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| 02/17/2021 | Dine, Downtown Visalia, Take a Tour, Things to Do

BEST OF VISALIA FOOD TOUR

There are ways to get to know an exciting destination other than through sightseeing and landmarks. Explore a destination through its local artisans, through its history and especially through its food. If tasting your way through a destination is your kind of adventure, then follow along as we highlight some of Visalia’s best sips, nibbles and eats that will introduce you to our city and the locals who call Visalia home. 

From local greens to first press extra virgin olive oil to the juiciest citrus, our regional ingredients are fresh from the farm providing inspiration to our chefs, bakers, artisanal producers and even craft brewers who create delicious masterpieces.  For foodie visitors, the biggest challenge is narrowing down the must-eat, must-sip list, all the while keeping things at a civilized, unhurried pace.

For Visalians, “farm to table” is not a fad, it’s a way of life. As one of the most diverse ag producing counties in the country, Tulare County grows more than 120 crops and ships them all around the world. It’s serious business. But don’t let that intimidate you. Farmers are some of the friendliest people, who love what they do. 

So, let’s get started on a foodie tour exploring the flavors of Visalia, where you can taste some of the best “fresh from the field” foods from our local chefs. Whether it’s the humble taco or an elegant grilled fillet mignon, you will savor your time in Visalia.

Let’s start with the sips. A good cocktail crafted by a mixologist can be the start of a beautiful evening. Just steps from Main Street in downtown is the Visalia Marriott who offers up a Smoked Cocktail. Artfully prepared and then placed under glass to enhance it with smoky flavor. Most of the fun is in the preparation so we call this one "drinks and a show”!

Crawdaddy’s Hurricane is the flavors of New Orleans in a glass. Enjoy this on the second floor of this Louisiana style restaurant while live music fills the air.  Jack and Charlie’s serves five different types of mules – your choice from Moscow, French, Kentucky to a Fog Horn or Dark and Stormy. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a speak-easy, with cozy booths and attentive staff.

Having a bite of this and a nibble of that is a great way to dine. It allows you to taste a wide variety of the chef’s offerings without over indulging. It is also a great way to restaurant hop! 

Top of our list of best appetizers is the Wild Mushrooms paired with shallots and Cognac in Puff Pastry at the Vintage Press, one of their most popular appetizers. The bar has an old world, elegant style that will make you want to linger all night long.

For a (much) more casual atmosphere head to Pita Kabob Gastropub and the try the Shwarma fries. Pair them with one of their many craft beers on their “beer garden” style patio. This is a great place to meet with friends, to take a date or bring the family. 

California has a love affair with tacos that borders on obsession. From street style to hard shelled to fish filled or prepared a million other ways, the taco reigns supreme. You might be surprised at the number of places you can go for a great one. (Take our Walking Taco Tour of Downtown if you want to dive into the taco scene.) But, if you are looking just to dip you toes in, try the tacos at Fugazzis Bistro. This eclectic restaurant has a diverse menu – which includes great tacos.

To be honest, the best place for dinner really depends on what you feel like having. Sometimes you are in the mood for sitting on the curb just munching on a taco. We get it. But if you are going to plan in advance where to get a great dinner, here are a few we recommend.

If your mood is casual, then try The Mill Pizzeria and Tap Room. Their Thai Pie is not like any pizza you’ve had before. Flavors from southeast Asia explode on the top of a hand-made pizza crust. Most days you can hang out in the patio area and play games like jumbo Jenga.

For dinner with a view, you can't beat Elderwood Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge at the Darling Hotel. On a clear night you can enjoy dinner under the star, making this restaurant a special experience.  

One of the most elegant dining experiences in Visalia is the classic Vintage Press Restaurant. They are on this list twice (see best appetizers) and probably could fall into all of the categories. Family owned since 1966, a visit to the “VP” is a culinary treat – a feast for the senses. 

Wine Spectator writes The Vintage Press has "one of the best wine lists in the world" while Fodor's raves they're "the best restaurant in the Central Valley" and the L.A. Times applauds them as "a bastion of culinary merit." So, what is the best thing to eat? If you are here in the fall, then try their Whole Roasted Baby Pumpkin Spicy Smoked Chicken, Jarlsberg and Cream. There is a whole subculture surrounding these delectable treats. Because they have a seasonal kitchen, the best thing to have will be what is in season. Rely on your server to present to you the best options that day. The chef chooses his ingredients carefully so you know you will be getting the freshest. You will leave knowing that you just had one of your best meals ever.

Make this the year of exploration. Try something new, a new flavor, a new restaurant, a new dessert. Whatever it is, just try it. You can find lots of suggestions on our dining page. From our Walking Taco Tour to the Nitro Bike at the Farmers Market, to fine dining at the Vintage Press, there is lots to explore on your next visit to Visalia.

Farm To Fork Culinary Excellence
Walking Taco Tour
Dine in America's Breadbasket
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P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
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