Top Restaurants - 19 min read

20 BEST Soul Food Restaurants in the USA (Buffet & Plates!)

Margaret Carter

Margaret Carter, Updated September 22, 2022

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Unless you spent years in the kitchen with your grandma, it can be hard to find real soul food when you get that craving. Thankfully, there are quite a few restaurants that have made it their mission to serve up authentic southern soul food to those who need a good meal and a trip down memory lane. 

We’ve compiled the top 20 soul food restaurants in the US, from Detroit, Michigan to Jackson, Mississippi, Washington, DC to Atlanta, Georgia, and even a few from New York City. Don’t worry, if you’re wanting fried chicken that tastes like home, we’ve got you covered!

You’ll also find a few restaurants that have taken soul food to the next level with a fresh twist. Before you’re done reading, you’ll be finding the nearest soul food place and heading out the door.

1. Bully’s Restaurant

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 3118 Livingston Rd, Jackson, MS 39213 | Phone Number: (601) 362-0484

Located on the north side of Jackson, Mississippi, Bully’s Restaurant looks like a hole in the hole-in-the-wall dive, which is exactly the type of place where you should find real deal soul food that exceeds expectations. They’re open from 11 am to 6 pm on weekdays and closed on the weekends. 

You can smell Bully’s, a no-frills restaurant, a mile away, where they serve Fried Chicken, Southern Style Catfish, Pigs Feet, and Ham Hocks with a choice of two sides, such as Collard Greens, Chitterlings, Beef Tips, Cornbread, Yams, and Carrots. While the menu isn’t extensive, it doesn’t need to be. Each item has been perfected, and you go when you’re craving something for the soul. 

If you find yourself in Jackson, Mississippi, even if you’re just passing through, don’t miss out on Bully’s! They’re so good they’ve been awarded a James Beard!


Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Cost: $
Specialty Dish: Beef Tips with Rice
Cuisine: Soul Food & BBQ

2. This Is It Soul Food

Credit: Yelp

Address: 2712 Blodgett St, Houston, TX 77004 | Phone Number: (713) 521-2920

This Is It Soul Food in Houston, Texas, has been “Bringing Every Meal that Sunday Feel since 1959!” Located in South Central, this soul food diner has over half a century of experience serving all the classics that people know and love. They’re open from 11 am to 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays, and closed early at 6 pm on Tuesdays.

This Is It is the place to go for Oxtails, Chitterlings, Meatloaf, Smothered Pork Chops, Fried Catfish, Mashed Potatoes, Mac and Cheese, Grits, Cornbread Dressing, Banana Pudding, and Peach Cobbler. It’s all served up cafeteria style and made fresh daily. 

Make sure you have a healthy appetite when you go. Their serving sizes are portioned to please! You can also get a hefty amount to go and take it home to serve dinner to the family. Everyone will love it so much; it’ll be one of the quietest meals you’ve ever had.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Bone In Pork Chop
Cuisine: Cafeteria Style Soul Food & Breakfast

3. Alcenia’s

Address: 317 N Main St, Memphis, TN 38103 | Phone Number: (901) 523-0200

Alcenia’s is located right in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, right off the Mississippi River. It’s a colorful soul food restaurant specializing in preserves and Saturday Brunch. They’re open 11 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Friday and 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday. 

Each and every recipe at Alcenia’s comes straight out of Miss Alcenia’s cookbook and is made from scratch in-house. Her daughter runs the place and serves up Catfish, Fried Green Tomatoes, Meatloaf, Chicken and Waffles, Fried Pork Chops, and decadent desserts like Lemon Icebox Pie and Cobbler. You’ll find daily specials when you walk in the door, and you best listen to locals when they say to give them a try. 

If you can only make one meal there, be sure it’s their world-famous brunch! You won’t find true salmon croquettes like this just anywhere. You can order their preserves online, too. They offer Cha-Cha, Pickle Tomato, Apple Butter, Peach, Pear, and Fig. They’re made to order, so be patient.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish:
Cuisine: Soul Food Desserts & Breakfast

4. Hoover’s Cooking

Credit: Hoover’s Cooking

Address: 2002 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722 | Phone Number: (512) 479-5006

Located on Manor Road in the Cherrywood District of Austin, Texas, Hoover’s Cooking comes from five generations of Texans. This is Southern-style Texas cooking at its finest. They’re open Tuesday through Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12 am to 9 pm, and closed on Monday. 

