ATLANTA, Georgia and BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Southern specialties from the Peach State, chorizo and jalapeno pizza in northeast Bakersfield, sizzling fajitas in the northwest and a homecooked Chinese meal from a KGET staffer round out this especially full edition of Best Eats This Week.
For the record: Especially full is not a bad thing; it’s our preferable state after dining.
Biscuits and gravy, a Waffle House feast, barbecue and butterscotch ice cream from establishments in Atlanta, Georgia
KGET reporter Karen Hua spent several days attending a journalism conference in Atlanta, Ga., learning new skills, meeting reporters from around the country and battling the staggering humidity.
She also ate, and she ate very well, honing in on Southern classics.
Noshing on biscuits and gravy was a no-brainer, and for that breakfast gut bomb Hua went to Flying Biscuit Cafe, a popular chain that bakes 5,000 biscuits a week at each of its locations.
Is a trip to the South properly authentic without visiting Waffle House? I’d argue no, and Hua was of a similar mind. She sampled hash browns smothered with cheese, rashers of bacon and, of course, a giant waffle covered in butter and syrup.
A trip to the family-owned Zesto chain provided a potent antidote to the heat with its butterscotch-dipped soft serve cone.
Lastly, a discussion of southern eats is not complete without a few words on barbecue.
Hua visited the much-lauded Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, opened in 2007 by twin brothers from Texas with brisket and pulled pork in their DNA. What did she order? It may be easier to ask for a list of what what she didn’t order.
She ate pork ribs and collard greens, chomped on fatty brisket and chili mac and cheese and bit into a jalapeno and cheese hot link as well as jalapeno and cheese corn bread. The corn bread came with honey butter.
To borrow a popular Southern phrase, Hua left Fox Bros. full as a tick.
Fajitas and quesadilla at Rancho Grande, 6023 Coffee Road, Bakersfield
Reporter Olivia LaVoice works hard — and works up an appetite.
When she sent me the photo of her meal at Rancho Grande, I asked, “Did you really eat all that?”
Yes, she did. And she loved it.
Beef and broccoli and stir fry, Tabatha Mills
“I made beef and broccoli and stir-fry. I have a motto I like to use — #useitorloseit — and basically the beef had thawed in the refrigerator for a couple days so I needed to use it.
“So I bought some broccoli, spiced it up a little bit and boom! I also had a lot of vegetables I needed to use so the easiest thing for me to do to get rid of a lot of veggies is a veggie stir-fry.
“I’m all about that #useitbeforeyouloseit.”
— Tabatha Mills, reporter
Chorizo, onion and jalapeno pizza, Tony’s Firehouse Grill and Pizza, 10701 Highway 178, Bakersfield
I’m an East Coast transplant (moved from Delaware to Bakersfield in 2006).
Some other East Coasters I know disdain California pizza. A former colleague once said she couldn’t eat pizza here after growing up in New York.
Yes, New York has spectacular pizza. But I’ve been to enough restaurants in the Golden State to know it’s no slouch when it comes to slinging pies, either.
From Neopolitan pies to deep dish, crispy square Detroit-style to Korean dessert pizzas, California has it all.
And Bakersfield certainly has its selection of good pizza joints. There’s the Mountain Mike’s buffet, the heavily garlicked pies at Slice of Italy and the enduring Rusty’s chain of pizza parlors.
But as an eastside resident, I usually opt for Tony’s Pizza.
I love the classic pepperoni pies, but my favorite is a slight variation on their specialty Mexicana pizza. I order a pie with chorizo, onions and jalapenos but no tomatoes, which I’ve found can make the dough soggy.
This three-topping beauty combines the saltiness of the chorizo with the spiciness — but not overly spicy — of the jalapenos, and the subtle crunch and flavor from the onions. I’m a sucker for onions on everything.
It’s a great pie, and a solid rebuttal to those claiming California doesn’t know pizza.
Chips in the newsroom
Alissa Carlson, KGET’s chief meteorologist, walked into the newsroom this week bearing a huge box containing 54 small bags of a variety of chips. There were Doritos, Lay’s classic potato chips, Fritos, Cheetos, all sorts of “o’s”.
Carlson said her husband bought the box, believing they served as suitable snacks for their child. She disagreed.
While Carlson didn’t want those little bags of salt and fat in her home, KGET staffers had no qualms whatsoever in devouring them. That box emptied within 24 hours.
For web writer Jose Franco, who works a later shift, seeing that box of chips as he walked into work was the highlight of his week. I do not judge him.