Golden West Cafe has been around for a long time--I'm going to say at least 25 years. It started in a wee storefront on 36th Street on the Chestnut Avenue end of Hampden's popular strip of shops and eateries popularly know as "The Avenue." The menu was similarly tiny. I can recall my one visit to that location, during which I enjoyed a Thai-ish noodle dish with shrimp, while seated on the front porch with a friend. After a few years, the restaurant moved several blocks down the street with much larger digs and a huge menu of breakfast-all-day options, vegan items, and the flavors of the Southwestern US, plus burgers and a number of gluten-free items.
I'd eat there once in a while until a bajillion new restaurants opened in the neighborhood. Then I sort of forgot about it. Mr Minx and I ventured in a few years back but had a less-than-stellar experience. The dish I ordered was just shy of being too spicy to eat, and Mr Minx bit into a stone that was lurking in his black beans. The manager was very apologetic and comped hubby's meal, but we were wary of returning.
Recently, however, I've been seeing Golden West get Instagram love for its vegan offerings. While far from vegan, I'm lactose intolerant and appreciate the ability to have a restaurant meal that doesn't require a handful of Lactaids to enjoy. I decided to give the place another chance. It's just down the street from my hair salon, and unlike some other Hampden restaurants that are dinner-only places, Golden West is open all day so I can pop in for lunch before my appointment.
On my first visit, I sat near the bar and ordered an oatmilk latte and the vegan French toast. I'm not sure why I did that, as I mostly eschew wheat bread; I suppose I was feeling indulgent. I was completely satisfied by the mountain of coconutty ciabatta and banana, which didn't even need the accompanying syrup. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish the mammoth portion and didn't want to carry soggy leftovers around for the rest of the day, so I didn't get a doggy bag.
I did doggy bag about half of my next lunch of chorizo and eggs with hash browns. It's a burrito on the menu, but can be had as a bowl. I requested the spicy chili sauce and salsa on the side, just in case the sauce was too hot for my palate (it was actually pretty mild). I loved the locally made pork chorizo and would definitely order it again.
On another occasion, I was tempted by the El Supremo vegan chicken sandwich. The tofu-based patty is made by Little Fig, a vegan bakery in Rosedale, and has just the right texture and flavor to mimic a battered and fried chicken thigh. It was topped by a vegan mozzarella stick that actually oozed like real mozz. The flavor was more buttery than cheesy, but was a realistic facsimile of dairy cheese. The whole sandwich, which included tomato, lettuce, pickle, and something called "wild island sauce" was rather gigantic (as things tend to be at Golden West) but so good I finished it all. And didn't have to eat for 2 days afterward.
I also had the "Mission Impossible" burger, which in addition to an Impossible patty included fried brussels sprouts, vegan bleu cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato, and pickle, Additionally, a vegan chicken drumette was impaled atop the whole thing. (Again, a lot of food.) It was delish. Also excellent was Mr Minx's over-the-top Hangover Burger, with 8 ounces of beef, cheddar cheese, guacamole, bacon, and a fried egg. It was messy enough to require a knife and fork, but hubby didn't seem to mind the extra effort.
One might say that I've become quite fond of Golden West Cafe over the past few months. I have a lunch date with a friend later this week and have already been perusing the menu ahead of time. Should I go vegan again, or should I opt for meat this time? Sweet breakfast food, or a savory lunch? I feel like it's hard to make a bad choice there.
Golden West Cafe
1105 W 36th St.
Baltimore, MD 21211
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