Three years ago, I wrote a familiar-sounding song about the restaurants that made me proud to live and eat in Fresno. It was my farewell to a former online food magazine called TasteFresno, where I got to meet a lot of inspiring chefs and foodies in the area and share those experiences on camera. Watch My (TasteFresno) Favorite Things, then read the update on what’s been going on with the restaurants I still love.
Cracked Pepper Bistro
Vatche’s bread pudding still makes me sing, but now I can’t stop raving about their cocktails. Try anything with the word “aged” in it – the aged old fashioned, any drinks with the aged rum (the finish tastes like chai), the Penicillin, or get adventurous with their New York Sour. It has Buffalo Trace Bourbon, lemon, egg white, with a pinot noir float.
Leo continues to roast coffee beans in the Tower district. Now that the weather is warming up, I’d recommend their new cold brew coffee or the iced café con leche if you want a delicious dose of cinnamon, milk and coffee (and crack?). Trivia fact: they built their first espresso machine in 2012.
Dusty Buns Bistro
Oh my, this little food truck that kicked off the gourmet food truck trend in Fresno has grown so much in the last three years! Chefs/owners Dustin and Kristin now have two kids, two trucks (Fresno and SF), and TWO brick and mortars locations (Fresno and SF). Congrats to their success!
I’ve said this before, but Trelio is hands down the most innovative spot in town. I live vicariously through their Instagram feed. While Chef Mike (shown in the video) is no longer there (he’s working for the family business), his brother Chris has been holding down the fort as chef/sommelier/owner/lots of things. Trelio’s been nationally recognized for their work, and really, you just have to taste for yourself.
Limón Peruvian Cuisine
Aldo and Ana Castillo get an A+ for consistency in the quality of the Latin fusion cuisine they’ve served in Fresno over the last several years. Their fan base remains strong, and although everything there is fantastic, these will always be my go-tos: the Anticuchos de Carne, Churrasco a la Parilla, and the salmon.
Keith’s BoxCar Cafe
Closed. 🙁 Owner/chef Keith Smith has moved to Washington to be closer to his family. Though people continue to dream about and crave his pulled pork lasagna, he actually got his start with Mike’s Grill (known for their mouth-watering tri-tip) on Cedar/Herndon, so go there if you miss Keith. Mike’s caters, too.
B & K Asian Kitchen
The yum nua, fried chicken, pork pad si ew, and spring rolls are still my faves. Its sister restaurant is Thai Fusion on Willow/Herndon (closer with better hours for North Fresno folks, but not quite as good IMO). However, I recently tried SabaiDee Thai Laos Cuisine and was pretty impressed, so watch out B&K!
La Reina de Michoacan
‘Tis the season for paletas! One of the best parts about Fresno summers is cooling off with the all-natural flavors of Mexican popsicles. My favorite is the coconut, but my friends and family will tell you to get the strawberries ‘n’ cream. So, get both. Then go back to try a raspado (snow cone) and the regular ice cream. Hooray for summer!
When they opened their Fresno location (I think it was only the third location in CA at the time?), they were one of the few places in town to focus on craft beer. Though there are more options in Fresno now for craft beer and good burgers, Eureka has essentially become my neighborhood bar. I love the nachos, the cocktails are incredible, all the burgers are worth trying at least once, and lately, I’ve been really enjoying the watermelon salad.
I keep singing the song from the video in my head to make sure I’ve covered all my favorite restaurants of 2012. I’m glad most of them are still alive and kicking! Please tell me you’ve been to each of these, foodies. Right? If not, it’s time to get on it. I can’t wait to share about some new spots and recent local food scuttlebutt in the upcoming months. Stay tuned!