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Soul Food

I am looking for really good Southern/Soul Food in the DC Area - fried chicken, mac and cheese, collards, etc. I am not looking for good barbecue (I personally love Rocklands), just solid southern fare - any suggestions?

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  1. Flavors in Arlington (right on the Falls Church border) for fried chicken. Oohs and Ahs in DC.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MikeR

      Blue and the White in Old Town Alexandria on Wythe Street and Route 1 for fried chicken and collard greens. Oohs and the Aahs is so overrated. But the Blue and the White is the real deal! I live near U Street but my family lives in Old Town and we always stop at the Blue and White. It's the best!

      1. re: Glindathegood1

        weird I live near there and never heard of it gonna have to try it out!

      2. re: MikeR

        Flavors - an enthusiastic second!

        Look for your fried chicken to be fried starting when you order it, and not in a pressure-fryer either.

        1. re: MikeR

          The fried fish at Flavors is wonderful as well. I also like their sides, although there is certainly amazing mac n cheese to be had elsewhere.

          Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any southern/soul food in Montgomery County, unless there's something hiding?

          1. re: Transplanted Texan

            i think its Montgomergy county - try the General Store's comfort dishes (fried chicken greens, etc...). They're tasty.

            1. re: iatethesandbox

              The General Store Post Office Tavern has the best fried catfish I've ever had, though I think the menu changes constantly, so they are not sure to have it. They also do a Sunday dinner with a set menu. I'm not sure how to find out about what they are serving...... but I do think they use e-mail notifications.

              1. re: iatethesandbox

                I completely forgot about this place, after some early reviews of how they ran out of food, etc. I'll have to give it a try; surely the kinks are all worked out by now -- thanks!

          2. The best is at Oohhs and Aahhs, but it is (more or less) Coastal Carolina cookin'. The best dishes are the grilled shrimp, lemon pepper wings, and the broiled crabcake. Also very good are the meatloaf, short ribs, and turkey chop. Collard greens and rice with gravy are their best sides. Four stools in front of a tiny kitchen. You can also take your food upstairs to a small dining room.

            If you want the very best fried chicken and mac n' cheese. you might have to go to Central, an otherwise French bistro.

            Flavors in Arlington has very good chicken. Like most, it is deep fried, not pan fried.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              A second recommendation for Oohhs & Aahhs. I really like their broiled whitefish and collards. I have a big appetite, but for me, a single "one main and two sides" dinner makes two meals.

              Oohhs & Aahhs
              1005 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001

              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Agree with Steve on all counts...including the fried chicken at Central - YUM

            2. Levi's is also quite good. Fried chicken, fish, ribs, etc with all the expected sides - greens, mac & cheese, cornbread. Nice if you are already in the neighborhood for a Nationals game or some such.

              Levi's Port Cafe
              1102 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

              2 Replies
              1. re: malveaux

                Second Levi's. Smothered pork chops, collards, and the best mac and cheese in town. Also, I haven't been in years, but The Hitching Post had some of the best fried chicken in town.

                Levis Port Cafe
                1102 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

                Hitching Post
                200 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011

                1. re: malveaux

                  I third Levi's!! Freaking awesome mac and cheese.

                2. Yummy Seafood (yes thats what its called...) on Allentown road in Temple Hills is one of my favorites. Despite the name, they serve everything from ribs to pork chops to chitterlings to pigs feet. They have some of the best fried chicken livers Ive ever had and their collard greens are especially good. Its Asian run but dont let that dissuade you. They have learned what works well with the PG crowd.

                  Henry's Soul Cafe over in Oxon Hill (on 210 just inside of the beltway) is pretty good too. Great sweet potato pie. Expect lines out the door though during peak hours.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Insidious Rex

                    I've been to the carry-out on U St near 16th St., NW. Henry does make a great sweet potato pie. Also, this is a good place to try a DC classic, wings with mambo sauce.

                    1. re: Steve

                      I've wondered about this place and always meant to try, but I don't get down there too much anymore.

