This blog is primarily for the Navy wives and families that find themselves stationed at NAS Lemoore and are scoping out their new stomping grounds. When I started trolling the web for details on my husbands A School in Pensacola, Florida, I was relieved to see a number of “local favorites” guides by fellow Navy wives. But then it dawned on me that there aren’t any similar posts for the Lemoore area. So I thought I’d step up and remedy that. And I figure finding great places to eat is always a wonderful place to start!
First off, I was born and raised in this area, so the Central Valley holds a very special place in my heart. But I have been told by many Navy families that their arrival to this area was, shall we say, less than a joyous occasion. Lemoore can be a bit of a shock for those who heard they’d be stationed in California and pictured in their minds eye touristy snapshots of Los Angeles, or miles of gorgeous beaches and coastline. While these attractions aren’t *too* far away, the fact is that Lemoore is right in the dead center of an agricultural community. So you’ll be passing miles of crops, orchards and dairies on the way to your new Home Sweet Home. And that can be kind of scary (and can smell kind of rank at times).
But don’t get too freaked out. It’s a lovely community. It has all the charm and qualities of a small town (making for tight knit groups, easy connections and old fashioned family life fun), while big cities are only a day trip away. And we are ringed by any nature scene you could crave – forests, oceans, desserts, foothills – all are accessible for an easy weekend getaway. But I digress. I was going to talk about places to eat!
Compiling a top ten list of places to eat was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The list kept growing, and I kept wanting to throw more surrounding towns into the mix. To make things easier, the criteria I used for making it into the top ten are 1) My personal favorites; 2) Eateries in either Lemoore, Armona or Hanford (the three closest towns to the Navy Base) and lastly; 3) Hole in the wall places and hidden treasures that you would not otherwise find or try unless a local told you about it.
So without further ado, here’s my list of Top Ten Places to Eat In and Around Lemoore, California!
Ethel Reds Chophouse
850 E D St in Lemoore
My friends would not shut up about this place. The food was so good! The portions are so huge! The prices are so amazing! Steakhouse food for fast food prices! Sometimes even cheaper than fast food when they run specials! I was like, yeah yeah yeah, sure. Then a friend dragged me out to the restaurant. And OMG. It’s like I’ve been infected by the Ethel Reds foodie zombies, and now I am one of the moaning horde, going after everyone I know to go eat at this place. The food *is* AMAZING. The portions *are* HUGE. The décor and atmosphere is homespun and high class. And my favorite? It really is as cheap as eating fast food. Cheaper, in fact, if you order the 5 lunches for $20 special. That’s right. Five people can eat at a steakhouse for $20. That includes 5 burgers, 5 steak fries and 5 drinks. You have to see it (and taste it) to believe it. I recommend the Bacon Burger!
The Vineyard Restaurant
819 E Bush St in Lemoore
Right across the street from Ethel Reds, this American cuisine restaurant is relaxed enough for a casual meal, yet elegant enough for special occasions. Covered in beautiful landscaping, vineyard antiques and gorgeous murals and fountains, it’s a great place to sit out on the patio with a glass of wine. The owners are feline friendly and there’s usually stray cats out and about, sometimes begging for love and food in the outdoor dining areas, which being the crazy cat lady, I love. I recommend the Mushroom Patty Melt. Soooo good!
333 E St in Lemoore
The best Mexican food in Lemoore, though given the choice I would personally wait for a weekend and eat at Tacos El Chilango at the Swap Meets in Hanford (more on that below!). But if you simply can’t wait and need Mexican food now, this would be the place. This little restaurant is a comfortable walking distance from the movie theater in Downtown Lemoore, so it’s a great choice for a dinner and movie date night. Sauces are yummy, they are generous with their cheeses, but be warned! Service can sometimes be lacking if they are really busy. I recommend the Carne Asada Burrito.
10856 14th Ave in Armona
This is the first hole in the wall joint that is in a little hovel of a town. It’s kind of a running joke that Armona is the hillbilly town of the Central Valley, so don’t be daunted on your way to this deli. Yes, it’s a gross little street surrounded by gross little houses in a gross little community. But the food is fantastic. The best prepared meats by the pound you’ll find anywhere in the Valley. Also, Raven’s is kind of a local culinary celebrity around here. Their special seasonings and spices are sold at all major super markets, and is distributed state and nationwide. Go to any local BBQ and they’re most likely using Raven’s products on their meat. I especially liked stopping by this deli when I was doing the South Beach Diet. I’d buy Shredded Turkey and a Green Salad and top it with tons of the complimentary cheeses they offer. SO GOOD!
