Unfortunately, I have to begin this season’s eatings on a down note. My beloved Mama’s Food Shop has closed after 17 years as my favorite cheap eats destination. I have been frequenting Mama’s from the beginning, enjoying heaping plates of fried chicken, mac & cheese, and greens for the absurd price of about $12. The cafeteria style service and the East Village vibe were so comforting to me and the many people I have introduced to Mama’s. With all of those portraits of Mamas looking down at you, you couldn’t help leaving Mama’s with a big smile and bigger belly. Spud and I will miss Mama’s dearly. While we only visited a few times per year, we thought Mama’s would always be there for us, serving mounds of soul food when we needed it. But that’s just not the case. People, please get on the phone now and call your own Mama, or better yet, pay her a visit! Here is my love letter to Mama’s from January 2010.
While there is no place that will ever replace Mama’s for me, the stomach still gets hungry, so we must search for other satisfying options. Bob White Lunch and Supper Counter is an excellent Southern cheap eats option a few blocks from Mama’s…
Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter
94 Avenue C (6/7 St), East Village
Bobwhite’s serves delicious Southern fare with a seasonal, sustainable message. It is not owned by some burly dude named “Bob White”, rather bobwhites are quail indigenous to the South, whose habitats have been getting destroyed by commercial farming. This new eatery follows the modern model of serving downright amazing grub in a responsible culinary environment. We tried the signature fried chicken sandwich ($8.50), which was moist, flavorful and crispy. It is no frills, just a superb piece of chicken with pickles on a roll. It’s a very high quality version of a familiar combination. This small sandwich was so fantastic that I wish I had ordered the whole fried chicken platter. Next time. The fish sandwich ($8.50) was quite good as well, with an expertly fried piece of white (cod?) fish, topped with bright, crispy slaw. You will want to try the extremely creamy mac & cheese ($4.50) and the meaty collard greens ($4.50). This meal was not complete without the small but powerful mason jar full of excellent banana pudding, which is tough to find in NYC.
Hopefully Mama’s will re-open in some form, or another cafeteria style option where you can absolutely stuff your face, as needed. But in the meantime, check out Bobwhite’s counter, a more refined, but equally delicious, local place for excellent Southern fare in our great city.