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BEST of Kaweah Country

 

Annual Readers' Poll

Coming in August 2013:

The 15th annual

BEST OF KAWEAH COUNTRY

Readers' Poll Results

Also see:
2006 Poll Results

2007 Poll Results

2008 Poll Results

2009 Poll Results

THE 12th YEAR!

BEST OF KAWEAH COUNTRY

RESULTS 2010

 

By Sarah Elliott

Photos (in print edition) by John Elliott

  It’s ironic that as I write this, I am eating my half of a muffuletta sandwich that I am splitting with John. Since I work out of my home office, the food choices are usually determined by what groceries and fresh produce are in the refrigerator and the pantry.
   It’s a treat to today have this creation that was made fresh by Dane and Allison Millner at Sierra Subs and Salads.
   A muffuletta is a New Orleans specialty, and it brings back a host of memories as I indulge. We visited New Orleans with our children in January 2005, mere months before Hurricane Katrina forever changed the Crescent City. It was a whirlwind trip, so to speak, as the majority of our vacations seem to be.
   But we made the best of it. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in a classic New Orleans shotgun house just blocks from Bourbon Street. Coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde started the day; dinner consisted of oysters, gumbo, and Po’Boys at Acme Oyster House after a ride through the Garden District in a St. Charles Avenue streetcar, a tour of the French Quarter, a walk through Louis Armstrong Park and a historic New Orleans cemetery, taking in the views of the Mississippi River, a visit to a voodoo shop where John’s camera forever after had a spell on it, and so much more.
   On the day we were to depart, we visited Central Grocery and waited in the long line for a muffuletta. We sat on a bench in Jackson Square and shared the oversized, overstuffed sandwich, followed by homemade sweet potato pie for dessert.
   The sandwich was so delicious, and knowing we would have slim pickings offered to us on the airplane, we raced back to Central Grocery, took our place in line once again, and bought one more muffuletta for the trip home. As we unwrapped that sandwich on the plane and started passing it around to each other in our various seats, there was one minor detail that we had neglected to consider.
   The aroma of this delectable meal wafted throughout the plane reaching the olfactory senses of every passenger and flight attendant, most of whom had been deprived of food for several hours...
   Food does that to people. It creates powerful memories and associations.
   Sierra Subs and Salads, who have recently added the muffuletta to their regular menu, are creating memories for everyone who discovers this little sandwich-and-salad shop located in the middle of Three Rivers. Visitors and residents alike made Sierra Subs the big winner in this year’s BEST of Kaweah Country readers’ poll.
   Out of 20 categories in the Dining section of the poll, Sierra Subs was voted into first place in eight of them. They placed in the top three in five other categories.
   Locals know that this is a great place to spend a lunch hour, but it’s gratifying to know that visitors are discovering Sierra Subs, too. Most likely, the diverse selection of sandwiches and salads has created many a pleasant memory for travelers, and perhaps even a muffeletta or two has made it past security and onto an airplane, which would make those skies friendly once again.

* * *

  That’s what is so amazing about this place we call Kaweah Country. Yes, the scenery, the river, and the mountains are the focal points, but amidst all that splendor is a sprinkling of small, eclectic businesses that offer a diverse experience for whoever might enter.
   It’s unknown what memories the hundreds of thousands of people will take home after they pass through this unique place. But we Three Riversites all play a role in those experiences as we interact with these visitors.
   We are the hosts and it’s so wonderful to have this constant stream of houseguests.
   Inside this issue are all the winners of this year’s readers’ poll. Enjoy reading and remember to support these local businesses that are making a difference, especially those who advertise in this newspaper, because they are making the commitment to ensure that Three Rivers remains home to the last independent, family-owned newspaper in Tulare County.

DINING

Family Dining
   Sierra Subs and Salads dominated the family dining category this year. And families love Sierra Subs.
   There is something for the pickiest youngster and selections substantial enough for the hungriest dad, while mom is happy knowing everyone is eating the healthiest of ingredients. Tantalizing weekly specials always feature a vegetarian alternative, there is a large variety of salads to ensure all get their daily supply of crunchy raw veggies, quesadillas when there’s a craving for a Mexican flavor, and pizza to take home and bake to give the cook the night off.
   River View Restaurant came in second (same as last year) and Pizza Factory took third (last year’s winner) in this all-important category.

Romantic Dining
   The perennial winner in this category is The Gateway Restaurant, and this year is no different. There’s just something about that river...
   Wuksachi Lodge dining room in Sequoia National Park and Orange Blossom Junction at the old Merryman Station junction tied for second place; they were both in the top three last year as well. Sierra Subs came in third.

