by Terrance Mc Arthur
You have to eat, right?
Cristal Bakery and Restaurant—704 O St., Sanger—It’s a modest place in Sanger, near a post office and a bank. I’ve been there for tamales, but it’s been nearly four years. Outside a few socially-distanced tables are set up on the sidewalk. Inside, the floor has distance markings. The restaurant area is cleared out, but there are cases and cases of pastries, Mexican and otherwise (Grab a tray by the door and load it up for your family’s next fiesta. You could even pick up a pinata!).
Try a meaty-and-cheesy quesadilla, a healthy-sized burrito, or a chimichanga. There’s a down-home quality that takes love to achieve.
Country Waffles—7141 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno—If you’re heading north on Cedar, and you pass Herndon, the road swerves to the left. Keep swerving when the road is supposed to swerve back, and there you are in Country Waffle territory. It’s a breakfast-and-lunch eatery with a shady patio out front. You can eat at the separated tables or pick up and go. The phone keeps the staff busy filling requests for pick-up, but you can order inside and wait at a table or in your car for delivery.
The Garden Omelet is loaded with greenery, inside and out. Zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and a good load of Cheddar cheese keep those eggs from feeling lonely. For a variation on the usual Eggs Benedict (which legend says was created as a hangover remedy), the Florentine beds the poached egg on bacon and spinach before dousing the English Muffin in Hollandaise Sauce.KFC—4948 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno—For days when you forget to pack a lunch for work, Colonel Sanders has an answer for you. I still call KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken. I may be old-fashioned about the name, but I prefer the Johnny-come-lately grilled version of their chicken. A $5 Fill Up offers a drumstick, thigh, biscuit, mashed potatoes and gravy, a soda, and a cookie for a low price. It’s quick and easy, I never left my car, and it satisfies the poultry passion in my soul.
Wienerschnitzel—129 S. Clovis Ave., Fresno—It hasn’t been “Der” Wienerschnitzel since 1977, but I cling to the past in my heart. Drive through, and your order quickly materializes. Instead of my usual Chili-Cheese Dog, I opted for a Bacon Street Dog, with bacon, mayo, ketchup, mustard, and grilled onions. The initial crunch of bacon, the mouth-watering onions, and a traditional bun were a treat, but the banana shake was a delight (I “relish” fast-food that goes beyond the Vanilla-Chocolate-Strawberry choices.)
Decision Time—My choice of the month is Country Waffles, with an asterisk (*).
Special Mention—Sunnyside Delicatessen—5691 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno—I know that Sunnyside Deli has been a take-out selection before, but a recent return visit really emphasized the way restaurants are going the extra mile in service during the Covid-19 era.
The clamshell boxes for our sandwiches were labeled to tell us which container held which sandwich, but there was a little extra: messages like “You Rock!,” “You are awesome!,” and “We miss you!” Special things like that make me eager for a return to the days of sit-down dining, because I’ll return, too.
* Unsolved Mystery—I did really like Country Waffles, but there was one dining experience that tickled my taste buds, but left question marks in my mind.There was this chicken I brought home. It was juicy, tasty, amazing…and I can’t remember where I found it! It was probably near E. Kings Canyon Rd., between Chestnut and Fowler, but I don’t know what restaurant made it. My wife says it’s the best chicken she ever tasted, and I think she’s right! If you recognize this chicken, let us know! I want to go there again!