//The Best Places to Eat in the South Valley

The Best Places to Eat in the South Valley

(according to the people who live here)

By Dave Fountinelle | davebh1975@gmail.com – Photos by Laci Miranda

To most people who aren’t from around here, the towns of Hanford and Lemoore probably don’t spring to mind when thinking about great places to eat.  Honestly, that’s probably true for a lot of people who are from around here, too.  Fast food joints crowd the main streets, and they’re cheap, convenient, and – let’s face it – a safe bet.  No surprises, no disappointments, you know what you’re getting because they’re the same everywhere you go.  Sure, you’d probably love to have a big, juicy burger, some delicious, authentic tacos, a cheesy, hand-tossed pizza, or maybe even some fresh sushi, but dare you to take a chance at an unfamiliar local spot? Well, YES YOU DARE! Because I – with the help of a bunch of local fellow food lovers – have taken the guesswork out of it. We have some fantastic independent and family-owned restaurants around here. And it is my pleasure to submit to you the top local favorites for burgers, Mexican food, pizza, Asian food, and of course ‘other’!

Best Burger

Burger Shack – Lemoore

718 N. Lemoore Ave | (559) 997-1114

Owners Nasser and Jimmy first opened Burger Shack in September of 2017, and in the just under two years since, they have become the favorite spot to grab a delicious burger. It’s easy to see why, too.  The restaurant is clean, the prices are very reasonable, the service is super-friendly, and the burgers… oh man, the burgers!  The most popular item on their menu is the pastrami burger, and one bite is all it takes to see why.  A thick, juicy, perfectly-seasoned burger patty, dripping with melted cheese, topped with a generous stack of pastrami, hot off the flat top with those yummy crispy bits, loaded with the works, on a fresh, toasted bun.  For only $8.49 you can make it a combo with crinkle-cut fries (scientifically proven to be the tastiest of all the fries) and a drink. Like most restaurants of its type, Burger Shack has an extensive menu with a large variety. It’s everything from chicken strips, fried shrimp, to salads and all the great sides you’d expect, like jalapeno poppers, onion rings, and chili-cheese fries.  And of course, they also have ice cream and milkshakes in a variety of flavors.  But, at the end of the day, it’s all about those burgers!

The Pastrami Burger from the Burger Shack in Lemoore

Best Pizza

Fatte Albert’s – Hanford

110 E. 7th St. | (559) 585-0220

For 13 years, Fatte Albert’s has been the best place in town to grab a pie for all the right reasons. For starters, their pizzas are incredible.  Loaded with cheese and toppings with a crispy, chewy crust that was made for dipping, it’s everything you would expect from an excellent pizzeria.  But then they take things to the next level with original creations like the Chile Verde pizza, a local favorite that to truly appreciate, you have to try it for yourself. Their incredible Fatte Rolls, which are crispy, spicy, insanely good, pair perfectly with any of the delicious beers they have on tap. Many of these unique menu items started off as one of their monthly features and were so popular that they became permanent additions to the menu.  Fatte Albert’s is all about giving their customers what they want, and some signature pizzas and sides are named in honor of the those who inspired them.  One particularly special example is The Frazier, a combination pizza that was renamed for the customer who ordered it every time he came in after he passed away. That close connection with the community is what truly sets Fatte Albert’s apart. They regularly host fundraisers for youth sports and various other local organizations, giving back to a city that has given them years of loyal support. All this, and they even host live music 4-5 times a year too, just to keep things interesting.  Because it’s not enough just to make the best tasting pizzas in town, you gotta have fun while you do it!

Best Mexican Food

Valle Grullense – Hanford

901 W. Lacey Blvd | (559) 772-8045

“Oooh I love me some Valle Grullense!” writes food fan Julie Atkinson in response to my Facebook survey.  She was not alone in this sentiment.  Valle Grullense was the top choice for great Mexican food.  One look at their all-homemade menu, and it’s easy to see why. It’s loaded with a vast assortment of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, each one more delicious-looking than the last.  Their Yelp reviews are also glowing, with kudos to everything from their chips and salsa to their chile Verde, wet burritos, and tacos.  They also have a full bar and the essential menudo on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.  Because, seriously, can you even trust a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t have menudo on Saturday’s and Sunday’s?

