Oohhs & Aahhs

The area's best soul food kitchen.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

The area's best soul-food spot is this U Street hole in the wall whose home-style cooking has attracted everyone from blinged-out NBA superstars to neighborhood folks grateful to still find good, reasonably priced food amid the profusion of condos and boutiques.

Thirteen dollars fetches a meat or fish dish and two sides–a certifiable deal for a meal you likely won't be able to finish. And only a churl would complain about the Styrofoam containers the food is served in. The fried chicken is superb, the mac 'n' cheese is so cheesy it pulls away in thin, ropy strings, and the Cajun-spiced turkey chop (turkey breast pounded thin, coated in a mix of garlic salt, red pepper, oregano, and black pepper and plunged into the fry basket) is an addictive pleasure. Beef ribs are bathed in a sweet, smoky glaze. An order of fat shrimp sits atop a tangle of sweet, sautéed peppers and onions, and on Friday and Saturday there's even lobster–cracked open, then prized from its shell, floured, and fried.

A plate of three tasty sides goes for $7.95. Co-owner Indiah Wilson, a Connecticut native and onetime model, disdains the use of pork fat to flavor greens and the liberal use of salt in soul-food cooking. Collards are cooked only with vinegar and sugar, and she and partner Oji Abbott make their own seasoning blends for meats.

The space has been recently renovated–new stools downstairs, tables, chairs, and a couch upstairs–and Wilson's warm greeting suggests that she's as interested in caring for the soul as in feeding it. But you don't come here for the niceties–you come for good, home-style cooking.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.