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Sinaloa in Bakersfield...

I'm sorry you didn't post a query before you ate there. I could have warned you off. It's not very authentic Mexican food, as you found out. They should be ashamed of serving their ground beef tacos.
Instead of Sinaloa's, you should have gone a block or two further east to La Costa Mariscos. They're on the same street but on the north side. It's a small one room joint with some patio dining (as hot as it is now, I wouldn't recommend the patio). The food at La Costa is far better than what you find at Sinaloas'.
If you go for lunch on the weekdays, the joint gets filled up completely. Get there before noon or after 1pm to get a table. Otherwise you have to wait to be seated.

Jun 23, 2008
toliver in California

Breakfast near Bakersfield amtrak station

I am assuming that you want something within walking distance and that you have no vehicle.
There isn't much in the way of restaurants offering near the train station. That area is a mix of residential, city government buildings and some businesses.
I don't recommend the Hill House in the Best Western which is across the street from the station. I've had dinners there and it wasn't very good.
There is a Holiday Inn Select (801 Truxtun Ave) about a block or so west of the station that serves better food (but it is still hotel food). I've had lunch there and it was decent. I am assuming they serve breakfast, as well. You should call before heading there to verify that they serve breakfast.
If you had a vehicle, I'd say go to the 24th Street Cafe which is at 24th and K Street, not really walking distance.

Jun 06, 2008
toliver in California

Bakeries in Bakersfield?

One of the other nice things about Pyrenee's Bakery is they don't put any additives in their bread (at least not in the types of their bread that I buy). Pyrenee's bread can be found in most local grocery stores, too, and if you look at a Pyrenee's baguette bag, the ingredients are simply flour, water, yeast and salt...or something along those lines. That's refreshing to see these days.

May 06, 2008
toliver in California

OK Find on 99 in Bakersfield

Forget Logan's and drive about 5 minutes further east on California.
There's a new Cuban restaurant on the corner of California Avenue and Chester Avenue called Sabor Cubano. A Cuban friend who is from Miami said the food is very much like what a Cuban family would make and he eats there all of the time.
Though it's set up as a sort of fast-food Cuban style cafeteria, the dishes are anything but fast food. The Rabo Encendido (Spicy Oxtails) weren't all that spicy to me (but then I'm a chilehead so what's spicy to some isn't spicy to me). That being said, the meat was braised low and slow and simply fell off the bone, it was so tender. The Picadillo Aceitunado (ground beef with brined green olives) was a little salty but good...a sort of bun-less Cuban Sloppy Joe, if you will. On another visit I had the Chuleta en Cazuela (Cuban Pork Chops) which had a good flavor but were a little tough.
They also serve Cuban Sandwiches and a even a Medianoche which is the same as a Cuban Sandwich but served on a sweet Cuban bread (they make their own sandwich bread). They also serve Cuban beverages (Materva, Jupina, Maltas and Ironbeer).
The staff is very friendly and will give you a sample of everything on display if you ask. They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The dinner combos average about $8.99. They come with the main dish of your choice, fried plantains or yucca, white rice or Cuban rice (which is a mixture of white rice and black beans), and a choice of red beans or black beans.
They got a great review in the local paper:
(Be patient, it takes a while for the article page to load).

edited to add the link

Apr 17, 2008
toliver in California

Corned Beef and Cabbage in San Diego

There's also Thorton's Irish Pub on Broadway in El Cajon. I haven't been there but their online menu says they serve corned beef, cabbage and champ on their dinner menu, as well other Irish fare:

Hooley's web site says they only serve corned beef in a sandwich. Not sure if that's still true...

Feb 25, 2008
toliver in California

Which San Diego Area Casino has the Best Lunch and Dinner Buffet?

Viejas is surprisingly bad. They seem to be trying to become the Circus Circus of Indian Casino buffets.
It makes me wonder if there's an inverse relationship between ease of accessing a casino and the quality of its buffet.
Viejas is relatively easy to access off the freeway so perhaps they think they don't have to try so hard to attract customers which could explain why their buffet is so forgettable.
Valley View, which isn't so easy to access (it's out where God lost His keys) uses the good food in their buffet to attract customers.

Feb 22, 2008
toliver in San Diego

Which San Diego Area Casino has the Best Lunch and Dinner Buffet?

