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Sep 21, 1999 11:42 PM

Basque in Bakersfield, CA?

  • r

Can anyone recommend Basque restaurants in
Bakersfield? I really enjoy the huge, family-style
ritual at the Noriega Hotel, but would like to find
something that's less of a time commitment -- and
offers some options. (I find the lard-fried french
fries irresistible, but my fellow diners shudder at
the thought.) Thanks in advance.

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  1. j
    jonathan gold

    Noriega is by far the best Basque place in Bakersfield, worth a drive from anywhere in Southern or
    Central California. If you're coming a ways, there is no reason to compromise by going anywhere else.
    And if there's a course you don't care for--and why wouldn't you want the garlic beef ribs, the oxtail
    stew, the roast lamb?--there are 11or so others in the meal to compensate. And as you stated,
    lard-fried potatoes. For $15, including a bottomless bottle of wine.

    However, if you're just driving through town and it doesn't happen to be either noon or 7 p.m., the
    only times Noriega serves, I could possibly see going to Wool Growers just down the block (which lets
    you choose an entree) or the splendid Pyrenees Cafe across the street (which doesn't, but has the best
    bar in the area: try the exemplary picon punch). Benji's has a great set-up, which is to say the
    cabbage soup, salsa, bread, and pickled tongue usually served at the beginning of a Basque
    boardinghouse meal, and will serve it separately, without the succeeding courses.

    8 Replies
    1. re: jonathan gold

      How about elsewhere in the San Joaquin Valley? I know
      there are Basque restaurants in Fresno and Los Banos,
      and probably elsewhere, but I haven't tried any of
      them. Bakersfield is way out of my way, but I go
      through Fresno whenever I go up to the Sierra, so a
      good Basque place would be a welcome stop.

      1. re: Tom Hilton
        jonathan gold

        Wool Growers in Los Banos is first rate, if not quite up to the standard of the Noriega. A worthy
        8-mile detour from I-5.

        1. re: jonathan gold

          I live in Bakersfield. When we go for Basque it is so hard to decide which one to go to. Each of our Basque restaurants has its own speciality. I feel sorry for anyone that loves Basque like we do and don't have the choice we do.

          1. re: Don

            Hi Don, could you name the specialties at each of these restaurants.?

          2. re: jonathan gold

            I KNOW Basque as I am a huge fan and eat it every where its available. Fresno is c+, Los Banos b, but NORIEGA's is supreme, but serves only family style no menu. For the best menu its Woolgrowers, without a doubt.And Luigi's one block away is the best lunch in BK. TRY the Sat only hambuger on a hard french roll. Or the pastrami, but always get a side of the pasta of the day..

          3. re: Tom Hilton
            Julie Jenkins

            There is a famous Basque restaurant downtown in Fresno in the Hotel Basque (?) by the railway tracks that has been operated since it was built in the late 20s.

            1. re: Julie Jenkins

              The Basque Hotel is the best of the basque here in Fresno.. delicious lentil soup and pork chops when you can get them. The Shepherd's Inn has great garlic fried chicken.
              I find Santa Fe Basqe wayyy too touristy myself.

          4. re: jonathan gold
            george osner

            Any comments on Chateau Basque?

          5. I hope somebody else who has had Basque food in the Basque Country of either Spain or France can tell me what their opinion is of the Basque food in Bakersfield or other places in the States.
            I've been to Woolgrowers and it in no way resembled what I was used to in the Basque Country. Completely different animal. What gives?

            2 Replies
            1. re: snort

              It is my understanding that the "family style" that is popular around here is an American Basque phenomenon.. the French and Spanish Basques don't eat like that.. they probably started doing it like this in the boardinghouses because it's just easier to feed people like that.

              1. re: foodchick45

                No, I meant that the food doesn't resemble Basque cuisine in PaĆ­s Vasco.