What is soul food, and why is it everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line? Read on to learn more about this delicious culinary comfort, and the best places to find it around SAF partner universities.
Chances are if you’re in the southern United States, you’ve stumbled across the phrase, “soul food” – probably accompanied by the smell of freshly baked cornbread and fried chicken wafting through the air.
So what is soul food, and why is it everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line? Read on to learn more about this delicious culinary comfort, and the best places to find it around SAF partner universities.
What is soul food?
Soul food is a style of American cuisine that has its roots in the country’s southern states, including Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, to name just a few. The food is characterized by a few different things – namely bold flavors, huge portions and plenty of side dishes to try.
Soul food is also known for being quite heavy; with fried chicken and fish, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, greens stewed with pork, candied yams and some kind of dessert on a typical menu, this is a far cry from a light salad lunch. Expect to feel full, satisfied, and probably a bit sleepy after your soul food feast! Napping after your meal is highly recommended!
Where can you find it?
Although soul food has its roots in the southern United States, the truth is that there’s been enough migration around America that you can find authentic soul food anywhere in the country! Here are a few of our picks for some authentic soul food to try while you’re abroad:
If you’re in: New York City, NY
Head to: Sylvia’s Harlem Restaurant
Head out to Harlem to meet “the Queen of Soul Food” herself! Sylvia Woods is the woman behind this longtime soul food establishment, which is so famous it counts celebrities like Barack Obama, Whoopi Goldberg and Bruno Mars as customers.
If you’re in: Washington, D.C.
Head to: Florida Avenue Grill
The nation’s capital also just happens to have some of its best soul food. Florida Avenue Grill is the world’s oldest soul food restaurant (it’s been around since the term was even coined), with a menu that serves up top-drawer hotcakes, fried chicken, collard greens, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie.
If you’re in: Nashville, TN
Head to: Arnold’s Country Kitchen
This mom-and-pop family business has been serving Nashvillians delicious soul food for almost 40 years. The food is so good, in 2009 Arnold was actually awarded a James Beard Award – the country’s highest culinary honor.
If you’re in: Detroit, MI
Head to: Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles
This restaurant specializes in one specific type of soul food dish: fried chicken and waffles! Try it plain, smothered with gravy and onions, or go for a side of grits if you’re feeling adventurous. They also have other soul food options, if waffles aren’t your thing!
If you’re in: Los Angeles, CA
Head to: Dulan’s Soul Food
California has its fair share of impressive soul food franchises, and Dulan’s is no exception. Originally from Oklahoma, owner Adolf Dulan learned how to cook from his mother, before relocating to LA and opening up his own soul food spot in the Inglewood neighborhood.