Head chef Scott Sauer oversees a rotating menu of inventive cuisine catered to discerning Fresnan tongues fluent in gourmet. The dinner menu raises the curtain with an appetizing aria of jalapeno-enhanced sweet-potato fries ($9) or calamari ($10) dotted with roasted sweet peppers. The feta-cheese and poppy-seed dressing of the strawberry and spinach salad ($12) likewise provides a sweet counterpart to savory evening entrees such as the osso bucco–style short ribs ($27), served with braised greens and polenta cake, and the Peruvian potato-crusted salmon ($27). Dining dates, meanwhile, can keep their busy hands doggy-bag-free for a romantic evening of casino implosions and roller-tango with light entrees such as the petite filet mignon ($26) and the crab cakes with house-made tartar sauce ($16). Before capping things off with a dessert of cinnamon-raisin bread pudding ($6) or crispy boysenberry pie ($5), be sure to take a scenic detour among Max's extensive list of wines by the bottle or glass, draft beers, and specialty martinis, including the Pretty Woman ($11), which blends Stolichnaya strawberry, orange juice, and strawberry puree with a champagne float and a lock of Julia Roberts's hair.
It might sound silly, but Richard Stockle was destined to cook prime rib. He had no intention of running a steakhouse in 1969, when he opened up what would ultimately become Richard's Prime Rib and Seafood. The plan was for a bar—cheap beers and maybe a couple of pool tables, which would sit unused until the game of billiards was invented in 1975. That didn't line up with the economic cards, so Richard added food, mainly steaks and fresh seafood. The restaurant took off and Richard purchased the other side of the building, expanding the restaurant's capacity to 115. New York steaks, lobster tails, and countless baked potatoes would mark the decades until Richard finally sold the restaurant in 2005.
But Richard Stockle couldn't stay away from the restaurant business. The new owner defaulted, and Richard regained the restaurant a few years later. The building had slipped into disrepair, so Richard and his team completely remodeled the place, adding curved booths and tasteful nude artwork. Richard's grandson Ben now serves as the restaurant's manager. And the chefs still cook the dishes that made Richard famous, as well as inventive items like “The Something Good,” a New York steak wrapped in a flour tortilla filled with melted cheese.
A traditional Irish pub with a robust menu, a full bar, and an outdoor beer garden, Groggs wages a tactical twin strike on hunger and thirst. Patrons can test the waters with Dublin hot wings ($7.95), cordon bleu balls ($3.95), or Irish chips ($1.95) before wildly cannonballing into the deep end of a hearty soup. Options such as the meaty bowl, jammed with cheesesteak filling, grilled pastrami, green onions, and cabbage ($10.95), and the bucket o’ chowder—clam chowder served with Irish chips ($8.95)—come in bread bowls. Named after an old Irish crime-fighting duo, the banger and spuds fights the injustice of hunger with two grilled sausages, whole potatoes, and a slab o’ garlic bread ($9.95), and the German bratwursts served on a French baguette celebrate delicious globalization ($8.95).
Cora and Bill Shipley understand the allure of nostalgia. The high school sweethearts originally moved to Clovis in 1970, where they wholeheartedly embraced their new hometown's vintage charm and community-oriented spirit. And they've contributed to that atmosphere themselves by opening the Old Clovis Hotel Bistro, housed within a historic hotel built in 1902. The interior feels more like a home's parlor than a restaurant's dining room, with classic touches such as floral-patterned wallpaper and a pressed-metal ceiling evoking the genteel manners of a bygone age.
The bistro's menu complements its cozy surroundings with dishes inspired by comforting home cooking. Casual fare such as open-faced meatloaf sandwiches and half-pound burgers appear alongside entrees of steak and potatoes, and a traditional tea service lets guests flex their pinkies. If the surroundings inspire visitors to adopt their own little piece of the past, they can stop by the in-house antique store to peruse a collection of gifts, apparel, and accessories.
The sound of water burbling in a fountain greets patrons as they enter North India Bar & Grill. Further in, ornate chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, illuminating rows of plush, copper-colored banquettes. On select nights, part of this dining room transforms into a nightclub, where your can down an extra-spicy indian mary or spin around and around in circles before anybody notices you literally have two left feet.
As visitors let loose a few yards away, chefs buzz about the kitchen, pouring honey-cashew cream sauce over tender morsels of lamb and marinating chicken in authentic spices before roasting it in a 900-degree oven. They also concoct a selection of Indian-American fusion recipes including a flatbread wrap loaded with cream cheese and lamb and a tandoori-chicken pizza.
For more than 15 years, By the Sea has been gifting guests with a menu of authentic Mediterranean-style vittles spiced up with a Caribbean flair. Office workers looking for a light lunch break after a hectic morning of dodging wrecking balls can order an elegantly esculent starter from By the Sea’s carte du jour, such as hummos ($5.95), tabbouli (a lemon- and olive-oil-doused dish of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions, and bulgar wheat, $5.95), or four falafels fried in corn oil ($4.95). After a bowl of black-bean soup ($3.50), put your best fork forward into a plate of lemon chicken ($11.95), sautéed in lemons, white wine, olive oil, and cream sauce. Otherwise, daredevil diners can sword swallow shish kebabs of marinated lamb ($13.95) or wrestle a charbroiled Cajun catfish ($11.95) for digestion rights. By the Sea's board of fare covers Mediterranean cultures both extant and extinct, including the Phoenician chicken ($10.95), the Middle Eastern shawerma ($9.95), and the Moroccan kafta ($11.95), a charbroiled stew of minced ground beef and lamb mixed with parsley, onions, and spices. To end your classic Mediterranean meal with less bloodshed than most classic Mediterranean plays, wash down slices of cheesecake ($4) or puddings of rice ($3) with a cup of coffee or tea ($1.50).