The newly opened Guri's GrubHouse on Shaw Avenue is something different for Fresno: It's a farm-to-table gastropub.
Both those terms take a little explaining, so I'll jump right in and use lots of delicious examples.
Much of the food on the menu comes from local farmers and local food producers. The cheese on the burgers and the pizza comes from the Dairy Goddess in Lemoore. Many of the vegetables — for instance, the "yum yum peppers," the cute, colorful little bell pepper imitators in the pickles the restaurant makes as an appetizer — come from KMK Farms in Kingsburg. The "grub down" burger is made with a blend of 50% bacon that the restaurant makes itself and 50% beef that comes from Harris Ranch.
The restaurant's investors — Guri Bhangoo, Aneel Bhangoo, Leonard Perez and Steve Spencer — are all farmers whose crops include grapes, cherries, peaches, almonds and more.
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Their food makes an appearance on the menu, too, with Guri Bhangoo's muscat grapes going into the grape farmer's martini, for example.
As for the gastropub part of the business, you may remember my colleague's story on the food a few months ago with photos of towering sliders and chicken and waffles piled high with vegetables. If you need a refresher, a gastropub is a restaurant that serves gourmet food with a wide selection of craft beer.
There are 24 beers on tap at Guri's, including four from Fresno-based Tioga-Sequoia. Customers will find familiar beers such as Firestone's 805 and Angry Orchard hard cider, but also beers such as Monkey Knife Fight, a pale ale from Sacramento-based Rubicon Brewing, and Denogginizer, an IPA that Drake's Brewing in San Leandro describes as made with "dank, citrusy American hops."
Guri's menu is heavy on appetizers, snacks and small dishes to share that go well with a beer. The "tachos" — tater tots the restaurant makes itself topped with aged cheddar, jalapenos, white beans, avocado and creme fraiche — are especially popular.
Behind the food is chef Andy Hatcher, 33, an Avenal native who went to culinary school in San Francisco and spent eight years at Parma Restaurant in Fresno, including serving as the executive chef there.
Hatcher's kitchen starts bustling early, making many items that other restaurants order from suppliers.
"He's making his own bacon. He's making his own pastrami, his own corned beef," says Michael Jew, who is one of the restaurant's owners, along with his wife Gina.
The couple also owns Swiggs, a nearby bar. Guri's is the type of restaurant Jew says he always wanted to open.
They and their colleagues have brought creative touches to the restaurant, such as serving the pickles mentioned above in a Mason jar, and handing out menus on clipboards.
You can see the restaurant's full menu online at www.facebook.com/GurisGrubHouse.
Guri's is at 1713 E. Shaw Ave. in the former Fajita Fiesta restaurant. The dining room looks a lot different from its Mexican restaurant days, the colorful decor replaced with a more subdued look. There are black booths, decor that highlights the dark mahogany walls and bar, and tables made from wine barrels with "Fresno State wines" stamped on them.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.
Details: (559) 225-2902.
In other food news, Pismo's Coastal Grill will set aside its regular menu Tuesday night and hold a special multi-course Italian seafood dinner.
Diners must make reservations and pay for the meal in advance.
The five-course meal will mimic what you would find in a seafood restaurant in Italy, says Pismo's owner Dave Fansler.
There are too many menu choices to list here, but options include a seafood sauté with shrimp, scallops, clams and Chilean sea bass. There also is braised calamari stuffed with spinach and sausage with a white wine tomato sauce. The full menu is online at www.facebook.com/pismoscoastalgrill.
"We want to do more of these in the future, just because they're kinda fun, just to break out of the mold and do something a little different," Fansler says.
The restaurant at 7937 N. Blackstone Ave. will shut down at 2 p.m. that day to prepare for the dinner. It will reopen at 5 p.m. to guests who have prepaid.
The dinner costs $65 for diners who want to eat between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Meals after 7 p.m. cost $75 and diners can stay for the rest of the night.
These seats are filling up quickly, so make a reservation as soon as possible. Reservations can be made in person at the restaurant, or by calling (559) 439-9463.
More details available on the Pismo's blog at www.pismos.com/italian-seafood-dinner-pismos.
El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco restaurant is heading south of the border — the Fresno-Tulare county border, that is. The Mexican fast food restaurant has opened at 3704 S. Mooney Blvd.