In the hunt for coleslaw and knowing your cabbage in the Valley

Mark-John Clifford
Types of CabbageChew Out Loud

Everyone has their version of how a restaurant should make coleslaw. Many people like may in their coleslaw, while others like miracle whip (the fake mayo), as I call it. 

Then others like me enjoy a vinegar-based dressing with other herbs and spices in the mix.

I have even met some diners that like to squeeze a little lemon or orange on their coleslaw. It comes down to preference in the long run.

For me, I enjoy a coleslaw with just a tinge of vinegar in the dressing to give it a little kick. I also enjoy it when a little hot sauce or hot pepper is added to kick the coleslaw up a notch. There's a local spot that does just that. We'll talk about them in a minute.

Once we get the dressing figured out as to which is most desirable, then comes the cabbage and the rest of the ingredients to make the slaw.

Before we get to the places that I enjoyed, let's first look at the main ingredient that makes up a coleslaw.


Red/Purple/Magenta, Napa, Green, Savoy, Bok Choy are the main ones, and for the lovers of brussel sprouts, that's also considered a cabbage. I haven't seen a coleslaw made with brussel sprouts, but I bet someone out there has made one.

Let's break this list down

Red/Purple/Magenta: This cabbage is basically green except for the color. The head of red cabbage is a bit smaller than its cousin, the green cabbage, but it's tightly packed like green cabbage has moist leaves and is heavy for its size.

It's perfect when sliced thin for either coleslaw or to be pickled. It's also great for boiling or drying, except the color turning blue when prepared that way. This can be helped by adding something acidic to the cooking process, vinegar or maybe a lemon or lime.

Green: This is the Cadillac of cabbages as far as I am concerned, and I believe most chefs will agree. It can be used in a green salad to add crunch and more flavor. Of course, it is used for coleslaw as if you didn't know that already. 

It's also great fried, boiled, baked or even air fried as a snack topped with some lemon, salt, and pepper.

This cabbage can stand up to any dressing you want to use with it. Don't be afraid to try new and exciting dressings to tempt your taste buds.

Savoy: This cabbage also goes by the name of the curly head cabbage. With ruffled and deeply ridged leaves that are not as tightly packed as green and red cabbage. 

This cabbage is tender and splendid anyway you can think of preparing. Whether fried, added to a green salad, or just as a late-night snack fried in light olive oil with salt and lemon pepper topping it.

Give this cabbage your best shot; it won't let you down.
Napa CabbageSafeway

Napa: I know a host of chefs that consider Napa cabbage their favorite choice for coleslaw and other dishes. I'll admit to enjoying Napa cabbage just as much as the other on the list, but for I haven't tried it with a St. Patrick's Day meal, maybe one day I'll try.

It isn't only called Napa cabbage; it also goes by the names Chinese and Celery cabbage, so don't be confused.

This cabbage head looks nothing like the others and has a totally different taste when eaten. It looks more like a head of romaine lettuce than cabbage, with long light green leaves and white stalks.

Its mild flavor will surprise you when you get the finish of a kick of pepper after devouring it.
Bok ChoySimply Recipes

Bok Choy: Our final cabbage is shaped nothing like the ones above. It has long leaves coming out from a central stalk. It reminds many of Swiss chard, but with lighter green leaves.

It has a distinctive cabbage-like flavor. It's great in stir fry meals braised dishes which bring out its sweet taste. 

There are many other ways to prepare Bok Choy, and I suggest you try them all when you have the time.

The Hunt for Good Coleslaw

In my journey to find a good coleslaw around town, I ended up with three places that meet my taste test.

For this taste test, it was all on me since Patti is not a fan of coleslaw, and I enjoyed all of them.

They all tasted great with a few different ingredients in each, which made it hard to pick just one winner.

Huckleberry's in Clovis: The coleslaw is fresh, crisp, and moist. The dressing is a mix with a vinegar base. It had hints of basil, hot pepper, and a touch of lemon at the end. The salt and pepper ratio was perfect in that I didn't need to add anything.

Friday's: I know I write about Fridays a great deal, but their food always impresses me. Honestly, I haven't had a bad meal since we started going back, and I've been writing about them.

Their coleslaw is fresh and moist like Huckleberry's made with a vinegar-based dressing. There weren't hints of basil or other spices and herbs except for a bit of salt, but the flavor is there. The cabbage is sweet and tasty even if they don't salt and pepper enough for my taste.

I actually enjoy adding my own salt and pepper, so I get the taste I prefer. Overall it's right up there with the others on this list.
Dog House GrillThe Collegian - Fresno State

Dog House Grill: If you asked me to pick one standout from the others, this would be it. 

Their coleslaw, like the others, is fresh, moist, and just downright great tasting. Although they add one spice that gives this coleslaw a step above the rest, it doesn't hit the palate until the end.

They use a vinegar base with other veggies added, but there in the background, as it is sitting on your tongue, it is a little kick from either crushed red pepper flakes or maybe a hot sauce or cayenne pepper? I'll check next time I'm in there, but it's what sets this coleslaw apart from the others.

Now It's Your Turn

Not only have I've given you a little background on all of these cabbages as well as ideas on how to prepare them for your next meal, but also the three best places I've found so far for good, maybe even great coleslaw.

Now it's up to you to try making your coleslaw with these cabbages or going to one of these restaurants to see if you agree with my taste buds.

Whichever you choose to do, please let us know in the comments sections. Let us know if you know some other places we should check out for their coleslaw side. We're, especially me, are always on the hunt for great coleslaw in the Valley.

Buon Appetito

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA

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