Hattie's: The Restaurant That Runs on Moms

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"It's not my first choice, but it's my first choice when my mother's in town." My friend issued those words when I asked her about Hattie's, the subject of this week's review.

Hattie's will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this fall. When researching the restaurant I asked tons of people what the Bishop Arts District was like a decade ago and what they thought of the restaurant.

Most described a scene that was fighting for its identity. The streets were quiet and restaurants leaned heavily on local residents' support. Hattie's shifted things, though, drawing on customers from the other side of the river who injected money into the neighborhood. Suddenly on Friday and Saturday nights the streets felt alive.

While the streets outside Hattie's have changed a lot, what's happening inside the restaurant is dated. While interviewing the owners and Lisa Arango, the original chef, I determined that at least half of the original menu remains untouched. I thought people might get bored with such a stale menu, but they obviously do not. Hattie's is consistently packed. That's why I started asking around: to try and understand the appeal.

I heard it four separate times completely unprompted from different friends. "I go to Hattie's when my parents are in town" and "I always take my mother to Hattie's." It's a clean, vibrant space with fresh flowers and good service. Boring or not, Hattie's exudes charm. I bet it's there another 10 years.

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