The One Fresno Restaurant To Take Visitors To

Another title for this post could be “How Cuca’s Become THE Restaurant To Represent Fresno!”

Cuca’s. Yeah, dude. Cuca’s Mexican restaurant in the Tower District.

Surprising? Yes. Wrong? Maybe. Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion and you can see if you agree with me.

So this very cool dude, Mike Rohde, who wrote the Sketchnote Handbook, was in Fresno to do a sketchnote workshop with some Fresno Unified School District teachers. A rad and progressive thing for FUSD to be doing, by the way.

It was the first time Mike had come to Fresno. He lives in Milwaukee.

He happened to have a free evening, knew I was a fan of his, and asked if I wanted to meet for dinner. Normally I would run away from such a request given my crushing shyness. But I saw this as an opportunity to be a Fresno embassador, so I worked past my anxiety and called Mike up to work out a place to meet.

HERE ARE MY PARAMETERS FOR FINDING A DINNER PLACE
  • Having only a few minutes to think about where.
  • Mike is staying downtown at the Radisson and can only Uber.
  • Budget is a concern for myself, not a giant concern but I can’t just go to any place in town regardless of how much the dinner bill would be.
  • Mike has been to Limon and Hop PK already.

Knowing Fresno is known for Mexican food and tri-tip, I wanted to plant the Fresno flag in one of those. Given that Mike is a creative guy and he had not been to the Tower District, I decided on figuring out a place to eat in the Tower.

No place in the Tower District comes to mind when I think tri-tip. So I am going with Mexican. Bobby Salazar’s is too damn bro-heavy on a Friday night. So, what I am left with (in my head) is Casa De Tamales or Cuca’s.

I have been going to Cuca’s for many many years. Never had a bad meal. Never had to wait for a table. Always quiet but not too quiet. Service is solid. Prices are reasonable. Cuca’s it is.

GOOD FRESNO TIMES

We met up. Had a great meal. Both had the carne asada plate. Mike told me he knew nothing about Fresno before he came here. I explained the inferiority complex Fresno has in relation to San Francisco and Los Angeles. He explains Milwaukee has the same thing in relation to Chicago.

Mike says that FUSD will probably bring him back to Fresno in the future. Maybe next time we’ll go for tri-tip.

By the way, here is a sketch Mike did of his meal at Limon:

A post shared by Mikey Seay | The Fresnan (@thefresnan) on *Picture taken from here

Places I Ate and Drank At In Fresno A Lot This Year

Year-end lists are the most unoriginal thing in blogging. But dammit, they are popular and fun.

So here I am, listing some places I regularly went to eat and/or drink at in Fresno this year so maybe you can go there too and keep them open for me so I can continue to enjoy. Cool? Cool.

EATING

I have a goal to learn how to cook more things in 2018. Until this happens, there’s take out. Lots of take out.

TOP FIVE TAKEOUT:

  • Berrock Shop. The obvious thing to have here are the berrocks and chicken pot pies, but don’t forget the burgers and tri-tip sandwiches.
  • Jack’s Urban Eats. Yep, it was exciting when they installed taps. Yep, they have good tri-tip sandwiches too – regular AND BBcue style.
  • Formally Maria’s Taco Shop. No fuss. Just straight, fast, solid Mexican food. Plus I still have memories of it being a Taco Bell.
  • China Bistro. The SW corner of Bullard & West, tucked back behind a fountain. Good soup. Good everything. Sweet people.
  • Mama Mia’s – Palm & Bullard. All the things are good. Especially fond of the gnocchi. A little greasy but I think it’s supposed to be, yeah?

Almost making the list are Habit Burger and sadly: Chipotle. By the way, these are all places you can sit and eat, I just primarily use them for takeout. Speaking of…

TOP FIVE SITDOWN:

  • Casa Corona – Bullard & West. One of the better bar atmospheres in NW Fresno, and they finally got a decent IPA on tap (Luponic Distortion), food is not bad either.
  • Eureka Burger. This is my go-to place. Usually a good beer selection and always good food, I usually have the Fresno Burger or chicken nachos when it’s “hoppy” hour.
  • Popolo’s Pizza. I will forever miss the old location and salad bar. But the new place still gives me enough to keep coming back. I’m partial to the baked sandwiches.
  • Edo-Ya. At times, the best sushi in town and the teppanyaki is great too. We all know about EdoYa, come on, just go. L.A. Roll is amaze.
  • Pismo’s. I’m not fond of fish dishes and I still like this place. On point with atmosphere, food and service. Can’t really afford to go very much but always enjoy when I do.

