moving to bakersfield
i am a curently a culinary student and line cook in alabama but after graduation i will be moving to bakersfield.. i have family there.. do you have any recomendations of good restaurants in the area?
Since I love Basque food and culture I take recommending Basque places very seriously.
The best of Basque in Bakersfield is the Noriega Hotel. It is the only place that serves a traditional one sitting in Bakersfield. The food is delicious with the pickled tongue the star. Every night is a different menu. The other patrons are another highpoint.
Benjies is the next best choice, although the experience and food doesn't compare.
We just visited the Noriega Hotel for the first time on Thursday night. The experience was great but not because of the food. Rather, the sum of its parts was greater than the individual components. If you like a bit of surrealism with your dinner, this is the place.
We arrived a little late because the place is rather tricky to find. The hotel is more of a residence for local people, old timers and migrant workers. It is located in a really dark, creepy industrial part of town, next to the railroad tracks (we were told this made it easy for Basque herders to ship their sheep). We walked in the door and entered this creaky, cavernous (and empty) bar. We walked through the bar into the dining room, which consisted of three long rows of tables in an equally antiquated, cavernous environment. You could feel the age of the place. Everything is served family style.
The menu was a huge mishmash of very mediocre to good food. We went on beef stew and rib night. The ribs and pickled tongue were great. The rest of the menu was mediocre. I know that the "new world" Basque menu is largely a mishmash of things that looks like they were just clearing out the pantry, but it actually is a very specific collection of oddball items. Lettuce salad (tasty and crisp), beans, overcooked spaghetti in tomato sauce, cabbage soup (with a spicy sauce you mix in), They kept bringing more and more bowls, one after another. Beef stew was tender but not well spiced, a bit bland. Ordinary bread. Cottage cheese (why?). French fries (pretty good, though not crisp). Salsa. Bleu cheese (again, why?). They kept bringing out plate after plate after plate of random food, topped off with a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream. The whole shebang cost $20.
The whole thing left us a bit puzzled, but entertained nonetheless. It was an absurd amount of random food, with some odd clientele who made the experience all the more surreal and interesting. I'd love to expose some of my friends to this experience, and I'd even like to go back to check out the menu on alternate nights.
Tacos - Los Tacos de Huichos at 18th and Union. Best al pastor tacos on the planet. Spicy, creamy, guacamole salsa is like nothing else you'll get north of the border. Fish tacos, sopes, and much more. Very cheap...tacos start at 99 cents. Everything else is good there, except their bar drinks, which are a bit lackluster, which brings us to...
Margaritas - Mexicali. On 18th, about 3 blocks west of Union. Great dark little bar with exceptional hand mixed margaritas on the rocks.
Basque - Many places to choose from. Woolgrowers, Noriega's, etc. My favorite is Benji's on Rosedale Highway just west of the 99. The entire meal is exceptional, but the highlight is the salad...best I've ever had anywhere. Bar is also good for passing time if you get there a bit early.
Dewar's for ice cream and candy. Two locations - 1120 Eye St. (the original) and 9530 Hageman Rd. in the northwest section of town.
Stopped in last Friday on the way down to Irvine. LadyPB and I split an al pastor torta, I had an al pastor and a cabeza taco as well, both quite good. I must have put too much of one of the green salsas (can't recall which) on the pastor taco which masked the flavor. But the torta (neever thought I'd say this) was even better than the one at my beloved Don Pepe's here in Fresno. I even liked the roll better, blanking on the name, more of an oval shape (DP's uses the more torpedo shaped one, that has to be hollowed out some for the filling). The roasted jalapenos, and chopped cilantro on the condiment/salsa bar took it over the top.
BTW, noticed Don Pepito Pupuseria near the NW corner of California and Chester. Any 4k-1-1 on this place?
For Italian food I like Uricchio's downtown and Luigi's for lunch and the deli. For BBQ, it's Champs. For steaks there old school KC Steak House. Chinese food has Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks. For Breakfast and lunches there's 24th Street Cafe and The Knotty Pine.
24th Street Cafe
1415 24th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301
1203 18th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301