You often hear people complaining about the “homogenization of American food,” and we can attest that on our Spring Fling across the southern US we’ve seen our share of ubiquitous fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
Even restaurants that were once somewhat unique like Chili’s and Chipotle have become commonplace. So we’re always looking for something unusual – a fun restaurant with character that has delicious food.
Thanks to a recommendation from our friend Rusha over at Oh, the Places We See, we knew where we were heading before we even arrived in Natchez. Fat Mama’s Tamales! It’s not often we can track down a good, authentic handmade tamale.
Rusha’s great post will give you the lowdown, so let us just dazzle your eyes with Mexican temptation that will have you beating a path straight to Natchez, Mississippi and the big lady herself.
James settled for a Louisiana Abita Springs beer, but I had to go for the “Knock You Naked Margarita.” In answer to your question, let me just say, “Yes!”
And just like Rusha and Bert, we opted for the Gringo Pie – a medley of tamales smothered in chili with onions and jalapenos. We took one look at it and said, “We’ll be having salads tonight!”
We have a lot of Mexican restaurants in the UK but I have never really taken to it. I like chilli con carne but that’s American isn’t it?
Andrew, that’s a great question! I had to check wikipedia and it looks like you are right. We certainly have lots of different styles of chili here in the States – enough to launch regional contests to determine who makes the best. I grew up on “Northern Chili” and James grew up on “Southern Chili” – often the difference is the inclusion of beans … or not. Which kind is your favorite? ~Terri
In the UK we always have red kidney beans in our chilli. Taste is adjusted by the amount of chili powder or sometimes the real thing! When I was a boy I had never heard of Chili con carne of course but now it is a regular sort of meal in these here parts!
It sounds like you and I have the same taste because I grew up on the kidney bean version. Now James and I compromise and use garbanzo beans. James cooks a mean chili and his secret ingredient is a small touch of cocoa powder! 🙂 ~T
interesting tip. I’ll try it one time & see if Kim notices the difference!
how lucky for me to be online where i can enjoy this latest post! i was telling someone about fat mama’s this past week! it’s not in the same location as i remember, but i’m not surprised that it had growing pains…
those cold margaritas were wonderful on a hot summer day, but abita beer? oh my, you’re really tempting me! i’d forgotten about abita!
the photos are great and fun and colorful!
Hi Lisa, I bet you remember Fat Mama’s when it was in the log house (I’ve seen photos). Now it’s in a new building, but I don’t know for how long. The margaritas were surprisingly good, and the Abita reminded James of our New Orleans days.
It was so good to go back to Natchez. I’m running the post about your house on Monday so I hope you can get online then – I’ll send up a little offering to the internet gods. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend! ~Terri
do they still give those bright round stickers and ‘happy’ straws that make such great advertising? it was always easy to spot the tourists who had cooled off w/a margarita, and i always smiled.
yes, that log cabin was in a great spot, and the shady outside deck was my favorite perch.
i’ll be visiting friends/painting in the cloudforest on sat – wed and am not sure what days we’ll ‘come out’ — it’s a 4wd thirty minute drive to civilization, but wow, what an oasis! most likely monday will be ‘the’ trip-to-town day!
I love Mexican food and had a fabulous meal at Sadie’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico last week. Like you folks, we try to find places that are local, interesting and not part of a chain. I think I would like Fat Mama’s. ( I’d love to try the “Knock You Naked Margarita.” )
It looks like we are of like minds, Darlene. And now I know where to go the next time we’re in Albuquerque! 🙂 Fat Mama’s was so laid back with a great menu, and the margarita was surprisingly good. We’re so glad that Rusha recommended it. ~Terri
Great! We are now seeing McDonalds on the Indian highways. At least, the loos are clean. Pissing on the highway will soon be a thing of the past !
Too funny Rajiv. We’ve always said that McDonald’s “golden arches” are the international symbol for loo! ~Terri
Everything about this place looks fabulous! 🙂 Tamales and margaritas… heaven!
Lynda, you would love it! You could almost imagine that you’re back home in Texas – well at least close. 🙂 I don’t guess you get too many tamales there in Dubai. ~Terri
Looks fantastic, what an interesting place to eat. Thanks for the tip….maybe, one day.
