By Caryn Coyle
Local resident Thomas Rudis wanted an original culinary experience and used what he saw in Albuquerque, New Mexico to create the Golden West Cafe at 1105 West 36th Street in Hampden.
“The color scheme, design and lay-out are all Thomas Rudis’ ideas,” said Golden West’s General Manager Kris Gobeil. “He wanted to recreate Albuquerque here.”
On the wall above us was the head of a bison “from a farm in Gunpowder, Md.,” Gobeil confessed. Not the great plains of the American West.
The Golden West’s bison burger is noted on the menu as a Gunpowder bison patty. I ordered it with vegan coleslaw for $12. The coleslaw was crisp, slightly tart with a taste of citrus. It was also crunchy and fresh. The burger was delicious, with a taste of charcoal. It was served with melted Jack cheese, a large slice of Maryland tomato, and red leaf lettuce on a fresh, seeded bun which is made in-house by the Cafe’s owner, Rudis.
“All the burger buns, bread and desserts are made here,” explained Gobeil.
Rudis also makes one of the Golden West’s most popular breakfast and brunch items, the Golden West Cafe’s French toast. Made from a secret recipe, the French toasted homemade cinnamon bread is served with real maple syrup from Pennsylvania for $9.99.
The Golden West also offers Elvis pancakes: thick sliced applewood bacon is baked inside the pancakes and topped with bananas sautéed with honey butter and peanut butter. Two pancakes are $13, or order a Lisa Marie (one pancake), for $8.
The Moosehead Lager ($4) had zing to it. Satisfying. Gobeil explained that the Moosehead was one of 15 drafts they offer on tap. The Golden West features seasonal beers from the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. The current Flying Dog offering was described by Gobeil as a nice, light golden IPA (India pale ale) that is not overly “hoppy.” The drafts start at $4 (Natty Boh draft is $3).
Many Southwest favorites are offered on the menu: fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, tacos. Their green chiles are flown in from Albuquerque. The Golden West uses Maryland farm fresh eggs, grass-fed beef, and free range chicken. Their Huevos Montulenos, featured on the Food Network, is a cornucopia of kernel corn cakes topped with 2 eggs, sunny up, beans, chile sauce, feta cheese, salsa fresca, fried banana and flour tortilla for $11.99.
The Golden West will take menu suggestions from customers and sometimes they are added to the menu. They offer specials every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The kid’s menu ranges from the cactus flower; green apple slices, peanut butter and powdered sugar for $3.75 to the PBJ French toast: cinnamon bread, butter, honey, berries, peanut butter-butter for $6.50. A six-ounce burger is $8 and a cheese quesadilla is $5. Both are served with Fritos or garlic fries.
On the walls and shelves of the restaurant are a unique collection of items that mention the words “Golden West:” Album covers, knickknacks, and the Golden West Girl, a reproduction of an old coffee advertisement, painted much larger than life on one of the Golden West’s walls.
Serving Baltimoreans for 14 years, the Golden West Cafe is open 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. except Friday and Saturday when it closes at 2 a.m. They open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Gobeil assured me that the kitchen will stay open if there is a crowd. Recently, the Golden West added entertainment to its venue, featuring local bands and those touring the East Coast. The kitchen will stay open during the performances which start at 10 p.m. Where else can you enjoy Southwest cuisine in Baltimore while you listen to East Coast music?
Caryn Coyle lives in Baltimore. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in more than a dozen literary journals and the anthology City Sages: Baltimore (2010) from City Lit Press.