Added: Michae Lecuyer - Date: 14.10.2021 16:03 - Views: 31959 - Clicks: 6443
In the last year, I have spent what my friends consider an eccentric amount of time in downtown Bakersfield, which I have grown to prefer over more serious destinations such as San Francisco or Seattle. I make the drive north about one weekend a month; returning with car-trunkfuls of scarves and rusty eggbeaters, a disused chocolate mold, ancient streamlined toasters that cleave the air like ships. Sometimes the rest of California seems like little more than a squeaky-clean L.
Bakersfield is, arguably, the nearest city that is demonstrably Somewhere Else. There is a genuine tourist attraction, the Kern County Museum nee Pioneer Village --a compound that preserves old Bakersfield structures in sort of an officially curated version of the ghost towns you find on the dusty slopes of the Sierra.
There is also a famous golf course, and drag-boat racing at Ming Lake, and a full-fledged Dodgers farm team, and a popular spot up the river where you can inner-tube down the Kern.
It is located at Rosedale Highway. But Bakersfield is no Carmel. They considered the place a haven for oil-field roughnecks and post-Dustbowl Okie migrants, Basque cowboys and country-music fans. Twenty-five years ago, the Depression was still too fresh to inspire anything approximating nostalgia.
There may be nothing on a California highway quite so exhilarating as that moment when, after an hour of snaking through the Tehachapis from Los Angeles, one eye on the sputtering red light of the dashboard temperature gauge, you feel the steep slope of the Grapevine run into nothing and the Central Valley horizon flattens out into sunbaked infinity. It takes 30 minutes if you veer off the 99 onto Union Avenue, the old 99, which takes you down a rustic bowery, past a neon riot of motels and greasy spoons, under the old Bakersfield that arcs across the highway from the long-shuttered Bakersfield Inn.
Some people stop in Bakersfield for a burger and a tank of gas on the way out to Visalia. Others go on purpose, to hear the country music, which can be among the best in the world, or to throw back a bourbon-and-water in one of its many bars. The alley behind 19th Street is lined with shops and bars. You can find Depression glass and Art Deco kitchen clocks and such, often at quite reasonable prices, and sometimes a cool western-look desk or two. Sometimes it Looking for Bakersfield maybe something more as if half of Bakersfield survives by selling off bits of its heritage to the other half.
At the old Padre Hotel, a Bakersfield landmark near the Greyhound station, a hotel lobby that director Edward Dmytryk might have filmed seems alive with the damp of picturesque decay. Longtime Padre owner Milton Miller, a famous Bakersfield eccentric, renamed it the Alamo Tombstone and posted an old Army rocket on the roof when he thought the building, now an office building, was threatened by downtown redevelopment. The Edward Hopper-esque Arizona Cafe is an old place that serves extremely old-fashioned Mexican food, big plates of chile verde and albondigas. The Pyrenees Cafe, my favorite Bakersfield bar, is a cool, fragrant dark-wood Basque place decorated with taxidermy and neon, the kind of t where nobody would dream of going home on a Saturday afternoon until the end of the boxing match on the corner TV.
The Pyrenees is the place to try a Picon Punch, a bittersweet cocktail made with brandy, soda, grenadine and a bitter Basque liqueur.
On weekends, a four-piece band scrubs at Marty Robbins songs. Couples, most a couple of generations senior to the MTV generation, dance as if Bob Wills himself were on the bandstand-- recklessly and well. What you eat in Bakersfield is Basque food, prepared by descendants of the Basque shepherds and businessmen who settled the area, and as ubiquitous here as Chinese food in L. The Basque name Etcheverry is as common in Bakersfield as Smith. Some of the restaurants have been in the same family for half a century. Worth a two-hour drive all by itself is the Noriega Hotel, which is by popular consensus the best Basque place in town.
Now the Noriega is best known for its Basque-American family-style meals, garlicky affairs served at long communal tables where you sit side-by-side with ranchers and schoolteachers, as well as with a good cross-section of the local Basque community. Dinner is at 7 p. At the Noriega you serve yourself from communal platters brought to the table, and wash everything down with cold, red wine. First there are tureens of vegetable soup, which you enrich to taste with spicy Basque salsa and a dose of boiled pinto beans.
You are passed a platter of thinly sliced pickled beef tongue--cool, rich and slick with garlic--and a big bowl of very fresh lettuce dressed with a simple garlic vinaigrette, and possibly a bowl of cottage cheese flavored with garlic and chopped herbs. And then comes the entree, maybe lamb stew or braised oxtails; after that an enormous plate of spaghetti; after that a platter of ribs or fried chicken and the best French fries in the world; then--finally--slabs of blue cheese and bowls of delicious homemade flan.
It may be only p. Getting there: Bakersfield is about miles north of Los Angeles, about a two-hour drive up Interstate 5, then north on California Where to stay: Bakersfield Lodge, S. Union Ave. Basic but clean old-style motel, right on the old highway next to the fairgrounds. Sheraton Valley Inn, California Ave. Dependable mid-level semi-luxury. Where to eat: Arizona Cafe, Baker St. A vast, old place, with a beautifully tiled bar.
Not gourmet, but pretty good. Excellent Looking for Bakersfield maybe something more food, including great cabbage soup and the spiciest salsa in town. Good steaks, chops, shrimp cocktails. Noriega Hotel, Sumner St. The oldest. The best. Reservations essential. Dinner p. Pyrenees Cafe, Sumner St. Wool Growers Restaurant, East 19th St. Family-style Basque restaurant, full to bursting on weekends. The bartenders make a mean Picon Punch. Chester Ave. Hard-core country music at its best. Not fancy, but the beer is cold and the dancing is hot, and admission is always free.
Kern River Inn, N. Chester, Oildale, Golden Era, H St. BoxBakersfield Jonathan Gold was the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in and was a finalist again in Weekly inwrote about death metal and gangsta rap for Rolling Stone and Spin among other places, and was delighted that he managed to forge a career out of the professional eating of tacos.
Gold died July 21, All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events.
Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. For the record: a. Jonathan Gold. Follow Us twitter facebook.Looking for Bakersfield maybe something more
email: [email protected] - phone:(863) 839-4177 x 5036
Achy-Breaky Bakersfield : Along with Country Music, It’s Got Funky Thrift Shops, Great Basque Food and Get-Down Prices