I was out at Valley View on President's Day and wanted to let everyone know that they've changed how you get into the buffet. You can longer just get in line. They have timed seatings now. More about that in a bit.
The last time I was there (last summer), the buffet was in a huge dining hall south of the non-smoking area. It's no longer there.
The buffet is now on the east side of the casino (when you enter the casino from the main west entrance, keep walking straight ahead and you'll find it). The layout of the buffet area is almost exactly like it was before they redid the casino. It's still a U-shaped food area with the island in the middle. What's odd is that the dining area is far smaller than the dining area when it was located south of the non-smoking part of the casino. The new dining area is just a little larger than their original buffet dining area.
In regards to the new timed seating, it's handled quite inefficiently, IMHO. As you stand facing the cash registers to get into the buffet, the line forms to your left. However, you can't just get in line, as I previously mentioned. Instead, there's a small podium in front of the cash registers. There's an employee at the podium who asks two questions of you: "Do you have a Gold Player's card?" and "How many are in your party?" If you have a Gold Player's card, you get to stand in a shorter line to the right of the buffet cash registers and don't have to worry about the timed seating. Everyone else has to get in the regular (longer) line to the left of the cash registers.
Once you've answered the two questions, the employee then hands you a sheet of paper and tells you what time you have to be back to wait in the buffet line. You can no longer just get into line. We were meeting a friend at the buffet entrance at 5pm and the employee at the podium told us to come back at 5:50pm and get in line at that time. When we did come back to wait in line, I could hear the employee telling customers who wanted to get in line without a piece of paper issued from her, that the next available seating was at 7pm. Even though we got in line at 5:50pm, we didn't actually enter the buffet until 6:20pm.
My advice is that an hour (or more) before you want to eat in the buffet, go to the podium to get that precious piece of paper and your assigned "get-in-line-time". When you come back to get in line, you have to hand your piece of paper back to the employee at the podium and then they'll open the rope to let you into the waiting line.
They still serve seafood Wed-Sat. Even though we were there on a Monday, they didn't have Filet Mignon, as they advertise on their web site. They served prime rib at the carving station which was quite good but we still missed the filet mignon.
All in all, it's a rather odd way to run a buffet.

Feb 21, 2008
toliver in San Diego

SD help, please: Casino buffet tonight

This post is too late to help you but I disagree on Valley View. It may have been the best buffet once, but since they've rebuilt the casino and buffet area, it's changed but not for the better.
They've also started charging quite a bit more. I believe now it costs about the same as Barona's buffet.

Dec 10, 2007
toliver in California

West Coast BBQ - La Mesa - Bekkers Returns!

This past Sunday I had dinner at the new West Coast BBQ in La Mesa. The restaurant is run by the same family who ran Bekkers, formerly on Mission Gorge Road. According to their website, this restaurant (and catering business) is officially headed by the daughter Maria, though it sounds like mom & dad still have a presence behind the scenes.
I could smell smoke from the restaurant before I could see it. The restaurant is located in the Ross shopping center on Lake Murray Drive (turn in at the stoplight next to the Jack-in-the-Box) and is very easy to get to from both the north and south. Smelling the smoke makes me wonder if the surrounding neighbors may end up complaining like Phil's neighbors did since the shopping center is in the middle of a residential area.
There was a line waiting to get in since they don't open until 4pm. They have tables and chairs out front and we had to wait until the staff set up the tables and chairs and cover the tables with table cloths before we could enter the restaurant (couldn't they have come out before 4pm and set everything up before hand?). I guess they're still working the kinks out, having just recently opened. I know some of their waitstaff are new as I could hear an older woman (Maria herself?) quietly instructing our waitress about refilling glasses, bringing the bread out, etc.
It took a while before the waitress was able to get to our table to take our order. Then it took more time for it to arrive at our table but then again, this isn't fast food.
I had the 3-item combo which included 3 meats (chicken, pulled pork and your choice of ribs) and 2 sides. The sides arrive in the typical small white dishes you've seen at countless other BBQ places. I'm always surprised with BBQ joints who don't throw the bits and pieces of BBQ meat into their baked beans or their chili which was also the case here. Both the baked beans and their chili were missing that extra kick that the presence of smoked meat could have given them. The baked beans are a little sweet but still good and the chili was also good (not overly spicy) but again, was missing any sort of smokiness you'd expect at a BBQ joint. I also had the slaw which I thought was good, crisp and not swimming in dressing.
The pulled pork is a misnomer, actually. It's not really pulled. It's served sliced and we could see the pink smoke ring in some of the slices. It had a nice smokey flavor and was quite tender and I also got a couple "burnt ends" (end bits where the pork is crispy).
For my ribs I asked for the pork ribs which ended up being fall-off-the-bone tender.
We didn't order the beef ribs but I did see several other diners ordering them. Of course, the beef ribs are huge and it looked like you got a decent portion (though they have two portion sizes, according to their menu). I wasn't even able to try my chicken as I was full by the time I made it through the pork and pork ribs. The chicken was slathered with their BBQ sauce. My brother said his chicken was good.
They do have 3 different cobblers for dessert which arrived in those ubiquitous little white dishes and amounted to little more than 3 or 4 bites. The menu says the cobbler comes with whipped cream but of the three cobblers we ordered, all of them were missing the whipped cream. That's just a small quibble. The few bites we had were good though not spectacular.
They have an Express Window on the front of their restaurant so you can call in your order in ahead of time and swing by to pick it up. There were people waiting for their orders sitting outside when we left the restaurant. The Express Window also has its own menu which includes large amounts for families.
They are running a coupon in some San Diego papers but the menu price is basically the same as the coupon price except with the coupon you get dessert thrown in.
Even though the wait to order and then receive your food is longer than it should be, overall, it was a good dining experience.
They're open Tuesday through Sunday from 4pm to 10:30pm. It's a shame they aren't open for lunch.

