Most chicken wings look like bite-size drumsticks. Kocky's chicken wings look like chicken wings. Chefs roll each full-size wing in homemade batter before dunking it into a deep fryer. They then smother them with one of 10 made-from-scratch sauces, such as lemon pepper, buffalo ranch, Kickin' Teriyaki, and Sweet Fire. The menu also features pub-style fare ranging from chicken-wing-topped salads to burgers made with USDA-certified, natural Black Angus beef from Harris Ranch. Striving to fill Kocky's Bar and Grill with the same camaraderie they developed as fraternity brothers, the three founders encourage their servers to get to know patrons on a first-name, favorite-scene-from-Animal House basis.
At the Downtown Club, soft sunlight filters through canopy of rafters and skylights, warming diners as they feast on plates of charbroiled salmon and chicken, lamb shish kebab, and New York strip steak. It's a timeless kind of elegance, one that's reflected in the restaurant's history; as the former site of the Fresno Morning Republican, the building was home to some of the biggest headlines to ever hit the city. A 19th-century printing press calls those origins to mind from its display in the dining area, linking the restaurant's past with its contemporary menu that blends Mexican, Mediterranean, and American influences.
Former social worker Pablo Antinao-Alvarez made his foray into the food industry working as a bartender at a five-star hotel and restaurant in Chile. He received his wine professional certification from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley before traveling to France and Spain, where he studied at the Spanish Academy of Sommeliers and learned which wine bottles are most likely to contain trapped genies. After settling down in California's wine country, he shared his knowledge with fine restaurants and founded Rustica Wine School. Today, he organizes and teaches classes on spirits and liquors, as well as food-and-wine pairing.
Caterers Justin and Jamie Dukes deliver their specialty meat-stuffed sandwiches to a wide range of events—everything from “a barbecue for 4,000 people to baby showers,” according to the Fresno Bee. An arm of their concession and catering fiefdom, Duke's Downtown Sandwiches serves up hearty, towering sandwiches stuffed with salami, pickles, olives, and turkey, or flavorful Greek-style wraps filled with feta and spinach. Dine-in patrons savor piping-hot bowls of clam chowder or meaty cheesesteak sandwiches, and banquet guests sample catered plates filled with fresh fruit and cold cuts, or sword-fight with skewers full of crudités and cheese.
Gyros, kebabs, and cold cut sandwiches are just a few of the savory edibles to be found at Izi Sandwich Shop & Deli. Owner Leon Eskijian also keeps an on-site grocery store stocked with Armenian and Mediterranean meats, breads, yogurts and cheeses.
Hot Dog on a Stick Founder Dave Barham opened his first Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica in 1946, and the company has since burgeoned into an employee-owned franchise that's more than 100 eateries strong and spans 11 states. Best known for a 100% turkey hot dog dunked in corn-bread batter made from Dave's mother's recipe and cooked in soy oil, Hot Dog on a Stick also pioneered the dipping and be-sticking of mild american and spicy jalapeño jack cheese. Smiling employees in red-, white-, and blue-striped uniforms with, as Dave put it, "a splash of lemonade," hand over cherry, lime, sugar-free, or original lemonade that they make fresh every two hours by squeezing Ventura County lemons until they cry.