by Terrance Mc Arthur
2020—A year to forget!
2021—It wasn’t easy, but we made it.
2022—The Great Food Search family (“Dad,” “Mom,” forty-two-year-old “Child”) went through urgent care visits (D, M), dentists (D, M, C), ankle replacement surgery (M), physical therapy (M), five 5K (3.1 mile) walk/run races (D—I walked), and year-ending Covid (D, M, C). Somehow, the three of us are still alive and talking to each other. Still, 2022 was a pretty good year for food in The Great Food Search—twenty-seven different restaurants and eateries. The weird thing about my Best of ‘22 list is it seemed to organize itself into one great meal: Appetizers, Entrees, Side Dishes, and Dessert (plus, a bonus!). Follow me, and I’ll walk you through it.Appetizers—Back in March, Colton’s Social House (1150 Shaw Ave., Clovis) stood alone as King of the Appetizer Hill. Perched along Shaw Avenue in Clovis, in front of the Sierra Vista Mall, Colton’s looks ritzy on the outside but gets loud and boisterous on the inside. The appetizer variety is impressive. Thick Clam Chowder that could keep a spoon from falling for five seconds (slight exaggeration), the largest Zucchini Chips I’ve ever seen, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with chunks of cheese, and Deviled Eggs the likes of which I’d never encountered (Panko-coated, anyone?). These were appetizers that could be a whole meal … and they were! Main Dishes—My favorite entrée surprise of the year came in July from an old favorite restaurant, Javier’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina (5680 E. Kings Canyon Rd., Fresno). I’m a big fan of Chile Rellenos, but I didn’t expect to see it topped with Chile Verde! Chunks of savory meat covering an omelet-like substance filled with a cheese-stuffed pepper. That was something special! Highly recommended. Sides—My journeys into the world of food-truck gatherings yielded highly interesting results. Fresno Street Eats corrals groups of food providers at parking lots, parks, and streets around the Central Valley, and a Sanger evening in October brought Get Baked 559 to my attention. GB559 does to a potato what Starbucks does to a coffee bean: make it addictive. Toppings include steak, shrimp, pastrami, bell peppers, onion, hot Cheetos, bacon, broccoli, cheese, and sour cream. Broccoli Bacon & Cheddar Cheese was the family favorite, but I have a special place in my heart for their Surf & Turf Potato, which includes sirloin steak and shrimp, bell peppers, onions, and cheese. Many of their menu items also have French Fry versions! The fun part of the experience is the electronic beeper you carry around to other trucks while you wait, until the buzzer alerts you to pick up your food—the Panera Effect! Dessert—I’m not surprised that the best dessert I had was at a Baskin Robbins (775 S. Bethel Ave. Ste. 104, Sanger) in the Bethel/Jensen section of Sanger. Your garden-variety Banana Split tops Strawberry, Vanilla, and Chocolate ice creams with Strawberry, Butterscotch/Caramel, and Hot Fudge toppings, but this is Baskin Robbins, where the choices are 31-derful! My Split scooped Frosted Strawberry Toaster Treat, Triple Mango, and Oreo ice cream, with Strawberry syrup, Caramel topping, and Hot Fudge, plus whipped cream, chopped walnuts, and Maraschino Cherries on top. It was messy, but glorious! Bonus—I’ve given you a four-course dinner, but there’s a surprise in store for you: Breakfast! In May, I discovered Mi Linda Tierra (1330 7th Street, Sanger), and their Biker BK Torta, a flat omelet (I’d call it open-faced) of three eggs (Fluffy! Fluffy! Fluffy!), grilled ham, veggies, and a choice of meats (chile verde is my choice, of course), with choice of tortillas on the side. Apparently there is some company tradition with it, because, on my next visit, I wasn’t allowed to order it later in the day (something about my not being a biker—what did I know?).
So that was the meal that was … and then some. This is The Great Food Search signing off for 2022. Happy eating!