At Tommy’s, candlelight casts dark wood wainscoting, burnt-orange walls, and stone floors in a warm glow. The elegant eatery—which has been hailed by Frommer’s as “the most creative restaurant in Visalia"—complements its environs with equally haute cuisine. Chefs serve succulent steaks on cedar planks and drizzle them with southwestern flourishes such as tequila-roasted green chilis, poblano cream sauce, and a single cactus tear. Additionally, Tommy’s stocks its wine cellar with an ample wine selection.
Fugazzis brings sophisticated ambience and casual fine dining to its clients with menus melded from fresh, local ingredients. Fugazzis California Bistro, the collective's flagship restaurant, parachutes palates into a metropolitan atmosphere matched with modern appetite appeasers. Delve into its menu with an order of sweet-potato fries ($6.75) or coconut prawns ($8.95) before opting for the Fugazzis Pizza, boasting barbecue sauce, chicken, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes ($13). Sandwichy sustenance includes the halibut wrap ($11.50), and more elaborate entrees range from spinach-striped raviolis ($12.75) to a grilled rack of lamb ($24.95). Fugazzis California Grill serves up lunch and dinner for both midday marauders and moonlit mischief makers. Dinner highlights include a pear and walnut salad tiara’d in tangy honey-mustard dressing and blackened grilled chicken ($10.75), as well as fire-flicked flare such as a 10 oz. filet mignon ($24.95) and an Atlantic salmon filet ($19.95).
Plates full of barbecue-glazed salmon, grilled sirloin, and country-fried steak emerge from the kitchen at Spike ‘n’ Rail Steakhouse, where chefs assemble hearty sandwiches and carefully spread sauces over meats. In the morning, patrons can sample breakfast dishes such as country-fried streak and eggs and breakfast burritos. Those who prefer a quieter meal can dig into their smoked prime rib on the outdoor patio, which overlooks a pond with burbling fountains and constantly gurgling fish.
Samba's menu spans continents, uniting dishes toasted over the leaping flames of a Brazilian grill with those cooked in the heated clay interior of a tandoor oven. Samba's signature rodizio dinners deliver skewered meats to tables, where they are carved by servers directly onto diners' plates. Picanha, a cut of beef, is a popular choice. For those who would rather not indulge in the all-you-can-eat option, the picanha burger—covered in mozzarella, grilled mushrooms, and peppers—offers a taste of the Brazilian beef.
Indian offerings include seven types of naan bread, chicken tikka masala, and biryani rice entrees. Samba serves Mediterranean as well, from hummus appetizers to shish kebab lunches and pizzas dotted with feta cheese.
Though the food comes from various regions, the venue positions diners under the same sky—or at least a ceiling charmingly painted to mimic the clouds. Samba also celebrates birthdays with exceptional fanfare: drums, tambourines, and song, instead of the traditional treat of fine-dining establishments, a lobster clutching candles in its claws. This excitement also extends to the upcoming 2014 World Cup beginning in June, during which the restaurant will air the contests with a family-friendly atmosphere.
Manhattan Steakhouse & Bar serves up an extensive menu of fine steakhouse dinner in elegant environs. An order of escargot in champagne, garlic, and parmesan butter ($10.95) or a breadcrumb-coated, fried brie-cheese wedge ($11.95) revs up stomach engines before main meal events. A vast selection of entrée salads offers an abundance of ground-grown sustenance ($6.95+), alongside hearty eats from land and sea, such as the New York Roquefort, an aged, black Angus topped with crumbled blue cheese ($26.95), or pistachio-crusted halibut ($28.95). With dim lighting and city-skyline décor, the eatery's ritzy mid-century vibe and long, full bar welcome guests to settle in for wine or decadent specialty cocktails, such as the white-chocolate raspberry truffle, a mix of Godet, Chambord, amaretto, and white cacao. Reservations, like wearing chain mail while wrestling a bear, are highly recommended but not required.
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.