Under $20: Golden State Cafe
The Golden State Cafe is situated on Fairfax a few doors up from Turntable Lab, Damiano “Mr Pizza” and the dried-up husk of Largo (RIP old Largo, you were much more fun and intimate than the Coronet). The cafe features craft brews, decent food and gelato offerings from Mr. Tai “Scoops” Kim himself at $2/scoop, all served within a space afforded a very keen “warehousey” design eye. They pride themselves on showcasing, in their own words, “the best makers of food and drink in California.” In a move that is patently inconsistent with this philosophy, they also pride themselves on the most expensive beer in their restaurant, the infamous “aged in Jim Beam barrels” Allagash Curieux from Portland, Maine, priced at $9 for one 10-oz glass. To their credit, though, they also have some great California brews on tap.
Look Ma! No customers!
WHY EXACTLY ARE YOU REPORTING SOMETHING THAT COSTS MORE THAN $10/PERSON?
I struggled with this one. If you buy just one beer or food item, you could obviously get out of here for under $10. Otherwise, it’s not really as affordable as yelpers might have you believe. Still, the joint is very close to my house, it’s got Scoops gelato and craft brews on tap, it’s a very comfortable space, particularly when you side-by-side it with the wafts of pastrami, surly service, shitty tap beer and flashback-inducing ceiling at Canter’s directly across the street, and the opening frenzy/hype has sufficiently died down enough that I have no problem grabbing a table during offpeak or even peak hours, thus the review.
THE FOOD REVIEW
Based on three recent visits, I heartily condone the $10 “burger” pictured at the top of the page. Yes, it’s $10, but it comes with a side. The burger itself is astounding; grilled to order with cheese and bacon already added, thus saving you the upsell. (Shouldn’t they just call it the bacon cheeseburger? Did that not market test as well? Sounds considerably less healthy to call it what it is, I suppose.) It’s served up on a butter-brushed bun (Hawaiian roll?) which literally melts in your mouth, if it doesn’t fall apart on the way there. Brush anything with melted butter and people will rave. I also heartily condone the jalapeno cabbage slaw (light aioli, pleasant crunchy kick; no heavy mayo taste). Fries are a natural side and are well-prepared, but you won’t get enough of that house sauce (see below) and will eventually go scrambling for the curry ketchup. Haven’t tried the $8 sausages yet, although Wurstkuche recently prepared me for these sorts of hot dog prices (and similar interior design…and craft brews…)
The BLT is not too exciting, when placed alongside the burger. Can’t really vouch for the muffaleta, but another Losanjealous editor (no names named, though his rhymes with “Victor”) tried it last visit. As such, be advised that according to Losanjealous at time of publishing the following Golden State Cafe items are nothing to write home about per se: Sweet potato fries, BLT, Muffaleta.
I guarantee you this is not enough sauce.
ONE POPULAR UNDER $10 ITEM
In the mood for dessert, thick beer, gelato, or all of the above? An Old Rasputin beer float (with Scoops gelato) runs $8. Two of the three parties present during Wednesday’s Lakers game were ordering up this item. I was the third party, so I can’t vouch for how great/ terrible this concoction tastes. Rasputin by itself runs $6; Scoops runs $2; combining the two affords you no discount, but does sound sort of interesting. I haven’t yet ruled out offering them $16 to submerge one of those burgers into a cup of Rasputin just for the hell of it.
THE FINAL CUT
Designer-friendly; a shade overpriced. No matter how cool an establishment’s interior may be, I’ll justifiably flinch when asked to shell out $10+ for a burger, end of day. Still, if you have some extra $ to burn from your tax return (as if!), you could do far worse than this place. Lofty ceilings, track wire lighting, solid burger, good brews, and a great big hi-def screen blasting Lakers games for your dining pleasure.
The Golden State Cafe
426 N Fairfax