Local restaurant owners and community members from throughout Fresno County gathered to celebrate the 26th annual Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards on March 6 at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center.
The awards – hosted by the California Restaurant Association, Fresno Chapter – honored the best of the best in more than thirty categories. Honorees were selected based on votes by their local industry peers.
“We are grateful to host such a wonderful event,” said California Restaurant Association, Fresno Chapter President Haley Wagner. “The Central Valley, and Fresno in particular, is a community where people cannot wait to check out the latest eatery to open its doors. Some of our best memories with family and friends are made in places where we’ve gathered for a great meal. That’s what Best of the Valley celebrates.”
Longtime Fresno restaurateur Jim Pardini of Pardini’s Catering and Banquets received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Pardini is a part of a family legacy that began nearly seven decades ago, when his father Al, owned and operated Pardini’s and other local restaurants.
“Jim has created thousands of jobs through his business over the years,” Wagner said. “He has also worked with the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and many other non-profit organizations.”
Pardini was honored for his countless contributions to the local community, along with his contributions to the restaurant industry both regionally and statewide.
“I am very honored to be receiving this prestigious award,” Pardini said.
2016 Best of the Valley Category Winners
- Best Breakfast: Batter Up Pancakes
- Best Fast Food: In-n-Out Burgers
- Best Fast Casual Restaurant: The Habit Burger
- Best Asian Restaurant: Wassabi
- Best Mexican Restaurant: Casa Corona
- Best Family Dining: Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co.
- Best Fine Dining: Cracked Pepper Bistro
- Best Pizza: Me-n-Ed’s
- Best Sushi: Wassabi
- Best Winery: Engelmann Cellars
- Best Sports Bar: Dog House Grill
- Best Hotel/Casino Dining: Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
- Best Italian Restaurant: The Annex Kitchen
- Best Newcomer: Riley’s Brew Pub
- Best Kept Secret: Chef Paul’s Cafe
- Friendliest Service: Starving Artists Bistro
- Best Watering Hole: The Mad Duck Craft Brewery
- Most Romantic Restaurant: Parma Ristorante
- Best Steak House: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Best Banquet: Love & Garlic
- Best Catering: Pardini’s Catering & Banquets
- Best Burger: House of Juju
- Best Sandwich: Sam’s Italian Deli & Market
- Best Craft Brewery: Sequoia Brewing Co.
- Best Country Club Dining: Copper River Country Club
- Best Indian Restaurant: Elephant Lounge
- Best Bakery: La Boulangerie
- Best Seafood: Pismo’s Coastal Grill
- Best Mediterranean: Mediterranean Grill & Café
- Best Barbeque: Dog House Grill
- Beverage Purveyor/Supplier of the Year: Valley Wide Beverage Company
- Purveyor/Supplier of the Year: Challenge Dairy
- Restaurateur of the Year: Jimmy Pardini
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Jim Pardini
About the California Restaurant Association: The California Restaurant Association provides ultimate access to the resources and support that restaurant professionals need to lead thriving businesses while serving as conscientious, contributing members of an unparalleled industry. California is home to more than 95,000 eating and drinking places that ring up more than $72 billion in sales and employ more than 1.6 million workers, making restaurants an indisputable driving force in the state’s economy.