BEST EATERS: Pork Heaven with Keene Cafe Ham Steak


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — When the waitress placed the ham steak in front of me one recent morning at Keene Cafe, I wondered if the table could hold the weight.

The thick slice, barely contained by the plate, is a treat in itself, but the order also comes with two eggs, country potatoes and toast. Expect leftovers.

Sure, it’s made for eating, but I could see such a big ham steak being used for other purposes. Cold at night? Wrap it around you like an extra blanket. It’s raining outside? Pass a stick through 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 a visit, even with rising gas prices. It’s a cozy and friendly place with massive portions of comfort food.

So friendly, in fact, that a regular invited me to sit at his table when I finished dinner and told me how Keene residents like him live life a little differently. The pace may be slower, but lingering over a satisfying meal in good company is fine with me.

The restaurant also holds a notable place in history as the hangout of labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who befriended then-owner Ruby Woods in the 1970s.

Years later, after Chavez’s death, Woods approached his family to purchase the property. They agreed, and it is now run by the National Chavez Foundation.

Make a day of it and visit the cafe and the Cesar Chavez National Monument for a taste of California food and history.

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