As the end draws near, gone is the excitement of summer, with retailers starting to promote heavier clothing, harvest décor lining store shelves, and, sadly, no more vacation days in which to while away the hours.
Also with the end of summer comes the predictability of traditional fall dining, so when a group of friends and I went gallivanting around Glendale last weekend we knew we wanted to brunch like we hadn’t brunched before.
Following a few online searches and group discussions, one of my friends suggested Sista Mary’s Soul Food in Glendale. Although I’d never heard of it and didn’t initially plan on writing a review about it, I never say no to fried chicken, which Sista Mary’s, by the looks of their Yelp page, had in abundance.
Sista Mary’s is located on Colorado Street in Glendale, literally a one-minute drive, or seven-minute walk from the Americana on Brand. We arrived around 1 p.m. on Sunday and, despite brunch and lunch rushes at plenty of restaurants in the city, there were only two other people dining inside in addition to our group of four. Once inside, we found that the restaurant housed a small stage at the front of the room with speakers and a TV. We asked our waitress if the restaurant used to be an event space, and she said they frequently have events and cater special occasions. It all made sense. She brought us menus right away and took our drink orders, then shortly afterward brought over complimentary cornbread and butter for the table.
To start, we ordered the Sista Mary’s Crab Cakes ($11) which are two crab cakes served on top of a corn purée topped with mango relish and avocado cream sauce. We thought that between the bread and a couple of bites each that it would be enough, but really we should have ordered a second.
It was easy to decide on the main entree as soon as I saw chicken and waffles ($15) with the option to order unique takes on the old favorite, like chocolate chip, Fruity Pebbles, and red velvet in lieu of the traditional buttermilk. The fun flavors are offered in both their waffle and pancake dishes. I went with the Fruity Pebbles and substituted from drumsticks to chicken breast for an extra $2. As soon as I took my first bite of the waffles it was like traveling back in time to my childhood, when I’d eat cereal and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. I’ll admit I was worried they would be too sweet, but the Fruity Pebbles are mixed into the batter, and only lightly sprinkled on top, so the flavor is definitely there but it’s not overwhelming. The chicken was perfectly fried, crisp on the outside, easy to slice and chewy underneath.
One of my friends in the group decided to go with the brunch menu that is only available on Saturdays and Sundays and ordered Gabby’s French Toast Cobbler ($15). This dish is served as six triangle shaped slices topped with butter, whipped cream, and peach cobbler, with a side choice of bacon, chicken, or pork sausage. While he went heavy on the syrup, it was great, and the added sausage on the side made for a perfectly balanced meal.
The other two friends in the group wound up sharing a shrimp po’boy ($17). The po’boys are served on a French roll with Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and Sista Mary’s secret sauce, which ties everything together. If you’ve had cornbread and an appetizer, or perhaps are just not that hungry, the po’boys are definitely a shareable entrée, and both look and taste amazing.
Perhaps my biggest regret afterward was not trying their mac and cheese. It’s hard to go wrong with this dish, and everything else on their menu was incredible, so I can only imagine how good it must be. I suppose I will just have to revisit to find out. Other items on their menu well worth trying on the brunch menu are Linda’s Breakfast Burger ($15), made with bacon and a sunny side up egg, and the pancake or waffle combo with the chocolate chip flavor, fried catfish ($17), and Mary’s fish or shrimp and grits ($15) cooked in clam juice and green onions, topped with choice of fish or shrimp. Sides of candied yams and collard greens are the perfect addition to any of their classic dishes. For dessert, Natty’s banana pudding ($10) is a must try, and G2’s Fried Oreos ($7) are just as nostalgic as the Fruity Pebbles for those who have them at the LA County Fair each year.
It’s dining excursions like this one at Sista Mary’s that remind me how much I enjoy what I do, and why it’s great for everyone to step out of the familiar every now and then and try something new. Whether it’s for a special event or casual brunch or dinner, Sista Mary’s is the perfect place to visit with friends or family for an authentic soul food experience.