Friday Review: Sweet Mother’s Kitchen

Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, 5 Courtenay Place, Wellington

Even on a grey day, the outside tables are full

What it is: A cheap and cheerful New Orlean’s themed cafe in Wellington.  Also one of my favourite places to eat out.  And I’m only into good food, so that says a lot.

It's so cheerful!

The good:

Sooooooo yummy!  Everything is delicious, and it is so hard to pick what to eat that I always end up picking too many things and leaving in a food coma.

Some of my favourites: beignets, curly fries, pies (of all varieties), breakfast burritos, tacos, quesadillas.

Mmmm...tacos...and tapatio. Happiness!

Also, the tea.  It comes in tea pots.  With wool tea cozies knitted by Sweet Mother herself (the restaurant owner’s mother).  And mis-matched real bone china teacups and saucers.  How could you not love it!?!

So cute!

The prices are also fabulous.  Compared to the other pseudo Latin/Southern American food in Wellington they are giving the stuff away.  And it’s much better than most of the other places, which are ridiculously overrated (yeah, I’m talking about you Flying Burrito Brothers!)

The bad:

SMK is so popular that they don’t take reservations.  Be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes for an inside table at almost all times, and just as much for an outside table unless the weather is really, really, hideously bad.

It has plastic wrestling figurines on the light fixtures. How could it not be ridiculously popular?

The only bad food item is the virgin bloody mary.  Don’t believe what anyone tells you: unless you like drinking canned tomato juice that reeks of oregano, the stuff is bloody awful.  And when I say reeks, I mean it.  If oregano repelled zombies like garlic does vampires, a glass of this stuff a day would make you safe as houses when the zombie apocalypse happens.

Bad. So bad.

The ugly:

OK, not ugly-ugly, more fabulously-ugly.  It’s the decor.  As far as I can figure out, SMK started out with a slightly retro-kitsch Mardi-Gras look, and people started bringing them stuff to add to it, and they just stuck anything they were brought up on the walls.


You can visit SMK just for the decor: to read the random notes that customers have written, to goggle at the anatomically questionably double portraits celebrating Charles and Diana’s wedding, to identify all the wrestling figurines (this is Mr Dreamy’s favourite part) and the exotic fruit (and random vegetables) on the strings of lights (this is my favourite part).

Happy Mr Dreamyness

I have no idea what that fruit is. Maybe a cashew apple?

That is a starfruit (carambola) and a strawberry. For some reason I think it is really funny that they are on the same string.

That is a fennel bulb. Next to the strawberries and the starfruit. Awesomness.

Uhhh..why is this on a costuming blog?

I’ve never reviewed a restaurant before.  This is interesting.  I’m not exactly sure what it has to do with costuming, but as I am inspired by the most random stuff, I can see myself making a SMK dress  – something casual, definitely vintage/retro, with a little bit of New Orleans flair and definitely a novelty print!

How about something like this 1950s novelty print sundress, but with a print inspired by the awesome plastic light strings, rather than nuts?

I'd wear it without the hideous, overly-large petticoat though!

They are cracked and uncracked walnuts! Is that fantastic or what!?!

This sundress is a little more Miami than New Orleans, but still fabulous.

1950s halter dress. It's perfect just as it is!

This bikini has the perfect feel, and is sooooo adorable, but I wouldn’t be brave enough to wear it to the restaurant!

Vintage 40s Novelty Print 3 Piece Bikini Swimsuit & Skirt

Yep.  I definitely need a tropical fruit novelty print SMK vintage dress!


  1. This is funny. I saw “Friday Review” and wondered “what, is it already Friday?” and then I realised you lived in New Zealand.
    Phew. Otherwise it would mean I’ve missed an awesome book fair that’s taking place this weekend! Thankfully, I have not.

    My favourite part is the – apparent – plush Garfield (the red feline rear end in the action figurine photo), which I’m familiar with from some cars’ windows…

  2. I like the cut of the dresses, but the prints…ugh. As bad as the kitsch on Sweet Mother’s Kitchen’s walls.

    I have a food blog…I should do restaurant reviews. Maybe I will sometime.

  3. “If oregano repelled zombies like garlic does vampires, a glass of this stuff a day would make you safe as houses when the zombie apocalypse happens.” That’s a great tip, I’ll have to add a little chopped oregano to my daily cider vinegar/garlic swill. I covered vampires but left out zombies. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

    This place looks great, reminds me of hole-in-the-wall eateries in Austin. How I miss delicious, cheap dining culture. They do the same thing in Austin, sticking various bits and pieces to the walls.


  4. Kathy P says

    I love that bikini. It’s adorable.
    could the mystery fruit possibly be a very bad representation of a pineapple? I’m not sure I could eat at SMK- I’d be so busy looking at stuff I’d forget about my food.

    • That is what the wait is for Kathy – to give you plenty of time to look at all the stuff! And the rest of the fruit is so accurate that I suspect the mystery fruit isn’t pineapple.

  5. Beth D. says

    damn it, random typing ended up in previous post, please ignore. also, now I’m hungry for tacos…

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