The city that thinks fish is a vegetable can be a lonely place for an herbivore.

Golden West Cafe

1105 W. 36th St., (410) 889-8891,

The city that thinks fish is a vegetable can be a lonely place for an herbivore. Venturing beyond the few tried-and-true eateries can be daunting. So is hanging out (and drinking) with non-vegetarians. If it's a "vegan-friendly establishment," it may not be so omnivore-friendly and vice versa. But a place doesn't have to serve meat to be omnivore-friendly, it just needs to serve stuff an omnivore would want to eat. Recently, after having had a few drinks at Atomic Books' new bar, we meandered over to our old standby, Golden West, to absorb some of the delicious beer we'd imbibed. We knew from countless visits over the years the place has a lot of options for veggies and vegans. So we sat down in the bar area and tried to order. Golden West has always been notorious for its hipster service, so we were prepared to wait. Things haven't changed much. The menu hasn't had much of a tweak in years-though the crowds make it clear that plenty of people love it. We ordered the sweet potato fries ($7.50)-well, our friend did. We've had issues with sweet potatoes since the incident that occurred at age 8. We also ordered the tots ($7.50), which were good, and definitely soaked up the beer, but the sauces were kind of unexciting. Then we shared an order of buffalo tofu ($7.95; not vegan). With so many other options, this was a bad choice. They tasted like an oil sponge. No amount of buffalo sauce could disguise the taste of fryer grease. We've been coming here for so long, and we'll keep coming back-not because it's so great, but because it's about the best we can do in the way of vegan munchies after an evening out in Hampden.

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