You might never notice it as you’re riding down Oak Street.
The tiny cafe stands set back from the front parking lot, sandwiched between a barber shop and a used car lot, looking like it doesn’t want any attention. But that’s OK as far as locals are concerned.
Sash and I walked into the homely little eatery and took the only open table. The smell of bacon frying and country gravy wafted throughout the dining room no bigger than a studio apartment. At first my hopes weren’t high. I mean, even bacon smells good at a Denny’s.
I ordered the Donna Kaye Omelette, figuring if I was going to truly experience something unique, the dish that carries the business’ name has to be it. Sash, on the other hand, went for the old standby, Chicken Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy.
From the first bite, no words were needed. It was glorious.
The Donna Kaye Omelette was all I had hoped. A cheesy treat, abundantly stuffed with a cornucopia of onions, peppers, mushrooms and bacon, the three-egg beast was a monster, but tasted so good it lasted only moments on my plate. Silently I worked each bite, savoring, smiling and shoveling.
Meanwhile, Sash was near teary eyed with memories of her Texan Grandma flooding her senses. She closed her eyes hearing her sing, “Put your little foot, put your little foot. . .” as she danced in her kitchen to the tune of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Bite after bite of the gravy-swollen chicken fried steak left her looking into the kitchen, convinced her grandmother had to be back there somewhere.
Obviously, we were damn lucky to get that last open table.
Donna Kaye’s Cafe gives you a ton of food. It’s about the same price as a Denny’s, but twice the portions, and way better cooking.
Some places need no advertising, and probably don’t even need tourists. Home style cooking is simply whatever the chef wants to make, and makes his or her way, without regard to what the customer wants. It’s when you start trying to please the masses that you lose sight of yourself.
Donna Kaye’s Cafe
212 Oak St
Bakersfield, CA 93304
Phone: (661) 322-1875
Hours: 5:30am to 2:00pm