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Jul 1, 2009 12:27 PM

Vallejo: Mama Ruth’s Place – BBQ and fried turkey

A few weeks ago I noticed that Michael’s Southern Delight was no more, so I drove by to note the new name. It was open and I decided to pick up a menu. I just ate and had no intention of ordering.

The place was cleaned up and spiffed up, though it is still a basic plain décor. There was a lovely smoky smell and three nice-looking cakes on the counter.

I explained I was just picking up a menu and started to chat a bit. Before I knew it I had a complimentary pork rib. It was literally falling off the bone tender and juicy with a nice touch of fat. I like the sauce a lot which is the sweet variety and smoky.

I asked how long they were open and was told it was the first day. Well, what can you do? Have to help start out a business so I ordered the tri-tip with corn bread, greens, and another side that was a mix of tomatoes, corn and okra. As an opening special they were giving out dessert, a choice of peach cobbler or sweet potato pie.

The cobbler was a nice mixture of buttery crust and peaches spiced with cinnamon.

The tri-tip was pulled like pork .On its own it had nice flavor and was juicy with a bit of fat here and there. It was even better when I added the BBQ sauce.

The corn, tomato and okra mixture was good and thicker than I expected, the diced tomatoes were more of a pasta sauce, though it was probably the okra that thickened it.. Greens were long-cooked, but a little salty for me. However, I’m someone who doesn’t salt food at all. The corn bread was in muffin form and, though better, similar to Jiffy Mix … just for reference.

The owner had a BBQ place in Fresno for about 30 years and decided to move to this area to be near her children.

She has someone doing the cooking. When asked about the fried turkey, she said to call ahead and give them a minimum of 24 hours. She said that she taught the cook how to make the fried turkey and the version he was making is even better than hers.

I’ll put the menu in the first link. They might not have everything. On day one they didn’t have brisket and said they would have more of the menu this week. Even though they list beef ribs on the menu, it didn’t seem like they would have them unless enough people asked. From talking to them, the oxtails might be a good thing to order.

Hard to tell if it is destination BBQ, but IMO, this first meal compared favorably with other BBQ in Vallejo. I enjoyed it. Hope some Vallejo-ites give it a try and report back. It is in the strip mall next to 37 with Popeye's.

Mama Ruth’s Place
1601 Marine World Pkwy # 365, Vallejo, CA

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  1. Meat Choices
    Pork ribs
    Beef ribs
    Tri tip
    Links (mild or hot)
    BBQ chicken
    Smothered Chicken
    Fried chicken wings
    Spicy wingettes
    Turkey wings
    Pork Chops
    Smothered pork chops


    Mac and cheese
    Candied yams
    Okra corn and tomatoes
    Corn on the cob
    Mashed potatoes and gravy
    Red beans and rice
    Baked beans
    Potato salad
    Macaroni salad
    Cole slaw
    Fried okra
    French fries

    Peach cobbler
    Misc cakes
    Sweet potato pie

    4 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Wow, this place sounds great! Corn bread, okra, greens, etc... mmmm.... I gotta go try them out. How's the pricing, btw?

      1. re: westcoaststyle

        About $9.50 - $12.99 for a dinner with cornbread and 2 sides. Sandwiches from $4.99 - $9 with one side. Then there are a bunch of family dinners and other combos.

        1. re: rworange

          You've probably written about it before, but what's your favorite BBQ in Vtown?

          1. re: Dan Wodarcyk

            I haven't tried much in Vallejo. I couldn't get into D's food though other people liked it. Keep in mind I'm not bbq maven.

            Gracie's is ok. It is a really lean brisket. It is oddly almost identical to the brisket in the new Smokehouse BBQ in Sebastopol.

            That being said, for me there are so far only two destination-worthy, calorie-worthy, cholesteral-worthy BBQ places ... brisket at Memphis Minnie in SF and those pork ribs at Smokehouse BBQ in Sebastopol. I like his chicken a lot too, but it is really smoked chicken rather than bbq'd.

            The rest AFAIK are pretty much on the same level ... fine if you live nearby. There's the ok to awful sides, bad slices of white or wheat bread bread or corn bread that is really dry and meat that is tasty enough but not amazing.

            I'd put the dinner I had at Mama's a slight notch above that but still a local type of place. This was two meals for me and I actually looked forward to the second meal. Usually I have trouble finishing leftover bbq. Howeer, I haven't tried a lot of the menu at Mama's and it was the first day, so there might be some great stuff there.

            I can't seem to hit Earl's when it it open. Haven't tried King Albert's yet. Not been to Meyer's either that I recall. Pack Jack from all appearances seems to be closed though the sign and interiour remains. Nunjo's is a pizza place with bbq items on the menu. If the choice was Nunjo's bbq or starve to death ... choose starvation.

            Looking forward to trying the new Mississippi BBQ in the old D's location. It hasn't opened yet.

            The problem with Vallejo is that I'm usually on my way to Napa or Sonoma and either I'm on my way to eat there or on my way back from eating.