Gaffey Street is the busiest street in San Pedro for one reason. It leads to the freeway. I normally try to stay off of it and turn onto it so I don’t have to sit at the stoplights as everyone tries to get out of the South Bay. On one occasion I decided to cruise down Gaffey in search of lunch on my way out. I was glad I did, because I found Mama Joan’s Soul Food Restaurant.
Catfish, Collared Greens, Mac n’ Cheese, Cornbread Muffins.
Pork Chops, Buttered Corn, Collared Greens.
Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, String Beans.
Don’t worry. This wasn’t all eaten in one trip.
Soul food is what a person needs after being dumped by his girlfriend, something to fill the void. The void is large, and that’s why the portions are big. Every meals comes with sides and those cornbread muffins, but it’s not just about quantity. Eating at Mama Joan’s won’t make you think you’re eating a complex combination of flavor and texture that will blow your mind. The green beans are soggy, and I swear the corn was cooked in pure butter instead of water, but none of that matters. When you take a bite of soul food, the world seems the quiet around you, like nothing else matters in the moment. You’re at peace.
Plus, the fried chicken is pretty damn good.
Here are a couple tips for this place. Unless you tell them you are dining in, they are going to pack up your food to go, and if you order fried chicken, they make it fresh and it’s going to take twenty minutes so call ahead.