by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
Some people live to eat. Others eat to live. I…eat. I eat to celebrate when I’m happy. I eat to feel better when I’m sad. I eat when I’m nervous. Sometimes, I eat because I can’t think of anything better to do. I guess that’s why I have been writing the Great Food Search articles for Kings River Life since January of 2012.
I’ve reviewed dishes from over 100 restaurants, fast-food places, and other places where food is offered. I usually like what I eat, although there are times I have been confused by what was on my plate (the head-attached fish that looked back at me). Some meals have stuck with me—in a good way—and I’d like to share them with you. Welcome to the Great Food Search’s Greatest Hits!BenAddiction—Call or text 559-269-1968—Two years ago, I had their Fat Bottom Grilled Cheese Sandwich with six kinds of cheese, and I added bacon that came in chunks instead of strips. This popular food truck has spawned its own restaurant at 3015 West Bullard Ave in Fresno.
Big Mama’s—2431 Jensen Avenue, Sanger. (559) 399-3047—It’s just an old house with a parking lot, but the food turns it into an outside-dining palace! Messy burgers, oversized sodas for a mini-sized price, and those Boston Shakes! Yum! Oh, yeah—If you get the large order of fries, bring a friend.Chuck Wagon—1203 Academy Ave., Sanger—In Sanger, Chuck Wagon means Chili, and Chili means Chili Dogs. The food here should be designated an historical landmark, but there’s one thing to remember: The Chuck Wagon is closed on Wednesdays.
Grilled Chz—2088 W Shaw Ave., #103, Fresno, 559-432-9CHZ (9249). Grilled Cheese Sandwiches are their specialty: six cheeses, six breads, seven flavored butters, and 26 add-ins…plus, you can put the cheese on the outside. Go cheesy. Be happy.
La Haciendita—1845 Academy, Sanger, 559-875-9227. In a building that had seen several resident restaurants, I discovered sope (“so-pay”): a thick, handmade tortilla, deep-fried to a donut-like crust and topped with a choice of meats, cabbage, cilantro, refried beans, onion, crumbled cheese and a minty splash of lime. It’s a Mexican street food, and it’s heavenly.
The Red Caboose Cafe—5054 N Academy Ave. #E, Sanger, 297-9545—This is where I go for comfort food, that down-home cooking that sticks to the ribs and fills the belly. The meatloaf may not be famous, but it’s farmhouse-fresh, and it’s gooooooooood.
Reedley Sandwich Shop—1154 G St., Reedley, (559) 643-0025—Turkey Pesto Sandwich, Italian Sandwich…they’re great, but the queen of the shop is the every-day-they’re-open Clam Chowder! Orangey-pink, with a cheeky touch of heat, it makes me look for any excuse to go to Reedley.
Richie’s Pizza and Hot Dogs—844 E. Olive Ave., Fresno—One of my discoveries during the 2015 Rogue Performance Festival, this pocket-sized provider of provender, has some hearty New York-ish pizza, and a Pizza Dog that draws me back to its sausage, cheese, and pepperoni loveliness.
School House Restaurant—1018 S. Frankwood Ave., (559)787-3271—The old Sherwood Inn on 180 is now an upper-end eatery with fresh ingredients. The meatloaf is legendary, I had the first gnocchi I ever liked, and the cuisine is haute…as are the prices. Be prepared to spend money, but you get what you pay for.
Sofia’s California Cuisine—11th & N Streets, Sanger—Mexican fare, Mediterranean food, and California cooking in one place. They have specials and frequent Facebook discounts. I should be getting frequent flyer miles at this place, because it’s a family favorite. (Actually, they do let us sample new recipes and menu items. Yummy!)
The restaurant business is not an easy one. Eating establishments that don’t develop a following can vanish in an instant. Over the past 3½ years, time has said goodbye to several places that I still miss.
King’s Diner—I loved this Elvis-themed, rock-n-roll diner with its wild-and-crazy burgers and jukebox karaoke. Luckily, Sofia’s now fills that building in Sanger, so my sorrows are eased.
Mooner’s—This frozen-fruit smoothie place in Reedley was really quirky and tasty, and I miss it.
QN4U—The barbecue from this cavernous eatery on Clovis Avenue in Clovis was marvelous, and we craved the sweet potato fries and the long-cooked meats. I was sad to see the place close after its founder’s death. I am told that the legacy lives on as a catering service, and Todd’s BBQ Shack is a worthy successor in the structure.Superburger—Even though it was on Academy Avenue in Sanger, and served up some blessed burgers and pretty-perfect pastrami, Superburger is gone, but not forgotten. (Editor’s note: There is still a Superburger in Reedley).