Sep 18, 2007
toliver in California

ATTN: Comic Con Attendees (San Diego)

If you're looking for a fast breakfast downtown, there's the recently opened Richard Walker's Pancake House on Front Street. Here's a link to their web site:
You can check out their menu online, as well.
It's not really a place you can sit and chat, though. They're very good about moving people in and then out to get the next customers in. There's usually a line but it moves quickly, especially if you're a small party (they'll pull people out of order from the line and into the restaurant when they're able to sit a two-top that's opened).
If you do go, order the specialty pancakes or crepes, which is what they're known for. When I went, we ordered standard diner fare, the Santa Fe omlette for me and the corned beef hash & basted eggs for my friend, both of which I wouldn't consider anything special. The corned beef hash does taste like it was made from scratch and did have a good flavor but we thought the portion was small considering how huge their specialty pancakes are. The omlettes aren't your standard folded omlette either. They're light and almost foamy and cooked (baked?) in a skillet, then flipped over and brought to the table. For diner food, they're slightly more expensive than your typical diner joint, but then if you get the specialty pancakes, you get a good amount for your money.

Jul 26, 2007
toliver in San Diego

Spanish Paprika in SD

If you don't have any luck finding it, you can always order it online through La Tienda, a web site that sells Spanish goods/food in America:

Jul 23, 2007
toliver in California

SDfair Eats

There was one hot dog booth on the main drag that was selling a "Hero" Dog, which was basically a chili dog. The interesting thing about it was they took a sourdough/French roll and cut one end off. They then stuck the roll onto a heated spike that toasted the inside of the roll (the spike didn't go all the way through the other end of the roll). Then they ladeled chili into the center hole, and then stuffed it with an extra long hot dog. Voila, a chili dog you could eat with one hand while you walked around. Genius, I tell ya! ;-)
My brother had been to the fair earlier in the week and had tried the "Hero" dog but it wasn't made correctly. The server didn't toast the roll long enough so when the chili was ladeled in, it ended up soaking into the bread and ended up as a dry chili dog.
The second time was a charm, not dry at all.
Something new to add to the menu for next year...

Jul 10, 2007
toliver in California

SDfair Eats

Regarding your comment:
"...I can only eat so much fried food before I'm 'greased out'..."
That's one of the advantages of going to the fair with a group of people. You don't have to eat the entire dish yourself. Take those infamous "Australian Battered Potatoes", for example. They look great but when you get a small mountain of them, you get greased out before you can finish them. With a group (especially if you bring teenagers), they won't go to waste and you'll be able to satisfy your craving without having to eat the entire plate of potatoes by yourself.

Jun 20, 2007
toliver in California

Entertainment Book - San Diego

My brother has been a rabid fan of the Entertainment Book in the past, but he noticed with the last book that a lot of the restaurants are in the north part of San Diego. Since he's value-minded (cheap, Ha!), he won't travel that far and waste gas just to save money on a meal.
If this year's book is the same with a lot of the restaurants in the north, he's said he'll stop buying them.

Jun 20, 2007
toliver in California

SDfair Eats

I agree on Roxy's. I always get the falafel burger and the garlic battered artichoke hearts on a skewer.
The Colossal Burger (sold at the east end of the Grandstand where there's a stretch of vendors on the way out to the Infield) is a heart attack on a bun...double hamburger with bacon, cheese and pastrami. Yikes!
The BBQ out in the Infield (west of the Kiddie rides) is good. I don't think many people know it's there. There's always a lot of tent-shaded seating available.

