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!
Sometimes the Great Food Search tries a variety of establishments along a theme. Sometimes, it’s trying a bunch of things at one place. Today, we study an odd little building with an odd little menu in odd little Fresno.
Baghdad Express, an auto accessories shop, Coffi N More, Big D’s Family Tri-Tip, a grocery store, and Famous Family Tri-Tip. What did they have in common? A triangular building in downtown Fresno where Divisadero meets Tuolumne, 1950 E. Divisadero St. What else do they have in common? They are all defunct.
Which leads us to Just the Tip, the newest effort to fill that space, and it deserves to succeed. The name? They feature tri-tip. Tri-tip is just the tip of the iceberg of their menu, the building is at the tip of the block, and there are other meanings.
Of course Just the Tip has tri-tip, the signature meat of Central California. The Tri-Tip sandwich is piled with meat that slides down your throat like it’s on a water slide. Slather it with the house BBQ sauce, carpet it with thin-sliced onions on bread from downtown’s Basque French Bakery, and you have a royal lunch treat.
When JTT pulls pork, that pork sandwich stays pulled. Slow-roasted for fourteen hours, the meat is broken down to the cellular level with that house BBQ sauce. The slaw on top doesn’t seem like that pale pile that usually accompanies a sandwich. It doesn’t back up on you, and the sauce doesn’t overwhelm it. The wax peppers, caramelized onions, and fig jam give it a nobility you don’t usually find in a chunk of dead pig.
Some sandwich shops will hand you a tuna sandwich and say it’s food. JTT modestly offers a Seared Ahi sandwich, pan-seared with wasabi greens, slaw, and lemongrass & ginger mayo. This isn’t little sushi slices of fish. An inch-thick steak of yellowfin lords over a square-sliced Basque bun.
The sandwiches are $9, and sides are usually $2. That might seem a high price for just a sandwich, but they are big enough to share, although you won’t want to. I usually get two lunches out of one sandwich, although the Seared Ahi disappeared without a trace in one sitting. The daily soup is $4, and each day is a new discovery. I had Andouille Sausage-Cheddar Soup with hunks of Cajun-style sausage in a creamy bath with a veritable variety of veggies.
The German Potato Salad gets good reviews. What I call The Amazing Vanishing Pastrami Sandwich is so popular that I have never had it. It always seems to be sold out when I arrive. The salads sound great, including a Shrimp Louie that is calling my name. For dessert, there are “brownies” that are really midsize loaves that raise lustful thoughts in my taste buds at the mere sight.
Daily specials include sides, and definitely deserve the name “special.” Outside, the place looks like a wedge of the early twentieth century, while the interior is cozy yet roomy, quirky (look for the kitchen-utensil clock). It’s a great place to pick up lunch (Open 11 to 3, Monday to Saturday), but friendly enough for sitting or chatting.
Just the Tip is just the ticket.
P. S. The Great Food Search plans to explore some of the produce and fruit stands in the Valley. Any suggestions of where to get the freshest, most flavorful, Central San Joaquin treasures?
Editor’s Note: JTT now has a Reedley location as well-1663 East 11th Street!