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Soul food is one of the most popular types of Southern cooking. Dishes like rice, okra, oxtails, hog’s feet, fried chicken, and peach cobbler are soul food staples. Traditionally associated with African-American culture, soul food is also influenced by traditional Native-American cooking. Here’s a guide to some of the best spots to sample soul food in the Southern states.
In downtown Savannah, Georgia is Mrs Wilkes’ Dining Room where you can get wonderful Southern soul food. There’s no menu at Mrs Wilkes’, it’s a case of guests being ushered into the dining room where dishes are set out on the side for them to pick and choose from. There’s normally lots of fried chicken, meatloaf, beef stew, and sausage with black-eyed peas, cornbread, candied yams, and baked beans. Barack Obama has dined and other famous guests have included Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall.
Mrs Wilkes’ Dining Room, 107 W Jones Street, Savannah, GA, USA +1 912 232 5997
The Busy Bee Cafe is the one of the top places for soul food in Atlanta, Georgia, with five-star customer reviews. Back in 1947, Lucy Jackson set up the cafe on what’s now known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.
This Is It is where to head if you’re looking for soul food in Houston. Serving up delicious food since 1959, it’s now at its fourth location, having had to keep moving to accommodate diners. This Is It remains a family enterprise, and serves soul food classics like their breakfasts of Creole bread, pork chops, and ham and eggs, and lunches of oxtails, meatballs, ham hocks, and pork neck bones.
This Is It, 2712 Blodgett Street, Houston, TX, USA +1 713 521 2920
At Husk there’s a contemporary approach to Southern soul food. Award-winning chef Sean Brock takes a rigorous, research-based approach, with anything that isn’t from the South jettisoned, even olive oil, while flavors and ingredients that were used way back are brought together again. There’s a daily menu that shows off the best Southern produce, with dishes like roasted oysters and smoky bacon cream, fried chicken skins and pepper mash mayo, and glazed pig’s ear lettuce wrap with sweet vinegar marinated cucumber.
Alcenia’s in Nashville, Tennessee is run by Betty Joyce Chester-Tamayo and named for her mother, whose recipes were the basis of the menu and inspired Alcenia’s Cookbook. Alcenia’s is particularly known for the great desserts. On the menu are fried chicken, pork chops, and catfish, with pecan pie, pound cake and lemon pie to follow.
Alcenia’s, 317 N Main Street, Memphis, TN, USA +1 901 523 0200
Willie Mae Seaton set up shop in New Orleans in 1957 serving what’s been labelled America’s very finest fried chicken. Willie Mae’s serves up a soul food menu of their famous fried chicken, smothered veal, chicken tenders, and baked chicken with classic sides of mac ‘n’ cheese, fries, red beans, cornbread muffins, and fried okra.