• Jake's Original Tex-Mex's Texas red chili.

    HERB BENHAM: Jake's and Sequoia busting out all over

    I stopped for cookies at Jake’s last week to take care of my fix — chocolate chip, white chocolate chip and potato chip and their new chocolate brownie cookies — and had a chance to catch up with owner Sarah Slayton-Price. Sarah had news, big news, which she told me after relating a story about

  • The rocky road skillet brownie at the Padre. The brownie ($8) is topped with mini marshmallows, chocolate sauce, candied almonds and house-made rocky road ice cream. Stunning.

    PETE TITTL: Brimstone still firing on all cylinders

    Here it is six years after the newly renovated Padre Hotel opened with a splash, and the bloom is not off the rose. Brimstone, the casual dining spot at the hotel, was bustling on the Friday we visited, with a clientele that varied widely in age and demographics. The pool table was busy,

  • Brian Dean, Steve Easterby and Keith Hough at a past Craft Beer Festival.

    No duds in these suds: Craft Beer Festival ready to pour

    Bakersfield is now home to many events catering to fans of craft brews but this weekend’s fourth annual Bakersfield Craft Beer Festival bills itself as the original. “There have always been beer events here,” said founder David Dobbs, “but we were the first craft beer festival.” And craft beer is

  • PETE TITTL: Beef, chicken co-exist in game-changing chimichanga

    Quick: What’s the second-best Mexican restaurant in the northeast? We all know who’s the top dog. Red Pepper is the Golden State Warriors of Mexican restaurants on that side of town — possibly anywhere in town. Always excellent and always busy. But if you find a seat impossible to get, you might

  • Can the thin crust take the heat of the firestarter? One of six signature pies at Bakersfield Pizza Co. & Bar, the dish is topped with hot links, chicken, bacon, roasted jalapenos and white garlic cream sauce, all drizzled with jalapeno pesto and habanero sauce.

    Bakersfield Pizza Co. & Bar a fresh slice of local dining scene

    By definition, a restaurateur is someone who owns and manages an eatery. But for Alejandro Ocampo, one was not enough to earn the title. So the owner of the successful Camino Real in southwest Bakersfield branched out this week with Bakersfield Pizza Co. & Bar. When news broke that Ocampo was

  • Visitors to local Pilot Flying J stores can snag a free PJ Fresh breakfast sandwich on a return visit. People can snap a picture of themselves enjoying a hearty PJ Fresh breakfast sandwich and post the photo on Twitter using the hashtag #PJFreshBreakfast or at www.500milebreakfast.com/freebie by June 14 for a coupon for a second free sandwich.

    THE DISH: Free breakfast sandwiches on road, Memorial Day grilling hotline

    With Memorial Day coming up, many will be hitting the road. Those looking to snack on the go might consider a stop at a Pilot Flying J. The travel center operator, which has three locations in Kern County, is offering a tie-in deal on its new breakfast sandwiches. From now through June 14, buy a

  • Enjoy a steak lunch for a good cause Wednesday at Outback Steakhouse with Bakersfield Firefighters Burn Foundation’s Send a Kid to Camp event. Proceeds from the luncheon will help send young local burn survivors to a special summer camp.

    Tuck into a steak for a good cause Wednesday

    It’ll be a g’day Wednesday for Bakersfield city firefighters, who struck upon an Aussie-some fundraising idea for young burn survivors. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., firefighters will dish up lunch at Outback Steakhouse for the Bakersfield Firefighters Burn Foundation’s Send a Kid to Camp event.

  • PizzaRev unveiled its double dough option earlier this year, offering diners a thicker crust option at no extra cost.