Keiry, it was wonderful! Some of the best tamales I’ve had outside of Mexico. Can you find Mexican food there in Paris? (Of course, you may not want to with all that stunning French food around. 🙂 ) ~Terri
What a fun little place. Although, after a few margaritas, that bright yellow interior and all of the festive colors might make my head spin a bit. Is that how you celebrated Cinco de Mayo?
Laura, Fat Mama’s definitely rocks the “vibrant meter” when it comes to color! One of my favorite touches was the “bottle cap art” because I’d never seen it before. We were there a few days before Cinco de Mayo when I’m sure the place would be standing room only. Did you have a cool Cinco? ~Terri
The bottle cap art is neat! We went to a cooking demo at MOV and then made tacos at home. A nice relaxing day!
everything looks colorful just amazing feeling when i see this.
Amresh, the place is like a fiesta for the eyes it’s so colorful. 🙂 And the food is delicious. ~Terri
Yaa it’s just amazing 🙂
I love that city!!! SO fun. Thanks for the memories.
You’re welcome Laurie! We hadn’t visited in several years so it was fascinating to see what had changed or remained the same. Still the same gorgeous houses, great food, and friendly people. 🙂 ~Terri
I l.o.v.e quaint and unique places to eat This one takes the cake. So colorful and better still because of your food recommendation. Sad, I’ll never get to visit.
Great pictures. Really capture that special essence.
Tess, it was totally a hoot! You know when a place is full of local folks that it must be good. Add on top of that the “bottle cap” art from millions of beer bottles, well, what more could you ask for. And I learned long ago to never say never – you DID just go to China! 🙂 ~Terri
Egg-zac-kolly. Never say never. 😀 Sometimes life is more than awesome. It’s stupendous.
The place looks like a fiesta waiting to happen – Love the colors! Anita
Great description Anita! I’m sure that you see lots of these vibrant colors where you are … and the great food. It’s just not as common here. 🙂 ~Terri
If only Chipolte had this much character! Love the doors and decor – I bet the food was amazing!
So true Ashley. All the employees would have to wear sunglasses. 🙂 My favorite part of the decor was the bottle cap art – a lot of beer bottles gave their lives for that! ~Terri
I love Mexican food and this post but the title of this one is best of all!
So glad you like the title Sue. When I saw the bumper sticker I knew just what to do. 🙂 ~Terri
I love dreaming up titles for blog post Terri. This one was so clever I had title envy,
What sensational colours!
Thanks Bron. I bet you’re seeing lots of great color in your travels, too. So glad you stopped by. ~Terri
This is the type of restaurant we like to frequent. The big box stores are soulless and their food homogenized into boredom. The kind of people who build and run the small restaurant are passionate about food. It is not haute cuisine, but it is good food that makes you return again and again. These folks work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, because they are so personally involved with what they cook. Their restaurant is part of them. Very few of them are classically trained but that does not negate in any way the quality of food they put on a plate. The restaurant business has an incredible high rate of failure and if we want these business to continue to survive we must support them.
Virginia, what wonderful insight you have into the business of small restaurants who are passionate about their food. I suspect this comes from personal experience. I agree with you about how we can all help these small businesses survive – support them. In this case that’s got to be an easy job. 🙂 I’m thrilled that Rusha sent us their way. So glad you stopped by. ~Terri
Now look what you’ve gone and done! You’ve made me hungry. I love your beautiful colorful photos. And I need to come across a “which way” sign like your last photo for my blog but we’re a long way from Natchez!
Thanks Carol. Isn’t that sign great? I thought of you when I took the photo – think everyone needs one. So exactly where are you now – UK, US ??? ~Terri
We’re in Arizona soon to be back in the UK. I need to take a trip to Land’s End in Cornwall – the westernmost tip of England. They have one of those signs there but yours is sooo colorful!
With a name like ‘knock-you-naked-marguarita’, I would simply have to try it 🙂
LOVED the sign post in a rainbow of colours!
Isn’t that just the perfect name for a margarita, Joanne? And they weren’t kidding – it packed a wallop! And wouldn’t it be fun to have a sign post like that. 🙂 ~Terri
This sounds like my kind of place! Thanks for sharing!
