As all Bakersfield locals have probably noticed by now, the city’s food scene has continued to evolve, especially over the last few years. Basque, Mexican, Mediterranean, American, Indian and Italian cuisines are just a few of the cultures and foods represented in Kern County. It also has its fair share of hip cafés to hang out with friends or get a cup of coffee. If you’re looking for something of the fine-dining sorts or just a casual spot for a Saturday morning, Bakersfield has you covered.
This is far from an all-encompassing guide, but we hope it pays homage to the classics that everyone knows and loves, as well as a few new spots that some might not have tried before. Treat yourself, or your family, after a long week by switching your Friday or Saturday night routine and giving one of these restaurants a visit. Oh, and tell them Bakersfield Life magazine sent you!
One of Bakersfield’s specialties is its Basque food, and there’s no shortage of Basque cuisine. While Noriega Hotel was a Basque staple in Bakersfield for years, it closed its doors a few years ago. However, thanks to its new owners, it recently reopened in a new location under new ownership.
In spite of the changes, the current owners have done their best to keep the menu as close to the original as possible, along with telling the story and history of the restaurant through photos and artifacts as dining guests step into the establishment.
Owner Koie Osathanugrah said the idea is to feel as though it’s a step back in time, a chance for people to forget about the outside world and whatever is worrying them when they walk inside.
If you are waiting to be seated for your meal, be sure to stop by the bar and try one of their signature drinks. From a traditional Moscow Mule to specialty drinks, such as their Pecan Punch, you will find something to enjoy. The bartending staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will personally find you something you can enjoy.
At Noriega’s, you will get more than just a meal; it’s a dining experience from start to finish. It is family style with longer tables, which provides a fun experience and an opportunity to meet some new faces seated near you.
On Friday afternoons, the meal starts with fresh bread, homemade salsa and some fresh bleu cheese. The combination of the bread, cheese and salsa is a great starter to the next course, the soup of the day, which was clam chowder.
The clam chowder is creamy, full of flavor with large cubes of potatoes, veggies and clams. You no longer have to drive to Pismo to find amazing clam chowder.
The next course is baked beans, a traditional Basque bean recipe. And, of course, mixing the beans with the clam chowder is encouraged, and is a delicious pairing.
Just before the main course is the salad, topped with an oil and vinegar dressing, light and perfect for summer.
Finally, the tri-tip, which was simply flavored with butter, salt and pepper and was as tasty and filling as the rest of the meal.
The menu changes daily, so be sure to call ahead to see what’s on the menu, if you’re craving something specific before you visit.
Dine in: 4809 Stockdale Highway, 93309
Want to visit other Basque spots that put Bakersfield on the map? Try these:
- Pyrenees - 601 Sumner St, 93305
- Benji’s - 4001 Rosedale Hwy, 93308
- Chalet Basque - 200 Oak St, 93304
- Wool Growers - 620 E 19th St, 93305
When desiring classic Italian food, Urrichio’s is a longtime favorite in Bakersfield. The real Italian sauce recipes have been passed down from owner Claire Porter’s grandmother, and have remained in the family history and the restaurant for years.
A cozy and chic spot for a night on the town, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or the fact that you've made it to Friday night, Urrichio’s is the spot to be.
If you just can’t wait to order the main dish, start with a few appetizers, like the mozzarella marinara, which is breaded mozzarella with marinara sauce on the side. If you’re craving seafood, there are excellent options, such as the fried calamari and crab cakes. Although dipped in batter or fried, it isn’t heavy on the stomach and leaves room for the main dishes.
However, there are also tantalizing side options, including the basil garlic bread, meatball and Bruschetta.
Have a few drinks and pretend you’re in Italy, as you take your time and get lost in conversation with the company you’re with. We suggest the lemon drop, complete with sugar on the rim or the peach bellini. The bartenders are also there to help make a special mixed drink based around what you like.
The main plates are larger portions with plenty of classic and outstanding choices. The chicken and sausage ala Nick features sausage, chicken, peppers, onions and mushrooms sauteed with a tempting sauce that rounds out the flavors and textures of the meal.
The chicken piccata with ravioli is covered in a lemon butter caper sauce with ravioli alfredo, and is creamy goodness with every bite.
Come in starving and leave feeling satisfied, even if you never eat another bite.
But, as you’ve learned by now — always leave room for dessert.
The pecan pie is out of this world; sweet, gooey and the pecans are perfectly toasted on top. The tiramisu is light and airy, if you’re looking for something not as sweet or heavy. Finally, the carrot cake is moist, rich in flavor and capped with a cream cheese frosting. However, options for dessert may vary, as they are outsourced from La Mousse.
