The Lime Lite Restaurant & Lounge is a Fresno tradition. And its recently renovated outdoor patio was the perfect setting to hold Shake+Stir’s milestone tenth edition. In celebration of the New Year, Gina Jelladian, Alma Wolverton, Erin Goldfarb, Laura Thompson, and Ashley Hyatt joined CVLUX’s Donna Ensom in ushering in 2019 with a sampling of The Lime Lite’s latest farm-fresh menu revamp. “What are your resolutions for the upcoming year?” Donna prompted the crowd. A consensus to slow down and enjoy life and family was mutual as the ladies sampled four cocktails, six appetizers, and a two-part dessert. Count on this oldie-but-goodie Fresno landmark to keep pulling out new tricks as the year unfolds.

This past spring, The Lime Lite’s patio underwent a major renovation. Lime Lite goers may not have been thrilled about construction closure, but the results were certainly worth any sacrifice. Expansive windows now enclose the patio, allowing for views of newly planted trees, and grey tones are warmed with sensual lighting.

Tucked behind a humble façade just west of Palm Avenue on Shaw in Fresno, The Lime Lite is now mainly open for dinner. Owner Brandon Smittcamp recently axed lunch during the week, but you can grab a bite on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3. And the restaurant is still closed on Sundays. Doors open at 3 p.m. for Happy Hour until 6 o’clock Monday through Friday. Dinner is served from 5 to 9:30 Monday through Wednesday, and until 10 o’clock on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

First out was the Sweet Cider Margarita. The concoction of Don Julio tequila, freshly squeezed orange juice, and organic apple cider is served in a glass kissed with cinnamon sugar. Erin elaborated, “You can tell it’s a margarita, but with more oomph and zip!”

Closely behind was the Parisian Gnocchi. What makes it “Parisian” is the use of flour instead of a potato base. Pan-seared with seasonal vegetables and a brown butter sauce, it can easily be made an entrée with extra veggies. “I’ll put this one in front of David [Manning]!” our serving hostess Noelle said, knowing full well how much CVLUX’s Editor in Chief loves this dish.

The 1964 cocktail is named for the establishment year of The Lime Lite. Vanilla bean and pear infused vodka is mixed with lemon juice, and floated with prosecco. “You’d think the vanilla bean would make it too sweet,” but Ashley liked that it actually induced a pucker. Wedding guru Gina identified that, “It feels like it was made for a wedding shower. Women will love this because it is a perfectly mixed drink for a lazy afternoon.”

Remember how incredible The Lime Lite’s fried chicken was? The Chicken Fried Quail is even better. “It’s sophisticated fried chicken! Southern hospitality in a bite!” Laura described the dish, whose bacon sausage stuffing is unexpected yet wonderfully complimentary alongside black pepper local honey and fried herbs. 

Ketel One vodka is muddled with cilantro and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices, and house-made simple syrup in the Lime Lite Martini, which is served with a half-sugared rim. Ashley like that “the cilantro is an unexpected twist” that isn’t overpowering.

The Lime Lime’s version of Surf and Turf consists of grilled, Korean-style tri-tip (that is literally fork-tender) accompanied by tempura shrimp doused in garlic ponzu sauce, garnished with scallions. “If I hadn’t read the menu I’d have thought it was filet,” Erin revealed with surprise.

If you’re a bruschetta fan, consider the Baked Burrata “next level,” Erin appropriately professed. The Lime Lite’s Arrabiata sauce features roasted red chili peppers, Calabrian chilies, and pickled Fresno chilies. Served in a little pot, steaming hot with melted burrata, old school patrons will appreciate the accompanying wood grilled bread—an expansion on the fried bread that you could only ask for if you were in the know.

The best of two worlds come together in the Poke Tacos. King salmon, Asian pear, wasabi slaw, and teppanyaki sauce are cradled in a fried wonton shell. “Oh my gosh…I love this taco!” Gina adamantly exclaimed. If you like spicy poke, this is a holy grail item.

Though it may sound like a strictly cold weather drink, the fresh rosemary and thyme infused bourbon in the Maple Bourbon Sour make it particularly intriguing. Alma declared that she “loved this one! It goes down easy but feels luxurious.” You’ll feel the urge to “sip it from a Mason jar on a porch overlooking rolling hills,” said Laura. This grown-up lemonade features the traditional freshly squeezed lemon juice, but the maple syrup gives it a special country touch. 

Though called Spice Crusted Lamb Chops, they are, in shape, a pop—perfect for sophisticated appetizer snacking. “Smokey, spicy, and so tender,” mused Alma. Garnished with a roasted red pepper tapenade, they are served encircling a generous dollop of garlic sauce that’ll surely disappear. 

Once you have The Lime Lite’s “Smore,” you won’t want the other anymore. Alma pointed out that everyone literally smiled as the dessert was set down on the table! A dark chocolate brownie is baked with a graham cracker crust, topped with coffee ice cream, and a spoonful of Kahlua sauce that tastes like fancy marshmallow crème.

Rather drink your dessert? Order a Lime Lite After—it’s a restaurant classic that has stood the test of time. Bailey’s, Chambord Liqueur, Kahlua, and cream are blended to make this adult milkshake. “This truly is the ultimate perfect ending to a wonderful meal.” Ashley knows what she’s talking about—her shirt literally said But first, cocktails!

Ironically timed, Donna asked the ladies what their fitness goals for the year were as everyone sat stuffed to the brim. Slowing down to enjoy the little moments fits seamlessly with another concept the ladies had in common—being physically active with kids, husbands, and girlfriends. From Peloton bikes, all types of yoga, running, and being outdoors in general, a theme of integrated wellness immerged as the night’s common denominator—we eat with our families and friends, why not work out with out with them? And as 2019 buds, bear in mind that making The Lime Lite your cheat meal will be well worth the extra cardio.