Tupelo has been on my list of places to try for awhile now. My mom has been there before and has described it as “like Hungry Mother, but not as good…but still good.” Therefore, whenever we’re craving some southern comfort food, we end up down the street at Hungry Mother.
Last night we tried to get into Hungry Mother, but they were full! We then tried our luck at Tupelo and were able to get a table within 15 minutes.
Tupelo has a cozy atmosphere. The space is small, but not uncomfortably so. We were immediately given complimentary corn bread with butter. The bread was moist and sweet – a great start to the meal.
Our server told us about the fried alligator special on the appetizer menu. My mom, being from Florida, was skeptical about getting good alligator in the Northeast. When she asked if it was any good, he cringed a little and said “well, it’s alligator.” Assuming he was just a wimpy eater, we went ahead and ordered it. At least he was honest, I guess?
I haven’t exactly eaten a lot of alligator in my life, but I thought it was pretty darn good. The meat was actually very mild tasting and the batter was nicely seasoned. The remoulade was amazing. It was very spicy and a little tangy. It also came with some pickled cucumber, carrot, and ginger. I’m a huge fan of homemade pickles and these were superb.
I ordered the Texas brisket special, served with red beans, barbecue sauce, slaw, and more pickles (!). I thought it was good, but wasn’t blown away by it for some reason. My mom, on the other hand, loved everything on the dish. Maybe I'm just not be a huge fan of brisket and beans in general. The barbecue sauce was very good though, and we all know I loved the pickles and slaw.
My mom ordered the pan-fried catfish with cheddar grits, collard greens, and jalapeno remoulade. It was a simple but really well executed dish. The fish was perfectly cooked, the grits were rich and creamy, and the collards were sweet with a nice acidic bite.
We were totally full by the end of the meal, but the desserts sounded too good to pass up. We went with the chocolate bread pudding. I think it was made out of cinnamon sweet rolls, which was a nice surprise. It probably didn’t even need the chocolate, but it didn't hurt either.
I’m not sure it’s right to compare Tupelo with Hungry Mother; I think they’re totally different. Tupelo is more casual and a little less refined, but not necessarily in a bad way. I’m looking forward to coming back and trying new dishes.
1193 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02139