    THE DISH: Any way you slice it, local fast casual pizza scene is hot

     If you want a fast casual pizza, Bakersfield has you covered. But with a local contender (Boss Pizza), two national (Pieology and PizzaRev) and one international (Blaze Pizza, blazing a trail in Canada), how do you choose? Although flavor and cost are major factors, these pizza purveyors are

  • PETE TITTL: They've been eating this Thai on the sly - but I'm on to them

    Bakersfield has come so far in the Thai restaurant niche that a place like Ocha Thai can be open for a year before anyone writes me to tell me how great it is. Just east of the White Lane intersection with Highway 99, Ocha is a humble place with a small dining room in a strip shopping center, but

  • Larry Spainhoward, right, makes room as brother John brings in a tray of Texas brisket at Bakersfield’s Biggest Baddest BBQ in 2014. This year’s event has a new date and location: Oct. 28-29 at Stramler Park.

    THE DISH: Biggest Baddest BBQ on backburner until fall

    Local barbecue lovers ready to chow down on some Kansas City-style meats might be a bit disappointed with news that Bakersfield’s Biggest Baddest BBQ is a no-go for May. But rest assured the popular annual event will return later this October back where it started: Stramler Park. So why the change?

  • Two plates of hot chicken shawarma ready for lunch customers at Zatter Zacky on Wible.

    PETE TITTL: Two humble local rookies that serve great food at low prices

    Today I get to tell you about two small gems, restaurants you probably don’t know about that aren’t dazzling, high-budget operations but worth a visit for delicious food at very reasonable prices. The biggest thrill in writing a column like this is to alert readers to worthy restaurants, and it

  • Cashew nut with shrimp and rice is served at Asian Experience. Californian critic Pete Tittl ordered a similar dish, the cashew chicken. Though light on cashews, Tittl's order had the a well-executed mix of vegetables, including fresh mushrooms, bell peppers, red peppers, baby corn on the cob, some onions and a few cashews, all cooked in a chili paste that really brought punch to the plate.

    PETE TITTL: Asian restaurant in Taft an Experience to remember

    Yes, I have family in Taft and, no, they didn’t make a peep about Asian Experience before Guy Fieri blew the place out of the box on national TV. After visiting, I understand why. It’s small. It’s frequently crowded. I wouldn’t go without a reservation, particularly on a weekend night. We had been

  • A few restaurants in the food court at Valley Plaza were reopened Wednesday after being shut down the day before by food inspectors.

    Food inspectors found every diner's worst fear in mall basement

    County health inspectors went looking for plumbing problems in a Valley Plaza basement Wednesday and found every restaurant diner’s worst fear: roaches. An infestation of them. On the bright side, the plumbing issues that forced the closure of the food court the day before apparently have been

  • Cocktails for good cause? We'll drink to that

    If anyone needs an excuse to go to a nice cocktail party this weekend, here’s a good one: All of the ticket proceeds will go to help local foster children. Smart Cocktails, one of several fundraisers to be held by CASA of Kern County this year, will be held Saturday at the home of Robert and Patty

  • Valley Plaza's food court has been shut down by health inspectors due to a sewage problem.

    Mall food court shut down indefinitely

    A health inspector eating lunch at Valley Plaza on Tuesday got some unappetizing news from a restaurant staffer: Mall management had told food court tenants not to use water or put anything down their sinks because of a plumbing issue. The tip-off launched an immediate investigation by the Kern

  • In addition to beef and chicken, The Flame Broiler now offers organic charbroiled tofu as a bowl option. To celebrate the tofu, which was added to the menu earlier this month, stores will offer a free mini size tofu bowl to the first 100 customers on Thursday.

    Flame Broiler promotes tofu bowl with giveaway Thursday

    With more people embracing a less meat-based diet, it’s no surprise vegetarian options are popping up at restaurants. Eager to give vegetarians a more substantial meal, The Flame Broiler added organic charbroiled tofu to the menu. The change is a big one for the chain, which has not change its

  • Lam's Chinese Restaurant on University Avenue serves dry style beef chow fun, a specialty.

    PETE TITTL: This northeast favorite hasn't changed a bit (what a relief!)

    When a beloved restaurant changes hands, it takes time to master the nuances that make the specialities so special. No matter how much time the departing owner takes to share the recipes and processes with the buyer, it’s hard to replicate the magic, at least to the discerning tastes of the