinley and Chestnut) The owner is the former cook of Cuca’s in Chinatown

Central Fish Co.

Cattleman’s Restaurant (a short drive down the 99 in Selma)

Sam’s Deli

Dana says:

The Beerrock Shop — Nothing fancy but great for lunch and home made food

Dusty Buns – great truck and Bistro

And of the various Pho restaurants. Great pho in Fresno.

Eureka Burger. Great burgers and craft beer and entertainment

Yoshino’s. The original one. It’s a Fresno Icon after all.

TOPS BBQ says:

Chinese – Helen’s Gourmet
Tacos – El Elegante
Pho – Pho 90 or Pho #1
Thai – BK Asian
Sandwich – Sunnyside Deli

Mondo says:

Sunrise Kitchen – Chinese, big portions

Lorenas Restaurant – better than your avg Mexican

Oaxaca Restaurant – Adv Mexican food from Oaxaca. Try the clayuda! It’s kinda like a Mexican pizza.

Watt’s Family Grill – great BBQ & soul food.

Fresno Deli – great falafel sandwiches for cheap. Baklava, feta, hummus and other neccessary groceries on hand.

That little sushi shack on the corner of Shaw and Clovis pretty much rocks.

That new Ethiopian place near the Paradise Center, The Rack Family Billiards on Blackstone is also ruling over all.

I haven’t found one decent Thai place yet. Also, looking for REAL good Italian not crazy expensive.

Deborah says:

For . . .

Amazing pho and other traditional dishes:
Pho 75 #2
3127 East McKinley Avenue, Fresno, CA

Best burgers in Fresno or Clovis:
Mom’s Ol Fashion Burgers
1311 West Clinton Avenue, Fresno, CA

A spiritual experience:
Dusty Buns Bistro
608 E Weldon Ave, Fresno, CA

Seriously sick sushi:
Wassabi
752 West Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA

Good old fashioned food:
Chicken Pie Shop
861 East Olive Avenue, Fresno, CA

These are all places that are local and with only one location, except the Dusty Buns Bus, which you can see out via their website.
Good Eating!

Ryan says:

1. Tsing Tao
2. Sunnyside Deli
3. Georges downtown
4. Yoshinos
5. Lunas

ahmward says:

Lela’s

Trelio

Limelite

Sam’s Italian Deli

Don Pepe’s

Jackki says:

My new favorite “fast” Mexican food slash late night is 2 Palmas. They deliver until midnight and are open 24 hours.

GMZ23 says:

1. Shepards Inn
2. Sunrise Kitchen
3. Marks Kitchen
4. Chuck Wagon (sanger)
5. Japanese Kitchen

kristy says:

Dusty Buns
Charlottes
Eureka Burger
Mediteranean Cafe
Keith’s BoxCar

Karma says:

i love that you put tokyo first. they are really amazing, and they used to have their own sauce. tommy is an avid farmers market customer and can create some amazing delicacies. <3 toshi and tommy

pk says:

AJ’s Armenian–on Maroa
Helen’s Gourmet Chinese -on North Fresno at Alluvial
Piedmonte’s in the Tower Dist.
RosaLinda’s Mexican at West and Bullard
Max’s at West and Bullard

Don_Juan says:

Much has been said but I’m glad to read posts that have included my beloved Chuck Wagon & Castillo’s!! Ok on to my top 5;

1. Chuck Wagon – Clark’s, chili cheese dogs and/or fries, deluxe burritos!! Enough said!!

2. Castillo’s – only place that makes menudo as good as good ole mommy dearest!!

3. Me-n-Eds – come on its a valley favorite!! A must in anyone’s list who’s been raised here in the Valley.

4. Piemonte’s / Sam’s Deli / Sunnyside Deli – how can you choose any one over the other in this catagory?!?!

And my sleeper pick at # 5. Veni Vidi Vici – it’s not just your favorite watering hole…their food is always on point. Tony runs a great kitchen and the food is to die for!!

ed says:

1. charlotte’s bakery
2. max’s
3. oggi cosi si mangia
4. castillos
5. rudy jr’s chicken man

Migz says:

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone that posted, I live in the area and really never been to most of the restaurants named so i will be checking them out soon.

Jackie says:

Dusty Buns
Oggi
Meze House
Brick
Pismos

Jay Parks says:

Rousseau
Parma
Chicken Man
Pho 75 #2
Maroo

Henry Wilshusen says:

Don Pepe’s (Mexican)
Mikes BBQ
Noah’s (Mediterranean)
North India (Indian)
Hunan (Chinese)

Sly says:

Since you just asked for Fresno eateries, I’ll stick to that. There are some great places a short drive out of Fresno, but when in town, here’s where I would go:

(In no particular order)
1. Zipangus (Japanese/Tepanyaki)
2. Casa Corona (Mexican)
3. BJ’s Kountry Kitchen (Country Breakfast/Lunch-try their buttery pancakes and Kowboy potatoes! Yumm!)
4. China Restaurant (Chinese, duh. I know there’s a lot of them, but this one is my absolute favorite on the NW corner of Blackstone and Nees near Riverpark)
5. Spaghetti Factory (Italian)

These are all unique to Fresno, not chain restaurants, and all yummy depending on what mood you’re in.

Tim Decker says:

Surprised by the lack of CHARLOTTES votes.

