Downtown will get a bit spicier starting Sunday when Cuban Cafe (Rincon Cubano) opens for business. 

For the past two months, the business, previously located down South Chester Avenue, has been remodeling the space last home to fine dining establishment Valentien Wine Bar and Restaurant, which closed in November. The complex at Truxtun Avenue and Oak Street has undergone another big change, with the recent closing of Craft Tap House. (Protege Hair Designs and Conroy's Flowers also operate there.)

With indoor and outdoor seating, the newly remodeled cafe will accommodate 40 diners. The slightly expanded menu includes a variety of authentic Cuban plates, sandwiches, soups, salads and Mexican plates. Weekly specials will include arroz con pollo ($11.99), rabo encendido (oxtail cooked in a pressure cooker until tender, served in a spicy sauce; $16.99) and carne con papas (beef stew with baked potatoes, served with rice and beans and fried plantains; $13.99).

The cafe opens Sunday with regular hours 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday,  10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and closed Saturday. For more updates, visit the restaurant's Facebook page

Open now or coming soon

Cuban Cafe is not the only new player downtown. Blue Oak Coffee Roasting out of Tehachapi opened a Bakersfield outpost this week at 1717 20th St., last home to The Cookie Jar. (Thanks to reader Phillip Scott for the tip.)

The new location is roasting beans on site, selling bags along with a cafe menu of hot and iced beverages and a wide assortment of pastries. 

Five Guys is coming to Valley Plaza in what will be the second Bakersfield location for the popular burger chain. No word yet on what's going up at the site of the former Sears Auto Center but we'll keep you posted.

And in exciting news for us folks in print media, The Pizza Press will soon be opening a Bakersfield location. Another addition to the local build-your-own pizza fast-casual scene, the primarily California chain has a fun menu with themed pizza named The Chronicle, The Herald, The Times and The Sun. Here's hoping the restaurant set to open at 12900 Brimhall Road adds a Californian special to the menu.

Support the first responders

Diners can honor California’s finest at the eighth annual Tips for CHiPs Luncheon on Wednesday. California Highway Patrol officers (and additional volunteers) will serve lunch at Outback Steakhouse to raise funds for the CHP Widows and Orphans Trust Fund, in memory of CHP Officer Mark Ehly.

Diners can choose from an entree of steak, chicken or salmon, along with salad, bread, vegetables, mashed potatoes and dessert. The meal also includes a bloomin’ onion for the table. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the steakhouse, 5051 Stockdale Highway. Cost is $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling Marty Casey at 916-812-9545 or Shannon Ehly at 428-0335.

Romano's Macaroni Grill wants to honor all first responders with a free meal. All police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and hospital medical staff members can receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs & Spaghetti at Italian restaurant through the month of October. The deal is available for dine-in meals only and personnel must show their credentials to redeem it.

Macaroni Grill is at 8850 Rosedale Highway.

It's burger time

KC Steakhouse, which just got a rave review from dining columnist Pete Tittl, is sticking with its commitment to supporting local suppliers. On Oct. 30 it will host Burgers and Beers, an event highlighting gourmet burgers using Santa Carota beef, raised in Kern, and craft beers from Santa Maria Brewing Co. Jeff Campbell, the local partner for the brewery will showcase some of his favorite selections, and KC chefs will present unique toppings and buns to pair with the aged beef. 

The pairings will be offered from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 30 at the restaurant, 2515 F St. Call 322-9910 to make reservations.

You might also want to check out KC's "Game of Thrones"-themed party on, you guessed it, Halloween. Read more in next week's Californian.

Halloween fun

Speaking of the holiday, families looking for a little Halloween treat should head to Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar where kids can eat free. From Oct. 29 through 31, up to two young trick-or-treaters can enjoy a free children's meal with purchase of an adult entree. Diners must have a Kids Eat Free voucher (available on the Bakersfield Applebee’s Facebook page, through the EClub email blast or at the restaurant). Offer good for children 12 and under ordering from the kids' menu.

Creamistry has a spooky seasonal offering: charcoal cookies and scream ice cream that can be served in midnight black waffles (cone or bowl). The special treat is available through Oct. 31.

Jim McArthur, who owns the Papa Murphy's Take N' Bake franchise on North Chester with his wife, alerted us to a "scream of a deal": a Jack-O Lantern pizza, rolled in the shape of a pumpkin, with a smiling Jack-O-Lantern face of pepperoni with olives as eyes, plus a one-pound take-and-bake order of chocolate chip cookie dough for $11. The pizza alone is $8, all available at Papa Murphy's locations this month.

Customers can also take part in a social media photo contest by posting a spooky selfie with their Jack-O-Lantern pizza with the hashtag #JackoSelfie on Twitter and Instagram, or uploading a spooky selfie directly to Papa Murphy’s Facebook page. Five lucky winners will land a gift card for pizza. The contest runs Oct. 16 through Nov. 1.

New and different

Cafe Smitten is offering two new espresso drinks this fall: a turmeric ginger latte and maple spice latte. ... Black Angus Steakhouse is offering a Baseball Deal, a steakhouse bacon cheeseburger and 16-ounce Bud Light for $10 on Saturday and Sunday. The deal is only available in the Bull's Eye Bar, which also offers an all-day happy hour on Sunday. ... Speaking of burgers, Farmer Boys added a double chili cheeseburger to its menu. The burger, featuring two beef patties topped with all-beef chili, American cheese, pickles and onions, will be available now through Jan. 1. ... The pumpkin pie martini ($8.75) is back at Tahoe Joe's.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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