What's new in downtown dining? We've got a pair of fresh spots that both owe a debt to Vests Market.
Radio Sandwich, currently drawing in customers during its soft opening, got its start at the Chester Avenue market last February.
Owner Miriam Alqaisi started slinging sandwiches from the deli counter all while working on plans for her current spot on 19th Street.
With an emphasis on local ingredients, the shop is offering sandwiches with purveyors' names on the menu: Rankin Ranch beef on the KSR Dip (Korean short rib French dip), Bigfoot Farms mushrooms on the Shroomin' in Philly vegan cheesesteak, and Fortitude Farm produce — roasted delicata squash, dandelion greens and basil — on the Dirty Fortitude Grilled Cheese.
Sides include tots ($3), house-cut double-fried Chipperbec potatoes that can be tossed in chipotle buttermilk or salt and vinegar seasoning or simply salted.
Chile bombs ($1.50) a fried sweet pepper stuffed with Bigfoot Famrs mushrooms, garlic and onions, are so popular they haven't been available for online ordering.
Sandwiches range from $14.25 to $18.35.
Current hours during the soft opening are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Along with sandwiches, a brunch menu is in the works, Alqaisi said.
Although Radio's current neighbors include The Mint, an adult bookstore, a pawn shop and a low-price hotel, the building is due to welcome a sign-maker and combination bar-bookstore in the future.
The crew is hard at work gearing up for the grand opening, which will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 29. The evening will include music from Humble Weight Artists and treats from Busy Bee Candy Booth.
Occupying Radio's former home at Vests is Homestead, a business specializing in breakfast and "anytime" tacos.
A Tex-Mex tradition, breakfast tacos combine all the great ingredients — bacon, eggs, cheese, etc. — in a tortilla that won't weigh you down as much as a breakfast burrito.
During a soft opening on Oct. 8, I tried the Don't Mess with Bako ($4.25), made with refried beans, bacon, potatoes and cheddar cheese. For the name alone it was great, but the taco was packed and flavorful thanks to the addition of green and red salsas, both of which were available in squeeze bottles for dine-in and to-go containers.
Also really enjoyed the brisket taco ($5), which had a generous amount of shredded meat, cabbage slaw and guacamole, and the potato taco ($4), which included potatoes, cheddar, sour cream, guacamole, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos.
The owner, whose name I didn't catch, did say her mom makes the flour tortillas from scratch (diners can choose from corn or Homestead flour).
Homestead's initial menu also included a red taco ($4) with shredded beef and guajillo salsa, the local ($4) with pasture-raised eggs, chorizo and cheddar, and many more variations.
There's never a bad time for tacos so it's just a matter of checking the business's hours. The plan is for it to open Wednesday but hours of operation had not been posted as of press time.
Homestead is inside Vests Market, 1831 Chester Ave. Visit @homestead.bakersfield on Instagram for the latest news.
Juice It Up! returns
Here's some news to get you juiced up: Juice It Up! has plans to return to Bakersfield with three locations in the works.
The chain, known for its handcrafted smoothies, acai bowls and raw juices, already has a store in Delano under a different franchisee. (There had been stores in Bakersfield in the past that have since closed.
Bakersfield resident Morey Mirkazemi will bring the trio of new stores to Bakersfield with the first to open in the southwest part of town. A media representative did not have a planned opening date for the first location.
"I discovered Juice It Up! at the 2022 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference and was instantly attracted to the brand's impressive business model, especially considering the need for a healthy smoothie, juice and superfruit bowl chain in my own community in Bakersfield," Mirkazemi said in a news release. "Juice It Up! stood out with its high-quality, nutrient-rich products that don't compromise on taste, its upbeat and welcoming environment, and the brand's straightforward and effortless operations. I am eager to bring Juice It Up! to my community, which I know will welcome the brand enthusiastically."
Visit juiceitup.com for more about the chain.