LAGuide

The Best Soul Food Restaurants In LA

Where to find fantastic mac and cheese, greens, smothered chops, and more.
The Best Soul Food Restaurants In LA image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Whether you call it comfort food, Southern food, or down-home cooking, you probably already know that soul food is the backbone of American cuisine. But you might need a little help finding the best plate of oxtails or a proper peach cobbler in LA these days. That’s where this guide comes in: It’s filled with longstanding institutions serving legendary fried chicken, newer places with inventive menus, and a bunch of neighborhood spots in between. So the next time you’re craving a soul-satisfying comfort meal in LA, head to one of these 14 restaurants.

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Soul Food

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$$$$Perfect For:LunchBig GroupsOutdoor/Patio SituationSerious Take-Out Operation
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Dulan’s is an LA soul food institution with one location in Inglewood and two in South LA. Our favorite of the bunch is their recently renovated flagship on Crenshaw, which has a big dining room ideal for a group meal involving their golden, juicy fried chicken—a star dish that tastes like a well-seasoned love triangle of salt, pepper, and crunch. A close runner-up is their fall-apart braised oxtails served on weekends, plus sides of braised greens, candied yams, red beans, and the complimentary cornbread muffins. Sit on the covered sidewalk patio if it’s nice out, or grab a table near the neon sign inside for a little more privacy.

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The soul food at Alta Adams isn’t exactly traditional, but each dish tastes like a perfected classic. There’s moist, crunchy fried chicken served with homemade hot sauce and vanilla-coated candied yams topped with a handful of chopped pecans. They’ve also got a solid list of vegan options, including smoked tofu gumbo and BBQ cauliflower in a miso pureé.  If you’re planning a special date night, book a table on their warmly lit patio here and take advantage of the $30 wine flight. Anyone interested in learning more about women & BIPOC winemakers should also check out Adams Wine Shop right next door, run by the same people.

Located in the far northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley, Chatsworth isn’t the most convenient place for many Angelenos, but as long as your destination is Les Sisters’, then the trip will be worth it. This Valley institution has been around since the mid-80s and is home to some of the best soul food in the city. Every meal needs to start with the fried chicken, with its crackly, Cajun-spiced skin, but it’s their spicy chicken jambalaya we’ll be thinking about for days afterward. It’s salty, peppery, and filled with succulent chunks of chicken that pop with flavor. Round out your meal with some gooey mac and cheese and black-eyed peas.

Starting the weekend off with a plate of buttery grits, crisp bacon, and syrup-coated waffles at The Serving Spoon is an Inglewood right of passage. For nearly 40 years, this classic Southern diner in a tiny strip mall on Centinela has been a soul food brunch staple in the South LA community. Their popular breakfast plates are served all day, but Serving Spoon also does everything from fried catfish to sizzling liver and onions, which all deserve your time and attention. On weekdays, you can walk right in and grab a table, but a weekend brunch here will likely involve waiting for about an hour. Whenever you’re here, don’t forget to ask about the special of the day—you might get blessed with some tender oxtails or fried turkey wings before they close at 2pm.

Among the fast food and taco trucks lining Central Avenue in South LA is a historic landmark: The Dunbar Hotel. Back in the 1920s, this swanky spot hosted jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, and more of the people who helped establish the area as a cultural hub for the Black community. The building got a major facelift in 2018, and one of its most impressive upgrades was this fantastic Southern restaurant on the bottom floor. It’s got a long menu full of top-notch soul food and Mexican entrees–think short ribs and oxtails served alongside fish tacos and shrimp fajitas–available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Post & Beam is a gastropub/pizzeria/soul food restaurant in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. This fun Baldwin Hills restaurant is reliably solid for a bottomless brunch, birthday dinner, or a special occasion meal. Post & Beam feels like a neighborhood clubhouse, with a dark and moody dining room and an idyllic patio next to an herb garden. Serves sing along to 90's R&B as they carry plates of jerked catfish and cast-iron chicken to hungry diners. The head chef also hosts Black Pot Supper Club, a monthly dinner series that honors the legacy of African American cuisine and the enslaved chefs who created it.

