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Famed Basque restaurant Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield to close permanently

Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield
A family-style Basque dinner at Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield.
(Charles Fleming / For The Times)

Noriega Hotel, one of Bakersfield’s oldest restaurants, announced Friday that it would not reopen following its closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The restaurant, which served traditional Basque cooking enjoyed family-style in huge portions at shared tables, had been in business for 89 years.

The Elizalde family, owners of the restaurant since 1931, announced the decision on Facebook, thanking “all the people that have dined with us.”

Among the Noriega’s biggest fans: Jonathan Gold, who wrote extensively about the restaurant over the years.

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“At the Noriega you serve yourself from communal platters brought to the table, and wash everything down with cold, red wine. First there are tureens of vegetable soup, which you enrich to taste with spicy Basque salsa and a dose of boiled pinto beans,” wrote Gold in a 1992 guide to Bakersfield. “Then comes the entree, maybe lamb stew or braised oxtails; after that an enormous plate of spaghetti; after that a platter of ribs or fried chicken and the best French fries in the world; then — finally — slabs of blue cheese and bowls of delicious homemade flan.”

The restaurant was named “an American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation in 2011.

On social media, fans lamented the loss of the Noriega’s signature Picon Punch and garlicky pickled beef tongue, as well as the historic culture and community the Central Valley restaurant had come to represent — an end of an era in Bakersfield.


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