Mama Lo's Soul Food [Fresno]
Popped in for lunch last Tuesday around 11:45 am. There are eight
booths (4 tops) along one wall and a counter with eight stools along the
opposite side. Only three booths were occupied and there was one other
person finishing his lunch at the counter. All booths were full when I left around 12:15. Service was very friendly (Loretta's daughters, iirc) and the food served quite promptly, nice and hot. The decor is rather stark, sort of a converted warehouse feel, high ceilings, but clean and bright.
I ordered the fried chicken, dark meat, leg & thigh (6.50), white meat (breast & wing) is 7.50). All lunches come with choice of two sides and either cornbread or a roll. I chose the mac 'n cheese and collard greens. Other options were black-eyed peas, chili beans, corn on the cob, mac - potato - or green salad, and a few others I don't recall (they had run out of take-out menus).
Chicken was cooked perfectly, no hint of grease and a nice crispy
crust. The creamy style mac 'n cheese was terrific, one of the best I've had in a long while. The collard greens were tender but not mushy, with a slight tang as well as a hint of sweetness, she told me their secret ingredient, but I promised to keep it a secret (said it keeps them from being bitter). Cornbread was decent.
Other offerings include Ribs (3/7.95), tri-tip (6.95) and hot wings (3.95). Specials are on Thursdays, Chitterlings (6.95) and on Fridays it's a choice of Catfish or Red Snapper (7.95, iirc).
Desserts are Mama Lo's famous peach cobbler (I got 4 to go and was a big hit with three special ladies in my life), sweet potato pie
(overheard a customer moan because they had already run out that
morning), and a 7-UP pound cake, all 2.50 I believe. Their menu states that home-made desserts to order are available with a 24 hour notice.
They've only been open since last April, but the recent article in the Bee is starting to get people's attention. Hopefully they don't get slammed real hard all at once where they won't be able to handle the traffic.
Since I have to be at the Home and Garden Show a week from Friday (Oct 27), I'm planning to check out their Red Snapper that day around 11:45, if any local hounds care to join in shoot me an email and I'll reserve a table if need be. dlw38 AT sbcglobal DOT net.
Might even get around to checking out the ribs tomorrow, will add to this report if I do. In any event.... go see Mama!
Mama Lo's Soul Food - CASH only
952 F. Street, just off Tulare St. (not 925 as reported in the paper) - metered parking 25 min. for $0.25
My wife and I had lunch here yesterday--finally! Our experience was consistent with PolarBear's and others': very good food, very friendly staff, service a bit on the slow side.
We spent about 1:15 having lunch here. They seem to do a fairly brisk take-out service (with some folks taking away 7, 8, even 9 boxes of food). With their fairly small number of people working in the kitchen they evidently need to take some time to get the take-out orders and the in-house orders prepared. So, we decided that we'd come here when we have plans to spend a leisurely lunch hour. But when the food did arrive it was hot and it was tasty.
I ordered the red snapper (Friday's only, along with catfish), cornbread, chili beans, and green beans. Fish was good but not great. It was fresh cooked, not oily or greasy, breaded nicely (with only flour, I believe), and nice tasting fish. However, both pieces of fish (2 pieces for $7.95) were thin, so they ended up somewhat chewy. They weren't served with any sauce (tartar or otherwise) but I found them good tasting with their spicy Louisiana pepper sauce on the table.
Green beans were not cooked in pork (as far as I could tell), but they were soft and good tasting--kind of typical green beans. Same thing with the chili beans: not bad but not super good, either. I'd order both again, but not if I find something else that's better.
My wife ordered the fried chicken (all white meat) which she declared "perfect." Thin, crispy coating, cooked up to a nice brown but not too dark. Moist chicken inside the coating. Thick piece of breast, very good flavor. Only thing I can add is that I'm glad they're not open on weekends otherwise we'd be eating there every Saturday and Sunday and my cholesterol would shoot through the roof.
She also ordered the roll, which was thick and fluffy and chewy; I liked it a lot and I'm not normally a bread kind of person. Her sides were the mac and cheese (very very very cheesy, and--as PolarBear has noted--excellent with some hot sauce in it) and the rice pilaf which tasted like it had lots of butter. Of the four sides we ate, I thought that the rice (although "typical" and a bit "plain") and the mac and cheese tied for best side dishes.
We finished by sharing a peach cobbler--oh my word that was good. Made with canned peaches (I suppose the way it ought to be made), a bottom crust along with the crust lattice on top, and lots of cinnamon.
Funny story: we both ordered ice teas to drink. My wife asked if it was sweet tea, and we were told it was "Lipton." When we got the teas, they were sweet. Halfway expecting this, we weren't disappointed. Normally we wouldn't like sweet tea (we're from California, after all) but in this case it went perfectly with the thick and spicy comfort food we had for lunch.
We'll definitely be back, where I'll be trying some of the other dishes and sides (I think my wife is trapped in the fried chicken) and we'll report back.
Been meaning to follow up on a couple of subsequent visits to Mama Lo's. Returned on a Wed. with my BIL and one of his co-workers in tow, they both had the fried chicken and thought it excellent, if a little pricey for two pieces, but agreed the sides and cornbread made for a filling lunch. I went with the ribs (3) that also turned out to be more filling than they appear at first, nice and tender with a decent sauce. I doubled down on the mac 'n cheese for my sides, I find it addictive, especially with a few drops of Chrystal hot sauce in it. We sat in one of the booths, arriving about 11:30 am before the lunch rush, but for some reason the food was slow coming out of the kitchen this day, not sure what the problem was, took a little over an hour for us to get out of there.
The following week I went back on a Thursday and tried the Chitterlings. Ate at the counter and the service was quicker, and as always very friendly. The chitlin's were nicely seasoned and tender (my first experience), there was a little excess of oil that I just poured off into one of my empty mac 'n cheese containers.
I'd planned to return the next day to try the Friday fish special but saw a note saying they'd be closed in order to attend a funeral. Not sure how soon I'll be able to get back downtown on a Friday again, but will report back.