If we were to describe My Two Cents in two words, we’d call it “evolved nostalgia.” The Mid-City restaurant focuses on cooking Southern classics with a fun twist using all organic ingredients. The shrimp and grits here are one of the best in the city, the honey-glazed cornbread hits the spot, and the mac & cheese spring rolls taste even better than they sound. My Two Cents is open for lunch and dinner, but the best time to come in is for a soul food brunch on the weekends. That’s when the small dining room on Pico blasts hip-hop tracks and posts weekly dessert specials on the chalkboard by the register.

photo credit: Fixins Soul Kitchen

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Located next door to The Novo theater in LA Live, Fixin’s Soul Kitchen serves the best soul food in DTLA. The dining room feels like one big sports bar, but there’s also a side patio for anyone who prefers peace and quiet while eating deep-fried comfort food. Come to this massive corner restaurant for dishes like shrimp and grits, black-eyed peas, and pork chops smothered in roux-brown gravy and pickled onions. Be sure to make a reservation for brunch if you don’t want to wait an hour or two for your table.

Pann’s isn’t technically a soul food restaurant, but the 65-year-old diner serves some of the best soul food dishes in Inglewood. Between 8am and 3pm daily, you can eat chicken and waffles, fried pork chops, or catfish and grits here while tucked into a comfy red booth. And without a doubt, at least one waitress will call you “honey.” The building itself is also a midcentury masterpiece that’s always packed with Inglewood regulars having midweek mimosas and reminiscing about the 1984 Olympics.

The full name of this three-decade-old casual takeout spot near the corner of Adams and Crenshaw is “Chef Marilyn’s, Queen of Down Home Southern Goodies,” which speaks to the royal presence of the restaurant’s namesake/owner. Much like Dulan’s, you order here from a row of steam tables, and while service is quick, there’s usually a line of customers around lunchtime—most show up at opening to get first crack at the daily specials. Few places can top Chef Marilyn’s food in terms of sheer variety, so expect to leave with a styrofoam container groaning with things like succotash, buttered cabbage, gravy and rice, pork neck bones, baked salmon, or their rightly famous fried chicken.

This tiny, order-at-the-counter spot in Studio City is basically a glorified takeout window, which is exactly why it’s so useful when you’re short on time—or craving delicious soul food. As its name suggests, Uncle Andre’s has tons of BBQ on its menu and we recommend centering your order around their beef hot links, which are slightly spicy and come slathered in a sweet and salty glaze. Round out your meal with some meaty catfish nuggets and a side of chilled mac salad.

Long before President Obama visited the flagship location of this soul food chain, it had a cult following. Roscoe’s opened its first restaurant in Long Beach during the 1970s and quickly became famous for introducing the West Coast to fried chicken and waffles. This Black-owned spot has continued expanding ever since, with five locations across SoCal from Hollywood to Anaheim. A true LA institution, Roscoe’s helped make crispy chicken and buttery waffles an iconic duo, and that’s exactly what we order every time we’re here. Whether you come for brunch or a late-night dinner, slide into one of their big leather booths, bask in the dining room's pink neon lights, and drizzle cinnamon syrup over your plate before diving into their namesake dish.

The inside of Crystals Soul Cafe—a small, family-run vegan dinner spot in West Compton—looks a lot like a Barbie dreamhouse, one where plants hang from every available space, and hot-pink lighting and colorful art are everywhere. That creativity applies to the plant-based food, too. There's the psychedelic soul plate made with marinated and fried oyster mushrooms on a pretzel bun, sushi fries topped with vegan shrimp mango and dynamite sauce, and sprouted smoked red beans and truffle rice. The sheer amount of options here is a little dizzying, but if you don't where to start, get one of the fully loaded po' boys and the housemade pecan caramel cake.

Located across the street from the stadium where the LA Galaxy play, R & R Soul Food in Carson is a strip mall gem open from breakfast to dinner daily. The thing to get here is the smothered chicken: plump legs and thighs with chicharron-crisp skin covered in a tidal wave of brown gravy. The sides hold their own, too, from buttered corn to vinegar-lashed collard greens to candied yams sweet enough to dissolve fillings. Takeout is popular here, but we love eating in the cozy, well-worn dining room, too—order some sweet tea and admire the painting of the Last Supper on the wall redone with Black history icons.

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