Nelda's Diner

Serving the Kern River Valley in Lake Isabella since 1976, Nelda's Diner is truly a southern Sierra Nevada icon.  Nelda's was owned and operated by Nelda Bartell from 1976 to 2001 when she retired. Since then, her son Frank and his wife Donnie, have been in charge and continue to provide the finest in casual dining.  Our menu is unmatched in the Kern River Valley and we are known especially for our 17 different burgers and over 100 milkshakes, which many deem "legendary," an archaic term thought to be synonymous with "off the hook."

Nelda's is a frequent stop for travelers going to and from Death Valley, the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, and believe it or not, many hikers making the trek from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Hikers leave the trail at Walker's Pass and catch a ride into Lake Isabella to come to Nelda's for food and milkshakes, and a visit to the post office and laundry.   We are listed and highly rated in the famous Yogi's Guide, the must-have resource for making the trek along the PCT.  If you would like to know what the hikers think of Nelda's, there is a PDF file at the right side with Hiker Comments from their own journals.  Interesting reading.

Our customers are as varied as the activities in the Kern River Valley.  Fishing, hunting, camping, boating, skiing, wind surfing, whitewater rafting, off-roading, hiking, bird and wildlife watching, mountain biking, sightseeing, snow play, relaxing and even just general navel gazing! You name it, and someone is doing it!

The little things are what makes one restaurant stand out. At Nelda's Diner we batter our one of a kind onion rings to order, make most of our food from scratch, serve mouth-watering french fries with THE BEST ranch dressing, and sport a list of the the most unique burgers known to man.

We serve beer and wine, and have Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, and the local brew from Kern River Brewing Company - Isabella Blonde on tap. Beer lovers will know what I mean!  At Nelda's, we do our best to provide the widest variety and highest quality food and service to our friends, neighbors and visitors.  Check out our menu under the "Docs" tab at the right.

A visit to the Kern Valley is truly not complete without a visit to Nelda's!

Be sure to check out our photo album, menu's, testimonials and Frank's story of a family's migration to the Kern River Valley under the PHOTOS and DOCS tabs!

Nelda's is also the home of "Nelda's Diner Distinctive Products," a small line of unique food goodies including our Smoky Cajun Rub & Spice, John Ray's Grilling Mix, Jalapeno and Habanero Jellies, Thick, Sweet Teriyaki, and Honey Kist Barbeque Sauce.  These products are only sold at Nelda's. 

Of course, nobody can work all the time, and Frank and son Joe are members of the local rock band Jest Reason along with James Hall.  Many weekends you can catch us playing at the local watering holes.  Rock & Roll!  Hear some of our songs at:

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Latitude: 35.6115213 Longitude: -118.4814227 Elevation: 2472 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Frank & Donnie Brassell


Hours Open

Summer - 7am-9pm every day. Winter: Sunday through Thursday until 8pm.

Seasons Open

Year Round, 7 Days. Closed Christmas Day.

Price Style for this Establishment

Casual Dining

Locally or Family Owned Business Notes

Nelda's Diner was owned and operated by Nelda Bartell from 1976 to 2001, and when she retired,  my wife and I  (Frank & Donnie Brassell) took over the helm and brought our special touch to Nelda's.   You can read my account of coming to the Kern River Valley in a PDF file on the right.

Are we one of the pioneer families of the Kern Valley?  Probably not, we didn't get here until the '60s. But we fed 'em all, we knew 'em all, and we are proud to feed and know their kids, grandkids and great grand kids.  Not to mention all the visitors and all their descendants!  .

Donnie and I take great pride in keeping the legacy of Nelda's going strong.  And no, we'll never change the name!" 

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA compliant


I can’t wait to get back there again to dine, mmm mmm gooooood!

Marie, 5/13/2011

Great food, large menu, and reasonable prices. Their employees are the best.

Larry Skeen, 5/17/2011

Nelda’s is the greatest. I worked there for many years, and the owners now are always keeping up with the new without sacrificing the old. Frank and Donnie love this community and with their kids and a host of other locals, it is truly a locally owned restaurant. Love the food and everything about Nelda's.

Francine Stirling, 5/30/2011

I used to live there and ate there on a regular basis. I now visit several times a year to go fishing and for a stop at Nelda’s. It is a must visit. And, if you like corned beef hash they make their own and it is out of this world. I tell myself I'm going to order something different next time, but I always get the hash. Why change perfection?

Warren Schuyler, 11/30/2011

Took mom there this am , we had pumpkin pancakes and she had potato pancakes with applesauce. Yummy . Thanks

Bill and Patty Williams, 11/21/2016

Love this place, food is great. Service is so friendly!! Shakes are AMAZING

Diane K, 7/30/2017

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