Fresnans love their Mexican food.
Every time I write about a Mexican restaurant, the response from readers is huge. The more hole-in-the-wall the restaurant is, the better.
So this week I’m going to tell you about two Mexican restaurants that opened this summer in parts of the city some of you might not have ventured into before.
The first, Marlo’s Club & Mexican Restaurant, is at Palm and Belmont avenues. The other, La Herencia Restaurant, is in the Plaza Mexico Mall at Fresno and E streets that is home to a bunch of businesses downtown.
Marlo’s is in the former Los Arcos night club spot and has been revamped into a restaurant, bar, nightclub and rental hall. Real estate agent Adriana Martinez and her husband Samuel Bautista bought the building and are running the business. They’ve repainted and redecorated.
It’s a huge space, but the corner where most diners eat has the feel of a little Mexican restaurant.
You know how some Mexican restaurants are more like Mexican food for Americans, Martinez asks? Well, “we’re trying to do real Mexican food,” she says.
The chile verde is popular here. It’s spicy, but not too spicy, she says. And the taste of the enchiladas reminds Martinez of the food her grandmother used to make when she was growing up in Mexico. (Sidenote: Martinez’ aunt owns Taco Rapido at Tulare and First streets.)
Almost everything at Marlo’s is made from scratch, including the tortillas. You can see a video of tortillas being made, and of chef Anselmo “Sam” Cueva making all kinds of food in the kitchen, at www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/.
It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The other half of the business is a bar and banquet space seating 300 people that has live music on weekends.
There’s a big red and black tiled dance floor and local artist Jason Esquivel painted murals of icons on the walls: Selena, Tito Puente and The Three Stooges.
Salsa music and dance lessons on Thursdays is coming soon, says Robert Chimkey.
He’s the guy who handles the live music and is a partner in the business (or the “little boss,” as he told me when I asked him his title).
Chimkey’s got a colorful backstory: He retired from a 33-year law-enforcement career, including working as a gang specialist. After that, he got a job as a people greeter at the Kerman Walmart until he was deemed too grumpy and pushed a broom there for a while. He then moved on to booking live music for Chevy’s, where he met up with the owners of Marlo’s.
“In 10 minutes, they hired me,” he says.
He plans to bring in all kinds of bands, from rockabilly to old school Tejano.
Marlo’s is at 468 N. Palm Ave. and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. or so Friday through Sunday.
This restaurant is inside the same space that Los Arcos moved into, in the Plaza Mexico Mall at 1435 Fresno St. Look for the Cesar Chavez mural and head to the opposite end of the building.
The space is La Herencia Restaurant by day and turns into the Los Arcos club at night. It’s a huge space with big murals on the walls. Owner and chef Gabriel Nava used to run a taco truck in the parking lot before the landlord offered him space inside.
The menu here is huge and has breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has lots of Mexican favorites, seafood and the occasional out-of-place dish to please someone who’s not into Mexican food, such as fettuccine Alfredo.
The chef’s favorite dishes aren’t even on the menu. You can still order them though.
Nava likes to get creative with salads, so there’s a shrimp-pear salad on the menu. And a mango-avocado salad has several shrimp peeking out of a lemon in the center of the plate.
La Herencia – Spanish for “heritage” – opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, until 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
No, Del Taco does not fit into the same category of authentic locally owned Mexican restaurants in this column. It’s just coincidence that the chain announced this week that it plans to open 27 new Del Taco restaurants in central California.
Restaurants are for sure headed for Fresno, Clovis and Merced, though specific locations aren’t nailed down yet.
Mabel’s Kitchen, the little panini, bierock and baked goods shop on Kern Street downtown, has closed – but not for long.
The restaurant is moving into the Bitwise South Stadium at the corner of Mono and Van Ness avenues. Owner Susan Valiant hopes to open Nov. 1. Café Corazón will also sell its coffee inside Bitwise South.
The building is in a former auto dealership and being remodeled by Bitwise Industries, which calls itself the “mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation in Fresno.” It will host classes for hundreds of students and Mabel’s will hopefully serve them, along with people from outside the building.
The move means an expansion of hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mabel’s will also run a little convenience store counter.
The second Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Clovis is open, this one at 1220 Shaw Ave. in front of Sierra Vista Mall. The other one is at Herndon and Fowler avenues.
The Texas-based chain has more than 500 locations nationwide serving beef brisket, pulled pork, ham, Polish sausage and more. Kids eat free on Sundays and everybody gets free ice cream cones after their meal.