You guys, I have a confession. Winter in the valley really gets me down. I know I’m a total wimp, and I could be living in Minnesota somewhere, shoveling snow and strapping chains onto my car – but no, I live in central California. And while that might sound like no biggie, the fog and the 40 degrees and the twiggy trees sort of get to me after a while. Anyone relate here? I know you do.
So when I’ve burned all of the cinnamon candles in the house, and binge watched Parenthood on Netflix, I find that the best way to really beat this valley winter is get out and find a good spot to snuggle up. If it’s doing some writing, diving into a good book, or scouring the web for a delightful blog, I think that finding a good place to curl up and get out of house is a must in the wintertime here. So grab your favorite scarf and UGG boots, and test out these cozy local spots with me.
Chances are, if you know Fresno, you know “La Bou.” La Boulengerie is one of those treasured spots that has been in town for over 30 years, located in the beloved Fig Garden Village. Step inside the always poppin’ La Boulengerie, and the buttery yellow walls and warm lighting are background perfection to one of the best bakeries in town. I love to stop into La Bou for a cup of coffee or one of their amazing homemade soups. The hustle and bustle of this place is so comforting, and the food and coffee are always on point. A true neighborhood bakery, La Boulengerie has a strong french influence, using fresh ingredients just like you’d find on a Paris street corner. They use mostly locally grown fruits and veggies on their bistro menu, and boast organic coffees, decadent chocolates. Right now, their menu is stocked with winter salads and muffins, too.Insane. And have I mentioned the bread? If you’ve been, then well, you know. La Bou is my #1 spot to snuggle up in the winter, because I can snag a hot cappuccino, a fresh baguette and real butter, and take my time by a window seat and watch the world go by. Dreamy! And sure to take away my winter blues.
La Boulengerie, 730 West Shaw Ave. Fresno, CA 93704
Piazza Del Pane is another warm and cozy spot, and you can choose your favorite location of the two (Cedar & Nees or Palm & Herndon). Step into this sweet little Italian Cafe, and you’ll find a warm vibe, and comforting floor to ceiling fireplace, and a superb cafe menu. Catch them for winter happy hour Monday-Friday, 3-7pm, or for a quaint Sunday brunch with mimosas and bloodys served right. During the week, Pane is a good, quite nesting place where you can chat with a friend, sip some brew, or grab a bite off of their Italian fusion menu (the house made sweet potato fries are worthy!). With a delish menu made up of local meats, produce and cheese, all of their recipes are prepared daily – with both the flavors of Italy and the San Joaquin Valley in mind. Gotta love that local love. If you can take the cold, try a scoop of their house-made gelato, too (pistachio = my vote!).
Beer. It’s not as warm as coffee, and sure has a lot more carbs, but during the winter, there is just something so satisfying about having a beer around a fire pit, and sharing a few stories. Amiright? Well, Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company is basically making my winter dreams come true, one hoppy ale out a time. Their insanely popular beer garden, in the heart of downtown Fresno is a stone’s throw from Chukchansi Park where our dear Grizzlies play. If you know beer – no matter where you live – you might know Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company, headed up by the award-winning Brewmaster, Kevin Cox. Mr. Cox has won five gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, and regional and state awards up the wazoo. All of the beers from TS are named after landmarks of the San Joaquin Valley (General Sherman IPA, Mt. Whitney Xtra Pale Ale, Half Dome California Wheat), which brings a fun local vibe and seems to add to the community felt at their beer garden. Fire pits are lit at night in this indoor-outdoor warehouse, and the garage doors roll up when the guests roll into this industrial-style spot. I love to bundle up on a night a food truck is dropping in, too.
Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company, 745 Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93721
Beer Garden Hours
Sunday 12-6 pm
So if you’re feeling the effects of winter in the valley like yours truly surely is, beat those blues with a hot one (or a cold one), and just be thankful that spring is a’comin soon!
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