                  2. If you want to go a little bit upscale, Georgia Brown's has great fried chicken, fantastic biscuits, and otherwordly fried green tomatoes. It is the only place I've ever eaten collard greens that I liked, also. Lastly, if you really want to stuff yourself silly, the brunch is also fantastic.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Raids

                      Went there w/ a co-worker, ordered the fried chicken. Sadly dry and bland. My co-worker and I agreed also that it smelled like their refrigerator had broken in there. Gross.

                      Georgia Brown's
                      950 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                      1. re: mstinawu

                        The last time I had Georgia Brown's fried chicken, the dominant flavor profile was salt. Like it had been prepared using an ancient Dead Sea recipe.

                    2. Gotta give a shout out to Horace & Dickies as well in NE

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chaojareon

                        H&D for the fish sandwich only. The collards and mac & cheese are subpar. And you can get better fried chicken across the street at Danny's carryout.

                      2. The best place for soul food, by far, is Saint's Paradise Cafeteria at 601 M St NW, in the large basement of the United House of Prayer. (That's just NE of the new convention center.) The vegetables are great, and the fried chicken is really good, especially for this far north The fried whiting is also good. All portions are excessive -- I generally just get a vegetable plate -- so a long walk or a long nap is a good follow-up to a meal there. Do not bedaunted by the long line -- it moves fairly fast.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: dcbbq

                          I absolutley agree, Levis is great. But in the city All Saint cannot be beat. You'll find DC's elite dinning along side of common folks. I've run into Jesse Jackson and Bob Dole there.

                          1. re: dcbbq

                            Is Saint's Paradise Cafe open every day, or just Monday-Friday? When does it open for lunch?

                              1. re: comestibles

                                Thank you so much! Are you a fan of this place?

                                1. re: soccermom13

                                  I'm not a fan. Cafeteria food where nothing tastes fresh or is well-prepared.

                                  Are you looking at it for the location?

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Not for location, but rather for good food. Some of the reviews were quite good. Can you suggest another spot accessible by metro with wonderful Southern food that's open for lunch?

                                    1. re: soccermom13

                                      My favorite Soul Food place is Oohhs and Aahhs, located right across the street from the U ST/Cardozo Metro stop at 10th and U Sts., NW.

                                      It is Coastal Carolina soul food. My favorites are the grilled shrimp, lemon pepper wings, and the broiled crabcake. Get the greens and rice with gravy as sides. You don't have to eat it all...

                                      Only four stools in front of a tiny kitchen. Also there are a few tables in a room upstairs. A true hole-in-the wall.

                          2. You'd think DC would be a 'soul food' mecca, eh, but this Georgia born and bred boy finds most of the places mentioned just OK. Oohs and Aahs does do a nice job with some if it's meats but their greens are a chewy tough mess and their mac and cheese is of the saucy soupy Kraft variety. Saint's has that home style quality but I'm suspecting most of their veggies come from cans. Levi's is just a hospital cafeteria steam table. Does anybody in the DMV know how to make tender greens and real custard-like southern mac and cheese?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jay

                              I always get the greens at Oohhs and Aahhs, so I can only think that you had some really bad luck. In fact, I always order greens at every opportunity plus we make them at home.

                              They also have greens at Rocklands which I always get.

                              B. Smith's has a very good dish of scallops, shrimp and crawfish over greens that is very good. I believe you can also get the greens served with the lemon pepper catfish, which is a fine dish. Heck, I suppose you can get the greens with any dish.

                              If you ever have the opportunity to eat the mac n' cheese at Central, you might have to reevaluate all other mac n' cheese.

                              Other options are Henry's (carry-out on U St plus sit down in PG County just over the DC line) Wilson's on Georgia Ave, Florida Ave Grill (though I *think* the Wilson's folks took this over), Bubba Muscogee's on Rhode island Ave. There is a place called Grandma's Kitchen on Penn Ave just over the bridge going into Anacostia, but they seem to be open irregularly. You also could try Sumah's on 7th St., NW run by a very nice man from Sierra Leone. I think it's still there. He makes about five different types of greens, and he'll give you a taste. African, but that's where the tradition comes from.