Outdoor Dining
   As usual, the Gateway walked away with this top honor again. Just can’t top the river views in this wild section where the Middle and Marble forks combine. River View and Sierra Subs came in second and third, respectively, and it’s no surprise that both of these establishments offer outdoor, riverside dining as well.

Budget Eats
   Get a hamburger for under $5. Choose from eight scrumptious grilled sandwiches, all for under $5. Take-n-bake pizza for under $10. Fresh-made salads for less than $6.
   This varied selection of great deals with a gourmet taste is why Sierra Subs won this category again this year.
   Mexican food is always a good bang for the buck, which is why Super Taco in Woodlake and Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant came in second and third place, respectively.

Place to Go When
Someone Else Pays

   Orange Blossom Junction stole this category from Wuksachi this year, which is the restaurant that most select if someone else is shelling out the cash.
   And, okay, we get it! You like Sierra Subs. Sierra Subs came in second in this category, which is ironic because they also won “Budget Eats.” This basically means that if someone is offering to pick up the tab they should be ecstatic when their guests choose to visit Sierra Subs because of the reasonable prices.
   Wuksachi, which always appears on diners’ wish lists, took a close third.

Breakfast / Brunch
   Readers are just getting used to We Three Restaurant being open for dinner as became obvious by We Three being mentioned in several of the dining categories (Family Dining, Outdoor Dining, Budget Eats). But the venerable cafe will always be known for what they’ve always done BEST: Breakfast, and they win this category every year.
   As is also usual, in second place is Gateway as they offer a year-round Sunday champagne brunch. In third place is River View. Did you know they serve breakfast now? If you didn’t, then you ought to stop in and see how well they prepare the most important meal of the day.
   Not everyone submits comments with their poll answers, so it is always worthy of mention when someone chooses to elaborate. As such, a reader gave a shout-out to the breakfast sandwich at Anne Lang’s Emporium.

Vegetarian
   Sierra Subs is back at the top of the list in this category. Allison, who owns and operates the sandwich shop with her husband, Dane, is a lifelong vegetarian, so she knows how to prepare such fare so well that even the most diehard meat-eater won’t miss their saturated fat.
   Serrano’s came in second for their vegetarian creations. We Three took third for their efforts to provide the meatless crowd with sustenance.

Mexican
   Our grown children both live in the Bay Area these days, otherwise known as the land of limitless restaurants. But they both have admitted that their favorite Mexican restaurants are still back home in Tulare County.
   Preparing Mexican food is the specialty of Serrano’s, located in the Village Shopping Center, and they took first place in this category, as they did in years’ past.
   Super Taco on the corner of Naranjo and Valencia in Woodlake came in a close second. Sequoia Cider Mill took third.

Pizza
   It’s a staple of most everyone’s diet and that is why at dinner time most summer evenings, Pizza Factory is overflowing with customers from near and far.
   River View has a pizza oven, so their pizzas are baked to perfection, garnering them a second place. Sierra Subs offers to make the pizza with their fresh ingredients, then customers bake them at home, which guarantees them a spot in this category as well.

Sandwich
   After all the hype, Sierra Subs better win this category, and they did!
Anne Lang’s Emporium, which has been in Three Rivers for more than 30 years with Anne herself still at the counter, came in second for their sandwiches that can be eaten there or packed in a picnic to go.
   And here’s a new addition to the poll this year. Jessup’s Orange Works, on Highway 65 near the Strathmore turnoff, received enough votes to edge out We Three for third place. Ever had a freshly squeezed orange shake? Only at Jessup’s.

Salad
   We all know that we need nine-plus servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, but where to get them seems to be a challenge for so many. Well, when they have “salads” in their name, then the obvious choice is Sierra Subs and Salads, where they have a choice of nine salads, available in a large size or small or in a wrap. The dilemma of where to get your servings of veggies has just been solved.
In second place is the Gateway for their delicious dinner salad that includes fresh greens, baby corn, garbanzo beans, in-season produce, and more with a choice of dressings.
   Orange Blossom came in third for their fresh-from-the-farm creations.

Dessert
   If you cleaned your salad plate then you are allowed to have dessert. And here’s where you should go:
   First place— Reimer’s Candies, Gifts, and Ice Cream... need we say more?
   In second was Orange Blossom, where Chef George Quilty offers a daily dessert special along with his other absolutely decadent creations.
   We Three Bakery and Restaurant took third place for their baked goods and other delights that are sure to top off the meal.
   Readers’ comments specifically mentioned Orange Blossom’s homemade sorbet (it comes in many unique flavors) and Sequoia Cider Mill’s flan.

