Tucked into the corner of a nondescript Van Nuys minimall between a 7-11 and a Mexican Restaurant, Mom’s BBQ is easily overlooked. Still, it is a beacon to the faithful, especially on Friday, which is gumbo day. The kitchen of this small family business runs smoothly under the watchful eye of matriarch Genevia, the “mom” of Mom’s. Service is relaxed and friendly, and after a few visits when you earn a big smile of recognition from Genevia it feels like home.
Miles from the epicenter of soul food in Los Angeles, this little valley restaurant serves up Louisiana-style cooking. That means the menu features red beans and rice, boudin, and other Crescent City favorites. Still, the foundation lies in Southern standards – ribs, fried chicken and catfish. The ribs are marinated, smoked, and then slathered with the homemade and multilayered BBQ sauce. Each meal comes with two slices of white bread and margarine, hallmarks of authenticity in the land of soul food.
Sides are a Sophie’s choice of perfection. In fact, even when buying brisket to go at Dr. Hogly Wogly’s we make a special stop at Mom’s because the sides are so superior. The kitchen works their magic on the greens so there is a little heat and barely a hint of bitterness left and you can shovel them into your mouth with abandon. The mac and cheese is made with slices of American cheese, giving it a marked sweetness. I was put off by the creamy sauce at first, but have become addicted.
You can leave Mom’s with a full stomach and a doggie bag for under $15 a person, but you would be doing yourself a terrible disservice. Mom’s definitely saves the best for last with tender yellow cake frosted with chocolate icing, pecan pie with a buttery crust, peach cobbler, and whatever else is still left in the case by the time you get there.
There is only one caveat: this is a small place without as much turnover as you might be used to. The ribs cook all day. You might be lucky and get them when they are falling off the bone tender, or you might get your ribs before they peak. Likewise, you might get the cake fresh from the oven or you might get it near the last slice. It’s always good, but sometimes it’s better.
Mom’s accepts all major credit cards and closes on Sundays and Mondays. 14062 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, CA 91405. (818) 786-1373