                              In fact, Queen Makeda on 9th St., NW is an excellent place that shows off the link between African food and American Soul Food better than anywhere else I can think of.

                              1. re: Jay

                                If you love DC's soul food THAT much, just wait until you've tried our barbecue!

                                  1. re: Jay

                                    What if you had a craving? Where would you go?

                                  2. Flavors and Oohs and Aahs. Also, whats that upscale southern place in old town alexandria with a number at the end of the name? It's good too.

                                    4 Replies
                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        Hey, Monkey, have you tried Sullivan's or Sugar's yet?
                                        The weather and parking woes have kept me close to home but I'm planning trips to both soon.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          Sullivan's = best fried crabcake in DC. That is all.


                                          Haven't tried Sugar yet, but looking forward to it.

                                      2. Southside 815 may be southern, but it is not soul and not very good.

                                        I tried the new location for Henry's Soul Food Cafe at 3rd and K, NW recently. Finally, soul food downtown and with seating. Well, sort of downtown.

                                        It's worth knowing about, but a mixed bag. Ordered the turkey wings with stuffing. Turkey wings and gravy were deeply satisfying, about as perfect as you can get. A gooey, huge mess of a meal. Stuffing was over-processed, came out as more of a paste. Yams were over-processed too, like a syrup with chunks of yam. Greens were ok, but not better, cut up into bite-size pieces. Easier that way, but I like the structure of the whole leaf.

                                        I've had the sweet potato pie before. Henry is famous for it and rightly so. It's worth getting a whole pie for a get together.

                                        1. I suggest Carolina Kitchen. They have the best fried Chicken. Their collard greens are good as well.


                                          Carolina Kitchen
                                          800 Shoppers Way, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

                                          1. Sullivan's Southern Style Seafood is a carryout at 1101 Bladensburg Rd, NE DC that offers southern style seafood with the southern side items to go along with it. They are known for the half pound crabcake but offer other items that I'm sure will not disappoint you. Please all items are freshly made. I've eaten here many times and have always been satisfied.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: tterry

                                              Is that a rec for the crabcake? Any other items you like?

                                              1. re: Steve

                                                I'll recommend the Sullivan's Half Pound Crabcake. Fried, not broiled, if that matters. Served on a potato roll. Little binder (mostly mayo I think) and mostly lump crabmeat. No breading, just a light seasoned flour coating with a hint of Old Bay. Around $11 I think and pretty filling. I tried the clam strips and thought they were just okay. They also serve a "seafood salad" that they seem really proud of, but I haven't tried yet. They're just across the street from the Capital City Diner, which is still settling in after their opening, so if you get stuck waiting for a table, you could always just cross the street for takeout.

                                                1. re: Steve

                                                  I love the crabcake as well as the shrimp po-boy. The seafood is great too! It has the large shrimp with the crab meat. No pasta or other filler like other types of salads. Hope you enjoy it as much as I!

                                                  1. re: tterry

                                                    I was in the neighborhood last Sunday about 4:30pm, and they were closed. Stepped inside Capital City Diner across the street, but they were about to close and could serve only breakfast items.

                                                    I'll have to go by there the next time I'm in the vicinity, in a few weeks.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      The food at Capital City Diner is really good. It's worth following them on Twitter so you can get their afternoon tweets about what's on special for dinner.
                                                      Today it was 2 pieces of fried chicken with collards for $7. Hard to beat.
                                                      The cooks are mostly from the surrounding Trinidad neighborhood and a few from So. MD. Real country style cooking. No foo-foo food at the Diner.

                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                        I'll second Cap City Diner. One of the reasons the waits can be so long is because the food is good and cheap. Pecan pancakes are tasty as well as the steak & cheese.