I also love to eat and this is an exciting time for food lovers in Fresno. No, I’m not talking the Fresno Fair.
As my colleagues Bethany Clough and Bob Rodriguez have reported, several hip new restaurants and drinking establishments have opened in the last month or so, including a gastropub, a small-chain modern-day Hof Brau and a bottle shop.
Below are my reviews of each. If you’ve been to any of the three, we’d love to know your thoughts. Add your reviews in the comments section.
Here’s an unusual place to host a wine tasting: The Meux Home Museum. The lawn of that gorgeous 1888 Victorian home downtown will be the site of Grocery Outlet’s first of many monthly wine tastings beginning Friday. The event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is a fundraiser for the museum and costs $10. No reservations or tickets needed, just make sure you bring your ID no matter how old you are because you won’t get in without it. Grocery Outlet is donating all the wine.
The event was inspired by Chris Caillier, the local owner/operator of the new Grocery Outlet across the intersection at Tulare and R streets. “I looked at that mansion and said, ‘We need to have a wine tasting there,’” he said. The store is partnering with the West Shaw Grocery Outlet for this event and all the area Grocery Outlet stores will be involved in future monthly wine tastings. They will eventually include food, live music and beer tasting.
It’s also a way for Grocery Outlet to bring some attention to its wine and beer department. Like many of its products, the stores gets overruns of wine when wineries have too much or change a label, for example. Caillier says the department is a good for way for wine drinkers who want to experiment but not spend a lot of money. Most bottles cost between $4.99 and $6.99 with the occasional $1.99 bottle.
Most of the beer for sale at Grocery Outlet isn’t overstock, but comes directly from the sellers. The stores sell some interesting craft beers, including Tioga-Sequioa beer and Firestone (and I hear Riley’s is often sold at local Grocery Outlets too).
Here’s another thing to add to a long list of hip stuff you shouldn’t miss this weekend. Fresno surf-rock icons The Neptunes play tonight at Gazebo Gardens Nursery. This is a rare local show and a good bet for fans of Ventures-style, reveb-laden rock and roll.
Think, Davy Jones’ house band. In the words of one fan: “These guys make Dike Dale look like Lawrence Welk.”
The band plays at 6 and 8:30 p.m.
The show is part of the gazebo’s popular beer-and-food truck gathering that happens Friday and Saturday nights.
Anyone in the mood for pizza and beer? Blast 825, the latest concept by the Me-N-Ed’s folks at Sierra Vista Mall, turns 1 today. To celebrate, it’s selling $3.65 pizzas all day. (These are their pick-your-own toppings 10″ personal pizzas that are blasted in an 825-degree oven.) There will also be a drawing for free pizza for a year and a nonprofit shindig in which local groups compete to make the best pizza and win a cash prize.
And on the beer front, Yard House in River Park has 125 beers on tap and is about to give you even more options with beer cocktails. The drinks combine beer and cocktail ingredients (duh), such as the Dreamsicle, a grown-up version of the childhood treat with white ale, whipped (as in cream) vodka and Cointreau. For the hop heads, there’s the West Coast Shandy, with the House IPA and citrus flavors from X-Rated Fusion liqueur.
The House of Pendragon tasting room is open in Clovis. You can read all about the place and the locally made beer it serves in today’s column. But what I didn’t have room for in the column is all the cool features of the tasting room itself. All the wood you see is reclaimed wood, mostly from the owner’s family farm in Sanger. The wall of wood with a big metal sign is the first thing people notice when they walk in.
Both were done by Sean Dempsey of The Earth Builders (you may have seen his work around town. Some of it is at Peeve’s Public House). Pendragon owner Tommy Caprelian took Dempsey on a tour of the farm to scour for materials and he tells me Dempsey got a bit excited. So, some of the wood you see on the walls comes from old grape trays. The bar is made from old barn wood and its supports are the curving wood of old wine barrels. Wine barrels also serve as tables. There’s another table in the corner with an old metal conveyer that boxes of grapes once rolled across. Keep scrolling for a picture of the table.
