Oh, Fresno. “The Best Little City in California.” I never really understood that during my 21 years of living there. Now that I’ve been away from home for going on 3 years, my appreciation for this city has grown immensely. It’s not very often that I get to visit Fresno at this point in my life. When I do, I always get the opportunity to discover new reasons to love it.
Of course, I have plenty of reasons to love it already. It’s where I was born and raised. It’s nearly impossible to be driving down the streets without being reminded of cherished memories. There are so many great things I can say about my hometown, and every time I go back this “little” city’s consciousness is clearly greater.
Fresno, California is where I resided when I first started my vegan journey. Back then, I only knew of one vegan restaurant in town. Aside from Chipotle and veggie Sushi, I totally relied on cooking at home. Last month when I visited, my vegan heart was SO happy to see the growth of the movement in the valley. I was able to try out new places nearly every day!
Usually, when I make my way home for a visit, I always make it a priority to go to LA so I can enjoy some of the best vegan food that California has to offer. My friend Jessa and I had a day trip planned to head down there. The morning of, I called her with a different idea. I felt so strongly about staying in the Valley and enjoying what my hometown had to offer. Jessa was all for it and we ended up trying out a few places together that day. It was wonderful!
While I still have a couple more places on my “want to go” list, I wanted to give some quick and honest reviews on my vegan experiences in the area. Whether you live in Fresno or are just driving through, check it out and let me know if you’ve found any other valley vegan gems!
Little Peking Restaurant
7975 N Cedar Ave, Fresno, Ca 93720
The first thing I did after I booked my flight home to Fresno was run a quick “vegan” search in the area on my google maps app. I was so excited to see that I was going to be able to try out some vegan Chinese food! It’s a very cute little place with a “mom and pop” feel. I ordered the vegan General Tso plate and absolutely loved it! My aunt, who isn’t vegan, ordered a traditional orange chicken but didn’t like it much. I had her try my vegan chicken and she enjoyed much better than her own dish.
I also got the vegan pot-stickers. Unfortunately, they were pretty flavorless and were not served with any sauce. I only ate a couple and then took the rest home so I could dress them up a bit more myself throughout the rest of the week and ended up liking them much more. Even with the appetizer not being what I wanted, I’ll definitely recommend trying out their vegan options and will still go back whenever I’m in Fresno.
CASA de TAMALES
609 E Olive Ave c, Fresno, CA 93728
I had been here once before during my trip home last year. I absolutely loved it then and even regretted not getting some tamales to-go for my trek back to Florida. I’d been craving these tamales since then so it felt so fulfilling once I sat back down here to enjoy my meal. This place has a vegan and vegetarian menu and it’s one of my favorite spots to hit up. I ordered the spinach artichoke and sweet corn tamales that were accompanied by some rice and beans. YUM, YUM, YUMMMM.
My only negative notes were that the beans could have used some more salt (per my preference) and the AC seemed to be broken. During the heat of summer in Fresno, I’m sure you can all agree that’s pretty uncomfortable but I’m sure it’s something they’ve since fixed!
This lovely restaurant has two locations: one in Tower District and one in Downtown.
Since going vegan, Yardhouse had always been a go-to for me. They’ve offered a Gardein portion on their menu for some time now, and I was excited to see that it’s been added to since my last dining experience there.
First off, the gardein wings are always a must for me, especially during happy hour! Please note that only the buffalo and firecracker options are vegan. The Jamaican jerk has some dairy in their sauce according to my waiter.
I was pleased to see that they added a vegan burger to their menu! I tried it out and wasn’t too impressed. It was filling but I’ve honestly had much more satisfying vegan burgers in my life. I probably wouldn’t ever order it again but am still happy they offer the option.
Lassens | Natural Foods and Vitamins
9439 Ft Washington Rd, Fresno, CA 93730
Lassens was one of my favorite places to hit up during my final months living in Fresno. I worked in Riverpark, so it was a quick lunch break drive for some good eats!
My friend Carter invited me to get some acai bowls for breakfast. We were originally going to hit up Rio Acai Bowls, but they were unfortunately closed for Labor Day. This brings us to Lassens.
Neither one of us had ever tried the acai bowls here, but we had high hopes because of how much we tend to enjoy the rest of their options. I got the traditional acai bowl, and Carter got the matcha bowl.
While it was good, the acai bowl was a bit too ginger-y for me. When I was ordering, I noticed that ginger was one of the ingredients, but I expected it to be just a hint of it. This was not the case and it was overpowering to the rest of the ingredients. I personally wouldn’t get one there again. However, I did try Carter’s matcha bowl and it was delicious!
Not only do they offer items like bowls and smoothies, they also offer items such as vegan burritos, sandwiches, and savory meals.
Vegan Donut Gelato
330 Needham St, Modesto, CA 95354
While this place isn’t in Fresno, it’s only about a 90-minute drive and is 110% WORTH IT. (They also opened one up in Oakland). I have been wanting to make my way here ever since I had first heard about it. Jessa and I made the trip one morning and we absolutely loved it. I got a half-dozen donuts as well as the strawberry cheesecake gelato and it was one of the best vegan sweets experiences I’ve ever had. Fried vegan donuts have been very hard for me to come by unless I’m in LA. They’re nearly impossible to find in my area in Florida. All I usually find are baked donuts. Which I suppose could be okay (eh) but they’re just not what I want in a donut. GIVE ME FLUFFY!
That’s exactly what Vegan Donut Gelato did. 10/10 -Still dreaming about these donuts. This place is seriously a must-try!
Teazer World Market
If you’re from Fresno, chances are you’ve been to Teazer. I always enjoy coming back here to catch up with my friends while I’m in town. If you’re wanting to enjoy tea, this is definitely a great choice! They also tend to have some vegan goodies in their snack baskets to go along with your drink. If you’re getting any drinks with a creme/milk base, make sure you ask for soy milk. Although they use a “non-dairy” creme, it actually still has milk in it (bummer, right?). The problem is a lot of their employees don’t know this and they promote it as completely non-dairy and vegan-friendly when you ask. I’ve fallen for it but never again.
Side note- This non-dairy thing also happens with coffee creamers etc. so make sure you read the ingredient list if you truly want to stay away from dairy.
Other vegan options in Fresno that I didn’t make it to this visit were Flacos at Strummers and The Loving Hut. These two were favorites of mine while I still lived there, and I’m confident they’ve held up well. Also, can someone please check out Tree of Life Cafe & Bakery for me and let me know how it is?! I, unfortunately, could not make it there this trip but their reviews appear as though they have wonderful vegan breakfast options! If you’re vegan, then you already know how hard that can be to find.
As much as I miss hanging out in Los Angeles, I am so happy that I chose to appreciate Fresno’s vegan growth. I encourage you to do the same!
What are your favorite vegan-friendly places in Fresno? Any hidden gems I should know about? Comment below! I’d absolutely love to add them to my list for next time.
Much love, Fresno.