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Tales From the Road: Never Eat at Mother's

This entry is part of a series, New Orleans Scene»


Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never lie down with a woman who has more troubles than you. And never, ever eat at a place called Mom’s.

Anybody who studies life extensively will be able to cite these principles and more. They’re universal, and you disregard them at your peril.

Sometimes, though, you’re tired and you have a weak moment. Such was the case when we arrived in New Orleans, tired and hungry. We’d been on the road for more than 9 hours, covering 515 miles or so. Simply going to bed was appealing to me, actually; however, college kids need to eat, and we have seven of them along. And Dr. Toledo, who still eats like a kid.

So when the desk clerk told us we simply had to eat at Mother’s Restaurant, just around the corner, well, you can guess what happened. We tossed our gear into the rooms and fled down the street like we were being chased by Marie Laveau herveryownself.

We soon learned that there are always exceptions that prove the rule. And Mother’s is just that exception. Man, was it good! We got there just about as they were thinking about closing; it was that late. I mean, what kind of place closes in New Orleans? Before 4 A.M., I mean. Seems Mother’s does. They’re open every day (a few Holidays excepted), and they begin early: 0700 for breakfast. So I guess it makes sense they would close at about 10 P.M., to take a break before the next busy day.

They’re located only a couple of blocks from Old Man River, in the middle of a crowded business district that also has quite a bit of tourism. A great location! The building is one of the oldest in the immediate area, and it if weren’t for the wonderful smells leaking out the doors you wouldn’t give them a second glance.

If you pass them by, though, it’s your own dang loss.

Street Car

I had breakfast, which they serve every day, all day long. An omelette with ham and cheese. Nothing fancy. Oh, and buttered grits on the side. (It IS the Deep South, after all.) Toast, jelly, the works. And some of their famous homemade pepper sauce.

Just about every restaurant worth your time in Louisiana makes their own version of pepper sauce, in addition to having Tabasco, Crystal and the like available. (Not many places have Bufalo or Cholula, though, in my experience.) Mother’s has their own, and it’s very good. I managed to wheedle a sense of the recipe from the owner, by the simple expedient of extremely smarmy praise and sucking up like an Electrolux asking. Three or four kinds of peppers, whatever’s fresh at the market (as log as a couple are hot), with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar. The real secret, apparently, is to avoid having too much balsamic vinegar. (PJ would aver that you can’t ever have too much balsamic vinegar; but apparently you can, in hot sauce.) You let the stuff marinade for a couple of weeks at room temperature, until the peppers begin to break down. Serve and enjoy. At least we all enjoyed the stuff! We pushed the Crystal and Tabasco aside to make room for more of the homemade zesty juice.

The ravening horde students ate a wide variety of goodies, from Po’Boys to gumbo, crawfish etouffée, and red beans and rice. I think the work crew was a little awed at how much the crew snarfed down. And gratified too, to see their handiwork appreciated.

And we appreciated it, as we rolled walked back to our rooms for a good night’s rest…

Mother's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mother’s Restaurant, 401 Poydras, New Orleans, LA 70130. Tel (504) 523-9656. Open seven days a week, 7 A.M. to 10 P.M.

Enjoy the (Mother’s Home Cooking) Heat!

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