Golden Pride Chicken – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Golden Pride restaurant near UNM.

The Golden Pride restaurant near UNM.

For years Albuquerque’s cruiser culture has made Central Avenue a favorite destination for showing off souped-up cars and causing windows to rattle and eardrums to hurt from the pounding bass in audio systems that reverberate far and wide.  My friend Carlos who understands urban subcultures more than most tells me cruising Central Avenue isn’t solely about seeing and being seen.  It’s about fried chicken, more specifically Golden Pride, Barbecue, Chicken and Ribs (Golden Pride for short).  Central Avenue  has a Golden Pride location on the Duke City’s far west (a couple blocks east of Coors) and one on the far east side (just west of Eubank).   It’s about 12 miles as the crow flies from the east side Golden Pride to its sibling on the west, but it could take you a good half hour (longer in rush hour) to drive that distance.  That’s a lot of good cruising.

A third location on Juan Tabo may be off the cruiser’s beaten path, but it’s close to family neighborhoods which flock to this poultry palace when in the mood for fried fowl.  Still another location, on Lomas just east of University, is an institution for UNM students, faculty and staff.  Students appreciate the free high-speed wireless internet connectivity and even more, they appreciate the restaurant’s low prices.  It’s a departure from the college student food pyramid which typically ranges from vending machine offerings to Red Bull, coffee, sodas and ramen noodles galore.

The counter where you place your order at the UNM area Golden Pride.

The counter where you place your order at the UNM area Golden Pride

Owned by Larry and Dorothy Rainosek, the good folks who bring us the Frontier Restaurant, Golden Pride offers both fried and BBQ chicken.  It also offers the Frontier’s famous sweet rolls, as good a reason for getting up in the morning as there is.  Golden Pride has been serving Albuquerque since 1973 and carries other Frontier items: green chile stew, tortillas, carne adovada and posole, for example.

Just how popular is this restaurant?  According to an Albuquerque Business Journal article published in 2003, Golden Pride has grown at an average of 20 percent per year.  The four restaurants go through 35 tons of green chile and seven tons of red chile powder each month.  Sure, that article was published more than a decade ago, but if traffic is any indication, there certainly appears to be no surcease in sight to the popularity of the Golden Pride brand.

An order of ribs and two sides: coleslaw and spicy beans.

An order of ribs and two sides: coleslaw and spicy beans.

That same article reports that more than fifty percent of Golden Pride’s daily meals are served before 11AM and that its patrons consume about 160,000 burritos each and every month.  These are staggering numbers, but they don’t completely spell out just what makes this restaurant so very popular.  I surmise Golden Pride’s popularity is based in part on convenience (four strategically placed locations), value (reasonable cost for hardy portions) and quality (many items are quite good).  These aren’t unknown secrets to success; they’re the hallmark of most restaurants which stand the test of time.

The Golden Pride concept is based on Gil’s Fried Chicken, owned and operated by Larry Rainosek’s brother Gil, in San Marcos, Texas.  The name must be reflective of the golden coating on every piece of fried chicken served at the restaurant. The fried chicken is somewhat thickly coated but doesn’t have the “run down your arms greasiness” of Church’s or other chain purveyors of poultry.  It’s a juicy chicken (and quite good) once you get past that coating (which I surmise seals in the juices).  

Award winning burritos are a staple at Golden Pride.

Award-Winning Burritos Are A Staple at Golden Pride.

The BBQ chicken definitely has a pronounced smoky taste (even though you won’t find a smoker on the premises) and is even better than the fried chicken.  Moist and delicious, the BBQ chicken is offered with a thin, tangy and just ever so slightly piquant barbecue sauce which is wholly unnecessary, but quite good.  White meat pieces include chicken legs and thighs which most restaurants prefer to breasts because breasts tend to be rather on the dry side.  Both the fried chicken and the BBQ chicken are available in quantities of two, three, four ten, sixteen or twenty pieces.  Value meal options include your choice of two sides and even if you opt for chicken only, you still get the restaurant’s yeasty rolls.

Several sides, ranging from passable to very good are available.  You can actually taste the cabbage and carrots on the coleslaw at Golden Pride which is not drowning in salad cream as you might find at KFC.  Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, are so thick, they’re difficult to pry away from the spoon–a pity considering the chicken gravy is actually quite good.  The green beans with bacon are my Kim’s favorites.  She must really like them because she doesn’t share them with me.

Award winning burritos are a staple at Golden Pride.

Fried Chicken with Sides of Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Green Beans with Bacon.

If a restaurant serves 160,000 burritos a month, it’s got to be doing something right.  Duke City Fix readers have an idea what that might be and rave about the #9, the restaurant’s best seller.  The #9 is crafted with bacon, cheese, egg, hash browns and green chile–a combination that just might make anyone a morning person.  The #9 is indeed an excellent burrito.  My brother, an architectural engineer at Sandia, tells me that breakfast runs yield more orders of the #9 than any other burrito.  For folks on the run, it’s got another thing going for it–it’s as portable as a burger (but better, by far, than most).

