Fresno is known as “flyover country” in California. For those that choose just to drive-by, however, they’re missing out on Cali’s best food secret.
I know what you are thinking. “Fresno? A foodie city?”
Yes, Fresno is a foodie city, one that is one of California’s best-kept secrets. The Golden State’s fifth-largest city, Fresno has long been known as the center of America’s breadbasket, which affords the city’s restaurants a healthy bounty of fresh foods from the fields that grow them. The thing is, many do not know about the city’s growing food scene, which is consistently overshadowed by the Bay Area, Southern California, and the growing scene in Sacramento.
I am not here to say that Fresno will stop being overshadowed in the food world, but foodies should put the city on its radar instead of seeing it as a pass-through or rest stop on their way to Yosemite. Because Fresno is so spread out, its food scene does not have one distinct area, which is in a substantial amount of ways, a good thing.
Downtown, which was once largely vacated when businesses moved to the north, is still building itself back up, but it has gained some restaurants that should command your attention.
Take 3 is a five-star burger restaurant that is always lively. No one and I means no one should miss out on the restaurant’s Sandlot salad and funky fries! Another downtown restaurant that one should try is the Mediterranean Grill, which serves up, arguably, some of the best Mediterranean cuisines in Fresno.
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While downtown is certainly on the up-and-up, most locals would say that the city’s best restaurants are in the sprawling north, a sea of suburban homes and shopping centers that is now the vortex in which Fresno revolves around. So when one says North Fresno is the epicenter of Fresno’s foodie scene, take them at their word.
From upscale to mom-and-pop, North Fresno (north of busy Shaw Avenue) showcases the best of Fresno’s foodie scene. Restaurants like Lazy Dog, a simple restaurant that is big on taste and easy on the wallet. Likewise, right next door is Pismo’s Coastal Grill, which serves up innovative and tasty dishes.
To end this eating tour of Fresno, one must travel south of Shaw, especially along Ventura Avenue/Kings Canyon Road, which is home to Fresno’s best taco joints (yea, I said it!). Tacos y Mariscos (the place made famous by Bernie Sanders) has tacos that will rival any other taco in California, and Arsenio’s on the corner of Kings Canyon and South Maple (and several other locations around town) brings the crunchy chicken tacos to an art form. Oh, and please don’t miss out on their breakfast burritos.
A pure foodie heaven, like the rest of Fresno’s booming food scene. Drive pass if you want, but you’re missing out on one of California’s best-kept secrets.