• Norma, Rosa and Jesus Diaz have owned and operated Bakersfield-based La Rosa Fruit Bars and Ice Cream for more than 35 years. Jesus Diaz, right, started the business in 1980 with wife Rosa and now daughter Norma runs the business, headquartered on Niles Street.

    La Rosa celebrating fruits of family's labor

    On a hot day in many Bakersfield neighborhoods, listen closely and you can hear them — the four bells of the paleteria carts carrying La Rosa fruit and ice cream bars. That’s the siren call of a sweet local tradition going strong since 1980. The business, started by Jesus and Rosa Diaz, continues

  • Acai is headed downtown with Rio Acai Bowls, which should open in late August.

    THE DISH: Downtown ready to be bowled over, and try this tri-tip sandwich

    By this time next month, downtown will be all in for acai with the addition of a healthy food spot on Chester Avenue. In a sweet coincidence, Rio Acai Bowls is headed to the spot that, years ago, was home to See’s Candies. Formerly a partner in Rutz Acai and Cafe, Justin Cummings is striking out

  • Edilberto Guzman hand-tosses a pizza at California Pizza Kitchen in Bakersfield. It’s surprising how little space is devoted to pizzas on the menu — it’s a narrow column list on the inside, writes Californian restaurant critic Pete Tittl. It makes sense the chain has rebranded to emphasize its initials these days since the P — for pizza — is now no longer front and center.

    PETE TITTL: 'P' no longer the star at evolving California Pizza Kitchen

    Across the country, mid-priced restaurant chains have been hurting since the start of the last recession. Places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, P.F. Chang’s, Applebee’s, Chili’s and others have watched consumers tighten spending or patronize locally owned establishments. In other words, they’ve

  • Stakes high in McDonald's latest Kern test market trial

    For faltering fast food behemoth McDonald’s Corp., the path to restored relevance could well lead through Bakersfield The once-mighty hamburger empire, trying to turn around many months of steady decline, is experimenting with an innovative, high-techy sandwich-ordering option — and, as it and

  • Sushi Time server Hyewon Jhon is preparing to serve salmon sashimi at the restaurant on Coffee Road in Bakersfield. A new place in the northwest, Sushi Time offers a sense of joy in both the staff and the menu that will make it a worthy competitor to Love Sushi and Sushi Moon on that side of town. Though it’s new, it’s off to an impressive start in so many areas.

    PETE TITTL: Anytime is Sushi Time with fish this fresh

    It’s great when a sushi restaurant shows flair and imagination, particularly in the rolls and the names of the rolls. But what’s even more important, crucial really, is the freshness of the fish. Sushi Time, a new place in the northwest, has that part down pat, and there’s a sense of joy in both

  • Bakersfield OTR, which originated in Ohio, just added a location in Charlotte, N.C., bringing the chain's total restaurants to five. When will one come to the actual Bakersfeld?

    THE DISH: New Craft Tap House ready to pour it on

    Work is continuing at the old Garden Spot on Truxtun Avenue to create Craft Tap House, a brew pub offering no fewer than 50 craft beers with food. Partners on the project are Mike Miller, owner of Amestoy’s on the Hill; Imbibe owner Dave Dodd; Collin Reimer, co-owner of Prime Cut, J&M’s and

  • Rosa Brothers Milk Co. will take its new lactose-free chocolate milk to the Fresno Food Expo next week. The event is open to the public July 23.

    THE DISH: Fresno winning in this food fight

    We’ve won many battles in the Bakersfield vs. Fresno war but the 559 has us beat on a couple of food fronts. The Fresno Food Expo, highlighting locally owned and based food companies in the San Joaquin Valley, is one. Although most of the show is marketed to retail, food service and export

  • HERB BENHAM: LIfting my foot off the gas

    I have gas. I've had gas for 30 years. I've decided to get rid of gas. I'm talking about my gas barbecue, which has served us well but will soon serve us less. I'm switching to charcoal. Charcoal, oak, mesquite, almond, maybe olive. Wood or a forest-related product. This is no

  • Valentien server Gabby French was dressed as Marie Antoinette for Bastille Day, but stayed calm and didn't "lose her head" when the popular Bakersfield restaurant got busy.

