The first thing you notice as you enter Mama Joy’s is the big hole in the wall, chunks of plaster scattered on the floor below, as if you just missed some of sort of chair-throwing bar brawl moments ago. Well, that’s not true. The FIRST thing you notice is the bar, which is long and scarred, with comfy padded stools (with backs!), and looks like a place where you could really settle in for a spell. And the dining area at Mama Joy’s? Aggressively undesigned, mostly just a bunch of crappy tables and chairs scattered around the room. In other words: pure dive bar.
Mama Joy’s Offers a New Spin on Classic Southern Cuisine
Don’t be fooled, though. This deliberately unassuming spot on Flushing Avenue, close to the Morgan Street L stop and an instant favorite among Bushwick locals, has an inventive, even ambitious menu, filled with fresh takes on classic Southern crowd pleasers. The Boiled Peanuts are prepared with star anise. The grits in the Shrimp and Grits are from some boutique mill down in Georgia. The homemade Cornbread is studded with bourbon and tobacco-infused cherries. And not only is the Mama Joy’s menu far more exciting than you’d expect to find in such a dim and drafty space, but the kitchen, led by Chef Nick Gilbert, totally nails it.
The Food at Mama Joy’s is Worth a Trip on the L Train
I pigged out on my visit the other night to Mama Joy’s, and will definitely be back for more. The Mac N’ Quack, Mama Joy’s creamy and chewy mac-n-cheese, generously mixed in with chunks of duck confit, is listed under starters, cost about ten bucks, and is a meal by itself. Douse with hot sauce for maximum pleasure. Then came my entree, two plump pieces of crispy/juicy fried chicken–dark meat, thank you–served with excellent, intensely-flavored mashed potatoes and even more excellent sweet and buttery corn. This set me back another $12. And if you’re a drinker, the “Country Cocktails” and surprisingly comprehensive selection of bourbons and beers, all at friendly prices, are available. Bushwick residents rejoice; all others get on the L for a visit soon.
Mama Joy’s is located on Flushing Avenue near Knickerbocker, and is open daily for lunch, brunch, drinks and dinner from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. More info and a sample Mama Joy’s menu (it changes almost daily) can be found here.