Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Soul Food Comes To South Tampa

The Oracle is just pleased as sweet iced tea to welcome a new restaurant to SOG City (South of Gandy). Mama's Soul Food Restaurant has opened their doors and we couldn't wait to go inside. And, inside was a good choice yesterday evening as the South Tampa skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain on the peninsula. This was definitely a "Holy crap Noah, hammer faster" kind of rain.

Mama's, at 5228 South Dale Mabry, is essentially a neighborhood restaurant for us and when we walked in we were greeted as neighbors. This is a friendly place with a friendly staff and manager. The mouth-watering aromas from the kitchen also assailed our senses and we were anxious to proceed with the proceedings.

Main dining room looking out toward the patio.
We started with a couple of cold brewskis that we brought with us. Mama's will not have their beer and wine license for another week or two, so in the meantime, it's BYOB. Kivonna was our most gracious server who brought menus and patiently answered any questions.

Why yes, I did have a question. I mentioned that in all of my many, many years living in Georgia and the Florida Panhandle, I had never experienced chitterlings. "Would it be possible to have one little chitlin for a trial run?" "Certainly, said Kivonna. After a short wait, she returned with a small plate of chitlins over rice.

If you have never had a chitlin you have no idea what you have been missing. Some people turn up their noses at the mention of chitlins, otherwise known as hog intestines. Chitterlings is the more formal name, but I've always heard them called chitlins. They are usually part of a larger meal that includes collard greens, fried chicken, and other traditional Southern foods. Chitlins are not for the faint of palate or smell, but my sample had a rather creamy texture with a good flavor and only a faint hint of barnyard. This will never be a favorite food of mine, but I am glad a I gave them a try.

Fried chicken gizzards are a favorite, although it has been years since I had a gizzard - not since Altman's Drive-in at Panama City Beach burned down. I had to try Mama's Chicken Gizzard appetizer. Those gizzards were perfect with a nice crunch on the outside and tender to the tooth on the inside.

My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, had quietly sipped her beer while I enjoyed these two Southern delicacies. She is not an aficionado of guts or gizzards. Poor girl knows not what she was missing, or maybe she did. For her entree, though, she chose the Mama Q Pulled Pork, a very tender and flavorful choice. This dish came in the form of a sandwich, which wasn't identified as such on the menu. I think that was her only disappointment of the night.

The other half of the sandwich didn't wait around for the photo shoot.
For my main dish I chose Mama's Oxtails with two sides, lima beans and collards with cornbread. That was some good eatin' and was a very filling dinner.

Mama's Soul Food Restaurant certainly isn't what you would call haute cuisine, but Mama's does serve well prepared, filling, and honest food at affordable prices. Our total for the evening came to $30.87. We tacked on a nice tip for superior service provided by Kivonna.

The Belle and I are hoping to return to Mama's this weekend for breakfast. I've got my eyeballs and taste buds zeroed in on the Mama's Fish, Grits, and Eggs. Down in the Keys at the Hungry Tarpon, this dish is called Grits and Grunts, and I can't wait to try Mama's.

Editor's update 6/1/2014: Breakfast this morning didn't work out too well. Mama's owner/chef apparently is some sort of preacher who needed to tend to his flock instead of his new restaurant, so Sunday morning breakfast wasn't happening. Our party of five went farther south on Dale Mabry to the other Mama's Restaurant.

Breakfast on a subsequent visit (on a Saturday) left much to be desired: a really slow kitchen, runny eggs, shortage of bread and biscuits. Mama's Soul has great potential if they can get their act together. The hours have been changed on Urbanspoon, but the menu still shows 7 to 7 on Sunday.

Mama's Soul Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mama's Soul Food Restaurant on Foodio54

The Oracle dines anonymously and we don't trade reviews, good or bad, for any type of compensation.


  1. I'm with the BoBP. You are a braver foodie than I am. I love my collards and cornbread. Be sure to update us on how your breakfast fares.

    1. Hi Tina,

      As TV host Andrew Zimmern says, "If it looks good, eat it!" Those chitlins didn't really look all that great, but I ate them anyway. I couldn't imagine the incompleteness of my life if I never ate a chitlin. I can now scratch that delicacy off my gastronomic bucket list.

    2. Dayum. Now I want some chitlin' corn bread and fried gizzards. Damn you, Jon.