in August 2010:
OF KAWEAH COUNTRY
OF KAWEAH COUNTRY
Take a drive through the Village
Shopping Center’s parking lot on a Saturday
night during the busy summer visitor season
and you’ll see dozens of happy families
dining. They’ve discovered what many locals
already know, which is that Pizza Factory is
the BEST place for two generations or more to
River View Restaurant grabbed second
place. Runners-up are Sierra Subs, We Three
Bakery, Sequoia Cider Mill, Serrano’s
Mexican Restaurant, Gateway Restaurant, and
Obviously, the formula for achieving
romance includes a deck over the Kaweah River
with a friendly staff that knows just when to
be discreet. The Gateway has the most alluring
site in Three Rivers, according to poll participants
year after year after year.
In second place is Orange Blossom
Junction, and runners-up are River View, Wuksachi,
and Bearpaw High Sierra Camp.
Seems that the “deck over
the Kaweah River” works not only for only-have-eyes-for-you
couples (see “Romantic Dining”),
but also for any combination of dining parties,
because the Gateway is also a perennial winner
in this category as well.
River View took second place for
their patio with, what else?, a river view.
Runners-up are Sierra Subs (their patio is the
only seat in the house), Anne Lang’s Emporium
(two levels of decking on the river side or
people watch out front along the highway), Serrano’s
(patio dining at the busy Village plaza), We
Three Bakery (patio dining under the old oak
tree), and Sequoia Cider Mill (new deck out
back away from the busy highway).
These are hard times and consumers
are watching every dollar, so this category
is as important as it is informative.
So, readers say, the place where
you get the most taste for your hard-earned
money is Sierra Subs & Salads. This is the
BEST choice considering their advertised weekly
special that is always fresh, always delectable,
but don’t forget their dozens of other
menu items and several new additions, which
includes build-your-own subs, grilled sandwiches,
quesadillas and wraps, salads (including a Salad
of the Day offering), soup, smoothies, and you-bake
P izza Factory garnered second place for
the BEST meal deal, and runners-up are River
View and Super Taco (Woodlake).
Place to Go When Someone Else Pays
When someone offers to pick up
the tab, you should offer to drive… to
where the weather is cool and the food is fantastic.
That’s because Wuksachi Lodge, celebrating
its 10th anniversary this year, is the place
to take your more generous friends and family.
Coming in second is Orange Blossom
(on Highway 198 near the Exeter junction), and
runners-up are Gateway, Sierra Subs, River View,
and Vintage Press (Visalia).
Breakfast / Brunch
We Three Bakery is the preferred
restaurant year after year for the first and
most important meal of the day. And you could
eat there every day of the week and still not
have sampled every type of omelet that’s
on the menu. Other choices include the scrumptious
chicken enchiladas with eggs, the popular tofu
scramble, and so many more.
Second place is Gateway for their
Sunday brunch. Runner-up is Plantation Bed and
Breakfast for Marie’s scrumptious creations
that could, and did, fill a cookbook.
Sierra Subs & Salads wins this
meatless category. Under new ownership this
year, Allison and Dane have added a weekly special
that always includes a vegetarian option and
there are plenty of vegetarian selections of
the everyday menu, such as the new Vegetarian
Bill grilled sandwich (avocado, fresh mozzarella,
pesto, tomato, and onions on a bakery roll)
and new Veggie Tom (avocado, goat cheese and
herb spread, onions, spinach, and sun-dried
tomato spread on a bakery roll), as well as
old favorites such as the Potwisha Portabella
and Mountain Mozzarella sandwiches, the Greek
or Avocado Vegge D’Lite salads, or the
Anne Lang’s Emporium
came in second for their veggie-friendly choices,
such as the yummy cream cheese and olive sandwich
on your choice of several types of bread, which
can be eaten inside the deli, out on the river
decks, or packed as a picnic-to-go. Serrano’s
is a runner-up for their meatless efforts, which
include beans made without lard, as are River
View and Gateway for their vegetarian-friendly
And speaking of Serrano’s,
they still have the BEST Mexican food, readers
say, even though there is lots of competition
within a 35-mile radius or so. Serrano’s
has won this category ever since they opened
in Three Rivers at the Village Shopping Center,
which has proved to be a prime location for
the summer-tourist crowds.
