Originating in the "deep south," soul food has a rich and important history that ties Black culture to its African roots. Many of the cuisine's signature dishes such as fried or smothered chicken, fish, or pork, stewed greens, black-eyed peas, chitlins, candied yams, and cornbread originate from the limited rations given to the enslaved by their planters and masters. The techniques and recipes used to prepare these rations have become the deeply-flavored soul food dishes we are familiar with today.
While not typically considered a southern state, but often called "the north of the south," Missouri is dotted with restaurants offering both traditional and new takes on soul food.
Located in Waynesville near Ft. Leonard Wood, Honey Chile Please is serving up what owner Kimsha Rosensteel (called Ms. Honey by her customers) refers to as "southern eclectic." Order the highly acclaimed blackberry fried chicken and black-eyed pea salad, followed by a tall slice of strawberry crunch cheesecake.
Supplying Kansas City with traditional soul food for more than 30 years, Niecie's lives by the motto, "Good food. Served right." Touting the best chicken and waffles in town, Niecie's famous chicken wings top a fluffy waffle drizzled with sweet syrup. Stop in on a Thursday and order the special: beef oxtails and pork neck bones.
Cooking up her mama's made-from-scratch soul food recipes, Sweetie Pie's owner, Miss Robbie, is not only the woman behind the successful St. Louis restaurant and TV show, but a talented performer as well. She is a former back-up singer to Ike and Tina Turner. Choose from daily specials of short ribs, fried catfish and meatloaf. Sweetie Pies is hitting the road this year with pop-up restaurant locations in select cities where Miss Robbie will be serving up her delectable menu and performing.
The marinade and breading at Southern in Midtown St. Louis was borne of a collaboration with neighboring Pappy's Smokehouse. Specializing in "Nashville hot chicken," the restaurant offers spice levels ranging from mild to "cluckin' hot" (for the brave only) that can also be applied to the fried catfish. Cool your palate with Ms. Jane's Oatmeal Cream Pies and Mama Scogg's deviled eggs.
The importance of soul food in culinary history is significant. Visit one of these Show-Me State restaurants to experience mouthwatering deep flavors, steeped in tradition.
Written by Amanda Long