New Fresno sandwich shops: The Pickled Deli & Koko’s Deli.
Fried pickles. Baklava. A mortadella and provolone sandwich.
These are just a few of the different options on the menu at two new sandwich shops in Fresno.
The Pickled Deli and Koko’s Deli are both independent restaurants that have opened in recent months. They have one thing in common: the owners are former Deli Delicious franchisees.
The two decided to launch their own sandwich shops, but with a few twists on the menu.
The Pickled Deli opened in March in the former Full O Bull at Nees Avenue and First Street, in the same mall as Smart & Final Extra!
It’s a sandwich shop with all the usual options – turkey, tuna and French dip – available in different sizes. The chicken and tri-tip are house marinated and the bread is from the French Basque bakery in downtown Fresno.
The #1 seller? A hot pastrami and provolone sandwich made with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.
The Pickled Deli is a second location for owner Nick Huerta, with the first on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia. Huerta graduated from Buchanan High School in 1999 and spent 20 years in the military before running a sandwich shop.
Going from a Deli Delicious franchise to a local business has given her a bit more freedom over the menu and decor.
“There are things you can never do as a franchisee,” he said. “All I did was go back to a family and independent atmosphere.”
So the former high school football player has pictures of his favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, on the wall, for example.
And there are pickles on the menu, of course.
“Being pickle is in the name, I really had to bring it,” Huerta said.
Fried pickle slices are breaded and seasoned with just a hint of spice and can be dipped in ranch dressing.
The name The Pickled Deli comes from Huerta’s love for Pickle Rick. He is a character from the animated series “Ricky & Morty” in which the scientist Rick turns into a pickle to avoid going to family therapy.
Huerta even considered naming the restaurant The Pickled Nick, but copyright concerns put him off.
Details: The Pickled Deli is at 7753 N. First St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 559-840-1152.
Koko’s Deli is on Clinton and Brawley Avenues, just around the corner from Save Mart. The restaurant had been a Deli Delicious since 2014. In September it reopened as Koko’s.
It’s still a sandwich shop, with a long list of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and fried sides.
The turkey and provolone cheese sandwich is popular, as well as the vegetarian cucumber and avocado sandwich.
One of the most popular sandwiches is the Chicken Club, which comes with your choice of sauces: chipotle, barbecue, buffalo, ranch, or Mediterranean garlic.
Koko’s has added a few menu options that you might not find as often in your neighborhood sandwich shop.
Like mortadella (an Italian sausage with flecks of extra pork fat) and a provolone cheese sandwich.
Or onion rings and four kinds of fries (including sweet potato).
“I can make my own things, my new creations, new sauces,” owner Krikor “Greg” Jalhayan said.
Part of that brings its Mediterranean background to the menu.
This Mediterranean Garlic Sauce, for example, is something you don’t see on most sandwich shop menus.
This is also why baklava is available for dessert.
Falafel then heads to the menu.
Jalhayan is Armenian and was born in Syria. The name Koko refers to him. Koko is a nickname for Krikor, and is what his Armenian family and customers call him.
Details: Koko’s Deli is located at 4021 W. Clinton Ave. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. 559-374-5875.