Only about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Los Angeles is Bakersfield. I've made some stops over recent years to have breakfast and to stop by for destination craft beer. I've never dedicated time to fully explore what Bakersfield has to offer.
I had to the opportunity to spend 3 nights in Bakersfield so I decided to make the most out of it, by exploring the food and drink in the area. Bakersfield is so close to LA for a day trip, but it felt I was in another part of the country. During this trip, I visited areas in the city where mass poverty and crime is evident with most homes are fenced in and padlocked.
I was told to be careful and that there is a significant population of white supremecists in the area with homes proudly displaying the Confederate flag. Bakersfield is so close to LA, but in 3 days, I felt like I was outside California.
There were restaurants I visited where outdoor dining brought fear to my senses. So many tables so close together and many people within close proximity while not wearing masks. For me, I took my food and drink to my car where I enjoyed my food from the safety of my car. I still don't have the guts to brave being maskless with the public.
I stayed at the Marriott at Convention Center which is located in Downtown Bakersfield.
Call me paranoid, but the first thing on my agenda was to sanitize every surface in this hotel room. I brought some hospital grade disinfectant to wipe everyting down. I also brought my own bedsheets and pillow. And as always, I bring my slippers to wear in the room and shower.
First thing on my agenda was coffee so I headed to Moo Creamery for some locally roasted coffee beans coffee. I could not resist ordering a banana and walnut housemade ice cream. I was told to try their chilaquiles for breakfast and peanut butter hamburger for lunch. They place is a bit hidden but packed with patrons dining outside in the patio.
For dinner, I headed to Los Cabos the Pupusa House #1 for pupusas. I ordered my usual lorocco and revuelta pupusas. These were difficult to handle by hand that I had to use plastic ware because it fell apart. There's plenty cheese in this and the pupusa fell apart when I tried to hold it by hand.
I stopped by Imbibe Wine & Spirits to pickup some local craft beer. I spoke with the beer buyer who told me that I had to spend 2 days in Bakersfield after the pandemic to experience her favorite bar and kitchy restaurants. She told me her favorite bar is Tiki-Ko and KC Steakhouse for steaks. She also told me not to miss Great Change Brewery as their head brewer came from Kern River Brewing.
I was not really thinking Italian in Bakersfield, but I was told that Luigi's is a must and is a classic Italian restaurant with a loyal local following. They are known for their Bolognese sauce and sell it by the jar. It came with a choice of hard or soft roll (see below). I was told to go with soft roll. The scene was buzzing and packed in the outdoor patio behind the restaurant. I personally wouldn't eat there with all the unmasked diners I saw on my way to the restroom.
Another must try is the sourdough bread at Pyreneese Bakery which supplies the local Basque restaurants with bread.
With a perfect 5 stars on Yelp, I had to try the barbecue at Porkchop & Bubbas. The brisket sandwich was a favorite of a staff member so I went with that and their recommended mac and cheese. No regrets here. The brisket and cheesy mac were both very good.
The beer buyer at Imbibe recommended Temblor Brewing because she said their food was "bomb." The beertender said that the brussels were a good option if I wanted to go vegetarian for dinner. He also recommended the key lime pie kettle sour.
I was craving Mexican as I do in Bakersfield so I decided to stop by this wildcard choice near my hotel called Sanchos Tacos. Oh I wish we had one of these in LA. Based on their website, looks like they are a mini chain with locations in OC and SD. I read the chef used to prepare food for local band, Korn. The bass was booming with my childhood 80's hits, I felt I was inside someone's tricked out lowrider. You can't go wrong with the fish burrito. I ordered it and wanted to come back to try more off the menu.
Smith's Bakeries is another classic establishment that is well known in the community. They are known for their champagne cupcake and maple bars. A must try if you have a sweet tooth.
I love and appreciate old time, classic establishments. Dewar's is another classic spot you cannot miss and support during these times. I ordered a coffee ice cream sundae and sample of their famous chews. The next day I came back for more of the peanut butter chews and some peppermint chews to bring back home. I also could not resist getting a root beer float.
For my last hurrah, I had to go Basque. The most unique thing to try is pickled tongue. It sounds wrong and kind of strange, but I had to try it. I called Chateau Basque and asked if they can make me a pickled tongue sandwich for lunch. They told me to come on by to the back of the restaurant to pick it up in my car. The gentleman included some au jus to dip the sandwich in. I am HUGE fan of French dip sandwich and this was a French dip on steroids. Better than any French dip I've had my life. The tongue against my tongue delicate and tender. It's like I French kissed a sandwich. The bread is crisp so the contrasting textures and flavor to me was a mindblowing great lunch.
The peanut butter chews and the pickled tongue sandwich is worth the drive from LA. Other than trying to find this sandwich in Chino, another Basque community, this Basque pickled sandwich is something one must head out to Bakersfield to try. If you know where to get this sandwich in LA proper, please drop me a line.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.