What is Fresno’s most famous restaurant dish?
We asked this question in an online survey of Bee readers and you answered it. The winner: the fancy burrito from Sal’s Mexican restaurants.
Read on to know more about it.
What other foods have made it to the top of the Most Famous Dishes playlists? Take a look at the top 10.
Note: We asked about the best-known restaurant dishes – not the best. And 7% of the votes were write-in, but split between so many restaurants that they didn’t change the top 10 ranking.
1. The chic burrito of Mexican restaurants in Sal.
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.
His father, the restaurants’ founder, Sal Salazar, invented it in the 1970s using his grandmother’s chili con carne recipe.
“It’s a moist burrito to eat with your fork,” she said. “It was just one of those things that took off that people love. They identify that with Mexican comfort food.
You can get all kinds of variations, like half a chili verde burrito, or make it extra crispy. It is available in full size or half size. It is available at all three Sal locations: Fresno, Selma and Madera.
2. The tacos of La Elegante.
La Elegante has a small taqueria at 1420 Kern St. in Chinatown. His asada and al pastor tacos are favorites.
It also has a food truck, which has often won the Taco Truck Throwdown. The best place to find the truck is from 10:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday 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 over 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 three-point 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 Sweetcorn Agnolotti.
This dish from chef Jimmy Pardini — little buttered pillows of handmade pasta stuffed with sweetcorn from the state of Fresno — has a reputation. It was the focus of an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Cooking Channel.
It is only available during sweet corn season (which has yet to begin), although other versions of the dish are available year-round.
The restaurant is at 2257 W. Shaw Ave.
6. Cracked Pepper Bistro Bread Pudding.
Perhaps the most well-known dessert in town, most people who eat out end their meal with this bread pudding.
It’s a tasty combo of pastries, croissants, brandy, rum and cream, and you can see the recipe on our website.
The restaurant is on the southwest corner of Palm and Herndon Avenues.
7. The tacos of El Premio Mayor.
Another frequent Taco Truck Throwdown winner, this company owns 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. His food truck is on hiatus right now, but will resume in June at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing and Fresno Street Eats events. Follow him on Instagram to find out where he will be.
8. Estrada’s hot salad (tostada compuesta).
This one is a blast from the past.
The last of the Estrada restaurants closed over 20 years ago. But Fresnans still talks about his old Californian/Spanish cuisine – specifically the tostada compuesta, more commonly known as a hot salad.
Former Fresno Bee food writer Sabine Morrow described it this way in 1991: “A warm, crispy corn tortilla was spread with tangy beans and topped with a mound of shredded lettuce, which had been drizzled with a invigorating vinaigrette. The result was a striking contrast of tastes and textures. A splash of brick red hot sauce and a handful of grated cheese finished off the tostada.
9. A connection between Chef Paul’s Fried Chicken and Grandmarie’s Chicken Pie Shop Chicken Pie.
The Tower District’s Chicken Pie Shop closed in 2019, turning its chicken gravy pies and green vinyl seats into souvenirs.
But Chef Paul is thriving. The small restaurant at 952 F St. has a stellar reputation, winning a poll of black-owned restaurants and kudos from comedian Joe Rogan and model Tyra Banks.
It serves soul food and comfort food, and is perhaps best known for its oxtail soup, fried chicken and waffles.
10. The Daily Planet’s Royal Stockholm.
This pink cocktail is a Tower District classic.
It is said to have been invented by the late bartender/musician Brad Hufft of the Daily Planet. This restaurant is long gone, but Stockholm Royale – a twist on Stockholm 75 – remains a favorite. Order it at any bar in the tower and they’ll know how to make it.
You can find the recipe, courtesy of Veni Vidi Vici on The Bee’s website.
A few favorites who narrowly missed out on the top 10? The 3ft long anaconda burrito at Taqueria Yarelis that went viral a while back.
Old-school entrees Nicola’s Stuffed Steak and Daily Planet’s Pot Roast also just missed the top 10.
And several people wrote in to vote for the chili relleno at Sabor Cocina Latina & Bar and the roast chicken at the long-closed Jet Drive-In on First Street.