Hoover’s offers an extensive menu with starters featuring the Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla and Hoover’s Queso. It’s when you get into the Southern Pride Plates that you’ll find the real soul food. We’re talking Chicken Fried Steak, Ham Steak with Jezebel Sauce, Southern Fried Pork Chops, Meatloaf, and Fried Catfish. Each plate comes with two or three sides, and you’ll find everything from black-eyed peas to coleslaw, buttered carrots, mashed potatoes, fried okra, butter beans, candied yams, and mustard greens. 

Hoover’s also has BBQ and Salads, as well as junior-sized burgers and wraps for the youngins. You’ll find something for everyone there while you get your soul food fix. They even cater!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Chicken Fried Steak
Cuisine: Southern Comfort Food

5. Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Credit: Thrillist

Address: 107 W Jones St, Savannah, GA 31401 | Phone Number: (912) 232-5997

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room has been a family-owned Savannah, Georgia staple since 1943. It’s one of the busiest and most famous southern soul food establishments along the East Coast. While Savannah offers a wide variety of food, it’s not a proper trip without Mrs. Wilkes. 

At Mrs. Wilkes, you’ll find soul food staples like Fried Chicken, Meatloaf, Pot Roast, Sausage, and Beef Stew. They have daily meat and sides, so check the menu before you go. No one will blame you for ordering an extra side or three, as no one makes soul food sides quite like Mrs. Wilkes. 

The food is so good that a line starts well before it opens. You won’t be able to snag reservations, but the wait is well worth it, even during the hottest months of the year. If you’re ever in Savannah, don’t just take our word for it. Go find out for yourself!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Traditional Southern

6. Circle City Soul Food

Credit: Yelp

Address: 1164 W 30th St, Indianapolis, IN 46208 | Phone Number: (317) 924-3485

Circle City Soul Food is a made-to-order restaurant off I-65 in Indianapolis, Indiana, open only on Sundays from 12 pm to 5 pm. You can dine in if you want to, but it’s best to place an order by no later than 4:30 pm and pick it up for your family’s Sunday Supper. 

Circle City is the type of place that offers the best soul food mains and sides, such as Fried Pork Chops, Meatloaf, Chicken and Waffles, Fried or Baked Chicken, Catfish, Liver and Onions, Cabbage, Beans, Mac and Cheese, Corn on the Cob, Dressing with brown gravy, cranberry sauce, or chicken gravy, green beans, and okra. 

It’s all cooked fresh on Sunday morning and only offered until they run out. You’ll want to go as early as possible or place your order on the Sunday before if you’re craving one of their dishes. You’ll spend all week looking forward to your meal,and it’s worth the wait.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Cost: $
Specialty Dish: Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Soul Food

7. Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 1133 Huff Rd NW D, Atlanta, GA 30318 | Phone Number: (404) 350-5500

Located in Apex West in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours offers modern soul food in a beautiful airy restaurant with distressed wooden tables and upscale decor. Don’t be fooled by the classy look. Twisted Soul knows its soul food better than most places. 

At Twisted Soul, you’ll find just what you’re craving. They have Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Marinated Fried Chicken, Springer Mountain Farms Fried Chicken and Vanilla Bean Waffles, Oxtails, Catfish and Grits, and Cornbread. Each meal has a bit of a twist when it comes to the flavoring, but it’s southern to its core. 

They’re open Wednesday through Sunday, offering lunch and dinner from 12 pm to 3 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm on weekdays, and opening at 11 am on weekends to offer brunch. If possible, try to make reservations. Atlanta loves its soul food,and this restaurant is one of the best.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Southern Marinated Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Soul Food & Desserts

8. Pearl’s Place

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 3901 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60653 | Phone Number: (773) 285-1700

Located at the Amber Inn between Douglas and Bronzeville in Chicago, Illinois, Pearl’s Place is a classy, white tableclothsoul food restaurant with fantastic staff, excellent service, and phenomenal soul food. It’s hard to find a true southern restaurant up north, but Pearl’s Place brought the south with them. 

