by Terrance Mc Arthur
If you thought 2020 was a weird year, 2021 was curiouser and curiouser. For the Great Food Search, it was a time of confusion and discovery. Here are five great moments in eating—and an added dessert!
Sunnyside Delicatessen (5691 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno) When the Sunnyside Delicatessen owners retired and closed shop, there was sorrow. It’s under new ownership (the Husak family), and southeast Fresno rejoices. Old favorites, like the Rueben, have returned, and the cheese and bread options are expanded.The Reuben sandwich is back; Try it on a swirled rye bread! One by one, salad selections have returned to the display case, and they have soups. The Husaks added a fryer to their equipment for fries and—gasp—Garlic Fries. Another major change is that beers and wines are available. Cardboard boxes interlock for secure closure, protecting food making a trip outside the deli. Look for the smiling sun logo. Sandy’s Country Junction (532 Clovis Ave., Clovis) Pancho Villa Breakfast Enchiladas with Chile Verde with a side of Sour Cream—Heavenly days! Fluffy scrambled eggs wrapped in a feather-soft tortilla, smothered in munchable chile verde, and topped with cheese-cheese-cheese! Stretchable, sticky-wicky cheese! But wait—There’s more! Sour cream in a cup, and a side of refried beans. What more could you want—except more? Brown Bears Hot Dogs (7040 N. Fresno St., Fresno) The franks are hefty, seven-inch torpedoes of taste, made to Brown Bears’ specifications. The buns are fluffy fellows, and then you get to the toppings on the twenty varieties! Imagine—Bacon, coleslaw, egg salad, pineapple, fried chow mein noodles, Korean BBQ sauce, flaming hot Cheetos, kim chi, pastrami, sauerkraut, crab, scrambled eggs, and chile verde! These are gourmet dogs! The place is near Kaiser and a lot of medical offices, and is very popular, even if they don’t do any advertising. The owners’ motto is “simple, fast, and very good”—and it is! They even have veggie dogs! Maw n’ Paw BBQ (2686 N. Clovis Ave., Ste. 101, Fresno) Across Clovis Avenue from the FYI Airport, stands a massive, red smoker that was a gas station’s propane tank. Inside the building, it’s blue-collar BBQ. This fourth-generation Q-ing operation has its roots in Paducah, Kentucky, and the traditions run strong.
There are seven different meats, and each has its own allure. Tri-Tip with a dry rub, slow-smoked it over hickory coals, thinly-sliced. Brisket, falling apart after eighteen hours in the smoker. Pulled Pork, so tender that a gentle pull shreds it into juicy pieces. Pastrami, brined for four whole days, then smoked for sixteen hours. Chicken breast, grilled over a wood-fueled fire pit. Hot Links, infused with their Hottie Sauce. Pork Ribs, dry-rubbed, slow cooked, and you can get a half rack or a full rack (but you know you want the full rack). The sauces range from Sweetie to NuclearQ, and you can buy bottles to go (GO!).Cattlemens Steakhouse (1880 Art Gonzales Parkway, Selma (559) 896-2559)?It’s a steakhouse—it even says that in the name of the place—and it’s close enough to Highway 99 in Selma that you could see headlights from the parking lot. Masks are required. It feels safe. But…What about the FOOD? Hot Sourdough Bread, served with tublets of light, creamy butter. Entrees come with a tossed salad, ranch-style beans, and a choice of potatoes. The baked potato is crusted with salt on the skin.
This is a steakhouse, right? Pete’s Special is a ten-ounce sirloin (medium-rare, please) with serious grill-marks, powerful flavor, easy cutting—who could ask for more? Appetizers and desserts? The Artichoke Cheese Dip! Grand Canyon Cheesecake! Chocolate Outlaw Cake!
Selma isn’t all that far away from anywhere in the Valley, so the eating is well worth the trip…or the ordering.
And now…for dessert…Gourmet Goodies by Delilah (626 O St., Sanger) It’s less than a mile from my home, and they bake, dip, and sell things that make my taste buds yell “Gimme-gimme-gimme!” My haul from my latest trip included a salted-caramel cupcake (so gooey and swirly), a cheesecake apple (the pink layer between the caramel and the graham coating made me imagine eating a core sample of the Earth), a Yule Log cupcake (the creamy core that echoed the Bouche de Noel was a happy surprise), Oreo bark (I refused to share), dipped pretzel sticks (my go-to treat), and dipped Red Vines (they dip and sprinkle them, and Red Vines have become very difficult to locate). This place is a Sanger treasure!
THAT was 2021! Look out, 2022! The food is out there—Let’s eat!