Second place is Super Taco (Woodlake);
runners-up are Dora’s (Woodlake), El Charro
(Woodlake), Sequoia Cider Mill, We Three, and
Since Pizza Factory grabbed the
top Family Dining slot this year, it should
be a given that they also win BEST Pizza, which
they did… and usually do. Of course, Pizza
Factory would win this category with dozens
of pizza choices in several categories like
Cheese, Specialty (Vegetarian, Hawaiian, Fiesta),
Gourmet from Pesto and Sundried Tomatoes to
All Meat with six meat toppings), and Chicken
Second place goes to River View
for their fresh-from-the-oven pies, as well
as their Monday pizza special (eat it there
and it’s half price!). Runner up is Sierra
Subs for their Take-N-Bake Pizza menu (and if
you have a coupon, you get a pizza and a DVD
rental; now that’s a real meal deal!).
Read some of the sandwich selections
above under Vegetarian, add some meat, and now
you’ve got the winner of the Sandwich
category – Sierra Subs & Salads. This
makes sense because sandwiches are their business,
but they’ve got to be delicious to get
a discerning readers’ vote.
Coming in second is Anne Lang’s
Emporium, where they have been making sandwiches
for decades, so they know what goes best with
bread. Runners-up are We Three and Gateway for
their selections of cold and hot sandwiches
A salad a day will keep heart disease
away. If abiding by this mantra, stop in at
Sierra Subs & Salads, because since salads
are in their name, then salads are their game.
Chef, Caprese, Smoked Turkey, Chicken Bacon
Ranch, Chicken Caesar, Chinese Chicken, Greek,
Avocado, Veggie D’Lite, Tuna & Tomatoe,
and Dilly Red Potato… ‘nuff said.
Anne Lang’s Emporium took
second place. Their potato salad is well known
around town. Silver City Mountain Resort and
Gateway are runners-up for their plates of greens.
No matter how much you may try
to resist, the sweet tooth always prevails.
And when it does, head to Reimer’s Candies
& Gifts, where just their name can make
your mouth water.
There are the handmade-on-site
chocolates and other delectable sweets, as well
as candy from around the world. If looking for
something a little cooler, then fill up a freshly
made waffle cone with a few scoops of handmade
ice cream, such as Three Rivers Blackberry.
Orange Blossom garnered second
place. Runners-up are Anne Lang’s Emporium,
Gateway, Sierra Subs cookies, and Village Market.
It’s the only bakery in town,
but We Three Bakery gets up early every morning
to compete in this category. Their fresh breads
and pastries are baked daily in their kitchen.
Coming in second, readers vouch
that it’s worth the curvy drive up the
Mineral King Road to not only breathe the cool
mountain air, but to sample a piece of homemade
Silver City pie.
Voters like Gateway’s all-beef
patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles,
and onions on a sesame seed bun the BEST, or
the variations thereof. And just because it’s
a burger, doesn’t mean it has to be beef,
so try the Gateway’s locally raised, low-fat
Emu Burger for a change.
Discerning diners also like the
Sierra Burger quarter-pounder at Sierra Subs
and the hot-off-the-grill selections at River
Burgers are quick, easy, and oh-so
popular, but for a different cut of beef, dine
inside or riverside with such selections as
steak and lobster (or scampi), filet mignon
(or petite), New York (or “bear cut”),
and top sirloin.
Orange Blossom takes second place.
Runners-up are Sequoia Cider Mill, River View,
Whether heading out for a picnic,
a quiet meal at home, or munching while driving,
they pack it up BEST for you at Sierra Subs
& Salads. Anne Lang’s Emporium, with
their picnics for one or a dozen or more, came
in second. Runners-up are Super Taco, Pizza
Factory, Serrano’s, and Village Market.
