The days are shorter, the nights are colder, but this time of year also means our annual Cheap Eats guide is back to light up your lunch hour! We’ve once again compiled a list of flavorful dishes from great restaurants that are guaranteed to fill you up without emptying your wallet. And we’ve got a few special dishes peppered throughout the list this year, but more on that later.
Speaking of pepper…get ready to whet your appetite!
Yes, Cheap Eats is a grueling albeit tasty job, but someone has to do it. It was made all the more challenging this year because it seems like the Bakersfield restaurant scene is only getting bigger and better. So we asked for the help of our awesome and food-lovin’ A-List members to suggest their top choices when they go out dinin’. And, as you’ll notice, some of these items tip the scales over the $10 mark—our usual limit—but since we value our readers so much, we made a few concessions here and there in the name of sating hunger!
1400 17th St.
Rich, Italian favorites like creamy pastas and chicken parmesan are, of course, wonderful choices at Uricchio’s. The same care and traditional flavors are infused in all their dishes, including our pick: the Black Forest Panini. Black forest ham, turkey, provolone cheese, roasted bell peppers, tomato slices, and a special seasoned julienne of lettuce sandwiched between fresh slices of bread. It’s just $8.95. Or, if you want more variety, try a half sandwich with soup and salad for just $1 more.
4923 Primero St., New Cuyama
No drive from Bakersfield to the Coast is complete without a stop at the Buckhorn. Under new ownership, their menu is full of new takes on classic dishes including down home BBQ dishes that come with three amazing sauces (original, sweet bourbon, and spicy sriracha). We recommend sampling the Tri-Tip Sandwich. At $11, you won’t be disappointed with the highest quality beef, slow cooked, tender, and piled high on a bun, and coated in your choice of sauce. Plus, it comes with homemade chips or fries.
9500 Brimhall Rd.
A taco is never just a taco at Victor’s. If you’re in the market for something that blends delicious south-of-the-border flavors with everyone’s favorite breakfast foods, order yourself a couple Ham Breakfast Tacos (a total steal at just $2.50 each). Corn tortillas smothered with melty cheese, eggs, crisp hash browns, and tender bits of cubed ham—with salsa on the side.
600 Coffee Rd.
Coming in at a price of $9.79 is the Garlic Chicken Wrap. There are great sandwich options for lunch, but we think this dish is killer. A dried tomato tortilla is wrapped around wood-fired boneless and skinless chicken breast, crunchy romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, and Frugatti’s homemade Caesar cilantro dressing. Plus, it comes with their delicious rosemary roasted red potatoes.
Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar
3310 Truxtun Ave., #160
With their amazing lunch menu (Fridays only) Valentien has proven that you can get amazing, gourmet food, prepared with the freshest ingredients, and it can be totally affordable. Take their Beef & Brie Baguette Sandwich. Toasty baguette hugs tender filet mignon, warm brie cheese, a house made roasted tomato spread, and caramelized onions. Get this: it’s $10 and it comes with a choice of a field green salad or pommes frites.
1201 24th St., 8101 E Brundage Ln., 9198 Ming Ave.
The price is right at Baja Fresh. Very few dishes even come close to $10, which makes it easy to try new things each time you go. Like the Baja Bowl with savory pork carnitas (you can also choose from chicken, tender steak, fish, or fire-grilled shrimp). The bowl is packed with rice, beans, roasted veggies, onions, cilantro, and salsa verde, plus your choice of meat. All that for just $7.29? That’s what’s really fresh!
(Bakersfield Marriott) 801 Truxtun Ave.
What’s not to love about a stellar plate of Fish & Chips at this great restaurant located inside the Marriott? The ambience is relaxing and the meal—well that’s a delicious serving of tempura-battered cod, deep fried to a light brown, and served with fresh, salty fries. The best part is that it’s yours for just $10.
5917 Knudsen Dr.
Every day is a special day at Hodel’s. The Lunch Buffet is just $9.25 and you can enjoy flavorful, from-scratch, home cooked food. On Thursday you can enjoy handmade Orange Chicken made in front of you, then load up on rice and noodles. And Wednesday is Chicken Fried Steak Day—when you’ve got your pick of mashed potatoes, veggies, BBQ meats, casseroles, and other tasty sides. Dessert is included, too, which means you can fill up on freshly prepared cupcakes, apple blueberry bread pudding, cookies, boysenberry cobbler, and sugar free options, too!
6720 Schirra Ct., 2900 Calloway Dr., 9000 Ming Ave., T-1
People aren’t packing Lengthwise just for the beer. In addition to having some of the best local brews, the Lengthwise menu is full of some high-end comfort food (but not at the high-end price). We can’t get enough of the Stinky Mac ‘n’ Cheese. This dish is homemade flavor to the max: tender cooked noodles smothered in gorgonzola cheese and bacon. It’s only $8.95 for a hefty order.
Ruben’s Mexican and Seafood Restaurant
2701 Calloway Dr.
Whether sampling their amazing brunch options or going off the menu, Ruben’s will sate your appetite. We suggest the Enchiladas del Mar at $11.95. Two big flour tortillas wrapped around sautéed and seasoned shrimp, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions in a sour cream sauce. And they’re topped with a slice of avocado and a side of rice, beans, and more sour cream.
Too Fat Sandwich
1825 F St., 5011 Stockdale Hwy.
If you’re like us, you sometimes have dreams involving the famous Holland Dutch Crust bread at Too Fat. It’s what’s between those slices of buttery, flaky crusted bread that separates us. We love the Killer Pastrami. Just $6.35 for a half (which is enough, trust us), it’s their regular hot pastrami, smothered in picante salsa and avocado. It comes with mustard and is topped with pepper jack. Make it a medium combo for $2.60 and throw in a soda and a side (bag of chips, small soup, small potato, macaroni, or pasta salad).
10595 Rosedale Hwy.
Long known for their amazing (and huge) breakfast plates, Pappy’s also has some great lunch deals (if you’re not too full from the chicken fried steak, that is). Might we suggest the Crispy Chicken Salad for $9.99. You get a bed of greens topped with chicken, bacon, avocado, tomato, hard boiled eggs, cheese, and peppers. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you can ask for grilled chicken. And it comes with a drink!
4001 Auburn St., 1300 Coffee Rd., 8020 District Blvd.
Say goodbye to Taco Bell runs! With the Creamy Chicken & Spinach Enchilada (Lunch Special) for $8.25, La Mina has made us re-think those daily burrito runs. We’d rather save our taste buds for this savory concoction. It’s grilled chicken breast and spinach stuffed in a flour tortilla, topped with a delicious garlic butter cream sauce and melted jack cheese. Served with white rice and sautéed veggies.
Can’t get enough of these great values? Check back soon for part 2 & 3!
Don’t want to wait? You can grab your very own copy of our 31-5 issue at one of our many newsstand locations, and feast your eyes on the whole display of Bakersfield’s favorite inexpensive dishes.
You can check out Part 2 for more of these great deals.