Basque in Bakersfield.........Help!
S.O. and I are driving thru Bakersfield Friday on our way to Kings Canyon. Would like to try our hands (mouths) at a Basque dinner. What is the best suggestion. I know there's many places. Woolgrowers seem to be the most popular. Would prefer a dinner with fish and chicken options and not just with meat on the menu.
Also would like to eat "family style".
Thanks in advance....
Thank you all! Went to Woolgrowers on Friday.
Good thing: Just rolled in w/o a reservation. It was packed but only waited about 15-20 minutes. Very nice efficent staff.
Bad thing: Not crazy about the food. Salsa was hotter than the sun in the shade. Beans were good in the cabbage soup but, carried this w/me all weekend. Good thing we were up in Sequoia! Salad and tomatoes YUM but, don't eat anyone's tongue. Ordered one entree and shared - chicken of Mayrie. Nothing to write home about. Fries were soggy and the spaghetti, well.....need I continue. Glad I tried. But I wouldn't rush to try again. Sorry to the lovers of this place. It was very crowded tho and maybe good fun with a bunch of folks joining in, kind'a like a chinese restaurant. KQ
I’ve been eating Basque in Bakersfield since 1972. The times have changed. They actually used to raise lots of lamb in the area then. The sheepherder’s picnic was great. I’ve haven’t been to it for many years so I’m not sure how good it is these days.
Back in the 70s Mayie ran the old WoolGrowers Café. You would eat family style and when she decided, the tables were cleared and everyone danced. Nowadays she’d get bad reviews for being rude. Many things have changed, but IMO the new WoolGrowers still has pretty good chow. If you really want chicken and fish go some place else. Although Basque cooks know how to do fish, it’s not what Bakersfield is known for. Have a splurge of beef, lamb and everything that comes with it. DO NOT pass on tongue and take a stomach pump is necessary. Try and avoid eating for several days before. It’s one of the best gorges you can have.
I say Benji's, which has a great set up like Woolgrowers, get ready for lots of food. Benji's , I know offers fish and shrimp on their entree menu. Noriega's is great for food and atmosphere, you sit at long tables with other diners, but usually only have a few choices for entrees, each night something different.
Benji's, 4001 Rosedale Hwy. (805) 328-0400, 11:30-2 W-M 5:30-9:30 W-M
Here is a map on the Kern County Basque Club web site showing the locations of the different Basque restaurants in town:
Note that the Basque Club itself is for members only.
The last time I was at Pyrenees, they had family style dining. I believe it was a set menu (meaning no choice) and you passed everything to others around the table.
As for a varied menu, try Chalet Basque:
It's not family style dining but they have fish and chicken dishes on the menu. Make sure you take note of the "extras" you get with the dinner menu (top right on the menu page). It's usually called "The Start-up" and can be a meal in itself.
I think Wool Growers has the best food if you want family style try Noriega but they only have one seating for dinner at 7:00 pm.
525 Sumner St, Bakersfield 93305
Wool Growers Restaurant
620 E 19th St, Bakersfield 93305
Consensus here is Woolgrowers. I have not tried it. There is also Benji's which is on Stockdale Highway, just west of the 99. (Stockdale Hwy is the exit.) It's been a fair number of years since I was there, so I can't give an accurate review, but perhaps someone else can.
Do you plan to be in town for lunch or dinner?
As far as I know both are family style.
I think Benji's is the best. The tongue with garlic sauce, which is part of the "set-up" is to die for. We usually have the lamb, but I've had the scallone (or is it calamari?), and it's very good. We try to stop there every time we travel "99".
Mrs. FAT T has tried the Woolgrowers and was very disappointed. YMMV.