Dozens of restaurants were honored at the 2017 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards Monday night, along with one longtime restaurateur.
The event was organized by the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association.
A lifetime achievement award was given to Jon Koobation, who ran Jon’s Bear Club in Reedley for decades. Now called The Bear Club, Koobation sold the business in 2013.
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The Bear Club has been around in one form or another since 1935, when it started as a small bar, serving mostly farmers and farm laborers behind a grocery store.
Koobation, who grew up in Dinuba, learned to cook on the job, working his way from a prep cook and sous chef at Lake Tahoe-area restaurants before coming home to the Valley. He worked at Vallis’ Restaurant in Kingsburg, the Redwood Inn of Sultana, Dinuba Ranch and the Swedish Mill. He became the Bear Club's executive chef in 1973.
Koobation wrote a cookbook recently, "Cooking with Jon," which includes recipes like “Chicken George" — grilled chicken with sautéed mushrooms and artichoke hearts — and stories about the restaurant, food and car racing.
The restaurant awards were given out at the Fresno Convention Center:
▪ Best breakfast: Fresno Breakfast House
▪ Best fast food/drive-thru: Chick-fil-A
▪ Best fast casual: Deli Delicious
▪ Best Asian restaurant: Sakura Chaya Tokyo Cuisine
▪ Best Mexican restaurant: Sal's Mexican Restaurant
▪ Best family dining: Pismo's Coastal Grill
▪ Best fine dining: The Annex Kitchen
▪ Best pizza: Mike's Pizzeria
▪ Best sushi: Edo-Ya Tokyo Cuisine
▪ Best winery: CRU Winery
▪ Best sports bar: The Mad Duck
▪ Best hotel/casino dining: Table Mountain Casino
▪ Best Italian restaurant: Parma Ristorante
▪ Best newcomer: Butterfish
▪ Friendliest service: BJ's Kountry Kitchen
▪ Best watering hole: Elbow Room Bar & Grill
▪ Most romantic: Erna's Elderberry House
▪ Best steakhouse: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
▪ Best banquet: Pardini's Catering & Banquets
▪ Best catering: Love & Garlic
▪ Best hamburger: In-N-Out Burger
▪ Best sandwich: Deli Delicious
▪ Best craft brewery: Mad Duck Craft Brewing Co.
▪ Best country club dining: Fort Washington Country Club
▪ Best Indian restaurant: Brahma Bull Indian Cuisine
▪ Best bakery: Eddie's Bakery Cafe
▪ Best seafood: The Lime Lite
▪ Best Mediterranean: George's Bar & Grill
▪ Best barbecue: Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co.
▪ Best beverage purveyor: Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
▪ Purveyor/supplier of the year: Saladino's Foodservice
▪ Restaurateur of the year: Lorraine Salazar, Sal’s Mexican Restaurant