Breakfasts are big in Bakersfield! Literally and figuratively. Biscuits and gravy? Gotcha covered. Pancakes? Some great ones here. Omelettes? Now we’re talkin’!
Locals have some pretty incredible choices when it comes to the first meal of the day. It doesn’t seem to matter what part of town you live in, if breakfast’s your thing, you’ve got great choices.
Putting together a roundup of Bakersfield’s best breakfast restaurants is tough because, frankly, we have a plethora of good places. So I’m focusing on four places in four sections of town that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
Before I get flogged for leaving out arguably Bakersfield’s favorite breakfast place, let me say this about 24th Street Café. Any place with 17 omelettes on its menu is tops. The friendly folks there don’t need me to add to the raves. OK, I just did. But the four places I’ve chosen are also great, and if you don’t want to wait for a table at 24th Street Café, you should consider one of these similarly terrific spots.
3807 Auburn Street | (661) 871-8865 | open 24 hours
This East Bakersfield fixture for the past 37 years is a gem. Its classic coffee shop architecture is both comfortable and comforting. Seating is in Naugahyde booths unless you want to plunk down at the counter. The staff has been there for years, kind women who make you feel comfortable and welcome.
You almost have a sense that time stands still in Cindy’s—until your order arrives quickly. Then it’s hard to stop eating, it’s so good. And Cindy’s small touches set it apart.
For example, during a recent visit I ordered the Hobo Omelette ($11.95), a three-egg creation with bacon, sausage, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms. I asked if it had cheese, and my server, Deb, said it didn’t, but for a small charge—it turned out to be $1.15—I could have my choice of half-a-dozen different cheeses. I opted for cheddar.
Bread options with my order included hot cakes, which I chose. Deb brought a small plate with syrup and butter—not the irritating tin foil covered pats, but a small bowl of melted butter. What a great idea! And the hot cakes—a short stack (3)—were light and airy.
Deb also provided the house-made salsa, which enhanced an already delicious omelette. And the hash browns were perfect. I like my potatoes crisp, not burnt. If the griddle’s too hot, you get burnt. These were a perfect golden brown cooked in butter. Delicious!
I also noticed on the menu an item that was my father’s favorite when I was growing up, but something I’ve never seen on any other menu: scrambled eggs and onions ($8.35). Seeing that brought back fond memories.
Cope’s Knotty Pine Café
1530 Norris Road | (661) 399-0120 | open daily 6 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Pine is one of those not-to-be-missing Bakersfield institutions. The rustically decorated walls are—what else?—knotty pine boards. And getting a seat requires strategic planning, or be prepared for a wait.
Good karma was with us during one recent visit: a parking spot opened up in front just as we arrived, and two seats were waiting for us at the counter when we walked in. Otherwise we’d have been behind the dozen or so people waiting outside.
I’ve long enjoyed lunch at The Pine and invariably get the pastrami sandwich; for my money it’s the best pastrami around. So imagine my delight to find a pastrami and pepper jack omelette on the menu ($9.75). I looked no further. I also had a side order of one pancake ($3.50).
My wife, Claudia, perused the menu further, and found Eggs Benedict ($7.95), and substituted Lonnie’s Potatoes ($1.75) for regular hash browns.
We decided to share an order of biscuits and gravy ($4.50). Our server, Renee, offered to split it for us; we were happy to accept her offer. The biscuit was light and freshly made, and the gravy smooth and creamy. A good appetizer.
Claudia enjoyed her Eggs Benedict, and raved about Lonnie’s Potatoes—the best she’d ever had, she exclaimed. It has hash browns with onions, cheese, and bacon, and I wished I had ordered some, too.
My omelette was excellent! I’ve never seen a pastrami omelette anywhere else, and this unique offering generated umms and ahhhs.
Lorene’s Coffee Shop
Downtown: 1531 23rd Street | (661) 322-6887 | Open daily 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Southwest: 6401 Ming Avenue | (661) 831-9250 | Open daily 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Lorene’s has a long history in Bakersfield. It originally occupied the spot that is now the 24th Street Café. Some 20 years ago, Lorene’s owners built a new building at the corner of Eye and 23rd streets and moved in.
It’s spacious and airy with ample windows enhancing the cheerful atmosphere. And with 14 omelettes to choose from, Lorene’s rivals 24th Street Café’s selection.
Like the Pine and Cindy’s, Lorene’s has unique offerings, like their breakfast skillets. Start with a layer of shredded potatoes, then top with various ingredients. I chose the Sunrise Skillet ($10.25), which had bacon, sausage, onions, and tomatoes with grated cheddar cheese, topped with two eggs cooked to your order.
If you like blended breakfast flavors, one of Lorene’s skillets is for you. The potato foundation was a golden crunchy brown; the other ingredients were mixed together with the potatoes and topped by perfectly cooked over-easy eggs. Delicious!
Claudia spotted another unique offering: Cinnamon Roll French Toast ($8.95). Think French toast with a cinnamon twist—two cinnamon rolls dipped in egg and then cooked on a grill. Tasty!
A short stack of pancakes was $5.85. If you don’t want to drive downtown, Lorene’s has a Southwest locale at Ming and Ashe.
J&M’s Bar & Grill
10801 Rosedale Highway | (661) 589-3042 Open daily 5:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
This Rosedale icon has been packing them in for who knows how long, and I’m happy to report it’s better than ever. Its current owners expanded the restaurant into the adjacent bar, so if you’re looking for a good place with friendly bartenders for later in the day, J&M’s provides you another reason to stop by.
The bar’s not open for breakfast, which is just as well since the breakfasts are inducement enough. The portions here were the largest we experienced in our roundup, and the modest prices make it a good value.
Claudia chose the Snakebite Omelette ($10.29), a three-egg creation with hot links, bell peppers, jalapeños, fresh pineapple, and cheese. A huge amount of hash browns filled her plate. She loved the flavors, especially the pineapple, but needless to say a good amount of it came home with us.
I chose the Deluxe Scramble ($9.99), another three-egg creation that will fill you up. As the name implies, it features eggs, diced ham, diced mild green chili peppers, and shredded cheddar and jack cheeses. The chilies gave the scramble a good flavor, but I was looking for a little something else, so asked our server, Sheila, for some salsa. That added flavor and spice. Loved it. The hot link I ordered as a side dish ($1.99), added to my enjoyment, as did the single pancake ($2.99), twice the size of any of the others we sampled.
The biscuit and gravy that came with my order was excellent, the best biscuit and gravy of any of the places we visited. The biscuits were light and fluffy, and the gravy had chunks of sausage enhancing the flavor.
Other places worth visiting for breakfast: Milt’s Coffee Shop 6112 Knudsen Dr., Village Grill 2805 F St., Old River Grill 9500 Brimhall Rd., Zingo’s 3201 Buck Owens Blvd.