Fresno’s most famous restaurant dish? Sal’s fancy burrito

Sal’s Mexican Restaurant’s popular Fancy Burrito with Chile Con Carne, foreground, was voted Bee reader poll of Fresno’s most famous dish, photographed Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA [email protected] What is Fresno’s most famous restaurant dish? We asked that question in an online poll of Bee readers […]

Sal’s Mexican Restaurant’s popular Fancy Burrito with Chile Con Carne, foreground, was voted Bee reader poll of Fresno’s most famous dish, photographed Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Fresno.

Sal’s Mexican Restaurant’s popular Fancy Burrito with Chile Con Carne, foreground, was voted Bee reader poll of Fresno’s most famous dish, photographed Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Fresno.

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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.

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Sal’s Mexican Restaurant’s popular Fancy Burrito with Chile Con Carne, left, or made with Chile Verde, right, was voted Bee reader poll of Fresno’s most famous dish, photographed Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA [email protected]

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.

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La Elegante’s adobada (chile-braised pork) tacos were named in a Food Network story about the best things to eat in California by Natalie B. Compton. Natalie B. Compton SPECIAL TO THE BEE

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.

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Pizza like this one is popular at Me-n-Ed’s, a staple with more than 40 locations in the central San Joaquin Valley. PAUL MULLINS Special to the Bee

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.

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Tri-tip sandwiches at the Dog House Grill are pictured in this Fresno Bee file photo. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

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.

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The Annex Kitchen uses Fresno State sweet corn as the filling for its agnolotti. Annex Kitchen Special to The Bee

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.

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Bread pudding at the Cracked Pepper Bistro is plated with caramel and whipped cream in this file photo from 2009. DARRELL WONG Fresno Bee Staff Photo

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.

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Alejandra Gonzalez, left, and Bianca Loza, right, of El Premio Mayor serve free tacos to the homeless outside Poverello House in this Fresno Bee file photo from 2017. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA [email protected]

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).

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Estrada’s Spanish Kitchen at 370 N. Blackstone Ave. is pictured in this undate file photo. Richard Darby FRESNO BEE

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.

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Chef Paul’s Cafe in downtown Fresno serves up the chicken and waffles pictured in this Fresno Bee file photo and other comfort food. TOMAS OVALLE Special to The Bee

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.

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The Stockholm Royale is a classic Fresno cocktail. It’s pictured in this 2020 Fresno Bee file photo from when Veni Vidi Vici was selling kits to make it during the pandemic. Veni Vidi Vici

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.

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Fresno’s most famous restaurant dish? Sal’s fancy burrito

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.

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