Follow Up: A Visit To The New Popolo’s Pizza

New Popolo's Inside

Of course we waited for a table. It’s new and this is Fresno, dammit! Even if it’s an old-new place, we are packing it. The re-birthed place that we (and a lot of Fresnans) waited for is Popolo’s Pizza.

Hey, I know I know, I just reviewed another old-new pizza and beer place in Fresno, but we cried when the old Pops closed so I had to follow up and bring everything full pizza circle.

The Walk In

They still have the box car. There are booths! They seem to have transferred some of the wood paneling from the old place. The paneling looks a bit out-of-place if you had never been in the old one, but it felt good seeing as a veteran of the Blackstone one.

Also like that they kept the arcade going and the food hasn’t changed nor the prices. Welllll, the salad bar is different but more on that in a second.

This Is The New Stuff

Popolo's Pizza Bar

A bar! There’s a bar! You can see the taps now (they were hidden at the old place). Plus more beer! There is also much more seating! And an outside patio! I have not been on the patio yet but it looks cool and I hear it is dog friendly.

Salad Bar Disappointment

Popolo's new salad bar

It just does not measure up to the old one, does it? Nope. Sad little trays instead of pretty bowls amongst ice. BUT WAIT! A quote from Popolo’s themselves (on The Fresnan’s Instagram page) about the salad bar:

“The salad bar is ‘under construction’ still at the moment. Keep an eye out for the improvement one it. It won’t disappoint.”

YES! Somebody listens to bloggers in this town.

Let The Mourning Begin

I was surprised to feel something after going to the new Pops. I felt a sense of loss. The closing of the old place finally hit me.  It’s never coming back. I will never set foot in there again.

No matter how nice and cool they make the new one. No matter how many nods to the original and no matter how smart a move it was (and I can’t blame them a bit for it), I miss the old place and always will.

Thank you Popolo’s for keeping the place alive, even in another form. And thank you old Popolo’s for giving me all the tube TV, icy salads, beer, big booths and pizza feels for all those years.

The Portals Into Fresno: Which Is Best?

Fresno Sign by David Husted

What are the best entry points to Fresno?

Let’s say you are escorting a person into Fresno that has never been here before and you want to make the most Fresno-y impression. Where are you getting off the freeway? What do you want them seeing first?

Many things to consider here. Do you go for the cleanest? The most representative? Most relevant? Most interesting?

Simply, what entry point would you use?

Shaw and 99. You’ve got the Forestiere Underground Gardens, the convenience of getting off Highway 99 and In & Out. But it looks like shit. Weeds and fast food. Could be a decent spot if they cleaned up the area around Underground Gardens and made it more of a park and light touristy area. But they aren’t.

Blackstone and Friant/Nees (AKA River Park). For some this would be impressive. If you’re going South on Blackstone from Nees it looks sorta nice. And there are those that just like new stuff. They like shopping. They like chain stores. This Fresno portal has all of that.

Herndon and 99. There is a bunch of new businesses there on the other side of the tracks. Northernmost entrance. Rademacher even plays a song about it, so that’s something – one of my favorite all-time songs by a local band, btw:

Shaw and 41. Well the Silver Dollar is no longer there so that’s all screwed. But there is Heroes Comics and Rocket Dog and that’s a rad representation of Fresno, in this nerd’s mind. Plus right there is Shaw & Blackstone which is considered the cross-streets of the Valley.

The Airport. I guess if somebody is flying in you don’t have much of a choice. I don’t see too many United flights landing at Sierra Sky Park. As it has been written, I am fond of Fresno Yosemite International (yep, flying to Mexico counts as “International”, look it up, bro). Plus Swear Bear greets travelers over the PA, touting Fresno’s awesomeness.

Herndon and 41. No chance for me here. It’s just an excuse to wedge in an old “Cross Streets” video from Dumb Drum:

The Amtrak Station. I kinda like this one. Nice area of Downtown. You can pop onto a freeway and get anywhere in the city in 15 minutes.

Tulare and 41. Maybe when the Farmers Market food court was there but I don’t want a Starbucks and Office Depot representing the entrance to my city.

Highway 99 and Fresno Street. It has Fresno street in the name. Center of Downtown and about where Fresno literally started. The Chuk is right there. The Downtown Fresno skyline is staring back at you. But it’s kinda sketch.

Shaw and 168. Fresno State. Doghouse Grill. Save Mart Center. The new Campus Point thingamathing. Looking kinda good here. WAIT! Clovis is on the other side of the freeway. Fuck. That. Way too close.

TOO DAMN MANY CHOICES

I wanna go with the Airport. But I think a place where you drive into Fresno would be a more accurate way to figure this out. Hummmmmm.

Screw it: Shaw & 41. Not the nicest for sure but best represents the City as a whole. I guess. Not real excited about that.

What do you think? What was missed? I’m expecting some comments on this one. Don’t make me look like a douche and leave me with no comments on this post, Fresnan.

(Fresno Sign photo by David Husted)

How To Deal With Self Service Beer At Me-N-Ed’s Pizza

self service taps

In case you haven’t noticed, the Bullard and West Me-N-Ed’s Pizza has been remodeled and added something Fresno has never seen: Self Service Beer Taps.