    Viva la Valentien! Restaurant celebrating all week

    Call it a French kiss to Bakersfield: Every year, Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar celebrates Bastille Day with special French menu items, but the real fun is in the Marie Antoinette-era costumes worn by staff and customers to celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. The

  • Pastrami sandwich with onion rings at Amestoy's on the Hill.

    PETE TITTL: Amestoy's a throwback to bar food tradition

    Though a bar that served a decent lunch was a common feature of America in the past, especially out east, such establishments are as rare as cool August days in Bakersfield. But one dive bar that serves a pretty reasonable weekday lunch is Amestoy’s on the Hill in the northeast. After hearing

  • Molcajete mixto, which features steak, shrimp, chicken and cactus, at Habanero’'s Mexican Grill & Cantina. The bacon around the shrimp adds an unexpected dimension to the traditional Mexican dish.

    PETE TITTL: Variety the spice of life at Habanero's

    There is a tendency in the restaurant business to embrace the fresh and the shiny, the dazzling, the bright new toy, as if we were infants in cribs gazing up at a mobile twirling in front of us. It’s human nature, but sometimes lost in the process are promising restaurants that need the profits to

  • Cafe Med's shrimp and avocado salad. “You just have to be able to chop,” said Kim Fannon, manager of Cafe Med's deli next door to the southwest restaurant. “It’s a quick and easy dish. There are no special techniques required, other than cleaning the shrimp.”

    From their kitchen to yours: They don't skimp on shrimp at Cafe Med

    Deep in the middle of a hot Bakersfield summer, a fresh and cool salad with a kick is the way to go at meal time. So says Kim Fannon, Cafe Med deli manager. At her restaurant, salads reign supreme this time of year. After all, when it’s hot outside you probably don’t want soup or heavy pasta, she

  • Cotton candy grapes, shown here in a vineyard near McFarland in 2013, are the result of years of cross-breeding techniques used in creating designer fruits.

    THE DISH: A bunch of good news for grapes

    Health magazine gave a shoutout to locally grown cotton candy grapes in a recent list. The candy-sweet green variety grown by the Grapery made the publication’s list of “five delicious veggies you’ve never heard of — and need to try.” Along with the taste, the grapes are lauded for their heart-

  • Two customers wait in line for lunch at Tacos Mi Casa.

    PETE TITTL: Best Bakersfield taco trucks a parking lot away

    Food trucks are not new — they’ve been around as long as working people have needed food brought to the job site — but they’ve been growing in popularity over the past five years, especially in Southern California. We happened to be in Santa Barbara about a year ago when Four Seasons, the high-end

  • The Belvedere Room at the Padre Hotel has stayed on top of its game with an updated menu and classy atmosphere. It was named to a BuzzFeed list of must-try restaurants in California.

    THE DISH: Belvedere Room lands on BuzzFeed list

    Bakersfield made another list, but this time we’re happy to be there. The Belvedere Room in the Padre Hotel made a list of 16 California restaurants every foodie must try from website Buzzfeed and its brand publisher Visit California. Offering “fine dining at the southern end of California’s

  • Dining Out with Pete Tittl

    PETE TITTL: La Colonia hard to find but worth the search

    There are restaurants in Bakersfield you can best classify as the culinary pioneers: Bill Lee’s, Rice Bowl, KC Steakhouse, Mexicali, Sinaloa — the ones dating to the ’70s or even farther back. They’ve inspired enough regulars to keep the doors open in what can be a very fickle business. A peer in

  • Booze by the barrel this weekend

    What happens when you expect 1,000 people at your event and get 500 more attendees ready to imbibe, snack and dance? If you’re the B-Town Barrel Fest, you just roll with it. Organizer Oscar Prado said the surprising success of the inaugural tasting last year is what sealed the second run of the