Local Spotlight

Nostalgia Is a Two-Way Street at Mai's

Last week, we visited C&D Burger Shoppe for a heady dose of nostalgia along with our burgers and Frito pies. And although I didn't grow up eating C&D's mini burgers, the wood-paneled restaurant possessed such a striking sense of place that it was easy co-opt other people's nostalgia as my own.

This isn't the case at Mai's, whose chief draw before it burned down was the nostalgia that people felt for the place that fed them their first Vietnamese food or reinforced their alcohol-sodden stomachs with bun and pho after a long night out. Despite having my first pho at Mai's, I have no love for the place. Any nostalgia I may have ever felt for the restaurant has been erased by years of bad service and worse food.

Yet I recognize that I'm in the minority here, and that many more Houstonians will likely fume and spit at my cafe review of Mai's this week. And that's okay; nostalgia is a two-way street, and what comfort you find in a plate of bo luc lac may not be the same comfort others will find.

Instead of further ragging on Mai's -- which, to be fair, is a Houston institution despite my feelings on the matter -- I'd rather hear our readers' stories about the place. I'm interested to hear how nostalgia affects your view of Mai's, I'm curious to know about the stories you've heard and memories you've made there over the years.

So let's have it. What's your strongest memory of Mai's?

Check out this week's cafe review, then head to our slideshow to see more photos from Mai's brand-new building.

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Katharine Shilcutt