Locating Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café, a legendary soul food landmark, can actually be difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the tricky and recently altered streets of downtown Phoenix. However, if you’re within visual range of the place, you can’t miss it. The yellow bunker-like building is inviting with its neatly painted name and a simple “Open” sign hanging out front. Parking is ample and free.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ve lived in Phoenix almost continuously since birth in the late 1970’s and I’ve only just now made my way into Mrs. White’s now going on 45-year-old café. We walked in to an affable welcome and chose a spot at a booth next to an old mail slot in the wall (yes the slot is still functional though I don’t believe the mail actually gets delivered this way). Due to the hole in the wall for the slot, I could actually see the cinderblock innards comprising the building’s structure. I glance about; the white walls have all kinds of writing in black marker on them. From autographs to menu items, there is a lot to take in. I’m in experiential overload and it’s great. Laminated menus were already on the table. We quickly dove in to examine the options.
Inside the menu is a mouthwatering list of entrees, each including your choice of two side dishes. For a listing of the complete menu, visit their Website here. The list is full of just enough options to arouse the senses but yet it is nonetheless easy to pick, depending on what your belly is in the mood for. Perhaps it is easy to choose because you know, instinctively, that you will return for more another day.
We select the Pond Raised Catfish and Smothered Pork Chops, and assorted sides. Some of our sides were so popular they’d already been 86’d for the day. We wound up with two orders of cabbage; which let me tell you, is a good thing we didn’t have to share. It is a succulent sweet thing of a dish I’d eat again and again. Our other sides were the oniony good Black Eyed Peas and Red Beans infused with a distinct paprika flavor. Of course we were also granted a hunk of the sweet homemade cornbread, which I enjoyed dipping into my other sauces as I ate.
The Catfish tasted the way catfish from back home should (my culinary partner Jeffrey, a St Louis native, attests without a doubt). The battered and fried treatment of the fillet didn’t take away from this fish’s natural savory flavor, as is often the case at corporate establishments offering catfish. The Smothered Pork Chops were every bit of good as anything labeled “smothered” ought to be. Cutting into the pork was a bit of a challenge; I had to work for it, but once eaten, was well worth it. The pork was very tender with a salty richness and slightly crunchy outer coating.
We rolled our way to the checkout counter and were greeted warmly by Larry Sr., one of Mrs. White’s sons. We gave our kudos to the chef for taking us back home and were told that’s what they’re there for. What a fabulous concept. Nothing new, no; but undeniably appealing and delicious…yes! From what we can tell, Mrs. White and family have the Golden Rule down pat.