Dine in: 1400 17th St., 93301
Craving more Italian food? There are a few other local choices:
- Rosa’s - 2400 Columbus St, 93306
- Sorella’s Ristorante Italiano - 7900 McNair Ln, 93313
- Frugatti’s - 600 Coffee Rd, 93309
- Mama Tosca’s Italian Restaurant Fine Dining - 9000 Ming Ave, 93311
When studying or working on a project, finding the right setting and place to provide snacks can take some navigating, but we’ve found the perfect spot for you.
The Umaga Café has an ethereal, welcoming atmosphere that allows you to hear yourself think and simply enjoy what is right in front of you, whether that’s the company or the food. Everything is themed and presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner from start to finish with the plates your food comes on to the music playing and the furniture set-up.
The treats might not be the typical baked goods you’ll find in the glass display at a Starbucks, and that’s what’s so special about this new Bakersfield gem, as it is the first Filipino coffee shop in town.
Ube, a purple yam or potato, from the Philippines, makes its way into many of the drinks and food options on the menu at Umaga, bringing a sweet taste to your morning or afternoon.
One treat is the mochi muffin, an ube flavored cake-like substance; spongy, chewy and sweet essence with a white chocolate drizzle adorning the top.
The turon comes with two spring rolls filled with banana and nutella, ice cream and whipped cream on top and ube drizzle, mixing textures and combinations of delicious flavors.
Another treat that you won’t find in many other places is the bobinka, which is actually Norwegian. It has a consistency like mochi on the outside, but inside could easily be mistaken for a pudding or custard, and is garnished with cheese melted into the top, and is a much better combination than you might expect.
But, the treat that might be a favorite is the doughnut, topped with a non-dairy ice cream with a coconut flavor. The cake is moist and bouncy, and just the right amount of sugar if you need a boost later in the afternoon.
There is a medley of choices for beverages, including the ube latte with espresso, decorative ube drizzle throughout and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles, as well as your choice of milk.
The moringa drink is similar to that of matcha with an earthy flavor blend, and also features caramel drizzle. You just can’t go wrong.
If you’d like something lighter for the summertime heat, go with the calamansi, which is comparable to a lemonade.
The menu at Umaga Café is diet restriction and preference friendly with alternatives, including gluten-free, vegan and keto-friendly items, as well as an assortment of milk choices.
Owners Marc Jeremy and Jezreel Cruz are both nurses, but decided to venture into the restaurant business over the last year.
The café also offers hotspots and wifi.
For more information about their products, the complete menu and hours, visit https://www.umagacoffee.com/.
Dine in: 4801 Stockdale Highway, 93309
If you’re in the mood for coffee and a cafe atmospheres for studying or catching up with a friend:
- Cloud 9 Coffee Company - 5060 California Ave Suite 130, 93309
- Cafe Smitten - 909 18th St, 93301 and 1407 Buena Vista Rd., 93311
- Tin Cup - 1101 E Lerdo Hwy, Shafter, CA 93263
- Rig City Roasting Company - 2809 Unicorn Road Unit #108, 93308
The Glitz Café
While The Glitz Café serves soul food every night, beginning at 4 p.m. They also know how to make a hearty breakfast, or lunch, if that’s what you prefer. It’s the perfect brunch spot on a Sunday morning. Since it’s connected to the Bakersfield Municipal Airport, you might just see a few planes land while you enjoy your meal.
The chicken fried steak and the okie special omelette have the comforts of home cooking and southern food, flavorful and filling for the rest of the day. Everything on the menu is made from scratch by the kitchen staff, as well.
There are also more classic options, including pancakes, french toast and more.
There’s a large menu to pick from, so you don’t have to worry about whether there’s something for you and your party, and should you choose to go back again, you’ll have other options.
Many of the plates also come with bacon or sausage, as well as your choice of toast, which has the right amount of crunch and is light on the butter, and also your choice of eggs.
The country potatoes were also an additional side, with a good combination of crispy and a tex-mex twist featuring onions and bell peppers, if you want to break up the sweetness of syrups and whipped cream.
While you might not expect diner coffee to do the trick, the coffee at The Glitz Café was strong and smooth, and will wake you right up.
This is a great spot to get your weekend morning started.
Dine in: 2000 S. Union Ave., 93307
Other great breakfast spots include:
- Milt’s Coffee Shop - 6112 Knudsen Dr, 93308
- Pappy’s Coffee Shop - 10595 Rosedale Hwy, 93312
- 24th Street Café - 1415 24th St, 93301
- Old River Grill - 1415 24th St, 93301; 9000 Ming Ave suite J3, 93311 in The Marketplace; and 9530 Hageman Rd Suite K, 93312 in the Plaza at Riverlakes