My First Basque and Tongue


“Tastes like roast beef,” they told me, as I held the thinly sliced piece of pickled tongue up on my fork.

While visiting my boyfriend’s family in Bakersfield, California last weekend, I had a few notable firsts … my first visit to a Basque restaurant, and my first taste of beef tongue.

First, the Basque restaurant: I had no idea places like this exist! The restaurant felt like a Moose Lodge, but was actually an old historic hotel, with a small bar area up front and two thick wooden doors leading into the dining room, where three long wooden tables sat with place settings for over 100 people. As our party of 20 was seated at 7:00 p.m. sharp, along with the other hundred or so guests, I had the feeling we were traveling back into the Middle Ages.

Enter, beef tongue. Along with soup, salad, bleu cheese, bread and red wine, a platter of pickled beef tongue was placed on the table. Oh yes, I sampled it all. I had an audience as I made a big deal about eating the pickled tongue – it was my first time, after all. And, yes, it did, in fact, taste just like roast beef.

Then the dinner courses began arriving: oxtail with roasted root vegetables, spaghetti with marinara sauce, French fries, fried chicken; all served family-style and passed up and down the long straight tables. The meal was topped off with a scoop of strawberry ice cream. It was definitely the most random combination of food I’ve ever eaten in one sitting. It may have been the free-flowing wine, or the terrific company, but the meal was absolutely delicious, and certainly memorable.

I don’t know of any Basque restaurants in Sacramento, but if you do, please leave a recommendation.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Brittany | Apr 23, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    You’re so brave! I love trying new things and beef tongue is definitely one I’m yet to add to the list. I wonder if there are any Basque restaurants in Sacramento . . .

  • Eileen | Apr 23, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    The only one I know of is in Jackson, Bascaglia. There is also one in Reno near Harrah’s

  • Maria | Apr 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    You are adventurous! I went to a Basque restaurant in Woodland once. I wonder if it still exists?

  • sacfhoodies | Apr 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I did a Google search, but didn’t find anything. Apparently there was a well-known one in Winters that closed a few years ago.

  • Carol | May 20, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Oh my it has been a while that I have lived in Bakersfield, but the Basque eateries are the best my favorite place to go and I have had the beef tounge and have made it as well for my self Hope you enjoyed it well.. I lived there in Bakersfield for 20 plus years good luck.. Carol

  • Bill K | Oct 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Here are the Basque restaurants in the US. The expensive ones in San Francisco that specialize in tapas are from the tradition in the Basque country where men try to outdo one another in their dining societies. The ones in Bakersfield, Reno, and Idaho are descendants of the boardinghouses for the bachelor Basque Sheepherders.

  • Bill K | Oct 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm


  • Bill K | Jan 21, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I grew up going over to Noriega, where you ate, on occasions from Taft. It’s still my favorite restaurant.

    Just google Basque Sacramento.

    “Wool Growers” in Los Banos, is in the same ballpark. There are a couple in Reno.

    Here’s an extensive listing: