Part 3. 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!
6401 Ming Ave., 1531 23rd St.
Have you ever had a bad dish at Lorene’s? Of course you haven’t. But while the menu is chock full of home cooked meals, we love the Fried Chicken Dinner, which is only $10.75. A plate of crispy skinned, tender on the inside chicken, your choice of a savory soup or a refreshing salad, vegetables, and also a choice of either garlic bread or cornbread. Dig in!
3113 Chester Ln.
When you put sweet together with tender cooked pork, you’ve got a wicked combination. At Saigon, you can order the Sweet and Sour Spareribs Dinner for $10.99. We almost swooned at the thought. The pork is covered in a batter not unlike sweet and sour chicken, and fried in a sweet sauce. To top it off, it’s served with soup, salad, and a side of chow mein and fried rice.
910 20th St.
Savory Mexican spices are infused in EVERY bite at Sinaloa. There are a lot of great options for lunch or dinner—fajitas, tacos, and the like—but for the money, you can’t beat the $11.75 Enchilada-Burrito Combo. It comes with a savory enchilada with your choice filling, smothered in sauce, a bean and cheese burrito, with a side of rice and beans for an out-of-this-world delight.
Asia Market/Teriyaki Bowl
7701 White Ln., 3699 Ming Ave.
There’s not a lot you can get for $3.86 in the world today. But you can get an order of two delicious entrée options from this great lunch spot. We really, really recommend the Garlic Chicken (chicken stir fried in Chinese seasonings and lots of garlic for a spicy flavor) and Szechuan Beef (tender beef strips cooked in a spicy Szechuan sauce) with fried rice and chow mein. If you feel like splurging, you can add three potstickers for $1 or two egg rolls for $1 more.
Belvedere Room at the Padre
1702 18th St.
Elegant setting. Creative cuisine. This place can’t be beat. And speaking of beats got us hungry for a different kind. The Beet and Ricotta Ravioli ($13). Holy flavorful food, Batman! This simple but delicious appetizer is fit for a full meal. You get fresh ravioli stuffed with tender beets, black truffle ricotta, whipped parmesan, and topped with a basil oil.
El Portal Mexican Grill & Cantina
1100 Calloway Dr., Unit 300, 6641 Ming Ave.
Chicken, steak, or shrimp…no matter which you get and no matter which dish you order, you’ll love your food at El Portal. It’s your doorway to flavor. Try the Arroz Con Pollo for $9.95. Your steaming hot plate is packed with a tender sautéed chicken served on a bed of rice in ranchera sauce, garnished with fresh pineapple on top. It’s sweet and savory!
4700 Coffee Rd.
Did you know you can sample the great flavors of a New York deli here in Bakersfield? At Brookside, order their New York Pastrami Sandwich ($7.49) and indulge in perfectly seasoned, tender pastrami covered in melted provolone, refreshingly crunchy coleslaw, and smothered in Thousand Island dressing. It’s no small sandwich, either, so while you might not need a side, you should still get one (macaroni or potato salad are great options).
Asian Bistro & Bar 2217 Ashe Rd.
If you’re looking for a heavenly meal on this earth, Shangri-La is the place to find it. For a filling, rich, savory dish, order the Crispy Chicken for $12. It is half a chicken, perfectly fried so that it is crispy on the outside but tender and juicy on the inside and seasoned with aromatic spices (even more can be added for those with adventurous taste buds). And the chicken is complemented by a side of steamed rice.
3320 Truxtun Ave., Ste. 150
What can we say about a place where lots of food is yours for a very small price? The Daily Buffet (excluding Sunday brunch) at lunchtime is just $8.95. There’s a full salad bar including different lettuce, veggies, egg, meats, dressings, and toppings like sunflower seeds and bacon bits. Their potato salad is great, as are their other side salads. Plus, there’s the desserts/bakery bar, fruit bar, soup bar (six soups to choose from!), taco bar, pasta bar, and baked potato and yam bar.
2625 Mt. Vernon Ave., Ste. 106
Nachos are delicious. French fries are delicious. Now put those together and you have one of the most awesome crossover sensations since Shakira. The Nacho Fries ($9.25) is a wonderful plate of crispy fries covered in your coice of meat (carne asada, grilled chicken, chili verde, carnitas, lengua, or barbacoa), topped with beans, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, sour cream, and cotija cheese.
1119 18th St.
We can all agree that there is no such thing as too much Chinese food. At Rice Bowl, they can meet that need. Classic Chinese flavors, big servings, and low cost? What’s not to love? You’ll especially enjoy the Shrimp Combination Plate, which comes with egg flower soup, pork chow mein, pork fried rice, and battered, crispy fried shrimp. All that for just $9.25.
725 E 19th St.
There’s probably a very short list of items you haven’t sampled on the Luigi’s menu. Pasta, sandwiches, salads—they’re all local favorites. But we think choosing something off the beaten path is what’s called for here. The Sacco Beans—pinto beans marinated with oil, vinegar, parsley, garlic, and crushed red pepper—are the ticket. At Luigi’s, bean dishes are served with an antipasti of a roll, salami, cheese, pepperoncini, and marinated carrot. A large bowl is just $8.75!
4809 Stockdale Hwy.
Mediterranean flavors abound. Café Med is known for serving up some elegant dishes, but you can also find great lunch deals. Take a bite out of the Smoked Salmon Sandwich (succulent salmon with cream cheese, tomato, and capers on a croissant) as part of their ½ sandwich, soup or salad special. It comes with fruit salad or roasted pumpkin soup, and a drink for $7.69.
809 Baker St.
This old town mainstay has been serving up amazing Mexican favorites for over 60 years! While they may be known for chile verde, we suggest spending your dimes on the Chilaquiles. The dish is comprised of crunchy fried tortilla chips coated in red salsa and topped with tons of melted cheese and a fried egg, for just $8. And it comes with a side of rice and beans!
1814 Eye St.
If seafood is the name of your game, you’ll win by betting on Mama Roomba and their amazing tapas choices. Each dish is cooked with traditional Caribbean spices like nutmeg, cloves, ginger, garlic, coconut, and rum. Grab a friend and head downtown to try the Salt & Pepper Prawns. At $8.95, this dish is worth every penny because it comes with lightly battered and deep fried (then pan fried) prawns seasoned with green onions, garlic, and jalapeños (and of course salt and pepper).
Can’t get enough of these great values? Check back soon for part 4!
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 also check out Part One for more of these great deals.