Golden State Cafe – an always poppin', unpretentious, loft-like art space in the Fairfax District of LA – only has 1 beef burger on a menu chockfull of California-made products. After tasting appropriately named "The Burger" made with Arugula, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar, Housemade Aioli & Ketchup, you'll see why. (I mean, who needs fluff when you've struck gold.)
Each time I go back to Golden State, "The Burger" reminds me why it's #1 on my Mid-City burger list. It also helps that they've got somethin' for everyone too – Beer floats ($8) made from Scoops Gelato & Craftsman Brewery Beers, Let's Be Frank Hot Dogs ($7), Veggie Sandwiches ($9-10), fresh Salads ($8-10), creative Slaws ($3), Sweet Potato Wedges ($4), and now the Radler (Lemonade + Beer $6).
- cooked perfectly, melty cheese, yummy buttery bun, tangy sweet "The Burger" with Harris Ranch Natural Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, Glazed Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula, Housemade Aioli & Ketchup ($10 includes 1 side)
- diner-style, could use more seasoning, ok Regular French Fries ($3)
- spicy wow, right-on flavor, Housemade Curry Ketchup with Chili Powder, Turmeric, Cumin, Worcestershire Sauce & other secret stuff
- salt 'n vinegary, light 'n fresh, crunchy, black peppery, slightly garlicky Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw with Carrots & Red Wine Vinaigrette ($3)
- smooth sailin', fruity nose, and a touch of spice Drake's Hopocalypse Ale (Drake's Brewing Company, San Leandro, CA) 9.3% ABV
The Fairfax / Mid-City / West Hollywood area has a LOT of burgers to offer: Umami Burger, 8oz. Burger Bar, The Counter (on Santa Monica Blvd and coming soon to Wilshire Blvd.), O! Burger, and newcomer Burger Kitchen. But out of all of them, Golden State Cafe continues to rise above the rest and rival some of the best (like Father's Office & IN-N-OUT). Here's why:
The combination of flavors in "The Burger" really wow your tastebuds. First of all, anything with melted tangy Cheddar and Applewood Smoked Bacon is a sheer winner in my book, but top it off with a slightly sweet almost Onion Jam like Glaze, Spicy Arugula, Housemade Aioli AND Housemade Ketchup and you've hit every flavor profile making one completely satisfying dish. It also helps that the Meat is cooked perfectly, tender 'n juicy, and the Buttery Bun practically melts in your mouth. The only contention from my hand model was that the last bite could've used more sauce.
The Regular French Fries are just ok. They're diner style and plain without any fancy seasoning going on. I've had the Sweet Potato Wedges before, which are definitely filling from their thick cut and have a nice glaze. Some are crispy, while others are a bit soggy. And the Housemade Aioli is creamy and smooth.
The Curry Ketchup is spot-on and absolutely outstanding. If you like curry you will love this because you can really taste bold Curry flavors like Turmeric & Cumin, followed by a sucker punch of Chili Powder, and a hint of Worcestershire. (Just try not to steal it off the Condiment Table for a long period of time like I did, or you'll anger fellow customers.)
Another reason why I love coming to Golden State is because of their rotating Cabbage Slaws. They're really light 'n crunchy from the delicate Red Wine Vinaigrette, and serve as a nice healthy balance to burgers and fries. This time they added thick slices of spicy Jalapeno and put a generous amount of Black Pepper Seasoning.
Brew-pursuers will appreciate their Craft Beers on tap, especially Drakes Hopocalypse Ale. Reminiscent of a lighter version of Unibrou Troi Pistoles (read my review on it at YourNextPint.com), this beer's got a fruity nose, a hint of nutty spice, is super smooth on the washdown, and has a cloudy yellow-orange color.
For a dessert Beer Float, I recommend asking for a combination of the Horchata ice cream (vanilla cinnamon sugar) and Brown Bread ice cream (vanilla with crusty bread crumbs) to go with the coffee chocolatey Old Rasputin Imperial Stout.
On Thursday nights, Golden State has a Lamb Burger special, and on Saturday nights Fish 'n Chips.
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323-782-8331.