If you’re reading this, it’s probably 10 degrees outside where you presently sit.
And it looks the same for the rest of January to Groundhog Day.
But if you’re looking for pockets of heat, a Soul Food renaissance within the most urban areas of Indiana’s urban areas is emanating outward. And many of them, barely known outside a 10-block radius are becoming destinations to suburbanites and foodies alike.
Take Indianapolis’ Kountry Kitchen.
A look at their interior “wall-of-fame” and it’s easy to see virtually every notable sports or Hollywood luminary to come through Indianapolis – including US Presidents – have stopped by the Kitchen for their peach cobbler or a salmon patty. But my visit here recently helped me to realize it’s the locals who’ve kept the place sizzling since it opened in 1988.
I recognized plenty of fried stuff on their menu; THAT’S GOOD. But what in the Wide World of Vegetables is OKRA? The only way to eat what must be an acronym is with salt and tabasco sauce right? But my friendly server Nikea, who’s as nice as your favorite sister-in-law, did more than hold my hand. She pretty much ordered for me.
“Do you like fried chicken, and gravy? Or ribs?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, “Let’s get that!”
“Oh, I’m gonna bring something you haven’t had before, but now I know what to surprise you with,” And off Nikea went!
I trusted her and my voluminous – um – taste palette. She returned with neckbones smothered in gravy with turnip greens, and a sweet mac-n-cheese. She even threw in a chicken wing in an unusual but super-savory fried recipe. Everything was delicious and served with a side-dish of warm hospitality from co-owner Cynthia Wilson who they call “Ms. Cynthia.”
While the Kountry Kitchen is an Indianapolis institution that’s risen above its neighborhood fence-line, what actually qualifies its menu as “soul” or “southern?” As the owners explain, their food and long-time recipes are what they are: “good for the soul.”
And luckily for Hoosiers like you and me, there are great soul food places around the state that offer friendliness that’s almost as good as their interpretation of what makes up a soul food menu.
Here are 9 more recommendations (in no particular order) of Hoosier Soul Food destinations:
Mississippi Belle, Indianapolis
Marbles Southern Cookery, Indianapolis
RJ’s BBQ and Soul Food, Evansville
Pucci’s Cafe, Marion
Gemini’s Bar and Grill, Elkhart
Four Sisters Silver Spoon, Gary
Regina’s Southern Cuisine, Hammond
Sweet Grass, Bloomington
This is by no means a complete list, but should get your mouth watering. Are your favorite soul-food stops listed above? If not, please include the name and location in the comment section!