Are you looking for a neighborhood joint serving up lip-smacking food? Look no further than Mama Sheila’s, a new soul food restaurant at 38th and Bloomington (not far from another just-opened soul spot: Funky Grits).
Mama Sheila has been cooking since she was 15 years old, and her experience and expertise are evident in every bite. Before you head over, here are five things to know about her restaurant.
5. It’s soul food with a side of music.
Yep, that’s a gorgeous painting of Mama Sheila herself to your left at the entrance. Don’t miss the similarly sized portrait of Aretha Franklin near the register, or the one of Prince. Mama Sheila’s is filled with paintings and photos of black entertainers ranging from Billie Holiday and The Commodores to Beyoncé and BB King. A TV on the wall screens R&B music videos from the ‘90s, so you can enjoy your plate of food to the sounds of TLC, Atlantic Starr, and Salt-N-Pepa.
4. Right now, they’re only in their soft-open phase.
Mama Sheila’s opened softly last week, using the time to practice, tweak, and adjust where needed in order to make the restaurant the best it can be. During this time, they’ve offered table service and takeout—sometimes only takeout on nights when they’re a bit short-staffed—but they plan to offer a buffet on Sunday, August 26.
3. But the place is hopping.
Mama Sheila’s hasn’t done too much to promote the soft opening—they haven’t had to, with everyone who visits enthusiastically posting photos and recommendations online. Despite not being officially open, it is busy. Early on a Tuesday evening, we counted five individual diners, one couple, a pair of friends, and two families with four kids between them over the span of 20 minutes.
2. The menu is extensive.
The hardest thing about visiting Mama Sheila’s was resisting the urge to order the entire menu. The sides alone could keep a diner very occupied: red beans and rice, cornbread, candied yams, collard greens with turkey, mac and cheese… For your entrée, you have the option to order combo dishes, entrées with one side, baked chicken dinner with one side, or fried chicken dinner. Catfish, meatloaf, beef short ribs—they’ve got it all.
1. This is food that satisfies.
After one bite of the jerk chicken thigh, we were totally hooked. Juicy and tender, the chicken was robed in the most flavorful paste of pepper and spices. The mac and cheese provided all the gooey cheesiness you want interspersed with crispy bits of the baked cheese crust. The veggie greens were some of the best we’ve ever had, and—despite having sat in a takeout container—the batter on the fried chicken wings was light and crispy and the meat simply fell off the bone. Even trying to savor every bite, we polished off our meals in 15 minutes flat. It’s that good.
Mama Sheila's Soul Food Kitchen
3744 Bloomington Ave. S., Minneapolis