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!
When the weather gets colder, the best-looking thing on a menu might be soup. Since we often go out to eat on Friday nights, clam chowder—New England Clam Chowder (the white stuff)— is my option of choice. This Great Food Search went to great lengths to give you reviews. Yes, there are restaurants in the Valley that we sampled, but we found ourselves all the way out to Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf!
Crab House, 60 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA—The thing about Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey is that everywhere you turn, people are trying to give you samples of their clam chowder. It’s hard to walk fifty feet without someone waving a paper cup at you to get your attention. Crab House is near the end of the wharf and you can eat upstairs with a great view of the water or downstairs and get a great view of the tourists walking by the window (That’s a show you’ll never forget!).
The chowder was big and lumpy (in a good way). Lots of texture and lots of flavor. I think the sea air adds a note of freshness. I know I took a picture of it, but I can’t find it, so you’ll have to take my word for it; it looked good enough to eat.
DiCicco’s Italian Restaurant of Sanger, 367 Academy, Sanger—For the four decades I’ve eaten in Sanger, outside of my #1 in-laws’ family, Italian food meant DiCicco’s. Fridays were my favorite because I could order Clam Chowder. I mean, how often can you look into a bowl of chowder and say, “Hey! There’s asparagus in here?”
It’s old-style, family-friendly fare, and the bread is so good with it, slathered with real butter.
Reedley Sandwich Shop, 1154 G St., Reedley—My work as a librarian takes me to many towns in Fresno County, but I look forward to my Reedley days because that means I can go to the Reedley Sandwich Shop and get some Clam Chowder.
I shall quote from my 2014 review:
Instead of the usual pearly-white color, the soup was pinky-orangey. When I tasted it…WOW! WOWZER! YEE-HAW! I suddenly sounded like one of those judges on a Food Network show: “There’s an interesting touch of heat here.” It doesn’t peel the taste buds off your tongue, but it has a definite presence. I don’t know what spice they put in it, and they wouldn’t tell me. It must account for the unusual color and the stand-up-and-shout-Hosanna quality. To make things even better, the Reedley Sandwich Shop’s Clam Chowder is not just a Friday thing. You can have it any day they’re open, and there is a bread-bowl option, too! There’s also a daily chili and a Soup of the Day, but I will clamor for their clam any time I’m in Reedley.
Scales to Go, 30 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA—There are two Scales restaurants on Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf. One is upscale dining near the entrance of the wharf, and the other is Scales to Go, where you can take it with you or sit at tables out in front or choose the small indoor-ish area. Scales to Go is a scaled-down Scales. The menu isn’t extensive, but hey! There’s ice cream and fried artichoke hearts and…Clam Chowder.
Carrot, potato, small specks of green—it’s pretty good for a tourist trap.
The Verdict—We have a split decision. The Reedley Sandwich Shop has my chowder of choice, but my wife says DiCicco’s is the chowder champ, the best she’s ever tasted.