The Planing Mill got its name due to its original location. Not long ago the popular local spot was housed in the historic Visalia Planing Mill, where wood products were crafted as far back as 1851. It was a rustic space overflowing with charm, but the restaurant quickly outgrew it.
The new, larger space is just down the road. The rustic charm remains, but the bar is larger, and there are a seating area with round tables for big groups and a private party room available for special occasions.
The menu offers classics with a few surprise twists. Shareable appetizers include Artichoke Fritters and Mozzarella Sticks, and you can’t go wrong with Frank’s Buffalo Wings. They sport just the right balance of tender chicken, crisp skin, and pleasant heat.
Salads are loaded with vibrant greens. Greek is a good choice, topped with kalamata olives and feta. The balsamic reduction salad dressing is sweet and tangy, an excellent fit for any salad.
There are multiple sandwich options for those who don’t want pizza, but pizza is the specialty. Crust, which the kitchen calls a New Haven/California mash-up, is a good balance of chewy and crisp. You can have classic pepperoni, sausage, and veggies; and there are wild-card artisan creations that include smoked pulled pork, garlic alfredo, artichokes, even fried Brussels sprouts and potato chips. Thai Pie is a must, featuring chicken, peppers, peanuts, sriracha, cilantro, and Pad Thai sauce. You can also build your own or try the outlier, known as the Big Red, which is a rectangular Detroit-style pizza. That one takes 25 minutes to cook, and the menu warns that only 13 are made each day.
Check out the tap list, where you find beers from California’s top craft breweries. The Mill Deal, offered for lunch during the week, gets you a fat slice of the pizza of the day with soda or beer for a reasonable price.
If you plan to visit on a weekend night or on a Sunday when the game is on, you’ll likely wait for seat. The Planing Mill may have moved to a bigger space, but its popularity has only grown.