The food news keeps pouring in. Here’s what you need to know this week.
Mabel’s Kitchen, the lunchtime and bierock spot that reopened at 2134 Kern Street recently, will be open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday. Normally, the restaurant is just open for lunch, but owner Susan Valiant is hoping to catch some customers who can’t make it there during the week. Susan — who says she misses seeing kids around — hopes dinner will be a family-friendly affair. It may also be a dinner option for folks who are going to see “Wicked” that day or going to the Grizzlies home opener. The regular menu and bierocks will be available.
Gazebo Gardens food truck nights are now happening every Friday as well as Saturdays. The Saturday event has gotten so busy that they’ve expanded it. There’s live music, craft beer and an all-around fun community vibe. Food trucks including Dusty Buns, Casa de Tamales tapas, Benaddiction and others are there. My February column about the Saturday night event is here.
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is coming to Fresno, a retail broker confirms. The chain will be opening in the new Marketplace at El Paseo on Herndon Avenue near Highway 99. It could be a while — as in, a year — before it opens though.
Update: Looks like there won’t be any beer at this event after all. Some issues with a temporary beer license have come up, though all the food vendors will still be there and there will most likely be beer at future events.
Partying in the garden is becoming a regular Fresno thing. Gazebo Gardens Nursery is gearing up to host its third garden party this Saturday with food trucks, local beer and music in among the plants. The nursery will soon announce regular, twice-monthly dates for the garden party.
Local ice pop maker Ooh De Lolli is organizing this one and will be selling her ice pops (hello, strawberry cheesecake ice pop!) at the event. Most of the regular food trucks will be there too, including Casa de Tamales, Dusty Buns, Benaddiction, Mattie’s Mobile Wood Fired Pizza and Summertime Pies. The event is also a fundraiser for Children’s Musical Theaterworks, with volunteers from the organization selling Tioga Sequoia beer (and yes, I’ve been assured that adults, not singing children, will be selling the beer).
Ska band Pocket Money will be playing and the gift shop will be open. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or a blanket. The event runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Gazebo Gardens is at 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd. You can get more details here.
Eat Street Bistro owner Marc Barton and Benaddiction owner James Caples will try to woo you with bacon and tofu Thursday at the Grizzlies. Photo: Gary Kazanjian.
Bacon or tofu? It’s a question that’s inspiring some animosity around these parts lately. We’ll settle the question once and for all at the Grizzlies game Thursday with the bacon vs. tofu throwdown. We now know who is going head-to-head for your vote. Two food trucks will be trying to woo you — one with bacon dishes, the other with tofu.
In the bacon corner, we have Benaddiction. The food truck with bacon in its logo seemed like an obvious choice. Owner James Caples will be pimping his “heartbreaker” sandwich with bacon, ham, pulled pork, fried egg, barbecue sauce and hollandaise sauce. They’ll be a few other bacon-heavy sandwiches too, including a bacon-laden grilled cheese.
“Bacon is the America of meats,” he says. “It makes everything better.”
In tofu’s corner, we have Eat Street Bistro. The chefs are still busy finalizing their entrees, but it’s pretty likely a deep-fried tofu “chicken” drumstick will be part of it. Owner Marc Barton promises it’s yummy (and heck, it’s deep fried. Anything tastes good deep fried).
“It’s going to be a David vs. Goliath, but I’m prepared,” he says.
In addition to your popular vote, they’ll also be a panel of judges picking a winner. Yours truly and Josh Tehee will be among the judges.
By the way, it’s also Tecate Thursday that night, which means $1 (in case you really need help choking that tofu down). You can buy a regular ticket to the game, which start at $8. Or, you can buy a package deal that includes a T-shirt featuring either our little bacon mascot or the mustachioed tofu cube, for $15.
We’ll have more details on the throwdown in Wednesday’s paper, including a story on Fresno’s spunky little tofu maker in Chinatown. In the meantime, check out the Grizzlies invite on Facebook, where you’ll find info about a bacon pancake eating contest (two Giants tickets at stake there). Oh, and did I mention they’ll be bacon Popsicles?
The Daily Meal website has named Dusty Buns one of the country’s top 101 food trucks. The Fresno favorite landed at No. 55 on the list and is the only Valley food truck on the list. (And an extra special “yea” for beating out some trucks from L.A. and New York.)
Owners Kristin and Dustin Stewart weren’t even sure what people were talking about when the “congratulations” texts started rolling in today. But they quickly figured it out. “We are stoked,” Dustin says. “We’re just so excited to be here and our team is so pumped again.”
