Working parents know—lunch is a secret weapon when it comes to catching up with friends. On a recent afternoon at Bakersfield, a girlfriend and I gabbed away, nibbling on tortilla chips with plenty of smoky tomatillo salsa and bright verde sauce. Our order—chicken mole with piquant pickled red onion and earthy huitlacoche tacos with cotija cheese; a juicy braised beef short rib torta with caramelized onions and arugula—arrived quickly. We polished off every bite. But on my next visit with another companion and my son, I had an entirely different experience. While we endured the 90-plus minute Thursday night wait at the bar, we ordered chips, no-frills margaritas, and a few Coronas. Then I requested a small glass of milk for my 4½-year-old son. “We don’t do milk,” I was quickly informed. When we finally took possession of our table—just outside the kitchen door, where we would certainly feel more comfortable should the young master get mouthy—an order of fish tacos topped with a tasty citrus slaw, a Willie salad (classic chopped but with queso fresco and buttermilk dressing), and a flavorless chicken chorizo tostada were delivered at lightning speed. We spent 20 minutes at that cramped table, long enough to determine that Bakersfield’s entire menu could be replicated at home, where even the youngest guest is welcome.
Bakersfield, 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 579-0446, bakersfieldtacos.com