Big Mama’s Soul Food

Meat-and-Three | Soul Food
Worth a detour

Big Mama’s bill of fare ranges from universal comfort food (smothered chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, banana pudding) to dishes that demand appreciation of non-mainstream soul food icons such as chitlins, oxtails, and neon-green Key lime cake. An inconspicuous corner storefront in a clean-n-tidy Augusta mall, it’s a friendly, inexpensive place to have whatever sort of lunch you desire. The menu even lists hamburgers and two kinds of chicken salad — fried or grilled.

Smothered chicken is an unqualified delight, a dark-meat portion offering thigh and leg meat that is itself tremendously moist, encased in skin that’s been cooked to become a virtual sheet of succulence, smothered in dark, well-seasoned gravy. Oxtails require work to separate nuggets of meat from bone and (at least some) fat, but such effort with knife, fork, and tooth rewards the eater with nuggets of beef that are unspeakably tender and big-flavored. Among side dishes, fried green tomatoes are standouts — firm, tart disks of tomato encased in crust that shatters into seasoned, fatty richness that brilliantly complements the nightshade fruit within. Rutabagas, cut into tender, bite-size cubes, are good in an entirely different way — as simple and direct as a root vegetable can be, just barely peppery. Mac ‘n’ cheese does the job it’s supposed to do: provide creamy dairy respite from spicy food. Other available meal companions include greens (choose collard or turnip), black-eyed peas, stewed okra, yams, fried squash, and weekend-only hash on rice.  No-meat plates with three or four vegetables are, of course, an option.

There’s nothing extreme about Big Mama’s red velvet cake, which delivers only a hint of cocoa, but it is the right palliative dessert for this sort of food: moist, fresh, tender, generously layered with cream cheese frosting. Banana pudding is a style not uncommon in these parts — simply custard, bananas and cookies without meringue or whipped cream to lighten it. It’s not a bad dessert, but neither is it elegant the way leavened banana pudding can be.

What to Eat
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
The $1 extra charged for fried green tomatoes is worth it. These are thick, firm, and tangy inside their crunchy coat.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Oxtails
Oxtails demand knife, fork, and tooth work to get at the meat, but the reward is unctuous beefy tenderness like no other cut.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Smothered Chicken
Smothered Chicken
Smothered dark-meat chicken is supremely succulent, sopped with dark gravy. Fried chicken also is available.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
The cake menu includes pound cake, bright green Key lime cake, and this traditional red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Rutabagas
Earthy, slightly spicy rutabaga comes virtually unseasoned -- a nice balance for all the vigorously flavorful items on the menu.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Turnip Greens
Turnip Greens
Big Mama's offers a choice of collard greens or turnip greens. These are the latter: clumpy, bitter (in a good way), big-flavored.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler
A spell in the microwave tends to make peach cobbler sticky and diminishes its pastry's personality, but the spicy-sweet package is nonetheless a satisfying dessert.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
Oops. The wafer tops in the banana pudding stuck to the container top when I pried it off. This is typical banana pudding of the area: dense and fairly heavy, lacking leavener.
Big Mama’s Soul Food, Corn Muffin
Corn Muffin
Corn muffins are unremarkable on their own, but good for crumbling atop turnip greens.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 6pm
Wednesday11am - 6pm
Thursday11am - 6pm
Friday11am - 6pm
Saturday11am - 5pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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