Mary Stewart’s Southern Soul Food

Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

Mary Stewart of Mississippi founded the Los Angeles (and Las Vegas) mini-chain M&M Soul Food, which is a standard bearer for Southern food on the West Coast. Since her passing, her daughter Deborah has brought the recipes to a truck-stop just outside San Bernardino. Behind throngs of 18-wheelers, this roadside diner serves traditional Southern recipes of the Stewart family.

Fried chicken is a mainstay. We like ours smothered. The gravy is brown, peppery, and bone-stock soulful. It coats the breading and melds into the moist chicken as you attack it.

The golden crisp turkey chop is like a fried pork chop, but made with a cross section of turkey breast meant to resemble a chop. It is fairly moist for turkey breast, but some of that delicious gravy makes it better. A roasted turkey drumette is succulent treatment of one of the big bird’s richest bones. It is served over a bed of dense, spicy cornbread stuffing.

Speaking of cornbread, the best bite here might be the corn bread muffins that come with lunch. When a half-dozen of these hot, moist cakes hits the table, you smell fresh summer corn. Their fresh-corn sweetness makes butter unnecessary.

Sides are memorable. Black-eyed peas come in a delicious starchy emulsion with ham bone aroma but no visible chunks of pork. Collard greens aren’t overly seasoned or acidic, so their natural earthy flavor shines. Yams are buttery soft and sweet.

To drink? Cups of sweet tea and Kool-Aid lemonades. The layering is attractive, but these are totally cloying. We stopped drinking Kool-Aid for a reason.

Speaking of sweet, Mary’s famous sweet potato pie is the right dessert. The crust is thin, short and crisp. Its filling tastes simply like potatoes with baking-spice accents: full-on Southern soul, just sweet enough to make us slow down and savor each bite.

What To Eat

Smothered Chicken

DISH
Turkey Chop

DISH
Turkey Wing

DISH
Yams

DISH
Mashed Potatoes

DISH
Black-Eyed Peas

DISH
Cornbread

DISH
Kool-Aid and Sweet Tea Lemonade

DISH
Sweet Potato Pie

DISH

Mary Stewart’s Southern Soul Food Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Mary Stewart’s Southern Soul Food?

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