What is Fresno’s most famous restaurant dish?
We asked that question in an online poll of Bee readers and you answered. The winner: The fancy burrito at Sal’s Mexican Restaurants.
Read on to find out more about it.
What other foods ranked high on readers lists of most well known dishes? Take a look at the top 10.
Note: We asked about the most well-known restaurant food – not the best. And 7% of the votes were write-ins, but split among so many restaurants that they didn’t change the ranking of the top 10.
1. The fancy burrito from Sal’s Mexican Restaurants.
This burrito features beans and chili con carne in a large flour tortilla topped with more chili con carne and lots of melted jack cheese.
“It’s comfort food for me,” said Sal’s owner/partner Lorraine Salazar.
Her father, the restaurants’ founder, Sal Salazar, invented it in the 1970s using her grandmother’s chile con carne recipe.
“It’s an eat-with-your fork wet burrito,” she said. “It was just one of those things that took off and people love. They identify that with Mexican comfort food.”
You can get all kinds of variations on it, like half as a chile verde burrito, or get it extra crispy. It comes in full or half sizes. It’s available at all three Sal’s locations: Fresno, Selma and Madera.
2. La Elegante’s tacos.
La Elegante has a tiny taqueria at 1420 Kern St. in Chinatown. Its asada and adobada tacos are favorites.
It also has a food truck, which has been a frequent winner at the Taco Truck Throwdown. The best place to find the truck is from 10:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays at the corner of Maple and Muscat avenues in southeast Fresno.
3. Me-n-Ed’s pizza.
Me-n-Ed’s is a decades-old favorite with more than 40 locations in the central San Joaquin Valley. Its pizzas range from the classic All Meat (with seven kinds of meat) to the Valley Veggie.
4. Dog House Grill’s tri-tip sandwich.
The sliced tri-tip with barbecue sauce on a French roll is a popular favorite at Dog House Grill.
The restaurant itself is also a Fresno staple, and gets packed during big games. The restaurant is at 2789 E. Shaw Ave. across from the Save Mart Center.
5. Annex Kitchen’s sweet corn agnolotti.
This dish by chef Jimmy Pardini – buttery little pillows of handmade pasta filled with Fresno State sweet corn – has a reputation. It was the focus of an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel.
It’s only available during the sweet corn season (which hasn’t started yet), though other versions of the dish are available year round.
The restaurant is at 2257 W. Shaw Ave.
6. Cracked Pepper Bistro’s bread pudding.
Perhaps the best-known dessert in town, most people who eat at the restaurant finish their meal with this bread pudding.
It’s a luscious combo of Danish pastries, croissants, brandy, rum and cream, and you can see the recipe on our website.
The restaurant is at the southwest corner of Palm and Herndon avenues.
7. El Premio Mayor’s tacos.
Another frequent winner at the Taco Truck Throwdown, this business has a taco truck and two taquerias.
One brick-and-mortar location is at the southwest corner of Shields and Maroa avenues, the other at 3247 E. McKinley Ave. Its food truck is taking a break right now, but will resume in June at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing and Fresno Street Eats events. Follow it on Instagram to find out where it will be.
8. Estrada’s hot salad (tostada compuesta).
This one is a blast from the past.
The last of the Estrada’s restaurants closed more than 20 years ago. But Fresnans still talk about its early California/Spanish cuisine – especially the tostada compuesta, more commonly known as hot salad.
Former Fresno Bee food writer Sabine Morrow described it like this in 1991: “A warm, crisp corn tortilla was spread with zippy chili beans and topped with a mound of shredded lettuce, which had been doused with a bracing vinaigrette. The result was a vivid contrast of tastes and textures. A splash of brick-red hot sauce and a handful of grated cheese finished the tostada.”
9. A tie between Chef Paul’s fried chicken and Grandmarie’s Chicken Pie Shop’s chicken pot pie.
The Tower District’s Chicken Pie Shop closed in 2019, turning its gravy-smothered chicken pot pies and green vinyl seating into memories.
But Chef Paul’s is thriving. The little restaurant at 952 F St. has a stellar reputation, winning a poll of Black-owned eateries and kudos from comedian Joe Rogan and supermodel Tyra Banks.
It serves soul food and comfort food, and is perhaps best known for its oxtail soup and fried chicken and waffles.
10. The Daily Planet’s Stockholm Royale.
This pink cocktail is a Tower District classic.
It was reportedly invented by the late bartender/musician Brad Hufft at The Daily Planet. That restaurant is long gone but the Stockholm Royale – a twist on the Stockholm 75 – remains a favorite. Order it at any Tower bar and they’ll know how to make it.
You can find the recipe, courtesy of Veni Vidi Vici on The Bee’s website.
Some favorites that just missed the top 10? The 3-foot long anaconda burrito at Taqueria Yarelis that went viral a while back.
Old-school dishes Nicola’s stuffed steak and The Daily Planet’s pot roast also narrowly missed the top 10.
And several people wrote in to vote for the chile relleno at Sabor Cocina Latina & Bar and the broasted chicken at the long-closed Jet Drive-In on First Street.
This story was originally published May 27, 2022 5:00 AM.