Can mere mashed potatoes be bodacious? If so, the ones at Tony’s Southern Comfort qualify. Whipped to a fare-thee-well, they are anointed with a thinnish, mild cream gravy. The menu calls them “au gratin potatoes,” but the great cheesy, creamy, well-peppered spuds at Arkie’s Grill are more mashed than sliced; they’re available unpredictably, maybe once a month, so call first to avoid disappointment.
At the Mama’s Daughters’ Diner location on Royal Lane, where the decor includes brick floors, wood paneling, and red curtains with a rooster motif, the mashers resemble a pillow more than a root vegetable. Tiny solid bits are detectable amid the buttery swirl. Ask for some of the divine brown gravy, made from pot roast drippings. Framed autographed photos of Texas actress Angie Harmon and football legend Herschel Walker can’t distract the faithful at Kel’s Kitchen from the creamy mashed potatoes, interspersed with a few lumps for good measure. Snag a seat at one of the communal tables or settle into a booth at minuscule Vern’s Place, then tuck into a scoop of just-barely-nubby creamed potatoes, oozing with butter—your eyes may roll back in your head.
Served by a waitress with a name tag on her proper uniform, terrific mashed potatoes with cream gravy are an essential part of the total fried-chicken experience at Elmer’s, a homey spot that looks as if it got snagged in a time warp sometime around 1950.
The walls are painted in cool blues at Dixie House Cafe, but your mood will be warm when you taste the kitchen’s buttery spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. Small chunks of spud add just the right amount of texture, and a pool of cream gravy comes atop if you like. At Massey’s, a throwback to the fifties, stay in the mood with a big order of rich, old-fashioned mashed potatoes, fluffy white drifts with a slightly chunky texture.
Angela’s Café serves distinctively good mashed potatoes. Not starchy nor overly buttered, these are made the way the good Lord intended. Even though they come with an excellent brown gravy, we prefer them pure. No gravy, please, ma’am.
Silky smooth overall but with a lump or two for genuine homeyness, the exceptionally tasty mashed potatoes at Mr. and Mrs. G’s, a tidy, humble east side place, give carbs a good name. Thanksgiving-quality mashed potatoes—silky but just a little bit lumpy—take you home again at Earl Abel’s, a fifties-style dining room with loyal customers who look as if they’ve been going there since the restaurant opened, in 1933.
Small Town Gems — The Shed Café
With a front porch that makes you feel instantly at home (picture twinkling lights, a swinging screen door, and a checkerboard-topped table), the Shed supplies the tiny East Texas town of EDOM with good eats and yes-sir-no-ma’am hospitality. The Shed does right by CFS (aptly seasoned, crisply battered, and appropriately gravied) and other homey favorites, like an oniony hamburger steak. But it’s the homemade pie (with a daily list that rotates among some ten choices) that will make you overstay your welcome. The much-lauded buttermilk is so popular that it may be wiped off the Dry Erase board less than an hour into Sunday lunch. If it’s gone, have the heavenly lemon icebox instead or the lick-your-plate-licious pecan cobbler (yes, cobbler). SH