Bakersfield: Beyond Your Typical Tacos
As the sizzle of summer fades into the more enjoyable fall season, my excitement for getting out and discovering the flavors of Charlotte couldn’t be higher.
Charlotte has a lot to offer - and coming from the small town of Auburn, Alabama, one of the things that my wife and I couldn’t wait to explore was the food and cocktails of the Queen City. Fast forward almost two years later, and not only have we found some amazing restaurants, but the food industry here continues to boom, keeping our taste buds happy and our stoke high for each new restaurant and food truck that seemingly opens every week.
Back in the early summer, a friend I made at the U.S. National Whitewater Center told me about a restaurant in Dilworth that I had to check out. “If you want tacos, and I mean good tacos,” he said, “and the best handcrafted margaritas around, then you have to check out Bakersfield.” Tacos? Tequila? Say no more.
When I first stepped foot inside Bakersfield, I almost went into a sensory overload. The tasty smell of tacos and limes that instantly makes you hungry (or hungrier). The sounds of the bartender hard at work, clinking glassware, whiskey being poured over ice for the two gentlemen sitting at the bar, and the fresh limes being squished in the metal press for those perfectly handcrafted margaritas. And as if that wasn’t enough, the warm glow of the wood, the cold concrete countertops, and the rustic metal decor and design layout is beautifully done, reminding me of a classier version of my father’s wood shop in the basement of my childhood home. First impressions are important, and Bakersfield did not disappoint.
While the ambiance of a restaurant is always important, no one is going to eat there if the food and drinks don’t deliver.
I’ve found two things to be true when it comes to tacos and margaritas. First, it’s hard to make a bad taco or a bad margarita. Second, it’s harder to make a taco or a margarita that truly stands out from others.
But, when perfection is achieved, it’s a palate pleasing experience near impossible to forget. I am happy to share that Bakersfield has perfected the taco and the margarita. Let me begin with the two margaritas I had the pleasure of sipping: The Bakersfield Margarita and The Premium Margarita.
Both are well crafted cocktails that taste great, but if you’re looking for the more affordably priced margarita, the Bakersfield is the go-to. Made with El Jimador Blanco tequila, triple sec, agave nectar, and fresh lime/lemon juice, it’s going to please those taste buds and your wallet. If you feel inclined to spend the extra couple of dollars, the Premium was my favorite. Made with Casa Noble Reposado tequila, Grand Marnier, agave nectar, fresh lime/lemon juice, and a Valencia orange salt rimmed glass, this margarita tasted unique, yet familiar. Again, it’s hard to make a bad margarita, but Bakersfield has two outstanding options (plus others I didn’t get to try) that made me appreciate their effort to create high quality, handcrafted cocktails.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but in my opinion, Bakersfield puts the same incredible effort into their food, and it makes for a flavor combination and flavor explosion that left me wanting to order extras to take home.
When you eat chips at a taco joint, you always have to order queso, right? So I ordered their queso and I’ll admit, this isn’t going to be the queso for everyone. If you’re the type that loves the ooey, gooey, melted pure white queso that the majority of Mexican restaurants serve, this is not what you’re going to get here. Instead, you’re getting my favorite kind of queso - the kind that has a light, golden-brown crust that’s perfectly forged in an oven of flavor, on top of a gooey, yet somewhat firm queso. I thought it tasted outstanding, and being served in a cast iron skillet made the cheese pull photos look beautiful.
For my main course, I ordered four different tacos, each uniquely their own, but the one that stood out was actually a bit surprising to me - the Baja Shrimp taco. Surprising, for starters, because I’m not a huge seafood lover. I’ll eat shrimp and crab legs every once in a while, but next time I go back, I’m ordering all Baja Shrimp tacos. They were THAT good. It may sound silly, but it’s hard to put into words how well the crispy shrimp, perfectly mashed guacamole, crisp red cabbage, chipotle lime crema, pickled fresno, and chive mesh together. I was impressed to say the least with how well Bakersfield has done with taking a relatively simple food and making it a dining experience that quite honestly has been one of my favorites in the near two years I’ve been living in Charlotte.