As we all know, soul and southern food is a massive part of American cuisine. However, the term “soul food” may have changed a bit with the times; the legacy that it originates from remains the same, and in Houston, this culinary favorite shines.
With dishes such as black-eyed peas, fried chicken, macaroni cheese, and cobbler, it’s clear why soul food is a popular choice amongst many nationalities.
Where to Find the Best Soul and Southern Food in Downtown Houston?
Here is our guide to the 7 best soul and southern food in downtown Houston. We have checked out venues with exciting atmospheres, quirky menus, classy dishes, and authentic styles to give you all the options you need to find the perfect spot.
So, whether you’re looking for family dining, celebrating a special occasion, or a simple, quiet meal for 2, we will have all areas covered.
We’ve looked at prices, preferences, and variety in the hope something will tickle your fancy.
So, with that, let us look at what we have selected to be the best spots to get soul and southern food in Houston.
1. Soul Food Vegan
|Address||2901 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004|
|Food||Soup, salad, jackfruit ribs|
|Our Recommendation||Jackfruit Rib Platter and Cajun Pasta Melt|
Kicking off our guide with something a little different, Soul Food Vegan, as it states, is an all-vegetarian/vegan restaurant, but don’t let that put you meat-eaters off. The food here is incredible, and the lack of meat does not make a difference to the quality of food you will receive.
Soul Food Vegan began in 2015 when the chef had started cooking healthy herbal dishes for his own health benefits; this was soon rolled out to the public and landed them where they are today after how popular it became.
Their menu is relatively small, consisting of just a handful of amazingly cooked, flavorsome dishes. The jackfruit rib platter we recommended was delicious; it came with jackfruit ribs in a BBQ sauce, collard greens, macaroni cheese, and dirty rice. The cajun pasta melt is also a must-try! The portions were large, and we did not leave hungry.
The average spend here for the main course is a around $10.00
They also have a simple children’s menu, priced at between $6.00 and $8.00 a meal: a dessert menu which consists of things like cake, brownies, and muffins, and a small choice of drinks, we recommend trying the Sour Sop.
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2. Houston This Is It Soul Food
|Address||2712 Blodgett St, Houston, TX 77004|
|Food||Ham hocks, fried fish, oxtails, pork chops, dumplings, meatloaf|
|Our Recommendation||Smothered Pork Chops|
Houston This Is It Soul Food was initially established in 1959, making it an obvious favorite with locals and tourists alike. It is renowned for its hearty dishes and authentic cooking style.
Over the years, the restaurant has won many awards, seen on their website, and displayed around the restaurant.
Now, this might not be the fanciest for interior and food presentation, but it doesn’t take away from the flavors on your plate. The food here is cooked with a love and passion for authenticity, and each meal is unique. Every spice and herb can be tasted within the dishes, as the whole experience dining here gives you an authentic feel for what soul food really means.
The smothered pork chops were impressive, but we had to admit we found it hard to pick a favorite. We recommend trying this place a couple of times to have a go at the other dishes on the menu, or if there are a few of you dining, get a few different dishes and share a bit of everything; the portions are certainly big enough to make this possible!
There is no children’s menu here, but a good-sized menu of side dishes could be chosen as a kids’ dish, such as macaroni cheese, pinto beans, and candied yams.
They also have a good selection of drinks and desserts.
There is a minimal choice here for vegans and vegetarians as it is a very meat-focused restaurant, although some of the side dishes are vegan-friendly.
3. The Greasy Spoon
|Address||636 Cypress Station, Dr. Suite A, Houston, TX 77090|
|Food||Jambalaya, lamb chops and grits, PO boy, Cajun catfish|
|Our Recommendation||Cajun Fried Lobster and Crab Meat and Grits|
The Greasy Spoon claims to offer “The ultimate dining experience.” And that’s the reason it made it to our list of must-tries, here into our guide to some of the best soul food around Houston.
This restaurant merges cuisine and culture to make a fabulous all-around eatery and take soul food to a whole new level. Their menu is hearty and clean-cut at the same time, making punchy dishes feel classy while remaining authentic. The
You could see why The Greasy Spoon prides itself on its seafood dishes. Jambalaya, for example, is colorful, wholesome, and packed full of flavor. The portion sizes are ample without being over-facing. Our recommendation was the Lobster and crab meat, the fish was cooked perfectly, and the flavors were light and fresh. We also recommend trying the blackened catfish.
As this is a seafood and meat-focused restaurant, the options for vegans and vegetarians are unfortunately minimal, so if this is something you’re looking for, The Greasy Spoon probably isn’t for you.
When it comes to price range, some of the prices are slightly high, but this is only due to the menu items, most of the seafood is the market price, and this can change from season to season, but on average, you can expect to spend between $14 and $30 on the main courses.