The carne adovada adovada burrito is engorged with plenty of shredded pork marinated in Golden Pride’s chile.  While the pork is tender and the chile is pleasantly piquant, there’s a pronounced bitter aftertaste I surmise to be resultant from a surfeit of oregano.  It’s not an endearing quality for an otherwise very good burrito.  Of all chile impregnated dishes, carne adovada generally has the most mild, never acerbic flavor.

BBQ Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

My opinion of the Frontier-Golden Pride carne adovada isn’t universally shared.  Author Michael Stern who co-wrote the definitive 500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late listed the Frontier Restaurat’s (ergo, Golden Pride’s) carne adovada as the third best carne adovada in America. Calling it “the great bargain carne adovada–no less delicious for its $1.99 price–is a burrito at the Frontier in Albuquerque,” which he described as having “just enough chile-infused meat intense enough to turn the tortilla that wraps it the color of sunset.”

Tacos are available in either a fried hard corn shell or a soft flour tortilla.  The soft flour tortilla based tacos are about as large as Golden Pride’s burritos.  My favorite is engorged with ground beef, green chile, cheese, lettuce and tomato–pretty much the standard taco.  As for the hard-shelled tacos, you can’t go wrong with the chicken tacos.  The chicken is moist and shredded.

A carne adovada burrito from Golden Pride.

A carne adovada burrito from Golden Pride.

Whether or not Albuquerque’s cruiser culture frequents Central Avenue because of Golden Pride Chicken is irrelevant. Golden Pride is beloved by the cruiser in all of us who want good food at value prices.

Golden Pride Chicken
1830 Lomas, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 242-2181
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 7 January 2016
# OF VISITS: 9
RATING: 18
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Chicken Gravy, BBQ Chicken Value Meal, Fried Chicken Value Meal, #9 Breakfast Burrito, Green Chile Stew, Green Beans with Bacon, Sweet Rolls

Golden Pride on Urbanspoon

7 comments

  • Sandi

    I was there for dinner tonight to go and I was missing the kids meal side. This is the second time in a row of missing food. It wasn’t that busy, only one car behind me in drive thru. Very disappointed I’m not going to drive all the way back after I’m already home. Ticket # 5850. Juan Tabo location.

  • Michael

    The breakfast burritos aren’t as big as the local chains but the meats they put in them is superior. Wish they had a good red sauce as they only offer green chile unless you order the carne adovada. They’re willing to custom make you a burrito with exception of they wont make it with fried eggs which is my preference.
    The fried chicken is the best local chicken in town and beats all of the chains hands down. The sides are good but I usually have them keep the roll and they knock a quarter off the bill. Wish they offered corn bread.
    The ribs are pretty good and you get a decent amount for the money.
    I like their posole and the flour tortillas on the side are a plus.
    Ive tried the whole menu over the years and commented on what I like the most.
    Over all good food and good value and its quick.

  • Sr Plata

    Yes, Sensei have mentioned that I must go to Seasons, but I need to eat with the quantity/quality/price ratios were much better and took the long trip to Central Ave for some delicious BBQ chicken. I thought it was great. My issue is drumsticks stress me and I must exchange them for anything else and they wouldn’t. I understand there could be chicken piece issues but please, just do it and make the customer happy. Golden Pride, please come to Rio Rancho immediately!!!

  • O-U-8-1-2

    Sr. Pollo, if you like Golden Pride, you will love the rotisserie chicken at Seasons. Why hasn’t your Sensei taken you there?

  • Sr Plata

    I asked Sensei, where is an inexpensive place to quickly find unfried chicken and he mention Golden Pride. I was impressed when I had the BBQ smoked pollo, I have to say very smoked! Very tasty enough for Sr Pluto to be happy. The sides were ok, I asked for cole slaw but received masked potatoes, a bit of sadness but I got over it. What I don’t understand is why there are only 4 and they seem to follow I40 and is a schlep to get to, one is needed in Rio Rancho, well everything in restaurants are needed in Rio Rancho… Thanks Gil for your suggestion, good chicken…

  • Well Gil we differ again. I give it a 22 for VALUE and taste. I think GP is one of the best restaurants in the Valley. You can’t beat the fried chicken dinner. (remember I’m a value eater) For $4.99 you get 2 succulent piece of chicken and 2 sides. For 50 cents more you get 2 wings with half the brest. The chicken is the best I have ever tasted in a FF restaurant. Not salty like the other and always juicy. I even love the coating.

    The burritos are second to none. Pasole wonderful. Tacos fantastic loaded with chicken and you can use their own hot green chile stew for salsa.

    The best is take home (Eubank and Central store) a dozen of hot, fresh, melt in your mouth flour tortillas for $2.89. We eat no other.

    martin

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