With your love of vibrant color you would definitely love it there. They might even be able to whip up a “Skinny Pirate” for you. 🙂 ~Terri
I feel a road trip coming on!
This place looks amazing, but I’m especially taken with that bottle cap alligator! I love art made from trash (there’s got to be a classier way to describe it!) and have a few sculptures made from old soda cans… but bottle cap art is new to me! What a neat find.
Miranda, I’ve always loved trash art too! It’s the ultimate recycling. James’s Dad was a master – he created victorian doll house furniture from old Coke cans. It was so cool. So discovering bottle cap art was a fun find. ~Terri
Wonderful! And love that gator. 🙂
Thanks Pam. The bottle cap gator made my day … along with the tamales! 🙂 ~Terri
What a colourful place 🙂
Marie, it produced an instant smile when we walked through the door! 🙂 ~Terri
This colorful post has made my day! You’ve photographed numerous things we didn’t even see when we visited — like that cute bottle cap gator. Maybe we were focused on eating instead — something we do quite well! Thanks again for the link to Oh, the Places We See. Great to know we both love local color and good eats in the Old South.
Rusha, Your wonderful post launched it all. 🙂 When we read it last summer we both said, “Now that’s our kind of place!” The bottle cap art was hanging to the left of the door as you enter. There was lots of it, but people were sitting there so we could only snap the gator. Thanks again for the great recommendation! ~Terri & James
I am salivating at the mention of tamales and chili. I miss a good restaurant, and I will not stop at McDonald’s or Burger King, which are everywhere in Europe. Sadly for me, much of the food in Spain is bland, and I miss the mix of spices and seasonings – especially the hot stuff.
Your stories from the Southland whet my appetite to see and learn more about a part of the country I have never seen outside of New Orleans. It sounds like a foreign country to a Pacific NW native, but that’s okay. I now have lots of experience with foreign countries. 🙂 – Mike
Mike, you would love this spicy food! Not as hot as what we had in Mexico, but tasty nonetheless. And the place was just so darn happy. 🙂
One of the things I love about the US is all the regional differences. When my family moved from Chicago to Kentucky in my senior year of high school I felt like I’d been dropped in a foreign land, but I’ve had a love affair with the South ever since. James and I have since lived in just about every region of the US, including the Pacific NW (loved it), but we keep getting drawn back to the South. Hope you get to explore it someday. Given your experience with foreign countries … I think you’re ready! 🙂 ~Terri
Love the tub! I’d ditch the plants and climb right in 🙂
The best Mexican food I’ve had was in San Diego, a long while back, but still memorable. Don’t ask me the venue though- I’d have to dig the travel diaries out.
Jo, it is rumored that the tub used to be empty, but after “certain events” is was filled full of dirt and flowers. Hmmm. 🙂 And San Diego has to be a great place to get tasty Mexican food. I remember we used to have a favorite Mexican place in London when we lived there, but I can’t remember the name. 🙂 ~Terri
Wow, so many cool places to visit! Is there enough time? 😉
LuAnn, It seems that just as quickly as I drain a few drops out of my travel bucket list, I find destinations that fill it back up! 🙂 ~Terri
I know just what you mean! 🙂
We have a great place here in Shanghai. The prices are super too. It is great having such a diverse expat community.
I totally agree with you about the joys of having a diverse expat community. Does your place in Shanghai serve Mexican food or something else? ~Terri
There are a ton of restaurants around Shanghai to cater to expats no matter what your taste. Some better than others. The place I was talking about is Mexican food… and it is SO GOOD! The other good thing is it doesn’t have the high expat prices!
The food looks fantastic. And this Northerner never passes up an Abita when they’re available.
You’re right Mike! James said he never passes up an Abita if he can get one – or a Negra Modelo! 🙂 ~Terri
Thanks Mike. FYI, on your next trip to NOLA, drive over the Lake Ponchartrain bridge to Abita Springs (50 miles) and do the brewery tour. The beer tasting is fun, and Abita Springs is a fun little town to wander around (and have a beer of course) Also while in the area, check out historic Mandeville and Madisonville. It’s a fun break from the wackiness of the Quarter. ~James
Did exactly that during our trip in February, James. Fresh Abita is the best Abita! And for a late lunch, we stumbled onto a really neat place overlooking Pontchartrain. It was a perfect day.