• Jin Sushi Japanese Restaurant chef Charlie Han, left, and owner Jake Kim pose for a photograph as a flaming sushi dish cooks in the foreground. Jin Sushi joins Enso, a couple of blocks to the east, as the only sushi purveyors in the heart of downtown Bakersfield.

    Appealing vibe and lovely sushi at downtown's Jin Sushi

    There’s always been something downtown and upscale about sushi, but the expansion of the cuisine in Bakersfield has concentrated mostly on the suburbs, in the northwest and southwest parts of town. But now, joining downtown sushi pioneer Enso, is Jin Sushi, a stylish place that delivers plates of

  • Chef Preeda Piamfa with his Yum beef salad at Chef's Choice Noodle Bar. The salad recipe is beginner-friendly, but if you'd prefer to leave the cooking to Piamfa, head downtown.

    Noodle Bar shares spicy beef salad, refreshing mojito recipes

    When Nick Hansa and his wife, Pum, opened Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar in 2011, the goal was simple: Add a little spice to the downtown dining scene and introduce Bakersfield to a wide array of Thai food with an extensive menu, and do so without compromising the integrity of the food’s origin or

  • WIth its all-too-spooky black bun, the Halloween Whopper is available at Burger King through Oct. 31.

    THE DISH: Halloween Whopper scares but not in intended way

    With everyone so preoccupied with pumpkin spice everything — lattes, cookies, chips, vodka, candy, etc. — it may have slipped your notice that Burger King jumped on a different holiday bandwagon Monday. The HA1loween Whopper ($4.99), so cutely named for the A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce baked into

  • Although surprised by the order for a Sonora hot dog, the workers at the Lazy Toucan in the fair's Villa Festiva were able to turn out a valiant first effort.

    STEFANI DIAS: How does new fair food fare? Here's a report card

    When it comes to fair food, the best scenario is that it underpromises and overdelivers. In the glut of new items at this year’s Kern County Fair, we have both shining stars and some that failed to make the grade. Fried mac and cheese balls: The Southern Comfort Kitchen earns an incomplete on this

  • Croad Vineyards is hosting the Downunder Harvest Party on Oct. 17 and 18.

    The Dish: The road leads to Croad for winery's big doings

    Last spring we had the pleasure of tasting wines at a Central Coast winery that has a Bakersfield connection: Croad, which is getting ready to celebrate the harvest in a big way. Patti and Martin Croad, the Bakersfield couple who own the Paso Robles winery and on-site inn (a nap after tasting?

  • The chilaquiles plate at Tony's Firehouse in Shafter.

    PETE TITTL: Blaze a path to Tony's Firehouse in Shafter

    Tony’s Pizza, with its four Bakersfield locations and new kiosk at the Outlets at Tejon, has become a go-to destination for pizza lovers looking for a little imagination to go with the cheese and pepperoni on their pies. But fans may not realize that the flagship restaurant, which opened in

  • Rides like the Ring of Fire will be up and ready for fair-goers to enjoy when the Kern County fair opens Wednesday.

    The fair: Everybody's gearing up for opening day

    The Kern County Fair opens this afternoon, the first day of fall, but summer is still in the air with temperatures in the high 90s expected through the week. While media tour attendees lagged a bit on Tuesday, the National Order of Trench Rats Dugout 159 showed some military-flavored can-do spirit,

  • Willamette Valley Pie Co. is one of the new vendors headed to the Kern County Fair, bringing all natural pies, cobblers and turnovers made with fruit from Oregon's Willamette Valley.

    The fair: Concession obsessions

    Everyone knows that the big draw for the Kern County Fair — any fair really — is the food. From the sublimely sweet to the fantastically fried, few can resist the rich confections and outrageous combinations. Even the Food Network and Cooking Channel have hopped on board with shows devoted to

  • A new item at this year's Kern County Fair is the ice cream doughnut sandwich, which juxtaposes hot cinnamon and sugar doughnuts with cool ice cream and tops it all with caramel. The unique item from Mariah's Fair Treats has been featured on the Cooking Channel show "Carnival Eats."

    The fair: Pretzels, doughnuts and pies, oh my!

