East Village Comfort Food at Mama’s
This quirky East Village soul food restaurant doesn’t sound like much–$ 12+ for a restaurant where you seat, serve, and clean up after yourself? But the cafeteria style works, because the food is really damn good. With some seasonally changing items and some more permanent favorites, Mama’s Food Shop has a loyal following of all kinds of people, mainly due to their generous portions of items like fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mac & cheese. After receiving your food, it’s obvious that the price is worth it.
While from the outside Mama’s looks more like a hipster hangout with the huge mural and skull and drumstick logo on a sign, when you walk in you’re a greeted by a friendly staff and amazing looking food. According to their website, “Mama’s food arrives fresh every morning and is made continually throughout the day,” which, unfortunately means that not everything on the menu will be available every single time you go.
The most popular item, hands down, is the fried chicken; and for good reason. Each portion comes with three large, well seasoned, moist pieces that are fried until impossibly crispy. The only downside is that sometimes there seems to be more crispy fried skin than actual meat, but hey, some may think of that as an upside. The tilapia is a good option as well, if you’re looking for something that will make you feel less guilty. But not by much, the portion is huge. It’s consistently well seasoned and well cooked. However, the meatloaf is not a favorite—not terribly offensive, but bland, dry, and dense.
An entrée with one side is $ 12, but you can add on more for a $ 1 each, which I highly recommend. The sides are the best part. Favorites are definitely the mashed potatoes (add on gravy for free), and macaroni and cheese. The mashed potatoes are fluffy and flavorful, made better by the gravy. The mac & cheese is cheesy and gooey, but it isn’t anything innovative or different—its simplicity are what make it so good.
If you’re looking for lighter sides in an attempt to balance the heavy fried chicken, the cucumber and radish salad is pretty good, though if it’s been sitting around too long it sometimes gets mushy; the same goes for the panzanella.
One common, and valid complaint about Mama’s, however, is that the food isn’t hot. Sometimes it’ll be lukewarm, but sometimes it’ll just be plain cold. This is something loyal fans know and accept, and the owners are well aware of, as there are, oddly enough, microwaves in the seating area for your use.
Mama’s is a little rough around the edges, but the food is homemade, fresh, delicious, and definitely worth a try.
Mama’s Food Shop is located on 200 East 3rd Street (between Aves A & B).
By: Jessica Verderame
Read more about New York City Living at www.allmediany.com