They have a large selection of sides and a small dessert menu, but no children’s menu.
4. Esther’s Cajun Cafe Soul Food
|Address||5204 Yale St, Houston, TX 77091|
|Food||Peppered steak, garlic chicken, dumplings, catfish, blackened Tilapia|
|Our Recommendation||Savoury Turkey Wings|
Established in 2008, Esther’s Cajun Cafe is a fun and homely restaurant which makes you feel welcome from the minute you arrive. The staff makes you feel like friends rather than customers, and the whole experience feels comfortable from start to finish.
They use the freshest ingredients, secret spices, and offer an array of different sides and accompaniments so that you can make every dish personal to your taste.
All of the seafood dishes were fresh, and the portion sizes were good. The blackened Tilapia and the crawfish and shrimp etouffee were excellent.
The prices here are reasonable as you can most definitely dine here on a budget. The most expensive items on the menu are the manager’s specials and the combo dishes, which are large portions and are only priced at between $11.99 and $13.99. The Al A La Carte menu is incredibly low-priced. All items are available as small, medium, or large and with the choice of making them all into sides. It means you could literally have a small taster of everything on the menu and still be under budget.
There is a good selection of drinks and desserts and a good children’s menu.
We don’t recommend Esthers for vegetarians or vegans.
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5. Alfreda’s Soul Food
|Address||5101 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004|
|Food||Pork chop, turkey wings, beefsteak, oxtail, fried catfish|
Alfreda’s Soul Food was originally founded in 1964, making it one of the longest-standing soul food restaurants in downtown Houston. Located in the museum district, Alfreda’s is a popular dining destination for local families and visitors, priding themselves on wholesome, authentic soul food and family recipes.
Their menu is straightforward, with no frills or complicated add-ons. Everything is labeled very clearly on the menu as the main dish item.
The oxtail, turkey wings, and the fried pork chop were all excellently cooked, full of rich flavors and super large portions, and every dish comes with a choice of 3 sides.
All the dishes are priced between $10.40 and $14.56, except the oxtail, which stacks up to £29.12, but we say it was well worth the money, the portion size was huge and you won’t be disappointed with the meal.
Again, this is probably not a wise choice if dining with vegetarians or vegans due to their heavy meat-focused menu.
We would also advise not to visit Alfredo’s if you’re in any rush, they tend to get extremely busy, and you may have to be prepared for a wait. But if you have the time, it’s well worth it.
6. The Moonshiners
|Address||1000 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002
|Food||Breakfast, brunch, pulled pork, tacos, quesadillas|
|Our Recommendations||Tenderloin Tip Sliders|
The Moonshiners is a restaurant serving southern-inspired comfort food and moonshine cocktails. There is a warm and welcoming atmosphere throughout, making the dining experience one to remember and return to.
Their menu is simple yet sophisticated, and every dish is tailored to its own unique style. The Tenderloin Tip Sliders were terrific, served on fresh bread with melt-in-your-mouth meat. Another dish that we thought was a must-try was the Blackberry Chutney Hot Nashville Chicken and Waffles. And the Alex Bregman Brisket Grilled Cheese is also a show stopper.
In a similar theme, there isn’t much choice for vegetarian and vegan food to many southern and soul food venues we visited.
|Address||9655 Katy Freeway Suite 3120, Entrance on Gaylord, Houston, TX 77024|
|Food||Jambalaya, rice, and beans, salad, chicken steak, pot-roast|
|Our Recommendation||Seafood Gumbo|
Treebeards is a casual, cafeteria-style diner with classic dishes and a relaxed atmosphere.
They now have four locations across Houston, making them accessible to anyone visiting the area. They started operation in 1978 and have since become a popular location for locals.
They have a small and simple menu consisting of classic dishes cooked to order, the seafood gumbo was packed full of fresh ingredients and loaded with the flavor, and the Jambalaya was also excellent.
When it comes to veggies and vegans, you’re in luck. Firstly there are some options on the main courses, like the vegan rice and beans, garden salad and deviled eggs; then there is also an option of the Treebeards Trio Plate, which you can select three side dishes, most of which are veggie-friendly, and make them into the main meal. Meaning you can personalize your meal to your liking.
The prices here, we found, were extremely reasonable, with the classic dishes all being between $5-$10 each.
They also offer a good selection of desserts, including bread pudding with whiskey sauce, lemon cake, and Italian cream cake, to name a few.
Although the service was friendly and the servers were helpful, we couldn’t help but notice everything ran quite slowly, so it is best to bear this in mind and perhaps save this menu for a time when you aren’t in a rush.
And So To Close Up
We hope that with our guide, no matter what you were looking for in your soul and southern food experience, we have helped you choose just the right place you require.