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TLO Restaurant Review: Mama Lou’s

When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a goth so very bad. Having controlling parents, however, the closest I could get away with were Cure cassette tapes and late-night visits to area diners, always filled with dark-souled youths smoking cloves that would never get to know me in the slightest; I’d sit in the corner, reading an utterly pretentious book, hoping someone—anyone—would talk to me.

But they never did.

Still, out of those few “after midnight” dives that were around then, my favorite was always Mama Lou’s, 1421 N. Moore Ave. in, well, Moore. Even though I was painfully ignored there too, at least they always had a cheap steak for me to nosh on after work, probably a reason not only goths, but punks and skaters as well, let me rot in my eternal loneliness...

Having not been there for around 25 years, I decided to stop by to see how they were holding up and, with the momentary exception of any and all customers, when I walked in it still looked the same to me: same booths, same kitchen, same American flag pinned to the wall. Honestly, the only thing different were the prices, raised a bit higher thanks to two decades worth of inflation.

I ordered my usual—as usual as it can be, I guess—and waited for a few minutes, speaking with the young waitress on duty. She told me that since Covid struck, they started closing at around ten and never looked back. As far as business, she assured me that the place is usually packed, but here it was, Saturday night, and it was ultimately barren. Could this really be the same place?

Regardless, my eats came out rather quickly, starting with an appetizer of, of course, the Fried Okra Bowl ($5.49). Living in Oklahoma, I’ve learned that very few places ever serve fresh okra and Mama Lou’s is no different. Once you get past the obvious refrigerated taste—with the help of a big bowl of ranch, natch—it’s a very hard treat to beat and they were actually quite decent.

My main course, however, was a sweaty remembrance of my wasted youth, the Smothered Steak ($14.49). Featuring a prime-ish cut of thick meat, it was cooked medium rare and, though still pretty tough, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Covered in onions, mushrooms and a slice of Swiss cheese, the beautifully greasy taste instantly brought me back to those lonely Saturday nights, trying desperately to gain attention from a girl dressed in black.

Despite the fact that many goths still can’t stand me, I’m a grown-up now, as my sides can definitely attest to; I paired the steak up with wild rice, sliced tomatoes and a piece of toast, amazed at how little it took to change this dinner from a lovelorn kid’s (never) happy meal to a love-lost adult variation, with those small modifications being quite delicious.

But would I of listened to those suggestions way back when?

Now I can’t remember if I ordered dessert there—I don’t think I ever have—so I finished up with a slice of Chocolate Cream Pie ($3.99). I sat back to wistfully remember the pathetic moments I had here and how those lamentable days are long gone, but, still, if I had the chance I probably would have pulled out a paperback and pretended to read, my cup of coffee always refilled, my sadness never satiated. Cómpralo ya!


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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