Soul Food in Vallejo

My best friend planned a fun day yesterday. She took a group of four of us to eat at a soul food restaurant she recently discovered in the City of Vallejo called House of Soul. Read more on her blog. We went for lunch after hiking nearby.   
In anticipation for this lunch, I had read through Yelp reviews and looked at pictures for the past week. My BFF claimed that House of Soul serves the best fried chicken. I wouldn’t doubt her because it’s one of her favorite foods as well as mine. One year for her birthday, she had a fried chicken cook off where I came in second place.
Although we were there for lunch, we ordered off the dinner menu. This gave us the opportunity to have a main course plus two sides and cornbread. We each ordered our own dish and for the most part it was a good variety, so we could taste from each other’s plates. 
It has probably been thirty years plus since I last drank Kool Aid. For nostalgia, I ordered it and it was so damn good that I have no regrets over digesting however many tablespoons of sugar I did.
For my lunch, I ended up with the smothered pork chop. After the pork is breaded and deep fried, a generous amount of brown gravy is poured over it. I chose rice and gravy and collard greens as my sides. I loved my plate. I actually thought it was a well balanced plate. I had my protein, starch, and vegetables! It felt very comforting to eat, perfect for the rainy day we had.  
So we were there for fried chicken right? Two of my friends ordered the fried chicken dinner. In addition to my plate, I asked for a piece of fried chicken on the side, specifically a leg. Our waitress came back with a leg and a wing because she said it was small. I was excited because those are my favorite pieces of a chicken to eat. This fried chicken is very traditional and incorporates the perfect coating that leaves you with a crispy crunchy batter that is flawless. I think it’s one of the best of its kind. I might say I enjoy the flavor of the fried chicken more at Ad Hoc or at Miss Ollie’s where the herbs are injected in the center of the chicken meat.  
Another friend ordered the beef short ribs in gravy and added rice and chose macaroni and cheese and collard greens as her sides. I am quite sure the short ribs were cooked for a long time as the beef easily fell off the bone. I enjoyed it from the small taste I had. It was well flavored and moist like a long cooked stew. The macaroni and cheese was also delicious and one of my favorites of all the sides. Having licked her plate clean, I have no doubt my friend was very happy with her choices.
Another side I had the pleasure of tasting were the green beans. They were cooked with ham hocks which enhanced the taste. The homemade corn bread came out piping hot. I added butter and it was all smiles.
Eating at House of Soul gives you the sense of being in the South, where the cooks prepare your food with love. One thing I want to point out is that service is extremely slow. You will be disappointed if you go in not knowing that. We were there for two hours and it was worth it.


Lunch Time at Hard Knox Cafe

Last Sunday before watching the San Francisco 49ers lose the NFC Championship game, I had lunch with my sister and two friends in the City. It was our first time trying Hard Knox Cafe. The restaurant has two locations, one in the Richmond district and one in the Dogpatch. We went to the smaller location in the Dogpatch which felt more like a diner because seating was limited to the counter bar and booths.

We waited less then five minutes which was surprising because the Hard Knox Cafe is a very popular place. Maybe most people were home watching the AFC Championship game. I won’t complain about the short wait time. The menu offers a very good variety of Southern food. After a thorough review, we each decided on having different entrees so we could taste an assortment of items.

Each of us received two corn muffins. They were warm and delicious and tasted even better after spreading some butter on it. I wanted to eat a second one, but I had to control myself to leave room for our main course.
Each entree comes with a choice of two sides. I ordered the beef shortribs with kernel corn and macaroni and cheese. The ribs were oven baked and drenched with brown gravy. They were very tender and easily fell off the bone.
My sister ordered fried catfish with mashed potatoes and collard greens. The catfish filets were seasoned perfectly and coated with a cornmeal batter. I really enjoyed this one a lot.
One friend got the BBQ pork ribs with potato salad and collard greens. This was probably the least memorable of all the entrees.
My other friend ordered the fried chicken and waffles, but their waffle machine was not working. Instead, she ended up with the 3 piece fried chicken meal with candied yams and red beans and rice. The chicken was juicy and had a nice flavor.
Everything we had at Hard Knox Cafe was pretty good. For me, the highlights were the corn muffins, the fried catfish, and the candied yams. If you are hungry and want excellent value, Hard Knox Cafe should do the trick.