Three top spots for solid comfort food in Fresno

Comfort food has its name for a reason: these are the dishes we turn to in order to evoke childhood memories of being safe and cared for. What fits that description may vary from person to person and culture to culture, but fried, sweet and carb-rich foods are a common theme.

In that spirit, Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top restaurants in Fresno to forget one's troubles for the duration of a meal, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of the best spots to fill the stomach and feed the soul.

1. Chef Paul's Cafe

Photo: Monique P./Yelp

Topping the list is Chef Paul's Cafe. Located at 952 F St. in Downtown Fresno, the traditional American soul food restaurant, which offers a specifically Southern take on comfort food, is the highest rated such spot in Fresno, boasting 4.5 stars out of 340 reviews on Yelp.

However, it has more to offer than just chicken and waffles or mac and cheese: Yelpers wax poetic about its shrimp and grits, ox tail, smothered pork chops and fried vegetables from cabbage to okra. The family-owned business, which also does catering, gets high marks for service as well.

2. Tower Tea

Photo: Bryan C./Yelp

Next up is Central Fresno's Tower Tea, situated at 1020 E. McKinley Ave. With 4.5 stars out of 48 reviews on Yelp, this bubble tea and snack spot has proven to be a local favorite.

In specific, reviewers praise the popcorn chicken, the egg rolls and the sweet Thai tea for an instant pick-me-up. The cafe also offers rice bowls topped with teriyaki tofu, and sweet treats like house-made macarons to go with its bubble tea and fruit smoothies.

3. Tree Of Life Cafe & Bakery

Photo: Danielle G./Yelp

Downtown Fresno's Tree Of Life Cafe & Bakery, located at 2139 Kern St., is another top choice, with Yelpers giving the vegetarian- and gluten-free-friendly eatery four stars out of 136 reviews.

Service is cafeteria-style, so the menu changes each day, but Yelpers praise comforting pasta dishes like the zucchini lasagna and the mac and cheese, as well as chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and pot roast when they appear.