And speaking of Village Market
takeout, their barbecue grill fires up on the
weekends and the lines begin to form as the
aroma proves irresistible. There aren’t
too many other places these days where someone
will stand over a hot fire during the summer
in order to provide someone else with a meal,
but River View, in second place, will do what
it takes to provide the hot-off-the-grill menu
items that are so popular.
Anne Lang’s Emporium will
serve it hot, then if you like it you can buy
the beans or ask them to grind them for you,
so the java can be enjoyed everyday at home
as well. They also serve espresso and hot or
We Three came in second, while
the runner-up is down the hill at Visalia Coffee
Company. But keep the travel mug in the car,
because the scuttle is that a coffeehouse will
soon be opening their doors in Three Rivers.
Quite popular in the summer months
as the lines out the door at Reimer’s
Ice Cream Shoppe will attest, the cool confection
is BEST here. From banana splits to a sky-high
waffle cone, the ice cream will cool and refresh
even as it drips off your elbows.
Anne Lang’s Emporium, in
second place, serves up cones of the frozen
stuff, but also from the fountain are shakes,
malts, and sundaes.
Whether planning a party at home
or a wedding on the river, there are the folks
who will provide an indispensable service for
the perfect gathering: the food. Call Sierra
Subs (first place), Anne Lang’s Emporium
(second place), Maria Reimer, or Gateway.
Place to Buy Souvenirs
It’s a belated farewell gift
for Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs that they
received first place in this category, as they
have for every year that they were open. Several
penciled-in sad faces accompanied the votes
for this gift shop that closed last month.
Three Rivers Drug and Reimer’s
tied for second place. Runners-up are the Foothills
Visitor Center at Ash Mountain, Wuksachi Lodge’s
gift shop, Anne Lang’s Emporium, Heart’s
Desire, and Lodgepole Market and Gift Shop.
Place to Buy Outdoor Gear
During the initial years of the
BEST of Kaweah Country’s readers’
poll, it was a hard case to make for a place
to buy the stuff necessary to play outside.
That was until Three Rivers Mercantile opened
its automatic doors. Nowadays, the Mercantile
usually has just what you need, but if it’s
not in stock, they’ll get it her on the
next delivery truck.
Kaweah General Store and Boa’s
Minnow Farm (Woodlake) came in second. The runners-up
are all located well away from Three Rivers:
REI, Sports Chalet, Big 5, and Sierra Sporting
Place to Buy Fishing Tackle
Get hook, line, and sinker at Three
Rivers Mercantile, as well as your rod, reel,
and creel. Kaweah General Store and the Kaweah
Marina are other places to shop, then it’s
down the hill you go to Boa’s Minnow Farm
or Sierra Sporting Goods.
What would Three Rivers do without
The Thingerie for a good deal? On the other
hand, what would Three Rivers do without a place
to donate their unwanted household goods and
furnishings, clothing and footwear, and camping
and outdoor gear?
The Thingerie has been in the recycling
business since before being green was cool.
And since all profits benefit the Three Rivers
Woman’s Club, the money is recycled, too,
right back into the community.
My Sister’s Closet takes
second place. Three Rivers Mercantile and Woodlake
Hardware are runners-up.
Creekside Yarns not only provides
the handcrafted goods, they also have the material
for you to make your own handcrafted goods.
Ja Nene Natural Body Products grabbed
second place. Janene Lasswell creates skincare
products for men, women, and children using
all-natural ingredients; no chemicals, artificial
colors, or animal testing allowed.
Runners-up are Nadi’s Studio
and the Redbud Festival.
Place to Buy Gifts
Reimer’s Candies and Gifts
is the place to go to buy a present. Choose
from edible, practical, ornamental, sentimental,
seasonal, and more. The place is world-famous
and has been open in Three Rivers for 50 years;
they know gifts… and chocolate!
The now-just-a-memory Sequoia Gifts
& Souvenirs came in second. Runners-up are
Heart’s Desire, Anne Lang’s Emporium,
Foothills Visitor Center, and Nadi’s Studio.
