- Hannah Bergin
Visalia lies at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. A significant agricultural center, it is no wonder that there are a number of wonderful eateries in the area. Many of them are privately owned and pride themselves on using, if not home-grown, then locally sourced ingredients. We’ve selected 10 of the best places to eat in town, from artisanal pizzerias to Thai cuisine and BBQ joints.
The Vintage Press
By far the most elegant place in town with a particularly chic ambiance, The Vintage Press has long been considered one of Visalia’s finest restaurants. Each of its four rooms — which includes the main dining room in addition to the Garden, Savoy and Rose rooms — are lavishly decorated with wall-to-wall mirrors, stunning flower bouquets and magnificent chandelier lighting. The lunch and dinner menus are extensive and varied, with dishes such as linguini, pork tenderloin, steaks and lobster tail on offer — all of which use only the highest quality ingredients, cooked to perfection and beautifully plated.
The Vintage Press, 216 N Willis St, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 733 3033
Watson’s Veggie Garden
Watson’s Health Foods was established over 70 years ago in downtown Visalia by Lionel and Juanita Watson, who dedicated their lives to growing and harvesting healthy alternatives to over-produced supermarket foods. A family-run company for over three generations now, Lionel’s great-great-nephew Tim is currently in charge of the business. A little over a decade ago, Tim added Watson’s Veggie Garden to the company’s operations — a charming little cafe on Main Street that offers a healthy, refreshing alternative as an eatery.
Watson’s Veggie Garden, 615 W. Main Street, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 635 7355
Tommy’s is a sophisticated, upscale restaurant that adds a gourmet touch to traditional American classics, turning burgers, steaks and salads into creative, artisanal dishes that resemble colorful works of art once they have been plated. Whether a New York pepper steak, cheesecake or traditional brunch, all of Tommy’s dishes are both aesthetically pleasing and a culinary delight that burst with bold, interesting flavors. The restaurant itself is beautifully bedecked and boasts a rather impressive wine cabinet.
Tommy’s Restaurant ,130 N Encina St,, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 627 6077
The Southern Pacific Depot
The Southern Pacific Depot is a completely unique dining experience. The restaurant is located in a former train station that has since been lavishly refurbished with chandeliers, impressive stained-glass installations and wonderful works of art, making it an exceptionally sophisticated affair with a distinctly historic character and plenty of nostalgic charm. The menu is as splendid as the locale with specialties such as duck breast, scallops and California lamb on offer, plus there is an extensive wine menu to accompany a romantic evening meal or special occasion dinner.
The Southern Pacific Depot, 207 E Oak Ave, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 732 8611
Jack and Charlie’s
A member of The Vintage Press family of restaurants, Jack and Charlie’s is another wonderful dining experience. Here, the menu is ever-changing as the ingredients are seasonally dependent, meaning that only the freshest and finest are used plus are grown and harvested in the restaurant’s vicinity. The truly excellent food is complemented by an exceptional drinks menu. The cocktails, in particular, are a delight, with a talented mixologist serving much-loved classics as well as some of his own innovative creations.
Jack and Charlie’s, 204 E Oak Ave, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 738 5752
Bravo Farms Smokehouse
A rustic wooden lodge littered with wooden barrels, faded tin road signs and rusting garden tools, Bravo Farms Smokehouse has the romantic charm of bygone days in Wild West America. The small restaurant is a fantastic BBQ joint that uses only the finest meats and vegetables, all of which are sourced from nearby farms. The portions are generous and the prices very reasonable. There’s also a gift shop selling various candy, chocolate and snack products.
Bravo Farms Smokehouse, 400 N. Willis Ave, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 738 9190
Cafe 225 is a Californian bar and grill with a cheery, laid-back, West Coast vibe. Owners Karl and Kim Merten run their business upon the fundamental principal that ‘every customer in the restaurant is a guest in your home.’ ‘Like family’ says Karl, ‘no one should ever walk in without a warm greeting to be followed by the best meal they ever ate,’ and that is certainly what 225 provides. Hearty American favorites served up in a comfortable, relaxed environment that feels like a home away from home.
Café 225, 225 W Main St, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 733 2967
The Thai Basil restaurant sources its ingredients directly from the farmer’s market in town, ensuring that only the freshest seasonal produce makes it into their exotic, wonderfully colorful dishes. The menu comprises traditional Thai dumplings, soups, curries and the like, as well as some more creative, adventurous dishes. Bursting with the aromatic fragrances and tastes of Southeast Asia, the dishes will transport you to the other side of the world.
Thai Basil, 1423 E Noble Ave, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 732 8881
Fugazzi’s bistro is one of Visalia’s most popular local venues. There is an extensive menu (pizza and pasta dishes as well as seafood, meat and vegetarian options) that is sure to appeal to the whole family, with every dish prepared to an exceptional standard. There is also an atmospheric, stylish martini bar where you can enjoy a classy cocktail with friends or treat a special someone to a romantic evening drink.
Fugazzi’s, 127 W Main St, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 625 0496
The Planing Mill
The Planing Mill serves pizza, but not as you know it. ‘A new world approach to an old favorite’ as they say, this is easily the best Italian restaurant in town where the pizzas are lovingly and meticulously crafted rather than merely prepared. There is also the option to create your own pizza, with as many toppings as you desire, as well as plenty of sides and salad options served in the rustic, exposed-brick setting of a former mill.
The Planing Mill, 513 E Center Ave, Visalia, CA, USA, +1 559 713 0818