Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bakersfield OTR: West Coast Blue Collar Anglo-Hispanic Electrifies the Gateway Quarter

     Bakersfield opened a few months ago in the Gateway Quarter and it’s rocketed off.  A few weeks ago, Neil and I stopped by late on a Saturday night and there wasn’t a seat to be had and the atmosphere was raucous and fun.  Kris was in town on business earlier this week and we thought, let’s try again, especially since he needed to be at the airport early.  We arrived at 4:30 p.m. and were seated immediately, though
the place was buzzing when we left an hour later on a weekday afternoon.

The Tequila Collection
    The space is a semi-open air space in the front, which makes passersby feel like they’re a part of the ambience.  The interior is a cross between a rural roadhouse and an urban industrial space.  An elegant bar dominates one wall with beautifully lit bottles of liquor, especially of the tequila.  Howard Hawks’ classic western Rio Bravo played on flat screen TVs and a later Johnny Cash album played.  The Bakersfield Sound came to prominence in the ‘60s because of Buck Owens’ and Merle Haggard’s pedal steel guitar centered C&W sound.  It’s also the hometown of Korn, though the restaurant leans towards country, rather than nü metal.  

     Bakersfield, CA is almost evenly split between Anglos and Hispanics and that is the basis for the menu, which is contemporary cantina.  
Guacamole and Chips
The guacamole far surpasses that of Nada and it’s half the price.  The avocado chunks are visible and there’s a citrus bite that is really distinguishing.  It’s repeatedly made throughout the day and the salsas are fresh daily.  
Tray of Tacos
We tried the lighter green salsa and it was lively.  We ordered the Pollo Verde, Short Rib, Fish, and Pastor (marinated pork) tacos.  They’re $3 - $4 and all were brightly flavored with the pineapple lending a tropical tang to the pork and the mahi a solid meat and lightly seasoned.  

Bakersfield Margarita
     There’s a fine tequila, whiskey, wine, and beer menu with very reasonable daily specials.  We had the Bakersfield Margarita, served in a mason jar, and it was a generous portion with a real kick.  Later, we realized that the bartender Molly used to serve at Maribelle’s, where she was both professional and friendly.  She’s mixing excellent drinks at Bakersfield and is the epicenter of the fun.  We also had a terrific waiter, Trevor, who was on top of leading us through the menu and timing the drink and food orders while making us feel like we were part of an individual and special experience.  Service makes all the difference and Bakersfield has already figured that out.  Viva Bakersfield!

Bakersfield OTR on Urbanspoon

Looks like one of my relatives had a walk-on in Rio Bravo. Check out the lower right corner.


Anonymous said...

Great review.
My suggestion to visitors is to make certain you try a short rib something, eat double guacamole, and avoid the sangria - it's the only bad thing on the menu (and it's actually very bad!)

Who is Dexter? said...

Thanks! The guys suggest sticking to the margaritas and the guacamole too!! Maybe our friend Molly can help improve the sangria.