Friday, October 23, 2009
Foodie Fridays: Babe's and Ricky's Inn
Abby and Shevin initially bonded over their mutual love of boba during their freshman year at USC and have since been together and enjoying all of LA's wonderful culinary offerings. They both love to travel, explore, and most importantly eat!
It seemed like a great idea for FoundTrack to introduce a food column. Let's face it, those of us who enjoy art, film, fashion, and music usually have a soft spot for great dining experiences as well. So now, these two young Angelenos will have the chance to share some of their favorite tasty spots in LA with all of you fun people through Foodie Fridays.
If you have any recommendations you think should be considered for the column, please send an email to foodiefridays at foundtrack dot com. Eat on!
Babe's and Ricky's Inn
4339 Leimert Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
On our most recent foodie adventure, Shevin and I headed to a Los Angeles cultural landmark, Babe's and Ricky’s Inn in Leimart Park. This is by no means the vision of a trendy restaurateur serving contemporary fusion cuisine. What you can expect here is the smooth sound of the city’s best jazz and blues music, and the rich flavors of homemade soul food.
I first started visiting this South LA establishment when I was an undergrad at USC, due to its great vibe and proximity to campus. But even since moving away from the neighborhood, I am still a loyal customer and haven’t found a place with more history and character in the entire city.
The founder of Babe's and Ricky’s, Laura Mae Gross (but better known as Mama), passed away earlier this month. There is no better way to pay tribute to her than to enjoy a night of music and soul food, whether it's your first time there or your fiftieth. Mama was a beacon of her community, a fabulous cook, and a successful entrepreneur. The blues bar's first incarnation, Laura's BBQ, started in 1957 after Mama's husband was mugged and killed and she had to support her kids as a single mother. She resorted to what she knew best: food and music. Babe's and Ricky's was opened seven years later in 1964.
For over 50 years, Babe's and Ricky's has been an anchor of the Leimart Park community. Mama has welcomed customers into her bar and encouraged them to leave their problems, disputes, and worries outside. An evening at Babe's and Ricky's means spending time enjoying delicious food and getting lost in the sweet sound of great jazz musicians.
While I could go off on a tangent about the amazing jazz and blues performers that have graced the stage at Babe's and Ricky’s (B.B. King, Bobby Bland, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson…. umm WOW! Right?) I recommend you experience it firsthand. And there's no better time to do so than their famous Monday open mic night featuring an amazing soul food buffet included with the $10 cover.
Each patron is entitled to a large helping of fried chicken, black eyed peas, green beans, collard greens, potato salad, pasta salad, sausage, and hush puppies. My personal favorite is the collard greens, soaked in flavor and of perfect consistency. It’s hard not to fill a whole plate with greens alone.
The chicken is crispy, flavorful, and juicy, but never overly greasy. This recipe has undoubtedly been passed down for generations and took years of trial and error to perfect. And let me tell you, perfection has been achieved.
The hush puppy is a treat I let myself indulge in every so often. These fried southern staples are pretty much the best thing ever invented: a cross between a biscuit and cornbread.
Following the buffet, perfectly fluffy pieces of yellow and chocolate cake are brought out for dessert.
The setting is modest (plasticware and paper plates), and the bargain priced drink menu sticks to the standards. But if you show up on an average Monday for a fun night out with a group of good friends, or on a date with someone special, be prepared to leave your troubles at the door and get lost in a pile of collard greens and the outstanding melodies of legendary jazz and blues.
-Arrive by 9:00 or 9:30 on a Monday night if you want to secure some good seats. The booths fill up fast. (Food comes out at 10:30 and the show goes till about midnight)
-Make sure you serve yourself big portions because there are no seconds.
- If you want to go another night of the week, you can still order food but the free buffet is only on Monday nights.
This post is in memory of Mama!
Photos by Jennifer Saracino.
NEXT TIME on Foodie Fridays: We'll be giving you the scoop on the delicious Japanese fare at Yuko Kitchen.