Great burgers near campus: Goldenfire in review

Golden Fire first opended in 1978.

Photo by Alexandru Popescu
Golden Fire first opended in 1978.

For the biggest and best burgers near Chapman, Goldenfire is the place to eat because of its cheap, yet good quality, food. Plus, its close proximity to campus makes it all more alluring.

The food and setting give it a very “small town” diner feel that tends to be ignored in the era of big franchises.

On any given day, families can be seen eating together. Workers stop on their way to or from work, order some coffee, and read the paper. But there are always seats available, so when you order, you can sit down, and enjoy your meal peacefully.

For nearly as long as Chapman has been in Orange, the little known restaurant sits less than a mile away. When students consider eating burgers nearby, Watson Drug Store and Soda Fountain usually spring to mind.

But in the opposite direction lies Goldenfire, a restaurant with a plain exterior, but a lot of heart.

Sitting on the corner of Glassell St. and Collins Ave., Goldenfire maintains a somewhat low profile. Across the street to the east is an empty lot, to the west, homes, and to the north, a doughnut shop. It has a large, rather unspectacular sign with the name of the place, and advertisements on the windows, as well as a drive-thru to the side. For the Chapman student who is attracted by flashy places, the restaurant can easily be overlooked. But for those who are attracted by flashy places, but would enjoy the home-feel, then this is a restaurant for them.

When you enter, you see a giant menu offering various burgers, burritos, and taco platters, as well as the usual sides and drinks. One downfall is that you have to pay with cash; they don’t accept credit cards. You then sit down, get your drink, and then order your meal.

In the era of fast food, consumers are eager to get their meals quickly. Luckily, Goldenfire has a great cooking staff. The wait is short. It rarely takes longer than ten minutes, maybe 15 during rush-hours. It certainly is faster than restaurants like Red Robin and Islands.

A keen eye also notices that the register is not touch-screen. It’s an old-fashioned button register. There are also a few arcade games to the left that are often used by young children or teenagers. Fourteen tables are scattered throughout the restaurant. Only one of them is a large booth that can accommodate more than four people. This might deter larger groups from visiting the restaurant after a football game or theater performance. But for a group of four or less, sitting is great.

But what matters most is food. And Goldenfire delivers. The price range for a meal is between seven and ten dollars. For the budget-minded student, this low price is a plus. Ordering a double cheeseburger meal gives you a drink, a burger with vegetables and a delicious sauce, and a basket of fries. Everything is freshly cooked after you order. As a result, all the food is served hot, and not because of microwave heating- it’s all cooked on the grill.

The burgers are large. For those who eat lightly, a taco platter is recommended. It gives you two tacos, rice and beans. But for those who love to eat massive amounts of food, the double cheeseburger or pastrami sandwich meal is recommended. They are so big that taking a bite can be difficult due to the size of the sandwiches. But stretching your mouth to its limit is worth it. The food isn’t greasy but it is juicy. And for the price, the value of these meals is hard to beat.

Goldenfire offers both American and Mexican food staples, like the aforementioned burgers, and large, wet burritos and tacos. So, if you want food from north of the border while your date prefers something from down south, eating at Goldenfire avoids tension.

All the food tastes excellent, but Goldenfire’s fries are truly golden. They are large, crisp, and hot–everything you would want in fries. Thankfully the portion is large, so you will enjoy the fries that much longer. Finding a restaurant that has both great burgers and fries is rare- there is usually a trade-off- but luckily both are tasty here. A word of advice: If your meal doesn’t include fries, order a basket on the side. You won’t regret it.

For the Chapman student looking for a quick bite to eat, Goldenfire serves food that has both quantity and quality. It will satisfy your hunger at a great value. Despite the basic exterior, it is a great choice to eat with friends. And at less than ten minutes away from campus, within walking distance, the restaurant is definitely worth a shot.

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