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[Restaurant Review] Mama's Knows Best - Houston, TX

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Posted by admin on Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There’s no better cookin’ than Mama’s. Mama’s Café that is. This quaint little restaurant resembles a home in the country, and when you walk through the doors nothing but smiles are on the faces of both the wait staff and customers alike.

It was my last day helping out at my stepdad’s office, so we decided to go out for lunch for a little treat. We went back-and-forth asking each other what we were in the mood for, and after 30 seconds of getting nowhere with that game, my stepdad pulls into a gravel-paved parking lot of a restaurant that looks like it’s been around since before I was born. And it has!

For nearly 30 years, Mama’s Café has been cooking up down-home, good-for-your-heart-and-soul comfort food. Definitely the type of place you come to hungry and you leave ready to go into hibernation for the rest of the day.

With half of their menu starred as “Mama’s favorites,†from their Chicken Fried Chicken salad to their classic meatloaf, my mind was boggled between what to order. I had to go back to work afterward, so I didn’t want something that would have me nodding off at my desk. With that in mind, I decided to go with their Turkey Fiesta sandwich, with a house salad on the side, accompanied by their homemade bleu cheese dressing. Forgetting that he had to return to the office after lunch, my stepdad went all out with their chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli-rice casserole on the side.

After taking our order, our server brought out a bread basket, filled with a combination of cornbread and white rolls with a little bowl of butter and honey.

The sweet corn muffins and soft rolls are so addicting you could make a meal just out of the bread basket!

I was trying to be good, but the inner bread-lover in me couldn’t resist. I went straight for the corn bread muffin that had the most perfect ring of golden crust at the top. That golden ring had a great crunch while the center of the muffin was soft and crumbly, just like I like it. With a smear of butter and a drizzle of honey, I felt like I was cheating and having dessert before my meal.

I didn’t want to be bread-biased, so I had to taste the roll, too. It was love at first bite. The roll was light, airy, soft, warm – everything you want bread to be.

I almost forgot about my salad that the waiter had snuck in front of me. Just like any other side salad, Mama’s makes hers with crisp iceberg lettuce, shreds of sweet carrot, slightly bitter red cabbage, and thick slices of cucumber, topped with a heavy handful of seasoned croutons. But what makes this salad a Mama’s Café salad is the dressing. I’m a creamy dressing kind of gal, so I went with the bleu cheese dressing, which was thick and full of hearty pieces of bleu cheese whose strong flavor paired nicely with the clean and light veggies.

A clean and crisp salad for a healthy start...until you add their homemade bleu cheese dressing!

My sammie hadn’t even come yet and I was already starting to get full! Then they brought a plate whose surface was filled with this monstrosity of a turkey sandwich, and I was compelled to dig in.

My stepdad’s chicken fried steak came out next, and my sandwich looked like a middle schooler stepping onto a college campus. His chicken fried steak trampled my measly sandwich as the steak extended to every edge of the plate, with the white cream gravy leaving a little pool of its delicious drippings on the table. The mashed potatoes – which were doused with even more of that divine white cream gravy – and the broccoli-rice casserole had to have their own plate because the chicken fried steak demanded a plate of its own.

Before I could even take a bite of my sammie, my stepdad cut me a piece of his steak, and the tender steak coated in a beer batter crust with the creamy, peppery gravy was salty, spicy, crunchy, creamy and everything you expect chicken fried steak to be.

I get a heart attack just looking at this chicken fried steak smothered in white cream gravy!

My taste testing wouldn’t be complete without a bite of the mashed potatoes and broccoli-rice casserole, so I took a forkful of each. The potatoes were whipped until they were as light as air, and with the gravy, they were so smooth you could just swallow them without having to chew through chunks of potato.

The richness continues with a heaping helping of mashed potatoes with white cream gravy and cheesy broccoli-rice casserole.

As if the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes weren’t rich enough, the broccoli rice casserole blasted my taste buds with gobs of cheesy goodness. The broccoli still had a bite to it while the rice was perfectly tender, and the cheese brought the two together.

I finally made it to my sammie and I was already halfway full; but that didn’t stop me from digging in. When I took that first bite, the first thing I tasted was the soft, sweet and nutty bread, which I could have made a meal of alongside their rolls and cornbread! Then I got the fresh and meaty turkey that tasted like they had a butcher slicing the deli meat in the back. Next, the mild provolone cheese had its shining moment. And last, but definitely not least, the guacamole, which elevated this average turkey sandwich into Mama’s Turkey Fiesta sandwich.

A seemingly innocent turkey sammie is brought to a whole new level with Mama's guacamole stuffed inside.

I could only make it through half of my sammie before I had to call it a quits and pack up the rest for later. Much later.

My stepdad, on the other hand, fought through and finished the whole piece of chicken fried steak, and left only scraps of his mashed potatoes and broccoli-rice casserole.

Maybe stuffing ourselves to the gill at lunchtime when we had to go back to work wasn’t the smartest idea, but it sure was tasty!

Next time you’re in Houston, have Mama whip up your next meal.

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