Dining Deals

$13 at Kitchen Kreations

Where: Kitchen Kreations (but the sign outside still says Milburn's Café), 8601 MLK Blvd. & Reed Rd., 713-738-3011

What $13 will get you: A euphoric food coma that lasts well into the evening. Doors are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; lunchtime saw a grown man giddily jumping and wringing his hands as he watched his plate fill up behind the counter.

The hefty lunch plates are layered first with enough white rice to feed a small family. You can have it flavored with gravy from any of the meat entrees--oxtail, baked chicken or pork chops. The juice from the oxtail made the rice just the right kind of spicy, and our server generously included bits of tender ox with his two full scoops (he'd have kept going if we didn't stop him).

Speaking of generous, one of the girls behind the counter ran out to replace our square of corn bread when a fresher batch came out. It was as moist as a bakery cake.

Two large pieces of baked chicken were all the way done. The dark meat was tender--very good when we decided to wimp it without the skin, then phenomenal when we caved in and did it right. The white was soft enough to flake out with a fork.

Which left us with the two overflowing bowls of sides--pinto beans with chunks of sausage, and sweet yams that we actually sampled and then quickly finished before touching anything else on the tray.

The small café has developed a religious following since owners Mia and Mona, both about 30, took over within the last year. They haven't gotten around to changing the name on the front of the building, though, so head to the corner of MLK and Reed and look for a "Milburn's Café" set behind the Shell station. It's across the street from the Burgers N More.

The atmosphere inside feels a bit like a family gathering in which loving aunts and cousins won't rest until you've eaten yourself silly. "It can't be every day," a girl behind the counter assured one dieting customer who was tempted by the addictive peach cobbler (which you can add to your lunch plate and still fall under the $13 mark).

Recommended? There's a reason people drive in from the North side.

Bonus point: The box of toothpicks at the register. It wouldn't feel right passing out on the couch afterward without a toothpick in our mouth.

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Mike Giglio
Contact: Mike Giglio