Fresno brewery Tioga-Sequoia is releasing its Rush Hour breakfast stout this weekend. Hold on a minute. A breakfast beer? While die-hard beer fans are probably rolling their eyes right now (yes, breakfast stouts are a thing), this is a new concept for a lot of us. I’m sure there’s people out there who drink beer for breakfast. (And they may not be who you think. I’ve heard several stories of doctors or emergency medical folks who work the night shift popping open a cold one at the end of their shift — which just happens to be at 6 a.m.) But you certainly don’t have to drink it for breakfast. This beer is more about pairing two flavors together — the chocolately sweet stout with the taste of roasted coffee beans, says Tioga-Sequoia marketing manager Michael Cruz.
“It’s like you’re drinking breakfast,” he says. “When you pop open a bottle and pour it into your glass, it’s like smelling a cup of coffee.”
The brewery partnered with local coffee roaster and coffee shop Cafe Corazon in the Tower District. Owner Leo Rios got some hard-to-find Colombian beans that he roasted specifically for the beer. Tioga-Sequoia cold brewed them along with the beer and the result is the limited release of Rush Hour (rush hour referring to both the time of day and the rush you get from caffeine in coffee).
1.) “Veronica Mars“
This is being dual released in theaters and on video on demand. It’s not opening in Fresno, but you can get it on all of your digital devices. For those into marathon watching TV, you could watch the complete series AND the film and never have to leave your couch.
Rumor is, the band will play just seven songs. BUT, it’s Tool, so that could be more than an hour of music.
3.) Visalia Irish Fest
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early. And with good beer. 4.) Absurd Masterworks
I’m not extremely well versed in absurdist theater. I did read Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinocéros” during my college days (in its original French). I also have a translated copy, because it’s good stuff. Here, Fresno state presents short works from Ionesco and Samuel Beckett.
Cloudship is Brandon Freeman (Local Honey, Luchador) + Jonathan Napole (Gods and Kings, Before Perils).
1.) Nitro Circus
Dude hits a 50-foot ramp in a wheelbarrow. And lands it. Or does he? The DVD series-turned MTV show brings its first-ever US tour to Fresno.
2.) Cherry Blue Storms
Los Angeles band looks to bring back the iconic guitar riff, with its brand of psychedelic power pop. A fundraiser for Food Not Bombs, featuring Blake Jones and the Trike Shop. 3.) Sour beer week BC’s Pizza and Beer is always up on the brew trends. For fans of rare, won’t-get-this-anywhere else beers.
4.) Bunny Brunch Tower Urban Family Farm does a kitchen take over to create a farm-to-fork brunch. And yes, it features farm-raised rabbit. Though a vegetarian option is available. Here’s what food tastes like when it doesn’t come from a supermarket wrapped it plastic.
Today is Giving Tuesday (or #givingtuesday, for the hashtag crowd). I could give you a long list of support-worthy causes. Instead, I will suggest The Normal School, the bi-annual literary magazine based out of Fresno State.
The magazine is the type of thing Fresno needs more of. It features nonfiction, fiction, poetry, criticism and journalism and is a great catalyst for local talent, especially given its emphasis on boundary-challenging and/or innovative content, form or focus.
To get a feel for what the magazine is about, show up 7 p.m. tonight at Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall to celebrate The Normal School’s 11th issue. It will be literary — with readings from Corrinne Hales, Randa Jarrar, Steven Church and Fresno State MFA students. There will also be music from Lance Canales and the Flood. The event is free and open to the public, but you can subscribe or donate to the magazine, which goes a long way toward printing issue No. 12.
Before the party, Canales will be at Fresno State to discuss songwriting, music making and the like. The discussion starts at 3 p.m. in the Peter’s Business Building, room 194. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot and a parking pass.