Baked Goods
   We Three has been here and owned by the same family since 1979. And they’ve developed quite a reputation for quality sweet treats. They took first place for their made-fresh-daily pastries, cookies, and other melt-in-your-mouth specialties.
   Village Market came in second for owner Nataliya Dixon’s fresh-from-the-oven goodies. Sierra Subs took third place.

Burger
   Voters went for the selection of burgers available at Sierra Subs. The Sierra Burger with or without cheese is a quarter-pound traditional hamburger, but a recent addition to the menu is the Red, White and Blue Burger that is topped with Spicy Buffalo Sauce, blue cheese, tomato, red onion, and lettuce. In fact, several voters specifically pointed out this patriotic version of the traditional American favorite. And, as always, Sierra Subs offers a vegetarian choice.
   Anne Lang’s Emporium now offers Barbecue Burger Fridays and people have noticed. Their burgers came in a close second.
   Sequoia Cider Mill grabbed third place in this competitive category.

Steak
   Gateway is the BEST place to find these cuts of beef, which include several menu selections of petite filet mignon, New York steak, and top sirloin.
   Cider Mill and Orange Blossom took second and third, respectively.

Takeout
   Sierra Subs better be good at takeout because that’s all they do. And they do it well, as voters can attest. As their motto says, they offer “Fine Dining in a Sandwich.”
   Anne Lang’s came in second. New China, which offers the BEST Chinese takeout ever, garnered third place.

Barbecue
   Sequoia Cider Mill grabbed first place in this category and it’s owner Efrain Ponce himself that tends the barbecue much of the time.
   In second place, Village Market’s barbecued items have become so popular that there’s a permanent barbecue structure now set up outside of the store. In third place, is River View for their expertise with the grill.

Coffee
   May 5, 2003, was a great day for Three Rivers. That’s when The Cabin coffeehouse opened.
   However, four owners later, The Cabin’s dream fizzled and died, but it wasn’t for lack of support from Three Rivers residents and visitors.
   For more than a year now, Three Rivers has again been without a gather-over-coffee place. We left this category in the poll this year so we could receive the feedback. So in response to the Coffee category, here are just a few of the comments: “Good question” and “Nowhere in Three Rivers” In the Local Hero category, a voter wrote, “Anyone who opens a coffee shop.”
   Until then, Anne Lang’s Emporium (first place) does their part in keeping Three Rivers caffeinated. Reimer’s came in second; Wuksachi and Silver City tied for third for their efforts in jolting people awake before they embark on the mountain roads.

Ice Cream
   It’s frozen; it’s homemade. ‘Nuff said: Reimer’s wins this each year, no problem.
   In second place is Anne Lang’s; Pizza Factory takes third.

Creative Menu

   We’ve mentioned this menu several times previously and others have noticed too that Sierra Subs is thinking outside the box, and they continue to do so as they come up with a new special offering nearly every week.
   Orange Blossom Junction has an award-winning chef, so even though they are located about 20 miles from Three Rivers, it’s worth the drive to see what Chef Quilty is cooking up.
   Wuksachi, which is about a 23-mile drive and in the opposite direction and elevation, received third place as a result of the dedicated efforts of Joni Badley of Three Rivers, the dining room’s manager, and Executive Chef Karl Winkelmann and his team of culinary experts.

SHOPPING


Place to Buy Souvenirs
1st Place— Three Rivers Drug
2nd Place— Reimer’s
3rd Place— Anne Lang’s, Park Visitor Centers (tie)

Place to Buy Outdoor Gear
1st Place— Three Rivers Mercantile
2nd Place— Kaweah General Store
3rd Place— Sierra Sporting Goods (Yokohl Valley)

Place to Buy Locally Grown / Raised Food
1st Place— Flora Bella Organic Farm
2nd Place— Family Farm Fresh (CSA)
3rd Place— Visalia Farmers Markets

Bargain Buy
1st Place— The Thingerie
2nd Place— My Sister’s Closet
3rd Place— The Art Co-Op

Place to Buy Handcrafted Arts / Goods

1st Place— The Art Co-Op
2nd Place— Colors Studio and Gallery
3rd Place— Nadi’s Studio and Gallery

Place to Buy Gifts
1st Place— The Art Co-Op
2nd Place— Three Rivers Drug, Colors (tie)
3rd Place— Nadi’s

Place to Buy Antiques
1st Place— Rocky Hill Antiques
2nd Place— Lemon Cove Antiques
3rd Place— The Thingerie

