//Dave Eats: The “G” Hub

Dave Eats: The “G” Hub

Country Bar, Burgers, and More.

5020 19 1/2 Ave, Riverdale

(559) 681-2497

By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

Ask just about anyone in the South Valley if they’re familiar with “The Hub,” and chances are you’ll hear stories of good times, great friends, cold beers, and country music. The venerable watering hole and pool hall has been a favorite local hangout for over three generations. It’s changed hands and names many times over the years, but it’s always been known simply as “The Hub” to the locals.

A few years ago, a bad fire almost permanently ended The Hub. However, current owner Ryan Gates repaired and restored the old country bar, which he now operates semi-eponymously as “The ‘G’ Hub.” While The Hub has occasionally served food throughout its many incarnations, it was never really a place you went for a bite to eat. Rather, like most dive bars, the food was more of an accompaniment for the drinks. That’s something Gates plans to change at The G Hub.

“Are you ready to have the best burger you’ve ever had in your life?” He asked.

I informed him that I was, indeed, ready.

“Good, I hope you’re hungry!” Gates handed me a menu and left me to peruse it.

At first glance, the menu looked like what I would expect from any decent mom-n’-pop burger place. Burgers, sides, appetizers, a couple of obligatory salads, and tri-tip sandwiches comprised the entirety of The G Hub’s culinary arsenal. In my opinion, such a menu is a good thing – do a few select things and do them well.

The next thing I noticed was the prices. These aren’t greasy spoon burger prices. Burgers for $14 with $10 appetizers and $9 sides are what I might expect to find at a trendy gastropub in Northeast Fresno, not a country dive bar just outside of Riverdale. But Gates did boast that this would be the best burger I’ve ever had in my life, and I suppose $14 seems like a pretty fair price to pay for a burger that good.

After a few minutes, Gates returned, and I knew exactly what I wanted to try. I ordered the cowboy burger, which comes with bacon, onion rings, and a house-made BBQ sauce. To go with that, I added an order of fried pickles, a basket of fries, and a bacon double chili cheeseburger. 

“I can put as many toppings on it as you want,” Gates boasted. Moments later, the intoxicating smell of flame-grilled burgers filled the spacious dining area.

Soon, the food arrived, and immediately the prices didn’t seem so surprising. These burgers were massive. The basket of fries was heaping. Even the order of fried pickles was more than enough for two people to share.

Fried pickles are one of my favorite appetizers, and these did not disappoint. The breading on them was crispy, well-seasoned, and delicious. The pickles themselves were crunchy with a robust vinegary tang. The side of homemade ranch was creamy and herbaceous, creating a complimentary flavor to the pickles.

The G Hub serves fries dipped in a peppery seasoned batter, fried to a gorgeous golden brown, and liberally dusted in seasoned salt. They were crunchy on the outside and fluffy as a cloud on the inside. Dipped in the ranch, the combination of crunchy, salty, and creaminess had my mouth watering for one of the ice-cold beers on tap to wash them down. So far, these dishes were two for two.

Then it was time for the moment of truth – the burgers. My cowboy burger was impossibly stacked with bacon and onion rings, so I unhinged my jaw, took a bite, and let me say, “Oh my goodness.” 

The first thing that hit me was the smoky flavor of the thick and juicy charcoal-grilled patty. It tasted like all the best backyard BBQ burgers from my childhood on steroids. The patty itself was very well-seasoned. I could taste salt, pepper, and garlic in every bite, bringing out the meat’s rich, beefy flavor. Before my brain could fully process the patty’s savory masterpiece, the sweet and spicy tang of the house-made BBQ sauce hit my tongue like an open-handed slap across the mouth. I was floored in a way I had never been floored by a BBQ sauce before. The sweetness, tanginess, smokiness, and saltiness played together in a delicate balance where everyone was a star, none outshining the other.

Similarly, the sauce complimented the burger without overpowering it, like a violin in an orchestra – beautiful on its own but an absolute triumph with others. It all truly came together with the crispy onion rings, the smoky and salty bacon, and the rich melted cheese. Anyone can make a big, sloppy, over-the-top burger, but it takes expertise to control several powerful flavors and shape them into a singularly delightful experience. These burgers are an expression of just that.

However, the meal’s grand finale was the double bacon chili cheeseburger. This gorgeous monstrosity had two thick beef patties, crispy bacon, sliced cheddar, a heaping scoop of homemade chili, and nacho cheese sauce. This burger was an abomination in the absolute best possible way. The homemade chili had a bit of a spicy kick with a slight brown sugary sweetness that played off the smoky and savory flavors of the burger and bacon like a couple of mischievous flavor-kittens. The two kinds of rich and creamy cheese made a melty, messy, decadent mouthful. Even with my jaw in full unhinged python-mode, I couldn’t fit my mouth around this burger!

“Well?” Gates asked me as I wiped a layer of chili and cheese off my face, “Was I right?”

I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve had some amazing burgers in my life. I would put the burgers at The G Hub at the top of that list. If you live in the South Valley, The G Hub should be one of your go-to burger spots, without question. And if you live in Fresno, they’re worth the road trip down Highway 41 to Excelsior.

The G Hub is currently open from 11am to 4pm every day except Monday, and later on the weekends, or as Gates puts it, “If people keep showing up, I’ll stay open until everyone’s fed.” 

The G Hub also features live music and entertainment some weekends, plus ice cold draft, bottled import and domestic beers, and pool tables. The banquet hall is available for hosting private events as well. To stay updated on everything that’s going on at The G Hub, follow them on facebook.