Place to Buy Antiques
This category proves to be the
biggest upset of year. Rocky Hill Antiques,
a collection of dealers doing business just
east of Exeter on Spruce Road took the top spot
this year for the first time. With dozens of
dealers, there is a large and revolving selection
The vendors include Country Plumbing
of Three Rivers (need a clawfoot bathtub?),
as well as The Farmer’s Wife, Toad House
Antiques, Charles Fishburn Antiques, Ye Olde
Shoppe, Sandy’s Antiques & Collectibles,
and Betty Vincent Antiques.
Rosemary’s Remembrances in
Three Rivers came in second, and The Antique
Store in Lemon Cove and Barby’s in Three
Rivers are runners-up.
Place to Buy T-shirts
Three Rivers Drug & Gifts provides
an indispensible community service with its
local pharmacy, but it’s also a fun place
to shop for souvenirs, gifts, and an ever-changing
variety of T-shirts for young and old. Show
your hometown pride by investing in a variety
of Three Rivers T-shirts or steer tourists toward
Three Rivers Drug or the following outlets so
they may take a piece of Kaweah Country home.
In second place is Three Rivers
Market for their constant selection of souvenir
tees. Runners up are Silver City Mountain Resort,
Nadi’s Studio, Wuksachi Gift Shop, and
Mineral King Preservation Society.
Hotel / Motel
Maybe it’s the long, hot
summer that is making folks dream about sleeping
in the mountains that gave Wuksachi Lodge the
edge in this category. Whatever it was, they
pulled out in front in this category over all
the Three Rivers rooms.
Wuksachi offers luxury lodging
in Sequoia National Park with newly redecorated
rooms. It is open year-round and located within
minutes of the park’s prime visitor attractions.
Lazy J Ranch Motel came in second
in this race. Runners up are Rio Sierra, Comfort
Inn & Suites, Buckeye Tree Lodge, Sequoia
Village Inn, Gateway Lodge, and St. Anthony
Bed and Breakfast
There was a battle this year between
three of the area’s many bed-and-breakfast
Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast
landed the knockout punch to win this
round. Peter Sodhy and Leah Catherine Launey’s
“Riverhouse” overlooks the Kaweah’s
Middle Fork and consists of two well-appointed
guest rooms with queen-sized bed. Families are
very welcome here, however, and twin beds are
added upon request.
Enough about the beds, let’s
talk breakfast. Three Rivers B&B guests
choose from quiche, cobbler with seasonal fruit,
pancakes, French toast, yogurts, muffins, granola
and oatmeal, and more. Complimentary wine and
chocolates come with the room.
Coming in second this year is Wicky-Up
Ranch Bed & Breakfast, Jack and Monica Pizura’s
historic home located on a working organic orange
ranch. In third place is Log House Lodge with
runners-up Sequoia River Dance, Bearpaw High
Sierra Camp, and Lori’s Mountain House.
Comfort Inn & Suites offers
a deluxe continental breakfast to feed the kidlets
upon rising, which gets the whole family started
on the right foot. Then after a day of touring
in Sequoia, they can burn off more energy at
the pool before returning to the room for a
peaceful night’s slumber.
In second place is Wuksachi Lodge,
because there is no better place for families
to bond than in the mountains. Runners-up are
Lazy J, Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast, and
Wicky-Up Ranch Bed & Breakfast.
Some people like luxury accommodations;
some like remote and rustic. But in Kaweah Country,
it is possible to have it all.
Silver City Mountain Resort is
a good example. It’s the best of all worlds,
located in one of the most beautiful spots on
There are cabins with kitchens,
chalets with private baths, a restaurant that
serves three meals a day and homemade pie, a
gift shop, children’s play area, campfire
programs, as well as everything the Mineral
King area offers… naturally.
In second place is the peaceful
Lake Elowin Resort on Dinely Drive, a Three
Runners-up are The River Inn &
Cabins, Sequoia Village Inn, and Lazy J Ranch
Room With a View
They are relative newcomers to
the Three Rivers lodging scene, but this is
the second consecutive year that they have dominated
this category. Rio Sierra Riverhouse was once
just a house along the river.