Place to Buy T-shirts
1st Place— Three Rivers Drug
2nd Place— Nadi’s Studio and Gallery
3rd Place— Lodgepole Market

RECREATION

Hiking Trail
1st Place— Tokopah Falls
(Sequoia)
2nd Place— Mist Falls (Kings Canyon)
3rd Place— Ladybug (South Fork entrance to Sequoia National Park)

Bike Ride
1st Place— Skyline BLM
2nd Place— Kaweah River Drive
3rd Place— Colony Mill Road (Sequoia National Park; this road is closed to mountain biking but it receives enough votes every year to be listed in the readers’ poll results as many activists wish to see this historic roadway opened for non-motorized wheeled vehicles that could then ride from North Fork Drive to the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Would that be awesome or what?).

Picnic Spot
1st Place— Crescent Meadow
2nd Place— Lake Kaweah
3rd Place— Mineral King

Campground
1st Place— Lodgepole (Sequoia)
2nd Place— Cold Spring (Mineral King area of Sequoia)
3rd Place— Kaweah Park Resort (private), Stony Creek (public), Lemon Cove-Sequoia (private)

Place to Take the Kids
1st Place— Sequoia National Park
2nd Place— Adventure Park (Visalia)
3rd Place— Our Place Playground

AROUND TOWN

Everybody’s a winner here; anyone who received votes gets listed in the “Around Town” section.

Local Hero
Rusty Crain, Tom Sparks, Laurie Schwaller, Yvonne Sweeney, Sue Sherwood, Jim Fansett, Dane and Allison Millner, Marty Stone, Dennis Villavicencio, Rev. Arlin Talley, Bill Haxton, Mona Fox Selph.

Community Service
Business

Three Rivers Mercantile, The Thingerie, Waste Connections, Gateway, The Kaweah Commonwealth.

Environmentally
Friendly Business

Ja Nene Natural Body Products, Sequoia Sightseeing, Flora Bella Farm, Three Rivers Disposal / Waste Connections, Buckeye Tree Lodge, Wuksachi Village / Delaware North Companies, Silver City Mountain Resort.

LODGING

Hotel / Motel
1st Place— Buckeye Tree Lodge
2nd Place— Rio Sierra Riverhouse
3rd Place— Sequoia Motel

Bed and Breakfast
1st Place— Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast (Voter comment: “I would recommend this place to anybody”)
2nd Place— Rio Sierra Riverhouse (“Very beautiful”)
3rd Place— Plantation Bed and Breakfast (“We adored the friendly hosts”)

Family Lodging
1st Place— Buckeye Tree Lodge
2nd Place— Lazy J Ranch Motel
3rd Place— Rio Sierra Riverhouse

Cabin
1st Place— Silver City Mountain Resort
2nd Place— River Inn and Cabins
3rd Place— Lake Elowin Resort

Room with a View
1st Place— Rio Sierra Riverhouse
2nd Place— Wuksachi Lodge
3rd Place— Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast

SOCIAL SCENE

Place to Meet People
1st Place— River View
2nd Place— Gateway
3rd Place— Three Rivers Post Office

Local Band

1st Place— High Sierra Jazz Band
2nd Place— Mankin Creek
3rd Place— Blue Lightning

Entertainment Venue
1st Place— River View
2nd Place— Orange Blossom
3rd Place— Gateway

Local Event
1st Place— Jazzaffair
2nd Place— 1st Saturday
3rd Place— Redbud Festival

Place to be on a
Saturday Night

1st Place— River View
2nd Place— Gateway
3rd Place— Chump’s Videos
OUT AND ABOUT

Place to Take
Out-of-Town Guests

1st Place— Sequoia National Park
2nd Place— Sierra Subs
3rd Place— The Art Co-Op

Scenic Drive
1st Place— Generals Highway
2nd Place— Kings Canyon Highway
3rd Place— Highway 198 / Sierra Drive

National Park Attraction
1st Place— Moro Rock
2nd Place— General Sherman Tree
3rd Place— Big Trees / giant sequoia groves

Historical Attraction
1st Place— General Sherman Tree
2nd Place— Kaweah Post Office
3rd Place— General Grant Tree, Tharp’s Log (tie)

Way to Tour
Without Using Your Car

1st Place— Walking / running / hiking
2nd Place— Sequoia Sightseeing Tours
3rd Place—Sequoia Shuttle

Summer Outdoor Activity
1st Place— Swimming in the river
2nd Place— Backpacking / hiking
3rd Place— Boating

 

 

 

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
© Copyright 2003-2013 The Kaweah Commonwealth