COVID Is Not The First Thing That Scares Me About Thanksgiving Eve At Livingstone’s

Classic Livingstone’s

For the sake of this post, I will put aside the debate about if it is safe enough to go to a packed bar in the final (we hope) throws of a pandemic.

That said…

Tonight is Thanksgiving Eve. Traditionally a big night in the Tower District, where Fresno Natives (now living out-of-town) come back and mix with current Fresnans.

Those current ones have to listen to old friends pump up their post-Fresno lives, like they’re trying to sell us on bitcoin.

Livingstone’s traditionally has been the epicenter for these meetups. At this point, I am afraid to go.

Not because I am worried I’ll run into some weird person from my past. It’s because I likely would not run into anybody.

Like, not one person I know.

Been away from the Tower scene too long. And any old friends I might see hardly go out anymore either.

I might be too old for Livingstone’s. (ouch that stings)

Enjoy yourselves, younger Tower people. Enjoy Livingstone’s and Strummers and Goldstein’s and Vini’s and Fresbrew and Spokeasy’s and whatever.

Enjoy it while it lasts, kids.

The Best Salsa For A Quesadilla from Quesadilla Gorilla Is…

I need four YES FOUR salsas when I get some Quesadilla Gorilla!

There can be only one salsa that is the BEST salsa at Quesadilla Gorilla and that is the one on the right: Cilantro Cream.

  • Roasted Sour Cream? No.
  • Avocado Salsa? Fine but no.
  • Roasted Red Salsa? You would think but NO!
  • Spicy Salsa Verde? Pretty good but still NO!
  • Habanero Salsa? Totally NO!
  • Liquid Gold? Awesome name but actually terrible.

You can go at me in the comments all you want if you disagree, but you will be wrong.

I’d Totally Sign My Name On A House

Hopefully Andrew is cool with me posting his Tower District kitchen renovation.

I thought it was post worthy because of what he found while tearing up his kitchen:

Old Fresno houses are the best. Some more info:

I love the idea of carpenters and home builders signing boards and stamping things. Especially when it’s something that no one may ever see.

What Will Happen To The Chicken Pie Shop Building?

Fresno’s Chicken Pie Shop is now closed for good. What are we going to do with that building?

Respect to the Chicken Pie Shop. A Tower and Fresno icon of breakfasts, chicken pies and green booths is now gone. Thank you for your service and your uniqueness. You will be missed.

Okay, now, what is going to happen to that building?

This a a major spot in the Tower District. A large building. On Olive. Next to all the things. It would be bad for the Tower District and bad for Fresno if it were to sit un-leased for a long time. We must figure this out.

Can it be a Trader Joe’s?

This is what everyone wants. If not a Trader Joe’s then something like it.

Yeah, Trader Joe’s is not realistic. Neither is any kind of market like a Trader Joe’s. Nice thought though.

How about…

Oh man, all of those suggestions are good.

Bitwise is so invested in Downtown now, I’m not sure they would come back to the Tower. They totally should though and that would be a good spot to do it.

Another stage for performing, whether for music or plays or comedy, would be perfect.

A craft beer tasting room or co-op?

Yeah, I would be into a Modern Times opening a tap-room. Very much so. It would be best if it was a local brewer. But the only one right now that could pull it off would be Tioga. Maybe Dust Bowl or South Gate. This is my favorite suggestion.

But what could a new tenant do to the building? It’s the Tower District and don’t they have a Committee that must approve of the things and such?

In this month’s Flowing With Famous, we suggest that David Fansler, creator of legendary Fresno restaurants Tahoe Joe’s, Yosemite Ranch, Pismo’s and Westwood’s, should open a theater district themed restaurant. But I don’t think he knows how to create a restaurant South of Shaw, so nevermind.

Let’s Get To Leasing!

Well then. We have an open space in a major location in the Tower and some good suggestions on what could become of the location. Somebody get to work on something.

In the meantime, I gotta see about acquiring one of those iconic Chicken Pie Shop booths.

*Photo by Josef Cramer

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!