It has since been upgraded and
transformed into a spa-like lodge with three
rooms and suites, river views, private deck,
and private river beach.
In second place is Wuksachi Lodge
in Sequoia. Runners-up are Bearpaw, Silver City,
Buckeye Tree Lodge, and Gateway Lodge.
Place to Meet People
Just as important in maintaining
good health as diet, exercise, and sleep is
socializing with friends and family. So if making
the commitment to a healthy lifestyle, head
to the Gateway to add to your list of friends.
In second place for where to find
a new best friend is River View Restaurant and
Lounge. And meet folks at these places, too:
Chump’s Videos and DVDs, Kaweah Drum Circle,
local post offices, and “on a trail.”
Bands come and go, except for the
Rolling Stones and High Sierra Jazz Band. And
since High Sierra happens to be from Three Rivers,
they are also the perennial winner of this category.
Earl McKee, Charlie Castro, Bruce
Huddleston, Stan Huddleston, Howard Miyata,
Pieter Meijers, and Bryan Shaw make up the band
that is not only a local favorite but known
They have performed at venues around
the world, but they have never forgotten their
Three Rivers roots. They play several concerts
a year for the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club,
as well as host Jazzaffair, a 37-year-old festival
held each April in Three Rivers.
Second place this year is Jesse
Belman & Friends. Runners-up are Mankin
Creek, Still Water, and Monday Night Jam (a
weekly River View event that’s like a
potluck for musicians).
There is a tie in this category
between Orange Blossom and Gateway. Orange Blossom
has been luring some big names this way, such
as Johnny Winter and Tommy Emmanuel.
The Gateway, on the other hand,
features area musicians in an intimate setting.
Get up close and personal with the musicians
in the lounge or on the river deck, where the
Kaweah River adds the accompaniment.
Runners-up are River View, Three
Rivers Arts Center, and Three Rivers Memorial
The Three Rivers Team Roping is
a celebration of the Three Rivers heritage.
This community was founded on cattle ranching,
where in the early days, ranchers would pasture
their stock in Three Rivers from late fall to
early spring, then herd them to the high country
for the summer months.
These efforts required skills such
as roping and branding, on which the annual
Roping events were founded and have evolved.
The competitive spirit of the cowboys and cowgirls
continues today as they gather every April to
participate in the local Roping, which has expanded
to a four-day-long event.
Jazzaffair takes second place,
another April happening. Runners-up are the
Redbud Festival, Polar Dip, Three Rivers School
Foundation Dinner, and the Halloween Carnival.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.
Readers have several suggestions on where to
head whenever the mood for a happy hour hits.
First, it’s Gateway. Second,
River View. Third, Orange Blossom Junction.
Hero / Activist
Everyone who receives votes in
this category is a winner, and so is the community
of Three Rivers because they live and serve
here. Thank you to the following for their volunteer
Sue Sherwood, Tom Sparks, Earl
McKee, Gary Whitney, Ken Greenspan, Tina Caperton,
Pat O’Connell, Ray Murry, Rudy Marinez,
Scott Mullikin, Trish Stivers, and Glenn McIntyre.
Community Service Business
Again, here are all the local businesses
or organizations that received votes for providing
vital community services:
The Kaweah Commonwealth, Three
Rivers Mercantile, USA Waste Management/Three
Rivers Disposal, Three Rivers Bread Basket,
Pat O’Connell’s Service, St. Anthony
Retreat, The Thingerie, Village Market, volunteer
ambulance and firefighters, Gateway, Three Rivers
Post Office, Advance Therapeutic Massage, and
Environmentally Friendly Business
Saving the planet begins at home,
and here are the local businesses and organizations
that are consciously making a difference:
Flora Bella Farm, Sequoia Natural
History History Association, Ja Nene Natural
Body Products, Sierra Garden Center, and USA
Waste Management/Three Rivers Disposal.
Maybe it’s because we are
just coming off an election year, but the Congress
Trail in Sequoia National Park is this year’s
most popular hike. The trail begins near the
General Sherman Tree. The easy hike will take
visitors to the House and Senate groups of Big
Trees, as well as the President Tree and other
massive giant sequoias.