Honorable Mention to Yardhouse, Benadiction (best breakfast) and to South Gate Brewing for being the best out-of-town but not THAT out-of-town place.

DRINKING!

I love craft beer so you won’t find a place here that doesn’t have it.

  • Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden. It is THE Fresno brewery hangout/event space/beer release place. Great beer and Downtown views.
  • Goldstein’s. Always a great selection of beer, nice atmosphere. Only wish I could go more when it’s not so packed and hard to order beers. (Bar pictured at top)
  • Spokeasy’s. Maybe the most genuine beer bar in town. Favorite thing is to wait for a keg to “blow” so you can see what new beer comes on while you sit there – they have a small tap system so it enables them to run through kegs rather quickly, keeping the draft list always fresh.
  • HOP PK. It’s brand new and I have only been once but this one has been so long in coming and so needed that I am including it. Looking forward to more visits in 2018.
  • Pine & Palm Brewing. It is so tiny but still fun if you are a beer geek. Good news is they are expanding very soon, excited to see what’s next.

Honorable mention to Full Circle Brewing. I wish they could magically move their building over by Tioga and Zack’s, I’d be there all the time.

So that was 2017. The number one Fresno food & drink thing I am looking forward to in 2018 is Zack’s Brewing opening their taproom on Fulton. There is a rumor it could possibly maybe open by May, fingers crossed.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts on The Fresnan this year!

Fresno’s Place To Be Thanksgiving Weekend!

Welcome back to Fresno, person that moved away and only returns on big days. If you are looking for Livingstone’s to be open so you can run into some girl from High School you haven’t seen in 15-years, sorry it’s still closed – making bathrooms compliant for the 21st Century is not easy. But Stones will be back for you next year *knock on wood*.

So if Livingstone’s is not an option for you, where should you go to find your Fresno people to run into and to brag about how great your life is going in L.A. or Portland?  (Even though we both totally know that L.A. sucks and it was a mistake and you should have just stayed.)

I recommend going to Goldsteins.

Gold’s is the new Audie’s Olympic/Livingstone’s hang out until we can get those two back up and running. I am especially recommending it because they are having a very special Modern Times tap-takeover! This takeover includes kegs of MT beer that you can normally only get in the taproom in San Diego. #stoked

Being a beer geek, I’m pretty pumped and it is actually enough to get me out of my NW Fresno cave.

If you have been away from Fresno for a while, there are a couple other beer places I’d check out: Spokeasy’s, Pine & Palm, Full Circle and for sure, Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden!

While you’re at Tioga you can drive down newly asphalted Fulton Street and roam around trying all the coffee and things. So yes, my recommendation for Thanksgiving weekend is drinking things. Just make sure to get a Lyft and have fun.

Being as it is a thankful time, I’d like to thank you for reading my blog and say sorry for the inconsistency over the past few months. I love Fresno and blogging and I’m glad you are here, so thank you!

The Best Coffee Places In Fresno I Don’t Go To

I get most of my coffee from the machine you see above. I’m no longer cool enough to live or work Downtown or in the Tower where a greater concentration of Fresno coffee places are.

You might be cool enough though. These are some of the spots I hear people talking about as being good to decent local coffee places.

LANNA COFFEE CO.

I can actually say I have had their coffee because you can buy bags of it for your coffee maker at Save Mart. I remember it being tasty. There is also a high probability of me actually going to their location as it’s down the street from Tioga’s Beer Garden.

VALPARAISO COFFEE.

Automatically cool because they’re inside the Bitwise building on Van Ness. They are also close to beer place. Watch video.

BREW FIX.

These guys can boast that they are on Fulton Street and in the Mural District. They also have a very rad chalkboard map of the United States:

HI TOP REVIEW.

Super new, in the Tower District, they make Vans references, old Cafe Corazon spot and are across the street from beer (Goldstein’s). So, worth checking out then.

DALE BROS.

This is historic Fresno coffee. Yet it’s also new. And on Warehouse Row. These are reasons I find them interesting.

(Picture by Emily Redondo)

KUPPA JOY.

Across from Fresno High? Cool. Doors down from Ampersand and Tower District Records. Also cool. Coffee? I hear it’s good.

I GROW TIRED OF WRITING. NEED CAFFEINE.

If you’re thinking “Hey idiot! You forgot Dutch Bros and The Revue and Blah Blah Blah’s!” Please leave a comment on your favorite Fresno coffee.

