A flurry of restaurants are opening in the Fresno-Clovis area.
The newcomers include mom-and-pop restaurants making everything from soul food to vegetarian-friendly Japanese food. A handful of big-name chains are also adding locations to the region.
The openings are part of the normal ebb and flow of the restaurant scene, with restaurateurs hoping to make it big. Here’s a look at what’s happening lately.
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Thai Delish is a little Clovis restaurant that sells Thai food for both people who are in a hurry and those who want a more leisurely meal. It opened a few weeks ago in the former Quickly boba spot next to Jus’ Jo’s Country Kitchen on Shaw Avenue.
This is an order-at-the-counter type of place.
It has a Panda Express-style line where customers can choose from prepared foods. Two- and three-item combos can include rice, chow mein, or noodles, and entrees that change daily, including mussels cooked with a chile jam.
Or, customers can order freshly made food from the chef’s specials board. That includes pad thai, papaya salad, chicken wings and more.
“We’re going to frequently put new dishes out for customers to try all the different Thai flavors. There’s so many,” said Tim Barnett, who owns the restaurant with his wife Sumalee.
She recommends the drunken noodles dish. It’s rice noodles with Thai peppers, Thai basil and meat of your choice.
Why is it called drunken noodles?
“If you’re not drunk you won’t eat this one because it’s so spicy,” she said.
Don’t worry if you don’t like spicy though, she said. You can order it mild.
Details: 701 W. Shaw Ave., Clovis, or 559-575-8522.
It’s not very often you hear of a new soul food restaurant opening in Fresno, but the city got one more when Doll’s Kitchen opened in July in southeast Fresno.
The little restaurant selling southern-style barbecue is at McKinley and Chestnut avenues.
The menu includes fried chicken, ribs, tri-tip fried fish and oxtail.
The meat can be served as teriyaki bowls over rice, too.
“My specialty is oxtail over rice,” says owner Gloria Hall.
Combo plates are available with sides like green beans and mac and cheese. And there is a long list of desserts: German chocolate cake, red velvet cake, carrot cake, peach cobbler, etc.
Hall grew up with a mom and dad from the south – Arkansas and Texas, respectively – which inspired her southern-style cooking. She started selling her food in October at a counter inside a convenience store at Chestnut and Jensen avenues before moving to the bigger space.
Doll is her mother’s nickname.
“Mom, she taught me to cook so I named the business after her,” Hall said.
Details: 4795 E McKinley Ave., Fresno. 559-412-8636.
The restaurant blufin (yes, it’s lower cased and spelled without the “e”) has been open for several months now at the corner of Cedar and Herndon avenues.
It’s not your typical Japanese restaurant. For starters, the place has lots of options for vegans and vegetarians. Meat eaters will find plenty of entrees to choose from, too.
The menu here is huge. It has lots of sushi options, kushiyaki (meat on skewers), teriyaki plates, a poke salad and ramen where customers pick from eight kinds of broth and five kinds of noodles.
The restaurant is also an izakaya, a sort of Japanese tapas place. That means there are plenty of appetizers, ranging from a baked avocado topped with spicy tuna to lava fries, which are french fries drizzled with spicy mayo, teriyaki and bacon bits.
“It’s like the whole country of Japan in one place,” said chef and owner Jimmy Gunara.
As for meatless options, there are three pages of the menu dedicated to vegetarians and vegans. They include sushi rolls made with avocado or inari, a sweet, fried tofu. There is also ramen, crispy potato tots with teriyaki sauce, a yam noodle salad and tofu steak.
And there’s a bar serving beer and wine with a handful of Japanese beers on tap.
Details: 7033 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno. 559-412-4919.
Poke is a Hawaiian-inspired dish of raw, bite-size pieces of tuna, salmon or other fish served in a bowl. The trend is sweeping the Fresno area, with at least five other places to get poke in town.
In addition to raw fish, Celsius also offers cooked chicken. The bowl starts with a base of rice, salad greens or nacho chips, is piled high with fish or other proteins, and then finished with sauces, veggies and other toppings.
One thing that makes Celsius different is its extensive tea menu. Teas include black, green, oolong and herbal teas with flavors like white peach and hibiscus raspberry. Optional add-ins include boba (little pearls of tapioca), flavored jellies (similar to boba but often in rectangular shapes) chia seeds and bits of fruit.
Details: 681 E. Nees Ave. 559-385-7595.
Poki Bowl Express
Another poke restaurant opened recently on Kings Canyon Road, near the GB3 gym at Sunnyside Avenue. The restaurant has all the traditional proteins but also chicken, tofu and crab.
The chef recommends trying the “express sauce” on any of the proteins. The sauce is a combo of sweet, savory and other flavors.
Details: 6127 Kings Canyon Road. 559-353-2964.
Harris Ranch Express
A sit-down meal at Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant is usually something you want to take your time enjoying. But if you’re in a hurry – or a Harris Ranch meal isn’t in the budget – there’s a new option.
The Harris Ranch Express BBQ has opened in the Shell station west of the restaurant complex, just off Highway I-5 in Coalinga.
Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the menu includes Harris Ranch’s classic tri-tip on a hoagie for $8.50 and a half rack of brown sugar baby back ribs for $11.50.
To find the place, follow your nose to the large smoker where the brisket is smoked for 12 hours and the others meats are cooked. Food can be packed to go or customers can eat at the outdoor seating – some of it made from tractor seats – with misters and fans.
Details: 24553 W Dorris Ave., Coalinga. 559-404-5894.
The Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant at Fashion Fair mall is open.
The full-size restaurant is near the food court. It took over a former store space and has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Five Guys, with free peanuts and piles of bagged potatoes waiting to be turned into fries, is known for its burgers.
Another Five Guys is under construction at The Square at Campus Pointe near Fresno State at Chestnut and Shaw avenues. That restaurant will open in the coming weeks or months.
A Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Blackstone Avenue near just south of Shields Avenue opened this week.
The newly built restaurant is the fifth Popeyes in Fresno and has a drive-thru. It’s known for its fried chicken, but also serves seafood and family meals with sides like mashed potatoes, biscuits and red beans and rice.
Details: 3004 Blackstone Ave., Fresno. 559-353-2890.
You’re probably familiar with this build-your-own pizza place by now. There are now seven locations from Fresno to Visalia and Hanford. Customers pick their dough (including a gluten free option), sauce, cheeses, meats and other toppings.
The newest Pieology opened in the Trading Post shopping center at Clovis and Herndon avenues.
Details: 870 Herndon Ave., Clovis. 559-940-7330.