Run for the bluffs, post T-Ball pizza meetup, this may be too crazy for the kids!

SELF SERVING BREAKDOWN

Here is how it works. You order your food like always, but you tell them you are drinking like an adult. They ID you and start a tab. Then give you a magic wristband to wear.

You pick out a glass, search for the right beer (with pizza, I recommend an IPA, pale or Tioga’s Ed’s Red, but that’s just me), place your wristband against a certain spot on the tap, the tap gets ‘green lit’ and you can start pouring.

Wow. “Exciting” footage [sarc].

In addition to the beer taps, the place got cleaned up and is sporting a lot of wood.

remodled me n eds

Gone are the video games that the location had. So you might encounter a pissed off child at first. But give them a taste of your beer and it might shut them up.

(Disclaimer: thefresnan.com does not endorse childhood drinking in any way but just needed a mildly humorous line to place in the blog post).

HOW DRUNK CAN I GET?

You can get up to 32 ounces (two pints) but you can ask for more if they can see that you can take on additional juice. It electroniclly tracks how many ounces you’ve poured yourself – Big Brother is monitoring how much you drink, man!

There are 29 taps plus a cider or two and a couple of handles with something called “wine”. I don’t know what that is but I hear it contains alcohol so I guess it’s cool.

A REVIEW

This kind of system feels like a trendy thing, but I’m sure more will be popping up. And this one isn’t going away anytime soon.

It’s still pretty busy, as all new Fresno things are at first. But it’s managable. And if you don’t feel like pizza, you can just show up for the beer. They even have a seperate counter now to handle just the beer.

Not having to wait to get a bartender’s attention is a nice change. Although I can see it getting annoying having to get up everytime you want more beer. 

I wouldn’t want every bar having this system. But it’s fun, glad it is in Fresno, I’ll be back – even if Big Brother is watching how many Luponic Distortions I can put down.

Something To Tear Fresno Apart: Raisins Or Craisins?

There is an issue bubbling underneath the surface of Fresno that is not talked about. Something that needs to be discussed. Something that, if not dealt with properly, could tear apart the very fabric of this great city.

Are craisins better than raisins?

Raisins OR Craisins
Raisins OR Craisins (pic : andnowuknow.com)
To be more specific: Which is better on salad, craisins or raisins?

“Why bring it up now?” you might ask. “There is so much our city has to deal with, why drag this out into the streets at a time like this?”

I’m sorry, but with the pending opening of the new and improved Popolo’s Pizza (with the best salad bar in Fresno), this raisins or craisins debate needs to get settled today! We tried to sort it out in a recent episode of The Perfect Pour, but we got nowhere and only produced more tension.

popolo's is coming

You might think “Well of course it’s raisins! Fresno County is the Raisin Capitol Of The World, for damn sake!” Agreed! Eat local, I say. Why give money to faceless pricks back East? Pricks, who by the way, are probably using way too much water to produce one stupid craisin!

THERE’S A DROUGHT, PEOPLE! READ A CALTRANS ELECTRONIC BILLBOARD SOMETIME!

Debate over, right? Rejoice as Popolo’s new salad bar, the trendsetter for all Fresno salad bars, will finally feature raisins over craisins!

It’s not that easy. 

There are a lot of people that prefer craisins. Especially on their salad. Shocking but true. Take a look next time you’re at a salad bar. There’s a good chance the topping option will be craisins. I blame the millennials.

In these rough times, we must remember what got us here. What is the one fruit that is the soul of our city? For Fresno, the choice is clear: Raisins.

Southern California Is Too Hot? This Pleases Me.

Fresno Life
Fresno Life

Yes I am dangerously close to posting about weather too much. But dammit I need to again. Because something awesome has been happening as a bi-product of the current heat wave…

People in L.A. and San Diego are losing their shit.

Yeah, those same assholios who only think about Fresno to mock it for being SO HOT. Those same douches are filling their social feeds with pictures of their dashboard thermometers and even their Barbecues:
Continue reading “Southern California Is Too Hot? This Pleases Me.”

There Is Hidden Joy Inside The Fresno Airport

Fresno Airport

Maybe this is weird because it’s not a place you might think of, but a favorite Fresno spot of mine is… the waiting area at Fresno Yosemite International Airport:

airport waiting area

No it’s not because of the fake redwood forest, although I do think it’s cool.

redwoods

And it’s not the historic barber shop, but it too is cool. Next time you’re at FYI, peak in the window of the shop and gander at all the pictures of all famous people that have come through that shop, you’ll be surprised.

It’s also not the Starbucks or the sports bar restaurant thing. Oh, since we’re here, I miss the old coffee shop from way back. One of my favorite Lost Fresno memories is staring out the window, waiting for a plane to pull up to the gate.

The reason the airport waiting area is my favorite? All the reunions. The joy of seeing somebody that’s been away too long. The relief and buzz of people getting to their destinations after a tiring trip. There is no other place in Fresno that has that.

If you park in the ‘cell phone waiting area’ when picking up and don’t go inside, you’re missing out on a little bit of Fresno joy.