Gustavo Arellano: The Myth of Mom-and-Pop Restaurants


I feel like we all know this, but it’s a truth that dare not speak its name. Like that some babies are kind of ugly.


Yeah, I know that many of us, both to not waste time writing and avoiding punching down, avoid talking about bad meals unless someone specifically asks about a place.

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Exactly. The “mom & pop” restaurant is by definition devoid of cynicism, not about cashing in, pure in its mission and in its heart. So how can you, in good conscience, say that the food…sucks? Well, you should, if it does. Perpetuating an emperor’s-new-clothes situation isn’t good for anyone.

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How weird, I guess that’s what I get for being a not-properly-tuned in younger-than-GenXer? I didn’t realize that believing that mom & pop restaurants served inherently superior food was even A Thing. (An Inherently Morally Superior place to spend one’s money, sure, of course :roll_eyes:, but necessarily better food? No :wink:) Some of the objectively grossest (occasionally not obviously truly edible) food I’ve ever been served has been found at “mom & pop” restaurants (or for that matter, in now-fairly-long-ago-days, served to me by Other People’s Moms…)

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Well that’s always been the goal of Roadfood,
finding the worthy, delicious, and unique regional specialties, food , drink, and atmosphere among the specific category of independent, “mom & pop” type places , because there are a great many that are mediocre or worse, depending on the Sysco truck just like the bigger places.
The landscape has gotten more bleak these last 10 years, I’m afraid.

Yeah, me neither. I always grew up hearing:

“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”

That’s from A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren (1956).

Merry Christmas all. Back to my fish stew.



Merry belated Christmas to you as well!