You can read a little about methodology of how Daily Meal editors made their picks at on the website, but here’s a sampling:
The inaugural list of The Daily Meal’s best food trucks canvassed more than 30 cities. Added to those were staff favorites, trucks praised by organizations, and national and local publications, both in print and online. Editors consulted popular review sites and critical appraisal. They analyzed trucks’ number of Twitter followers and Facebook “likes.” … That methodology applied in 2013, save some differences.
Taco Truck Throwdown 2 was huge last night. The Fresno Grizzlies report attendance at 11,463, with more than 7,000 presales. No word yet on how many tacos were sold. But based on what I saw, it’s going to be a huge number. Look at all those people in line!
Thirteen taco trucks competed in the throwdown and two awards were given: People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice. Anybody who bought a taco was eligible to vote for the People’s Choice crown. Six judges sampled all 13 trucks and rated them 1-10. Our panel included: Liz Gonzales from KMPH, Danny Salas from Q97, Jason Oliveira from ABC 30, Richard Franco from New Rock 104.1, Bobby Salazar and me. Here are the results.
1. El Premio Mayor
2. La Elegante
3. Dusty Buns
1. El Premio Mayor
2. Dusty Buns and La Elegante (tie)
3. El Super Antojito
4. Tako BBQ
5. El Mexicano
Well, today comes good news for Fresno food truck fans: We’ve got a Korean barbecue truck rolling around town now.
It’s called Tako BBQ and this is its second week on the street. They were just parked across from The Bee and I grabbed a spicy pork taco. It was delicious — and spicy.
Tako BBQ is run by the husband-wife duo Tony and Eun Joo Mullins. Tony is an ex-marketing guy and Eun Joo went to culinary school in Korea. She’s previously worked in town at restaurants such as Karma and Sushi Go Round.
Tony says they started the truck because Fresno didn’t have a Korean barbecue truck — and as you probably know, trucks like Kogi in L.A. are staples of the gourmet food truck scene.
He says they’re still “feeling out” their route — but that Tako is on the move Monday-Friday. For lunch on Wednesdays, for instance, you can find Tako near Community Hospital downtown. On Fridays, it’s at the Manchester Farmer’s Market. Other stops are announced on Twitter. Menu and a few more pics below.
Listen to me ramble on and on with the guys from Dead in 60 Years on their recent podcast — for reals, it’s like an hour and a half. It’s also a very profane and probably offensive podcast, so it also gets a NSFW warning.
Vote for your top six performers in the Big Fresno Fair’s Local Performer Contest. Of the 25 acts still in the running, the top six vote-getters will earn a chance to play at the fair’s local talent showcase. Watch videos and vote here.
Judging from previous Beehive posts, many people around here are proponents of Fresno developing a more dynamic mobile cuisine scene. Now, chef Martin Franco (formerly of Pangea, among other local restaurants) is hoping Fresnans will put their money where their appetites are. Specifically, he’s looking to locals for help Kickstarting his new culinary endeavor — a food cart he’s calling Taste Kitchen.
Using Kickstarter (as Creative Fresno and Blake Jones did), Franco is hoping to raise $4,000 in the next month. Donors receive incentives ranging from a hearty thanks ($1) to a free salad or side ($10) all the way to a private meal for four and your own sandwich ($1,000). Here’s Franco explaining more with the help of the some mouth-watering visuals:
Since food trucks were a hot topic here not too long ago, I was very interested to check out “Off the Grid,” the popular San Francisco gathering of food trucks. Last week, I went to its weekly Friday night “market” at Fort Mason.
As you can see, this no small event. If you think the Thursday night line for our very own Dusty Buns Bistro is too long, you wouldn’t want to see the line for the Chairman Bao truck. The crowd at “Off the Grid” was as diverse as it was large — parents with the kids, young professionals, folks with their dogs, etc. The day before, the SF Chronicle had written a piece about the best food truck eats, so I’m sure that helped bring the people.
More than the food, I was curious to see how a food truck gathering worked logistically. This had a number of other booths, live entertainment and seating. It sure would be neat to have something like this in Fresno to complement our great farmers markets and fruit stands. Ya know, if we end up with more gourmet food trucks.
Here are more pics from my journey. If you’re hankering for some food truck grub afterward, you can catch Dusty Buns at 6 p.m. today outside Cafe Corazon on Wishon Row.
UPDATE: City Manager Mark Scott issued this statement about Dusty Buns this afternoon:
“Dusty Buns may continue its normal operations while the City researches the issue. We want to find a way to support entrepreneurial urban activity while also addressing the concerns raised by existing establishments.”
Sounds like Dusty Buns will be back on Wishon Row in the short term, but Fresno has some decisions to make about how it will govern good trucks in the long term.
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ORIGINAL POST, 3/14: In the past few months, Dusty Buns and its “bistro bus” rolled into town and quickly became a new kind of favorite local eatery for many Fresnans.