Bakersfield can't rest on its laurels of just being a top city for taco lovers. We've got to be faster (food), better and stronger.
That was easy this week when Yelp released its list of America’s Top 100 Places to Eat in 2020 and local barbecue favorite PorkChop & Bubba's BBQ made the list at No. 14.
Rankings were determined by the crowd-sourced review forum based on user's rankings and the number of reviews the restaurants received in 2019. Beyond the numbers, the list was curated by Yelp's community managers.
PorkChop & Bubba's BBQ was one of 18 California restaurants and only five barbecue establishments to make the list.
The local barbecue restaurant, which opened its H Street location in 2018, is currently ranked at five (out of five) stars with 505 reviews, putting it just outside the edge of the top 20 most reviewed local eateries on Yelp.
Winning accolades is nothing new for Branden Slichter, who started PorkChop & Bubba's BBQ as a competitive barbecue team in 2012, traveling for contests held by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and California BBQ Association and catering in between.
He traded a career in railroads to pursue culinary studies at Bakersfield College, in part inspired by his grandmother, or Mammy as he called her. Slichter told The Californian in 2015: “Grandma was an Okie from the Panhandle in East Texas. She’d make cornbread, fried potatoes, okra. I was asked what I wanted when she passed, and I got her cast-iron skillet. That’s what I wanted, and I use it every week.”
In a shoutout on social media, the restaurant acknowledged the honor with a nod to its general manager, Denise Pliska.
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What an amazing honor to be chosen #14 out of the top 100 places to eat in America. This literally had me in tears of joy. I can't thank my staff and the best General manager @danesebaby a restaurant could have! Beyond blessed! Thank you all for your overwhelming support! https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissakravitz/2020/01/07/top-restaurants-united-states-yelp-2020/
PorkChop & Bubba's is located downtown at 1230 H St., across from Bakersfield High School. It opens each day at 10:30 a.m., closing at 4 p.m. Sundays and 8 p.m. (or until sold out) the rest of the week. And they do sell out, so if you want your piece of award-winning barbecue go early or you might miss out.
For more information, visit porkchopandbubbasbbq.com or call 520-4227.
Raise a pint
Local barbecue isn't the only news highlight for Bakersfield. The Los Angeles Times released a list of top craft beer destinations in Southern California and beyond that are worth a visit, naming two in Kern County.
In a bustling beer community, Kern River Brewing and Dionysus Brewing were singled. The former is a longtime award-winning brewery in Kernville, known for its Citra double IPA, which took top honors at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011. In 2019, its Nénette blonde, Gravity Check session IPA, Brown Claw porter and Side Hike red ale were honored with medals at the same event. The article also highlights the brewery's restaurant fare and scenic location.
When it comes to Dionysus, the praise is epic, noting the brewery's eclectic tap list has something for everyone, including the lactose-spiked milkshake IPAs, which writer David Klein considers "among the best in the West." Klein also wisely notes the strength of Dionysus' sour brews with the "intensely fruited" Berlinersfield series.
For the complete list of acknowledged breweries, visit latimes.com/food/story/2020-01-09/breweries-orange-ventura-kern-san-bernardino-county.
Visit Kern River Brewing at 13415 Sierra Way in Kernville. For information, call 760-376-2337 or visit kernriverbrewing.com. Dionysus is located at 6201 Schirra Court, Suite 13. Call 833-6000 or visit dionysusbrewing.com for more details.
And speaking of adult beverages, Tiki-Ko landed in the most recent California Visitors Guide under tiki bars to visit in the Golden State. (Get your own free copy of the guide at visitcalifornia.com/visitors-guide-request.)
The "shady place for sunny people" also ended 2019 strong with its holiday cocktail fundraising. During the month of December, it offered five specialty drinks and donated $2 from each sold to a different nonprofit each week. In total, more than $2,000 was raised, spread out among Toys for Tots, Bakersfield Homeless Center, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Fisher House Foundation. We'll cheers to that!
Tiki-Ko is at 1919 K St.