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[Photos: Nikki Goldstein]

There's something different about Mama's Food Shop from the minute you walk in. There's no hostess and no real menu, though the one-man-band behind the counter is more than happy to serve as both. But the dining room is almost too cute for words—charming, without the smallest shred of pretension. The recently-launched brunch is a real deal, with an entrĂ©e, side, and either coffee or juice for just $13: and for huge portions, no less.

The Meatloaf Sandwich, an all-beef affair, makes for a fantastic choice. It gets its punch of flavor from a bacon wrap and some heavy-duty basting—Midwestern homestyle, as the owner told me later. Moist and flavorful, it's spiced with a dash of horseradish instead of ketchup, giving it a certain je-ne-cest-quois that keeps you coming back for more. It's not exactly light—it's hangover food that tastes great with or without the load of drinks—so make sure to pick a less intense side, like the roasted sweet potatoes or grilled zucchini.

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I'm also a big fan of the Cornbread and Pork Stuffing topped with poached eggs—it comes flecked with big, peppery chunks of meat that add saltiness and texture to the soft, sweet cornbread crumbles. The eggs were just a bit overcooked, but how could I hold it against them? Dining at Mama's is like having brunch at friend's house, and you don't go to a friend's house to complain about slightly overcooked eggs (no matter how much the yolk matters).

Mama's Food Shop

200 East 3rd Street, New York NY 10009 (map)
212-777-4425
www.mamasfoodshop.com

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