Serving the community since 1970

REVIEW: Red Wagon Café reopens

In January, two brothers from Shafter with a close friend opened their first restaurant at 18800 Beach Ave., the corner of Beech Avenue (State 143) and Burbank.

Due to the times we live in and covid-19, this has been what the industry calls a soft opening. Word of mouth is spreading and the iconic red train carriage with an indoor seating of 25 is open again from Tuesday through Saturday from 5 a.m. till 1 p.m. for takeout as well as breakfast and lunch dining. You might wish to call ahead for seating on Friday or Saturday. The Red Wagon Café can be reached at 661-630-2032.

The new owners are Matt and J.J. Hernandez and Elliot Meacham. The brothers were the cooks on our two visits. Matt got his training in Bakersfield, working his way up from line cook to a stint at Frugatti’s as a chef. Their training and experience bode well for the success of the Red Wagon Café. We were greeted with smiles on our arrival and the general feeling was one of friendly openness.

My wife and I went to breakfast on a Wednesday and we each ordered the “Let’s Build It” breakfast starting at $11. It starts with a choice of five meats and eggs, I had scrambled and my wife over easy, we chose bacon (four thick-cut slices), hash browns or our choice of country fried potatoes, and a choice of toast or biscuit and gravy. The portions are generous and the ingredients are freshly prepared that morning. For drinks I had coffee and my wife water. The coffee is a special blend from a local producer made just for the Red Wagon Café and can be purchased separately for home use. It is a good hearty blend with a nice aroma. Service was quick and the food worth the price.

Our lunch visit was on Friday, Feb. 19 and we arrived a little after 11 a.m. The café was full, but we were seated right away. I had the lunch special, a hot beef sandwich served with mashed potatoes and gravy and beans. My wife had a burger and a cup of clam chowder. Other options included a tri tip sandwich. My wife said the burger was the best she had tasted in quite a while. She also appreciated the plate with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickle slices on the side still fresh on delivery. There is also an option of several types of cheeses for the burgers. To drink I had iced tea and my wife water. As with breakfast the portions were generous and filled the plate. The pulled beef on an open toasted bun covered with the gravy from the mashed potatoes was delicious. My wife commented on the flavor of the chowder and the large portions of the clams. They serve the usual variety of soft drinks, coffee, tea and water.

We got to chat briefly with the brothers while there was a lull in the cooking about this venture and their plans. Both are Shafter born and raised and live here now. Each also has a full-time job as well as the restaurant so this is a labor of love. We wish them well, as another good restaurant in Shafter is a very good thing.


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