How does a Pookie boom breakfast sandwich sound? Or a piña loca – a crazy pineapple – for lunch?
Let’s start with Mariscos El Sushi at 3880 N. Cedar Ave. in front of Vallarta Supermarket near Dakota Avenue since it might be a concept that’s new to a lot of people.
It’s a Mexican sushi and seafood restaurant that opened right before Christmas. It’s in one of those old school Taco Bell buildings with the arched windows (and you can still see the faded Burger Castle sign if you look close enough).
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This concept is really strong in the L.A. area.
This style of Mexican sushi comes from Sinaloa, the coastal Mexican state, owner Christian Perez says. It’s a popular cuisine in Los Angeles that he wanted to bring to Fresno (though a few other places here already sell it, including Mariscos el Patron).
Mexican sushi is different from Japanese sushi.
“None of it is raw,” he says. “It’s all cooked.”
The menu at Mariscos El Sushi is only in Spanish. They’re working on an English one, but in the meantime, the staff is friendly and will happily help you figure out what to order. Most everything is served with the standard basket of tortilla chips on the table.
A top seller is mar y tierra – a sort of Mexican surf and turf that features cooked beef, chicken and shrimp rolled in rice and Panko bread crumbs, deep fried and topped with chipotle sauce.
And there’s the audaciously named camarones a la cucaracha – cucaracha is Spanish for cockroach – an appetizer of deep-fried shrimp with the heads still on.
While I was visiting, the cook had whipped up a half a pineapple stuffed with octopus, crab, shrimp and smothered in cheese. That’s the piña loca. It’s not on the menu but they say it will be soon.
Perez also expects to get the OK to serve beer soon.
The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
If shrimp heads feel a little too adventurous, there’s another little place on the opposite side of town worth checking out – the family-run Weekend Dreams.
At 4466 W. Ashlan Ave., this restaurant is just west of Highway 99, in the same shopping center as the Asian One grocery.
Weekend Dreams used to be a food truck that parked near Shaw and Brawley avenues and showed up at Gazebo Garden occasionally. Darian Duchett started it – after three or four years of fixing up a 1977 “beat down truck,” his brother says, – with his wife Rebekah Lane.
It did so well, the family decided to open up a restaurant.
Duchett’s brother Jyrone Shelton graduated from Fresno State with a degree in business and joined in to handle the numbers side of things and other duties.
He makes the food taste good. I deal with the customers.
Jyrone Shelton, about his brother Darian Duchett
The menu here is huge. It has a little bit of everything – burgers appear to be the star, but there’s hoagie sandwiches, some Mexican dishes (tacos, burritos, etc.) and rice plates. And breakfast is served all day.
Many of the recipes come from Shelton’s mom, Sherry Shelton, who he says is one heck of a cook.
“She loves to cook,” he says. It’s her barbecue sauce recipe used at the restaurant.
Still others are Duchett’s doing – like the secret seasoning on the fries. (Really, they wouldn’t tell me what was in it.)
The name Weekend Dreams comes from the indulgments that we usually limit ourselves to on weekends, he says.
“It’s the food you have on the weekends – you can have it every day” at Weekend Dreams, Shelton says.
That includes the Weekend Dream burger, which has two Angus beef patties, grilled pastrami, bacon, a hot link and American and Swiss cheese.
Breakfast served all day includes the standard pancakes, sure, but also lots of breakfast sandwiches made with Texas toast. There’s even a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich and popcorn chicken and waffles for breakfast.
And at the tail end of our conversation, Lane casually points out the “Pookie boom.”
It’s a breakfast sandwich named after their Uncle Pookie, who was cooking behind the counter as we spoke. As kids, that’s just what they called him. His grandma dubbed him that when he was young.
The edible version of Pookie is a breakfast sandwich on Texas toast stacked tall with bacon, sausage, a hot link, eggs made to order and cheese with a side of hash browns for $7.49.
Weekend Dreams is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.