At Pearl’s Place, you can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner from the buffet or off the menu. They serve up Pot Roast, Shrimp and Grits, Meatloaf, Chicken Wings, Country Fried Steak, Smothered Chicken, Cornbread Dressing, and more. For breakfast and brunch, you can get Waffles, Grits, Scrambled Eggs, Pancakes, Omelettes, and French Toast. 

They’re open from 8 am to 7 pm every day of the week, so you can get your soul food fix whenever you’d like! Just stop on in, pick your table, grab a tray, and sit down for a great meal.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish:
Cuisine: Buffet Style Soul Food & Breakfast

9. Mikki’s Soulfood Cafe

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 9603 Broadway St #108, Pearland, TX 77584 | Phone Number: (281) 919-1506

Located on Bellfort Avenue in Houston, Texas, Mikki’s Soulfood Cafe is a dine-in and drive-thru soul food dream. Everything is homemade from scratch, and you can taste the difference. If you decide to head inside, you’ll find white tablecloths on communal dining tables, but their drive-thru is fast and offers the same options. 

Mikki’s is open from 11 am to 8 pm daily, though they close a bit earlier on Sundays. They offer some of the best soul food in Texas, like Oxtails and Collard Greens, Smothered Pork Chops, Beef Steak, Apricot Chicken, Cornbread Dressing, Rice and Gravy, Jalapeño Cornbread, Peach Cobbler, and Chocolate Cake. They even have Koolaid! 

If you’re trying to find a soul food caterer in the Houston area, Mikki’s is the place to call. Not only is the food great, but the service is exceptional, and they’ll keep your food hot and ready to go or bring it to your location.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Oxtails
Cuisine: Creole Soul Food

10. Amy Ruth’s

Credit: Youtube

Address: 113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026 | Phone Number: (212) 280-8779

Amy Ruth’s is located in the heart of Harlem in New York City, serving soul food to tourists and locals alike in an American-themed diner adorned with murals of celebrated Americans. It’s a bit of the south right in the big city, and it’s famous for doing soul food with an authentic southern flair as a nod to Amy Ruth Moore Bass, an amazing cook from Alabama that sent her family north during hard times. 

Amy Ruth’s is world famous for their Fried Chicken and Waffles, though everything they serve has that magic touch. Their menu is simple, with Waffle Combos and Daily Entrees named after some of the most influential people in history, as well as a Sandwich Board with items like Shrimp Po’ Boys and Hot Chicken Sandwiches. 

Amy Ruth’s is open from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm Monday through Thursday, 11:00 am to 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday, and 11:00 am to 9:30 pm on Sunday. As one of the best Soul Food Restaurants in Harlem, you’ll want to get there early or be ready to stand in line!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: The Rev. Al Sharpton
Cuisine: Soul Food

11. Sylvia’s

Credit: Thrillist

Address: 328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027 | Phone Number: (212) 996-0660

Sylvia’s is another excellent choice in the Harlem district of New York. It’s been on Malcolm X Boulevard since 1962, offering southern comfort to everyone that enters the doors. It’s a gorgeous down-home bistro with a small patio along the sidewalk, open from 11 am to 10 pm Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 am to 8 pm Sunday through Tuesday. 

At Sylvia’s, you can’t go wrong with whatever you order, but they have some truly southern classics available. We’re talking Crispy Southern Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Warm Cornbread, Cornmeal Fried Whiting, Catfish Fingers, Chicken and Waffles, Sweet Potato Pie, Baked Mac and Cheese, and Chicken Livers with Brown Gravy. 