When we go to the Fair, we try to take a large group with us. When it's time to eat, everyone goes off to buy something different. Then we all sit down together and share what we bought. That way we're are able to try a little bit of everything without feeling the guilt of having to eat an entire Colossal Burger all by ourselves, for example.

Last year we tried deep fried avocado which was pretty bland. It's not as if avocado has a strong enough flavor on its own to stand up to the breading.

Jun 19, 2007
toliver in California

Middle Eastern Food in SD

Aladdin's on Clairmont Mesa serves good Middle Eastern Food (they're supposed to have another location in Hillcrest).
Their salads are huge.
I'd recommend lunch there because their dinners seem very pricey to me.

Jun 18, 2007
toliver in California

Breakfast North of the Grapevine

I like the 24th Street Café in Bakersfield. I believe (but don't quote me) that the owner is the son of the people who run Hodel's.
Take the Rosedale Hwy exit off Hwy 99 and head east. It eventually becomes a one way street. Once you cross Chester Avenue (the main downtown street), take the first left and it will be on the left side at the corner of 24th & K. Long lines on the weekend. Serves breakfast and lunch...closed for dinner.

Jun 11, 2007
toliver in California

Why San Diego Burritos are the best.

Amen to that!
When I moved from San Diego to Bakersfield, I was disappointed to find all the burritos here filled with rice & beans. What was up with that? Don't these people know any better?
Then came the glorious day when an Alberto's opened up here. Whoo-who! Their carne asada burrito (no rice & beans inside!) was a welcome sight. I make sure to eat there once a week. I'm hoping they stay in business.

Jun 05, 2007
toliver in California

food events in San Diego

It's not a restaurant event but there's a yearly "Islander" Festival on Mission Bay (Crown Point?) featuring food from the Phillipines and other Pacific island nations.

Apr 25, 2007
toliver in California

I want to go CHERRY PICKING!

This may be a little too north for your needs but I'll post it anyway.
The Murray Family Farm has Cherry picking from April to July. They're located in the Southern San Jaoquin Valley, just as you start the climb up the Tehachapis on Hwy 58 (about 30 minutes east of Bakersfield). They're right off the freeway so they're very easy to access.
The Murrays reportedly ship cherries to Japan so they're of very good quality. You can contact them through their website for more info if you're interested.

You can also find more You-pick-'em farms at this website (don't know how current the info is):

Apr 12, 2007
toliver in California

Going to Delano from Tarzana...need Basque Food

Here is a link to the Kern County Basque Club's website with a map showing the locations of the different Basque restaurants in Bakersfield:

I believe the actual K.C. Basque Club on South Union is for members only.

Mar 29, 2007
toliver in California

Italian Sausage Recommendation SD

Pete's rocks. Great recommendation.

Mar 02, 2007
toliver in California

Phils BBQ San Diego - When will it reopen?

Does the new location have real BBQ as opposed to what was being served at the Mission Hills location?

Feb 21, 2007
toliver in California

Fried Chicken in San Diego Area

Surprisingly, Marieta's Fine Mexican Food in Santee (on Carlton Hills Blvd.) has good fried chicken. It tastes like the pan fried chicken my mom used to make. Don't expect mexican spices or a latin treatment of the chicken. It's just straight forward fried chicken. The bad thing was it arrived piping hot to our table and I had to wait awhile before it was cool enough to pick up by hand to eat.

Feb 16, 2007
toliver in San Diego

Best BBQ in San Diego?

Technically speaking, Phil's isn't true BBQ. They'll be the first to admit it. At their current location in Hillcrest they pre-cook the meat in the kitchen and it's finished on the front grill. That's not BBQ. They can't cook true BBQ there because the people living in the area complained quite loudly about all the smoke. I hear they are planning on moving to a new location where they can cook BBQ the way it's supposed to be cooked.

Jan 25, 2007
toliver in San Diego

Which San Diego Area Casino has the Best Lunch and Dinner Buffet?

Barona Casino looks like someone dropped a Vegas casino and hotel in the middle of a valley. It's quite impressive.
The buffet at Barona reminds me of the World Buffet in the Rio (Las Vegas) which is a good thing. The Barona buffet has different sections representing different cuisines (Chinese, Italian, Mexican, etc). They have a Mongolian BBQ, too, which is fresh anf flavorful and sometimes is a meal in and of itself.
The dessert bar makes Banana Fosters or Cheeries Jubilee to order.
In all, the food is very good but it's also a little pricey, around the twenty dollar mark. You can get a couple dollars off the price if you have a Barona Player's Card (the card you stick in the slot machines so they keep track of your spending). It's free to get one and you save on the buffet so it's worth the time in line to get one.
We had Christmas dinner at the Barona buffet and enjoyed it. They served prime rib, a holiday special, carved to order, which was quite tender and had a great seasoned crust. They also had a massive ham leg, the biggest one I've ever seen, also carved to order.

Valley View Casino, north of Escondido, has supposedly been consistently voted the best Indian Casino buffet in San Diego county. They are currently building onto the casino (the parking garage just opened in November) and they're building a hotel.
Their buffet also offers different cuisines, though not to the extent that Barona does. It's a U-shaped buffet with the center island offering desserts. They do offer a lot of Chinese dishes and some sushi. They also have a grill where they BBQ everything from whole sirloin steaks to filet mignons. What they grill depends on the day of the week. I have friends who crave their grilled pork chops. Overall the food is quite good and costs just about the same as Barona's buffet (you get a couple dollars off the price if you have a Player's card).
The good thing about Valley View is they constantly mail coupons and benefits to members of their Player's Club (again, it's the card you put into slot machines so they keep track of your to get one). I'm constantly receiving offers of a free dinner buffet so I think it's worth getting the card.

The employees at both casinos are friendly and helpful. Barona employees are particularly pleasant and a joy to deal with the few times I've needed their help.

I've heard nothing nice about the buffet at Viejas. I guess the easier it is to get to a casino the less they care about offering good food to their customers. Valley View, which is so far away it's about where God lost His keys, is just the opposite. They're so far away from civilization, they make sure the food is great and your gambling experience is a good one so you'll keep coming back.

Jan 15, 2007
toliver in San Diego

Handmade Tamales (SD)

The Tamale Factory in El Cajon (on Greenfield Dr.) does a brisk business at Christmas time selling tamales.
The restaurant itself is quite small. It's a converted house with a few tables inside and I think one or two outside.

Dec 08, 2006
toliver in California

Pho in Bakersfield

Pho Vi is located in the "Little Saigon" shopping center on Union Avenue.
If you go at lunch time, go before Noon or after about 1pm, otherwise you have to wait for a table. I agree with your review about their pho. Their spicy beef soup (which used to be served only on Fridays and Saturdays...not sure if it's available everyday now) is quite good, too.
There's an odd shop a couple doors down that sells Bobba Teas that also makes Vietnamese sandwiches, too. Haven't tried the sandwiches, yet.

As for other pho places, there's a chinese restaurant on the south side of White Lane, in a small strip mall east of Hwy. 99, that also serves some vietnamese dishes, including pho. The story behind it is that there's a nearby nail salon owned by a vietnamese woman. She would get off work and eat at the chinese place and was commiserating with the owner of the chinese restaurant that (at the time) there weren't any nice vietnamese places in town. The owner of the chinese restaurant said "Teach me how to make your dishes and I will put them on the menu". So now the chinese restaurant makes chinese food and vietnamese food. I think the plate of extras you get with your pho is more generous at this place than at Pho Vi.

And I haven't heard anything good about "Saigon" on Oak Street.

Dec 08, 2006
toliver in California

San Diego - Seeking Christmas Buffet

Regarding places that have Thanksgiving buffets also having Christmas buffets...I've been finding it about half true. Tom Ham's Lighthouse, for example, is open Thanksgiving but isn't open Christmas Day.
But I came across that article online listing Thanksgiving buffets and will do some more research by phone.

As for the Indian Casinos, it's definitely an option. The regular buffet at Barona is pretty good (reminds me of a good Vegas buffet) so eating there on Christmas Day could work.
I've also had the buffet at Valley View Casino north of Escondido, and while it's good it's so far away (about an hour drive) it may not be worth the trip.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Nov 17, 2006
toliver in California

Basque in Bakersfield.........Help!

Here is a map on the Kern County Basque Club web site showing the locations of the different Basque restaurants in town:

Note that the Basque Club itself is for members only.

The last time I was at Pyrenees, they had family style dining. I believe it was a set menu (meaning no choice) and you passed everything to others around the table.

As for a varied menu, try Chalet Basque:
It's not family style dining but they have fish and chicken dishes on the menu. Make sure you take note of the "extras" you get with the dinner menu (top right on the menu page). It's usually called "The Start-up" and can be a meal in itself.

Nov 06, 2006
toliver in California