L-u-b-y-s and J-e-l-l-o

Lisa Gray has a wonderful story today in the Chronicle on Luby’s and general Houston nostalgia:

Remembrance of Luby’s Past

If you’re a native Houstonian, you ate at Luby’s as a kid.  Most of us ate there after church on Sundays, after a recital at school, before seeing a movie at the four-plex cinema down the road or just as a special treat to get out of the house.

I loved, l-o-v-e-d, loved Luby’s when I was little.  Their macaroni and cheese and fried okra were the end all and be all of fine cuisine as far as I was concerned.  And, as Lisa points out, their green Jell-O was a favorite dessert:

But the Jell-O remains, in all its jiggly splendor. At the beginning of the serving line, just after you’ve collected your tray, you face opaque lime-green squares, consorting unrepentantly with leafier, more virtuous salads.

Looking at that Jell-O, you know exactly where you are.

Even to this day, when I’m sick or feeling down, I ask for those three items from Luby’s: mac and cheese, fried okra and green Jell-O.  Just ask my poor husband, who makes the trek out to their To-Go window.

There’s something massively comforting about Luby’s.  I don’t know if it’s the consistency of the food and the decor in their cavernous dining rooms, the sweet memories of childhood or the fact that you’re usually surrounded by cute little old ladies who look like your grandma, but Luby’s will never get old for me.  And I will never get too old for Luby’s.

After all, you have to love a restaurant which has lent the name of its most popular dish to a character on that pinnacle and paradigm of Texas culture: King of the Hill.

10 thoughts on “L-u-b-y-s and J-e-l-l-o”

  1. From 1980 to 1986 my parents took me to Luby’s at least three times a week. I think I have eaten at Luby’s at least twice as much during my life as any other restaurant. In fact, when I went to college, my biggest thrill was that I could stop going to Luby’s.

    Still, I can see how someone might be comforted by their mac ‘n cheese and veal cutlet and chocolate ice box pie. Luby’s preserves a corner of Southern American cuisine that is hard to find anywhere else now.

  2. Yes, and I seem to remember, one weeknight evening at Luby’s back in 1987, a certain 7-year-old innocently, and in quite a *LOUD VOICE*, asking me if we were “sitting in the old people’s section” . Oh my, was I embarrassed!!!!!! I LOVE LUBY’S!!! I still miss the Piccadilly at Memorial City, tho. It was good too! Oh, and the old Albrittons…it broke my heart when they closed!!!!!

  3. that’s hilarious. i pulled up the article and saw a photo of my friend james and thought there was some sort of mix up. good plug for amnesia houston. luby’s isn’t the same anymore since pappas bought it out. not even the “gay luby’s” which is the one i go to.

  4. I have a friend who maps out Lubys locations as part of her travel plans. Funny, a multi million dollar enterprise that owes its heritage to yellow Mac-n-earnie, green jello and blue hairs.

  5. @ anonymouseater: I’m not saying their food is fantastic, obviously, just that there’s a lot to be said for nostalgia. Nostalgia can make even the most average food taste good, purely because of the memories it invokes.

    @ Jo: Heh.

    @ neverfull: The “gay Luby’s” is just hilarious. The Pappas influence can be mostly ignored by ordering their “old school” dishes and skipping the blackened crap. And now that James has a good plug for Amnesia Houston, he just needs to spruce up the site a bit!

    @ daddy-o: Delian??? If so, that’s awesome. 😀

  6. Ahhhh…the Luanne platter. Nothing finer when I was in junior high in Baytown. Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese followed by a giant piece of chocolate pie. 5000 calories for under 5 bucks.

  7. We worked in Huntsville for a week recently, and found the “Bob Luby’s” there was the best bet for dining out in Huntsville. A full service, full bar seafood restaurant also in the Luby’s family! Right on I-45, try it next time you go through.

  8. “And I will never get too old for Luby’s.”

    Of course not, I don’t think it’s possible to get too old for Luby’s. Luby’s is made for old people.

  9. I always loved Luby’s for its liver and onions. No one else in my family could stand the stuff and a trip to Luby’s was my only chance to get it.

    Man, I was a weird kid.

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