With over five decades in New York and a slew of southern recipes, Sylvia’s is a taste of home for those traveling to New York. They also offer a classic soul food brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Golden Fried Smothered Porkchops
Cuisine: Soul Food & Seafood

12. Croaker’s Spot

Credit: Roadfood

Address: 1020 Hull St, Richmond, VA 23224 | Phone Number: (804) 269-0464

Located in Richmond, Virginia, Croaker’s Spot is classic soul food with a seafood slant. The bright and cheery atmosphere has warm wood, a full bar, and that cozy feel, offering up ample servings of flavorful food that will leave you completely satisfied. 

At Croaker’s Spot, you’ll find some down-home favorites like Oyster Rockefeller, Seafood Bowls, Steamed Mussels, Seafood Chili, Alaskan Snow Crab Legs, the Two Cheese Fish Boat, Blackened Chicken, Cornbread, Mac and Cheese, Cabbage, and Oysters on the Half Shell. 

They’re open from 11 am to 9 pm on Sunday through Thursday, and 12 pm to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. It’s a small restaurant, so you might need to wait a little while before being seated, but it’s entirely worth it!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Fish Boat
Cuisine: Soul Food & Seafood

13. Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 2401 St Ann St., New Orleans, LA 70119 | Phone Number: (504) 822-9503

Willie Mae’s Scotch House is a bustling Cajun soul food restaurant on the corner of St Ann and N Tonti in New Orleans. This unassuming little white building houses some of the best soul food in New Orleans, and the line around the corner proves it! It’s been open since 1957 and passed down through the generations, with a secret Fried Chicken recipe that will blow your mind. 

At Willie Mae’s, you’ll find America’s Best Fried Chicken, Cornbread Muffins, Fried Okra, Mac and Cheese, Bread Pudding in Rum Sauce, Fried Fish, Green Beans, Rice, Homemade Red Velvet Cake, Southern Sweet Tea, and just about any other soul food you can think of! 

They’re open from 11 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. The wait can be long, but you’ll find it’s a great chance to people-watch, and you’ll forget all about the line once you’ve tasted that Fried Chicken!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Comfort Soul Food

14. Busy Bee Cafe

Credit: TripAdvisor

Address: 810 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30314 | Phone Number: (404) 525-9212

The Busy Bee Cafe near Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia,has been serving up classic soul food at reasonable prices since 1947. This diner-esque restaurant is open from 11 am to 7 pm seven days a week and is a must-try if you’re in the area. 

At the Busy Bee, you’ll find true classics like Fried Chicken, Turnip Greens, Fried Green Tomatoes, Smothered Pork Chops, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Georgia Peach Cobbler, Meat Loaf, Sweet Tea, and Southern Lemonade. 

For now, they’re pick-up only, so be sure to put your order in before heading that way. They’ve got a great system to ensure everyone gets their order.  The earlier you go, the better. Some of their best sides sell out quickly!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Soul Food

15. Benne on Eagle

Credit: Benne on Eagle

Address: 35 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801 | Phone Number: (828) 552-8833

Located in the Foundry Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, Benne on Eagle offers African soul food that gets back to the roots. It’s a beautiful upscale diner with an open kitchen and bar seating, with some of the most flavorful food in town. 

At Benne on Eagle, you’re in for a treat. The classic soul food dishes you expect have an African twist. You’ll find dishes like Xawaash Spiced Wings, Gumbo, Berbere Spiced Joyce Farms Chicken, Braised Short Ribs, Eggs Benedict, Hummingbird Cake, Chicken and Waffles, Fried Catfish, and Tomato Salad. 

They’re open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though they close down in between to reset the kitchen. Their hours are 7 am to 10:30, 11 am to 2 pm, and 5 pm to 10 pm. On Sundays, they serve breakfast from 7 am to 2 pm, so feel free to show up for a Chicken and Waffle Lunch!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$$
Specialty Dish: Hummingbird Cake
Cuisine: Soul Food & Cocktails

16. Delta’s

Credit: Yelp

Address: 19 Dennis St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 | Phone Number: (732) 249-1551

Located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Delta’s is a soul food sensation with live music on the weekends and a brick wall facade. It feels lively and warm, exactly how you’d expect a soul food bar to be, with cocktails, draft beers, and flavors galore. 

