Chicken Sandwich With Potatoes. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Not Your Mother’s House 

Mother’s House has all the comfort food of home packed in a food truck

Dining at Mother’s House sort of feels like coming home — with better fried chicken and fewer questions about my future. 

Despite being a takeout food truck that doesn’t resemble my childhood home in the slightest, there’s a warmth both in food and hospitality to the “Texas comfort food” cart located in the parking lot of the Wandering Goat.

I came to Mother’s House to try their chicken sandwich after being told by a friend that it was “the best chicken sandwich in Eugene by a longshot.” It was a high praise considering this friend is a self-proclaimed “savant” and a cook at one of Eugene’s most popular food carts, Danang. 

I kept coming back to the truck for the people.

At Mother’s House, it’s not uncommon for co-owner Jade Harper to check in and ask how you liked your food while you ecstatically nod in between bites of a life-affirming hunk of fried chicken.

Named after Harper’s grandmother “Mother,” Mother’s House pays homage to Harper and her partner Chris Jemal’s Tex-Mex roots. 

“Mother was the main food person in my life,” Harper says. “So I knew I had to name it after her.” She adds that some of her fondest memories related to food took place in Mother’s kitchen where she would make tamales and homemade flour tortillas. Mother was the only one in the family who knew how to make those tortillas until Jemal came along.

“Years later, Chris and I got together and he tried to make the flour tortillas and he got it down and they tasted just like Mother’s. It was weird,” Harper says.

Both worked in restaurants in Texas for a number of years before the couple moved to Eugene in 2016 for nicer weather and continued working as cooks and servers at Plank Town, Chicken Bonz and Tavern on Main in Springfield.

Jemal and Harper have known they wanted to start a food truck for a long time and began planning for it in October 2022. It wasn’t until the two of them were laid off from their restaurant gigs during the COVID shutdowns in 2020 that the two began to turn their food truck dreams into a reality.

“We really wanted to bring food that we loved in Texas like kolaches (a sweet dough pastry filled with either fruit or meat and cheese) and chips and queso to Oregon,” Harper says.

Harper and Jemal opened their truck in 2022 outside of Heritage Distilling Company in the Whiteaker, then Thinking Tree Spirits. Harper describes their first year as “tough” for a plethora of reasons: too big of a menu, rising food costs and a location that didn’t attract as many comfort food lovers as they had hoped.

“Nobody was coming up to read our menu so we got this big menu board and still we just weren’t getting the business we had hoped,” Harper says.

It wasn’t until Wandering Goat management became regulars at the cart, which serves what Goat General Manager Aaron Maltz calls the “chicken sandwich of your daydreams,” that things started to turn around. 

“We initially met Mother’s House one hungry afternoon through your standard food service trade; in this case, coffee for chicken sandwiches,” Maltz says. “We immediately loved them, their vibe and their product, and it seemed obvious to ask them to fulfill our decades-long vision” of having made-to-order food with coffee. After a few months of sketching and measuring, we sealed the deal over a breakfast sandwich.”

Wandering Goat offered them a spot in their parking lot, and in March 2023 the cart reopened as a breakfast cart serving egg sandwiches, tacos, potatoes and — of course — its famous fried chicken sandwich.

Chris Jemal and Jade Harper. Photo by Todd Cooper.

“The chicken sandwich stole the show,” Harper says. “And it’s probably because of Chris’ obsession with fried chicken.”

Jemal’s first kitchen he ever worked in was a KFC when he was 16, so Harper says his love for fried chicken “runs deep.” 

Jemal uses pasture-raised chicken thighs that he marinates in buttermilk then coats in a simple batter of flour along with salt, pepper, garlic, onion salt and paprika. The chicken is topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese, pickles, mayo and sandwiched between homemade bread that is baked onsite. 

The egg sandwiches use eggs bought from Willow Oak Farm and come with pickled red onion as well as Tillamook cheddar cheese and served on the homemade bread. 

As a nod to their Tex-Mex roots and to Mother, both Jemal and Harper agreed it was important to include migas tacos on their menu, which are scrambled eggs, pico de gallo and Tillamook cheddar cheese — with homemade fried tortilla chips and green hot sauce. 

Harper is pleasantly surprised by how popular their migas tacos have been, she says. “I didn’t think they would be so popular, but I’m glad they are because that is our little Tex-Mex thing we get to share with everyone.”

 Mother’s House is located at 268 Madison Street. Hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Find on Instagram @MothersHouseOregon