Soul food is an endearing term for unpretentious, home-cooked meals that fill your belly and comfort your heart.
Every country has its soul food traditions.
In the states, we think of soul food as the savory, buttery bread, stews, gumbos, and grains that come from the Deep South.
Texas is a huge part of the Deep South, and Houston is the state’s largest and most diverse city.
Along with every other culinary tradition, you’ll see soul food represented in excess around Houston’s massive urban sprawl.
I’ve compiled a list of the best soul food restaurants in Houston for you to explore below that will surely satisfy your craving for down-home cooking.
5101 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004
Alfreda’s Soul Food has been a Third Ward institution for home-cooked Soul Food since 1964.
Located just north of the beautiful Herman Park and the Museum District,
Alfreda’s Soul Food has passed from the Green family to the Williams family.
Alfreda’s is still a proudly Black-owned restaurant with a welcoming staff, serving iconic Soul Food dishes.
It has a nice outdoor patio surrounded by colorful murals of famous Black historical figures.
I could’ve eaten there for the sides alone, with everything from collard greens to blackeye peas, to mac n cheese.
Luckily, with every entrée, you get three sides.
I had the hearty meatloaf platter, smothered in tomato sauce with mashed potatoes, green beans, and mac n cheese.
5007 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018
Named for the owner and Chef which staff and customers refer to as Queen Esther, Esther’s Cajun Café and Soulfood is the result of family recipes and entrepreneurial grit.
Esther uses her Cajun heritage and recipes passed down from three generations of passionate chefs and mothers to create a Cajun, Louisiana soul food menu and a homey ambiance.
Located north of Independence Heights, Esther’s has sleek décor and a full cocktail bar to accompany daily menus.
Each daily menu has a lot of overlap, but there are certain items that you can only get once a week.
I went on Friday for the Crawfish Ettoufee with a side of red beans and rice and cabbage.
2712 Blodgett St, Houston, TX 77004
Another iconic Third Ward favorite, This Is It Soul Food has been lauded by the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Monthly, and by the most famous Houstonian in pop culture, Beyonce Knowles.
Opening in 1959, Houston This Is It Soul Food has been family owned for four generations.
They have the best motto for a soul food restaurant I’ve come across, printed on every menu: Giving Every Meal that Sunday Feel.
Their mac n cheese won Best Dish in Houston from the Houston Chronicle, so whatever you do, get a side of it!
I went with their battered and fried chicken with, you guessed it, a side of mac n cheese.
I can confirm that the “Best of” award was well-deserved.
10500 W Bellfort Ave #100, Houston, TX 77031
Owned by passionate mother and cook Jeanette Williams, Mikki’s Soulfood Café opened in 2000 in Meadows Place and quickly became one of Houston’s hottest eateries.
William’s restaurant and catering business became wildly successful, with accolades from The Houston Chronicle, local radio stations, and a catering job for the 2004 Superbowl.
Williams recently passed away, leaving the business to her children in 2019 who have grown the business to include a second location in Pearland.
Both locations are casual, family-friendly dining spaces with warm and welcoming staff.
The best part about their menu is that every dish comes with a huge square of buttery, sweet cornbread.
I enjoyed their pepper steak, smothered in gravy and sauteed onions and bell peppers, with a side of candied yams and collard greens.
636 Cypress Station Dr Ste A, Houston, TX 77090
Overlooking Lents Family Park in Westfield, The Greasy Spoon is a friendly neighborhood soul food bistro owned by Max Bozeman.
Bozeman grew up working in his family’s restaurants, and The Greasy Spoon is his first solo project.
His mission is to create an elevated dining experience that takes soul food out of the home and into a refined restaurant setting.
The restaurant atmosphere is casual, but the presentation of the food and excellent service is on par with upscale bistros.
The Greasy Spoon has won feature spotlights in the Houston Chronicle.
The Chronicle voted The Greasy Spoon’s world-famous smoked oxtails as the best in town, so I ordered them with a side of dirty rice, buttered corn, and Southern-style greens.
4202 W Fuqua St, Houston, TX 77045
Owned and run by head chef and Louisiana native Catherine Simon, Soul Food by Catherine is a Louisiana-inspired soul food restaurant in Southwest Houston, just north of Fort Bend Houston.
The fast-casual counter service café features a long glass partition where customers can see sides and stewed dishes, directing their servers to spoon servings of desired items.
Simon worked as an educator for 35 years before retiring to embark on opening her Soul Food restaurant.
Soul Food by Catherine has the best lunch specials in town, with plates under five dollars.
I recommend Catherine’s Soul in a Bowl, with red beans and rice and spicy sausage.
2901 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004
Located in the Third Ward, Soul Food Vegan is a 100% plant-based soul food restaurant and catering company putting novel, healthy twists on all your favorite Southern cooking.
They make everything from scratch, using inventive, soy-free ingredients to imitate meat.
They post appetizing videos from their humble kitchen on social media to educate the community on alternative eating.
They use oyster mushrooms instead of chicken, breading and frying each piece to create an astounding resemblance in both taste and texture.
They also have a sausage-making machine that they use to create seafood and chicken boudin using well-spiced plant-based mixtures.
I loved their fried Cajun boudin balls with yam moringa fries.
They used Kojac root to create the shrimpy taste in the boudin batter.