The Ladybug Trail in the South
Fork area of Sequoia, a perennial favorite,
received the second highest amount of votes.
Runners-up are Tokopah Falls (Lodgepole), Eagle
Lake (Mineral King), Little Baldy (Sequoia),
Alta Peak (Sequoia), Skyline/Salt Creek/Case
Mountain (BLM), Farewell Gap (Mineral King),
Kaweah Gap (High Sierra Trail), and Marble Falls
So if hiking is not your thing,
then climb on your bike and try one of these
Skyline/Salt Creek/Case Mountain,
the BLM-managed trail, is the favorite ride,
but bring the mountain bike and be ready for
some single track.
In second place is Shepherd’s
Saddle, which is a featured route on the annual
Sequoia Bicycle Jamboree itinerary. Runners-up
are Dry Creek and Yokohl Valley roads.
So maybe instead of climbing to
the top of Alta Peak or riding up Case Mountain
you would prefer to take it easy one day. Then
pack the picnic basket and head to Crescent
Meadow, where it’s always cool, green,
Readers also recommend Hospital
Rock, South Fork Campground, Pinewood, Mineral
King, and Wolverton.
If packing the picnic and a tent,
then head to this year’s number-one pick,
Buckeye Flat (Hospital Rock area). Located in
the foothills, this tents-only campground is
much better enjoyed in the spring, when the
weather is cool and the grass is green.
Also set up at Cold Spring (Mineral
King), Lake Kaweah, Potwisha, Kaweah Park Resort,
Three Rivers Hideaway, Lodgepole, and Atwell
Place to Take the Kids
It’s been well-advertised
that children don’t go outside enough.
In fact, the National Park Service is coming
up with innovative ways to get families, and
kids in particular, to visit national parks.
But for 11 years, local readers’
poll voters have said that Sequoia National
Park is the BEST place to take the youngsters…
so be sure to take them… regularly!
Other places that will keep them
entertained, or to reward them for chores well
done, are: Lake Kaweah, the river, Adventure
Park (Visalia), Three Rivers Library, and Reimer’s
OUT AND ABOUT
Place to Take
Whether you like them or not, take
the houseguests to Moro Rock. They will either
thank you profusely for the memorable experience
or be suspicious as to why you are leading them
to the edge of a cliff.
Poll respondents also recommend
taking guests to Sequoia as a whole, and parts
thereof, such as Giant Forest, General Sherman
Tree, and Mineral King. Also take out-of-town
visitors to the river or river-rafting, they
This category is always a toss-up
between the Generals Highway and Mineral King.
This year, like last, the Mineral King Road
won out by mere votes.
The Generals Highway came in second,
but voters say to also try these other roads
where views can be had through the windshield:
Dry Creek, North Fork, Kings Canyon Highway,
South Fork, Three Rivers “scenic highway,”
and Yokohl Valley.
National Park Attraction
Crystal Cave, where it’s
always a cool 50 degrees, came in first this
year. Here are the rest:
Moro Rock, Big Trees, Giant Forest,
Mineral King, Tokopah Falls, Bearpaw, General
Grant Tree, General Sherman Tree, Kings Canyon,
Mist Falls, Sawtooth Peak, Tharp’s Log.
Three Rivers is proud of its own
history, which is why the Kaweah Post Office
wins this category year after year. Here are
some other historical stops to make:
Mineral King cabins, Three Rivers
Historical Museum, General Sherman Tree, Big
Trees, and Discoveries West Gallery and Archives.
Way to Tour
Without a Car
Hiking/backpacking took first place
this year. This is good news since, we, as a
society, need to walk more. Here are other ways
to leave the gas-guzzler behind:
Sequoia Sightseeing Tours, park
shuttle, biking, Kaweah White Water Adventures,
and pack stations.
Place to be on a
This says it all because, really,
it’s what’s BEST about living in
Here are some other suggestions
on how to stay cool: Lake Kaweah, 10,000 feet
or above, Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest, and
Groundhog Meadow (Mineral King).