by KJ Roberts
Hanford and environs can be a bit quirky. Having grown up here, I’ve seen it evolve – and devolve at times – from only locally-owned restaurants and cafes to a glut of chain eateries while mom-and-pop places struggle to survive. But thankfully, we do have some interesting and unique places to go where good food can be found. In no particular order, they are:
Kabab City (formerly Zaytoona’s)
129 W 7th Street (near Irwin) Hanford, California 93230 (559) 530-3085
website – Kabab City, Hanford
Facebook – Kabab City, Hanford
Open from 11a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday
Kabab City, owned my chef Abdallah Qawadri, is part of a rapidly expanding group of restaurants, including the original Fowler location, followed by Hanford (2015), Reedley, Fresno, and Visalia.
1734 N. 10th Avenue (at Grangeville) Hanford, California 93230 (553) 585-1141
Facebook – Mike’s Grill
Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed on Sunday
Mike’s Grill is family-owned and operated by Mike Murrietta and has been around since 2001, first in a charmingly renovated gas station, and now a mile or so north on the same road. It’s kept its loyal customers and added more, having been voted “Best Burger” place for 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Mike’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and features an impressive array of burgers [Philly, pastrami, sour dough, and others], hot dogs and sandwiches served on garlic butter toasted sub rolls including linguisa, club, BLT, and grilled cheese. There’s also locally-owned and homemade Superior Dairy ice cream on the menu.
An amusing note: the only negative review I could find was from a guy who gave it the lowest possible rating because he couldn’t get a breakfast burrito since they’d already sold out. Oh well, you can’t make everybody happy; but Mike’s makes an overwhelming majority of people happy, so give it a try.
** Two doors down from Mike’s Grill is the Hanford Portuguese Bakery. It, too, is a local gem, located at 1738 N. 10th Avenue. Phone (559) 582-3866. This specialty bakery offers all the standard Portuguese favorites, such as cavacas, filhós [Portuguese donuts], Bola de Berlim, Travesseiro de Sintra, Pão de Ló, pampilho, and Sonhos as well as Portuguese sweet bread and special-order items. It also carries some specialty coffees and other items. Call to check on availability. It is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday,
The Overland Café
10565 9th Avenue (south of freeway 198), Hanford, California 93230 (559) 707-4756
Website – The Overland Café
Facebook – The Overland Café
Open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday; Closed Friday through Sunday
The Overland Café is a wonderful byproduct of living in an agricultural center, but don’t let the fact that it’s attached to a cattle stockyard put you off. You likely won’t notice much, if any, eau de bovine, especially once you’re inside the charming and setting-appropriate diner. If you’re so inclined, you can also watch the auction taking place several times a week, which I fondly remember attending as a kid with my dad and grandfather. They even provide a video auction now every last Thursday of each month.
Owned and operated by the mother-daughter team of Lisa Smit and Kristi Clowger, this is a regional institution with a five-star rating – by everyone. The traditional American fare is served in generous portions, and if you’re still hungry, seconds are free. Attached to the Overland Stockyards, which was opened in 1939, the café has been feeding and watering farmers and dairymen with homemade fare ever since. In full-service mode, you can call ahead with orders if you’re short on time and have it ready to eat when you walk through the door. They reportedly serve the best biscuits and gravy around and feature Portuguese sopas every Wednesday, which often creates a stampede. And if you’re not that hungry you can get a half order of just about anything on the menu; even some things that aren’t on the menu and that you’re just craving. How great is that!?
Prices are very affordable for what you’re getting, which is a lot. There are always at least a couple of daily specials, sometimes more, and you can take your pick of standard sandwiches and burgers, along with soups, salads, and beer-battered fish and chips, as well as every breakfast item you can think of and an impressive assortment of homemade desserts. And there are specials for kids and seniors.
LUSH Fine Wines
202 W. Lacey Blvd. (at Irwin Street) Hanford, California 93230 (559) 584-6864
Website – LUSH Fine Wines
Facebook – LUSH Fine Wines
Tuesday & Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, 2 p.m. to Midnight
Saturday, 5 p.m. to Midnight with live music showcasing local musicians
Closed Sunday and Monday
When you step into LUSH, you are likely to feel like you’re in another city. It’s that cool. The space has a cosmopolitan vibe and is scattered with cushy chairs, sofas, and tables for conversations and sipping as well as an inviting patio at one of the most interesting intersections in Hanford, across from courthouse square, with its big lawns and historic buildings, and ring-side tables for Thursday Night Market Place events where you’re at the heart of the action and music. It offers both on-site tastings by the glass and craft beers in addition to a well-stocked retail area.
“Lush Fine Wines decor is plush and inviting in a relaxing and unique setting. Dim lighting and deep, richly-hued walls, wine racks filled with a variety of wine bottles, intimate tables, cozy chairs and sofas, a rich mahogany and granite bar, and floor-to-ceiling windows provide the perfect lounge atmosphere and tempt patrons to stay a little longer to sample another bottle.” This, per yaymaker.com, is accurate, based on my visits to LUSH.
Lindsey Oliveira opened LUSH in 2007 and succeeded in guiding this local gem through the economic downturn of 2008, gaining a loyal following along the way. When the adjacent historic Hanford Fox Theater holds events, LUSH usually stays open to accommodate after-event crowds looking to wind down in a town that usually goes to bed early. In addition to a satisfying selection of wines and beers, LUSH also offers tasty snacks with trays of fruit, cheese and crackers, salami, hummus plates, and chocolates to compliment your beverage of choice. They sell custom gift baskets, too, and also hold periodic events. Live music featured on Saturday evenings.
Irwin Street Inn
522 N. Irwin Street, Hanford, California 93230 (559) 583-8000
Facebook – Irwin Street Inn
Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Irwin Street Inn is the genius creation of Max Walden, an out-of-towner who blessed Hanford with his vision for restoring its many older buildings. The Inn is one such gift. It was created from four old Victorian homes and reconfigured to make a bed and breakfast with meeting rooms, a dining room, and a lovely garden area that has hosted hundreds of events, fundraisers, and weddings over the years.
The dining room has been a restaurant, off and on, for decades and currently serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a great Sunday brunch. The dining area also includes a porch and patio, which is lovely in nice weather. Local chef, Hussein Elsharkawy, is highly respected and acknowledged for creating a solid, well-executed menu with items that include homemade breads and pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads along with full dinner items and specials. And, of course, they cater. It’s a favorite place for birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone occasions for many locals.