1213 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
websiteIMG_18474 stars

A hot, rising chain of taco bars with locations in several cities, Bakersfield is a trendy bar that finds itself in the hippest part of town. Bakersfield OTR in Cincinnati, is a centerpiece of Over-The-Rhine’s active nightlife scene. The taco bar has plenty to offer with its particular brand of cuisine, whether you want familiar toppings or some of the more exotic stuff rarely found elsewhere in Cincinnati, you’ll find it here. You’re almost certain to have a significant wait to dine at Bakersfield, but the food, I think is worth a try.

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These tacos are the centerpiece of the menu. They’re a little smaller, so plan to get a few extras if you have to.

  • Huitlacoche taco: This is a type of corn truffle, actually pretty common in Mexico but less known in the United States. It’s topped with  roasted poblano, a cotija cheese, and a few veggies to make it great.
  • Short rib taco: braised short rib tops this taco, but what’s really great are the sides. They don’t overwhelm. A bit of queso fresco and crema give it a sweeter counterbalance and then some white onion, radish and cilantro a fresh bite.
  • Fish taco: Crispy grilled mahi mahi fish mark the centerpiece of this taco, but what’s good about it is the spice that comes from the tabasco lime sauce. A little but of heat. A citrus slaw and cilantro are great on there as well.
  • Pastor taco: A spicy marinated pork, pineapple, white onion and cilantro. Kinda Hawaiian, but in a Midwestern way.
  • Spicy margarita: A rising, warm heat greets you with this margarita, and look out for it! Spicier than your average drink, but that heat is addicting, and you’ll want a second.

Some of the other items on the menu are definitely worth a try, too:

  • Chips and queso: That chile con queso is too good to pass up. It’s a slight heat to it, but the cheese is creamy and rich. Of course the chips are thin and crispy.
  • Milanesa torta: A torta is a Mexican sandwich, and this one is made with a great take on chicken Milanese; a thin, pan-fried chicken. It’s further served with an avocado lemon mayo and some vegetables.

So service is pretty good. The bars tend not to be that large and so they do tend to get busy. The big thing you need to know about the place, though, is the wait. The word is out about the food here. So the thing is that you should expect to see a very long wait, especially for prime time. I visited on a Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and the wait took two and a half hours. They said this from the start, and of course there’s a tendency in hot bar districts to have a long wait. But you should expect that to be the norm in prime-time.  

So is it worth the wait? The food is pretty good. I say try it at least once.


  • Expect a very long wait. There are plenty of bars to go do around the area to grab a drink. Prime time will be a very, very long wait.
  • Tacos are the best thing on the menu. If not, go for the tortas.
  • The drinks are great. Where else can you drink out of a boot?

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