Country Club members enjoy the club's restaurant, and the annual Christmas and New Years dinners never lack for attendance. Most Rio Bravo residents belong to this private country club, which also welcomes members of surrounding communities to join. Venturing down the hill into East Bakersfield
brings more dining options into view for Outer East Bakersfield
The area's traditional Basque heritage lives on at local institutions Noriega's and the Pyrenees Café. Formerly known as the Iberia Hotel, Noriega's, a part of the hotel, has been satisfying local customers since 1893. A virtual time capsule, Noriega's serves up unique Basque favorites in a down-to-earth setting. Long communal tables often find old timers mingling with yuppies and tourists over bowls of their popular lamb stew with fresh baked bread. Despite Noriega's tourist-attracting accolades (a James Beard award-winner), the place also appeals to plenty of locals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Calling ahead helps to avoid missing out on the fun, since the place jumps around dinner time.
Since 1935, Sumner Street's Pyrenees Café has served hungry sheepherders, farmers, businesspeople and families. Dinners come accompanied by "the setup": pinto beans, bread, salsa, soup and picked vegetables. The pickled tongue ranks as a recommended delicacy even for the squeamish. The hearty portions animate boisterous communal crowds chatting over plates of delicately roasted lamb and rice, fried chicken and ravioli, and other specialties. In the evenings the attached saloon gets packed, and becomes a loud and friendly meet-and-greet.
Locals look beyond the tasty donuts at Smith's Bakery, locally owned and operated since 1945. With scrumptious house-made cakes, pies, tarts and cookies, Smith's bakes the kind of treats that neighborhood residents remember from childhood. Weddings, promotions and morning office smiles have revolved around Smith's for decades. This local institution still retains that 1950s feel, and the little old ladies behind the counter move the weekend crowds along with friendly brevity. The coveted pink-champagne cake disappears quickly, so reserve one ahead of time.
Getting your drink on in Outlying East Bakersfield means heading west to Ethel's Old Corral. A hole-in-the-wall surrounded by oil fields and ranch land, Ethel's doesn't just look the part of a roadside cowboy bar. Step inside for a couple of local-favorite slow-roasted tacos and a cold beer, and stay for the live country music and line dancing. Ethel's provides the only place around to get out of the sun, although the covered patio makes for a nice afternoon over a pitcher and a couple of buffalo burgers. Leave your credit cards in your wallet as this place takes cash only.
East-side dwellers come home to roost at Frank Amestoy's Bar, the long-standing destination of Bakersfield hot-rodders back in the day. Old folks hold court during the weeknights, and weekends usher in a younger crowd. Opened by self-proclaimed hot-rodder Frank Amestoy and his wife Marie in 1948, Amestoy's has a reputation for traditional cocktails, cold beers and jukebox music. The classic neon marquis reminds patrons that they're entering Bakersfield's history every time they walk in through the back door.