Delta’s offers beautifully plated Chicken Wings, Fried Shrimp, Cajun Calamari, Oxtails, Soul Folks Dumplings, Beef Short Ribs, Smothered Pork Chops, Baked Mac and Cheese, Mini Sweet Potato Pies, and Red Velvet Cake. 

If you’ve been craving soul food, Delta’s will hit the spot. They’ve been in service since 1999 and have perfected the soul food atmosphere over the past 20+ years. While it’s busy on weekends, try to show up for the live music. You won’t regret it!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Catfish
Cuisine: Soul Food & Cocktails

17. Esther’s Cajun Cafe and Soul Food

Credit: Youtube

Address: 5007 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018 | Phone Number: (713) 699-1212

Located on the north side of Houston, Texas, Esther’s Cajun Cafe and Soul Food is a booth-style diner with flavorful Cajun soul food that will warm you from the inside out. The communal crushed velvet booths with tables for two are the perfect setting for a soul food meal. 

Esther’s has had 15 years to prove to Houston they’re the best, and they’ve done so with dishes like Oxtails, Smothered Pork Chops, Peppered Steak, Fried Catfish, Dressing, Mustard Greens, Cajun Chitterlings, Seafood Gumbo, and more. 

They offer a buffet during certain holidays, so check their website or give them a call if you want to give small portions of each dish a try. Otherwise, be ready to order a one to two main and two to three sides plate of heaven. They’re open from 11 am to 8 pm daily.

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Oxtails
Cuisine: Creole Soul Food

18. Florida Avenue Grill

Credit: Roadfood

Address: 1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009 | Phone Number: (202) 265-1586

Florida Avenue Grill has been a staple of Washington, DC, since 1944. They’ve recently upgraded the interior and kitchen, though they’d never mess with the recipes that got them where they are today. Even though they’re a small establishment, they have a patio and are worth whatever wait you must endure during their busy hours. 

You won’t find fancy plates at Florida Avenue Grill. They’re all about the flavor and authentic downhome cooking with Fried Chicken, Candied Yams, Mashed Potatoes, Cajun-Fried Catfish, Chitterlings, Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, Salisbury Steak, and real Sweet Tea. 

They’re only open three days a week, from 9 am to 2 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and specialize in breakfast and brunch. While there are many brunch options in DC, set aside time for some true southern and head to Florida Avenue Grill! 

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Southern Pan Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Soul Food Diner

19. Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust

Credit: Xtreme Foodies

Address: 3643 Delmar Blvd #3617, St. Louis, MO 63108 | Phone Number: (314) 932-5364

While Missouri might not seem southern to those of us born and raised in the true south, Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust in St. Louis is set to dispel this line of thinking by serving up some of the best soul food in the country. It’s a sizeable cafeteria-style establishment with plenty of seating and delicious food. 

At Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust, grab a tray and load it down with Fried Chicken Wings, Mac and Cheese, Ribs, Corn, Dressing, Fried Catfish, Meatloaf, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Pork Chops, Peach and Pear Cobbler, or any of their weekday meals! 

They’re open from 11:30 am to 6 pm Thursday through Sunday, and even with such a large dining room, they can get rather busy. The earlier you show up, the better. Ms. Robbie knows what she’s doing, and you don’t want to miss out!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $$
Specialty Dish: Fried Chicken
Cuisine: Soul Food

20. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Credit: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Address: 4101 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 | Phone Number: (313) 818-0324

Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles in Detroit, Michigan, takes southern a step further with a full bar, classic food, and griddles delights. They’re open for late breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week from 10 am to 8 pm and closed on Mondays. 

At Kuzzo’sq, you can order breakfast all day. Their Chicken & Waffles are second to none and come with a hefty serving of butter and syrup. They also offer Shrimp and Grits, Koolaid, Candied Yams, Fried Green Tomatoes, Omelets, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Southern Sweet Tea, and more. 

Don’t be afraid to order the Red Velvet Waffle! It’s something to write home about. If you’re in Detroit, take a chance and hit up this southern soul food icon! You’ll feel like you showed up at Grandma’s table for Sunday Supper!

Yelp Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cost: $
Specialty Dish: Chess Pie
Cuisine: Soul Food

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