I recently read an article that mentioned Neighborhood Soul Food restaurant in Savannah GA as one of the best soul food establishments in the city, I had been planning on checking it out one day soon as it is a selfless passion of mine to taste my way through Savannah’s best eateries to share with my guests. My sister, Sharon, then surprised with me with an impromptu visit and the statement she was ready for something good in her day. I usually interpret that to mean we need some serious comfort food prepared without any fuss. We grew up in a home with eight children and a mom who was gifted with the ability to turn the simplest ingredients into a memorable meal – we wanted something that clung to our ribs and evoked childhood memories. I headed towards the address I had jotted down just days before – 504-1/2 West 42nd Street – a transitional neighborhood that made my sister the cop a bit wary but she generously bowed to my passion for identifying the best Savannah restaurants.
We almost missed the entrance and the old faded sign – the building is that small, located just off MLK Blvd. I drove around the block and pulled over shutting off the car. After just a moment of silence, I opened my car door and stepped into the street with Sharon on my heels; I am, after all, the big sister. We crossed MLK and entered into a long narrow room with two sit-down tables and a step-up counter. The lady behind the cash register smiled hello and pointed to the back of the room where steam tables were set up on each side of tiny kitchen area.
This was Sharon’s first soul food venture and so I lead the way. One of the women stepped up and asked what we wanted after explaining you pick one meat and three sides or just a meat. I chose a smothered pork chop, rice with gravy, boiled cabbage and okra and tomatoes, with a side order of cornbread and sweet tea. Sharon chose the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage and mac-n-cheese, also with sweet tea and cornbread. I spied a piece of sweet potato pie on the back counter and scooped that onto my tray as well. We sat at a table and quipped about each other’s choices and as sisters will do, reached across the table to sample each others’ meal. I loved the taste and texture of her meatloaf but after giving her one piece of my pork chop (which was heavenly – not dry, lightly fried, tasty gravy), I closed the door to sharing. Well, except for the sweet potato pie cause I did take the last piece. The meal turned out to be more than we could finish and we opted to bring it home with us for later.
Our lunch, with drinks and the pie, came to less than $20 and we considered that to be a fair bargain and worth repeating! The restaurant serves breakfast from 6 am and closes its doors at 6 pm, Monday thru Saturday. The breakfast menu covers the usual eggs and meat with grits or hash browns, biscuit or toast for about $6 or you can get fancier with smothered shrimp or an omelet. Lunch and dinner offers a meat only or meat and three sides option with the meat choices ranging from turkey wings, neck-bones, or pork chops to shrimp, beef stew, oxtails or chicken and dumplings (to name just a few). They also offer a vegetable plate though it is probably not vegan worthy!
Don’t be fooled or put-off by the location – the food, the atmosphere and the experience are worth every finger-licking bite. Azalea Inn and Gardens highly recommends this off-the-beaten-path secret Savannah treasure on your next trip to our fair city.