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Restaurants & Bars 3

Big Mama's Rib Shack and Soul Food, Pasadena, report

mtyf | Nov 14, 200411:56 PM

After a matinee movie on Saturday, stopped by this place on North Lake in Pasadena for some hearty grub. Fancier inside than its name implies, a little bit gothic, Poe-esque. But just a little.

All the traditional stuff - fried chicken, catfish, ribs, smothered porkchops, chitterlings (what are those??), oxtails, hamhocks, etc. Plenty of sides - collard greens, hushpuppies, baked beans, you wouldn't want for anything. I had the rib dinner, 5 really meaty spare ribs in a pool of sauce. The meat was tender and just fatty enough, with not quite as much smoke as I'd wanted. The sauce was quite tasty - I'm not a big fan of BBQ sauces straight - they're always too harsh if they aren't a part of the cooking process. But this stuff was good, slightly tomato-ey, a hint of spicyness and not vinegary.

As for sides (most dinners come with 2), mac n' cheese was suitably creamy but not exciting. Also candied yams, a good warm up for the impending holiday... these were quite liquidy, definitely not casserole-style, swimming in a pool of sugary syrup. (Fine by me, but not for everyone I bet). Had a taste of the collard greens, which were standard, again not exciting.

Friends had the hotlinks dinner (3 pretty large sausages also in a pool of the BBQ sauce that were "good, not too spicy," and fried catfish, about 8 palm-sized nuggets that at first were "just ok...fishy" but then were warmed up to, and finished off. So they couldn't have been that bad. (I didn't partake in the other mains, sorry, my ribs kept me busy.)

Service was actually fine, given that apparently 2 or 3 staff did not show up. We were there pretty early (6pm)though, and it was < 1/3 full. The servers were friendly and apologetic, if harried. 3 mains, 2 sodas came to $35, which was not bad, not bad at all. They also have the usual desserts, cobblers and velvet cake. We were planning to get some to go but decided to just get the bill or risk waiting for another 10 minutes...

I wouldn't make this a destination necessarily, but if you're in the area and have a hankering for ribs and dependable sides, it's definitely a good option.


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