Sure, we lost a lot of beloved restaurants last year. But 2018 is already bringing some new and intriguing places to the Fresno restaurant scene.
The new restaurants include upscale places in north Fresno and new places in the ever-changing Tower District. Elsewhere, expect to see even more poke restaurants and more of the rolled ice cream trend.
So many new restaurants are coming to Fulton Street, which recently opened to cars, that we gave it its own story.
There’s also a lot happening in the rest of Fresno. This is truly a sneak peek at the trends and the hotbeds of restaurant activity in the area. Many of these restaurants aren’t open yet and won’t be for months. That means you have to be patient, because restaurant openings always seem to take longer than eager diners would like.
Also, this is not a comprehensive list. Plenty more restaurants than the ones listed here will open in our area, and as always, we’ll keep you updated on them.
The North Pointe shopping center at the southwest corner of Palm and Herndon avenues will get even more upscale restaurants. It already is home to Cracked Pepper Bistro, Parma Ristorante and Bella Pasta restaurants.
The Mexican restaurant is moving from Los Angeles to Fresno, where the chef and owners are from. One of the owners, Consuelo Alvarado, wanted to be closer to her granddaughter. Her core team, including the chef/owner and sommelier, agreed to move with her.
The restaurant will serve “real Mexican food,” said Alvarado, who grew up in Guadalajara, along with chef Patricia Zarate. That’s the food she grew up eating made by a mother who shopped for fresh vegetables at the market daily, she said.
Expect wine or beer pairings with each dish and a menu that’s different than what is often considered Mexican food here.
“I never had a burrito in my life until I came to this country,” Alvarado said. “I never knew what a chimichanga was until I came to this country.”
Tabachine is a tree that grows in Guadalajara with red-orange blooms that make it look like it’s on fire.
A few weeks ago we told you about Tamari Robatayaki & Whisky Bar that opened just a few days shy of 2018, next to Cracked Pepper. The upscale Japanese restaurant serves a new type of Japanese where food is cooked on a metal net over charcoal that can get up to 1000 degrees. It also has sushi and a whiskey bar.
The center was once known as “restaurant row,” home to places like Brix, DJ Hill’s, Don Fernando’s, Saigon Palace, SAC’s Restaurant and Bar and later Samba Brazilian Steakhouse.
That scene petered out years ago but is being revived, said Steve Rontell, a retail broker with Colliers International who was involved in crafting several of the restaurant leases.
“We kicked off the quality, gourmet scene of the building by attracting Cracked Pepper,” he said. “We’ve since worked the last two, three years to get (the center) back to its glory.”
Change is a constant in the Tower District – and so is waiting for those changes to happen.
But you’re going to have to wait months for this one, possibly until late May or later. The restaurant still needs to get through the permitting process and must update its tiny bathrooms to meet the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The Tower District also has a new bar in the works. The people at Shredworthy, a skateboard and T-shirt shop on Olive Avenue, plan to turn their business into a craft beer bar. Fresbrew, as it will be called, plans to have six taps and sell bottles and cans of craft beer.
They are still in the process of getting a liquor license. The business would still have a retail section and be open to all ages. The owners expect to be open by March.
One of the partners behind Fresbrew is the co-owner of Spokeasy Public House on Van Ness Ave.
After several false starts, work is finally happening on the interior of the building.
It’s not unusual for businesses to face delays as they work through construction and the permitting and planning process.
Poke restaurants opened all over the place in 2017. And it’s a trend that’s not slowing down in 2018. Poke is a Hawaiian-inspired dish of raw fish, usually tuna, served in bowls with rice, sauces and veggies.
Pokiland Clovis also opened late last year in the Trading Post shopping center at Herndon and Clovis avenues.
Butterfish California Poke is planning two new locations. The Clovis location at the southeast corner of Herndon and Fowler avenues is close to opening, possibly at the end of the month. Another Butterfish location is in a building that’s under construction at Palm and Herndon avenues.
Rolled ice cream
The biggest trend in ice cream lately: Watching it made in front of you. Not at a factory, but actually watching a worker pour cream on a frozen metal slab and work goodies into it as it turns into ice cream.
It’s peeled off the slab in little rolls and served in a cup.
Old Town Clovis has two such places – just around the corner from each other – and there’s going to be more in the Valley.
The latest, JABIN Ice Cream Roll opened this week in the shopping center at Friant and Fort Washington roads in Fresno.
Old Town Clovis has dueling rolled ice cream shops close to the same corner. The newest one, Two Cities Coffee Roasters – Rolled Ice Creamery opened during the holidays in the brick building at 608 Fourth St. As you can tell from the name, it also serves coffee and espresso-based drinks.
Just steps away is Roll Me Some, at 356 Pollasky Ave. in the historic hotel.
Roll Me Some has also been looking for a location in downtown Fresno.