No Flat Food
Everything's fresh at Silver City's Café Un Mundo
By Peggy Platonos
When Julie Good first saw the Bullard Street building that now houses CafŽ un Mundo, she fell in love with it. It was a 1929 Conoco gas station, long abandoned and desperately in need of repair, but Julie was unfazed. She saw its potential, purchased the building in 1986, and with the help of her brother and contractor father, made her vision reality.
The original "building" was actually two separate units. "What's cool about this is that the part that is now the entryway and kitchen of the café was prefab metal. It was just dropped into place," Julie says. The garage part, now the main dining area, was constructed separately of locally produced brick.
The large multi-paned window in the front wall of the main dining area was the original garage door. "My dad took all the hardware off it and somehow glued it together and made it a window," Julie says.
A side window with similar glass panes was retained and creatively incorporated in Julie's renovation plan. "We flipped the window around and created a walkway to connect the two buildings."
That walkway now provides additional seating at two small tables, as well as access to the main dining area.
In the winter, the seating in the café is fairly limited. A total of 22 people can be seated at tables and an additional six at what was once the juice bar. "But in the summer months, we also have front and back patio seating," Julie says.
Julie did not initially set out to create a restaurant in her beautifully renovated building. "I had just given birth to my son and was wondering what I could do to make a living as a single mom," she recalls. "I decided I wanted to have the proverbial espresso shop. My fantasy was I'd be sitting here discussing politics over coffee, not working too hard, and raising my son."
So she opened the business as a coffeehouse. "But you know, you have your dream and you open. Then the market starts talking to you through your customers, and you'd better listen or you'll fail," she says.
Julie's customers told her they wanted food — not just coffee — and more substantial food than the made-from-scratch coffeecakes she was offering. "So I added food — sandwiches and soups — and they kind of took over," she laughs. "Since I had started out making everything from scratch, I figured I had to make my own bread, too. So I dug out a recipe and learned to make bread. And that's the same recipe we've been using for nearly 25 years now."
The sandwiches she has created through the years with her special homemade rolls, along with the long list of salads that now appear on the café's menu, are as creative as the building's décor. And, of course, there's always a tasty soup-of-the-day available.
"We're famous for our soup," Julie says. The menu describes the soups as "Flavour-Driven Concoctions" and the description fits everything else on the menu, as well.
"The main thing is the flavor. My motto is: No flat food," she says, and she describes the food at Café Un Mundo as "fresh, fun and flavorful. When people ask me what's good on the menu, I have to say it's all good, or it wouldn't be on the menu."
And the food looks as good as it tastes. "I'm really into presentation," Julie says. "Manny and I are both artists, so we have to be creative with our food, our service, our décor."
Manny — formally, Manuel — Martinez entered Julie's life in 1995, and is now her husband. Julie had closed the restaurant and was renting out the building at the time. But the two decided to reopen the restaurant together in 2002, and changed its name from "The Last Ditch Café" to "Café Un Mundo" — the new name designed to "acknowledge that we are one world, one people," Julie explains. "And, of course, I pull my inspiration from all kinds of cuisine, regardless of the origin."
And regardless of their origins, each dish has an unmistakably individual twist to it. The café's version of hummus, for instance, is unique in my experience, with what seems to be a slightly Southwestern tang blending perfectly with its basic Mediterranean flavors. All sandwich entrées are served with chips and a choice of either hummus or salsaÑboth homemade, of course.
Prices are reasonable, starting with downright bargains like $3.25 for a dinner salad as entrée or $3.75 for a cup of soup and a homemade roll. The top price on the menu is $7.95, which will get you either a Reuben sandwich, or the Last Ditch Café Chile Cheese Melt with ham or turkey breast, not to mention the generous Un Mundo Caesar Salad with herbed chicken breast.
"We try to make the experience rich at the café without making it expensive," Julie says.
Café Un Mundo is located at 700 N. Bullard and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Because of the limited seating, it's advisable to call ahead if you're bringing a large party. The café's telephone number is (575) 956-8752.
Julie handles all catering arrangements and can be reached directly at (575) 956-8730.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for restaurant reviews
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