You may recall a piece I wrote back in July on the rising popularity of bar games–specifically Brew Bingo. Brew Bingo is pretty much like it sounds. You take your grandma’s game of luck, mix in a few tasty alcoholic beverages and … BINGO! (to make that bad pun).
At the time I wrote the story there was a monthly game hosted at Fresno Brewing Company, the coffeehouse/bar down on the Fulton Mall. It was a successful weeknight event that drew a large and diverse (relatively speaking) crowd. Well, Fresno Brewing Company is gone, but the game will continue. Peeve’s Public House and Local Market, which took over the FBC space will host its first Brew Bingo, 8 p.m. tonight.
I mention this because it’s another opportunity to get a sneak peak at the place — it’s not open officially until Sept. 16 — and because I will be tonight’s guest caller, along with nonprofit-volunteer-master Hilary Malveaux from Creative Fresno, Friends of the Library. The grand prize for the night is a round of golf (and a cart!) for four at Airways Golf Club.
Peeve’s will open at 6 p.m. for the event. Game time is at 8 p.m. In case you missed it last time, here’s a quick video of some Brew Bingo action. I will not be wearing a mank.
There was a time (and not too long ago) when asking for a Sierra Nevada at most restaurant/bars would get you a weird look.
You want an IP-what now? We’ve got Bud, Bud Light, Coors and Miller. Luckily for those of us with taste buds, those days are over and you can find a decent hoppy brew just about any place.
Not that BC’s Pizza & Beer is just anyplace, as is evident to anyone who’s ever seen its extensive beer menu, or been around for its annual IPA festival. The Clovis pizza/beer joint hosts the fourth annual IPA Beer Festival starting 11 a.m. Thursday. It will feature more than 60 IPAs available on draft and in bottles. These are beers from around the world. Some of them are hard to come by, so for the hard-core connoisseur (as opposed to the guys who will drink any old swill), this is going to be a treat.
The event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11 and features 30 breweries, is at ApCal (which some may know as Appellation California). The wine tasting and event venue regularly hosts live music and other events on its big lawn with the 100-year-old oak tree. ApCal isn’t that far from Fresno. In fact, the boundary between Fresno and Madera counties follows the San Joaquin River and ApCal, on Avenue 7, is only 1.3 miles from the river via Highway 99.
The festival’s logo features the city of Fresno’s flag, though. And Facebooker Kiel Thomas Schmidt points out this language on the website promoting the festival:
“No more hot parking lot festivals or trying to find a parking spot in scary part of the city. Our place is beautiful, spacious, safe and FUN!”
Says Schmidt: “It also seems to slam both the Downtown Fresno’s Sudz in the City and Tower’s Oktoberfest. Though, I bet there won’t be any craft brewers at this one that weren’t at the other two.”
So what do you think, dear readers? Does it matter that the Fresno Craft Beer Festival isn’t in Fresno or is ApCal close enough? Are you offended by the apparent dis of the other beer festivals?
I never really liked St. Patrick’s Day. While, I enjoy the story about the dude chasing snakes with a stick, there is that whole “wear-green-or-else” thing that puts me off.
Don’t pinch me bro.
People do celebrate the day (for an entire weekend it seems), so I put together a quick Post-No-Bills-style collection of event fliers for you. Feel free to included others in the comments or shoot a link to email@example.com and I’ll add it in.
UPDATE: This event is actually TONIGHT (Thursday). If you thought you missed it, you still have time.
Image borrowed with gratitude from BC’s.
An admission: Until a few weeks ago, I had never been to BC’s Pizza and Beer. But people talked about its selection of import and craft beer, the hard-to-find stuff that most places have never heard of, much less carry.
Those people were right. I was not only impressed by the beer selection, I was a bit overwhelmed.
