Bakersfield, California is rich with culture, whether it’s music, agriculture, recreational activities or sports. Although the town of Bakersfield isn’t too big, the options for night-life are plenty. Here are some of the best bars to go to while in town.
Nestled on River Boulevard is Amestoy’s, also known as the local watering hole in Bakersfield. This charming dive is cash-only and a gathering spot for the whole community. Advertised as ‘always open and always cheap,’ Amestoy’s is known for its stiff drinks and friendly service that instantly makes you feel at home. Let the knowledgeable bartenders help you choose a drink out of the wide variety of beer and cocktail selections. A bonus about Amestoy’s, during NFL season, breakfast is free.
The name may be VIP Lounge, but everyone is welcome in this local Bakersfield spot. Another cherished dive bar in town, locals come here for karaoke on Monday nights or to unwind after a long day of work over some good conversation and a game of darts. With a 1970s inspired interior, a working jukebox and no rules against outside food, VIP Lounge is comfortably cool and laid back. Come here for the low-key atmosphere and friendly crowd every night until 2:00 a.m.
On Wall Street is Guthrie’s Alley Cat, located in an actual alley of downtown Bakersfield, unseen from the main roads. Visitors who come into Guthrie’s are entering the oldest bar in Bakersfield, an unadvertised and unassuming establishment that is always packed with loyal patrons. Guthrie’s attracts all kinds of guests, from the hardened local regulars to the young hipster crowd; everyone mingles and gets along well. With its rustic alley vibe (apparently the inspiration for a couple of Harley Davidson photo shoots) and cheap drinks, Guthrie’s will provide a good time for anyone who happens to stumble on inside.
Lengthwise isn’t just the top microbrewery in Bakersfield, it has a pretty fantastic bar scene. Settled in Northwest Bakersfield, the Lengthwise Pub is a near perfection combination of craft beer and bar food with a local twist. The ambiance of the place is one of a kind. A 1932 Harley Davidson and vintage bicycles are on display alongside plenty of artwork by local artists. Come here for a Longwise pint and ‘stinky fries’, heaps of garlic fries topped with melted Gorgonzola cheese.
One of the staples of Bakersfield and Kern County, Trouts is known to be one of the last true blues honkey-tonk bars in the area, with live country music a constant presence to the patrons of the spot. For those unfamiliar with honkey-tonk, it’s one of the last fleeting cultural habits of the Old West, lively country gigs playing constantly to the patrons of establishments, just like at Trout’s. There’s always something going on here, from concerts to line dancing to star studded karaoke sessions. Come here for line dancing lessons and an energetic atmosphere 365 days a year.
Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace is appropriately named after Buck Owens, the legendary Country Music Hall of Fame musician who called Bakersfield his home until his death in 2006. In addition to being a bar, the establishment is also used as a country music venue, a Buck Owens museum, a nightclub and restaurant. Buck’s is a special venue that can only be found in Bakersfield. Come here for a lively and genuine country atmosphere that won’t be found anywhere else.
Breaking away from the pack of lively dive bars in town, Valentien is a Bakersfield treat. This French/Californian bistro has that quiet and intimate ambience that’s perfect for dates, relaxing family outings or for catching up with an old friend. Wine connoisseurs and lovers of fine, French cuisine rave about the light and up-scale options Valentien has to offer. The restaurant has a rotational menu paired with seasonal drinks, making each visit seem new. Valentien’s wine can be seen around Bakersfield from time to time; the bar contributes bottles to various exhibit openings and events throughout the city.
On Eye Street is CraSh Lounge, Bakersfield’s authentic and sophisticated cocktail bar. Run by the same owners of the Muerto’s Kitchen and Lounge (located just a few doors down), the drink prices are a bit more expensive than the other bars in town, but the quality of the cocktails make it all well worth the price. Visitor’s to CraSh can also enjoy a variety of small bites and sandwiches said to become enhanced in flavor when paired with a drink. Come here for drink classics, such as the ‘moscow mule’ and a well reviewed ‘old fashioned.’
Down in the southern area of Bakersfield is Camino Real Kitchen & Tequila, dubbed as ‘Mexican inspired with California love.’ Since its formation in 2008, Camino has stayed true to its roots with its menu of classic and constantly evolving Mexican dishes and cocktails. If you’re looking for some tasty drinks, Camino’s is the place to go. Come here for the house margaritas (available in many flavors) and the red or white sangria.
Nestled downtown on 19th Street is Riley’s Tavern, a true hole in the wall that’s been a second to home to many of the locals in Bakersfield for quite some time. Known for their friendly bar service and vibrant atmosphere, Riley’s is a great place to stay for a night of affordable fun. Riley’s rounds up the stream of lovable dive bars in the area, it’s truly not about appearances here, everyone is welcome. Come here for ‘dollar beer night’ on Thursdays and for the late night crowd who will be sure to make your night in Bakersfield exciting.