Bethany Clough

Everything in this new Fresno restaurant is served in bowls. Plus, there’s a rock garden

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Be bowl’d.

Get it? It’s a play on the words “be bold,” and part of the name of a new Fresno restaurant where everything is served in bowls.

Viva Be Bowl’d is a little quick-service place in a former Subway next door to Mexican restaurant Casa Corona at Cedar and Herndon avenues. The same woman who opened Viva, Elsa Rodriguez Killion, is also one of the owners of Casa Corona.

You can spot Viva Be Bowl’d by looking for the mural with an Instagram-worthy set of wings out front. It’s one of several touches that give this place an inspirational vibe. More on that in a moment.

“I wanted to create something fast and healthy,” Rodriguez Killion said.

So when the little space next door became available, she jumped on it, wanting to do something different than Mexican food.

Customers can pick one of the cafe’s signature bowls, like the “Spicy Buddha” bowl with rice, steak, corn, roasted vegetables, guacamole and charred jalapeños and onions with cilantro. (Or they can swap out the rice for lettuce, making it a “Skinny Buddha” bowl.)

Customers can also “byob,” as they say here (build your own bowl). The concept is similar to a Chipotle.

You pick a base (like white or brown rice, lettuce, black beans or potatoes), then pick a protein (including rotisserie chicken, Angus beef, shrimp ceviche or vegetables). Then it’s on to choosing five toppings, a sauce and a “crunch” that includes garlic croutons and crispy tortilla twists.

The sauces are all vegan, Rodriguez Killion noted. The bowls range in price from $8.99 to $12.99.

Many of the same ingredients available at Viva are also on the menu at Casa Corona, they’re just served with a different sauce, Rodriguez Killion said.

Viva is part of a larger bowl trend of restaurants that is hitting Fresno in a big way lately: There are restaurants opening that sell poke bowls, acai bowls, and customizable salads in bowls.

A positive vibe

One thing that makes this restaurant different is its colorful vibe.

There’s a mural out front that’s ideal for Instagram, with space for customers to stand so that it looks like they’re wearing a pair of wings. It was painted by Craig Johnson, a local artist, general contractor and owner of Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen, a Tower district bar.

There’s also a rock garden in a raised bed with rocks that say things like, “Chin up, buttercup,” and “Inhale courage, exhale fear.”

Those kinds of sentiments are echoed inside the restaurant, too. The walls are covered in quotes like “Never regret anything that made you smile,” from Mark Twain.

They come from Rodriguez Killion, who exudes cheerfulness.

“You have to surround yourself with positive words,” she said. “You are what you eat and you are what you say.”

Details: 7038 North Cedar Ave., next to Casa Corona, 559-712-6062. Viva is open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Bethany Clough: (559) 441-6431, @BethanyClough

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Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.