10971 Northwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77092
From owner Angelica Goodrich, O’ Taste and See Eatery is a newly renovated Creole Cajun Soul Food eatery with a lively atmosphere and urban chic design.
Located in Langwood, O’ Taste & See Eatery is both glamourous and welcoming.
Goodrich constantly updates her menu to include new twists on Southern soul food that often include fusing other comfort food traditions.
O’ Taste & See Eatery is an even more popular catering company, serving weddings, graduations, and corporate events around town.
They also have lavish holiday dinner deals.
The eatery is open for lunch.
I loved their BBQ pulled pork egg rolls as an appetizer.
4561 Edfield St, Houston, TX 77051
Cassy’s Kitchen is a food truck in South Acres specializing in comfort food for breakfast and lunch.
They are a beloved neighborhood food stand serving a full menu of Southern and classic American fare for low prices.
They’re open till 5 pm but usually sell out far earlier.
They’re the best place for breakfast and lunch on the go.
Breakfast is served all day, so it’s never too late for chicken and waffles.
In addition to classics like deep-fried shrimp and catfish, they also serve tacos, burgers, and fries along with daily specials.
I was lucky enough to catch their barbecue special, a heaping plate of brisket, ribs, potato salad, and baked beans.
3810 Cavalcade St, Houston, TX 77026
Located north of the Fifth Ward, Heavenly Choices is a humble soul food eatery, buffet, and catering company.
Heavenly Choices has a family-friendly storefront and ownership that is deeply rooted in the surrounding community.
They have annual back-to-school drives and support other community outreach programs.
They announce specialties and store hours via social media, but they’re typically open from 11 am-7 pm.
I enjoyed their cozy dining room, made even more inviting by the smell of fried chitterlings and fresh cornbread.
I tried their stewed chicken and potatoes, which was a major upgrade from the canned chicken soup I used to get as a kid.
11637 Homestead Rd, Houston, TX 77016
D Ls Cajun Kitchen is a friendly East Little York Homestead neighborhood eatery and take-out restaurant serving authentic Creole and Cajun food.
The owners, Chef Donald Alexander, and house manager Latina Alexander hail from Louisiana, with over 20 years of Cajun cooking experience between them.
Chef Alexander helped engineer the famous Louisiana-based Tabasco sauce recipe.
D Ls Cajun Kitchen has a Cajun menu and a soul food menu.
The Cajun menu features po’boys, crawfish etouffee, and fried pork chops to name a few.
The soul food menu has gravy-smothered chicken, turkey, and pork entrees with cornbread and sides.
I went for a Cajun dish and ordered the crawfish fettuccine.
8420 S Sam Houston Pkwy W #260, Houston, TX 77085
ReMo’s is a casual, family-friendly, and family-owned barbecue and comfort food restaurant in a welcoming dining space in Fondren Gardens.
They serve a variety of American comfort food, soul food, and barbecue at accessible prices.
Whether you want a burger and steak fries, red beans and rice, or a traditional Texas barbecue platter, ReMo’s Café has a comforting dish for the entire American palate.
They serve their barbecue in true Texas fashion, atop a butcher-paper-lined trey.
Comfort food that I didn’t see on any other menu from my list was the loaded baked potato, which happens to be my favorite comfort food of all.
They have a full menu of baked potato varieties.
I went for the H-Town Baker, a loaded potato topped with brisket, ribs, and sausage.
9509 Scott St, Houston, TX 77051
Doris’ Kitchen is a cozy Sunnyside soul food restaurant full of Houston sports memorabilia and antique clocks, photographs, and caricature murals along its walls.
Doris runs the kitchen and often makes rounds to the front of the house to greet customers.
Her hospitality makes you feel like family, and the food makes you feel the love.
In addition to soul food classics like oxtail and smothered pork chops, Doris’ Kitchen also has a full menu of burgers, fry baskets, and chicken wings.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen another restaurant with Kool-Aid on the drink menu, either.
I ordered the moist, dark meat turkey wings with gravy, cornbread, pinto beans, and stewed okra with sausage.
3515 Eastex Fwy, Houston, TX 77026
Soul Cat is a mobile NOLA soul food truck that roams the streets of Houston, hitting a different neighborhood each season.
You can also rent the Soul Cat Food Truck as a fun catering service for your next party.
The truck is a beautifully painted old delivery vehicle with a deep blue background and murals of musical notes and soulful musicians.
Soul Cat has a menu of traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine with a section for creative fusion dishes. The food is incredible, with a gourmet presentation.
I don’t think I’ve had better seafood and sausage gumbo, which you can only get during the fall and winter.
All the main dishes come with an order of hush puppies, which were light and fluffy on the inside, and crunchy on the outside.
13572 TX-249, Houston, TX 77086
Another Soul Food food truck, Who Dat Soulfood is a stationary truck parked in Meadows of Northwest Park right off the Tomball Parkway.
They specialize in New Orleans-style soul food with individual and family-style meals for take-out only.
Meals can serve up to four people, and they have seasonal specials like a crawfish and boiled seafood platter.
They also make scratch-made desserts like pecan candy, sweet potato pie, and praline brownies.
For individual lunch packages, they have hot seafood and sausage po’boys and fried fish or chicken and waffles.
I loved their red beans and rice meal that comes with fried chicken and cornbread.