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Best Places to Eat with Soul

AAA/Sherry Mims
June 02, 2021
Whether you've got pork ribs or desserts like banana pudding or sweet potato pie on the mind, indulge your cravings for a soul food dish from one of the following AAA Diamond restaurants. AAA inspectors and editors have chosen places to go ranging from seafood shacks to fine Southern cuisine on the East Coast.
iStockphoto.com/BDMcIntosh

Delta's

New Brunswick, New Jersey
Inspector Note:
Before sneaking a peek at the menu, take in this beautiful space—a soaring ceiling, exposed brick and a sleek bar and lounge sets the stage for a cool, hip menu that takes its cues from Southern fare with a soul food nouveau twist. Case in point—try the Asian-style steamed dumplings, stuffed with crayfish, collard greens, fennel and sweet potato. The Carolina barbecue platter is big enough for the next day's lunch. Parking can be a big problem as the nearby area is reserved for residents.
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AAA/Inspector 55

Fatback Soul Shack

Christiansburg, Virginia
Inspector Note:
This down home roadhouse features a comforting menu of comfort food favorites such as fried catfish, "roadkill" stew, pork chops and gravy, popcorn shrimp, and BBQ. Delicious cornbread and hush puppies available and creamy banana pudding ends the meal. Live music on weekends at the outdoor stage.
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AAA/Inspector 55

Fish N' Grill

Fredericksburg, Virginia
Inspector Note:
As the name says, this little spot is all about seafood. Southern deep-fried, steamed and grilled, you'll find favorites such as shrimp, flounder, crab cakes and more, all served with country-style sides such as macaroni or potato salad, yams, collards and hushpuppies. If you don't like seafood there is also fried chicken, including the liver and gizzards, wings and smothered pork chops. For your sweet tooth there are slices of cakes and pies in the chiller ready to grab and go.
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flickr / CC BY-SA/Ted Eytan

Florida Avenue Grill

Inspector Note:
Since the 1940s, this famed diner has served delicious soul food and Southern specialties to a host of the famous and infamous whose autographed photographs line the walls.
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flickr / CC BY/Jazz Guy

Londel's Supper Club

New York, New York
Inspector Note:
Located on the threshold of Striver's Row in a historical section of the culturally revived Harlem, this restaurant offers friendly service and delicious Southern comfort food made from scratch, such as honey-barbecued ribs, blackened catfish, chicken and waffles and collard greens. Save room for the sweet potato pie. There is live jazz on weekends.
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AAA/Sherry Mims

Mert's Heart & Soul

Charlotte, North Carolina
Editor Note:
You’ll find plenty of home-style favorites and Southern hospitality at this long-time locals' favorite in uptown Charlotte. Entreés like catfish, blackened pork chops, fried chicken, and salmon cakes come with your choice of two sides. Other specialties include shrimp and grits and red beans and rice. You have to try the soul rolls, egg rolls stuffed with black-eyed peas, rice, collard greens and chicken. Lighter appetites can create their own veggie plate from the list of tasty side dishes. Expect a crowd at lunch. Parking is available in the nearby Holiday Inn deck.
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Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA/Smash the Iron Cage

Mel's Cafe

Charlottesville, Virginia
Inspector Note:
A respected and cozy little restaurant that has served the area for years. It's known for great chicken and the patrons favorite, grilled donuts. Seating is limited but you are always made to feel welcome.
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iStockphoto.com/Shafeeq Muhammad

Sandra's Next Generation

New Haven, Connecticut
Inspector Note:
This little hole-in-the-wall serves the best fried chicken in the city. Pair it with some yams, collard greens and mac and cheese and you'll be hooked. They also serve delicious pork ribs and blackened tilapia with your choice of sides. Meals are complimented with yummy corn bread baked fresh each day. Diners order at the counter where they can see and choose their premade sides, then wait a few minutes while their chicken is lovingly fried.
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