Soul food has deep roots in the South, but has spread across the country and found a welcoming home right here in Philadelphia. Fried chicken, waffles, catfish and collard greens are just a few specialties you can expect to see on the menu at a so-called soul food restaurant. With that said, here are a few places to find soul food in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
Cajun Kate’s is located in the Booth’s Corner Farmers Market in Garnet Valley. Only open on Friday and Saturday, this place serves authentic New Orleans cuisine like red beans and rice, jambalaya and crispy Cajun mac and cheese. It also serves a hearty gumbo, with ingredients that change weekly, and its po’boys are made with shrimp, catfish or — get ready for this — alligator. Cajun Kate’s is owned by Don and Kate Applebaum. The husband-and-wife duo both attended Philadelphia’s the Restaurant School, but spent seven years working in restaurants in New Orleans, where they became well-versed in Louisiana’s Cajun specialties.
The French Quarter Bistro is located in Royersford. Jambalaya, fried catfish, alligator sausage and jambalaya mac and cheese are only a few of the authentic, home-cooked soul foods you can try, and the eatery has great specials throughout the week. Come in on Tuesdays for a $12 all-you-can-eat buffet, or on Mondays for half-off entrees when you buy a soup or appetizer.
Gigi & Big R Caribbean Soul Food
38th St. and Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
GiGi & Big R Caribbean Soul Food is a food truck parked in University City at 38th and Spruce. Come to this food truck and you can try soul food and Caribbean standards such as platters of jerk chicken, ox tail and fried fish with sides of mac and cheese, collard greens, rice and beans. A Vendy Cup winner, the food here is deliciously flavorful, juicy and full of spices. Bonus: the serving sizes are huge!
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Jim and Rita’s Fine Cuisine is found in the Logan section of Philadelphia. It serves great home-cooked comfort food such as fried chicken wings, fried whiting, macaroni and cheese and collard greens. It is open Wednesday through Sunday for both breakfast and lunch. Breakfast, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., includes chicken and waffles, eggs, home fries and grits. Jim and Rita’s also make some Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmigiana. Both take-out and dine-in options are available.
Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge
1312 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
At Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge, you can enjoy some of the best southern comfort food the city has to offer in a classy and sharp environment. Ms. Tootsie’s has multiple floors complete with a restaurant, three bars and the third floor Luxe Lounge Sky Bar; however, the real reason for coming here is its exquisite food. At Ms. Tootsie’s, you’re sure to enjoy some soul food staples: fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and fried catfish, for instance.
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Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.