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Enrique Meza Keeps His Neighborhood Favorites in Focus

The Fresno filmmaker loves the Central Valley, and has all sorts of advice for curious visitors

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On a typical day, you can find Enrique Meza hauling camera equipment through the Fresno countryside, capturing fields of blueberries, grapes, and stone fruit. His production company, Meza Films, specializes in promotional video and commercials with a focus on agriculture—an industry that provides the majority of jobs in Fresno County.

In fact, Meza’s first Fresno jobs were also in agriculture—although in a different capacity. Growing up in nearby Orangeville, Meza helped pick fruits alongside his dad, who also worked as a truck and forklift driver. “My mom worked in a facility packing oranges for a large chunk of her life,” he says.

After leaving the Fresno area to attend school in San Diego and start his career in San Francisco, Meza returned around 2010 to reconnect with his hometown and to start his company. “Coming back, I didn’t realize how beautiful this area is and the abundance we have here,” he says.

Meza credits his upbringing for creating a passion and respect for food production. “The amount of labor that goes into putting grapes on our table is just mind-blowing sometimes,” he says. “You need pickers in the field and packers to trim all the little bunches and put them in bags so you can go to the store and feed them to your kid.”

The beautiful farmland is a huge draw for visitors as well, says Meza. He recommends getting a feel for the area by taking a drive east on the 180. “You’ll head toward the foothills on nice winding roads with a lot of cool scenery,” he says, including fields full of nectarines, peaches, and plums. In February and March, visitors can enjoy the Blossom Trail’s spectacular show as the fruit trees bloom. “You can go see all of the orchard blossoms in full bloom: white, purple, pink, all different shades and colors,” says Meza. Pick up some fresh stone fruit at Vineyard Farmers Market, which Meza says has “a huge variety of things we grow here.”

Enjoy farm-to-table eats in a more elevated setting at Meza’s favorite Fresno restaurants for fine dining: The Annex Kitchen (local tip: get the fresh corn agnolotti if it’s on the menu) and Cracked Pepper Bistro. Meza says that the city’s Mexican food can’t be beat. “You can get food from anywhere: Sinaloa to Mexico City to Oaxaca,” he says. Don’t leave without trying the “spectacular” asada tacos from Taqueria El Premio Mayor.

For drinks and nightlife, Meza recommends heading downtown. “I’m a big supporter of Downtown Fresno,” he says. “It is just a great place to hang out.” Grab beers in the Brewery District at Meza’s top spots Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. or Full Circle. “You’ll find outdoor patio areas, food trucks, live music, and games,” he says. “It’s very family-friendly and super relaxed.”

Parents and kids will also enjoy a different kind of local wildlife, Meza adds: “We love going to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. There’s a really cool African exhibit, which they redid a few years ago. You can see giraffes and other animals in a more up-close way than most other zoos. It’s an awesome place to go with the family.”

FIVE MORE FAVORITES
Make the most of any trip to Fresno by exploring Meza’s favorite sunset hikes and hidden gems.

Great cocktails:Quail State is a fairly new cocktail bar that has choose-your-own-adventure ordering options. You can let the bartender know you want your drink to have different kinds of flavors, and the bartender creates something based off of your list. My wife and I have done that several times and we haven’t been disappointed. We’ve even chosen the same flavors and gotten two totally different drinks—and both were great.”

Sunset spot: “The Big Table Mountain hike in Ruth McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve is great for sunsets. They call it Table Mountain because the tops of the mountains are flat, and it’s a picturesque, very beautiful spot with rewarding views. You’re facing west at the top so you get a great view of the sunset—it’s difficult to beat.”

Shopping: “I always prefer to shop local. Root, located right downtown, has a little bit of everything: lots of locally made gifts, housewares, jewelry, clothing, and even drinks. I also go to The Shop at KLSD, right around the corner, which is very similar. You’ll find anything you might want for a special gift. Check out the plant store, Living Together, which is in that little shopping nook, too.”  

Hidden gem: “There’s a place that my family loves to go—we’re going there tonight actually—called Gazebo Gardens. I’m always surprised that not more people know about it. It’s a plant nursery, but Thursday through Saturday they do food trucks and live music. We like to walk down there, grab some dinner, and just hang out. They serve beer also, so it checks a lot of boxes.”

Live music: “If you want to hear live music, go to the Tower District. There are places called Strummer’s, Livingston’s, and Fulton 55. They all regularly have concerts—a little bit of everything from rock to country to soul music. Not too long ago, I saw The María’s at Fulton 55.”

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