For many, the "new year, new me" after New Year's Day can go a couple of ways. You can start looking into healthier dining options and step up (or start) the exercises or you can indulge further with no regard for the calendar. We've got you covered either way.

Lighter fare

Salads and juices are a good way to eat light but if you're looking for some heartier yet healthier options, read on. This month, a number of restaurants are promoting new, lower-calorie options.

Olive Garden added three new entrees to its Tastes of the Mediterranean menu — all with entrees 600 calories or under — this week. The dishes are: salmon piccata, featuring a lemon garlic butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and capers, served with parmesan-crusted zucchini (590 calories); spiralized veggie pasta featuring zucchini and squash noodles tossed with whole grain linguine, tomatoes and garlic in a scampi herb sauce (560 calories); and chicken giardino, grilled meat and a medley of fresh vegetables tossed with pappardelle pasta in a light, lemon chicken herb sauce (600 calories).

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse added more options to its Enlightened menu including: Peruvian quinoa bowls with vegetables or roasted shrimp, chicken or salmon, ranging from 430 to 780 calories, shrimp and arugula pita tacos (790 calories) and barbacoa cauliflower pita tacos (650 calories), both served with seasonal bistro grains on the side.

Red Robin is also offering a new dish that can help folks stick to their resolutions. The gourmet veggie burger starts with a custom-blended, ancient-grain-and-quinoa veggie patty, which is topped with Swiss cheese, Parmesan-sprinkled mushrooms, tomato bruschetta salsa, avocado slices, sun-dried tomato spread and shredded romaine. It's served on a whole grain bun with bottomless steak fries.

Those who want to eat lighter can order it with a "keep it simple" build (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions) or as a vegan option served with fresh tomato bruschetta salsa, avocado slices and shredded romaine wrapped in a lettuce bun served with bottomless broccoli.


For those not concerned with the nutritional value, these spots have some new selections as well.

Back at Red Robin, diners can order the new Sir Acha tavern double, topped with sriracha onion straws, American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and spicy mayo; or the taco tavern double, added in the fall, which tops two fire-grilled beef patties with fresh guacamole, crunchy tortilla strips, Pepper Jack, lettuce and zesty salsa. Those 21 and over can pair those with a Tito’s Cream Soda, a mix of Tito’s vodka with vanilla and fruit syrups.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar has an eye on keeping your wallet and waistline stuffed with the return of all-you-can-eat riblets, which is joined by all-you-can-eat chicken tenders. The limited-time offer, which kicked off Monday, allows diners to enjoy plate after plate of pork ribs or chicken tenders (or mix and match per plate!) for just $12.99. Staring plates are 12 ounces of ribs or seven tenders followed by refills of 6 ounces of pork or three tenders. Either entree is served with classic fries, which are also refilled with each new plate. The deal is a dine-in only option.

Guests can wash it all down with Blue Moon beer, currently offered in a promotion of $2 for 10-ounce drafts.

Muertos Kitchen and Lounge (1514 Wall St.) just added 10 hot dogs to its menu, ranging from the simple (weenie dog, served with ketchup or mustard) to the complex (Muertos "sorta" Sonora, topped with pinto beans, chopped bacon, roja and avocado salsas and mayonnaise dressing). We'll try a few and report back to you.

On a side note, Muertos will join the ranks of Uber Eats later this month, meaning you can get your Hudson burger and popcorn pork delivered right to your door.

The Silver Fox Starlite Lounge (702 18th St.) is gearing up its kitchen for full service by first offering street dogs and tacos. Note, food is only served from 5 p.m. to midnight for now. We'll check back in when the offerings expand.

Two tickets to Paradise

Pita Paradise, which enjoyed a holiday break for its food truck downtown and its restaurant on White Lane, is back on the grill Wednesday. And in celebration of its two years in business, it will reward its customers with $5 chicken shawarma, gyros or falafel pitas. The offer is available at the truck only (parked at 21st and H streets) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Wings the thing for third festival

Bakersfield Wing Festival recently announced it will return June 2 to the Kern County Fairgrounds. This is the third year for the food event, bringing together the area's tastiest and tangiest chicken wings.

The festival moved to the fairgrounds last year, allowing for more attendees (1,200 total) along with wing, other food and retail vendors. Among the festival highlights are the contests for "best in show" and wing eating. 

The event will run from 3 to 7 p.m. June 2 at the fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St. Visit for more details as the date nears — or keep reading The Dish.

Breakfast bigger at Fresco Mexican Grill

Fresco Mexican Grill owner Evan Aguilar checked in to share that his two locations (1431 California Ave. and 2402 Columbus St.) have greatly expanded their breakfast offerings.

The menu now includes new plates (machaca, plantains and eggs or steak and eggs), burritos (machaca or steak and eggs), tortas (chorizo and eggs, machaca or steak and eggs) and tacos (chorizo and eggs or steak and eggs)

Along with the new selections, the chain officially added the chilaquiles burrito, breakfast torta, breakfast taco and egg white taco to the menu. Those items had been available for some time but not listed on the menu, Aguilar said.

New and different

Narducci's Burgers and Italian Ice is now open at 2104 O St., which has housed many restaurants, including Hidden Cafe Bar & Restaurant, Narducci’s North Beach Cafe, the Habit (not the burger chain) and Phattys. Despite the name, restaurateur Jimmy Narducci has nothing to do with the business, owned by Trevor Crowder. Burger options include a California burger on grilled sourdough parmesan bread with Gruyere cheese, bacon, avocado and house-made Russian dressing, and the 'Ducci burger, half bacon and half ground chuck, with Gruyere, avocado and roasted jalapeno aioli. Ices come in a variety of flavors including mango madness, bada bing black cherry, pineapple express and original lemon pucker. ... Sugar Twist is offering a cranberry orange cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting, cranberry and candied orange as its January selection. ... Rubio’s Coastal Grill has gone wild, adding wild Argentinian red shrimp to the menu. The shrimp, served in a bowl or as a taco, is grilled, then drizzled with warm butter flavored with a blend of smoked paprika, sundried tomatoes, sea salt, garlic and oregano. ... In-N-Out is now serving hot cocoa, made with Ghirardelli chocolate. The beverage is not new, per se, as the chain offered it first in the 1950s before dropping it from the menu.

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