Flossie’s exterior doesn’t look like much, with a spare sign and a Yukon Square strip mall location that adjoins a liquor store and laundromat. However, Sandra Foster and late mother Flossie transformed the Torrance setting near El Camino College and Alondra Golf Course into a soul food institution, beginning by opening in 1991.
The restaurant hasn’t seen natural light in years, as a fluorescent glow bathes everything, including paintings of Foster’s native Mississippi, shelves of jarred pickles, and the metal cafeteria-style bins of vegetables and entrees, which change daily. However, the fluorescent lighting must work like some kind of incubator, since the vibe remains somewhat warm and inviting.
Flossie’s is especially popular on Sundays with the after-church crowd, who floods the small space for an expanded menu. However, the restaurant draws a steady stream of customers throughout the week, who all fill Styrofoam containers with multiple proteins and sides. Flossie’s delivers a mountain of soul food, but it’s not as heavy as most similar concepts, since they don’t cook vegetables with pork fat, and even the fried food is relatively restrained. During my most recent visit, they had fried, baked or BBQ chicken, fried catfish and red snapper, each $14.99, complete with a choice of three sides and beverage. Basically, expect to eat an obscene amount of food, unless you’re willing to consume until uncomfortable, or comfortable with leftovers.
We only got one dinner, Beef Ox Tails, a luxury item at $18.99, the same price as fried jumbo shrimp. The sticky shreds of meat clung to the chambers in the cross sections of cow tail. Our sides consisted of crusty-but-not-dry mac and cheese, turnip greens that paired well with a few shakes of chile-infused vinegar, and corn pudding, with whole kernels, but minus cloying sweetness. We opted for sweet tea as our beverage, and it was over-the-top sweet, just like in the South.
We received a choice of biscuits or muffins and opted for semi-sweet cornbread muffins, which were fine on their own, and elevated when treated to more of that spicy vinegar.
One of Flossie’s best innovations has got to be offering fried chicken a la carte. They fry each piece in canola oil, one more indication that this place is healthier than typical Southern establishments. The lightly battered bird had a crisp crust that locked in plenty of natural juices.
Since we opted for by-the-piece chicken, we sacrificed our chance to snag more sides. Black eyes peas, which are good luck on New Year’s, also sounded good, as did mustard greens and collards.
Chile’d vinegar and hot sauce were winning tablemates.
Mississippi Hot Tamales are popular in the Mississippi Delta, and this has got to be one of the only places in L.A. to find them. Flossie’s charges $3 for a trio of small tamales with some pretty flavorful, spice-soaked masa shrouding lean shredded beef. Flossie’s wraps their tamales in corn husks and partially submerges them in spicy chile-spiked broth. Scissor-cut twine was still attached to the husks, but for a buck apiece, that wasn’t a problem.
Our dessert was peach cobbler, which may or may not have incorporated fresh peaches, but did taste pretty good, with firm crust that wasn’t too sweet. Flossie’s also sells apple cobbler, sweet potato tarts, banana and bread pudding, and German chocolate cake.
Flossie’s remains an L.A. soul food landmark, and they’ve done it the hard way, by eliminating pork fat (and pork, period) and relying on the natural flavors of the food. Imagine that.
Street Gourmet LA
January 25, 2012 at 5:23 PM
Hot Tamales!!!! Red hots!