by Terrance Mc Arthur
The typical Great Food Search of the month features a theme (Salads, Hot Dogs, The Tower District, et cetera) or a single restaurant (Mi Linda Tierra, Sunnyside Delicatessen). This month, it’s a little different: places I went to about the time I was reviewing something else, or it didn’t fit the theme for the month, or—”Hey! I haven’t been there in a Covid’s age!” Some of the pictures have been sitting in my photo file for a long time, so…it’s about time!Casa Maria Authentic Mexican Restaurant—180 Shaw Ave., Clovis—Southeast of Shaw and Minnewawa, a ball’s throw from a bowling alley, Casa Maria is a good choice for a friendly meal. People from Clovis kept telling us to go there, so we did. A dark atmosphere, yet the lighting for the tables is good, and the extensive menus are part of each table. Good-looking chips come with a colorful salsa. A chunky Albondigas soup featured a vegetable variety and meatballs with attitude. Entrees arrived on the biggest platters I’ve seen, brimming with food. I am fond of Chile Rellenos, so I usually order them at Mexican restaurants. My Relleno was robust and generous. The enchiladas were tightly packed, and the beans and rice filled up the space. They were fighting a manpower shortage, but they still kept tables served and serviced. I plan to return. Javier’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina—5680 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno—When I used to work at Fresno’s Sunnyside Library, Javier’s was as close a sit-down restaurant as I could get. Once, I even had Javier himself do a demonstration of making salsa at that library. Then the pandemic came along, and I didn’t seem to get there any more…until…I needed another restaurant for this month, and I found myself driving down East Kings Canyon Road, just east of Clovis Avenue. Javier’s had a party of eighty having a grand time in the main room, but we were quickly seated in a quieter area (with access to alternate bathroom facilities). Because of their crowd, my server kept the chips and salsa coming until our dishes could be prepared. My wife enjoys the salsa because it is made without cilantro, which gives some people (her included) a disagreeable taste. With all the tomato, onion, and spices (Javier never did tell me his secret blend), that salsa is a taste bud explosion of happiness! As previously stated, my go-to dish is Chile Rellenos. To my surprise, my Rellenos came with a topping of Chile Verde! That was so good! Soft chunks of saucy meat atop the equivalent of an omelet stuffed with cheese and a big ol’ pepper! I loved it! For fun, we added an order of two Sopes. They look like quiche shells, and were filled with Chile Verde, topped with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and onions, with a healthy cup of sour cream. Excellent! Tomanni Bistro—1119 G St. Reedley—Downtown Reedley is always interesting, combining a small-town feel with unique shops and eateries. The Tomanni Bistro is a brunch-and-lunchery spot tucked along a main thoroughfare. Salads, crepes, bagels, bowls, sandwiches—they serve it up fast and furious. The Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, served over a layer of rice or quinoa, included healthy veggies and a wedge of pineapple. The Smoked Salmon Sandwich displayed a deconstructed panoply of egg, onion, salmon, dill, tomato, and Havarti Cheese. That was really something. Guess what? They even have gelato!
The Verdict—These are all places that will see me again, but this month’s choice is Javier’s. Even though it was an old family haunt, it was surprising. I like that when I eat.
Keep looking for the good food!