Best Asian Food

Poke Bowl-Rrito – Hanford

150 N. 12th Ave #105 | (559)587-5525

Zeny’s Filipino Restaurant – Lemoore

352 W. D St., Lemoore | (559) 924-4973

It may be a little controversial to have an Asian food category without the top pick going to a Chinese restaurant. But I gotta be honest, there’s not really any Chinese restaurants around here that stand out as anything more than just “ok.” I’ve had some incredible Chinese food before, but the places around here are like a hundred other “good-but-not-great” spots you’d find in any city. You can throw a dart at a list of Chinese restaurants here, and the quality of the chow mien, broccoli beef, and General Tso’s Chicken wouldn’t vary.  So, why not try something new, exciting, and possibly even healthy?

Poke Bowl-Rrito has that last category covered for sure, complete with offering a discount for gym members.  For people who aren’t familiar with poke (pronounced po-kay), think sushi, only in a bowl, on top of warm rice, with avocado, scallions, onions, edamame, or even chunks of watermelon, and finished off with a variety of umami-rich sauces. It’s a Hawaiian staple, found everywhere from roadside stands to gas stations, and it’s currently the hottest new trend in Asian cuisine. After taking over space previously belonging to Chop Chop Poke in April of this year, Poke Bowl-Rrito has been steadily growing a loyal customer base by offering fresh ingredients, locally-sourced produce, and house-made sauces. “Everything we use is completely made in-house,” general manager Melissa Anaya told me. “Nothing comes from a bottle or a can.” They also offer cooked items, like chicken, crab, shrimp, and seared Ahi tuna for people who may be squeamish about eating raw fish. They also have vegan and keto-friendly menu options as well. What really makes Poke Bowl-Rrito unique is in the second half of their name, the “Rrito.” All of their poke options are available in a traditional, tomato and basil, or spinach wrap.  If you’ve never tried poke, this is a great place to go and see what it’s all about. The restaurant is immaculate, and the service is friendly and very helpful for poke newbies.

Poke bowls from Poke Bowl-Rrito in Hanford

Zeny’s is a place that is not only popular with the large Filipino population in the Lemoore area, but with everyone else who appreciates delicious Filipino food. Their menu offers popular selections, such as chicken adobo, orange chicken, and pancit (a personal favorite).  But, the star of the show and the reason why people come from all over is their lumpia.  If you’ve never had lumpia… well, slap yourself in the face as hard as you can, because what’s wrong with you? No, but seriously, lumpia is terrific. It’s sort of like the Filipino version of an egg roll, but smaller, flakier, and so addictive they should come with a surgeon generals warning. Zeny’s sells them for $8.59/doz, and you’ll probably want to get at least 2 dozen – one to later and the other to eat on your way home. That smell will drive you insane! Great, now I want lumpia, and they don’t open for about 14 more hours…

Best ‘Other’

Kabab City – Hanford

129 W. 7th St. | (559) 530-3085

Formerly Zaytoona, Kabab City is a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant located in historic downtown Hanford. The staff is amiable and helpful for first-timers, and the food is out of this world! The spicy hummus is an absolute must-try. So garlicky, lemony, mildly spicy and addictively tasty, I could literally dip an old shoe in this stuff and eat it. Their shawarma is also fantastic. The menu describes it as “marinated tri-tip cooked to perfection,” and all I can add to that is I wish there were even more of that mouth-watering meat. I just want to stitch together a cape of that tri-tip and wear it like the Superman of Flavortown. I ordered mine with a side of french fries because I wanted to dip them in the rest of the spicy hummus. I’m not sure if I unlocked some peak white-people achievement for dipping fries into hummus, but I definitely felt like I had won something. Sorry, not sorry! They also have fattoush salad, gyros, baba ghanoush, incredible looking chicken kabab, and everything else you would expect from a great Mediterranean restaurant. Not only is their food absolutely delicious, but their prices are very reasonable! And they have vegetarian options as well. It’s an excellent spot for a work lunch, a bite with friends, to take a date, or even bring the whole family for a party. Personally, I can’t wait to go back. 

I’m looking forward to working my way through their menu!

And there you have it, 5 great places to eat if you ever find yourself down in the Lemoore/Hanford area.  And these are just a few of the great, independent and family-owned restaurants we have around here. There are many more wonderful local gems here, all you gotta do is come on down and see for yourself!