Downtown's dining scene is definitely thriving but that doesn't mean there’s not room to grow. September is likely to be hot, hot, hot — and it's not just because of the popular Latination art exhibition for First Friday — with the arrival of Greek and Cuban fare.
Fans of Cuban sandwiches will have another option downtown than Mama Roomba's when Rincon Cubano (Cuban Cafe) makes its big move next month. Sunday is the restaurant's last day in its spot at 1907 S. Chester Ave. (It's open from noon to 7 p.m.) The eatery, which has earned rave reviews from dining columnist Pete Tittl, is moving to Truxtun Avenue, in the former home of fine dining establishment Valentien, which closed in November.
Yaissel Andreau, manager of Rincon Cubano, said the goal is to open sometime in September. The menu will expand, offering some new additions along with favorites like the bistec encebollado (steak covered in onions), ropa vieja (shredded beef) and pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), Andreau said.
And speaking of construction, Athena's Greek Cafe and Grill, which we first reported about in April, is still on track on F Street, next to neighbor Victor's Mexican Grill. It is the second location for Elias and Letty Skapinakis who own Athena's Greek Cafe and Bakery in Rosedale. (You may remember that cafe was featured by Guy Fieri on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" in 2015.)
Elias Skapinakis said Friday that, based on some construction delays, he expects they'll be able to open mid-September with a tentative opening set for Sept. 15, a Friday. We'll keep you posted.
New treats at Temblor
Sure, Temblor Brewing Co. is touting the return of Temblorfest Marzen, its Oktoberfest-style beer, but the brewery also has some new menu items ready for fall.
Co-owner Tom Maxwell said they update the menu about three times a year.
"In Bakersfield, we really don't have seasons. We have a hot season, a fall season and a winter season."
Optimistic that the weather will soon be nice enough to sit out on the patio with friends, Maxwell said many of the items, like the returning fried dill pickles and new cheese and jalapeno churros (both $7.95), are great for sharing.
"That’s an item that can be shared by a huge group of people," he said of the churros that come in an order of 10-12 bite-sized churros filled with zesty jalapeno cheese.
"It's definitely different. We really want to keep our menu fun."
Another interesting addition is the bison burger ($15.95), a half-pound patty topped with bacon-apple jam, fried jalapenos and mayo. Maxwell points out that bison isn't easy to come by at local restaurants (with the exception of Eureka's burger).
"Having a different type of meat is a huge addition to the menu."
Those wanting to eat a bit lighter can opt for salmon, which is served on two ways: a salad ($12.95) with the filet glazed in stir-fry sauce, topped with candied citrus, slivered almonds, cranberries and mandarin orange vinaigrette; and a sandwich ($13.95) with a grilled filet topped with house-made lemon-dill sauce, arugula and roasted tomato and onion.
The key to the menu, Maxwell said, is remaining flexible, along with lots of kitchen testing.
"Everybody is an individual. I don't want to tell you what you want."
Diners can customize their order, switching sides or sauces. He also said there's something of a secret menu: If one of your favorites is ever taken off the menu, you can ask if it's still available. If the kitchen has the ingredients, they should be able to accommodate you. (Consider the fried artichoke appetizer ready to order!)
In four months or so, the menu will be revisited with some swaps made based on season and development. Discussion has already begun on winter options.
"It’s been a lot of fun, talking about what works and doesn't work. Since the day we opened, it's an incredible improvement."
Temblor Brewing Co. is at 3200 Buck Owens Blvd. Suite B.
National Lemonade Day
Sunday is National Lemonade Day, and if citrus is on the agenda, consider a stop at Red Robin. The chain has partnered with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research into treatments and cures. During the campaign, diners can sample the restaurant's freckled lemonade and make a donation to the foundation.
And if you're looking for something new in lemonade, Marie Callendar's has a trio of new beverages: the wildberry sparkler cocktail, combining vodka, Minute Maid lemonade, blackberry syrup and sparkling water; and sparkling wild blackberry and watermelon and cucumber lemonades.
New and different
Now through Sept. 8, Creamistry is offering a back to school promo, offering students and school staff with a 20 percent discount on a single item. The deal is available from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays with presentation of student or school employee ID. (An ID is not required for children under 12.) ... Me-n-Ed's has a new crispy bacon and pepperoni pizza, with hickory-smoked bacon and twice-baked pepperoni. ... The mobile business Cloud 9 Coffee Co. is now offering gourmet toasts. The menu includes the Avo-de-Gallo, French bread with avocado smash, sea salt, black pepper and pico de gallo; the Presto Pesto, with sourdough bread, pesto, melted mozzarella, prosciutto and baby tomatoes; and the S'Morgan (named for owner Morgan Burnard), which piles thick Texas toast with Nutella, graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow.