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.
Restaurant, [object Object], $$$
Bully’s has been a fixture in Jackson, Mississippi since 1982 when Tyrone Bully and his father opened up a soul food spot to keep local factory workers going through the day. They say Jesse Jackson used to dine here in the days when he was running for President, as have many of the artists who have recorded at nearby Malaco Records. On the menu are soul food classics like fried catfish, ham hocks, chitterlings, neck bones, and pig’s feet.
Bully’s, 3118 Livingston Road, Jackson, MS, USA +1 601 362 0484
Restaurant, American, Cajun, Vegetarian, $$$
Dooky Chase’s is a soul food institution in New Orleans. Among the great names to have stopped in for a bite here have been Martin Luther King, Jr., Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Nat King Cole, as well as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. On Dooky Chase’s menu are gumbo, red beans and rice with hot sausage, double-cut pork chops, and peach cobbler and praline pudding to follow.
Dooky Chase’s, 2301 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans, LA, USA +1 504 821 0600
Martha Lou’s Kitchen
Restaurant, Soul Food, Tea , $$$
Martha Lou’s Kitchen
Martha Lou’s Kitchen is a landmark in Charleston, South Carolina. The bright pink exterior gives you an idea that this is no run-of-the-mill restaurant. Martha Lou Gadsden has 30 years of experience cooking up quality soul food with recipes learned from her mother. The menu changes daily, with a choice of meats and a couple of sides – expect lots of fried chicken, pork chops, chitterlings, beef stew, and barbecue ribs, all with white rice, backed macaroni, corn bread, and lima beans.
Martha Lou’s Kitchen, 1068 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC, USA +1 843 577 9583
Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room
In downtown Savannah, Georgia is Mrs Wilkes’ Dining Room where you can get wonderful Southern soul food. There’s no menu at Mrs Wilkes’, it’s a case of guests being ushered into the dining room where dishes are set out on the side for them to pick and choose from. There’s normally lots of fried chicken, meatloaf, beef stew, and sausage with black-eyed peas, cornbread, candied yams, and baked beans. Barack Obama has dined and other famous guests have included Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall.
Mrs Wilkes’ Dining Room, 107 W Jones Street, Savannah, GA, USA +1 912 232 5997
Busy Bee Cafe
Cafe, Restaurant, Soul Food, $$$
Restaurant, BBQ, $$$
Mama Dip set up her restaurant in 1976 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On the menu are appetizers of fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, fried pickles, then there’s catfish gumbo, BBQ chicken and pork, fried chicken, country hams, beef livers, chitterlings, and chicken and gravy.
Mama Dip’s, 408 W Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC, USA +1 919 942 5837
This Is It
This Is It is where to head if you’re looking for soul food in Houston. Serving up delicious food since 1959, it’s now at its fourth location, having had to keep moving to accommodate diners. This Is It remains a family enterprise, and serves soul food classics like their breakfasts of Creole bread, pork chops, and ham and eggs, and lunches of oxtails, meatballs, ham hocks, and pork neck bones.
This Is It, 2712 Blodgett Street, Houston, TX, USA +1 713 521 2920
Restaurant, American, Contemporary, Soup, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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.
Husk, 76 Queen Street, Charleston, SC, USA +1 843 577 2500
Restaurant, BBQ, South American, $$$
Paschal’s has been in downtown Atlanta since 1947, when brothers James and Robert Paschal set up their soul food restaurant. It’s located in the Castleberry Hill Arts District that’s full of art galleries and museums. The restaurant has drawn famous names like Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Al Gore. On the menu are soul food dishes like Cajun catfish fingers, shrimp and grits, BBQ ribs, and the famous Paschal’s fried chicken breast, leg, and wing made to their trademark recipe.
Paschal’s, 180 Northside Drive SW, Atlanta, GA, USA +1 404 525 2023
Alcenia’s in Nashville, Tennessee is run by Betty Joyce Chester-Tamayo and named for her mother, whose recipes were the basis of the menu and inspired Alcenia’s Cookbook. Alcenia’s is particularly known for the great desserts. On the menu are fried chicken, pork chops, and catfish, with pecan pie, pound cake and lemon pie to follow.
Alcenia’s, 317 N Main Street, Memphis, TN, USA +1 901 523 0200
Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Willie Mae Seaton set up shop in New Orleans in 1957 serving what’s been labelled America’s very finest fried chicken. Willie Mae’s serves up a soul food menu of their famous fried chicken, smothered veal, chicken tenders, and baked chicken with classic sides of mac ‘n’ cheese, fries, red beans, cornbread muffins, and fried okra.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House, 2401 St Ann Street, New Orleans, LA, USA +1 504 822 9503
Mel’s Soul Food Cafe
Cafe, BBQ, Soul Food, $$$
Mel’s Soul Food Cafe
Mel’s Soul Food Cafe in Charlottesville, Virginia has a low profile but a sky-high reputation. On the menu are beef livers with onions, country hams, barbecue ribs, chicken wing dings, submarine sandwiches, and foot-long hot dogs, with cheesecake, apple pie, and lemon meringue pie to follow.
Mel’s Soul Food Café, 719 W Main Street, Charlottesville, VA, USA +1 434 971 8819