Contributing columnist

Reader wrote to recommend a barbecue restaurant he loved in Tehachapi.

"This little town is loaded with great places to visit, including our favorite family vineyards Souza Vineyards , which is a family-own business with some great wines. My wife and I were traveling back from Mammoth and decided to stop at the Red House BBQ .

"Now, first off, I'm from the South and to tell you the truth, there is not a restaurant in Bakersfield that can match what Southern BBQ is like. I have tried them all. If I had to say I had a favorite it would be Pappy's on White Lane. It's all about the wood and the rub that make the huge difference. The only place that even comes close is JB BBQ in the LA area."

Irvine ordered the combo plate with ribs and pulled pork with mac and cheese and chili beans as the sides, while his wife got the ribs with mac and cheese and potato salad. Dessert was Indian fry bread. He said he loved the high-ceilinged atmosphere with American Indian décor.

"I had a funny encounter with a waitress," he wrote. "I asked her if she had to say a style of barbecue, what would she say? Texas, Georgia, Carolinas, Midwest? They are all different. Well her answer was, 'The owner/chef is a Native American Indian from South Dakota, so I guess I would say Southern.' I almost fell out of my chair."

The food was good and bad, but overall worth recommending, he said.

"The pork didn't have much smoke flavor and was a little salty. This, of course, was without sauce. The ribs, on the other hand, were pretty awesome. The dry rub and smoke had a great balance. The chili beans were different, loaded with meat and a pretty spicy kick. For those looking for chili, they may be a little surprised. There were three sauces (mustard, sweet and tangy and one with a little kick) and all were great. The mac and cheese was the BOMB. Super-tangy cheese. If I had to guess, it would be cheddar based, and large macaroni noodles cooked perfectly. The Indian fry bread was OK. It's similar to a funnel cake just in a different form. It missed its mark.

"All in all the Red House BBQ was a good place to go. We are looking forward to trying the rest of the dishes."

Red House BBQ is located at 426 E. Tehachapi Blvd., and the phone is 822-0772.

Reader recommendation

Reader Craig Holland wrote to recommend a new dish at the Lie-N Den , the Calamari fries.

"It's EIGHT sticks of breaded fried calamari strips the size of your middle finger for only FIVE BUX! Not at all greasy. Arguably the best calamari I have ever had. Add a side of Kathy's macaroni salad, also the best I have ever had at a restaurant, and you have a great lunch. It was super." Lie-N Den is located at 215 Niles, and the phone is 325-9765.

New and different

Carl's Jr. now has a Mexican sandwich as a temporary menu item, a torta with chicken or steak, guacamole, cheese, hot sauce and lettuce and tomato on a soft Telera roll ... Red Robin has a new happy hour menu starting at $2.50 from 3 to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.-close Monday through Friday ... Famous Dave's has added "beer can chicken" menu items from poultry marinated in Budweiser, then smoked with old-fashioned charcoal. The items include a chicken and rib combo and a beer can chicken salad sandwich ... Wienerschnitzel has introduced Der Chicken Dippers, all-white meat, boneless strips with three dipping sauces (ranch, barbecue and Buffalo). One-third pound portions are going for $3.59 ... El Torito has four new limited-time items: adobo shrimp appetizer with jalapeno butter, Azteca enchiladas (made with beef, pasilla chiles, onions and beef), Patron tequila shrimp (with a tequila-molcajete salsa) and tostada de ceviche made with marinated halibut and shrimp ... Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse has brought back its twin petite ribeyes for a limited time, two steaks totaling about 9 ounces with green beans, starch and soup or salad for $16.99. Perfect for those nights when you want to split an entrée ... Wine Wednesdays are a hot trend in the restaurant business (half-price bottles on Hump Day, though I'm not sure that's a good idea for anyone who works on a Thursday), so Macaroni Grill is offering that promotion on Thursday nights for a limited time ... Trader Joe's amazing new items include Cheesy Cheddar dogs (chunks of real cheese stuffed inside, $3.69 for a 12-ounce package), chili lime chicken burgers ($3.49 for four 4-ounce patties), "Thomcord grapes" (a result of crossbreeding Concord and Thompson grapes) ($2.79 a pound), Whole Wheat Lavash chips with olive oil and sea salt that are just begging for hummus ($1.99 a bag) and a respectable Central Coast chardonnay called Winnefred that is only $2.99 a bottle. It's a cheap wine that doesn't taste cheap.