Fresno's Always Got Time for Mexican Food

Carrie Bell
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Chicken mole from Los Amigos

What sat before me in the lone Mexican restaurant in Galway was an abomination. 


I was on the tail end of my first trip to Ireland and found myself madly craving a taco, burrito, enchilada, or anything remotely associated with the predominant cuisine of my Californian life. Having been born and raised in Fresno—where my father, a vice principal, was routinely thanked by parents with a stack of tamales, where friends’ stovetops were always filled with bubbling batches of menudo, and where children practically come out of the womb declaring their allegiance to Tapatío, Tabasco, or Cholula—Mexican food consumption was a weekly occurrence at minimum. That trend continued as I settled in Los Angeles as an adult, and it meant that by the end of a long trip abroad, the withdrawals started to kick in, and I needed a hit of habanero and a bump of beans and rice.


So there I was, in this popular nightspot, staring at a bowl of a drippy pureed light green substance they claimed was guacamole. Besides the fact that there was zero tomato, onion, cilantro, or citrus kick, it tasted weird. Familiar even, but I couldn’t place it. I inquired. “Uh, I think it’s a blend of avocado and mayonnaise,” the waitress said and walked away.


I learned two very important lessons that day: that all Mexican food is not created equal, and that I had been gastronomically spoiled by growing up at the southern end of the Central Valley in the Golden State, where farms and ranches supply fresh produce and meat, and half the population is of Latin descent. 


Sure, the cuisine’s representation has gotten better as the world becomes increasingly connected. I’m guessing even that spot in Galway, if it’s still around, has stopped making that egregious attempt at one of Mexico’s most important condiments. But a different problem has percolated. #TacoTuesday has been advertised and hashtagged into the national zeitgeist. We get it. It’s catchy. But why should tacos get to have all the fun? 


Other dishes deserve their own day to be devoured, too—especially given the wide range of exceptional south-of-the-border grub being whipped up by local businesses in Fresno and its surrounding areas. 


It’s time to rethink your culinary calendar and spread the love. With these new daily designations, you can feed your hankering for Mexican food all week long.


Mole Monday

Two Mexican states, Puebla and Oaxaca, claim this decadent sauce as their own and have passed down origin stories. There are multiple versions of the sauce, but chocolate and chiles are often the common denominator.


Los Amigos

The restaurant smothers chicken in a spicy sauce made with chiles, nuts, spices, and chocolate.

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El Patio

Enmoladas is what happens when this Tower District spot takes chicken, beef, or cheese enchiladas and dips them in mole.

Taco Tuesday

Who are we to fix what ain’t broken? The truth is that tacos are delicious and diverse, on Tuesdays or otherwise. Feel free to mix and match items from our taco foodlist with any of these picks. 


Robertito’s

Add a drink to your order of rolled taquitos (a.k.a. tacos dorados) to celebrate Tamarindo Tuesday as well.

Taste Kitchen

The food truck has 10 tacos to choose from, including a vegan cauliflower cashew taco with chile de arbol salsa, beer-battered Baja fried fish with chipotle crema, and quesobirria (slow-cooked beef in tomato-chile broth with jack and Oaxacan cheese).

Way-Out-There Wednesday

Chase away hump day doldrums by downing bold, less commonly eaten ingredients like cow tongue, goat, or tripe if you dare.


Arsenio’s

Menudo, a traditional red chili pepper soup popular on weekends as it’s believed to be a hangover cure, counts among its main ingredients tripe (cow stomach) and hominy.


Atzacan

Menudo’s also a specialty at Atzacan, where the stew’s deep red base is supplemented with toppings like lemon, chile flakes, cilantro, onions, and oregano, and served with a side of tortillas.

Taqueria Don Pepe

Buche, a mixture of pork throat and stomach that breaks down during cooking to become more tender than tripe, is a solid protein option for tacos, sopes, or tortas.

Tamale Thursday

Because tamales are usually reserved for weddings, holidays, and other celebrations due to their labor intensive process, tucking into this corn husk-wrapped party food turns an average Thursday into a special occasion. 


Rosa Linda’s

These award-winning corn masa tamales are filled with pork, chicken, or beef, then smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese.

Casa de Tamales

CDT offers a variety of meatless flavors including blueberry masa and cream cheese, portobello and asparagus with guajillo peppers and pineapple salsa, jalapeño and cheese, and savory sweet corn topped with tomatillo sauce, casero cheese, fresh avocado, and crema.

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Fajitas Friday

Make sure weekends are lit by kicking them off with a plate of sizzling meat.


Que Pasa Mexican Café

Cooked at high heat in cast iron skillets, the Fajita Supreme comes with steak, chicken, and shrimp served over a bed of grilled red onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, red and pasilla peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini. Use the included handmade tortillas, rice, beans, sour cream, and guacamole to make a burrito if you like.

Artemio’s

Receive a small drink with your plate of fajitas de camaron (shrimp). They also come with rice, beans, sour cream, lettice, and either corn or flour tortillas.

Sope Saturday

Sometimes called a picadita, a sope is a popular street snack hailing from central or southern Mexico. Masa is shaped into a round, fist-sized base with a pinched rim, then fried. The sope is then topped with various meats or cheeses, refried beans, veggies, and salsa.


El Cochinito Contento

Get three sopes topped with refried beans, lettuce, Mexican cheese, salsa, and one of nine meats including adobada (northern Mexico’s take on al pastor), chile verde, and shredded chicken.

Mariscos Costa Azul

This sports bar supersizes what is often an appetizer into a meal by heaping on cheese and including sides of rice and refried beans.

Sopa Sunday

Hearty sopas (also known as caldos)—soups in English—are hearty and will warm you up on a cold winter’s night. 


Lety’s Mexican Grill

Pair the red broth pozole, a pork soup with white hominy, with the self-proclaimed “best michelada in town.”

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Toledo’s

Albondigas is a meatball and vegetable soup. This Fresno institution serves its bowl with a side of rice.

Los Amigos

Garnished with avocado and Oaxaca cheese, tortilla soup with a chicken broth base is a house specialty here.

La Sirenita Marisqueria Y Panaderia

This seafood and baked good specialist also makes a lovely menudo.

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