BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — When the waitress set the ham steak in front of me on a recent morning at Keene Cafe, I wondered whether the table could bear the weight.
The thick slice, barely contained by the plate, is a feast on its own, but the order also comes with two eggs, country potatoes and toast. Expect leftovers.
Of course it’s made for eating, but I could see a ham steak this big serving other purposes. Cold at night? Wrap it around yourself as an extra blanket. Raining outside? Put a stick through it and hold it above your head. You won’t feel a drop.
Located about 30 miles east of Bakersfield, off Highway 58, the cafe is worth the drive, even with the rising cost of gas. It’s a cozy, friendly spot with massive portions of comfort food.
So friendly, in fact, that a regular invited me to sit at his table when I finished dining, and told me how Keene residents like him live life a little differently. The pace is slower, perhaps, but lingering over a satisfying meal with good company sounds fine by me.
The diner also holds a notable place in history as a favorite spot of labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who became close friends with then-owner Ruby Woods in the 1970s.
Years later, after Chavez’s death, Woods approached his family about buying the property. They accepted, and it’s now run by the National Chavez Foundation.
Make a day of it and visit both the cafe and the Cesar Chavez National Monument for a taste of food and California’s history.