If you want to hear some of these being discussed, check the 30:40 mark of this month’s Flowing With Famous podcast.

This Is Not A Local Music Blog

I miss Audie’s Olympic. Barely seen a band in Fresno since the place begrudgingly closed. I blame Audie’s closing on my lack of seeing local bands play lately, but that is a copout. Still, I miss it.

Yes. Strummer’s is there and still scheduling bands. So is Fulton 55. Frank’s Place does a thing or two, I think. Cool, cool.

There are new local venue things too. Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden has a lot of music. Goldstein’s has music. These are places that were not much of a factor musically when Audie’s was still operating.

And none of these places match up to the true rock club vibe of Audie’s. Nor can they regularly bring to town the kind of shows that Audie’s brought in. Not the touring, fresh, rock bands or mid-level local kind of shows anyway.

What the Fresno Grizzlies are to a professional baseball player, trying to get into the major league’s, Audie’s was to rising touring or local bands.

And, you could just hang out in Audie’s – as long as the style of music was not too grading to you, that is. Just hang and have a beer, sit on a stool, occasionally stop and look to the stage to enjoy a nice set. Didn’t even need to be there with anybody.

NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH A LOCAL MUSIC BLOG

I hesitate to write this post because it personally concerns me. I don’t want to do what I did before and turn the Fresnan into a music blog that is not supposed to be a music blog.

That is what it was when I previously put this blog on ice. Just posts about local shows. Which is fine if you brand yourself a music blog. The Fresnan was not branded as a music blog. I got lazy and complacent.

If you want a local music blog, check out Spanspek or read Joshua Tehee stuff. Do it.

SPEAKING OF LOCAL MUSIC

So Josh Tehee and I just posted a new Flowing With Famous podcast and in it we picked out favorite Fresno music acts of 2016. My pick was The Light Thieves:

Josh picked two. Beastmaker

…and Sagey. Now Sagey was a new one to me. Josh talked about how these guys have the local buzz right now and I think I get why:

I will keep listening to what Josh has to say about the Fresno music scene because he will find out first when (or maybe if) Audie’s opens again as a new music club.

I might finally be motivated to get back into the local music scene. Maybe see a Sagey show. Sit on a stool.

*I am finally starting up a newsletter. It will augment what you see on The Fresnan with a bent toward local life in general. Sign up below!:

I Did Not Know This: Fresno Has AirBnBs.


I found myself asking…myself the other day “Does Fresno have Airbnbs?” Well of course they do, silly. But, you see, I’ve never stayed in one. Don’t really know what it’s about outside of the obvious: people renting out their house or a room in their house to random people for a couple nights.

Sure, tourist areas have them. SF has them because they can charge a shit-ton of money. But Fresno? Hey, why the hell not!? We are close to all the cool National Parks like the National Park Formally Named Yosemite. Plus we have viral burritos.

Some Interesting Fresno Airbnbs

This one is called a “Temptation in the Tower“: A “temptation” in the Tower, eh? Sounds like my horizons might be broadened if I stay there. And for only $37 a night? That’s a bargain.

Also, I saw there is one for $865 a night. What is that all about? Sadly it dropped off and I can’t find it now. Damn curious to know where I could stay in Fresno that would cost me $865. A night at Bubba’s house where you get to play Chief Gillespie and Mayor Autry plays, well, Bubba? Worth it.

Christmas Tree Lane’s first walk night is Saturday night. You might want to look into this one. Good place to party from.

Jordan’s Loft (pictured at the top of this post) is in the old Security Bank Building. Nice views of Fulton Mall Street construction. Might be kinda cool to stay in for a couple nights if you’re looking to try out loft living.

One local Airbnb I think I’ll pass on: the “spacious” couch in CLOVIS with the table cloth for a blanket. No matter how cheap or nice the renter is, there is no damn way I am paying to sleep on a couch in Clovis…in fact, you should pay ME to sleep on your Clovis couch!

Truth: I Probably Will Never Stay In One

Although it feels kinda safer testing the Airbnb waters in your hometown, I can’t see me doing this.

For one, I definitely don’t want to have to talk to the owner or hang out with them in the house. Having to manage some small talk or run into them while trying to find the bathroom in my Star Wars underwear. Sounds too damn weird.

But hey, maybe if I’m outta cash and out of town, I could stay in an Airbnb someday. But put a room up in my house? Hell na. Hell. NO! I don’t want one of these nightmares:

A dude walking around your living room, wearing a ponytail? Fuuuuuuck that man. Scary.