When someone asks you, “Are you a fan of the arts?” museums and galleries are probably the first things to pop up in your mind. Yes, galleries and museums are considered art locations, but to me the arts is everything from hipster galleries, street performers, singers, actors and even chefs.

When I moved to Bakersfield, all I knew about it was that it was a farm town with a bunch of chain restaurants. But after doing some exploratory research in my dining journey, I came to find that Bakersfield is rich in the arts community as well! I’ve driven past many buildings with amazing street art that hug the sides, colorful downtown alleys and live music. I’ve also attended “The Nutcracker” at the Fox during the holidays and I came to find out that we have our own Bakersfield Museum of Art.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see that an art community exists here in Bakersfield and that it is continually growing. So when I got an invite from a friend to see her perform at Bakersfield’s own dinner theater spot in town, I couldn’t believe my ears.

I thought to myself: “Dinner theater? As in the cliche of dinner and a show? In Bakersfield? This is going to be interesting.”

Needless to say, I was reluctant to go and prepare myself for mediocre “wannabe” acting and a less-than-appetizing dinner that was probably microwaved and a tiny portion that was not worth the $70 ticket price. But friends support friends, right? So off I went to Stars Theatre Restaurant.

I came to learn that Stars Theatre Restaurant is the only dinner theater spot in Bakersfield and one of the few left in California. Its actors and crew are mostly volunteer personnel that are there because they love the arts. Stars boasts a 150-plus-seat dining area, a full bar and lounge, a patio and even a VIP booth. All of the dishes that their menu features are all made in-house and consists of starters, hearty entrees and even dessert.

Walking into the theater is an experience in itself. The theater seating consists of tables with freshly pressed tablecloths, floral arrangements and formal place settings. The servers are formally dressed and are there to serve your every need. Plus, they were all so friendly!

I couldn’t help but have a “Beauty and the Beast” “be our guest” moment as the server poured my wine and the live orchestra practiced in the background. Before the show began, I enjoyed my starter and entree, which were hearty and delicious. I was not expecting that.

It was one of the best dinners in Bakersfield hands down (no, I’m not kidding). I wondered what the kitchen staff was like to feed a full theater with exceptional quality. To feed that many people and make it that delicious, I assumed that they had an army. I came to find out that the Stars Theatre kitchen staff is a small but mighty crew of five people. I was impressed!

And this was all before the curtain rose! Once it did, and the show began, for a second I forgot I was in Bakersfield — the farm town — and felt as though I was seeing a play at the Pantages in Los Angeles. Stars’ team of actors are so talented. The cast ranges from children to baby boomers, and there is no question that they have passion and flame for this business called show business!

Before I knew it it was intermission, where I was served a decadent slice of cheesecake with coffee per my request. By the end of the show, the entire theater was on its feet (myself included) giving a standing ovation! What a night!

Stars Theatre Restaurant proved me wrong in my initial judgements about the arts potential in Bakersfield in the biggest clapback of all time. I fell in love with what Stars Theatre has to offer and frankly thought it was a steal for that $70 show ticket.

I couldn’t tell you which was better — the food, the show or even the service. Stars Theatre has everything you need for a night to remember and it is perfect for celebrating any occasion or even if you just want to go and support the arts.

Being a chef, I can appreciate all works of art outside of the food, but Stars Theatre Restaurant brings the different avenues of the arts together under one roof and synchronizes it together into a symphonic experience. And that deserves a true standing ovation. 

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