Bethany Clough

Eating Out: Northwest Fresno restaurant scoops up vacant space

High Sierra Grill House restaurant opened last week, filling a high-profile space that had sat empty for months.

The new restaurant is at the southwest corner of Bullard and West avenues and took over the space Bentley's left behind when it closed last fall. The new restaurant's owners bring some muscle and experience with them to the site. They also own the four busy Yosemite Falls Cafes in Fresno and Clovis.

High Sierra Grill has a few similarities to its sister restaurants — mostly the murals of the Sierra and a few log-cabin style walls — but not many. You won't find goofy stuffed bears here.

High Sierra has a limited menu serving hamburgers, sandwiches, tri-tip, salads and a roasted half of a chicken. Almost everything is under $12. The owners deliberately wanted to offer an affordable option in an area that has several nice, higher-end restaurants, says Manny Perales, of High Sierra Grill's three owners.

But it's how you get your food that is really different here.

Customers can walk up to the counter to order for quick service, or they can sit down and be waited on. It's a concept modeled after the Dog House Grill, Perales says.

Customers who order at the counter are given a number that is called out over a microphone and pops up on a screen when their food is ready. It's designed to get workers on their lunch break in and out quickly.

At dinner, the restaurant discovered most customers prefer sitting down and letting waiters and waitresses serve them.

High Sierra is definitely family friendly. Kids get free s'mores after dinner from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They get to make them at a campfire pit on the patio with goodies such as Butterfinger and Reese's Pieces.

Garden of the Sun

If you're looking for a different kind of foodie event, the Garden of the Sun is hosting a free "Taste of the Harvest" event Saturday, Sept. 7.

Visitors can sample foods from vendors and taste tomatoes from the garden itself. The event focuses on food, nutrition and garden activities. There will be seminars, and garden and craft vendors, including a "restore" garden shop with repurposed items.

Fresno County Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions as visitors wander through the gardens.

To avoid the Valley heat, the event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 1750 N. Winery Ave. Details: (559)456-4151.