-Charlottes
-Sams Deli
-Taandori Night
-Little Peking
-Don Pepes

Danielle says:

I had to add a “second” to Hunan Chinese Cuisine – best I’ve ever had, anywhere! That should have been on my list. The honey shrimp with strawberries is CRAZY SCRUMPTIOUS! Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Also, the super nachos at Casa Corona and the chile verde nachos at Bobby Salazar’s are both not to be missed.

Jose says:

Reading through these comments makes me continually to realize how diverse Fresno is. I’ve not had the pleasure to eat at every place mentioned, but I will venture to these places soon. As for my list, here are I few musts for myself.
1. Cracked Pepper Bistro – great fine dining experience
2. Sakanaya – go to the sushi bar and if you are adventurous order “omakase” – (meaning, I’ll leave it to you.)
3 la elegante – so authentic it hurts.
4. Veni vini vici – I don’t feel like it gets enough credit as a great restaurant as it does as it does as a nighttime destination.
5. Limon- inspired and bold take on traditional Peruvian recipes. Everything is delicious.

Brandon says:

In no particular order

-La Elegante
-Parma
-Basque Hotel
-Dusty Buns
-Sam’s Italian Deli

Will says:

The Old Spaghetti factory is a chain with locations around the US except in places like the northeast where the have plenty of real Italian restaurants that are actually good. In other words the Spaghetti factory is no different than Olive Garden.

Will says:

Thai Country Kitchen at Bullard/Villa is great. For Italian American Mother Mary’s at Willow/Nees is hands down the best in this area. Not she-she at all. Best pizza I’ve had outside of NY/NJ too.

Jasmin Kloos says:

Fresno has so many good places to enjoy a meal. My favorites include:
1. Lucy’s Lair (Ethiopian)
2. Fasika (Ethiopian)
3. Robertito’s (Mexican)
4. Piemonte’s (Italian deli)
5. May Cafe (Vietnamese)
Thanks for the reminder to eat local and support small, family owned restaurants!

soddruntlestuntle says:

In no particular order:

Oggi Trattoria
Irene’s
The Elbow Room
Marat’s
The Landmark

I’ve never figured out the fascination people in Fresno have with Me ‘N Ed’s– I’m from Portland, and it wouldn’t even rate in the top twenty there. Fresno needs more good pizza!

Janet Sanchez says:

1. El Cochinito Contento, El Cochi for short. Must try the deep-fried catfish.

2. Silver Dollar Hofbrau. Brings me back to my college days.

3. Diana’s Armenian Restaurant. Elena will treat you right.

4. Wassabi: best Chirashi bowl ever.

5. Curry House: lunch buffet is a great way to sample their menu.

Liz says:

Food!! I love food… So of course I had to comment. There’s a few on here that weren’t mentioned that should be known. I’ve only been living in Fresno for 2 1/2 years and these are some of my favorite places. (But still looking for more)… No specific order, just depends what you’re in the mood for;

Thai Gem – Thai – Clovis 
Small place and the same older man greets you, welcoming. 

Flower City – Chinese – Fresno
Also a small place. Only place I’ve found that doesn’t have chow mein mixed with a whole bunch of vegetables. Definitely not making it taste like fast Chinese food.

Amir’s Kabob – Mediterranean – Fresno
Recently renovated inside and has a small patio for sitting outdoors. 

Famous Dave’s – American – Fresno
Chain. I know. Still One of my favs.

Mountain Mikes – Pizza – Fresno
Self explained. 

PapaDock says:

Hunan
La Elegante
Dusty Buns
Max’s Bistro
Fat Jack’s

CJ says:

Being a Fresno transplant myself, here are the local places I find myself going to the most:

1. Doghouse Grill
2. Tokyo Steakhouse
3. Colorado Grill
4. Me-N-Ed’s
5. Deli Delicious

PolarBear says:

Hunan – Sichuan (orig in Fresno or new one in Clovis)

Thai Royal Orchid at First & Herndon

Imperial Garden for dim sum (Sat-Sun)

B&K Kitchen (Thai/Lao … Got Lop?)

Golden Dynasty for the Beef Chow Fun w/Chinese Broccoli and gravy

Trelio (actually in Clovis), great food and wine pairings

Vince K says:

Parma
Cosmo
Keith’s Boxcar
Sam’s Deli
Don House Grill

Cassie says:

I agree with others’ statements regarding Fresno’s food diversity. That said, I believe our best restaurants, taking the diversity of possible selections into account, are:

India’s Oven at Marks/Ashlan (I’ve eaten Indian food all over this country and nothing has come close to this place).

Asuka at Herndon/Marks or Maroo at bullard/west (great sushi and doesnt have annoyingly loud music like Wassabi)

Cracked Pepper Bistro (best fine dining option)

Gem of thailand at herndon/blackstone

Salsa’s or Castillos for Mexican

I would also include Limon, Ovidios, Flower City, Allaa’s Armenian Deli, Keiths box car, Maxs, Lucys Lair, and La Boulangerie on my honorable mention list.

Laura Gee says:

GINZA on First Street between Bullard and Barstow

Takumi’s on Shaw and Valentine

Pam says:

1. Livingstone’s
2. Irene’s
3. Elbow Room
4. Mike’s Pizzeria
5. B & K Asian Kitchen

tracey says:

The Calfornia Wok
Beerock shop
Marians Mexican
chicken pot pie shop
The Grind

Tari says:

Hard to narrow it down.

Lucy’s Lair
Dusty Buns
Don Pepe
Limon
Thai Country
Trelio

Yes, I know that’s six. I couldn’t decide!!