Mama Joan’s Soul Food

5496 W. Centinela Ave.
Ladera Heights, California 90045
Critics' Pick
Mama Joan’s Soul Food

Garrett Snyder


  • Tue.-Sat., 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Kid Friendly
It’s become a bit of a trend in fashionable restaurants to serve chicken skin cracklings: a sheet of brittle, golden skin and schmaltz that you eat like chips and wash down with beer. That’s all well and good, but I’d rather experience that kind of shatttery skin/fat/crisped magic on an actual piece of chicken, which is rare — but not at Mama Joan’s Soul Food. Here, the fried chicken comes with skin so crisp and thin and perfect it will have you swearing off the heavily breaded kind forever. In a city where most soul food is served from steam trays, Mama Joan’s is a welcome change, cooking fried chicken and smothered pork chops and meatloaf to order, along with obviously made-from-scratch classic sides such as collards, succotash and mac and cheese. The dining room serves as a gathering spot for the neighborhood, and the giant television on the wall distracts only slightly from the friendly, chatty vibe. Popular items tend to run out early, particularly the Friday- and Saturday-only barbecue ribs, but we’ve yet to be disappointed even with our second or third choice of entree. —Besha Rodell
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