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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

An Extended Family Gathers in Mother's Kitchen

October 04, 1990|ZAN DUBIN

The beautiful and fit flock to Mother's Market and Kitchen in Costa Mesa, but the health food emporium that makes others look like AM PM Mini Marts has an unpretentious feel, with the Birkenstock crowd gathering there as well.

In addition to a terrific market with more kinds of rice cakes, tofu, vitamins and bean sprouts than Jack LaLanne could crave, Mother's has a small but super restaurant that serves fresh, delicious food to a loyal group of regulars and the uninitiated in a sky-lit room ringed with pastel nature murals.

Omelets and multigrain pancakes, soups, creative salads, veggie pita pockets, thick, meatless chili and a popular steamed vegetable and brown rice platter with peppery mushroom sauce contribute to a large, moderately priced menu. Everything can be ordered to go.

For die-hard health foodies, there are such exotics as textured soy protein marinated in a rich red barbecue sauce, sides of brown rice, baked potato or yam. Of course, soy milk "cheese" can be substituted for the fattier real thing in various dishes.

But burgers-and-beer types need not scowl. I brought one such friend, who seemed to happily munch down a spicy vegetarian burrito and slurp an icy, thick fruit smoothie. He, like me, was also overtaken by Mother's killer corn bread, dense and leaden as an adobe brick.

Sunday brunch and dinner almost always mean a 15-minute wait, but there's plenty to amuse. Sign your name to the list and stroll over to inspect the deli case, organic produce or gifts and good card selection, or just sit and listen to new age music while you watch lanky cyclists, beefy bodybuilders and young couples with their kids walk by. Mellow acoustic guitar or flute is played on Friday and Saturday nights.

Mother's also has a second outlet in Huntington Beach.

Mother's Market and Kitchen, 225 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa. (714) 631-4741; 19770 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-6667. Both restaurants open daily, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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