    Despite the loss of longtime local concessions BARC and the Italian Heritage Dante Association, the fair is actually up in concessions this year with a total of 52, serving 900 different food items. That’s thanks to the addition of three new vendors slinging a slew of sweet and savory treats.

  • Mama Roomba chef and co-owner Isaac Mancilla describes the pork flat-iron steak salad as “spicy, tangy, sweet.”

    We're in hog heaven over Mama Roomba dish

    Mama Roomba is famous for its sharable tapas, but the pork flat-iron steak salad with honey lime dressing is one dish diners might want to keep for themselves. Now, with co-owner and chef Isaac Mancilla sharing the recipe, salad-lovers can make the dish at home themselves. “It’s good and easy to

  • HERB BENHAM: I'd like to buy the world a Coke - made in Mexico

    in June, I bought a case of Coca-Cola in the old-fashioned 12-ounce bottles, bottles that are at once slim and graceful. “Try them,” a friend said. “This is Coke made in Mexico with real cane sugar rather than corn syrup or an artificial sweetener.” “Real cane sugar.” That sounded good. Real cane

  • PETE TITTL: It's game on at this new sports bar

    We’re about to enter a very special time of the year, a season that holds such joy, such pain and unites families amid food, laughter and cheer. Yes, football season. Now is the time when finding a great place to see the game assumes monumental importance, especially if your TV dates from the

  • Brock Martin, Preston Hodges and Khalil Ealy at the 2013 Bakersfield College Alumni Barbecue.

    BC Alumni Association fires up the grill for biggest fundraiser

    When an event has been around for six decades, it’s bound to evolve at least a little. In fact, the men who started the Bakersfield College alumni barbecue back in 1954 probably wouldn’t recognize it today, with the 61st annual event to be held at BC on Thursday evening. Not just because their

  • Thai bite shrimp scallop from Asian Experience in Taft.

    HERB BENHAM: Taft does life — and Asian food — right

    Taft came up three times in conversation last week. “It’s one of those places where time seems to have stopped,” said a friend. A second friend reminded me that Oildorado Days, Taft’s once-every-five-years celebration, is coming up in October. A third said, “People who live in Taft have pride in

  • Camino Real owner and chef Alejandro Ocampo serves these sweet molletes at the restaurant’s Sunday brunch.

    Always cooking up something special at Camino Real

    Culinary powerhouses like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck put California cuisine on the map, fusing cultures and styles in innovative menus known for fresh ingredients from throughout the Golden State. Even in Bakersfield, that inspiration fuels innovators like Alejandro Ocampo. The chef and owner

  • Denny's is celebrating its #BigBurgerBash through Oct. 12 with burgers starting at $6.99. Instagram users who share their Denny's burger photo with the hashtag have a chance to win a $50 gift card for the restaurant.

    THE DISH: Sizzler to be (cheese) toast of town Tuesday

    Forget throwback Thursday; try (cheese) toast Tuesday.The cheesy favorite that no visit to Sizzler is complete without gets a day in the spotlight Tuesday for National Cheese Toast Day. For the first time, California Sizzler restaurants will serve free cheese toast from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday.

  • Vanessa Loredo readies a bloody Mary for a lunch time customer at the Hidden Cafe Bar and Restaurant. It’s kind of interesting, the juxtaposition of modern touches with the old-school ambiance, writes Californian dining critic Pete Tittl.

    PETE TITTL: Hidden Cafe is a real find in downtown Bakersfield

    A great restaurant space is one with the kind of character you can’t fake, such as T.L. Maxwell’s or Uricchio’s. The atmosphere is rich, distinctive, suggesting tradition and prompting an insistent curiosity that nudges the visitor: “I wish these walls could talk.” Hidden Café Bar &

  • Herb Benham

    HERB BENHAM: You can't poke a hole in the perfection of these doughnuts

    You can only pass the big doughnut in the sky so many times before the forces of the universe assume control of your car, lift you onto Manchester Boulevard and plunk you down in the drive-through line. I’m talking about Randy’s Donuts in L.A. The big doughnut in the sky near LAX. You can’t miss