This little restaurant, which sits at the corner of two lonely roads, has been on location at
“Turnbaugh Corner” almost since the nearby town of Goldsmith Texas was founded in 1936. Photos of young men, wearing customary hats or smart uniforms, date from the mid-1930s. Elsewhere, signs have been collected over the decades from businesses, local oilfield sites, and those that have no doubt been lovingly donated to the current owners by faithful clients. There is no attempt to be cute or clever. What you see is the collected oddments from decades of activity.
The Pioneer Cafe, while not a destination, would be worth a stop if you are in the area. Anyone who has traveled in West Texas (or any other western rural part of the US) would recognize the menu immediately: burgers, sandwiches, chicken-fried steak, salads (strictly iceberg) and a daily special. On the day I landed, it was Hamburger Steak with Grilled Onions, Gravy, Corn, and Mashed Potatoes. Dessert was included – today a square of strawberry cake.
When you are working out in the oil field, towns are few and far between, so these little places tend to serve a steady clientele who have worked in the area for years. Our waitress (the other person was the cook and the co-owner, I believe), was cheerful and called out most of the customers by name. One woman who came into the restaurant turned out to be the server’s cousin, who was passing through that part of the state and decided to stop by for a quick hello.
After our group had finished up and passed on the cake, I noticed most of the plates had pictures of skulls. One plate channeled Alice in Wonderful: “We’re all mad here; you’ll fit right in.”