122 N 11th Ave in Hanford
This is my favorite favorite FAVORITE place to eat in Central California. It’s another hole in the wall joint, but it is THE best Thai food in the area. Authentic, (run by a family from Thailand), warm, friendly, and amazing cuisine. This is the place my husband and I go most often. They’ll see us getting out of the car and will start our food for us before we sit down, lol! While the entire menu is delicious (and yes, I have tried almost every single offering!) we always end up falling back on the Pad Kee Mao. The flat noodles are cooked to perfection here. Also, this is one of the only places that take you seriously when you ask for something “super spicy”! They also offer an assortment of complimentary thai chilis so you can tweak your dish to your liking spice-wise. My husband is also partial to the Thai Teas they serve here. If you like Thai food, expect to be one of the new regulars!
Tacos El Chilango
801 10th Ave in Hanford on Saturdays and Sundays – 9am to 1pm
8967 Lacey Blvd in Hanford on Mondays – 9am to 1pm
This is THE BEST taco truck in the Valley. The truck is based out of Tulare, California but makes regular appearances at the Kings County Fair Grounds Swap Meet on the weekends, and at Alma’s Swap Meet on Mondays – both in Hanford. The truck is run by a wonderful family (the daughter is especially adorable… so young and already quite the little business woman!) and the portions are HUGE. The meat is always of a high quality – no excess fat or gristle like you get with other trucks – and everything is marinated in their signature family recipes, so it’s something unique and different than every other truck in the Valley. I recommend the Chorizo and Carne Asada Tacos. Oh, and did I forget to mention? Tacos are only $1, and a burrito that can feed two, is only $4! Their homemade salsa is also delicious and super hot. When you go, tell them the girl with the camera sent you.
Hong Kong Chop Suey
481 E 7th St in Hanford
When it comes to eating Chinese food, I am a glutton for variety. So I usually opt for all you can eat joints, where the quality tends to go down by virtue of the mass production buffet style kitchen. That said, this is the only Chinese food restaurant that is NOT a buffet that I enjoy eating at for it’s variety and quality combined. The prices are so low, that you can afford to order multiple selections, eat your fill, and then take the rest home. We always plan on over ordering here so we can take a few boxes home, the food reheats nicely. The atmosphere is great, the tea is yummy, all the selections are flavorful (I am partial to the Egg Foo Yong and Kung Pao Chicken) and it is right across the street from the Historical China Alley in Downtown Hanford, so you can finish your meal with a stroll through some gorgeous turn of the century Chinese architecture and maybe stop by the refurbished L.T. Sue Company Tea Room and Emporium for some artisan Chinese teas.
325 N Douty in Hanford
Growing up in Hanford, whenever people would ask me where I’m from and I’d mention my little town, if they recognized it at all it would be by saying, “Oh! That’s the town with the really good ice cream, right?!” People make regular excursions from across the state to come visit Superior Dairy. That’s not an exaggeration. This is quite literally the best, the freshest and the cheapest ice cream you will ever eat in your entire life, ever. I’m pretty sure you can do YouTube searches on Superior Dairy and find videos of people freaking out over the huge portions in the 1950’s style diner. My favorite is the SOS, that easily feeds 5-6 people for only $12. They also serve lunch (hence why it is on the “places to eat” list) but it’s main draw is the ice cream! I recommend the Chocolate Chip and Maplenut Ice Cream. With warm hot fudge and melted caramel and marshmellow… mmmmmm.
Old Hanford Cantina
301 N Douty St in Hanford
Situated in the heart of Downtown Hanford, this little Mexican food restaurant is all about atmosphere, and is nestled into one of the original historic Hanford buildings from the turn of the century. Lots of antiques and memorabilia line the walls, and as a child I’ve always loved putting quarters into the self-playing piano. (I’m 28 and I still ask my dad for a quarter so I can go make it play!) It’s also right next door to some great sprawling antique shops – a great location for treasure hunting and lunch! My favorites are the Steak and Chicken Fajitas that come out on a still sizzling pan, and the Cheesy Stuffed Potato Skins. So good!
La Fiesta Restaurant
106 N Green St in Hanford
One of the best sit down Mexican food restaurants in the area. When it comes to the food, I’d recommend it above the Old Hanford Cantina and Reyna’s listed above, but it’s sunk to the bottom of my list simply because the service has drastically gone down over the years. Don’t expect refills and prompt service (unless you demand them, they’re receptive to increasingly cranky patrons, haha). But the food really IS good enough to brave the shoddy service – and surprisingly the busier it is, the better the service. If you go when it’s empty, the staff gets lazy. But do check it out! Their complimentary fresh and homemade chips are delicious. As are their Shredded Beef Crunchy Tacos. The price is fantastic too!
So that’s it for my Top Ten Places to Eat In and Around Lemoore! There are tons and tons and tons of runners up, but these should be a good start to getting your feet wet in the Central California food scene. If you are looking for exceptionally fine dining, you’ll have to travel to Visalia or Fresno. The Central Valley does have a few restaurants that can compete on a statewide level for five star cuisine. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line!