Bring yer dancin’ boots

Goldfield Trading Post

1603 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 476-5076

Used to be that local cow rustlers and sodbusters had to go up the road a piece to find a good watering hole, but now there’s a new saloon in Midtown—the Goldfield Trading Post. In the historic building where Sam’s Hof Brau and Hamburger Patties were once located, Goldfield rustles up much nicer chow than your usual cowboy fare.

Diners can sit at a high wooden table that would look right at home in a Western or rest their boots on the brass rail at the bar. Gold pans made into a chandelier and mounted deer heads round out the ’49er theme. The menu also features a raft of “Vittles,” “Sammichs,” and “Dinners,” along with lighter “Salads & Such.”

We arrived hungry one evening and ordered Grandma’s Meat Loaf and the Gold Panner’s Pork Chop. Our little cowpoke went for the veggie burger with a side of mac ’n’ cheese.

Grandma knows how to make some meat loaf, that’s for sure: slabs of beef ground with bacon are glazed with a sweet sauce, served atop the cheesiest mashed potatoes this side of Wisconsin. Some cornmeal-crusted fried okra on the side made for an excellent version of the sometimes slimy vegetable.

The thick-cut pork chop was flat-out fantastic, oozing juicy flavor from its fire-kissed crust. House-made cinnamon applesauce for dunking was a perfect accompaniment (paging Peter Brady?). A slew of red-skinned country fries on the side rounded out the hearty portion.

The veggie burger flummoxed us a bit, as the beans and corn fell to pieces between the buns. The flavor, though, perked up with pepper. They wouldn’t be remiss in serving this “burger” in some tortillas next time.

It seems that every restaurant in town serves mac ’n’ cheese these days, and Goldfield’s is a fine example without too much highfalutin stuff mixed in. A scattering of crumbs on top made for a home-style touch.

On another visit, we gobbled down the Prospector Poutine with gusto. Shreds of pulled pork blanketed spiced “cowboy” fries beneath a layer of melted cheddar. The promised gravy that makes a poutine is closer to au jus, so the dish requires forks rather than fingers.

Any good country bar worth its salt pork has chili on the menu, and Goldfield is no exception. It’s made with chunks of tender chicken rather than ground beef, with plenty of nuggets of gold corn and black beans to boot. An early version found the beans to be undercooked, and they remained a bit bitey on the second go-round. A well-balanced use of chiles more than made up for it in mouthwatering flavor.

The Baby Kale Caesar Salad isn’t very country, but it is very good. Young leaves are tossed with a dressing that’s clearly made from scratch and topped with a slew of garlicky croutons. The chewy stems could stand to be nipped, but the tang of real anchovy in the sauce was spot on.

An unusual baumkuchen (tree cake) on the sweets menu brought us up short, but the layered cake turned out to be a nice surprise. Vanilla ice cream, buttery caramel sauce and a raspberry drizzle gilded the lily.

Now, it’s hardly a trading post without plenty of “Oh Be Joyful”—that’s cowboy slang for beer—behind the bar. Swig some double-barrel tipplers and boiler makers, or stick to the diverse menu of national and local beers. There are spirits, too. Try a Miner’s Spiced Old Fashioned or a Diplomatico Añejo Rum and Horchata. That last will have you thinking of the holidays, with its similarity to eggnog.

Sioux City Sarsaparilla and River City Root Beer are good choices for the young and tender.

Goldfield is also the place to be for live country music and line-dancing lessons several nights a week. Bring yer dancin’ boots.