That’s preface to The Green Flash Tap Takeover happening at 4 p.m. at BC’s tonight. Green Flash is a San Diego brewery that has some of my favorite beers. The Double Stout is particularly amazing. Tonight, on tap, BC’s with have six Green Flash beers:
Green Flash 1st Anniversary American Strong Ale
Green Flash 5th Anniversary Double IPA
Green Flash 8th Anniversary Surf’s Up Symposium IPA
Green Flash Palate Wrecker Double IPA
Green Flash Le Freak Belgian Style IPA
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Order a pint and you get to keep the glass because that’s how these things work. If you go, please tell us all about it.
Fresno doesn’t have an IKEA or a Dave & Buster’s, but guess what we do have that you won’t find pretty much anywhere else in the U.S.? Beer! Specifically, Modelo Light.
Fresno is a test market for Modelo Light. The Mexican beer Modelo has been around for a while, but Fresno is the first place to get the 90-calorie light version. It’s available in Mexico for years. The company that imports Modelo Light is pretty sure it’s going to do well here (the test is mostly of its marketing) and already plans to roll it out to the rest of the country. And yes, I realize this is the perfect opportunity for a Fresno joke. I’ll leave that up to you guys, but I personally think it’s kinda cool we’re getting the beer first.
The guy from the importing company described it with words like “bold flavor” and “refreshing attributes.” I bought a six pack last weekend to test it out and the word “yummy” is how my amateur beer-drinking self would describe it. For a bold beer, it wasn’t overpowering.
You can get the beer at several local Hispanic supermarkets that I’ll list at the end of the blog. Tower Sports Club also serves Modelo Light.
For those following the count-down clock, we’ve hit the zero hour (to the chagrin of at least one user). Those following me over from my previous gig at Fresno Famous will need no introduction, but the rest of y’all probably want to know what I am about.
First off, I like lists. So:
Downtown. When the Vagabond Lofts were built in 2006, I was the first to move in. Literally, the very first resident in the complex (OK, I had a roommate). I was what then-council member Henry T. Perea called an urban pioneer. I fully buy into the idea that a city is only as good as its downtown, and that Fresno can be (heck, it already is) a vibrant, cultural hot-spot. To that end, I’ll be keeping up with the city’s efforts to get people back to the urban core. For now, check out I Believe in Downtown Fresno. You don’t have to take the pledge, but you can at least get informed.
To keep from being all north Fresno vs. south, I also have an affinity for Fig Garden Village and the Tower District and have no problem hanging out at River Park when I need to.
Two cool things happening this Saturday night that you should start planning for now: this year’s third annual Zombie Pub Crawl in the Tower District and the new-look Sudz in the City, which has to the Fulton Mall and is now more focused on craft beer.
This year’s Taco Truck Throwdown 2 is Thursday (Aug. 30). So if you haven’t started your pre-TTT fast yet, I’m going to recommend you do that ASAP. This year’s event, organized by us and the Fresno Grizzlies, promises to be bigger and better than last year’s — which you might remember was a monster.
People will, no doubt, have questions though, so I put together this handy-dandy guide to all things Taco Truck Throwdown to help you prepare for the event.
Keep on reading. Then come out and fill your face will tacos at Chukchansi Park.
Clovis beer oasis BC’s Pizza & Beer kicks off its third annual IPA Beer Festival today. It’s expected to last two weeks — unless someone goes there and drinks everything up real quick. Point being: Don’t wait around if you’re looking to sample some rare IPAs.
Chef Daniel Renteria previously ran a food distribution business that sold gourmet cheeses, meats and other high-end food. Now his menu reflects some of those foods, such as a baked goat cheese appetizer made with black truffle oil, and a charcuterie plate with chorizo, salami and prosciutto.
It’s happening May 3 (that’s two weeks from today) at the Grizzlies game. The tweetup returns to the centerfield pool this year, which seemed to be a big hit two years ago. Expect the usual tweetup good time — a special $5 ticket with our very own $1 beer station (it’s Tecate Thristdays, ya know?), prizes and more.