We still recoil at the thought of the deep-fried rib we were forced to try at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. Boiled pork coated in batter was a nightmare we hope to never relive.
The mental palate cleanser? A rack of profoundly smoky ribs from Mama D's, the new Southern cooking vendor in the Midtown Global Market.
Formerly a catering operation, Mama D's moved into its new booth last month. They're still working out some service kinks, but the makings of a smooth operation are in place: a smoker stocked with turkey legs, chicken, and ribs; big ready-to-scoop servings of mac-'n'-cheese, greens, and potato salad; and a fryer to crank out chicken wings and drummies.
To make it all even easier for you, Mama D's offers a pared-down menu for your lunch plate, which comes with one meat, one side, and a cornbread muffin for a reasonable $8.99. After 2 p.m., the dinner offerings expand to include chicken and waffles, rib tips, shrimp and grits, and more.
Our favorites by far were the smoked meats: Succulent turkey legs and real-deal smoky ribs will always get our blessing. We only wish the meat on the pulled pork sandwich were smokier, more like the classic Southern barbecue rendition: smoked pork that's been pulled and then tossed or topped with barbecue sauce. Instead, these are made with the standard Midwestern-style stewed pork, meat cooked in sauce and shredded. It's a tasty sandwich either way, but we lose that smoky goodness.
We appreciated the not-too-sweet, perfectly fried hushpuppies, the homemade mac-'n'-cheese, and a comforting, familiar potato salad. Collard greens are a requirement for any Southern-style feast, so we're glad to see them front and center here, though we wound up adding a few dashes of vinegar in ours.
The meats are the prize here. Go gobble up a turkey leg on your lunch break or grab a slab of ribs on your way home from work. This is feasting food, and we're happy to have Mama D's adding Southern flair to the global cuisine of MGM.
Mama D's Authentic Southern Cooking
Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis