by Damon Noisette // photo by Agnes Lopez
Passing the riverfront mansions and parks along Ortega Boulevard, it’s easy to meander along and miss the turn to find Simply Sara’s Southern Cuisine and Homemade Delectables, tucked away in the triangular building at the corner of Corinthian and Oxford avenues.
Chef Sara “Sally” Mangham’s baked goods developed a cult following with her real estate clients and vendors, and after outgrowing a space at the Riverside Arts Market and a commercial kitchen in Murray Hill, she and her husband James opened Simply Sara’s in 2013. The concept is a family restaurant where the dishes are made from scratch, from the sauces to the breading, and all ingredients are sourced from the farmer’s market multiple days a week. It’s farm-to-table without being fussy.
The space is charming and inviting, with wood-topped tables and pink walls adorned with family pictures on the wall. A familial vibe is carried over to the menu where each night offers a new theme, like chicken and dumpling night (Tuesday) or seafood night (Friday). Grilled chicken breast ($12.99), mahi-mahi ($16.95), and a bacon wrapped filet mignon ($21.99) are available every day, as are veggie plates ($7.99-$8.99).
Saturday night’s appetizer and entrée options could never be mistaken for health food, with most of the dishes on the menu coming fried some way or another. Our table made a pact to try to exercise the next day and then set out with the eggplant fries served with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce ($8.49) and pimento cheese and crackers ($7.99).
I ordered the chicken fried chicken ($13.99), which was a reasonable portion and managed to be moist without being greasy. The boneless fried pork loin chop ($13.99) was similar to the chicken. A grilled boneless pork loin chop ($13.99), the only entrée we had that wasn’t fried, was served with a house made barbecue sauce that was the right mix of tangy and sweet. Another in our group went with the fried chicken livers ($13.99) and nodded with approval.
Table real estate is at a premium because each entrée comes with a choice of three sides. My favorite was the squash casserole, followed by the collard greens. The mashed potatoes were also enjoyable, thanks to the delicious white gravy.
Like the menu, the desserts change on a daily basis. My ears perked up at the mention of cobbler and after digging into the pineapple and strawberry cobbler, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, ($7) it was very clear why Sally’s baked goods were so successful around the area. We also shared the butter rum poundcake ($4), which went nicely with a scoop of ice cream.
Now that I know where to find Simply Sara’s, I'll be back for sure, probably for the pimento cheese sandwich—and most definitely for dessert.
Simply Sara’s Southern Cuisine and Homemade Delectables
2902 Corinthian Ave.; Ortega; 387–1000; simplysaras.net
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 AM-3 PM, 4-9 PM; Friday-Saturday, 11 AM-10 PM; Breakfast is available Saturday mornings
Prices: Appetizers $3.99-$11.49; Lunch $8.99–$11.99; Entrées $7.99-$21.99;
Every night is different: It’s a good idea to check the website or call ahead to see what the menu is going to be.
Use a GPS: Simply Sara’s is located in the heart of old Ortega in a mostly residential area making it a little difficult to find unless you’re looking or have the address plugged into your navigation system or phone.
Try a Two-fer: A special two-person menu is offered Tuesday nights for $30, with an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert to share.